Monday, November 20, 2006

 

Government department rejects creationist infiltration of science teaching

News Briefing from Ekklesia dated November 20, 2006: The Christian think-tank Ekklesia and the British Humanist Association (BHA) have welcomed a statement from the British government's Department for Education and Skills (DfES) clarifying that 'creationism' - an ideology which uses discredited readings of scriptural texts to deny fundamental scientific discoveries - can have no legitimate place in UK school science classrooms.

The issue arose after a creationist group calling itself Truth in Science, the majority of whose key supporters believe that the world is only 8-10,000 years old, sent out a pack to secondary science heads encouraging them to include creationism and its cousin 'intelligent design' in their teaching.

Ekklesia and the BHA teamed up to emphasise that this is not an issue which should divide religious and non-religious people. They wrote together to the Department for Education and Skills on 29 September 2006, asking for clear guidelines.

In answer to the two organisations' call that the DfES publicly repudiate these TiS materials, the Department has said that officials are "currently working with the QCA [Qualifications and Curriculum Authority] to find a suitable way of communicating to schools [that] it is not part of the Science National Curriculum."

In addition, the DfES made it categorically clear that "[n]either the DfES nor the QCA have been involved in the development or distribution of the Truth in Science resource pack" - rejecting suggestions from some quarters that the ideas in the pack were somehow acceptable or compatible with their position.

Andrew Copson, BHA education officer, said: "Truth in Science claimed the support of the National Curriculum and then they claimed the acquiescence of the DfES - it's now clear they were wrong on both counts."

Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow added: "Teaching creationism in science classes is no more appropriate than teaching astrology or flat-earthism. It is, quite simply, non-science."

He continued: "From our point of view it is also non-theology – an anachronistic attempt to force ancient figurative texts into denying modern scientific method. It sets up a false and damaging clash between religion and science which specialists in these fields do not accept."

In June 2006 Vatican astronomer Guy J. Consolmagno, a Jesuit priest who in his scientific work has pioneered the field of gravitoelectrodynamics, described creationism as "superstition" harking back to past beliefs in "nature gods".

Ekklesia points to the work of bodies such as the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion (University of Cambridge) and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (California) as among the major places where scientists, theologians and philosophers enjoy positive interaction.

The think-tank says that the churches need to take responsibility for much more thorough education on these issues, since creationism is what Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has rightly called "a category mistake" within Christian thinking.

[Evolution and Religion]

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For links and background info see "'Intelligent Design' attack on UK school science (BBC)", part of which is appended below:

...An organisation called Truth in Science has also sent resource packs to all UK secondary school science departments.

It promotes the idea of intelligent design - that there was an intelligence behind the creation of the universe.

Humanists (1) and a Christian think tank (2) want the government to tell teachers to keep 'a wholly scientific perspective'...

Books on Creationism from the Science and Evolution Bookshop: UK | US

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