Creationism in British Schools

by Richard on November 28, 2006

The Guardian is lathered about the use of creationist materials in British schools. Produced by the group Truth in Science, which exists to promote “the critical examination of Darwinism in schools, as an important component of science education”, a DVD has apparently been used in 59 British schools.

I reckon that means there are 59 schools where the School Governors need to be having serious conversations with their head of science, but there’s no need to get too excited about this. After all, how many senior schools do you reckon there are in the UK? 5000?

Let’s try to keep a sense of proportion here.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Rhys 11.28.06 at 2:03 pm

The Office of National Statistics tells me there were 3,917 public sector secondary schools in the UK during 2000/01. Extrapolating from the increase from previous years, I’d say it’s roughly 4,000 by now. Not a bad estimate by you there then.

2

DH 11.28.06 at 4:42 pm

I see nothing wrong with presenting Creationism in schools in conjunction with Evolution. It only makes sense to give a balanced presentation unless ones goal is not a balanced presentation.

3

Chris E 11.28.06 at 5:21 pm

Teaching Creationism in schools is not giving a balanced presentation though. A balanced presentation would include any theories that could still provide a realistic counterpart to evolution. Creationism just cannot be supported in rational argument in the 21st Century. In time, Creationists will be seen in the same light as supporters of the Flat Earth theory. We have moved on and it is silly and wrong, in fact, to teach children Creationism as though it is still a valid theory. In my view, it casts Christianity in a bad light.

4

Kim 11.28.06 at 6:25 pm

The goal, DH, is to teach science. Darwin’s theory of evolution ain’t perfect, but it is science. Creationism is no more science than astrology, phrenology, or crystal bollocks. It is, however, not only scientific bollocks, of even greater concern it is theological bollocks, and therefore - see my citation of Augustine in Richard’s post on Dawkins - it turns Christianity into a laughing stock and offers a straw man for the likes of Dawkins to torch.

5

Dave Warnock 11.28.06 at 6:41 pm

Kim +1

6

DH 11.28.06 at 9:03 pm

I don’t see Creation science as not being Science. To say reputible people who have phd’s in science like Dr. Humphries and the like who do legitamate research and scienceasbeing a “laughing stock” is really synonomous to people in the 14th century who thought those who believed the world was round as being a “laughing stock”. I would correct your Dawkins statement as “try to torch” rather than “torch”. What makes us to believe Dawkins or consider him any better than anyone else? Just because someDawkins guy says a bunch of stuff doesn’t make any more true. I don’t see what the theological problem there is with it as well. To me it shows the consistency of the Word. I see no concern whatsoever. You need to take back the Astrology-Creationism statement. Creationsism isn’t worshiping false gods or sinning by doing something that God says is wrong. This sort of thing does nothing to uplift the Body of Christ.

7

Dave Warnock 11.28.06 at 10:05 pm

DH,

Creation “Science” is absolutely the opposite of those who used science to accurately understand the world as round. Instead Creation “Science” is far more like those who mis-used scripture to argue for a flat earth against all the scientific evidence.

Thanks for the reminder of how Creation “Science” is a repetition of past mistakes.

8

Kim 11.28.06 at 10:08 pm

DH, your medieval analogy is bass-ackwards: it’s precisely the creationists who are the flat-earthers here.

9

Kim 11.28.06 at 11:40 pm

Hey, Dave, our posts must have crossed in cyberspace and waved at each other! :)

10

Dave Warnock 11.29.06 at 1:35 am

Kim,

Mine waved more politely than yours as they passed ;-)

11

Larry B 11.29.06 at 3:59 am

There is a fair amount of argument here about science, yet there hasn’t been a sound definition of science proposed. Darwinian evolution as a theory isn’t particularly good science because it’s not directly observable or testable. Don’t get me wrong, the mechansims proposed for evolution such as natural selection and adaptation can be tested and observed and have been proven, but the extrapolation from there is at best speculative based on inferences from existing, but lacking, evidence.

Most hard science is built on the basis of observable and testable theories and there is no need for extrapolation. The science of mechanics, optics, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and the like can all be tested, verified and proven through observation. They are the fields that produce the innovations that are improving our lives. Fields like evolution, cosmology and the like are far more speculative in nature and are constantly changing. For example, just recently Stephen Hawking essentially just scrapped his theories about the universe and started anew. And the string theorists are at odds with much of Hawkings work.

Incidentally, Darwin’s theory of evolution has been sacked for newer theories of which Dawkins is one of the chief architects. Again because it is a more speculative science based on some observable evidence, there should still be plenty of room to allow for competing ideas. Darwinian evolution in the textbooks here in the US is being treated as axiomatic fact. In fact Dawkins’s contributions aren’t yet widely taught and conflict with some of Darwin’s own ideas so what are we really teaching the kids?

Including evolution under the banner of “science” is a bit unfair unless you allow for all speculative type sciences which could include a creation viewpoint as well.

12

Kim 11.29.06 at 5:07 am

Hi Larry.

I hear what you are saying about the neo Darwinism of the Dawkins, Dennett, et. al., but what you say about not including Darwin’s theory as such under the “banner of ’science’” would certainly be considered eccentric by the huge majority scientists, philosophers of science ,nd indeed theolgians themselves, who, unlike the Dawkins lot, are neither reductionist, deifying natural selection, nor guilty of “the genetic fallacy of supposing that knowledge of origin is the same as knowledge of nature” (John Polkinghorne), and are both well aware of the social location of the origin of Darwin’s great idea in Malthusian politics and economics, and also sensitive to the repugnant ideological trajectories it has taken in some zealots (e.g. racist, atheist). But that natural selection has played a major part in evolution, and certainly that evolution itself is an observable fact, are not in dispute, the evidence coming from palaentology, taxonomy, and molecular biology. Even the Vatican has come on board here.

But even if Darwin’s theory were debatable as science, creationism is certainly not. And the ultimate irony of this masquerade is well put by Marilynne Robinson, who, in the very midst of a devastating critique of Darwinism, describes creationism as “the caricature of religion that has seemed to justify Darwinist contempt for the whole of religion” - Augustine’s point in modern dress.

13

J 11.29.06 at 3:12 pm

“that evolution itself is an observable fact, are not in dispute”

Like you, I’m very suspicious of creationism and don’t necessarily believe any aspect of OOS theory conflicts with the bible, but I have to question this statement. Arguments that speciation has been observed rest on definitions of that term that are hardly settled. Here’s a good synopsis of the argument in favor of your point if readers want to decide for themselves: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html .

14

DH 11.29.06 at 5:08 pm

Larr is right on on this one. Great response Larry.

15

Alex 11.30.06 at 1:45 am

To all you Creationist morons: there is no such thing as god. There is no meaning of life. Your belief system is anachronistic. We can now explain the movement of the stars, day and night, fire, wind, rain, tides, how birds fly, why we need food and water, infectious and genetically-predisposed disease. We know when the dinosaurs lived. We know when humans first appeared. We know when our sun will expand and engulf our solar system. The fact we exist is a happy co-incidence and nothing more. Accept how insignificant we are and get with the programme. If we can wipe out religion there’s a good chance war will go with it, as well as a chunk of the other social problems we currently face. Do us all a favour and spend the time you currently waste at worship constructively enagaging in a paratice that can actually benefit people rather than subject them to any more years of social, economic and psychological bondage.

16

Larry B 11.30.06 at 2:57 am

Kim,

I didn’t mean to explicitly imply that Darwin’s theory of evolution wasn’t science. I really meant to say that as a theory of origin, it’s not particularly good science because of it’s inability to be tested and observed. Most certainly cosmology is science too and is rigorous in it’s application of mathematics and reason, but its conclusions aren’t particularly directly observable and testable in many cases. Dark matter for example has been hypothesized for years, and only now are we starting to find evidence that it really exists. So the science that arrived at the idea of dark matter may eventually proven to be sound, but it could also be proven to be wrong.

Einstein eliminated the need for an aether, yet he didn’t explicitly deny or confirm it’s existence. Science in it’s best applications doesn’t comment on fundamental questions of existence, it simply derives truth about that which it is investigating.

I mostly object to the canonization that evolution is receiving as the final truth in the question of origin. A recent book by Spencer Wells, called the Journey of Man, a Genetic Odyssey does a fine job of using sound genetic techniques to track us back to an “Adam” and the time period for this adam is far shorter than most evolutionists had previously theorized. In light of that kind of strong, sound evidence theories have to be revised. Such as the introduction of punctuated equilibrium in the 1970’s as an evolutionary concept. The theory of evolution as a theory of origin is only a few decades old and it is already undergoing changes. Being involved in the sciences for my livelihood, I’m also painfully aware of the human frailties that enter into this field like any other field. The body of knowledge supported by the sciences is as open to manipulation as any other body of knowledge. I would highly recommend reading Faster Than the Speed of Light: The Story of a Scientific Speculation to get a better glimpse of how modern science functions and how ideas can be suppressed for less than perfect reasons regardless of their potential validity.

17

Kim 11.30.06 at 4:28 pm

Hi Larry B.

Thanks for that. Very helpful. I think we’re more or less together on this one. I refer to Andrew Brown’s The Darwin Wars in a more recent post above, so I’m aware of the disputes going on among (neo)Darwinists themselves - and of their copious exchange of insults! As for Joao Magueijo’s Faster Than the Speed of Light, I bought it and devoured it as soon as it came out in paperback in 2004. Magueijo’s own work is fascinating; his exposure of the dirty politics of the scientific community riveting, if not surprising. Magueijo (as he writes on pp. 175f.) has actually spent some time here in Swansea. He proverbially refers to Swansea as “the graveyard of all ambition”. I’ve been here almost twenty-five years: QED! Small world and all that.

Cheers!
Kim

18

DH 11.30.06 at 5:07 pm

All I have to say is “A fool says in his heart there is no God.” Also, I think Larry’s response included the “timeframe” as being confirmed shorter than scientists originally thought. Who are we to say that scientists are always correct? Isn’t it reasonable to have critiques like Creations SCIENTISTS with much more education than you, Alex to have additional evidence against the majority viewpoint? Scientists have always been in disagreement and many have been ridiculed like you are with these particular scientists, Alex. Alex, I never called you a moron or whatever. You are way too harsh and you are not promoting something “that benefits people” because you are putting people down who have reliable evidence as well. To reject outright rather than look at scientists like Dr. D. Humphries and other scientists basically shows how closed minded you are. I think if you looked deep into your heart it isn’t science that makes you against a God but the responsibility that it would require if you believed in God. conviction of your own depravity, the need to be unselfish rather than have an attitude of pride that we humans are it with no God. who are you to say it is bondage when you don’t have any desire to see any of the benefit and Grace that is made available to you? It seems foolish to reject a “free gift” made available to you. As long as you think you are “perfect” (which I know without a shadow of doubt you aren’t) keep believing like you do and stop condemning those who are honest and recognize our deficiencies for proper redemption. A 100% secular society is a 100% depraved society and will lead to immoral actions just look at the destructions of Empires like Rome, Greece and the like the more secular they got or believed in false gods the more depraved they got to their ultimate destruction. No one condemned you before your response. Quit being so personal about people who have Faith who should have the freedom to express themselves rather pursue the closed minded attitude you so desire. I wouldn’t put fool and moron in the same category. Alex, while you may consider me a moron I don’t consider you a moron, just a fool.

19

Chris E 11.30.06 at 5:41 pm

It always saddens me when argument resorts to name calling. To belittle those who believe in God does nothing whatsoever for anybody, including the namecaller him/herself. Many scientists believe in God. The questions are, is there a God and if so, what type of God is s/he/it. Where science wins over certain religions, however, is that it questions its beliefs and has no drawback like the Bible, which is entrenched in another timeframe and culture and is imbued with innaccuracies that far too many people spend too much time on ignoring these gaping errors and trying to explain them away. We have moved on…

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