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BHA Countering creationism

On 27th February, Jacqui Smith answered a parliamentary question tabled by MP Keith Vaz.

His question was: ‘To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what her policy is on the teaching of creationism as a subject in schools; and if she will make a statement.’

In her reply, the minister said that pupils should “be taught about “how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence”. Also, the biblical view of creation can be taught in RE lessons, where pupils are taught to consider opposing theories and come to their own, reasoned conclusions. Therefore, although creationism and intelligent design are not part of the national curriculum, they could be covered in these contexts.”

Click here for her full answer.

The BHA has written to DfES ministers Jacqui Smith and Lord Adonis asking whether the Government really considers “that creationism and ‘intelligent design’ are examples of scientific theories based on empirical evidence within the meaning of the national curriculum.”

The letter explains that this is the BHA’s specific concern in Ms Smith’s written answer:

“Our specific concern is your interpretation of the phrase ‘how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence’ in the national curriculum programme of study for science at key stage 4. You say that creationism and ‘intelligent design’ “could be covered in these contexts.

“From discussions with science teachers, the BHA had understood that the controversies covered under this section over evolution specifically were only those with some claim to being genuinely scientific, such as the discredited Lamarckian theory. We are concerned, therefore, to hear the government endorsing the view of religious extremists that, firstly, a scientific controversy to do with creationism actually exists, and secondly that it could be taught in a state-funded school.”

For the full letter click here

Andrew Copson, education officer at the BHA said, “It seems inconceivable that the government should give even tacit approval to the teaching of creationism as a scientific theory. That they should approve its teaching within the national curriculum for science is outrageous.”

NOTES

Further details of the BHA’s long campaign against creationism can be found here

The British Humanist Association represents and supports the non-religious. It is the largest such organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief. In education, this means an end to the expansion of faith schools and of academies controlled by religious interests, and the promotion of a system of inclusive and accommodating community schools.

Further enquiries can be addressed to Andrew Copson  or by telephone on 020 7079 3585 or 07855 380633

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