Any attempt to present as fact the view that God made the world could lead to new free schools losing their funding under government changes.
The new rules state that from 2013, all free schools in England must teach evolution as a “comprehensive and coherent scientific theory”.
The move follows scientists’ concerns that free schools run by creationists might avoid teaching evolution.
Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, said it was “delighted”.
Sir Paul told BBC News the previous rules on free schools and the teaching of evolution versus creationism had been “not tight enough”.
There was already a requirement to teach evolution as part of the science curriculum. This new development can be seen as a sanction against teaching creationism as a scientific fact.
The concern though would be that there could still be a distortion between facts and belief in creationist leaning new free schools – in essence avoiding key words that may avoid legal challenges.
When studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses the first bible study group I attended was reading Life How Did It Get Here: By Evolution or Creation? The key thing was not that creationism was claimed as a fact, but that evolution was just a theory, and the bible had more authority than what scientists may say. In other words, empirical evidence based on science should be considered less significant (if at all) if in conflict with what the Watchtower Tract and Bible Society said was taught by the bible. Through this filter and prism, facts were twisted to suggest only Jehovah could have made it. No other god, and not without such divine, intelligent, conscious, and powerful an entity.
The question of who made god, or why it could not have been another god, or what the Big Bang theory actually is let alone evolution, were never properly debated or examined.
The solution for me is comparative religion being taught – to understand humanity sociologically, historically and culturally this is important – as a compulsory subject. I was excluded from Religious Education which left the Jehovah’s Witnesses teaching me what was wrong with other faiths and why my version of Christianity was the right one by contrast.
The other is to ensure that science education is about science. No more, and no less. The easiest answer to these things is not to have religious character schools at all, let alone the taxpayer funding them. This together with a curriculum that is based on education not indoctrination will allow children not just a great start in life but allow them to come to their own conclusions as adults.
More on the campaign for science not creationism to be taught can be found in Andrew Copson’s article for The Guardian. To see why necessary have a look at the policy of Grindon Hall school to science education:
“We believe that God, as sovereign Lord of the universe, is capable of creating the world in a few 24-hour days… We will teach creation as a scientific theory and we will always affirm very clearly our position as Christians, ie that Christians believe that God’s creation of the world is not just a theory but a fact with eternal consequences for our planet and for every person who has ever lived on it. We will affirm that to believe in God’s creation of the world is an entirely respectable position scientifically and rationally.”
Picture above comes from University of California Museum of Palaeontology.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog