Saturday, September 13, 2008

Creationism in Class?

Prof Michael Reiss, director of education at the Royal Society, has called for 'Creationism' to be explored on the school curriculum:

"Some of my comments about the teaching of creationism have been misinterpreted as suggesting that creationism should be taught in science classes. Creationism has no scientific basis.
"However, when young people ask questions about creationism in science classes, teachers need to be able to explain to them why evolution and the Big Bang are scientific theories but they should also take the time to explain how science works and why creationism has no scientific basis.
"I have referred to science teachers discussing creationism as a worldview'; this is not the same as lending it any scientific credibility."

I hadn't realised that he's a fellow vicar as well, and he seems to have had a busy 24 hours since the story broke! I have 3 observations:

- This whole story reinforces the Dawkins myth that there are only two possible worldviews when it comes to the origin of life - Creationism or evolution by natural selection. So therefore anyone religious must believe the world was made in 6 days. Creationism is a minority view among Christians, but you wouldn't guess that from the way this kind of stuff is reported. Most of us don't have a problem with evolution, and a cosmos many billions of years old. In fact, that cosmos is charged with the glory of God in a way increasingly discovered by scientists.

- By all means teach Creationism as a worldview, but if you're going to be fair why not teach Darwinianism (or Dawkinsism) as a worldview as well? Atheist scientists make faith statements too.

- Part of the debate is whether this belongs in science or R.E./PSHE (personal, social and health education) It's not as though there isn't an explicit worldview behind most of what's in the school curriculum, in terms of what's important, and education as a practical exercise to prepare you as a worker and citizen of a particular sort of society. Everything belongs in RE.
Update: great collection of links at Thinking Anglicans on this story. TA also reports rumours that the CofE is to apologise to Charles Darwin on his anniversary next week. Why? The scientific community gave Darwin plenty of stick too, and soon-to-be Archbishop Temple welcomed Darwins insights. And maybe it's time to re-examine the legend of Huxley vs Wilberforce too.

1 comment:

  1. I saw someone in a paper's letter page call for nothing but fact to be taught in science lessions. Well there goes most of physics, biology (especially the theory of evolution) and chemistry - which relies on a model of atomic structure which we are not certain about. So all we are left with is the taking of the register, though I'm sure Dawkisn et al would disagree.