Creationism Banned From UK Schools
Britain’s Conservative-led government has banned the teaching of creationism as a valid scientific theory in free schools and academies, the equivalent of public schools in the United States.
The Department for Education recently released a new set of funding agreements, which include clauses prohibiting the teaching of pseudoscience.
Creationism, the unsubstantiated belief held by many Jews, Christians and Muslims that a supernatural deity figure, or ‘God,’ created the universe and everything in it, is defined in the UK government documents as “any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity or complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution.”
Evolution, which was first formulated by the British naturalist Charles Darwin in the 19th century, posits that natural selection drives biological change over successive generations. Such change gives rise to biological diversity, including new species. Evolution is accepted by the vast majority of scientists, as well as by the majority of religious believers, a fact cited by the UK government in announcing the creationism ban.
According to the language in the new funding agreements, creationism “is rejected by most mainstream churches and religious traditions, including the major providers of state-funded schools such as the (Anglican and Catholic) Churches, as well as the scientific community.”
Creationism, the documents state, “does not accord with the scientific consensus or the very large body of established scientific evidence; nor does it accurately and consistently employ the scientific method, and as such it should not be presented to pupils… as a scientific theory.”
The funding agreement allows for discussion of creationism during religious education “as long as it is not presented as a valid alternative to to established scientific theory.” A clause applicable to church academies requires that “pupils are taught about the theory of evolution” and bans “teaching creationism as scientific fact.”
The British Humanist Association (BHA), which launched its “Teach Evolution, Not Creationism” campaign in 2011, hailed the government’s decision.
“We believe that this means that the objectives of the campaign are largely met,” BHA said in a statement. “We congratulate the government on its robust stance on this issue.”
While British secularists rejoiced at the government’s announcement, creationists there expressed their disappointment.
The Creation Science Movement blasted what it called the “insidious campaign against Christian education” and asserted “the right of Christian parents to have their children educated in a way that respects their faith.”
The Church of England accepts evolution and has approved a resolution declaring evolution and the Christian faith “compatible.” The Church has posthumously apologized to Charles Darwin for its “anti-evolutionary fervor” and for “encouraging misunderstanding” of his pioneering scientific work.
A 2012 AngusReid poll found that only 17 percent of Britons believed humans were created by ‘God’ in their current form within the last 10,000 years, while 69 percent believed in Darwinian evolution. The same poll found that 51 percent of Americans believed humans were created by ‘God’ in the last 10,000 years, while only 30 percent accepted evolution.
A Gallup poll released earlier this month found that 42 percent of Americans believe ‘God’ created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. There was a strong correlation between education and belief in evolution, with 41 percent of university graduates believing that humans evolved without ‘God,’ while just 10 percent of respondents with high school diplomas agreeing.
The disparity between Britain and the United States can be partially explained by the fact that conservative Christian politicians in America have succeeded in introducing or defending the teaching of creationism in public schools in numerous states. Republican lawmakers have introduced anti-evolution bills in more than a dozen states in the past decade under the guise of “academic freedom.” Many US schools receiving public funding are teaching creationism as an “alternative” to evolution.
Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), a medical doctor who sits on the House Science Committee, has called evolution “lies from the pit of hell” and says the earth is only 9,000 years old.
Scientific consensus maintains the earth is around 4.5 billion years old and that modern human beings originated in Africa some 200,000 years ago, the culmination of a long line of hominids dating back more than five million years.
Tagged Anglican Church, British Humanist Association, Charles Darwin, Christianity, Church of England, Creation Science Movement, creationism, creationism banned in UK schools, evolution, religion, Teach Evolution Not Creationism, theory of evolution