The good news as reported by Ekklesia is that in England “after a number of requests from teaching unions and civic bodies, including the Christian think-tank Ekklesia and the British Humanist Association, the UK Department of Children, Schools, and Families has issued guidance for teachers uncertain whether and how to discuss creationism – which is rejected by both scientists and theologians as lacking factual and theoretical value.
A statement on Teachernet, a government website, states that “Creationism and intelligent design are not part of the National Curriculum for science” and describes “intelligent design” as “a creationist belief” that “is sometimes erroneously advanced as scientific theory but has no underpinning scientific principles or explanations supporting it and it is not accepted by the international scientific community.”
Not only is it good news that creationism is being clearly put in its place but it is also a demonstation of how religious and non-religious bodies can work together on common causes. Archbishop of canterbury Dr Rowan Williams has also described creationism as “a category mistake” in religious thought.
The bad news is that in Northern Ireland the Department of Education has said the teaching of alternative theories was a matter for schools.
This was in response to DUP MP David Simpson (a member of the Free Presbyterian Church) who “questioned Education Minister Caitriona Ruane on the availability of materials and resources for schools wishing to teach alternative scientific theories to evolution as part of the revised curriculum. Mr Simpson also asked for an assurance that pupils who answer GCSE examination questions outlining creationist or intelligent design explanations for the development of life on Earth, will not be marked lower than pupils who give answers with an evolutionist explanation.”
As a result Lisburn council has “voted to write to all its grammar and secondary schools encouraging them to teach alternative theories like ‘intelligent design’.
“The proposal was made by DUP councillor Paul Givan, who is also a member of the Free Presbyterian Church. Members of the SDLP and Sinn Fein opposed the proposal, but a spokesman for the DUP confirmed that both Mr Givan and Mr Simpson’s views were in keeping with party policy.
Les Reid, chairman of the Belfast Humanist Society, branded it “totally inappropriate to bring religious ideas into the science classroom”. He said politicians who do not have recognised scientific qualifications should not be allowed to dictate the content of the school curriculum.”