- United Kingdom
Creationism is known, and officially acknowledged, to be contrary to scientific fact. We therefore demand that creationism should not be presented as a valid scientific position, nor creationist websites and resources be promoted, in publicly funded schools or in any youth activities run on publicly funded school premises.
Despite existing Department for Education guidance on the teaching of Creationism, recent events show additional protection is necessary.
This April, all Year 11 children in a state funded school were brought together and had a visitor introduced to them as a scientist. He then spent the next one and a half hours presenting these sixteen year olds with a series of well polished Young Earth Creationist claims, described as scientific theory.
The visitor was Philip Bell, a full time Evangelical preacher from Creation Ministries International (CMI) who presents creationist views as scientific facts and denies evolution. He states on his website that his preferred method of evangelising is infiltrating at a grassroots level as he feels this has more successful conversions. CMI described the school visit on their web site as ‘ministry to school children’.
The parents knew nothing of this until after the event, when one, who happens to be a trained Geologist, and thus qualified to evaluate what had been said, wrote to the school to complain.
The Chair of Governors replied that this was all part of the Religious Education (RE)curriculum and that she should not worry because they also invited a speaker ‘to present the case for evolutionism’ so that both sides were heard, both ‘scientists’ were given equal time and both talks were presented to the children as ‘a belief’.
These recent events at St Peter's Church of England School, Exeter, show creationists are now openly using RE classes and the school timetable to advance their claim to be offering a valid scientific alternative to established knowledge, even within the State school system.
The school is adamant it has done nothing wrong despite presenting creationism on equal terms with modern science to sixteen year olds.
In a recent statement, the Department for Education has stated that secretary of state for education, Michael Gove is ‘crystal clear’ that creationism has no scientific validity and should not be taught as science. Yet here we have a school presenting Creationism as a valid scientific position, and justifying this by reference to Religious Education.
Mr Gove might be keen to show that his Free Schools could not possibly succumb to such infiltration, but this incident demonstrates that even state-maintained schools need more clarity and better protection.
This is unacceptable.
As of 21/4/11, the following organisations have already lent their support:
British Centre for Science Education
National Secular Society