Science, just Science News

The news items in here are created by the SJS team. Any comments left in here are the sole responsibility of those making the comment and may not reflect the views of the SJS campaign or it's contributors.


June 18, 2007

AiG's Paul Taylor on BBC Radio Wales

LISTEN AGAIN

15June Faith and creationism

Scientists have just described a new dinosaur species which they claim lived 210 million years ago. That will not have impressed the owners of the Creation Museum opened recently in Kentucky. They reckon the earth is a mere 6,000 years old.

To promote their understanding of the way the world was made, they invite visitors to wander in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, to smell the freshly-cut timbers being used in the building of the ark, to sense the sounds and smells inside that floating menagerie... and then to sample a sandwich and salad at Noah's café.

This particular front in the battle for creationism against evolution is costing $27 million. It's a conflict which has seen many legal struggles in the United State; and here in Britain there's been fierce controversy over the desire of some Christian schools to teach creationism and intelligent design alongside evolution.

In All Things Considered this week (Sunday 17 June at 8.30am), we ask why does this issue matter? What difference does it make if the universe is indeed just 6,000 years old - or 4.5 billion, as most scientists seem to affirm? And what are the implications for people of faith?

Roy Jenkins is joined by two former teachers: Paul Taylor, Head of Media & Publications, for the organisation Answers in Genesis, which works closely with the owners of the Creation Museum; and Clyde Briggs, Chairman of the Association of Christian Teachers in Wales.

With him also are The Rev Dr Simon Oliver, Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology at the University of Wales Lampeter; and The Rev Dr Ernest Lucas, who changed course from biochemistry to theology at Oxford, and holds doctorates in both disciplines: he's now vice principal of Bristol Baptist College."

Also of interest: Are We Alone: 11 June Religion and Science: Deity Meets Data

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September 29, 2006

New challenge over school science

New challenge over school science

BBC
29 September 2006

Parents are being encouraged to challenge their children's science teachers over what they are explaining as the origins of life.

An organisation called Truth in Science has also sent resource packs to all UK secondary school science departments.

It promotes the idea of intelligent design - that there was an intelligence behind the creation of the universe.




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June 26, 2006

Allowing religion and science to have a say

The Times
June 26, 2006

Sir, Most faith schools in Britain are either Anglican or Roman Catholic and have no problem with evolution. The schools which do are either the independent evangelical schools or the city academies. Here creationism is taught, often under the cloak of “teaching the controversy” or balancing the two “faith” views of creation and evolution.

Sometimes creationism is smuggled into state schools, often through visiting speakers. That is a great concern as creationism, whether as young earth creationism or intelligent design, can only be described as scientific nonsense. To compound this, most creationist writings are dishonest in their portrayal of “evolution”, also known as “normal biology”, “geology” and “cosmology”. To teach creationism as science is to teach nonsense.

It is timely that scientists have made it clear that creationism is misguided. However, it is a great pity that the churches have so far failed to address the issue. By failing to do so, they also put church schools at risk.

THE REV M. ROBERTS
Cockerham, Lancaster

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June 21, 2006

Scientists call for 'evidence based' teaching of evolution

The world's top scientists have joined forces to call for "evidence-based" teaching of evolution in schools.

A statement signed by 67 national science academies says evidence on the origins of life is being "concealed, denied, or confused" in some classes.

It lists key facts on evolution that "scientific evidence has never contradicted".

Reported in the BBC News here.

Link to the statement (pdf file) here.

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May 18, 2006

Creationism debate moves to Britain

The debate over creationism in schools was an American problem. But now the controversy is taking root in Britain. Tim Walker reports.

The Independent

For once, an evolutionary biologist and a creationist agree on something. Professor Steve Jones, the author of an updated version of Darwin's Origin of Species, and John Mackay, an Australian preacher who believes the book of Genesis constitutes literal truth, are both convinced that creationism is making a comeback in British classrooms.

"It's a real social change," says Jones, a lecturer at UCL. "For years, I've sympathised with my American colleagues, who have to cleanse creationism from their students' minds in their first few biology lectures. It's not a problem we've faced in Britain until now. I get feedback from Muslim schoolkids who say they are obliged to believe in creationism, because it's part of their Islamic identity, but the people I find more surprising are the other British kids who see creationism as a viable alternative to evolution. That's alarming. It shows how infectious the idea is."

Creationism encompasses a spectrum of beliefs, from the Bible's account of creation in six days, a matter of mere thousands of years ago, to the more equivocal "intelligent design" (ID) theory, which seeks some form of accommodation with evolution.

Its opponents see the teaching of creationism in any form as an alternative scientific theory as a way for its exponents to drive religious dogma into schools across the entire curriculum. In about 50 independent Christian schools in the UK, creationism has been a feature of biology teaching for about 30 years; the fear is that state schools will begin to follow suit.

Full article

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May 12, 2006

Creationism 'no place in schools'

BBC Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Creationism 'no place in schools'

Leading scientists have warned against the teaching of creationism in schools, saying pupils must be clear that science backs the theory of evolution.
The Royal Society statement comes after claims that some schools are promoting creationism alongside evolution.
Meanwhile, delegates at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' conference rejected calls for legislation to ban the teaching of creationism.

Full Article

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May 07, 2006

'Darwin's evolutionary theory is a tottering nonsense

'Darwin's evolutionary theory is a tottering nonsense, built on too many suppositions'

JOHN MACKAY: GEOLOGIST
7 May 06

http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/darwins-evolutionary-theory-is-a-tottering-nonsense-built-on-toomany-suppositions/2006/05/06/1146335967549.html?page=3

http://tinyurl.com/j7neb

A charismatic Australian has materialised at the centre of national argument in Britain about the teaching of creationism, Annabel Crabb writes.

Listen to this bit:

“Nick Cowan, 54, is the head of chemistry at Liverpool's leading public school, Bluecoat. He is a creationist, and while his syllabus generally doesn't tangle with the big issues of where it all began, he says he slips in thought-provoking material whenever he can.

"If we're having a conversation about the old chicken-and-egg conundrum, for example, I'll say, 'Well, I believe God created the chicken, and the chicken laid the egg. What's your answer?"'
Cowan says the school knows where he stands, and he is yet to be challenged on his teaching style.

But he believes the increasing temperature of the debate will inevitably result in an intervention.

Once a parent complains, that will be it, he predicts.”





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May 05, 2006

Creationism dismissed as 'a kind of paganism' by Vatican's astronomer

IAN JOHNSTON The Scotsman

BELIEVING that God created the universe in six days is a form of superstitious paganism, the Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno claimed yesterday.

Brother Consolmagno, who works in a Vatican observatory in Arizona and as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Italy, said a "destructive myth" had developed in modern society that religion and science were competing ideologies.

He described creationism, whose supporters want it taught in schools alongside evolution, as a "kind of paganism" because it harked back to the days of "nature gods" who were responsible for natural events.

Full Article

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Creationist visit off

Nikki Masters Blackpool Citizen

A creationist who caused a rumpus by refusing to name the school he was due to visit says he's not disappointed' the visit has been cancelled.

John Mackay, a geologist who supports a theory that the world was divinely created in six days was due to speak to Key Stage Three pupils at Thornton's Millfield High School this month as part of a spirituality week'.

The planned visit to the Belvedere Road school, as reported in the Citizen on April 6, provoked uproar among local and national opponents, and attracted national press coverage.

Millfield head teacher, Alan Harvey, said the visit had been cancelled because of concerns over fundamentalism' and a lack of lesson plans.

But Mr Mackay, speaking from a Creation Research family conference in Powys, Wales, said: "The school has always been open and friendly. I'm not disappointed."

But he called the lack of lesson plans a superficial reason' for the cancellation, and feared the possibility of demonstrations by opponents from across the UK might have changed the school's mind.

Full Article

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May 02, 2006

Six-day wonder

Creationism has now made it on to a GCSE syllabus. John Crace asks why these beliefs are being aired in schools

Tuesday May 2, 2006 The Guardian

If you believe the book of Genesis, God created the world in six days flat and took a breather on the seventh. Creationism's sudden appearance at the centre of the education landscape rather feels as if it has taken place over the same time span. Not that creationism is a new idea; it's just that ever since evolution became established in the 19th century as the principal explanation of the origins of life on Earth, it has been relegated to where most scientists believe it belongs - the quirky footnotes of history.

Yet in the past year or so, creationism has made a bizarre renaissance. Its ideas have been getting an unprecedented amount of airspace. A small number of scientists have outed themselves as believers and many others, including academics, educationists and politicians, have found themselves being manoeuvred into giving it a quasi-legitimacy by being forced to seriously engage with it.

Link to article

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April 29, 2006

Schools minister says creationism has no place in classroom science

Schools minister says creationism has no place in classroom science

28/04/06

UK schools minister, Jacqui Smith, has declared categorically that the government is against the teaching of creationism and so-called ‘intelligent design’ in science lessons in British schools.

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/news_syndication/article_060428create.shtml



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April 26, 2006

Evolution should be taught as a fact, says top scientist

From the Guardian 21st April

Evolution should be taught as fact, says top scientist

Staff and agencies
Friday April 21, 2006

Children should be taught from the age of 11 that Darwin's theory of evolution is a fact, an eminent scientist said today.

Richard Pike, the chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said that references to it being a "theory" should be abandoned.

His comments came the week before prominent creationist speaker John Mackay, a former science teacher from Queensland, is due to tour halls and chapels in the UK attacking Darwin's ideas, claiming that Genesis is literally true and that the Earth is a few thousands of years old, not millions.

Link to the Guardian story

Link to the Royal Society Press Release


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April 24, 2006

Storm brews over preacher's training school

Storm brews over preacher's training school

Matt Withers, Wales on Sunday

http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200wales/tm_objectid=16982241&method=full&siteid=50082&headline=storm-brews-over-preacher-s-training-school--name_page.html

http://tinyurl.com/pqemb

“A CONTROVERSIAL Australian preacher who followers claim is "anointed by God" is to host a week-long training camp in Wales next month.”



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April 22, 2006

Confidence in city academies

Letters to the Editor

April 22, 2006

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-2145388,00.htm



Sir, We are responsible for nine open city academies and the creation of a further 27. We are developing groups of academies and therefore require continuing financial sponsorship, often as a result of fundraising programmes. The recent reports suggesting that the programme may be damaged by a lack of sponsors in the future do not reflect the position.

We are deeply committed to the programme in which we and our organisations have all voluntarily become engaged. Nobody has required us to do it. We have been motivated by a strong desire to help some of the most disadvantaged children in the country. We are creating academies to help to raise confidence and attainment in some of the most deprived and needy areas.

We welcome the opportunity to use our business skills and international experience in such a worthwhile enterprise. We have put our reputations, experience and commitment behind an education policy which is beginning to transform lives. The academies programme builds on the city technology colleges created over a decade ago, which were attacked in their early days but which are now almost universally regarded as a success, on their own and as beacons in their communities. We will continue to develop new academies and to support our existing ones despite the sniping at the edges, which is trying to denigrate this programme.

Concerns about academies are being eliminated by the experience of new schools and new approaches. Our battle is not being fought in newspapers, on radio or television; but is being won in classrooms. Success takes time but we are seeing encouraging signs from Ofsted reports.

Our commitment remains strong and we are confident that we will continue to find others who wish to join us in one of the most exciting educational enterprises ever implemented in this country.

REV STEVE CHALKE Founder Oasis Trust

SIR EWAN HARPER Chief Executive, United Learning Trust

LORD HARRIS OF PECKHAM

LUCY HELLER Managing Director, Ark Education

SIR KEVIN SATCHWELL Headmaster Thomas Telford School

SIR PETER VARDY Chairman Emmanuel Schools Foundation



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April 20, 2006

Two of Roger Stanyard’s articles on John Mackay & Creation Research/AiG are now at:

John Mackay’s UK Tour by Roger Stanyard
John Mackay & AiG by Roger Stanyard

Alan

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April 19, 2006

We believe in ET, not ID

We believe in ET, not ID

The tweedy academics of America have joined my battle to stop a creationist takeover of outer space

http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/comment/story/0,,1755594,00.html

Seth Shostak Tuesday April 18, 2006 The Guardian

For me, the battle over teaching creationism in US schools has become achingly personal. Groups seeking to oust the theory of evolution from biology class - or at least hint to students that Darwin's ideas are suspect - are invoking my research to support their crusade. I work with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Seti), an effort to find sentient beings in space by using massively large antennas to troll for alien radio signals. Any technologically adroit society will be capable of broadcasting to listeners light years away. If there's cosmic company in our galaxy, a radio antenna might just be the way to find it.


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April 14, 2006

This is a clash of civilisations - between reason and superstition

Science, Just Science - News

From the Guardisn today:

This is a clash of civilisations - between reason and superstition

Religious schools are indoctrinating and divisive. The people don't want them. So why are MPs backing them?

Polly Toynbee
Friday April 14, 2006
The Guardian

The DJ wasn't joking when he burbled: "Happy Good Friday!" His audience probably didn't wince, since a recent poll showed that 43% of the population have no idea what Easter celebrates, with the young most clueless. Eggs, bunnies, lambs?

Even an old atheist like me sees no good in this ignorance of basic Christian myths. How do you make any sense of history, art or literature without knowing the stories and iconography of your own culture and all the world's main religions? Total ignorance of religion and its history could make people more susceptible to the next passing charlatan offering Kwik Save salvation from whatever it is people want to be saved from.

But how odd that in this heathen nation of empty pews, where churches' bare, ruined choirs are converted into luxury loft living, a Labour government - yes, a Labour government - is deliberately creating a huge expansion of faith schools. There is all the difference in the world between teaching children about religion and handing them over to be taught by the religious.

read on;



http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/comment/story/0,,1753745,00.html

April 13, 2006

Additions to the fossil record published in Nature

Science, Just Science - News

Additions to the fossil record published in Nature:


The origin of Australopithecus, the genus widely interpreted as ancestral to Homo, is a central problem in human evolutionary studies. Australopithecus species differ markedly from extant African apes and candidate ancestral hominids such as Ardipithecus, Orrorin and Sahelanthropus. The earliest described Australopithecus species is Au. anamensis, the probable chronospecies ancestor of Au. afarensis. Here we describe newly discovered fossils from the Middle Awash study area that extend the known Au. anamensis range into northeastern Ethiopia. The new fossils are from chronometrically controlled stratigraphic sequences and date to about 4.1–4.2 million years ago. They include diagnostic craniodental remains, the largest hominid canine yet recovered, and the earliest Australopithecus femur. These new fossils are sampled from a woodland context. Temporal and anatomical intermediacy between Ar. ramidus and Au. afarensis suggest a relatively rapid shift from Ardipithecus to Australopithecus in this region of Africa, involving either replacement or accelerated phyletic evolution.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v440/...ature04629.html


Another press report here

April 12, 2006

Royal Society attacks teaching of creationism as science

Science, Just Science - News

Guardian report of the Prof Jones speech-

Royal Society attacks teaching of creationism as science

· Theory likened to belief that storks bring babies
· Teachers vote to ban state funding for faith schools

Duncan Campbell and Rebecca Smithers
Wednesday April 12, 2006
The Guardian

The Royal Society yesterday issued a strongly worded attack on the teaching of creationism as a leading scientist compared it to the theory that babies are brought by storks.

The warning from Britain's leading scientific academy comes amid increasing concern over the attempts by religious fundamentalists to challenge the theory of evolution in schools and colleges by teaching the idea that a god created the world, as if that were a scientific theory.

Teachers' unions yesterday also voted to ban further government funding for faith schools.

Read more here;

http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,1751972,00.html

April 11, 2006

Royal Society speaks out

Science, Just Science - News


The Royal society has made a statement on science and creationism and teaching;

"Royal Society statement on evolution, creationism and intelligent design
11 Apr 2006


A statement opposing the misrepresentation of evolution in schools to promote particular religious beliefs was published today (11 April 2006) by the Royal Society, the UK national academy of science.
The statement points out that evolution is "recognised as the best explanation for the development of life on Earth from its beginnings and for the diversity of species" and that it is "rightly taught as an essential part of biology and science courses in schools, colleges and universities across the world".
It concludes: "Science has proved enormously successful in advancing our understanding of the world, and young people are entitled to learn about scientific knowledge, including evolution.

Read more here

http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/news.asp?id=4298"