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.

April 29, 2006

Schools minister says creationism has no place in classroom science

Schools minister says creationism has no place in classroom science


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.

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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

“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,,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


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


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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,,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;,,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.

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;,,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"

God evolved in the minds of men

Science, Just Science - News

An intersting article from the Guardian which posits that god evolved in the minds of men in reaction to our understanding of causal reasoning.

"The ideas interview: Lewis Wolpert

If religion is a consequence of the way our brains are wired, hears John Sutherland, all the more reason to question the truth of our beliefs

Tuesday April 11, 2006
The Guardian
Humankind's incorrigible and wholly irrational religiosity originates, Lewis Wolpert believes, in our addiction to causal explanations. We make gods and religious systems for the same reason that we make tools. Religion is as human, and as explicable, as the flint axe and the computer. It is a tool for the soul. Religion is a natural consequence of how we are wired as human beings: we have an inbuilt "belief engine". We should not, for that reason, accept that our beliefs, particularly our religious beliefs, are correct.
Wolpert, one of our best known explainers of science, came to his view about religion through his family experiences. He was born into a strict Jewish household and was, he records, "quite a religious child" until "I gave it all up around 16 and have been an atheist ever since." More specifically, he is "a reductionist, materialist atheist".
His son, Matthew, went the other way. Brought up in the Wolperts' atheist household, he was converted, in late adolescence, to fundamentalist Christianity. Matthew envied his father, he said, because Lewis was going to die soon. Matthew, alas, would have to wait years for admission into heaven (whence, as he later made clear, he was not entirely sure his father was going).

Continue reading.....,,1"751371,00.html

Campbell calls on Blair to intervene in fight against academy plan

Campbell calls on Blair to intervene in fight against academy plan

By KAYE HENRY (10 April 06)

OUTSPOKEN MP Ronnie Campbell is calling on the Prime Minister to intervene in the fight against an academy in Blyth.

- snip -

Fears have been raised that should the new private academy be built in Blyth by car businessman Peter Vardy, of Reg Vardy, Blyth Community College will struggle in competition for the best pupils.

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Creationists target schools and universities in Britain

Theological news from ekklesia 10/04/06

An figure associated with a controversial creationist movement which claims to use science against evolution is visiting Britain on a lecture tour that will include several schools and universities, the Observer newspaper has reported.

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April 09, 2006

Vital lessons at orang-utan 'Oxbridge'

Science, Just Science - News

The Observer has a piece on the "social evolution" of orang-utans in Sumatra -

Vital lessons at orang-utan 'Oxbridge'

The discovery of a group of privileged primates teaching each other sophisticated behaviour hints at the way human intellect has evolved

Robin McKie, science editor
Sunday April 9, 2006
The Observer

Suaq Balimbing, in the Kluet swamps, is one of Sumatra's least attractive destinations. It has mud, a profusion of biting insects, oppressive heat, and little else. To humans, it is a place to avoid. But to the island's wild orang-utans, Suaq is a magnet. It is the simian equivalent of Oxbridge, a place to obtain a privileged education so they can stand out among their peers.

read more;,,1749987,00.html

April 07, 2006

Curb influence of religions in schools, says NUT

Science, Just Science - News

Curb influence of religions in schools, says NUT

Rebecca Smithers, education editor
Friday April 7, 2006
The Guardian

Teachers are to call for an end to state funding for faith schools in an attempt to halt the growing influence of religious organisations in education and end the controversial teaching of creationism.

Britain's biggest teaching union, the National Union of Teachers, warned yesterday that religious fundamentalists were gaining control of state schools - predominantly through the government's city academy programme - and some private businesses had too much influence over the curriculum.

Read more here:,,1748953,00.html

Professor Denied Grant Over Evolution

AGENCY wants proof Darwin is correct; But McGill says committee's reasoning is faulty
PEGGY CURRAN and RANDY BOSWELL, The Gazette; CanWest News Service

A clash between McGill University and the key federal agency that funds social science research in the country is sparking a scholarly debate in Canada about the theory of evolution.

McGill University says the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council made a "factual error" when it denied Professor Brian Alters a $40,000 grant on the grounds that he'd failed to provide the panel with ample evidence that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is correct.

Jennifer Robinson, McGill's associate vice-principal for communications, said the university has asked the SSHRC to review its decision to reject Alters's request for money to study how the rising popularity in the United States of "intelligent design" - a controversial creationist theory of life - is eroding acceptance of evolutionary science in Canada.

The planned project, submitted last year to the council, is titled Detrimental effects of popularizing anti-evolution's intelligent design theory on Canadian students, teachers, parents, administrators and policymakers.

Alters, director of McGill's Evolution Education Research Centre, told CanWest News Service yesterday he was shocked at SSHRC's response and that it offers "ironic" proof that his premise about intelligent design gaining a foothold in Canada is correct.

Alters said he read the letter at a public lecture last week in Montreal and there were "audible gasps" from the large audience.

"Evolution is not an assumption and intelligent design is pseudo-science," Alters said.

"I think SSHRC should come out and state that evolution is a scientific fact and that intelligent design is not."

"There are all kinds of reasons to deny a grant proposal," Robinson said. "We don't want to assume anything." But she said McGill is obviously concerned by what it sees as a mistake in the committee's reasoning.

In its decision to deny the grant, the SSHRC panel said Alters had not supplied "adequate justification for the assumption in the proposal that the theory of evolution, and not intelligent design theory, was correct."

"McGill considers this a factual error," Robinson said.

"The theory of evolution is well-established science, while intelligent design is a form of religious belief."

Janet Halliwell, the SSHRC's executive vice-president and a chemist by training, acknowledged that the "framing" of the committee's comments to Alters left the letter "open to misinterpretation."

Halliwell said confidentiality obligations made it difficult for her to discuss Alters's case in detail, but she argued that the professor had taken one line in the letter "out of context" and the rejection of his application should not indicate that SSHRC was expressing "doubts about the theory of evolution."

However, Halliwell added there are phenomena that "may not be easily explained by current theories of evolution" and that the scientific world's understanding of life "is not static. There's an evolution in the theory of evolution."

Intelligent design - the idea that life on Earth was shaped by the guiding actions of some intelligent force rather than through natural selection - has become the latest battleground, particularly in the United States, between creationists and advocates of the theory of evolution championed by Darwin.

[Read More]

April 06, 2006

Debate about creation

Debate about creation

By Nikki Masters (6 April 06)

Organisers of a controversial visit by a creationist to a Fylde Coast school say they're keeping the location a secret to protect staff and pupils from abuse.

Geologist John Mackay, who disputes the theory of evolution and claims scientific evidence for the Biblical version of creation, will visit three local churches in May, and one secondary school the identity of which is being kept under wraps by organisers.

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April 04, 2006

Danniel Dennet replies to Madellaine Buntings criticisms

Science, Just Science - News

Danniel Dennet replies to Madellaine Buntings criticisms