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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.

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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.

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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'

7 May 06

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


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.

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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.

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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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