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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 11:16 GMT
Creation or evolution: What should schools be teaching?
Leading scientists are calling for school inspectors to re-examine a faith school in north east England over the way it is teaching evolution.

Professor Richard Dawkins, of Oxford University, says children at Emmanuel College in Gateshead are being taught "ludicrous falsehoods".

Professor Dawkins, and other scientists, claim fundamentalist Christian teachers at the school are steering children towards a purely biblical explanation of how the world was created.

The British Government supports faith schools as part of diversity in education and Prime Minister Tony Blair has defended Emmanuel College saying reports that it was promoting creationism were "somewhat exaggerated".

The row mirrors those in the United States, between religious groups, which want Creationism taught in schools, and scientists.

What do you think? Should all schools be forced to teach both religious and scientific explanations for evolution?

This Talking Point was suggested by Jane, Wales, UK :

Should faith schools be allowed to teach creationism?

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This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Evolution may just be a theory, but it is a theory that is supported by overwhelming evidence from every scientific field: genetics (Mendel's sweet peas); palaeontology (dinosaur fossils); chemistry (structure of DNA); embryology; quantum theory (carbon-dating); astronomy (Eppur si muove!); geology (continental drift and species diversification) among many, many others, including plain common sense. The Earth was not illuminated by God on the first day; it was by Charles Darwin on 24 November 1859.
Digby, UK

The debate boils down to whether you believe in God or Man.

Ben, UK
I am appalled as much by Richard Dawkins as I am by any religious fundamentalist. Anybody who believes anything so blindly that they refuse other peoples view is the worst sort of person since they believe that the other person is less than they. As long as a school presents both cases clearly then it allows a child to choose for themselves. I don't believe in Creationism, I have been convinced by what I have read, but if somebody can provide arguments to convince me then I would change what I believe. I believe that the debate boils down to whether you believe in God or Man.
Ben, UK

The creationists do not believe in evolution started off billions of years ago by God starting with the big bang, they believe the world was created mere thousands of years ago and fossils are a trick by the devil. The argument about who/what started/designed evolution is not the creationist vs. evolutionist argument. The creationists do not believe that species evolve into others.
Tom Cooper, UK

In the bible it says that first god made the day & night. Then god divided the water from the earth, made dry land appear and covered it with plants. Next god filled the air and sea with uncountable creatures and birds of every size. On the 6th day god created man. In a way, the above is a lay description of a form of evolution. Although the bible talks about 6 days, if you were to expand the concept and thought of the description of the days as being much longer than 24 hours (more along the lines of 100's of millions of years) then it is possible to see the Christian view of creation as a form of evolution. It seems to me that we are quibbling over the interpretation of the length of period of a day rather than a fundamental difference in the two alternate beliefs. I'm an atheist and also a huge fan of Richard Dawkings work and have read both the Blind WatchMaker and the Selfish Gene, but in this case I think he may have overreacted slightly. I would suggest that children be given access to all the possible theories and beliefs and let them make up their own minds since they are much more capable of discerning a truth that they are comfortable with than we give them credit for. It worked for me. Whilst I don't believe in god, I do respect anyone who does.
Rakesh, UK

We don't have conclusive evidence for either and probably never will. Creationism should be part of the curriculum, presented in context with the religion around it, similarly evolution should be part of the curriculum, presented in a scientific biological context. Neither should be presented as absolute fact. Better to give kids all the information they need to make an informed decision for themselves about where they came from, they don't need to have psuedo facts and conjecture shoved down their throats as absolute truth, by either side of the debate.
Chris Jones, UK

The problem with teaching evolution is that it's always been taught as fact which it isn't. It's all theory with a lot of assumed evidence. As a Christian I believe we were created by a God who loves us. If that God chose to use certain "scientific"methods to make the world then fine. I cannot believe that this beautiful world and our superbly intricate bodies came about by chance. Trouble is, if you don't believe in God then you have to believe in evolution - the alternative is too scary for most.
Doug, UK

I have serious reservations about schools being attached to any form of religion

David, Ireland
I went to a CofE primary school in England and was taught about both evolution and the creation - neither subject was put forward as the definitive answer, and we were encouraged to form our own opinions. However, many faith-based schools are not as progressive and open, and I have serious reservations about schools being attached to any form of religion. The French system is admirable in that it makes such a distinction, and allows those who choose to study religious theory to do so outside of normal curriculum activities.
David, Ireland

Religion of any sort has no place in any educational establishment unless it is conducted on a voluntary attendance basis. Surely children could be benefiting from so much more rather than wasting valuable time on such a futile subject. All religion does is teach people intolerance and hatred. Without any religion this world would be a much better place. I may sound cynical but what purpose does it really serve?
S, England

Creationism was made up by groups of people over many generations. On the other hand, Evolution was a set of discoveries that humans came across and often surprised the discoverer. Evolution is based on observation and fact.
David, UK

It seems that everyone who has posted comments associates "creationism" with "Christianity" and therefore, everyone is picking holes in fundamentalist Christian theory. Don¿t forget that there are other religions, all "pro" creationism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism etc so just because Christianity cannot explain things (probably due to the translations over the ages) DONT FORGET that there are other religions out there with creationism theories! Creationism is the belief that a "creator" made the universe, Christianity is believing in Jesus. People (who have already posted comments) who say that creationism is stupid because of unanswered questions in the bible are forgetting the other billions of people in other religions who also believe in creationism! Personally I am Christian, and one of my fundamental beliefs is that God created the universe, whether it be 5000 years ago or billions of years ago. But answer me this, if there was a "big bang" how did the "big bang" come into being? Science does not help here. With current laws of physics, "energy cannot be created or destroyed", indicating the universe never "started" it has just been around "forever" which is silly. People may say material "suddenly" collided and caused the explosion, but where did the "initiator", or in fact the pre-universe "material", come from? From a "creator" of course!
Huw, UK

Perhaps Huw would like to explain where the creator came from?
Andy , UK

I am a Christian, I also have a Degree in Physical Geography. I believe one of these accounts is the scientific 'HOW' and the other is the socio-religious 'WHY' both of these need to be taught in schools and children need to be able to make up their own minds. To present one side or the other exclusively or in a biased manner is not education but indoctrination. Lets credit school kids with the intelligence they have and arm them to make decisions of their own.
George, UK

Both the theory of evolution and the Biblical account of creation require a leap of faith.

Jon, UK
I'm not sure that in all the "mountains" of evidence supporting the theory of evolution, that there is one single fossil of a transitional form. Despite Darwin's conviction that we would surely find one - one day. Given the lack of material evidence - I'm not sure that Darwin would believe his own theory if he was still around. Lots of scientists reject the theory of evolution. For further reading seek out the book entitled "In 6 days". It's written by 50 PhDs explaining why they sign up to the Biblical account of creation over the theory of evolution. Not one word of the Bible has ever been disproved. Indeed, as evidence-based science has increased our understanding of the our world and universe, it has served to confirm statements in the Bible. For instance, the assertion in Genesis that the stars are as prolific as the grains of sand. This was at a time when only about 8,000 stars were visible and long before the invention of the telescope. In Job we read that the earth hangs, unsupported in space. Also in Job, 2 creatures resembling dinosaurs are described long before the name dinosaur was first coined. In Psalms that the earth is round - long before the earth was first circumnavigated. Both the theory of evolution and the Biblical account of creation require a leap of faith. It comes down to which leap the leaper perceives is the shorter. Keep an open mind and make sure you had a good look before you leap.
Jon, UK

A school is a place where children should be shown as many points of view as possible. A school should inspire thought but not indoctrinate theories by heart. So children should be presented with the scientific point of view and be encouraged to discuss it, although religious points of view could be shown as well. But children, with the help of their teacher, should understand the difference between scientific research and religious belief.
Monika Pawluczuk, Poland

I am extremely appalled at how vehemently some people oppose Creationism. Evolution is a theory, not a fact. Scientists are imposing their 'belief' on every classroom but when parents embrace the Bible's views they're called ignorant. Evolution is anti-God and it's sole purpose is to lull people away from faith in God. May I ask evolutionists to enquire as to what happened to our friend Darwin. He ended up believing in God you know. I suppose these scientists will call this unscientific, but we call it history. Christians are in no way opposed to education. May I also remind people who established the education systems in both the USA and UK - Believers. I believe in God, but I would never shove my belief down an atheist's throat. But that's exactly what these professors are doing in our schools. The Bible may be a fable to them, but it's Christian's life. And since when is a Government established on the basis of science - I thought we elected them so they can enforce our Human rights. Well, I want my right to not believe in Evolution - a bunch of fancy fables.
Michael, UK

Richard Dawkins is not just a 'leading scientist', he is also fervently anti-religion. An evangelical atheist, if you like. That being so, I would like to see just what this school really is teaching, rather than simply accepting his claims as fact. When I studied A-level Biology we were taught that evolution was the clear scientific consensus, but that some groups, for religious reasons, preferred other models. This seems to me to be sensible: evolution and creationism are not of equal validity scientifically, and shouldn't be taught as such, but you have to recognise that for some people other criteria are important.
Phil Blackburn, UK

Come to think of it, funny how evolution appears to have stopped - no creature seems to be fundamentally changing into another sort

Med, UK
To say that there is no evidence for creationism and lots for evolution is a fallacy. Creationism proposes that due to the complexity of the different creations there must be an intelligent designer - I don't think you'll find that statement anywhere in the Bible and 'creationists' are not only Christians. On the other hand 'evolutionists' propose that lizards had to run really, really quickly after their food, which were sometimes flies and therefore, hey presto, they developed wings. If you don't believe me take a look at post Darwin pictures of that two legged lizard running after a flying bug and over thousands of years, wings began to grow. Funny how they didn't die of hunger before their wings grew. Come to think of it, funny how evolution appears to have stopped - no creature seems to be fundamentally changing into another sort. And if you think you're going to be able to offer sophisticated examples of 'evolution', remember that there's a big difference between evolution and adapting to your environment -something the 'intelligent creator' made in-built in every creation I might add.
Med, UK

Two thoughts for Med to consider.
1. Evolution has not stopped. Evidence of changes in butterflies and the development of specification in Canadian fish show that evolution is alive and well. There is no reason for creationists to deny that evolution is going on today. God could have created it. Its just that creationists want us to believe that, although we can believe the evidence that it is happening today, and that it happened yesterday, and 1000 years ago and 9,999 years ago suddenly the evidence that it was happening 10,001 years ago is wrong because that is when God started evolution.

2 We talk about Creationists but we mean Christian Creationists. What about Hindu, Buddist, Inuit and even Viking and Ancient Greek creationist beliefs. If the Christian Creationism has a right to be heard as on a intellectual par with evolution then surely so do Australian Aboriginal ones and Ancient Egyptian ones. They are and were held with the same degree of faith and on the same intellectual basis as Christian Creationism
Nick, UK

I am terrified that we could stop teaching Evolution as a fact and start teaching children that the Earth was created in seven days. What next - stop teaching electronics and teach children that it is magic? This is the 21st century not the dark ages.
Darren, UK

Whilst studying Geology at a well-respected London University I once asked a friend of mine who is a strict Mormon how she dealt with being taught evolution and the creation of the Earth and universe. She simply responded by saying that it was a theory she chose not to believe but that she wanted to understand. Teach kids both but let's do it in a rational and informative way. After all creationism and evolution should be taught in different contexts anyway as the kids should be having science lessons as well as what we called R.E.

We can't possibly challenge one against the other. One is science the other is a story

Mike, UK
Evolution is a theory, a very clever and inspired one by Charles Darwin. As with all theories they are subjected to testing and/or empirical evidence. This is how science works. Theories are updated and they evolve in the light of new knowledge. This is the foundation of science. The Story of Creation, much like the story of Peter Pan, is entertaining and does have a place in many children's upbringing. There is no science involved here. It belongs to religious studies; which is based on blind faith. We can't possibly challenge one against the other. One is science the other is a story. Let us not discuss it too much as it tends to merge the two entirely different subjects and place them in the same debating forum - they should not be together in the same forum. If any school is teaching Creation as a science then they are surely wrong and the parents sending their children to that school should be very worried.
Mike, UK

Zacc, ... and teach Creationism as a myth, because that is all it is.
Roger, RSA

Thank you BBC for providing the Creationism Web link. When I saw the site quoting the death of dinosaurs as being as little as 9,000 years ago, citing scientific evidence, it confirmed my worries that these people will distort children's knowledge if they are allowed to continue this misrepresentation. What will we be seeing in the GCSE & 'A' Level papers in the near future?
Keith Appleyard, UK

I have no problem with Creationism being taught as long as it is within a religious context

Steve Bowler, England
First thing I will say is that I am not religious in any way. But I think this subject needs to be carefully thought about. I have no problem with Creationism being taught as long as it is within a religious context. What I do have a problem with is the teaching of creationism to the exclusion of other theories. Yes I agree with Zacc's comment evolution is a theory, but it has the advantage of being a theory that is constantly evolving itself as we find out more about the origins of life. It is important for children to grow up with a rounded lifestyle and to do this they need to have a rounded education which covers many points of view. It is then up to the individual to make decisions about what they choose to believe. Both concepts are valid points of view within the correct context.
Steve Bowler, England

Evolution is fact, where as the creation story is a bunch of mumbo-jumbo written by people who had no understanding of the world they lived in. The creation story is a lie, pretty much like every other story in the Bible - teaching it to children is akin to teaching them that 2 plus 2 is 5. We should not let the religious zealots harm us or hold us back anymore than they have already. I pity the children of the USA who have been brought up with this pathetic form of brainwashing; we should not inflict it upon our own.
John Duffy, England

As a Christian, I take the view that God is the author of creation. However that does not mean I support the so-called creationist position. The Bible is not a scientific text. It is a theological text which teaches theological principles not science. On the other hand, a little more humility on the part of the scientists would not go amiss. There is a great deal that we do not know about how the world came into being and we should be willing to admit that.
Peter Scott, UK

Teach both at schools by all means

Greg H, UK
It always amazes me that people who claim to be liberal label anyone who holds a different view to theirs as a fundamentalist and dismiss them out of hand. Teach both at schools by all means. Evolution is not a science (science is based on measurable facts) and should be taught as it is, merely a theory. Interestingly the more we discover about our genes the more the theory of evolution is discredited, although this is seldom reported in the popular press. If you don't believe me, do some investigating yourselves and don't be so blinkered.
Greg H, UK

If a maths teacher taught that 2+2=5, how long would it be before a crowd of accounting school flunk-outs sued him for malpractice? Emmanuel College's exclusively "creationist" curriculum will go the way of the dodo sooner or later. It's just a question of how many students are harmed, and when they decide to take their revenge.
Brian, UK

One word will end this debate - Dinosaurs
John, UK

What's needed is an understanding which synthesises both creationism and evolutionism. Science shows us Evolution happens but its driving force may have a divine origin and inception.
Manoj, UK

If you teach Creation, then you teach religion at the same time. Whose version of creation do you teach, and which god do you attribute creation to? Science classes should teach evolution, religion classes should teach creation. It's that simple.
Julian Wilton, England

Presumably we can look forward to equal time for the flat earth society in the geography syllabus?

Martyn Smoothy, UK
Seems to me the really important point in this fiasco is being largely overlooked, i.e. the position of the prime minister. His statement that the desirability of "a more diverse school system", can be taken to justify the teaching of creationism in SCIENCE classes is insane. Presumably we can look forward to equal time for the flat earth society in the geography syllabus?
Martyn Smoothy, UK

This argument simply goes to show that there are still many naive people out there who cannot accept that the Bible is just a book telling a story. In the 21st century I think it's rather sad that we allow such people to still have influence over young impressionable minds.
James, Curacao

Wow, at least the exam will be nice and easy! On the first day God created light...and on the seventh day he rested. Not much to revise there!
Edoardo Piras, United Kingdom

Creationism and the religious nonsense that goes with it are responsible for most of the troubles in the world. It has been so throughout history.
J.S., U.K.

The faith school scheme is divisive, wasteful and wrong

Toby Woodwark, UK
This is just one reason, beyond ethnic divisiveness and so on, why state-sponsored faith schools are a bad idea. The curriculum for science teaches certain theories as fact, because they are scientific best guesses. That is how science works. But this cannot help but conflict with religious, e.g. creationist views, which are thrust on children as eternal truths. If parents want to indoctrinate their kids with such confusions they may (subject to current law), but why should I have to subsidise this? If Britain wants to support a multicultural society it should take the path of disestablishing the protestant church and taking religion out of our schools. The faith school scheme is divisive, wasteful and wrong.
Toby Woodwark, UK

Evolution theory is science, creationism is about faith. I don't see how the two can be compared meaningfully when they proceed from different axioms. Claiming that teaching creationism as an alternative view is okay because the theory of evolution is "just a theory" shows a deep misunderstanding of the meaning and purpose of a scientific theory. Creationism judged as science fails immediately, because it's highest standard of proof is "It says so in the Bible", which is not acceptable to science. Different axioms, different answers.
Laurence Tyler, UK

The real falsehood is teaching the theory of evolution as fact not theory. Children should be taught the evidence supporting this theory and the evidence supporting biblical creation (-yes it does exist), to allow them to make their own decisions.

Education is about learning all sides to a story, so kids should certainly be aware of Creationism

Simon, UK
Education is about learning all sides to a story, so kids should certainly be aware of Creationism. But no way to teaching such a 'head in the sand' approach as a main subject. I'll never understand why some people adamantly believe such stuff - if their god gave them a brain, why do they refuse to use it by asking questions and therefore learning the 'facts'? In any event, there's plenty of room for religious believe in science - after all, no-one has figures out where the big bang came from, so still a little room for a higher being maybe.
Simon, UK

Isn't the problem here that if the creationists accept Evolution all religions are seen for what they are - superstition.
Chris, UK

Ah Christians, those wonderful people who gave us the Spanish Inquisition...small wonder they haven't evolved. Such a pity we continue to appease these throwbacks.
Ros Greenfield, UK

Schools should be forced to teach either both creationism and evolution or evolution alone. Creationism is a myth which, in line with many other stories of the world's creation, is quite entertaining but does not in any way reflect reality. However, there is no reason why Creationist stories should not be told to schoolchildren alongside the facts of evolution. More knowledge never hurt anyone.
Neil Anderson, Scotland

Both sides are wrong. We're actually descended from Martians - that's why the human body clock is better suited to 25 hour days (length of a Martian day) than 24 hours... Well, that makes more sense that the creationists anyway...
Marc, UK now USA

Creationism as a theory is kept alive purely for subjective reasons

Joe, Bristol, UK
Creationism as a theory is kept alive purely for subjective reasons: the validity of the Christian Bible. I have no problem with schools teaching both points of view, but I will undermine the teaching of the creationist theory by re-educating my children if necessary.
Joe, Bristol, UK

The school's results are excellent - including science. So what's the problem? They're obviously teaching the curriculum, or the students wouldn't be passing. Plus the parents I've seen interviewed seem happy with it too. So what is the problem?
Simon C, UK

I think Bill Hicks said it best in that if the Bible covers everything from creation to the present day, how did they forget to put in anything about dinosaurs?
Jamie, UK

As a Christian and a Scientist I am constantly fed up and bored by both sides

Iain Young, Scotland
The problem with the theory of evolution is not the theory itself - it never postulates who/what created life - it's the scientists. The problem with any theory based on Intelligent Design, is not the theory, but the creationist behind them. As a Christian and a Scientist I am constantly fed up and bored by both sides. I guess God is too. I want my kids exposed to a range of thoughts, and religions. I do NOT want a Dawkins telling my kids he knows the truth. He simply doesn't. In 100 years we will look back at the Theory of Evolution and laugh at most of what we thought was correct. Science does not bring truth, it teaches us to think and explore in a logical fashion. Actually, that what I am taught in the Bible. Leave the teachers alone!
Iain Young, Scotland

Evolution theory is just that, a theory, but it is the best explanation for the history of life on Earth. Creationists would have us believe that the world was created 6000 years ago (instead of 4.65 billion). That dinosaurs did not walk the earth 60 million years ago, the earth was created in 6 days and that the human race started by just two people. Ignoring the fact that humans could not have survived for 6000 years if the genetic base was just two people, there is ample evidence to prove that creation is a story, used explain the world to people of a more innocent age. Creation stories have a place in school. Religious Education classes should be used to discuss ideas on the beginning of earth from all religions, and they should all be respected as some people's beliefs, but in no way should creation ideas from any religion be taught as fact.
Iain Cowan, United Kingdom

To discuss Creationism within the context of the Bible is fine, but to put it up as arrival theory to evolution is ludicrous. What really concerns me about the fundamental Christian movement of the USA and now apparently UK is that given the chance they would be no better than the Taleban with religious schools only. This is a one-way ticket back to the Dark Age.
Jon Sockett, England

There is a huge mountain of scientific evidence for evolution and not a drop for creationism

Jim, UK
I knew that creationism was taught in some fundamentalist US schools as an alternative to evolution but I never thought I'd see the like of it here. There is a huge mountain of scientific evidence for evolution and not a drop for creationism. In Genesis it says on day one God created light, but he didn't create the sun until day four. Is this the kind of mumbo-jumbo we want to teach our children? Fair enough, let parents brainwash their children in the privacy of their own homes but no way in our schools!
Jim, UK

Teach them both by all means. Any children with more than two brain cells will quickly see where the truth lies! Learning about the rubbish that religious fundamentalists are taught in all faiths will also help them to understand why these people cause such trouble in the world.
Sarah, Australia

I beg to differ with Sarah from Australia. I think what causes trouble in the world is our lack of understanding of other religious beliefs. The views of all religions should be taught in an overview style to give us all a broad idea of what other people believe. To discard beliefs as religious fundamentalist rubbish is to discard all hope for peacefull co-existence. Knowledge, Respect and understanding are things lacking as you have just so eloquently proved.
JHFJ, England

Yes, I think creationism should be taught, along with the story of Santa, the Easter Bunny, and views of the Flat Earth Society.
Michael, USA

It's their business as long as it doesn't handicap the students' progress

Chris, USA
Our forefathers (and mothers) got along very well with their beliefs long before Darwin revolutionised the way we view our world. It might not hurt to let some parents and schools teach a form of creationism. It's their business as long as it doesn't handicap the students' progress or jeopardise their prospects in a modern world. After all, we don't have all the answers. It's a pity from an evolutionist's point of view because the children taught exclusively creationism might find themselves the victims of natural selection.
Chris, USA

Evolution isn't just a theory. Creationism is based on a book thousands of years old. In reply to Chris, if we know something to be false, why teach it as fact, which I'm afraid to say happens here in the Deep South quite a bit. The idea that nothing on earth or in space is more than 6,000 years old (or 10,000 years old depending on your church) is laughable. Of course there are a few gaps in evolutionary theory, but compared to one big gap in creationism I think it's worth going with, don't you?
Iain, USA/UK

Teach evolution as a theory, because that is all it is.
Zacc, UK

Will they start teaching pi=3 in maths lessons? After all that's what 1 Kings 7:23 says, so it must be true.
Andrew, UK

That this subject even merits discussion in schools is astonishing. Creationism is simply a view put about by blinkered religious types. It has no substantiation, other than of course the bible. You'd think by the twenty-first century, we'd have outgrown this superstitious claptrap as a species. Parents must be free to pass on their beliefs as they see fit, but to push them on kids at school as fact, rather than belief, will simply confuse them.

As a Christian and an amateur palaeontologist, I have no trouble accepting that Darwin teaches us the "how", while the Bible tells us the "why"

David, UK
As a Christian and an amateur palaeontologist, I have no trouble accepting that Darwin teaches us the "how", while the Bible tells us the "why", in a piece of superb poetry that describes man and God' positions in the universe, not the universe itself. This is mainly because I can find a lot of holes in the so-called Creationist (i.e. taking Genesis literally) theory without having to resort to scientific evidence.
David, UK

Question: Did Adam have a belly button? I've always believed that the Bible was allegorical, but then I was never taught otherwise.
Dave, UK

I think that Science should speak. Evolution is just a theory. In fact it is a collection of inconsistent theories, which contradict each other. The underlying theme being that nothing turns into everything given enough time. The thing evolving most on this planet is evolutionary theory. Only empirically proved science should be taught at schools - not theories based on ludicrous suppositions. We should strive to teach only the truth, the most consistent truth being found in God's word.

Who created God?
Hugo, UK

It depends what is meant by creationism. If it means presenting the Bible version as historical fact then I disagree with that. The Bible contains some great insights but people who insist that every word of it is literally true make it difficult to take seriously and give Christianity a bad name.
Jane, Wales, UK,

Evolution is a theory, and most scientists would admit that there are gaps in the theory which we haven't explained yet - the reason that it still remains a theory. The major problem I have with creationism is that if the universe can't exist without a creator then how can a creator exist without a creator? All that belief in a creator has done is add another "level" to the problem. I consider myself to be a scientist, and as such do not believe or disbelieve in the existence of god(s). Just as I cannot say that evolution is fact - it just happens to be the best theory that we have at the moment.
Mark E, England

It's interesting to me that every person in this column who has supported the theory of evolution while denouncing creation from having any plausible ounce of truth, that they themselves are proving the Bible true. The Bible warns that in the end times, people will 'deliberately forget' that God created the universe, and many false teachings will be adopted by world. See - the Bible warned us ahead of time.
JN, London, England

Huw, who created the creator? Please don't tell me it was him/herself. That'd be the same as the big bang theory, which you apparently have little BELIEF in.
Warren, UK

I wonder how many of those who support the THEORY of Evolution have really looked at the "facts" of evolution in an unbiased manner, rather than started with the premise that creationism requires a God, and there isn't one, so evolution must be true and lets find some evidence? And incidentally, re. Nick, UK, microevolution - which occurs within species, is no evidence that macroevolution between species occurred.
Charlotte, UK

The real issue is who has the right to determine what my child learns, and what influences the belief system they are developing

Daniel, England
It's amazing what people will accept to be fact if it is taught and promoted by key influencers in society. As parents we have a responsibility to safeguard the minds of our children from the blinkered approach of encouraging people to accept things as fact without appropriate analysis and supporting evidence. This is true whether you believe in evolution, six-day creation, or that we are all descended from Martians. As Jon so rightly states, taking on a scientific theory and actually formulating a belief from it requires a leap of faith; whether that be evolution, creation, or anything else. The only people I have encountered who deny this are those who have convinced themselves that the theory of evolution is fact. I suspect that this is because they do not want to dwell on the consequences of the alternative.

Physicists will tell you that 'scientific' and 'fact' rarely go together (and when they do, the facts tend to change as the science improves). However, this debate is missing the point. The real issue is who has the right to determine what my child learns, and what influences the belief system they are developing. Education is the prime responsibility of the parent. The government demands that we pay for a state school system - whether we use it or not. Because I am paying for a state system I cannot afford an alternative, therefore for as long as that is the case, I am going to demand the right to determine what the system teaches my children.
Daniel, England

What is all this fuss about whether natural selection is fact or theory? It's only a 'theory' that the earth goes round the sun, but it's got a lot of evidence on its side. It's only a 'theory' that life evolves by natural selection, but again, the evidence is overwhelming. One cannot doubt the evolution part--the world does gradually change over time--it's the principle of natural selection that needs to be understood. Perhaps part of the resistance to natural selection is motivated by the same adherence to dogma that plagued Galileo. His ideas turned out to be right, so will Darwin's.
Robin Prior, San Diego

Jon, while you have been well indoctrinated into Creationism, you haven't studied much of evolution. Your observation about there being no 'transitional' fossils shows this. All animals, and therefore all fossils, are 'transitional'. No body form is irreversibly set, and this is what evolution is. It isn't even necessarily what you would call progress, but it is continuous, small, incremental change. And for my money, it stands up to any scrutiny you want, unlike something that requires faith, which by its definition, doesn't stand much scrutiny.
SM, Ireland

SM: actually, I was indocrinated into evolution for 40 years. I accepted it as fact and wouldn't even bothered arguing with anybody daft enough to sign up to the Biblical account of creation. That was until I met the living God - Jesus. Andrew: ref 1 Kings 7:23. Take into account the dimensions of the width of the rim of the bowl (verse 26) and you will find the value of pi is more precise than the 22/7 that is usually accepted in the classroom as the ratio of the the diameter to the circumference of a circle. Not only does God not tell lies - He is a stickler for accuracy.
Jon, UK

See also:

14 Mar 02 | UK Politics
The creation of a row
11 Mar 02 | Americas
Evolution challenged in US schools

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