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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 April 2006, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Creationism 'no place in schools'
fossil skull
The Royal Society cites the fossil record in evidence
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.

The Department for Education said that creationism was not taught in schools.

The Royal Society's statement said some pupils may wish to "explore the compatibility, or otherwise, of science with various beliefs, and they should be encouraged to do so".

"However young people are poorly served by deliberate attempts to withhold, distort or misrepresent scientific knowledge and understanding in order to promote particular religious beliefs."

Fossil record

It added: "A belief that all species on Earth have always existed in their present form is not consistent with the wealth of evidence for evolution, such as the fossil record.

"Similarly, a belief that the Earth was formed in 4004BC is not consistent with the evidence from geology, astronomy and physics that the solar system, including Earth, formed about 4,600 million years ago."

Vice-president of the Royal Society, Professor David Read, referred to the King's Academy in Middlesbrough.

The school is one of three run by the Emmanuel Schools Foundation, sponsored by Christian car dealer Sir Peter Vardy.

The foundation has been criticised for featuring creationist theories in lessons in the schools.

'Faith position'

Sir Peter has said the schools present both Darwin's evolutionary theory and creationism - the academy denies that it has taught creationism.

In 2003 Sir Peter said: "One is a theory, the other is a faith position. It is up to the children."

Prof Read said the reports about the academy highlighted how the education system "allows the promotion of creationist beliefs in relation to scientific knowledge."

He added: "Our government is pursuing a flexible education system, but it should also be able to ensure and demonstrate that young people in maintained schools or academies are not taught that the scientific evidence supports creationism and intelligent design in the way that it supports evolution."

Supporters of intelligent design believe life is so complex it must be the work of a supernatural designer.

Influence

Teachers' unions are to debate the role of faith schools at their annual conferences this Easter.

Members will be asked to vote on calls for the government to legislate to prevent the growing influence of religious organisations in state schools and for it to stop funding faith schools.

Pupils should be taught that the fossil record is evidence for evolution
DfES

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, said recently he was not comfortable with creationism being taught in schools.

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said that neither creationism nor intelligent design were taught in schools.

He said: "The national curriculum for science clearly sets down that pupils should be taught that the fossil record is evidence for evolution, and how variation and selection may lead to evolution or extinction.

"Academies are required to follow the core and foundation requirements of the national curriculum requirements and are therefore in the same position as other schools regarding the teaching of science."


SEE ALSO:
Creationism to be in GCSE papers
10 Mar 06 |  Education
Would you Adam and Eve it?
01 Apr 05 |  Magazine
Academy makes a hi-tech new start
05 Sep 03 |  Education


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