Creationism in the UK Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Creationism in the UK

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Note: this Entry is part of a series of Entries on Evolution and Creationism, and is not intended to be read in isolation.

British readers may be reading about Creationism and smugly thinking 'Only in America'. Well, don't be so sure. Emmanuel City Technical College in Gateshead, England, teaches evolution, but specific written advice for teachers suggests that whenever they encounter a suggestion that the Earth is millions or billions of years old, they should be careful to explain the alternative and, quote, 'always preferable' biblical version of events. In short, Creationist teaching is going on in science classes in at least one British school.

The College received glowing reviews on its mandatory inspections. Prominent scientists are now urging that the school be re-examined, thinking that the inspectors must surely not have correctly examined the school's science teaching.

Further, a group of scientists and religious representatives has written a letter to the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, the full text of which is reproduced here:

We write as a group of scientists and Bishops to express our concern about the teaching of science in the Emmanuel City Technical College in Gateshead. Evolution is a scientific theory of great explanatory power, able to account for a wide range of phenomena in a number of disciplines. It can be refined, confirmed and even radically altered by attention to evidence. It is not, as spokesmen for the college maintain, a 'faith position' in the same category as the biblical account of creation, which has a different function and purpose.
The issue goes wider than what is currently being taught in one college. There is a growing anxiety about what will be taught and how it will be taught in the new generation of proposed faith schools. We believe that the curricula in such schools, as well as that of Emmanuel City Technical College, need to be strictly monitored in order that the respective disciplines of science and religious studies are properly respected.

The signatories to this letter were:

  • The Right Reverend Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford
  • Sir David Attenborough, FRS
  • The Right Reverend Christopher Herbert, Bishop of St Albans
  • Lord May of Oxford, President of the Royal Society
  • Professor John Enderby, FRS, Physical Secretary, Royal Society
  • The Right Reverend John Oliver, Bishop of Hereford
  • The Right Reverend Mark Santer, Bishop of Birmingham
  • Sir Neil Chalmers, Director, Natural History Museum
  • The Right Reverend Thomas Butler, Bishop of Southwark
  • Sir Martin Rees, FRS, Astronomer Royal
  • The Right Reverend Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth
  • Professor Patrick Bateson, FRS, Biological Secretary, Royal Society
  • The Right Reverend Crispian Hollis, Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth
  • Sir Richard Southwood, FRS, Past Biological Secretary, Royal Society
  • Sir Francis Graham-Smith, FRS, Past Physical Secretary, Royal Society
  • Professor Richard Dawkins, FRS

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