Creationism should play no part in science lessons, the Government has confirmed.
Jacqui Smith, schools minister, has told humanists that the strict biblical theory of life had "no scientific principles or explanations" and should be not be discussed in GCSE biology.
Her comments seem to contradict her earlier statement that creationism and intelligent design, its revisionist offshoot, may be employed to debate "scientific controversies", including Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
In a written parliamentary answer in February she said that pupils should be taught about "how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence" in GCSE biology. She said that, although creationism and intelligent design are not part of the national curriculum, they "could be covered in these contexts".
But now she has told the British Humanist Association: "Creationism cannot be used as an example of a scientific controversy, as it has no empirical evidence to support it and no underpinning scientific principles or explanations. It belongs in a different domain of knowledge, that of religion."
She added: "Intelligent design is sometimes erroneously advanced as a scientific theory but it has no underpinning scientific principles or explanations supporting it and it is not accepted by the international scientific community."
Ms Smith said pupils should look at scientific alternatives to Darwinism such as those of Jean Baptiste Lamarck, the French naturalist who proposed that evolution resulted from the inheritance of acquired characteristics.
Her comments cast doubt on the validity of a new GCSE biology syllabus written by the OCR examination board, which instructs students to consider that the existence of fossils has been "interpreted differently over time (for example, creationist interpretation)". A spokeswoman for OCR said no changes would be made to the exam specification.
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