Blinded by science or blinkered by belief?

27th May 2011 at 01:00

I am an experienced RE teacher and was appalled at the sensationalist editorial ("With the oddballs off-limits, free schools are beginning to look distinctly normal") and the unchecked fanaticism of CriSIS (Creationism in Schools Isn't Science) gleefully welcoming the new free school "guidance" from the Government ("Gove banishes creationist groups from free schools", 20 May).

It is as ill-informed an opinion as I have seen for a long time.

The TES has linked the idea of creation science with the extreme religious view that "21 May 2011 will be ... the appointed day of Judgment". If a group heralding such a view were to apply to run a free school, they deserve all the scorn they get.

Yet having had to teach the differing viewpoints of creation and evolution in GCSE classes for many years, I believe that honest creation science is a viewpoint that requires at least the debate that it is summarily denied in secondary science lessons.

I have had to be aware of the views of both creation scientists and evolutionary scientists for use in my lessons, and, yes, both camps have eloquent people with bona fide science degrees and commitment to the cause and furtherance of science.

I have found woolly thinking on both sides. However, scientists who support creation and intelligent design (ID) as a scientific view seem, on the whole, better able to fit the available evidence to their world view than have the supporters of evolution, who seem to move between certainty and tentativeness without any explanation.

For example, one scientist supporter of evolution was absolutely certain of the factuality of evolution yet, when asked to elucidate the evidence he used to arrive at his conclusion, peppered his reply with expressions such as "may have", "possibly", "probably", and "might have been".

Those who will countenance a creation science viewpoint, on the other hand, simply point to the evidence available and draw a conclusion - which seems to me a much more scientific approach. Historically, it is organised religion that has been accused of being intolerant of differing views. Now, on this issue, it is science.

Religious studies has been at the cutting edge of comparing a range of views and opinions. Is "science" incapable of such honest enquiry?

I find Mr Gove's blanket rejection of creation or ID as a scientific theory narrow minded. And those who find this "wonderful news", please just be honest enough to admit that your prejudice is showing loud and clear.

Mike Troke, Via email.

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