Creationism has no factual basis

18th June 2004 at 01:00
I was recently contacted by a science teacher at Northcliffe comprehensive school in Conisbrough, Doncaster.

The teacher was extremely concerned by the local education authority's plans to change the school into an "academy" with the help of a donation from a fundamental Christian charity called the VardyEmmanuel Schools Foundation.

She had evidence to suggest that this charity would strongly influence the teaching of biology in the new school, expecting equal weight to be given to Biblical creationism as to the scientific theory of evolution.

If this fear is correct, and the LEA does not act vigorously to prevent it, then it will be a tragedy for British science education.

At present, creationists and advocates for "intelligent design" are actively influencing the teaching of biology in the United States, a trend that scientists here are trying hard to counteract. For example, there are books on the teaching of evolution in schools and statements from leading scientists on the National Academies of Science website at www.nas.edu.

This material is freely available and the books can be read online.

Why do I care about this? I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful science education in a state high school in the UK. I went on to become a successful scientist and I owe a tremendous debt to the British educational system, which I believe is still one of the best in the world.

The theory of evolution is one of the most important and central unifying concepts in biology. Creationism and intelligent design have no basis in fact, and including them in the curriculum is about as silly as spending time seriously discussing UFOs rather than the Hubble telescope.

Students deserve the best science education possible to prepare for the future. Creationism has no place in schools, and it is very worrying that it appears to be gaining a foothold in the UK.

Brigid Hogan

Chair

Department of cell biology

Duke university medical school

Durham

North Carolina

United States

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