Creationism is not alien to science

2nd July 2004 at 01:00
In her letter Brigid Hogan (TES, June 18) would have us believe that British science will suffer if we allow Biblical creationism to be taught alongside evolution in schools funded by the VardyEmmanuel Schools Foundation.

On the contrary, a quick look at www.britannica.comnobelgentime.html

suggests that Americans have almost single-handedly driven progress in genetics, not bad for a country where many people believe in Biblical creationism. Even Francis Crick, our only Nobel laureate in this subject area, had to share his prize for the discovery of the double helix with James Watson, yet another American.

A widespread belief that the Earth is flat or hollow or that aliens abduct Americans has not prevented the United States taking the lion's share of the Nobel prizes for physics either.

If their results are anything to go by, the Emmanuel Schools Foundation is not shirking its responsibilities, both legal and moral, to deliver a first-class science education to its pupils.

Despite the overwhelming evidence in support of evolution, censorship of creationism makes me uneasy. Perhaps I am being naive but surely, by challenging the assumptions that underlie the theory of evolution, Biblical creationism will lead to a deeper understanding of the science and perhaps better scientists?

I suspect that pupils at the Emmanuel college will have a better grasp of the difference between natural selection, evolution and speciation. The teaching of creationism might even illuminate the relative status of scientific ideas with laws at one end and speculation at the other. This might end the perception of science being black and white, right or wrong, with no room for different interpretations of the same evidence - something which switches off so many of our pupils and impoverishes science.

As a physicist I welcome the chance to discuss provocative ideas. Using science to decide whether the moon landings took place is a favourite among pupils.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that some of our most celebrated scientists have held strong religious convictions - these apparently incompatible ideas can coexist in the same mind simply because one depends on faith and the other demands evidence.

Dr Mike Follows 3 Newlands Close Willenhall, West Midlands

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