Have some faith in evolution

2nd May 2003 at 01:00
RUPERT Kaye's letter (TES, April 11) on the dangers of presenting evolution as a fact ignores two important aspects. Evolution requires no more or less scientific proof than any other fact or theory, for example, gravity, and evolution is both a theory and a fact that is concerned with development, not origins. As to how life first began, the jury is still out as to how it developed, and we have evolution.

There needs to be acceptance of, not belief in, evolution taught in school science. Belief should be reserved for aspects of religious studies. If we do not accept evolution then we should not, by definition, teach any science as fact. Does Rupert Kaye object to science teachers "making children swallow as fact" gravity? We accept gravity due to the weight of evidence for it. We must also accept evolution due to the weight of evidence.

Where I do agree with Rupert Kaye is that children should be taught the importance of evolution. Our curriculum marginalises this central tenet of biology to such an extent that success in achieving the highest grades at GCSE and A2 can come with little to no study of this important scientific principle. Examples of evolution used in our textbooks are flawed and in need of radical updating. Our teaching of evolution is poor, to the extent that this is capitalised on by creationists who use misconceptions people have about evolution to suggest that the theory is inadequate and a lie.

By stating that one should "believe" in evolution, we accord this theory a status that it does not deserve - something almost akin to a religion.

Teach acceptance of evolution in school science and belief in creation in religious studies.

James D Williams

PGCE programme leader

University of Sussex Institute of education



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