No place for creationism in science

14th November 2008 at 00:00

Creationism has no place in science since it is not science ("Science teachers willing to give intelligent design a platform", TES, November 7).

I would no more urge science teachers to teach creationism than astrology, phrenology or physiognomy - or than I would require RE lessons to include science alongside all discussion of biblical events or events portrayed in any other holy text.

Why not insist RE lessons state openly that there is no physical evidence for a God or gods, and that there is no scientific evidence for most of the stories in any holy text, and that, as such, they cannot be taken as true or as representations of actual events?

Pupils may bring up creationism in science lessons, and teachers must deal with that. The easiest solution is to explain that creationism is a matter of belief; science is not about belief but about the acceptance of evidence. Belief is often irrational and unsubstantiated by evidence, while science is rational and substantiated by evidence.

For example, there is overwhelming evidence for evolution, so we accept it as scientifically proven and true. But the nature of truth and proof in science is something many people misunderstand. Proof and truth in science doesn't mean unchanging or absolute, only provisional.

It is worrying that nearly a fifth of science teachers do not seem to understand this, and it raises questions about how they can teach the new science programmes.

The proper place for discussing issues such as creationism and intelligent design is in RE lessons - a provision that is already available to all RE teachers and pupils.

James D Williams, Lecturer in science education, Sussex school of education, University of Sussex, Brighton.

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