Thursday, July 19, 2012

Creationist schools in the UK - act now to stop them

So, three schools set up by creationist groups have now been given the go ahead.

Should we be worried? Yes.

Sevenoaks Christian School - it states "Christians believe that God made the world and loves what he has made. In RE we plan to teach about this and our responsibility as stewards of this precious earth. We will not teach ‘creationism’ or ‘intelligent design’ as an alternative to the theory of evolution; indeed Free Schools are prohibited by law from teaching this."

Grindon Hall School - this has a Creation Policy, which, has such comments as "We will teach evolution as an established scientific principle, as far as it goes"; "...the so-called "Big Bang"..." and "We will teach creation as a scientific theory and we will always affirm very clearly our position as Christians,". As a private school, Grindon Hall has taught creationism in science lessons.

The third school, Exemplar Academy, doesn't have a website that I could find, but was originally turned down as a church wanted to set up a school that taught creationism. The Independent reports that individuals from the Church, but without the Churches official backing, put in the new bid. The Newark Advertiser says that the school will have a Christian ethos, but not a faith designation.

Imagine a school that had a holocaust denier as a backer/principal. How would you feel about children learn modern history there, even if they promised to teach about the holocaust in history lessons? What about the denial of the germ theory of disease? Would you be happy with the biology lessons?

In America, the Wedge Strategy has been very successful. The point is not to win the debate, but to have it. As can be clearly seen with the Caleb Foundation's response to the National Trust debacle: "...we have worked closely with the National Trust over many months with a view to ensuring that the new Causeway Visitor Centre includes an acknowledgement both of the legitimacy of the creationist position on the origins of the unique Causeway stones and of the ongoing debate around this. " The point was not to have out and out creationism throughout, but by simply having a few paragraphs, creationism is presented as a legitimate alternative to science.

Why is this important? Well, because education is important, especially science literacy.As Neil deGrasse Tyson has said “I see science literacy as kind of a vaccine against charlatans who would try to exploit your ignorance”. It's not just the individual that benefits, investing in science helps the state too.

Unsurprisingly, religious apologists side with the faithful because that's what they do. But this is important, whatever your religious beliefs. Please write to your MP and Michael Gove (there are easy templates available through that link). We need to nip the creationist problem in the bud.


  1. I think this is fine, but those schools that want to teach it as fact, must also stop using fossil fuels that took millions of years to form. So no cars, electricity generated using fossil fuels and no products used that were transported to the school using fossil fuels.

  2. Regardless of any alternate definitions, and I'm sure there are many, "creationism" is generally accepted to mean the belief in a world created by God in 4000BC in 7 days, with all that that implies. Nothing the two schools that have websites have written suggests this view. They are "creationist" in the sense that a belief in God implies that God was reponsible for the creation of the Universe as a whole, which, given the premise (ie the existence of God, something I very much do NOT accept) is fair enough.

    Such hyperbole can only damage the credibility of your position.

    1. Whilst it's true that there are many form of "creationism", I don't think Young Earth Creationism is the only generally accepted definition. There is also Intelligent Design, with its ideas of Irreducible Complexity, which (falsely) state that some biological structures are too complex to have evolved, ergo a designer. Consider that when the Grindon Hall Principal says "That document is from a time when we were not as clear as we are now about the proper distinction as to what is taught in a science lesson and what might be taught in assembly – two different spheres. If children question for themselves their origins, that's what we want them to do – to ask sensible, responsible questions. Am I here by accident, or – dare I use the word – design?’ With the amount of evidence for evolution out there, asking if we are designed is not a sensible, or reasonable question - if these is presented in assembly as a reasonable position, that is not on.

      One of the schools was turned down initially because of it creationist views - yes, it is no longer being back by the Everyday Champions Church, but members of that church are still involved.

      Of the three, Sevenoaks appears the less pernicious, but does imply that creationism could be taught in RE.

      I don't think I am exaggerating when I say this is cause for concern and action needs to be taken.


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