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On September 25, Lisburn City Council in Northern Ireland voted to encourage schools in their district to make pupils aware of alternatives to evolution, such as intelligent design and creation. The substance of their motion, proposed by Councillor Paul Given and as might be expected given the track record of many secular reporters in the U.K. covering such issues, has been misrepresented in the media. Far from banning evolution from the schools, as some have contended, the motion does not even attempt to instruct schools in what to do, but merely points out that resources for the teaching of alternatives exist.
The motion was likely given increased impetus because I had led a Creation Weekend in the city the previous week. My meetings were well attended—on Friday, September 14, 2007, for instance, I spoke to about a thousand people, half of whom were young people. On Saturday, September 15, I was presented with an attractive gift clock by the Mayor of Lisburn, Councillor James Tinsley, who made a brief speech welcoming Answers in Genesis to Lisburn as providers and preachers of biblical truth. (By the way, over the years, Ken Ham, AiG–U.S. president, has conducted several meetings in Northern Ireland which have drawn large crowds, and those seminars have helped create a groundswell of support for the deemphasizing of evolution as “fact” in govenment-run schools in the country.)
Following the council's vote, BBC Radio Ulster decided to hold a discussion programme on the issue on September 26. I was invited to take part on the programme by phone and was surprised to find myself in a live debate with Professor Richard Dawkins. His method was, as usual, to be insulting, but callers to the programme complained about his rudeness to me. I was then able to speak more, and quoted Dawkins’ illogicalities from his own book The God Delusion, which just happened to be in my office at the time of the radio programme.
I have no idea what will come of the controversy in Lisburn. We should pray that the issue will not be interpreted as sectarian or the preserve of one political party, but might be seen as an issue of truth.
The British Government can at least be commended that they have recognized that there are times when the subject of creationism must be tackled in science lessons. Indeed, this is in line with the original intentions of the National Curriculum, which requires that:
Pupils should be taught ... how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence [for example, Darwin's theory of evolution]
ways in which scientific work may be affected by the contexts in which it takes place [ for example, social, historical, moral and spiritual ] , and how these contexts may affect whether or not ideas are accepted. (Science: The National Curriculum in England, 1999, statements 1.1b and 1.1c, p46)
Paul Taylor, Head of Media and Publications at Answers in Genesis (UK/Europe), and a former comprehensive school Head of Science, said today:
“It is not the policy of Answers in Genesis that any evolutionary science teacher in a state school should be forced to teach something in which they do not believe. However, the Government’s guidelines maintain that creationism and intelligent design ‘have no underpinning scientific principles.’ This is demonstrably not correct.
“It is to be hoped that the guidelines’ assertion that ‘hypotheses are developed on the basis of the body of knowledge and are tested experimentally to generate further evidence that may be supportive or contradictory’ will be used to remind pupils that no experimental evidence has ever been found for the theory of evolution, nor is it capable of scientific testing, as it makes assertions about unrepeatable events in the past. Therefore, evolution is not a scientific theory, by the guidelines’ own definition, but rather a set of beliefs, used by most (but not all) scientists to interpret their findings. At that level, a belief in evolution is no different to a belief in creation—except that the latter belief is more consistent with the actual experimental evidence.”