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English Priest Denies Scientific Validity of Creationism

on October 13, 2007
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BBC News: “Teachers ‘fear evolution lessons’The teaching of evolution in schools continues to become more stress-ridden for instructors, reports the BBC. In a new book, a scientist who also serves as a Church of England priest argues against putting creation and evolution education on the same level.

Michael Reiss, head of science at the Institute of Education in London, warns that pupils could leave school with “gaps in their scientific knowledge” because of the influence of creationism. Reiss estimates (on what basis, the article does not say) that one in 10 individuals in the UK accepts the literal truth of the creation accounts in the Koran or Bible. He adds that both Christian and Islamic creation movements have resulted in an increasingly difficult environment for evolution education, arguing in particular that:

The number of Muslim students has grown considerably in the last 10 to 20 years and a higher proportion of Muslim families do not accept evolutionary theory compared with Christian families.

But apparently “not dismissing” creation beliefs isn’t the same, to Reiss, as putting creation and evolution on equal footing.

In a new book, Teaching about Scientific Origins: Taking Account of Creationism, Reiss argues that instructors should “tackle the issue head-on, whilst trying not to alienate students.” He added, “By not dismissing their beliefs, we can ensure that these students learn what evolutionary theory really says—and give everyone the understanding to respect the views of others.”

But apparently “not dismissing” creation beliefs isn’t the same, to Reiss, as putting creation and evolution on equal footing. The BBC includes Reiss’s qualification that “any teaching should not give the impression that creationism and the theory of evolution are equally valid scientifically.”

In other words—as we’ve seen in other jurisdictions—it’s perfectly fine to believe in a creation story, so long as you don’t assert that the story has any scientific basis. That is what is meant by “respec[ting] the views of others.”

In Reiss’s defense, he is suggesting a less dictatorial way of handling the issue of origins education as the classroom debate continues to grow; many of his opponents cling to a more rigid defense of evolution in the classroom. For example, Hilary Leevers of the Campaign for Science and Engineering argues that “Further discussion of creationism should occur in religious education as it is a belief system, not one based on science.” Of course, the presuppositions underlying evolutionary theory are just as much a “belief system” as other religious presuppositions, as Ken Ham clearly describes in “Evolution Is Religion.”

Additionally, this quote from the article demonstrates the bias pretty clearly: “But Prof Reiss argues that there is an educational value in comparing creationist ideas with scientific theories like Darwin's theory of evolution because they demonstrate how science, unlike religious beliefs, can be tested.” Note how creationists have “ideas,” how “scientists” have “theories,” and how “Darwin's theory of evolution ... can be tested.” Never mind scientists who are creationists and who have creationist theories that can be tested scientifically (one example being the RATE project). Or the fact that you can’t objectively test origins—and that what is testable of evolution theory, i.e., natural selection, is something creationists also accept.

It is encouraging to hear that pupils are continuing to raise questions about evolution in the classroom, despite authorities’ attempts to stifle honest inquiry. While Answers in Genesis does not condone mandating educators to teach creation (such policies would inevitably result in evolutionists mis-teaching creation theory), we do strongly believe students and teachers should have the academic freedom to discuss the weaknesses and presuppositions inherent in Darwinism. But no matter what level of academic freedom is allowed in the science classroom, it is the ultimate responsibility of parents, pastors, and lay leaders to clearly explain the reliability of Genesis—and all of God’s Word—to each new generation.


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