Britain’s top scientists and organizations have come together to call on the government to restrict “religious fundamentalists” from teaching creationism as a scientific theory in schools.
Five national organizations and 30 leading scientists have signed a statement, posted on a new campaign website, “Evolution not Creation,” asking the government for stricter regulation of teaching of creationism or intelligent design in schools.
The campaign is being coordinated by the British Humanist Association (BHA), and supported by the Association for Science Education, the British Science Association, the Campaign for Science & Engineering and the Ekklesia think tank.
The scientists are targeting two creationist organizations, Truth in Science and Creation Ministries International, which they charge are “touring the U.K. and presenting themselves as scientists and their creationist views as science.”
“Truth in Science has sent free resources to all secondary heads of science and to school librarians around the country that seek to undermine the theory of evolution and have intelligent design ideas portrayed as credible scientific viewpoints,” the scientists alleged.
However, Truth in Science denied the charge.
“We wish to highlight the scientific weaknesses of neo-Darwinism and to encourage a more critical approach to the teaching of evolution in schools and universities,” the organization stated.
“Creationism and ‘intelligent design’ are not scientific theories, but they are portrayed as scientific theories by some religious fundamentalists who attempt to have their views promoted in publicly-funded schools,” complained the group, among whom were acclaimed scientists Sir David Attenborough and Richard Dawkins. “There should be enforceable statutory guidance that they may not be presented as scientific theories in any publicly-funded school of whatever type.”
Truth in Science, meanwhile, claimed on its website that the BHA is advancing a humanist agenda by pushing for compulsory teaching of evolution in schools.
The government of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued guidance to all schools that creationism should not be taught to pupils, but that is not enforceable.
The scientists want to go a step further.
“An understanding of evolution is central to understanding all aspects of biology,” they said. “The teaching of evolution should be included at both primary and secondary levels in the National Curriculum and in all schools.”
As of now, primary schools in the U.K. can choose not to teach evolution.
Some of the scientists want school curricula to portray evolution as more than a theory. Dawkins, a known atheist, said, “We need to stop calling evolution a theory. In the ordinary language sense of the word it is a fact. It is as solidly demonstrated as any fact in science.”