The attack on biblical creation in UK schools continues
Published: 9 March 2014 (GMT+10)
CMI have frequently published articles regarding the unbalanced way in which creationism is dealt with at Government level, and in some instances banned in the UK education system.1,2,3,4 Only a few weeks ago, we ran with an article, appealing to End bad science and discrimination in education policies. The attacks are relentless and display a level of aggressive intolerance that is hard to stomach, coming as they do from the self-proclaimed ‘voices of reason’.
Four recent news stories from the UK demonstrate the manner in which the offensive continues:
- In Kirktonholme primary school, East Kilbride, Scotland, Headteacher Alexandra MacKenzie and her deputy Elizabeth Mockus were redeployed to backroom duties while an investigation was to be carried out. A number of parents had complained about two books which had been handed out to their children during a school assembly. One answered the question ‘How you know God is real?’, and the other was titled ‘Exposing the myth of evolution’.5,6
- A parent and also a Member of the Scottish Parliament have called for an investigation, after a physics teacher, Leonard Rogers, during a discussion on the big bang with his class at a school in Midlothian, informed them that evolution was not proven. Apparently, he also told the class that he was a Christian with strong creationist beliefs.7
- As a result of the first two news stories, the Scottish Secular Society called for the ban of creationism in science classes in Scottish schools. While they acknowledged that they had no issue with pupils understanding that not everyone accepts evolution, they stated that the only place that creationism had in Scottish schools was “within a discussion context in religious and moral education classes”.8
- Professor Alice Roberts,9 in an interview with the Times Education Supplement (London), has called for new laws in the UK to extend the ban of teaching creationism beyond state-run schools to all independent schools, which would include privately run Christian schools.10
The increasing censorship of creationism from any scientific discussion should raise the eyebrows of any rational thinking person. If the evidence for evolution really is so overwhelming why can no challenges be discussed? The reality is that even the most basic concepts of evolution, such as the origin of life, how the process of mutations could create huge volumes of information in living things, and many others are not even close to being answered!
Is the science class the correct place for the discussion?
The debate between creation and evolution is too often presented as a ‘science versus religion’ or ‘faith versus reason’ debate. However, the Bible is more than merely a spiritual book, and there is more to evolution than its (dubious) status as a scientific theory. The Bible is a history book that has implications for how we understand the physical world around us, which impinges very much on the scientific domain. Evolution is based upon a naturalistic philosophy which has much to say about our origin, worth and ultimate demise. As atheist Dr William Provine put it, “Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear … There are no gods, no purposeful forces of any kind, no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be completely dead. That’s just all—that’s gonna be the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either.”11 Creation and evolution both deal with questions relating to the realm of historical science (rather than operational science). Also, as Provine rightly points out, both quite definitely have implications for how we live our lives here and now and what will become of us after we die. Both worldviews have consequences and the evolutionists hiding this behind a veil of supposed pure concern for the quality of science education are hardly being honest; rather they betray their ‘scientism’.
Professor Alice Roberts, in her interview, went on to say, “People who believe in creationism say that by teaching evolution you are indoctrinating them with science, but I just don’t agree with that. Science is about questioning things. It’s about teaching people to say, ‘I don’t believe it until we have very strong evidence.’”12 But she misrepresents people who believe in biblical creationism here. We do not equate teaching evolution to ‘indoctrinating people with science’, as evolution is not an equivalent to science! Rather, evolution teaching is really the attempt of those with a naturalistic worldview to try and explain our origins; and they do so using arguments that properly belong within the discipline of historical science. But, if it’s truly the case that, as Professor Roberts believes, science is about questioning things and not believing until there is strong evidence, then her calling for new laws to ban creationism altogether in the classroom reeks of a double standard. For how can evolution, which Roberts calls science, be questioned if pupils are not allowed to ask the questions, or if the evidence against evolution cannot be presented?
If Robert’s words were really applied fairly, it would also mean that the science class is exactly the right place for a balanced discussion on the creation and evolution models, the different worldviews, their influence on our interpretation of scientific data and so on. Of course, the fuller outworkings of the Christian faith and naturalism/atheism could then more appropriately be discussed in a religious education classroom, although neither can be truly divorced from one another because of the manner in which science and ideology are inseparably connected in all discussions about origins.
Pupils need to be taught the clear distinction between the presuppositions of historical science and the outworkings of operational science. They need to be taught the basics of the philosophy of science so that the myth of neutrality is dismissed. Unless this happens, they will not understand the vital difference between opinions (masquerading as facts) on a topic like the unknown evolutionary origin of life and the facts which demonstrate, for example, the existence and properties of magnetic fields.
So what’s the real issue?
So just what is so horribly wrong with biblical creation that the scientific aspects associated with it should not be discussed in a science classroom? And what is so special about evolution that it should in no way be challenged? Why would these ‘voices of reason’ object to two models and their arguments being presented and investigated side by side? (but note CMI’s policy about The Teaching of Creation in schools). Surely the weaker and inconsistent model would be obvious to all? It suggests that they know full well that the evolution model would not fare well in the debate; the material facts would let them down. Preventing such open discussion ultimately hampers teaching pupils how to evaluate worldviews and engage in debate. However, the real issue at hand is not that of how material facts are interpreted, but rather the implications of how they are interpreted. Some might begin to consider the alternative, Special Creation by God—perish the thought!
While the evolutionary ideology allows people to live as they choose with no prospect of an afterlife or accountability to the Creator, biblical creation clearly implies the fact of the Creator, the truth of the Bible, the fact of human rebellion, the significance of Jesus Christ (Creator and Saviour), and the reality of future judgment. Psalm 24:1 states that, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” This is the case because God is the Creator who set the rules and standards, and as the Creator we belong to, and are accountable to, Him. The biblical creation account teaches about man’s origins, that we all come from Adam, and that Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden bringing death and sin upon all mankind (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12). However, God did not abandon us but set in motion a wonderful plan of redemption which was fulfilled in his son Jesus Christ, who was bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5) and appeased God’s righteous wrath and indignation towards us (1 Peter 2:24; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2). As a wonderful consequence of these things, all who believe in Jesus shall have eternal life with Him, but those who refuse Christ will face eternal punishment in hell (see John 3:18; Matthew 25:46). That is a massive, sobering implication, but it is the truth. More about the good news can be found here.
Without doubt, the attacks against biblical creation will continue in the UK and around the world, people will continue to be dismissed, redeployed or otherwise silenced, investigations called for by secular evolutionists and the voice of biblical creationism silenced, due to the Gospel implications. Many of the people who don’t want to face up to the consequences of evolution being falsified are uncomfortable with the implication of there being a righteous Creator and Judge for human beings. As in days of old, there will continue to be those who shout out, “Give us no more visions of what is right…. and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” (Isaiah 30:10-11, NIV).
References and notes
- See Evidence for Creation now banned from UK religious education classes. Return to text.
- See Heavyweights move to ban creation. Return to text.
- See Dawkins gloats over boost to evolutionary dogma in schools. Return to text.
- See Creation in schools hits the headlines. Return to text.
- Kirktonholme Primary heads removed over religious row, 13 September 2013; see www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-24077924, accessed 10 February 2014. Return to text.
- Creationist Row: Headteachers removed from school, 13 September 2013; see www.scotsman.com/news/education/creationist-row-headteachers-removed-from-school-1-3091562, accessed 28 February 2014. Return to text.
- Calls for probe into creationist physics teacher, 28 September 2013; see www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/calls-for-probe-into-creationist-physics-teacher.22287215, accessed 10 February 2014. Return to text.
- Guidance call for creationism lessons in Scottish schools, 2 October 2013; see www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-24371575, accessed 10 February 2014; Secular society calls for a ban on creationism in schools, 2 October; see www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/secular-society-calls-for-a-ban-on-creationism-in-schools.22310389, accessed 10 February 2014. Return to text.
- Professor Alice Roberts is currently the president of the Association for Science Education and Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham. Return to text.
- Science-Creationism: a ‘very real threat’ in schools, 6 February 2014; see www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storyCode=6392583, accessed 10 February 2014. Return to text.
- Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy? A debate between William B. Provine and Phillip E. Johnson at Stanford University, April 30, 1994. Full text can be viewed at: http://www.arn.org/docs/orpages/or161/161main.htm. The quotation can also be sourced at Evolution = atheism, no purpose. Return to text.
- Ref. 9. Return to text.