Creation in independent schools

The UK government’s latest target1



The UK government’s imposition of secularism on schools is now being extended to the private sector. In March this year, the Department for Education (DfE) published a draft document giving advice for independent schools.2 Although they state that this is “not statutory”, they advise that, “Inspectors will take this guidance into account when reporting to the Secretary of State on the extent to which the independent school standards are being met, or are likely to be met, in relation to an independent school.” In other words, “Conform or you will be down-graded”.

In paragraph 13 they state, “Independent schools may teach creationism as part of a belief system but it should not be presented as having a similar or superior evidence base to scientific theories.” One might ask, then, in what sense are these schools ‘independent’? It would seem that they will now be required to bow to the edicts of ministers who are being brainwashed by atheists and humanists. Often, these ‘advisers’ are people who have little understanding of science and whose real intention is simply to use the education system to secularise society.3

Blatant hypocrisy

The blindness of the DfE is seen perhaps most clearly in their ‘advice’ regarding the need to prevent “indoctrination of pupils through the curriculum”. Although this is given in respect of political indoctrination, it might legitimately be seen as relating to ideological indoctrination. Particularly, they say, lessons should not include:

  1. superficial treatment of the subject matter, typified by portraying factual or philosophical premises as being self-evident, with insufficient explanation and without any indication that they may be the subject of legitimate controversy;
  2. the misleading use of data; misrepresentations and half-truths;
  3. deployment of material in such a way as to prevent pupils meaningfully testing its veracity and forming an independent understanding as to how reliable it is.
Education or selective indoctrination?

Yet this is exactly what the DfE is advocating. The view that only naturalistic accounts of origins can be considered scientific is a “philosophical premise” which they are treating as “being self-evident”. It is really a ‘belief system’ or doctrine, that of ‘scientific materialism’, the presumption that nothing supernatural should be considered in explaining anything we observe. However, as noted by Encyclopaedia Britannica, people who hold this view, generally, “make no philosophical attempts to establish their position. Naturalists simply assert that nature is reality, the whole of it.”4 Moreover, as noted by Oxford mathematician and philosopher of science Professor John Lennox, the assertion that science provides the only means of discovering truth is not itself deduced from science; rather it is a statement about science for which there is no evidence.5

Scientific materialism, of course, is commonplace in academia. As observed by Kansas State University immunologist Dr Scott Todd, for many, “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.”6,7 In a similar vein, Professor Paul Davies wrote, “Science takes as its starting point that life wasn’t made by a god or a supernatural being: it happened unaided and spontaneously, as a natural process.”8 Yet this is not science but scientism, defined in the Collins English Dictionary as “the uncritical application of scientific or quasiscientific methods to inappropriate fields of study or investigation”. In other words, it is a faith that excludes supernatural explanations in principle and without evidence. Significantly, scientism cannot be considered to be part of science, because it cannot be tested.

Blatant bias

At the same time, school text books give no indication that this is the subject of “legitimate controversy”. When leading academics maintain that life, and indeed the universe, appear to require a designer, they are just ignored.9,10 This is often justified by appealing to the consensus. Most scientists, we are told, believe in evolution, so this should be taught as fact in science classes. Yet science is most emphatically not established by consensus. Respected author and Harvard-trained physician, the late Dr Michael Crichton, rightly stated that the “greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.” In a lecture at the prestigious California Institute of Technology he argued:

“[S]cience has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world … If it’s consensus, it isn’t science … [because] the claim of consensus is invoked … only in situations where the science is not solid enough … .”11

Crichton’s perceptive comments may certainly be applied to evolution. Arguments for evolution mislead because they omit data which point to the theory being wrong. All observations to date indicate that there are no natural processes that appear remotely capable of producing life from non-life.12 For example, even the simplest life-forms would require significant amounts of software and information (DNA), and no known laws can generate this.13 How then can it be scientific to assert that this is what happened? At the same time well-qualified scientists advocating intelligent design or biblical creation are often misrepresented, with their opponents knocking down ‘strawmen’.2 For instance, biblical creationists do not believe in the ‘fixity of species’, that species cannot change; but we are often accused of this kind of scientific ignorance.

In respect of evolution, there is a glaring irony: the educational system is unquestionably acting “in such a way as to prevent pupils meaningfully testing its veracity and forming an independent understanding as to how reliable it is.” The whole gamut of ‘cosmic evolution’, from the big bang, to the self-assembly of the first living cell, to the emergence of Homo sapiens, is fraught with scientific problems of such magnitude that each is effectively falsified. Even secular scientists sometimes complain that ‘explanations’ in text books simply do not fit the facts and that current ‘theories’ need to be replaced (see here)—despite their not having any better alternatives.14 How can pupils evaluate the claims of evolutionists when this information is withheld from them?

Empowered to exploit

According to paragraph 65 of the DfE’s document, “teaching staff should not exploit pupils’ vulnerability … by trying to impose their own views on pupils”. Yet there can be no doubt that this is exactly what is happening in state schools. Many children will go to school open-minded and ready to hear both sides of the argument—but they won’t. Rather, atheist teachers are being empowered to assert their materialistic, anti-Christian dogma with the full support of the State.

Up until now parents have been able to protect their children from this kind of secular indoctrination, for instance by sending them to independent schools. This, however, may not provide a solution in the future. Hence, Christian parents will need to do more to educate their children in these matters at home, whether their children attend a school or are home educated—and resources to support this are available through our webstore.

The wider picture

In terms of establishing a secular worldview in people’s minds and hearts, the doctrine of evolution is just the tip of the iceberg. It is not just that children are taught that there is no reason to attribute their existence to a Creator. Rather, the whole of the state educational system, in mandating the exclusion of God from the curriculum, gives the message, “God is irrelevant and we can all get along fine without Him.”

Of all subjects, science is seen as the primary vehicle for establishing this view. Science, it is claimed, is objective and therefore completely reliable. According to English educationalists, Robin Barrow and Ronald Woods, “The very nature of scientific activity precludes the possibility of indoctrination in science.”15 In order to safeguard our children we need to help them see the folly of such thinking.

Secularism leads to idolatry and the deification of science.16 According to Professor Richard Dawkins, “Truth means scientific truth.”17 In such thinking, there is no place for any reality outside of the physics and chemistry. For people who embrace this philosophy, the saviours of society become scientists, technologists and economists. They think that scientists will provide the knowledge, technologists the means to use this knowledge and economists the policies that will enable us to enjoy it.

There is much to be positive about, however. While, secularism may be in the ascendancy in the UK there has never been a time when more facts have been available supporting the Christian worldview. Whether it be in science, history, archaeology or philosophy, Christianity stands head and shoulders above all other belief systems. More and more we have the answers and more and more these are being made available in books and magazines. Be encouraged and get informed!

Published: 18 October 2018

References and notes

  1. First published in CMI-UK/Europe’s Update, August 2018. Return to text.
  2. Department for Education, The independent school standards: advice for independent schools, Draft, March 2018; consult.education.gov.uk/school-frameworks/operating-the-independent-school-regulatory-system/supporting_documents/180214%20%20ISSAdvice%20v13.0draftforCS.pdf. Return to text.
  3. Statham, D.R., Strawmen and censorship: the British Humanist Association and creation in schools, 9 August 2014; creation.com/humanist-censorship. Return to text.
  4. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Naturalism. Return to text.
  5. Phillips, M., The World Turned Upside Down: The global battle over God, truth and power, Encounter Books, New York, p. 73, 2010. Return to text.
  6. Todd, S.C., correspondence to Nature 401(6752):423, 30 September 1999. Return to text.
  7. It is not suggested here that Dr Todd (a professing Christian) endorses this view. Return to text.
  8. Davies, P., The Origin of Life, Penguin, London, p. 4, 2003. Return to text.
  9. Flew, A., There is a God: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind, Harper Collins, New York, 2007. Return to text.
  10. Lennox, J.C., God’s Undertaker: Has science buried God? Lion Hudson, Oxford, 2007. Return to text.
  11. Crichton, M., Aliens Cause Global Warming, Transcript of a Caltech Lecture, 2009. Return to text.
  12. Batten, D., Origin of life: An explanation of what is needed for abiogenesis (or biopoiesis), 26 November 2013, updated 20 January 2017; creation.com/origin-of-life. Return to text.
  13. Gitt, W., with Compton, B. and Fernandez, J., Without Excuse: Information: the key to life, scientific laws and the origin of life…, Creation Book Publishers, Atlanta, GA, pp. 200–202, 2011. Return to text.
  14. An example of such an admission is James Williams (University of Sussex), writing in the Times Educational Supplement; Bell, P., Don’t believe evolution—just accept it! creation.com, 19 May 2003. Return to text.
  15. Barrow, R. & Woods, R., An Introduction to Philosophy of Education, 2nd ed., Methuen, London, p. 71, 1982. Return to text.
  16. Jones, A., Science in Faith: An Outline of a Christian approach to the sciences, Christian Schools' Trust, ch. 1, 1998. Return to text.
  17. Dawkins, R., Personal philosophies that give life purpose, Independent, p. 4, 23 December 1991. Return to text.