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Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools 649

Posted by Soulskill
from the pi-is-exactly-3 dept.
sandbagger sends this news from io9: In what's being heralded as a secular triumph, the U.K. government has banned the teaching of creationism as science in all existing and future academies and free schools. The new clauses, which arrived with very little fanfare last week, state that the "requirement for every academy and free school to provide a broad and balanced curriculum in any case prevents the teaching of creationism as evidence based theory in any academy or free school." So, if an academy or free school teaches creationism as scientifically valid, it's breaking the funding agreement to provide a "broad and balanced curriculum." ... In addition to the new clauses, the UK government clarified the meaning of creationism, reminding everyone that it's a minority view even within the Church of England and the Catholic Church.
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Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools

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  • Yep. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:23PM (#47267207) Homepage

    Because sometimes, just sometimes, we actually have a brain.

    • Re:Yep. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:34PM (#47267303)

      Don't congratulate yourself too hard. This was only ever a problem in free schools*; teaching creationism in state schools was never even considered. It's worth pointing out that the education system in the UK is very different from that in the US: for one thing, local residents and local government have no say in the curricula.

      *These are a recent invention here, ones where parents and the public at large have a much bigger say in how the school is run. They can have faith-based schooling so long as the Department for Education is satisfied that they meet a bare minimum standard of the basics.

      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        Oh, so "free schools" are essentially private schools?

      • Re:Yep. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @09:11PM (#47268519)

        Don't congratulate yourself too hard. This was only ever a problem in free schools*; teaching creationism in state schools was never even considered. It's worth pointing out that the education system in the UK is very different from that in the US: for one thing, local residents and local government have no say in the curricula.

        Its also worth noting that unlike the US, religion isn't banned from schools, in fact scripture classes were opt out (last time I checked).

        No religion in schools was one of the few things I envied about the US school system, here in Oz most private schools are Catholic or other Christian denomination.

        But this move does not prevent the teaching of creationism in British schools, it only prevents it from being presented as an scientific theory. It can be taught in other classes that aren't classed as a science (like literature or art). However Creationism isn't really big in Britain where people tend to be more grounded in reality.

        • "Its also worth noting that unlike the US, religion isn't banned from schools"

          The implications of that in the US vary between schools. While it's true that the school isn't permitted to officially endorse or promote any religion, there is often a great deal of popular pressure for them to do so which lets them do so in a more informal manner and sometimes just outright flout the law.

          Note that most US schools start the day by encouraging students to pledge their allegiance to God and country. This is legal,

  • by Ann O'Nymous-Coward (460094) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:25PM (#47267217)

    A beautiful victory for intelligence (as opposed to intelligent design (TM)(R)(C))

    INB4 endless butthurt from Cretinists, er, Creationists.

  • In addition to the new clauses, the UK government clarified the meaning of creationism, reminding everyone that it's a minority view even within the Church of England and the Catholic Church.

    I suppose by creationism, they mean the idea that all animals were created at once, rather than simply the idea that God created animals?

    • Re:A minority view? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ledow (319597) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:30PM (#47267273) Homepage

      You could just read TFA:

      "[A]ny doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution."

      Basically, if you claim that anything other than simple biology was at work in creating animals, then you lose your funding (and possibly right to call yourselves a school).

      You can claim that God made biology possible by creating a universe in which biology could make them exist, but you can't claim that God "created" animals at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You could just read TFA:

        I guess....

        You can claim that God made biology possible by creating a universe in which biology could make them exist, but you can't claim that God "created" animals at all.

        This seems like a pretty dumb rule. If I claim human beings created computers, am I wrong because it turns out that computers are actually directly created by industrial machines?

        By saying you think God created the universe you are still saying that God created all life (and probably that he knew he was creating life), but that evolution is the mechanism by which life was created (i.e. evolution can still be true even if God created the animals).

        So really it seems that the heart of the issue is

        • by stinerman (812158)

          AFAICT, it looks like you can't use God scientific evidence of anything. This makes sense because the existence of a creator cannot be empirically determined (can you think of a repeatable experiment that would prove or disprove that there is a creator?). That is unless the creator revealed himself to us, at which point, the study of the creator would be a science.

          • Re:A minority view? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @07:48PM (#47267955)

            can you think of a repeatable experiment that would prove or disprove that there is a creator?

            I suppose this would be similar to thinking of an experiment that would prove or disprove that some same particular species of spider lives in the rainforest.

            The experiment is "look for the spider", and if you find it, then it exists, and if you don't, then you don't really know, but it makes sense to tentatively assume the null hypothesis (that it doesn't exist).

            In this sense, the God hypothesis is not unfalsifiable in principle, just in practice. It's important to note this difference between falsifiability in principle and practice. The Higgs boson hypothesis was falsifiable by an experiment involving the LHC. The LHC didn't exist in the 18th century so if the Higgs boson were proposed in the 18th century would not have been practically falsifiable, but it was still falsifiable in principle (i.e. a machine like the LHC could one day, maybe hundreds of years in the future, be constructed).

            There is a good argument to be made that the existence of God is also not falsifiable in principle. You could have a super powerful alien capable of destroying entire worlds and causing us to hallucinate in anyway it desires. You could never really trust that an entity claiming to be the creator of the whole universe was telling the truth. Any beings significantly more technologically advanced than us would be practically indistinguishable from a God.

            Also, even if there were really a God that created our universe, this God could not know for sure that he was really God in the sense that he couldn't know that there was nothing greater than himself (for the same way that we atheists can't know that there is nothing greater than us).

            But if it turns out that God's existence is unfalsifiable in principle, then this means that even God presenting himself to us, is still not sufficient proof for his existence, because we don't even have a way to verify that a being is really God (i.e. that there is nothing greater) and not just some extremely powerful being.

            If a powerful being showed us a video of himself creating the universe, we can probably assume he is powerful enough to fabricate a video. Obviously the proof is probably not going to be a conventional video, but whatever form the proof takes, it doesn't matter. We can assume that a sufficiently powerful being could convince us of anything, regardless of whether it's true or false.

            • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @08:29PM (#47268275)

              can you think of a repeatable experiment that would prove or disprove that there is a creator?

              Can you think of a repeatable experiment that would prove or disprove that there are magical unicorns?

              See, it's not up to science to prove some imaginary thing you or anyone else comes up with. It's your idea, so you prove it. If you can do that, science will suddenly become interested. But, seeing as how the "God" superstition has exactly as much fact backing it up as the magical unicorn idea, that is to say, none whatsoever, the balls in your court. Not in science's.

              Here's the metric: reproducible, consensually experiential, testable. None of "I had an idea", " I read it in an old book" or "someone swore to me it was true" equals "it's Science!"

            • by Tom (822)

              I suppose this would be similar to thinking of an experiment that would prove or disprove that some same particular species of spider lives in the rainforest.

              The experiment is "look for the spider", and if you find it, then it exists, and if you don't, then you don't really know, but it makes sense to tentatively assume the null hypothesis (that it doesn't exist).

              Also, to be more complete, when you've searched the whole forest, several times over, and had a hundred cases of believers saying "there, that's the spider!" and then you caught it and it turned out to be ... not the spider, then you can a) put more confidence on the null hypothesis and b) ignore the next time the believers say "but this time, over there, certainly!".

              There is a good argument to be made that the existence of God is also not falsifiable in principle. You could have a super powerful alien capable of destroying entire worlds and causing us to hallucinate in anyway it desires. You could never really trust that an entity claiming to be the creator of the whole universe was telling the truth. Any beings significantly more technologically advanced than us would be practically indistinguishable from a God.

              There are two excellent arguments that disprove creator-of-the-universe type gods quite thoroughly. The first is by extrapolation, like above:

      • Re:A minority view? (Score:5, Informative)

        by NoKaOi (1415755) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:55PM (#47267503)

        Basically, if you claim that anything other than simple biology was at work in creating animals, then you lose your funding (and possibly right to call yourselves a school).

        No, only if you make it those claims (because they violate the scientific method) in a class that you label as "science." Nothing is preventing a school from teaching it in a class labeled as "theology." The point is to be clear that one idea is based on evidence backed up using the scientific method ("science"), while the other is based on belief without evidence and/or despite evidence to the contrary ("faith" or "theology"), or with supposed evidence that cannot be validated using the scientific method (pseudoscience).

      • So basically, you can still teach God as an evidence based theory, but not that evolution does not exist?

    • Re:A minority view? (Score:5, Informative)

      by sumdumass (711423) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:31PM (#47267289) Journal

      Actually, if I read the summery correct and it is actually representative of the article and life in reality, by creationism they mean scientific support of creation either all animals created at once or by God creating them.

      Or in other words, it doesn't ban the teaching, just the teaching that it is " as evidence based theory". You could likely teach it as a "this is what people used to believe until evidence showed this" and get buy with it.

      • Re:A minority view? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @07:15PM (#47267665) Journal
        Yes, you could teach it in a balanced way by looking at several creation myths from various religions, include it in a discussion of the enlightenment and maybe more people will leave HS understanding that religion and science split because blind faith and reason are fundamentally incompatible.
        • Re:A minority view? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by RespekMyAthorati (798091) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @08:54PM (#47268425)
          Sure, in theology or philosophy class.
          Not in science class.
        • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @09:23PM (#47268583)

          Yes, you could teach it in a balanced way by looking at several creation myths from various religions, include it in a discussion of the enlightenment and maybe more people will leave HS understanding that religion and science split because blind faith and reason are fundamentally incompatible.

          Yep, you can look at the various creation myths, spot the similarities (throw in Pastafarianism for shits and giggles), compare these myths to science and get students to spot the flaws.... The fundies would shit a brick.

          The big problem behind creationism as science is that you're not meant to think critically about it. You're not meant to question it. Its entirely faith based. You have to accept, with no evidence that god exists before any of the rest of it makes sense.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're dealing with Anglicans here. They tend not to interpret the bible all that literally. If you were to say to one that the Universe was created in an instant over ten billion years ago they'd be much more likely to say "well, duh" than to start ranting about how it was hashed out over a week only 6000 years ago.
  • I mean, teach "creationism" in schools? Really.....

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:36PM (#47267321)

    Personally, I'm Eastern Orthodox Atheist.

    But I'm not religious about it. :)

  • by Sasayaki (1096761) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:36PM (#47267327)

    Britain Rules Teaching Children Known Falsehoods In Science Class For Religious Reasons Now Deemed Inappropriate

    Good. Honestly, though, this isn't a huge deal for Britain. Almost every developed country has this policy either formally or de-facto.

    If this came out of the US, though, holy balls it would be big. The US seems to be the only country where a sizable body of Christians are allowed to lie for Jesus to impressionable children, or worse, genuinely believe creationist excrement and are still permitted to use their authority to teach it to others.

  • If education is done right, with teachers and schools that care to really develops a childs mind, then the kids learn the difference between science and religion, what it means for a scientific theory to be credible and widely held, how to evaluate scientific evidence, and what questions that religion attempts to answer that science at least, at this point, can not. They also can go through all the current scientific evidence for and against evolution, creationism, and other theories. Kids learn how to id

    • by Livius (318358)

      Kids learn how to identify their own values and make their own decisions on what to bel[i]eve

      ...eventually, but children do not start out that way.

  • by otis wildflower (4889) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:42PM (#47267373) Homepage

    With just one little comma...

    "Teaching Creationism, As Science Now Banned In Britain's Schools"

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      Three more and it can be Shatnered...

      "Teaching, Creationism, As Science, Now Banned, In Britain's Schools"

  • This is a major step forwards in logical thought and scientific teaching, now if the US / Canada could follow.
  • As long as nobody stops me from teaching Lord of the Rings as history.

  • Creationism is, of course, utter nonsense. But what is currently the mandatory teaching of evolution and banning of creationism may well turn into the mandatory teaching of creationism in the future; or the mandatory teaching of racism, Marxism and other harmful ideologies that used to pretend to have a rational, scientific basis.

    School curricula should be primarily determined at the local level, by parents. They shouldn't be determined by central governments and majority vote.

  • by Hartree (191324) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @08:14PM (#47268171)

    This came out of a row in Britain over an investigation into schools in Birmingham. Unlike the US situation, what brought this about was a charge that Muslims were trying to take over schools in Birmingham and alter the lessons to support Islamic Ideals. The term you can search on to find this is Trojan Horse Investigation, along with Birmingham.

    For example: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-eng... [bbc.com]

    For a more sensationalist view, we have the Daily Fail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... [dailymail.co.uk]

    One of (many) things charged was teaching creationism. Others were teaching in sex ed that wives weren't allowed to "say no" and must submit to their husbands.

    How much of this is true depends on who you ask and, no surprise, it's quite a controversy.

    But, to put it in context, this came up in response to charges of Islamic influence. Apparently any Christian state funded schools teaching creationism didn't raise this level of concern.

  • here we go again. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Titus Groan (2834723) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @08:55PM (#47268437)
    England != UK. This is the Dept of Education for England not Scotland, or Wales, or Northern Ireland - all of which are UK yet, strangely, they are not England.
    • by mjwx (966435)

      England != UK. This is the Dept of Education for England not Scotland, or Wales, or Northern Ireland - all of which are UK yet, strangely, they are not England.

      You're lucky the Americans can find the UK on a map, asking them to differentiate between the countries that make up the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland (not for long) and Northern Ireland is asking a lot.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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