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Education United Kingdom Science

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

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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  • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:49PM (#47267441)

    Not really - old, new, or entirely unrelated to Christianity - if you claim that the creation of life by a supernatural being is position backed by scientific evidence, you are either misinformed or outright lying. At best you can insert a "God of the Gaps", but even that, by definition, has no supporting scientific evidence.

  • by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @07:05PM (#47267593)

    Actually, the best we've got is the scientific method, which democratizes knowledge by insisting that instead of simply *asserting* something, authorities must present a necessary and sufficient falsifiable hypothesis.

    Experts may be necessary to construct these hypotheses, or even collect the data necessary to test them, but non-experts would do well to insist on the scientific method rather than a vote of a group of people in lab coats.

    Feynman said it best, "Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts."

  • 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: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 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Re:A minority view? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JackieBrown ( 987087 ) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @09:39PM (#47268683)

    Does the idea of no God or afterlife bring you joy or any feelings (besides smugness?)

    I've had both a wife and son die. It really brings me sadness and feels me with emptiness to think that there is no after.

    I know my wishes do not effect or create a reality that does not exist, but I have faith that God is there and that there is more to our lives than what we have here.

    Also, for the record, I have always had faith, this is not something new driven by a desperate hope to see the woman I love as well as my son again.

  • Re:Yep. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gonoff ( 88518 ) on Thursday June 19, 2014 @04:27AM (#47270061)

    It's not like they have a foreign doctrine...

    Many US Christians seem extremely bizarre over here. They sound very right wing, seem to have forgotten about the New Testament, xenophobic and some even carry guns.
    Yes it is a doctrine foreign to us.

  • Re:Yep. (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 19, 2014 @07:14AM (#47270523)
    I am a minister in the Church of England. Most Anglicans do not believe in creationism.

    I teach as I was taught to - that evolution is the Holy Spirit in action, evidence that God is alive today.

    Our understanding is that the stuff in the Bible before Moses is not to be taken literally: It is inconsistent, and the are different versions of the creation myth which are decended from earlier cultures are there to illustrate "here is what happened in the previous episodes" - tell it how you like. These texts predate literacy in the Jewish community, and "literally" makes no sense without literacy. (There is no evidence that the Jews were literate before being exiles in Babylon, where Moses was brought up as Pharoe's stepson.) Jewish religious written tradition starts with Moses. Even after Moses, Chronicles and the Book of Kings describe the same events in different ways, exactly like different news channels describing the same political events. The Bible is as collection of books written by man and not a single book written by God.

    John's Gospel begins "in the beginning was the word, and the word was God, and the word was with God" - this was originally written in Greek, where the word "word" is "logos" - and, while it means "word", it could also mean what we, today call "logic, and the laws of maths and physics". The modern English word "word" makes no sense in this context - Even the creationists cannot argue there were people before Adam, so obviously no spoken or written words, and this was not the intended meaning. This text is saying "When I say God, I mean the laws of physics and maths, and they predate physical existance". The view of God as an elderly Jewish gentleman siitting in an arm chair on a cloud, played by Orson Welles, comes from Holywood, not Canterbury. God the origin (ancestor) of all things would be a more sensible translation than "God the father", but it is less poetic, and the "Holy Ghost" obviously sells better to Ghostbuster viewers than "the creative force". "Jesus is Lord" sounds better than "If God were a man, he would be like Jesus".

    Anglicans do not teach that Jesus spoke the English of King James. Muslims may that teach that the Holy Koran is (in part) the dictated work of Allah, and not to be translated from 8th century Arabic into other languages, but they are not Christians. (Although if asked, the Prophet Mohammed might well have said he was a Christian).

    The fact that the Pentecostal churches in America are stuffed with illiterates is a tribute to the American education system, not evidence that many Americans are decended from Anglicans. Maybe they are confusing Christianity with Islam?


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