Letter to express concern at the teaching of creationism in some UK colleges

There has been much media discussion of the fact that creationism is being taught in science classes in Emmanuel City Technology in Gateshead. It is a ridiculous state of affairs that taxpayers money is used to foster this lie on the pupils of the college. The text below was drafted by two friends and myself for sending to the UK government Education Department, the Shadow Education Secretary, The MP for the constituency where the college is located and the two main teaching unions. It was also cc’ed to Dr. Stephen Law and Professor Richard Dawkins. Whilst we don’t expect to change the policy of the government with this single letter we hope it will add to the existing outcry about this situation and hopefully encourage others to also express their concerns.

The text –

For attention of –

Rt. Hon. Charles Clarke MP
Secretary of State for Education and Skills

Dear Sir,

We write to you to express our concern, and dismay, at the inclusion of so called “creation science” in science classes in Emmanuel City Technology College, Gateshead. We are also concerned that this ethos will be replicated in other colleges, under the control of the same parent body, in the near future.

Evolution is the basis upon which the modern biological sciences are founded and affects every aspect of our lives, from the standard of science education received to the quality of the medication issued when we fall sick. The dangers posed by the so-called “creation science” movement in The United States of America (USA) are well known and documented. It was therefore distressing when it became publicly known that Emmanuel City Technology College was encouraging its teachers to promote “creation science” alongside evolutionary theory in the science classrooms. While we understand and indeed applaud Prime Minister Blair for actively promoting the mantle of high education standards, this should not be allowed to be utilised as a cover for sneaking pseudoscience in through the backdoor. If ideas such as “creation science” are to be addressed in the curriculum then their place is in Religious Education classes or comparative theology classes. In these it can be discussed alongside other creation stories such as those of Buddhism, Hinduism and the numerous other religions.

In this light, we are deeply concerned at the announcements that the group which runs Emmanuel City Technology College is planning, with the backing of local and governmental authorities, to expand and open up yet another school to be run along the same lines. This new school will also be permitted to introduce creationism to its pupils as a form of valid scientific thinking. This is not only disingenuous and doing a grave disservice to the standard of teaching the pupils will receive, it is a matter of grave concern that teachers who call themselves Christians would willingly lie to the pupils entrusted to them.

It is unacceptable for HM Government to try and sweep these events under the carpet on pretence of the schools’ otherwise fine academic record and to pretend that creationism does not pose a threat to the United Kingdom. While it is true to say that creation science does not have the same following yet in the UK as it does in the USA, it is noticeable that young-earth creationism (which posits that the Earth is only 6000 years old) is on the rise here in these troubled times. Such data was adequately presented by Dr Stephen Law at the recent Darwin Day celebrations held by the British Humanist Association. An overview of the presentations given and a transcript of Dr Law’s paper is provided online at – <http://www.humanism.org.uk/thebha/events/previousevents.shtml>.

Given this background, it is of even graver concern that the group co-ordinating the setup of these schools does itself have connections with the influential American young-earth creationist organisation “Answers in Genesis” –

We believe not only that “creation science” should not be permissible in science classrooms but that the teaching of evolutionary theory in the current biology curriculum should be brought up-to-date and strengthened at all levels of schooling, from primary through to university level.

This is the responsibility not just of the Department of Education & Skills and the respective local educational authorities, but indeed of the teacher unions, influential university staff members and clergy, of all denominations, who can bring the relevant pressure to bear upon the Government and local authorities, but also concerned members of the general public who wish to see the children of this country receive even higher standards of scientific education to better enable understanding of the world around them and prepare them adequately for the real world which awaits them.

Yours faithfully,

Mike Brass
Oxford, UK

Ian Robinson (contact for correspondence)
Technical Design Consultant
Belfast, UK

Alan Wilson
Chartered Engineer
Congleton, UK

Cc to:
Lord Sainsbury of Turville, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation
Damian Green MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills
Phil Willis MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills
Rt. Hon. Joyce Quin MP, Gateshead East & Washington West
Professor Richard Dawkins, New College, University of Oxford
Dr. Stephen Law, Heythrop College, University of London