SCOTTISH SECULAR SOCIETY PETITION DEMANDS SCOTLAND GIVE GUIDANCE ON HOW ‘CREATIONISM’ IS PRESENTED IN SCHOOLS
- Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan says funding would be withheld from establishments in England that teach creationism as scientific fact.
- SSS challenge religious extremism in Scottish schools with petition.
- Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell backs SSS petition.
- Efforts to obtain official guidance have been continually thwarted by Scottish Government.
Spencer Fildes, the Chair of the Scottish Secular Society said today: “The Scottish Secular Society (SSS) finds itself in the incredible position, in 2014, of having to petition our elected leaders to address the serious issue of creeping creationism in our educational institutions.
Science and creationism are antithetical. There is absolutely no place in the science class for creationism. That door must not only be closed but remain airtight. Unfortunately, the doors of Scotland’s classrooms are slightly ajar and creationism is seeping in. There is a need for outright clarity and the Scottish Secular Society now petitions our parliament to urgently address the issue by reviewing the ambiguities within current guidance and making the guidance much more explicit.
Current guidelines, as the SSS have learned, remain ineffective. Young Earth Creationists (or Intelligent Design, whichever mask it decides to wear) continue to challenge evolution and implement their own creationist agenda across Scottish schools. The SSS present this evidence within the petition.
Scotland’s future prosperity may well lie in life-sciences, particularly in biomedical research. The SSS believe Scottish children must learn that science is the pursuit of truth about the material world, through the rational interpretation of observed physical evidence. Creationism is based on myth rather than observation, and inserting it into science lessons can only have a confusing and undermining effect. This must be remedied immediately.
We must be whole-hearted in safeguarding science from creationists to ensure future generations of Scottish children are afforded safe learning space to go on and become some of our brightest stars.”
Professor Paul Braterman of the British Centre for Scientific Education (BCSE) and Scottish Secular Society board member added: “I do not understand the Scottish Government’s reluctance to issue clear guidance along similar lines to those now in force in England. Such guidance would, in my opinion, be strongly welcomed by the teachers themselves as they come under pressure from old style and new style creationists.”
Former SSS Chair and board member Caroline Lynch added: “Creationism and the denial of evolution have been found in three separate Scottish schools. This, and evidence collected from parents, confirms our belief that such views and excesses may be endemic in the system.
The Scottish curriculum does not specifically state that teaching creationism as an alternative to the overwhelming scientific consensus on the origins of the universe or that teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution, or in any context as a viable alternative to accepted science, is unacceptable. This is not the case in England, where the Department for Education has stated that “We do not expect creationism, intelligent design and similar ideas to be taught as valid scientific theories in any state funded school.”
Our repeated warnings about this, the vociferous parental backlash and the intense media scrutiny on these revelations, make it very clear to us that this issue needs to be addressed immediately. The complacency which has underpinned government assurances that this is not and cannot be an issue in Scotland has now been shattered.
We have asked Mike Russell to declare immediately that creationism and intelligent design are specifically excluded from the educational setting and that appropriate action including formal guidance is issued to all schools to underpin the statement.”
Garry Otton, founder of the Scottish Secular Society said: “After the Scottish Secular Society found creationism and intelligent design taught in three separate schools last year we wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Mike Russell MSP, but he, along with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), insisted our teachers need no guidance on this, whilst, (in answer to a question by Patrick Harvie MSP), Mike Russell says we must not go too far and deny people a right to their beliefs.
Last year the Minister for Learning, Alasdair Allan MSP wrote to Caroline Lynch, the Scottish Secular Society’s Chair, to advise, “What is taught is at the discretion of the school or the head teacher based on the eight areas within Curriculum for Excellence. I have no doubt that all teachers have the capacity and wherewithal to intelligently answer questions from young people about creation.
And yet at Kirktonholme Primary School in East Kilbride a religious sect invited in by the head teachers had been teaching Young Earth Creationism for eight years without parents even being made aware. Children were given literature claiming that the earth was no more than a few thousand years old and that dinosaurs and humans co-existed.
Director of the Centre for Intelligent Design (C4ID) whose doctrines are a combination of evolution denial and God-of-the-gaps creationism, Dr Alastair Noble, who is also a former education inspector and an education officer for Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), a Christian charity which campaigns for more faith teaching in schools, admits he is asked to speak in schools and has agreed to do so. He was reported saying in 2010: “We are definitely not targeting schools, but that doesn’t mean to say we may not produce resources that go to schools.”
With more religious schools opening across the UK, we must act quickly to protect children from religious extremists.”
Notes to Editors: –
Petition. Guidance on how creationism is presented in schools:-
Michael Zimmerman – “Creationism at Its Most Extreme: Will the Scottish Parliament Respond?”
Alasdair Allan says he has complete confidence in teachers: –
Alastair Noble’s comments quoted in press release: – http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/would-you-adam-and-eve-it-top-scientists-tell-scottish-pupils-the-bible-is-true-1.1060545
Open letter from SSS to Mike Russell on 1 October 2013 asking for ban on teaching of creationism: –
Parliamentary TV footage of SSS petition from 1:32: –
SSS call for opt-in to RO: –