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Creationists are US teachers

03 March 2011

by Ed Thornton

A SURVEY of nearly 1000 biology teachers in public high schools in the United States, published in a new book, suggests that about 13 per cent are “active advocates” of either creation­ism or intelligent design.

The findings are contained in Evolution, Creationism and the Battle to Control American Classrooms by Professor Eric Plutzer and Professor Michael Berkman, both of Penn State University. The book has been pub­lished with the support of a grant from the John Templeton Founda­tion.

Professor Plutzer told the Temple­ton Report newsletter that the teachers who believe in creationism and intelligent design “emphasise to their students that these are ‘valid scientific alternatives’ to mainstream evolu­tion­ary biology, and devote at least some formal class instruction to the topic”.

He said that “an additional five per cent of teachers take the same position”, but communicate it “typically in brief responses to student questions”.

Professor Plutzer estimates that “no more than 30 per cent” of Americans belong to “faith traditions that emphasise a strict and literal reading of the Bible”. He is calling on more moderate Christians “to better articulate how faith accommodates modern science”.

Free religious schools. The New Humanist magazine this month re­ported that the British Government’s free-schools programme could make it easier for religious groups to open schools where teachers question whether evolution is scientific fact.

The magazine says that the Every­day Champion’s Church (ECC), an Assemblies of God fellowship in Nottinghamshire, “has already sub­mitted a formal proposal” to the Department for Education.

It quotes a member of the church, John Harris, who runs creation-science.co.uk, as saying: “We have no intention of not teaching evolution in school, but my recommendation would be not to teach it as fact or science. Evolution should not be taught in science lessons — it’s a theory and as religious as any other theory.”

The founder of the Christian Schools Trust (CST), Sylvia Baker, is quoted as saying that, of the schools affiliated to the organisation, “some . . . [will] have a more creationist point of view; others won’t.”

A statement from the Department for Education, quoted by the New Humanist, said: “We would not expect creationism or intelligent design to form part of any science curriculum developed by any state funded school that has the freedom to develop their own curriculum. Similarly, we would expect to see evolution and its foundation topics included in any such science curriculum.”

Before the General Election last year, the then Shadow Education Secretary, Michael Gove, said that independent schools would not be allowed to “teach things which are clearly at variance with what we know to be scientific fact” (News, 19 February 2010).

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