Saturday, 16 June 2007

Creationism Hits Bolton

From here.

God should have a place in science teaching - head

A LEADING Bolton teacher says Creationism has a place in science and should be taught alongside evolution.

Philip Williamson, head of Canon Slade Church of England school, believes the theory, which suggests humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe were created by God, would be a useful topic for discussion in science lessons.

He said the theory of evolution as put forward by Charles Darwin was not fact and was instead a model which best explained the current scientific evidence.
Have a look at the full article and the comments - they are both worth a read.

My own thoughts are as follows;

In science facts are established by measurement, observation and independent verification, not by written authority (e.g. genesis).

When a scientist has an explanation or model which they think explains a range of facts and also predicts the results from some future experiments, measurements or observations, then this explanation is called a hypothesis.

If this hypothesis is shown to be true by many other scientists agreeing with the explanations it gives for the current facts and also when new facts come in which the hypothesis had predicted, then and only then will the hypothesis be "promoted" to the status of "theory".

This is very different from the everyday use of the word which can suggest that a theory is a bit of a guess.

Philip Williamson's comment about evolution not being a fact is therefore stretching the truth by a couple of dictionary definitions. This is not the kind of behaviour you expect from a head master.

What do his science teachers think of his comments? What about the parents of his pupils?

There is a comment underneath the article from someone claiming to be an ex-pupil which, regardless of whether or not this particular claim is true, does voice an opinion which reflects my own view and the official national curriculum position;

As an old Canon Slade pupil, I feel I can add some context to this.

Creationism (or intelligent design) was taught at Canon Slade as far back as 1993 when I was there. However, it was taught in Religious Studies (which was compulsory at the school to GCSE) and was taught exceptionally well, with pupils encouraged to debate the arguments for and against. It should be noted that these lessons also taught about Judaism, Islam and Atheism.

What should never happen is that Science lessons are devalued with religious debate. Wile you can argue for intelligent design, you can not argue against scientific evidence with regard to the age on the planet and the age of fossils. What started it all (the big bang) can be happily debated, but facts can not be ignored.

Any modern school (C of E or not), should see the value in debating religious beliefs and faiths, but the teachings of such should also be debated in the wider context of social and scientific development at the time. I consider myself a Christian, as a guide to living a life balanced with those around me. However, in this modern age, we need to all accept that while the Bible is an important historic document, written when peoples' understanding was much more simple, as a way of conveying a message, the literal belief in it (or any other historic religious writings) word for word is dangerous and can only further divide society and feed intolerance of other beliefs.
Well said.

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Anyone local to this story who can shed any more light or who requires assistance, please get in touch.

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