Monday, 4 June 2007

TiS News Blog - ID and the C of E

This from the TiS "News Blog";

The Church of England’s new head of education has made comments supportive of teaching intelligent design (ID) in schools.
They don't mention that she does not advocate it being taught as science as does TiS. This really is breathtakingly selective quoting even for TiS - surely they must come clean about this at some point?
In an interview in the Times Educational Supplement last week, Mrs Jan Ainsworth said of ID: "While it is not something I would subscribe to, it is a recognition that there are different ways of looking at the evidence…you could do it in history of science."The only problem of course is that ID has only been around since the late 1980's. It is the lastest evolution of creationism whihc first mutated into Creation Science and then ID in an attempt by the creationists to circumvent US law preventiing religion being taught in state schools.

On Friday a spokesman told the Daily Mail that Mrs Ainsworth was "simply representing the fact that some schools currently discuss intelligent design" and that "she does not propose to prevent them from doing so".

Yesterday, on the BBC Radio 4 'Sunday' programme Mrs Ainsworth was asked if she was “lending credibility” to Truth in Science. She replied:

I think it depends on what you think education’s for. I do think some people have a view in their minds that if children are told something they will automatically believe it. It depends very much how the material is used in the classroom. And if it is to explore and allow children to develop the capacities to explore different ways of finding out things, different ways of deciding which view is right then I don’t see any problem because you’re helping them develop critical methods, rational methods, which is after all the point of education.
A full transcript of the interview can be found here.
The Church of England is responsible for 4690 schools. Mrs Ainsworth told the Times Educational Supplement that she did not know how many of these were currently teaching ID.
It should be noted that Mrs Ainsworth’s views differ from the position of Truth in Science, as she sees the place of ID to be primarily in the religious education. In the science classroom, she considers its place to be in the history of science, because it is “pre-scientific”.
At last TiS mention this key fact - that she doesn't want it taught as science. I wonder how many people stop reading before they get this far? Mrs Ainsworth comments seem to have the underlying assumption that ID and creationism are the same thing. TiS also deny this vehemently.

In contrast, TiS holds that the place of ID is in the science classroom, as a logical inference from scientific data. Mrs Ainsworth is mistaken in seeing ID as “pre-scientific” as it was widely held by the leading thinkers of the scientific revolution, and is the view of many scientists today.So no agreement there then.

Well not a completely logical position for TiS to take either when you think about it for a moment. On the one had ID is based upon modern research and books published in the last decade or so and has nothing to do with creationism. On the other hand the view of an intelligent designer held by some leading thinkers in the scientific revolution was in fact creationism and not ID. TiS could well end up in a right TiSsy, they are spinning around so quickly ;-)

Mrs Ainsworth’s views on the place of ID in schools are not dissimilar to those of the well-known science populariser Richard Dawkins. On 14 December 2006 in an interview shown on 'Dragon’s Eye', a BBC television programme on Welsh politics, Professor Dawkins said: “confine intelligent design to either the RE class or history of science.”
Despite this, Jan Ainsworth’s views have been criticised by the liberal think-tank Ekklesia (speaking to the TES), and the National Secular Society (speaking to the Guardian).

I wish the interviewer had asked her about her views on teaching Astrology in schools.

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