Friday, 12 Sep, 2008 Science
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One in Ten Schoolchildren Believes in Creationism

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One of the leading scientists in Great Britain stated that creationism should be taught in science lessons in order to reduce the uncertainty among the increasing number of children who were taught to reject the theory of evolution.

Professor Michael Reiss outlined that today one in ten children studying at British state schools believes in creationism. Mr Reiss, who holds the position of the director of education at the Royal Society and who works for the University of London's Institute of Education, looks forward for such believes to be talked about in class by science teachers. In such a way the scientist hopes to help schoolchildren realize that science can not provide evidence for such literal beliefs in religious scripture.

According to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the institution in charge of the national curriculum, creationism doe not represent a scientific theory, which is why the body ruled that the debates over creationism should be excluded from the science curriculum.

"I'm trying to make it less likely that students will ignore science that they will detach from it, because it makes them feel that they cannot continue with science because it conflicts with their beliefs... But I feel if a science teacher feels comfortable with it then it could reduce confusion," said Prof. Reiss at the British Association's science festival, held at Liverpool University.

The results of a number of surveys show that over 10 percent of British schoolchildren believe that our planet exists for only a few thousands of years and not 4 billion years, a fact accepted by science. Even more pupils don't believe that humans along with other forms of life on the planet evolved from the same ancestors as a result of the natural selection.

"We have an increasing number of children in schools from Muslim backgrounds and a very high proportion of Muslim families have creationist beliefs. Secondly, while Christianity as a religion is becoming less important in British society, within Christianity there is quite a high proportion of families that do hold fundamentalist beliefs, and that often means they are creationists," said the professor, who also mentioned that he supports a gradual approach to resolving the issue.

"A better way forward is to say, look, I simply want to present you with the scientific understanding of the history of the universe and how animals and plants and other organisms have evolved," he said.

Several academics and teacher's unions strongly criticized the professor's comments.

"Our feeling is that our members would need some convincing that creationism should be taught in science lessons - unless it is just as a theory whose validity can be debated," mentioned the deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Martin Johnson.

Prof. Lewis Wolpert, of University College London, in his turn said: "Creationism is based on faith and has nothing to do with science, and it should not be taught in science classes. There is no evidence for a creator, and creationism explains nothing. It is based on religious beliefs and any discussion should be in religious studies."

Source: The Independent

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