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Teach The Origins Of Life Based On Evidence, Scientists Demand

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The Times June 22, 2006


Teach the origins of life based on evidence, scientists demand

By Steve Bird


Faith schools are being accused of failing to give children the facts about the theory of evolution


THE world’s leading scientists have joined together to call for “evidence-based” teaching of the origins of life in schools.


A statement signed by national science academies from 67 countries, including Britain, claims that children at some faith-based schools are not being taught evolution.


Some schools hold that evolution is merely a theory, while the Bible is the truth.


The statement, which was signed by the Royal Society,said: “We urge decision-makers, teachers, and parents to educate all children about the methods and discoveries of science and foster an understanding of the science of nature. Knowledge of the natural world in which they live empowers people to meet human needs and protect the planet.


“Within science courses taught in certain public systems of education, scientific evidence, data, and testable theories about the origins and evolution of life on Earth are being concealed, denied or confused with theories not testable by science.”


It goes on to say that schools in some parts of the world teach children that the Earth is only 8,000 years old.


Creationism includes a belief that all forms of life have always existed in their present form, and that the world was formed in 4004BC, rather than 4,600 million years ago, as scientists believe.


The statement followed a long-running row over claims that some of Tony Blair’s flagship city academies teach creationism in science lessons.


It was claimed that schools in the North East backed by one academy sponsor, the Christian millionaire Sir Peter Vardy, were promoting creationism alongside evolutionary scientific theory. The King’s Academy in Middlesbrough, which Sir Peter sponsored, has denied teaching creationism.


In America, many Christians reject Darwinism as a theory and insist that the Bible is the true explanation of the origin of the planet and its species.


Academics are challenging one prominent theory being taught in a growing number of schools across American.


The theory, “intelligent design”, suggests that some species are too complex to have evolved through natural selection, as most scientists believe, and must therefore be the product of a “designer”, or God.


However, scientists claim that such teachings deny children the right to learn about the steps humans have made in explaining the existence of the world and human beings.


Martin Rees, the president of the Royal Society, said: “There is controversy in some parts of the world about the teaching of evolution to pupils, so this makes clear the views of the scientific community.


“I hope this statement will help those who are attempting to uphold the rights of young people to have access to accurate scientific knowledge about the origins and evolution of life on Earth.”

Yves Quere, of the Inter Academy Panel on International Issues for the global network of science academies, said: “We know of schools in various parts of the world where children are told that the Earth is about 8,000 years old.


“This statement says that you cannot teach this to young children because it is wrong.”


A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said: “Neither creationism nor intelligent design are taught as a subject in schools, and are not specified in the science curriculum.


“The national curriculum for science clearly sets down that pupils should be taught that the fossil record is evidence for evolution, and how variation and selection may lead to evolution or extinction. Academies are required to follow the core and foundation requirements of the national curriculum.”




Evolutionists believe that life on Earth has taken many forms. Those that survive continue to evolve


They cite the high level of identical genetic code in all organisms living today, including humans, as evidence that they share a common origin


Creationism is the belief that the Universe was created by a supreme being or deity, as described in the Book of Genesis or the Koran


Polls indicate that up to 100 million Americans believe in creationism


Steve Jones, a British evolutionary biologist, says the important difference between evolutionists and creationists is that scientists are prepared to say: “I don’t know”

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