Teaching Creation and Evolution in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has strengthened its ban on the teaching of creation as fact through a series of documents produced by the UK Department of Education. The new science standards are clearly biased and discriminatory, so it’s ironic that the document indicates that it wishes to eliminate discrimination, advance equality, foster good relations between persons, and provide a broad and balanced curriculum. Clearly, such good intentions aren’t serious when it ignores its own mandates and proceeds to discriminate against those who believe in creation over evolution. Rather than fostering good relations between persons, they’re actually sowing discord, along with a narrow, unbalanced curriculum.

In addition, such a mandate violates academic freedom and is outright censorship. The document explicitly requires that students be “taught about the theory of evolution,” and that teachers may not teach creationism as scientific fact. It imposes the idea that those who are in power can express their beliefs, while at the same time prohibit competing theories, such as creation, even if they’re overwhelmingly supported by the scientific evidence.

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The document defines creation as any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth, and it prohibits the teaching of anything that “rejects the scientific theory of evolution.” Thus it advances the idea that the doctrine or theory evolutionism is the only scientific theory that may be taught, even if it’s wrong and grossly unscientific.

The document explains that the reason they’re imposing this agenda is because they believe creation is rejected by most mainstream churches and religious traditions and the scientific community. Of course I’d challenge that notion on several grounds. Firstly, science isn’t determined by a majority vote or consensus. Even if they’re correct that creation is rejected by most scientists and those in the church, that’s irrelevant to science. Scientific truth is based on observation and experimentation, not consensus. Evolution, in fact, doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory; it’s not a proven fact and shouldn’t be promoted dogmatically. It would be more accurate to say that evolution is an unsubstantiated hypothesis or conjecture; there’s no scientific observation or experiment demonstrating that evolution is responsible for all life on the planet as we know it, or that every organism on the planet is related to a single common ancestor. If anything, consensus inhibits the scientific process by insisting everyone else jump on the bandwagon and stop searching for competing truths. For example, scientists once believed in “junk DNA”, claiming that certain areas in the DNA had no function; but such beliefs prevented scientists from studying this part of the DNA for decades. Now scientists understand how important these areas are in diagnosing and treating diseases.

It stands to reason, therefore, that if we were to ban every scientific idea in the minority, real science would be choked to death- people would be forced to believe many outdated, incorrect scientific principles that have been overturned based on new evidence, or an alternative interpretation.

Once upon a time we used to believe there were nine planets in our solar system; this was a truth believed by mainstream scientists and most people. But somehow the minority view challenged that truth and changed our understanding. We now “know” that there are eight planets in our solar system. The appendix is another example; it was once thought to be a useless organ left over from our ancestors. But now we know it’s an important part of our immune system, able to hide beneficial bacteria when dangerous germs take over the gut. If we used the UK’s standard of censorship in all areas of science, doctors would still be removing our appendix for no other reason than it’s a useless, evolutionary leftover.

Further, while the majority of scientists may believe in evolutionism over creation, a 2006 poll indicated that only 48% of those in the UK believe in evolutionary theory, which would make it the minority opinion. Therefore, since 52% of the UK population doesn’t believe in evolutionary theory, perhaps it is evolution that should be banned for being outside the mainstream. Do you suppose any evolutionist would agree to that?

If, for the sake of argument, creation was true and evolution false, the document makes it impossible for the truth to be taught, but rather only allows for the teaching of false ideas, indoctrinating a whole generation of students.

In addition, censorship isn’t something to be taken lightly. Even if one believes evolution to be true, how does it benefit society to prohibit a legitimate belief system, such as creation? It may advance one’s particular political agenda, but indoctrination creates a society that can’t think rationally or critically, and is therefore easily controlled. So the benefit of this mandate is purely political and not in the best interest of education or the population as a whole. Students should be allowed to question evolutionism and examine alternatives. What could possibly be wrong with that? Sure, it may create competition for evolutionists, but competition is good, and that will propel science further, rather than inhibit it. So, if this were truly about science and education, there would be no censorship. We’d let the science lead us into the future rather than allow a political agenda to determine which direction science will go.

I think the government is really afraid that, if left unchecked, more people will believe in creation, while evolution would lose its grip. The people would have a much stronger understanding of what evolution is and what it isn’t, and that wouldn’t serve those in power.

Despite all this, some critics may still express the old canard that science will suffer and we’ll have an illiterate population that can’t make advancements in technology and medicine. But that argument has been refuted for years. Many creation scientists have made advancements in technology and medicine, despite the naysayers. In the recent Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye debate, Ken Ham introduced a number of creation scientists, such as Dr. Stuart Burgess and Dr. Raymond Damadian, who have done exactly what the critics claim isn’t possible… advance science through their inventions and technology. So that should be another blow to evolutionary beliefs- they must resort to straw-man arguments and falsehoods in order to maintain a grip on society and steer it in a direction they can control.

It’s my hope that the United States doesn’t follow the UK’s lead, but rather allows for critical thinking and academic freedom in all areas of science, including creation and evolution.

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6 thoughts on “Teaching Creation and Evolution in the United Kingdom

  1. “I think the government is really afraid that, if left unchecked, more people will believe in creation, while evolution would lose its grip. The people would have a much stronger understanding of what evolution is and what it isn’t, and that wouldn’t serve those in power.”

    Why would they be afraid of that? How does it not serve those in power?

    • Good question. I think the answer is rather complex. I think the answer comes through understanding those in positions of power, what they want, how they get what they want, how religion influences a society, and whether or not the government desires religious influence, or if they want to control it.

      Governments are all about power, money and control. Very few politicians are honest and truthful and do the right thing. I think this is an important understanding for anyone who loves freedom (including academic freedom) and wants to maintain those freedoms. Those who want power and money generally gravitate towards positions of power, and that is found in government. And anyone with great wealth can also influence politicians, getting what they want. In this case it’s actually the British Humanist Association that has been pushing this agenda, and now the government has caved in.

      So what’s the purpose of the document? Obviously it can’t be to increase academic freedom, science standards, or any of the positive things they’ve described- the document does just the opposite of what they state. Actions speak louder than words. They say one thing, but do another.

      One way government controls the population is through education- teaching students what it is that they want them to know, and preventing them from learning that which they don’t want them to know. Government becomes the source of right and wrong, morality and immorality. And as government increases its influence, God has less influence (or so they think).

      If students are allowed to question evolution, or if they’re allowed to believe that creation is a fact, then government has less control over what people think and believe. Now the population is able to question the status quo, and the government will have difficulty imposing its morality on the people.

      Many world governments lean towards secularism, and allowing religion to have unconstrained freedom (as it did during the founding of this country) reduces the power, control, and money government receives. We have greater control over our own lives if we’re able to practice our religious freedom and let God be the arbiter of right and wrong. But by giving away our religious freedom, government has greater control.

      Therefore these humanist organizations are able to influence public policy, beliefs systems, morality, science, speech, and they can silence or crush religion. And with that is a very real (and dangerous) goal of theirs. If there is no God, then each man can do what’s right in his own eyes without consequences, and I think that’s what they ultimately want- a godless society. But I don’t think that’s a good thing. And that’s why we have so much violence in the world, including gun violence, which I know you’re opposed to. If more people were to believe that God created the heavens and the earth, and that man is made in the image of God, I think we’d have far less violence.

      • Well I certainly agree with you about politicians.

        “We have greater control over our own lives if we’re able to practice our religious freedom and let God be the arbiter of right and wrong.”

        How does this bill preclude that, though? Whether or not creationism or evolution is taught in science classrooms doesn’t mean people can’t have a personal relationship with God. You can still take your family to church. You can still send your kids to Sunday school.

        I don’t think that children shouldn’t be taught to question things–even accepted scientific theories–or to evaluate them through a critical lens. However, I do see several problems with pushing for a creationist angle. First, which creation lens are we talking about?

        I assume you’re speaking about Christianity. Except that, much like America, England is a melting pot. Why should Hindu, Muslim, etc students be forced to listen to Christian gospel? So should the point of view of every major religion be included? If that’s the case, then we’ve effectively turned a science class into a religion class.

        If not mentioning creationism in science class amounts to censorship, then why don’t we push for the bible to be taught as the foundation of every literature class? Why doesn’t every history class teach about the garden of Eden or Noah’s Ark, if Christians believe them to be actual historical events? At this point we’d be turning every public school into a Christian school. Which I’m sure Christian’s would love. But I have difficulty granting preferential treatment to any one specific religion.

        It almost seems easier to have the teaching about evolution confined to one week of science class which parents can opt their children out of, just like sex ed. That way, parents who don’t believe in it and don’t want their kids exposed to it can do so, while parents who don’t want creationism in the classroom would also be satisfied.

      • The bill reduces individual freedom and attempts to make the government a substitute for God. It does this by preventing anyone from claiming that God really did create the heavens and the earth as the Bible states, and that our origin is not a chance event that occurred over billions of years. Students are not allowed to examine the evidence for themselves and draw their own conclusions… government will do that for them. Students are taught that we’re an accident and no more special than an amoeba; they’re taught that there are no moral absolutes, and that right and wrong are relative (it’s no wonder we have so many violent shootings). Students learn survival of the fittest, that life is cruel, and it’s by blood and death that humans have become the dominant species on earth, and that we’re destroying our fragile planet and overpopulating it.

        But if students are given the opportunity to think critically, that will expand their ability to think independently, which control-minded governments don’t want. Independent thinking prevents governments from enforcing their agenda. Independent thinking produces creativity and greater freedom.

        Students should be allowed to decide whether or not they want to believe in God. Yes, people can still have a personal relationship with God (even if he’s banned in schools), but the message that the government is sending to students is that God isn’t real, and that truth is only found in science. This message is being absorbed by the students, even ones with a church background, and they’re becoming good citizens of the state (but it comes with a cost of a lack of morality).

        The downside to this is, if God is real, then the government is leading students astray. And they’re doing it for the sake of control. They want fewer religious people; they want to convince students that there is no God, compelling them to comply with government mandates… even ones considered to be immoral on religious grounds. So, even though kids could still go to church, when they go to a government funded school and are taught that what they’re learning in church is false, and that we’ve evolved from pond-scum, and that the church is too impotent to stop the ship from sinking, the student may become indoctrinated, which is precisely what government wants.

        As for which creation lens we’re talking about… When I say that creation science should be permitted, what I mean is that we teach science, not religious doctrine or theology. Creationists believe that the world is young and that organisms have changed over time, but not evolved. If we’re allowed to provide scientific evidence for this, and if we can provide scientific evidence demonstrating that the earth is not as old as the secular cosmology says it is, or evidence against evolution, that would be sufficient. Creationists aren’t demanding Bible studies in science class, and we’re not telling students that they have to choose Christianity over Islam, Hinduism, or any other religion. And that’s the mistake that a lot of people are making- they think that if we allow the teaching of creation, then students are going to become Christians (God forbid!) at the expense of atheism and all other religions.

        Further, as far as I can tell, there are only two positions… either we’re here by chance, or we’re here on purpose. If we’re allowed to present evidence for one side, then we should be able to provide evidence for the other. I don’t know why any specific religion has to be presented by name, although Christianity has been a dominant influence in this country since its founding.

        If government mandated students in literature or history class be taught that the Bible was wrong, and prevented any defense from Christians, then I’d have an issue with those classes and would demand that we be given an opportunity to defend our views. And that’s perhaps the heart of the problem; in science class there’s an overt attack on Christianity and the Bible, and we’re not allowed to defend our beliefs. If science didn’t outright attack our beliefs and claim that the only acceptable belief is that all planets, stars and organisms evolved over billions of years by chance, and that all religious beliefs are false, then we really wouldn’t need to push for creation in the classrooms. We only do this because we want to defend what we believe and counter what we believe is false. But even more to the point, we don’t necessarily want to mandate the teaching of creation is science class; we only want to allow students and teachers who do believe it to be given a chance to present the scientific evidence. Mandating the teaching of creation wouldn’t be helpful because atheist teachers don’t understand or believe it. We just don’t want evolution to be taught dogmatically, and we want students to have the freedom to discuss objections to evolution, as well as scientific evidence for creation, without being discriminated against.

        And it’s not that I don’t want evolution to be discussed at all, or limited to just a week that can be opted out. I want students to have a really, really good understanding of evolution. They need to know what it is and what it isn’t. I actually believe creationists have a better understanding of evolution than most evolutionists, so I wouldn’t call for banning it at all. I just think students should be able to identify the difference between evolution, speciation, adaptation, change, and the like.

  2. I have learned from other news reports on this subject that in the UK the government financially supports all schools, even religious ones, and this gives them the power to control what those schools teach. Perhaps a partial solution would be for Christian schools to stop accepting this support and pay the full costs for their schools. It would impose a financial hardship but God has promised to supply the needs of all who are willing to trust him completely.

    • Well said Clyde. If schools can opt out of receiving government money, that would help, but I’m afraid too many schools may choose the easy path, which is to accept the money and cave in to the demands. But I hope and pray there will be enough schools that will stand up for what they believe, despite the attacks.

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