Schools in the United Kingdom are banned from teaching creationism following a clarification of regulations released by the UK government last week.
The new documents make plain that any school receiving public funds, which includes many church-run schools, will violate the Funding Agreement with the government if it teaches creationism as a scientifically valid alternative to the theory of evolution. In addition, schools are required to teach evolution as the current scientific consensus regarding the origin of Earth’s many species.
“The parties further recognize that the requirement on every academy and free school to provide a broad and balanced curriculum, in any case prevents the teaching of creationism as evidence based theory in any academy or free school,” the government’s new documents say.
Elsewhere, creationism is defined as “any doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution.” Such theories, the agreements say, are roundly rejected by today’s scientists.
“It does not accord with the scientific consensus or the very large body of established scientific evidence; nor does it accurately and consistently employ the scientific method, and as such it should not be presented to pupils at the Academy as a scientific theory,” the government declares.
Creationism may be brought up when studying religion, but instructors may never present it as a scientific alternative to evolution.
A 2012 poll by AngusReid found that only 17 percent of Britons believed humans were created by God in their original form within the last 10,000 years, while 69 percent believe humans arose through millions of years of evolution. The same poll found that only 30 percent of Americans believe in Darwinian evolution while 51 percent believe humans were created in the last 10,000 years.
The announcement is a win for the British Humanist Association, which has been running a “Teach Evolution, Not Creationism” campaign since 2011.
“We believe that this means that the objectives of the campaign are largely met. We congratulate the Government on its robust stance on this issue,” the organization’s spokesman Pavan Dhaliwal said in a statement.
The UK’s decisive prohibition is in stark contrast to the United States. While the Supreme Court has abolished bans on teaching evolution, as well as laws requiring that creationism be taught alongside evolution, private schools have extensive leeway in teaching science and many state legislatures have battled over laws affording varying degrees of protection to public school teachers who wish to question evolution.
As recently as March 2014, Oklahoma’s House advanced a bill by a wide margin that if enacted would provide protections for science teachers to criticize Darwinian theory.
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