Pressure to teach Creationism

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A British Council poll has found that over half of British adults would like science teaching in schools to include intelligent design.

The Ipsos Mori poll has found that 54% of UK adults agreed that creationism should be on the curriculum. However, prominent scientists and teaching unions have expressed shock at the poll's findings.

Creationism claims that the origins of humanity and the Earth are recent and divine, as related in the book of Genesis. Strict creationists believe Adam and Eve are the mother and father of humanity and that God created the Earth in six days.

Advocates of intelligent design argue that some features of the universe and nature are so complex they must have been designed by a higher intelligence.

Lewis Wolpert, emeritus professor of biology at University College London (UCL), who is vice-president of the British Humanist Association, said: "I am appalled. It shows how ignorant the public is. Intelligent design and creationism have no connection with science and are purely religious concepts. There is no evidence for them at all. They must be kept out of science lessons."

Steve Jones, professor of genetics at UCL, said: "This shows the danger of religions being allowed to buy schools, hijack lessons and pretend that they have anything useful to say about science – which, by definition, they do not. The figure seems much too high, although no doubt there is a substantial minority that does think this."

Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "It would be wholly wrong to include creationism in the science curriculum. An overwhelming body of evidence, not assertion, supports the concept of evolution and therefore evolution must form the basis of the science curriculum. Consideration of creationism might not be out of place in religious education."

Fern Elsdon-Baker, head of the British Council's Darwin Now programme, said: "Overall these results may reflect the need for a more sophisticated approach to teaching and communicating how science works as a process."

The government, meanwhile, has been quick to denounce creationism and intelligent design as it is not a scientific theory, but a religious belief. However, the government has agreed that young people can discuss creationism as part of their religious education classes.

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