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back to article Webcast quango: One-third of UK teachers are creationists

In a recent survey, barely half of a self-selecting sample of UK teachers who use the webcast service Teachers' TV disagreed with the idea that "creationism or intelligent design should be given the same status as evolution in the classroom". Some 87.9 per cent of respondents thought that it was appropriate to discuss religious …

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surely a wilful misrepresentation?

The teachers themselves, those who favour discussing it, are saying just that: if the topic ocmes up, they would /discuss/ it, not offer it as another, equally valid view, but simply discuss it. So a pupil who raised it could spark off a discussion about 'what is evidence' or 'how belief and faith differs from rationality'. To present what thoughtful teachers consider a good way to deal with the topic as if these people were eager to present creationism and science side by side is a misrepresentation.

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Alert

They still teach science??

I'm surprised there's any time left after teaching the core curriculum of "Climate Change" for anything else.

Commenters who (justifably) start venting about myths and pseudo-science being taught as "fact" in schools should check their own shoes are clean first.

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What about Science Teachers specifically

I'm not to worried if a bunch of bible bashers who took timeout from a busy schedule of arts and crafts or sociology (let alone RE!) think religion should be taught in Science class.

The important questions would be:

1/ How many Science teachers do?

2/ How many Head Teachers do?

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Linux

Purpose of education

The purpose of education is not to teach you facts but to teach you how to think and make decisions.

Also in regards to creationism how can anyone state whether this is possible or not. The universe was created in 7 days. I don't think anyone out there is God so how do you know how long it took. Time is relative and something which we have designed. If you are an omnipotent, omnipresent being would you judge the passage of time by 24 hour clock. I we lived on a different planet in this solar system alone we would not use a 24 hour clock as it would not work for the rotation of the planet. We also would not use a 365 days for a year as it takes either longer or shorter for the planet to circumnavigate the sun.

Just something to think about before you start the flaming.

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Paris Hilton

Ready, aim, fire

Cue lots of anger from people who can't bear the idea that aspects of current scientific theory may not be 100% right, and that creationists may have something to add to science. It's always a bonus if you can call your detractors religious nuts, you don't have to look at what they're saying. Here's a clue: creation almost always gets an "ism" added to the end to make it look like something stupid people believe. Evolution is left without an "ism" as if it's fact.

Most teachers being pragmatic and talking about their subject in a way pupils want to talk about? Shock horror. Guess what, you can't actually separate out subjects and talk about them only when you want to, even if you do believe the current theory of evolution without mentioning its shortcomings, and detest all versions of creation with an irrational fear that makes you more religious than the people you disagree with!

Where's the Paris Hilton angle, anyway? She's clearly either an evolutionary step forward from her father or a creation to amuse us all!

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Unhappy

I'm scared, even if it is thin

I was shocked to find that morality and citizenship are taught within the RE framework, as if belief in an imaginary being is a prerequisite for morality.

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Alien

Statistics Creationism

I think that its more likely that teachers would like the option of talking about it when brought up because thats part of the job - you know; making people know what things are.

The fact that most science teachers in the uk would try hard not to break down in hysterical laughter if the person implied that it was true (or should be taught as an equal theory/fact/theory), however, isn't shown by the way this study has been interpreted.

I think 1/3 is higher than the number of hardcore christians that believe in creationism in this country, so maybe the crazzies are congealing in the teaching industry.

<Have you been touched by his noodley appendage?>

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Happy

The place for creationism in school

Of course there's a place for Creationism in science lessons, it could go like this:

Student: Teach, my mommy told me that living things are too complicated to develop by chance and evolution is only a theory.

Teacher: Well Johnny some people do have that opinion and class do we know what we call people who think that

Class (except Johnny): MORONS!

Teacher: That's right class.

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Boffin

Funny though...

That this is filed under Science rather than Odds & Sods or Public Sector.

Just as there's a semantic issue with the word "theory" as in Darwinian Evolution is "only a theory" / "the best scientific model we have on the subject at the moment", there's a problem with the word Creationism.

Admittedly neither old Earth (comprehensible synthesis of religious belief into scientific understanding) nor young Earth (Noah kicked the dinosaurs off the ark or God is using fossils to mess with our heads) Creationism belong in science lessons - especially not the latter or Intelligent Design (pseudo-scientific gloss on young Earth creationism) - but this is just the kind of tar baby that the 4004BC club love to wind rationalists up with.

Also, I bet Teachers TV would never dare to do a "should we bring back corporal punishment?" survey or, if they did, wouldn't give it quite as much prominence.

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Anonymous Coward

Philosophy not RE

RE should be scraped from the general curriculum, and philosophy mad a compulsory part.

Unfortunately too many teachers are religious whackos, the profession seems to attract the fringe element.

To be honest, I would scrap all of the current set up of education, just make it 100% exam, and publish the exam criteria, job done. If they want to learn they can, if not so what. Far more economical an approach, teachers can join all us adults in the real world, and actually make a contribution to the economy, rather than leech of it.

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tim

@ Hollerith

i don't think it's misrepresenting anyone, it clearly states “....almost 9 out of 10 (87.9%) teachers take the pragmatic view that they should be allowed to discuss creationism or intelligent design in science, if pupils raise the question.”, it's also saying/showing that about 3% of teachers think it should be given the "...same status as evolution in the classroom..." , the title to the story is misleading ut thats mee-ja folk for you (I'm just hoping none of those 3% end up teaching my children).

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Fair enough

If the kid brings it up by all means discuss it. And discuss it in the way is should be discussed.

There is science (theory, test, disprove, revise theory, test, disprove and repeat until you think you've got it (right up until some smart arse has a better idea)) and then there are fables (untestable).

Err...I think that covers it.

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perhaps they should

teach statistics in English lessons..

We discussed evolution in RE lessons, because this was 30 years ago though, there was a clear faith vs science split as lets face it , the discussion about evolution was done and dusted 100 years ago.

This doesn't mean that ID shouldn't be mentioned it should just be discounted as faith, the same way that miracles are discounted. You can't discuss it in the same way as flogiston or the michelson morley experiments (picking classic examples of theory debunking), because both those issues can and are disproved via experiments. ID/creationism cannot be disproved by experiment, in the same way that god cannot be.

Still , I wonder when the religious americans will finally get round to reading about plate-techtonics. Wonder what great phrase they'll invent to contradict that...

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Anonymous Coward

Save religious nonsense for religious education lessons.

If someone wants to discuss religious matters, save them for religious education lessons. Science lessons are for presenting concepts with actual proof to back them up, of which there is none for creationism, other than the usual bullcrap line of, 'God made it that way.'

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It's a metaphor...

7 days... it's not seven actual earth days... it's a metaphor for the order by which they came about. As for if ID is viable as a theory... there is not one shred of evidence whereas there is plenty of evidence to support evolution. The idea of creation is a hangover from a time when people had not figured out evolution and needed a story to explain things and the big guy in the sky seemed pretty plausible.

It used to be thought that thunder was god getting angry and the sun was driven across the sky in a chariot but science has explained these in incontravertable ways and at some point in the future it would be nice to see proof of the origin of species.

They key difference between science and belief is that science is not blind and it's pretty fickle. As soon as a better theory comes along the open minds of science will embrace it. Religion is marred by the concept that a book written a few thousand years ago is the truth and is not subject to revision and updating when better information becomes available.

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@Jamie

Orbit. The word you are looking for is orbit.

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Anonymous Coward

@Warren

Evolution is not fact, is that far more important thing, a scientific theory. Science should be about scientific theory. Science should not be about arbitrarily making crap up and then killing people who disagree with you. The teaching of religion (as opposed to religious education) impedes scientific learning and indeed any logic based learning.

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Anonymous Coward

Proof?

What sort of proof can science provide for a God who almost certainly exists outside of time?

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Go

Adam & Eve...

...were forbidden to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

But they did anyway and took the evolutionary step from Ape to Man.

Metaphorically hoist by their own metaphorical petard methinks.

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@Jamie

Of course you can come up with an explanation you like to interpret the Bibilical creationist story in whatever you like. It's very easy to come up with allegorical interpretations or redefine the words as you see fit and, of course it's impossible to prove it is wrong.

But that utterly and totally misses the point - it's not science; any explanation that is not, in principle, falsifiable immediately identifies itself as unscientific. What might be the point is if the nature of science as a methodology was properly taught in classrooms then truly people might learn to think for themselves. They might then understand the difference between different methods of understanding.

It would be a jolly good idea if some of the more rigorous branches of philosophy were taught in schools (and to schoolteachers) and then we might not get this sort of nonsense of mixing up creationist theories and evolution as being equally valid interpretations of the same phenomena when, in fact, the former is based on an axiomatic faith system.

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Anonymous Coward

Forget creationism

I've come through the entire public school system with absolutely no idea how our government or legal system works.

How is MP formed?

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I call bullshit...

I know a lot of teachers, including most of my family and hangers-on, many of them are Christians and I don't know a single one who thinks that creationism is anything more than a creation myth. I also don't know any of them who give a shit about TeachersTV.

If, in science class, someone brings up creationism/ID what is a teacher supposed to do? Send them out of the room? Tell them to shut up? or discuss it as part of scientific reasoning, why it may be true, why it may not.

Even Dawkins discussed creationism with a science class on his Darwin program.

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Boffin

@ Jamie

"Also in regards to creationism how can anyone state whether this is possible or not. The universe was created in 7 days. I don't think anyone out there is God so how do you know how long it took. Time is relative and something which we have designed. If you are an omnipotent, omnipresent being would you judge the passage of time by 24 hour clock. I we lived on a different planet in this solar system alone we would not use a 24 hour clock as it would not work for the rotation of the planet. We also would not use a 365 days for a year as it takes either longer or shorter for the planet to circumnavigate the sun.

Just something to think about before you start the flaming."

1. Time does not "pass".

2. Whether you're measuring time in seconds, days, galactic years etc is irrelevant. It's just a different conversion factor in the equations.

3. If we lived on a planet with a 26hr day, it wouldn't change the rate at which processes happen, it would just mean that we were using different units. I don't get any taller by measuring my height in centimetres instead of feet and inches.

4. A being that created the universe would, by definition, exist outside of time and would not be subject to the illusion that time is a progression. What we see as present, past and future would all have an equal existence as part of a 4-dimensional object.

5. None of the above matters because the reason that Creationism is not taught in science classes is that it is NOT A SCIENTIFIC THEORY.

Seconds are to time what metres are to space.

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Who votes wins

But how many were Biologists? "Teacher" doesn't mean "polymath" or "intellectual", and there's no reason to expect a History or Technology teacher to know any more about evolutionary theory than any random punter off the street.

Also, I worry about the methodology of this study. "Self-selecting" equates to "meaningless sample group" - those who are strongly motivated to have Creationism taught in schools are much more likely than any other type of person to take part in this study. Most Creationists are in religious organisations that are likely to treat this kind of survey as a means of promoting their particular viewpoint.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is exactly what happened here; by ambushing the vote a handful of well organised Creationists could easily skew the results.

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@Jamie

"Time is relative and something which we have designed"

I do agree with the first part of your statement. Einstein himself has proven that Time is relative, so I doubt anyone can actually put those words in doubt.

However, any pretense of credibility you might have had falls flat on its face with the last part of your statement.

Nobody in the Human race has "designed" Time. If that were the case, we would have included methods to "wind back" Time and otherwise exert full control over it.

What the Human race has designed is its own understanding of time, yes. But Time will go on whether there is a human being to measure it or not.

I accept the idea that the Universe originated in the Big Bang - until a better scientific theory comes along. I accept the idea that immense and numerous stellar explosions were required to create the various kinds of matter that exist beyond the humble hydrogen atom. I accept that it probably took billions of years and untold trillions upon trillions of events to create the conditions that made life on this planet Earth possible.

And I also accept, and welcome, the idea that there is a God who, in His godly wisdom and intelligence, set the whole thing in motion and made sure to provide all the tools we needed to understand it.

The two items are not mutually exclusive, and I see no reason to consider that Science is diminishing God in any respect. On the contrary, I believe that Science simply demonstrates that God does indeed have a vastly superior intelligence to our own, and we should be in awe of what God has created and thankful to have the ability to take tiny steps in understanding it.

Because if we had designed the Universe, the specs would still be stuck in a committee and the beta version would have blue screened right after the first black hole.

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INTELLIGENT DESIGN

At one time, there was nothing. Then there was a Big Bang, and a universe, complete with everything needed for everything that is, came into existence. How?

To deny there could be an intelligence responsible for this, is very unscientific.. To say in a classroom, "There are those who think there is an intelligence in the universe who created it." will not cause any harm to anyone. Except those who do not want students to believe there is moral order. To whose advantage do you suppose that is?

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Creationism in science classes

I noted some cynicism in this report. Good! How many of the teachers identified themselves as science teachers? Why waste time talking about superstitions in a class on biology? Would it then be OK to discuss French grammar in English or vice versa? I think the answer to that is probably no.

I have no problem with debating religion/science/philospohy/ethics with anyone, especially as zealots of all flavours end up car crashing their rather feeble arguments in relatively few steps, but this onward march of "teachers" who aren't qualified to comment on what is or isn't on the science curriculum, piping up and adding their unwanted voices to this debate is a complete joke.

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@ JEAN

So where does your intelligence come from, then?

And why would whoever or whatever created the Intelligent Designer bother with that middle step rather than just create the Universe?

That isn't even a circular argument -- it's an outward spiral, getting less and less plausible with every turn.

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re: Ready, aim, fire

Well it's only fair: the religious nuts (such as yourself) keep sniping about things they don't understand and use that lack of understanding as PROOF that science is bogus.

Or is it only Christians who are allowed to say "you're wrong"?

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re: INTELLIGENT DESIGN

You seem to be saying that the universe is set for intelligent life and this is so mindbogglingly unlikely that there MUST be an intelligence behind it.

However, that intelligence must have come about in a system that is set for intelligent life and this is so mindbogglingly unlikely that this intelligence MUST have an intelligence behind it.

But THAT intelligence must have come about in a system that is set for intelligent life and this is so mindbogglingly unlikely that this intelligence MUST have an intelligence behind IT.

...

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hmmmm

@ "Because if we had designed the Universe, the specs would still be stuck in a committee and the beta version would have blue screened right after the first black hole" - yes, if humans had designed it we wouldnt have made humans with evidence of evolution (coxix {spelling??} - the little bit of your spine where a frikkin TAIL used to be. or the fact that we have things like the appendix, which serves no purpose and is a left over from our pre-human days...

@"At one time, there was nothing. Then there was a Big Bang, and a universe, complete with everything needed for everything that is, came into existence. How?" - who MADE god then? touche! always wins that one... was it mr and mrs god? is it god jr playing?

i dont mind religous fanatics but my kids will be withdrawn from any classes spouting religous nonsense - ive been an athiest since i was 5! (yes, i remember telling a teacher it was all rubbish back in 1st year infant school)

religion dumbs and numbs the mind - it stops us thinking as we are all told 'god made everythingstop dont worry your pretty little head'

i split up with my ex (who was a god botherer) after too many dumb conversations about how evolution cant be proved... ffs lol

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re: Adam & Eve...

Vaughn, are you calling Adam a monkey!!!

We are not descended from apes. Apes and us descended from a common ancestor (which, to the ape would be a manlike ancestor if he were as stupid about it as some creationists). That ancestor was not an ape. Neither were they human. They were another species.

All dogs are descended from a wolf. Even Chihuahuas. And they're about as far as looking like a wolf as you can get. But we don't seem to say that the Chihuahua is descended from a Great Dane, do we, just because they have the same (different) ancestor species.

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Happy

Creation or evolution.

It is quite amazing that these people who are so positive that evolution is correct are frightened of creationists. All they seem to able to do is ridicule creationists. They are so positive that evolution is correct they are frightened to debate creationism in the classroom. The truth is evolution cannot stand up to scrutiny.

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re: Proof?

"What sort of proof can science provide for a God who almost certainly exists outside of time?"

None.

Which is why God and discussions about such belong in a religious discussion, not a science one.

Why then do the christian activists seem to want to insist? you don't see scientists demanding that general relativity is taught in RE classes, or that home economics should be taught from the pulpit.

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Stop

@ac - Proof?

What sort of proof can science provide for a God who almost certainly exists outside of time?

Rather, you should be asking: What sort of proof can religion provide for a god who almost certainly doesn't exist at all; ever; anywhere but on a page.

Keep religion of all sort out of public school and where it belongs: in your church, mosque, synagogue, temple or whatever you prefer and infect your own children with it.

@Jean - believe there is moral order Since when do I have to believe like you do in order to have morals? Silly mortal.

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Intelligent design

There is one, and only one, supernatural entity in this universe. All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster, for He and His allmighty meatballs are the origin and the end of all and any physical or pataphysical entity. He created the universe, and He created man to serve and adore Him. Anything else is bullshit. Burn your idols, muslims, jews, christians, for they are leading you to an afterlife of endless pain and suffering in salted boiling water (and tabasco in the eyes).

That's what I demand be taught in science class. My religious freedom is not less important than yours, biatch!

The FSM bless you all.

More seriously, do we really want to turn science classes into endless discussion on which religion has the best cosmogony? If yes, I'm sorry christian nutters, but your fairytale is much, much less appealing that the Hindu one. You loose. Now can we get back to rational thinking based on facts and the understanding of causes and consequences? You kids can go play make-believe in the playground.

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re: It's a metaphor...

And God is not real. It's just a metaphor.

The Universe itself is a thing beyond our knowledge but within our grasp to understand. It isn't an intelligence, it is merely the process of the universe acting under its own nature toward an end that it neither knows, cares or drives for. It just exists because that is what it is for. To exist.

Why not? If bits in the bible are metaphor or allegory, then why must the central character be real?

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Happy

Re: Forget creationism

AC: "I've come through the entire public school system with absolutely no idea how our government or legal system works."

But you presumably learned enough in science classes to analyse the available evidence and are now perfectly aware that they don't. It's all made up as they go along, by the kind of idiot who couldn't even parse "evidence-based policy making".

(By the way, saw the phrase "policy-based evidence making" elsewhere on this site this morning. Fabulous!)

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Scepticism classes

RE: should be removed from the curriculum, and replaced with scepticism classes. Children would be taught to think for themselves and question the fallacy of religious beliefs of all flavours. There would then be no need for nonsense such as creationism or ID to come up in science lessons.

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re: Creation or evolution

Let's just have a look at the creationist's belief here: until a few years ago it was based entirely on Genesis in the Bible. As there is absolutely no scientific proof whatsoever for what was originally written down several thousand years ago, where there is evidence of evolution everywhere, intelligent design was invented to fill the bus sized holes in the creation myth, with the basic line being 'oh, well, perhaps we weren't created by a supreme being whose existence cannot ever be proved but the complexity and variety of life on Earth means that something must have done it.'

Gene Roddenberry used to say that the alien species on Star Trek all looked human because of some star-seeding race who had travelled the galaxy in prehistory. It certainly saved on expensive makeup, and indeed predates the concept of intelligent design by 20 years or so. Intelligent design is basically the same argument, except that there isn't a successful TV franchise behind it. Is that ridicule?

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@Jamie&JEAN

Your point seems to be that creationism isn't impossible, so it deserves mention in a science class. That's a gross misunderstanding of the nature of science. Science does not deal with the unknowable - and, more specifically, it does not deal with theories that are logically impossible to disprove.

The point that creationists love to make, "you can't prove that God/aliens/someone didn't create the universe/world/species", is exactly the reason for which creationism isn't science. It might be true, it might be false, it doesn't matter; it belongs to a philosophy class, not to a science class.

Evolution can, in principle, be disproven - for example, by observing the sudden appearance of a new species, sharing relatively little genes with any previously existing species. Creationism can't be disproven, as any conceivable observation can be explained as "God did it". This makes it not-science. True or false doesn't even factor in the discussion.

If a science teacher got asked this by a student, I think he should explain that science deals with testable knowledge only, and that the student should pose that question to the philosophy teacher.

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Pirate

Lucky number Seven?

What's all this about the universe being created in seven days - don't you read the Bible (well I did in Sunday School, once upon a time). The Lord created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Six days, because six is a perfect number - it equals the sum of its factors. This shows that mathematics, like God, is timeless, and exists outside of creation. Of course, if you believe in miracles, you'll believe in anything, even ID.

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re: Creation or evolution.

"It is quite amazing that these people who are so positive that evolution is correct are frightened of creationists."

Why then do creationists keep trying to get their dogma introduced into science classes? How is that fear?

If you can, then please tell me where I can get A.J.Crowley's work introduced in the Sunday Service...

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Re: Creation or evolution.

>It is quite amazing that these people who are so positive that evolution is correct are frightened of creationists.

Yes, because they are scary people that cause people to die, quite often creationists are deluded religious fanatics, 5000 american women will die each year from preventable cervical cancer, but they will not recieve the HPV vaxine becuase of religious fanatics who refuse to issue the vaxine in schools (thankfully the UK is saving our daughters lives), 50% of americans are infected with HPV, think of that before you shag one.

>All they seem to able to do is ridicule creationists.

That's because they are stupid (or at least hold stipid beliefs, sod it! nahhh, they are stupid)

>They are so positive that evolution is correct they are frightened to debate creationism in the classroom.

There is no debate, creationism is just wrong, the earth is millions of years old not 6000, FACT.

>The truth is evolution cannot stand up to scrutiny.

Oh yes it does, and it has done, time and time again, go to http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-evolution.html probably the best detailed scritiny, go there and read, the answers to every question is there.

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Paris Hilton

@AC

"It is quite amazing that these people who are so positive that evolution is correct are frightened of creationists. All they seem to able to do is ridicule creationists. They are so positive that evolution is correct they are frightened to debate creationism in the classroom. The truth is evolution cannot stand up to scrutiny."

Troll alert....

There are plenty of posts in here using the same statement..."evolution is correct". No one has said that, and the only ones to use that sentence are detractors. What has been pointed out, repeatedly, is that most well adjusted people understand that evolution is a working, functionting and usefull hypothesis for the state of our universe. And, as many posters above have pointed out, we're comfortable with the fact that it might change, or indeed 'evolve' in the future.

God is the name traditionally given to things we don't understand. As our understanding evolves over time, so god is replaced by that understanding. There's no harm in that, and there should be no fear of it either.

Creationists are those who weren't on Darwin's mailing list....

<Paris, coz she's on my mailing list>

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Creationists are retards

29% disagreed with this statement: "Creationism and intelligent design are not part of the science national curriculum programmes of study and should not be taught as science."

That's disgraceful. I don't care if these teachers teach science or not. They all should be fired immediately and they should not be allowed to teach anything anywhere ever again. It's not fair to students to be stuck with an idiot teacher and only idiots still believe in magical creation or magical intelligent design in the 21st century.

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Religious Education?

I am quite shocked to hear that schools are required to teach religious education. I would expect that to happen in special religious schools that certain minority groups of parents - such as Roman Catholics - send their children to, not the normal public school system.

Of course, in the United Kingdom, the Church of England continues to enjoy the status of an "established church", in flagrant violation of the Eternal Law of God, as revealed in the First Commandment:

Thou shalt make no law which concerns itself with creating an establisment of religion, nor shalt thou restrict freedom of speech, nor of the press.

Oh, no; that's the First Amendment.

But then the United States violates this principle, by requiring Catholic parents to pay out of their own pocket for Catholic schools while paying taxes for public schools. We Canadians, at least, have got it right, at least in Alberta and Quebec.

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Joke

Happy Friday

I'm an agnostic, dyslexic insomniac.....

.....I lay awake at night wondering if there is a dog.

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Boffin

re: Ready, aim, fire

"Or is it only Christians who are allowed to say "you're wrong"?"

The most vocal being those who have no understanding of the social and cultural processes that went into producing their favourite literature, or (as has been demonstrated elsewhere) even any understanding of the *notion* that their favourite literature didn't just drop from the sky in ready-to-read modern English.

I agree with the person who suggested that RE should be replaced by philosophy: it's a broader subject, covers ground that the Genesis-botherers stumble across occasionally with their "have you ever thought about..." trinkets of supposed wisdom that yes, some bloke in some past century probably did think about and then go on to write several volumes about. Philosophy classes could quite easily entertain the distinctions between science and non-science so that little creationists have someone to pester about their delusions, leaving science classes for actual science, of course.

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Stop

@ all the "well it's so complex there must be a designer" and similar apologists

To quote William of Ockham (a Franciscan friar, no less, so probably a reasonably Godly man):

"numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate"

If your Latin's not up to it, ask a grown-up to translate.

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