The UK’s education department will withdraw funding for any free schools which teach “intelligent design”. The British Humanist Association, which has been campaigning against “creationism” for years smells victory. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Because “free” (state-funded) schools in the UK do not need to follow the national education curriculum, it has technically been possible for intelligent design or creationism to be taught in science classes. As of last week, however, the department has revised regulations to allow funding to be withdrawn from any free school that teaches “evidence-based views or theories” which run “contrary to established scientific and/or historical evidence and explanations”. Or, to quote Richard Dawkins, “myth”.
The BHA launched a campaign last year. In the statement of their petition, they say: “Creationism and ‘intelligent design’ are not scientific theories, but are portrayed as scientific theories by some religious fundamentalists who attempt to have their views promoted in publicly funded schools. At the same time, an understanding of evolution is central to understanding all aspects of biology.”
Intelligent design is the view that organisms are too complex and their parts too mutually dependant, to have been “built up” over millennia of evolution, and must therefore owe their existence to a “designer” of some kind. Advocates of the theory have urged that, at the least, school students be presented with the debate between evolution and intelligent design: this is the aim of a campaign by the US Discovery Institute called “Teach the Controversy”. A school of scientists insist that there is no controversy and evolution is now a matter of scientific consensus. DM
- Richard Dawkins celebrates a victory over creationists, in The Observer.