It appears the problem of Creationism in Academia is not constrained to the US. Several stories dropped into my feed reader this morning:
A growing number of science students on British campuses and in sixth form colleges are challenging the theory of evolution and arguing that Darwin was wrong. Some are being failed in university exams because they quote sayings from the Bible or Qur’an as scientific fact and at one sixth form college in London most biology students are now thought to be creationists.
So much for England, generally considered to be one of the most secular nations in the West. Apparently in this case it’s not just fundamentalist Christians, but Muslim students as well (see the article). From the same article:
Now similar trends in this country have prompted the Royal Society, Britain’s leading scientific academy, to confront the issue head on with a talk entitled Why Creationism is Wrong. The award-winning geneticist and author Steve Jones will deliver the lecture and challenge creationists, Christian and Islamic, to argue their case rationally at the society’s event in April.
The idea that one can have a debate over this should be recognized as folly. You can’t argue with unsubstantiated beliefs. A professor from University College London is quoted as saying something similar.
One member of staff at Guys said that he found it deeply worrying that Darwin was being dismissed by people who would soon be practising as doctors.
It is deeply worrying indeed.
The passage quoted from the Qur’an states: “And God has created every animal from water. Of them there are some that creep on their bellies, some that walk on two legs and some that walk on four. God creates what he wills for verily God has power over all things.”
Really? That’s not what the Bible says. Which version shall we teach in 9th grade science class, hmm? This is (fortunately) resulting in academic consequences:
At another London campus some students have been failed because they have presented creationism as fact. They have been told by their examiners that, while they are entitled to explain both sides of the debate, they cannot present the Bible or Qur’an as scientifically factual if they want to pass exams.
I’m sure lawsuits are not far off. On the domestic front, we’re making some progress by talking to science teachers:
More than 300 teachers were invited to attend this year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in St Louis, Missouri, yesterday, and many revealed their concerns.
Apparently some teachers fear losing their jobs if they teach evolution. We have a hard enough time hiring bright people to teach secondary-level science as it is. We don’t need pressures “from the students and the parents,” driving them away. You may think it’s all over now that Intelligent Design has lost a few court battles, but as noted in the article, “That doesn’t mean intelligent design is dead as a very popular social movement. This is an idea that has got legs.”
Darwin’s theory of evolution via natural selection is critical to the understanding of biology, inheritance, many diseases, tissue engineering, and more. To pass students who present myth as fact in place of critical bits of their field would be preposterous. It would be like granting a degree in electrical engineering to someone who wrote their thesis on the properties of ether (or aether, not the chemical).