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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Creationism Isn’t Science, and Shouldn’t Be Taught That Way

By Phil Plait

This is very interesting, if true: In England, it’s being reported that in certain schools, creationism will no longer be taught as science.

A few years ago, creationism was precluded from being taught in some of the schools (existing Free Schools—similar to charter schools in the U.S.—could teach it, but no future ones could). According to the link above, the new ruling, issued this week, says that creationism cannot be taught at any Free Schools, and has extended this ruling to the Academies (also roughly like charter schools here) as well. What makes this interesting is that these schools are not government-run (though they do get some government money) but are instead implemented through independent organizations, some of which are faith-based. But they still must comply with certain education standards, which is where creationism comes in.

I’m still trying to find an independent source for this news; the last I heard (from a few months ago) is that it wasn’t quite this cut and dried. But if true, this is welcome news. Creationism isn’t science and shouldn’t be taught that way. It’s religion and must be treated that way.

Of course, that’s not what’s happening here in the United States. The way I see it, legislators in the U.S. trying to get creationism into the classroom have three options:

1) Teach it straight, as a fact. This is clearly wrong, since young-Earth creationism has no basis in fact, has no evidence supporting it, and has a vast and overwhelming amount of evidence against it. It is also very clearly a religion (even if you try to hide that by misleadingly calling it Intelligent Design), so teaching it in public schools (or schools that use public money) in the United States is a violation of the First Amendment, and is illegal.

2) Try to attack the science instead. The biggest threats to young-Earth creationism (outside of essentially all of science) are evolution, geology, and astronomy. Evolution teaches that humans evolved and were therefore not divinely created 6000 years ago, while geology and astronomy show that the Earth is billions of years old, not thousands.

The tactic of trying to argue against the science has been going on for some time, and includes such strategies as mandating “academic freedom” or teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” of various theories (which is something science itself does, and is therefore unnecessary to mandate), or simply downplaying those sciences in the classroom. This has been met with limited success by creationists, and in reality relies on them using misleading and sometimes outright fallacious arguments about science. While it’s not illegal to argue the human eye couldn’t have evolved, it’s certainly wrong. In the end, I don’t think this tactic will win either. It hasn’t so far.

And evolution is a fact. Teaching it any other way would, again, be wrong.

3) Teach creationism as a religious myth. I’m fine with that, as long as it’s taught along with Native American legends, Muslim stories, ancient Greek and Roman myths, tales from Aboriginal Australian, and so on. Literature class might be a good venue for that.

But not a science class. Unless it’s a section on how to differentiate science from nonscience. Again, I’m fine with that.

So I do hope the government in England has taken the reported action, and hope that their counterparts in the United States, the ones who have taken a sworn oath to uphold the Constitution, do the same.

(Note: The wonderful National Center for Science Education is on the front lines making sure creationism (and anti-global-warming propoganda) doesn't get into our schools. They rely on donations to do their work. Hint, hint.)

Tip o’ the mortarboard to Glinner. Note: I originally just used the word "creationism" in this post, but clarified it to "young-Earth creationism" where needed to distinguish it from the belief that God did create the Universe, just more than 6000 years ago.]

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