Keeping creationist anti-science out of Scottish schools; press coverage update
Collected here for convenience. Most recent first. Links made explicit, for ease of reference and copying. We would welcome notification of any coverage we have missed. NB this post refers only to coverage directly relevant to our petition PE01530 and subsequent events.
The National 11 March 2015 http://www.thenational.scot/news/its-official-government-minister-says-creationism-should-not-be-taught-in-science-classes.926 SCHOOLS in Scotland should not be teaching the theory of creationism in science classes. The unequivocal statement from Learning and Science Minister Alasdair Allan was read out during a discussion at yesterday’s meeting of Holyrood’s Education and Culture committee.
Ther (Fife) Courier `0 March 2015 http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/scotland/scottish-secular-society-asks-holyrood-for-ban-on-creationism-in-schools-1.848950 Background
STV News 10 March 2015 http://m.stv.tv/news/scotland/313316-creationism-should-not-be-taught-in-science-lessons-says-alasdair-allan/ Allan letter; E&C Committee ” has agreed to write to the Scottish Government to clarify the points in the letter, ask how its approach to managing creationism in schools compares with other UK jurisdictions, and ask how widespread the concerns about creationism are in Scotland.”
Glasgow South and Eastwood Extra, 10 Mar: http://www.glasgowsouthandeastwoodextra.co.uk/news/scottish-headlines/creationism-teaching-ban-call-made-1-3714150 Recapitulates submissions
Herald Mar 1 http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/secularists-concern-over-extreme-christian-access-to-schools.119604243 “A list obtained by the Scottish Secular Society (SSS) shows 16 groups, some of which are radical evangelists, have registered an interest in working with both primary and secondary schools in the Peterhead area, by taking part in activities such as assemblies, prayer groups and games sessions. Of the 16 groups registered groups, seven have definitely already been given access to schools. … The SSS has lodged a petition at the Scottish Parliament calling for the Scottish Government to issue official guidance barring the teaching of creationism in classrooms in Scottish schools. It is due to be considered by Holyrood’s education and culture committee. The Sunday Herald attempted to contact the named churches but none replied.
International Business Times Feb 11 2015 http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/darwin-day-2015-scotlands-creationist-dinosaur-john-mason-fighting-take-god-back-school-1487580 Reports on his motion
Herald 8 Feb 2015 http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/msp-calls-for-crackdown-on-creationism-in-schools.117960634 Reports on Maxwell, Mason motions.
NCSE blog, 30 Jan 2015 http://ncse.com/news/2015/01/dueling-legislation-scotland-0016156 Describes Maxton, Mason motions
Herald 25 Jan 2015 http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/msp-branded-dinosaur-after-creationism-plea.116878767 Herald quotes my post on John Mason MSP’s Parliamentary Motion alleging that science cannot decide between 6-dy creationism and evolution.
Herald 23 January 2015 http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/scottish-politics/christian-msp-science-cant-disprove-earth-created-in-six-days.116853853 John Mason’s motion. Spencer’s comment: “I welcome Mr Mason’s motion. We wanted the Creationism issue in front of every MSP. We now have that.”
Herald 4 Jan 2015 http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/letters/teachers-dont-need-more-laws.26147930 EIS rep makes distinction between RE and science classes. In reply I point out that EIS in submission to Committee rejected that distinction, and that we thought it right to do so.
Forbes Magazine 30 Dec: http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnfarrell/2014/12/30/creationism-in-europe-you-bet/ Reviewing Creationism in Europe (Johns Hopkins Press) writes:
As scientist blogger Paul Braterman reports on events in Scotland , this [introducing ID in schools]could prove to be a successful strategy.
Scotsman 27 Dec 2014: http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/letters/test-the-word-1-3644430  Richard Lucas of SOLAS advocates debates about the truth of creationism: ”Or are aggressive atheists afraid that evolution, an indispensable foundation of their belief system, might not stand up to open debate in our educational institutions?”
Herald [Glasgow] 26 Dec: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/inside-track-reporting-with-dinosaurs.115054081 A hostile commentary.
Herald 26 Dec: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/inside-track-reporting-with-dinosaurs.115054081Herald 1 December: Letters; Bob Downie reiterates support for keeping religion, science separated. Garry Otton repeats scope of petition.
Scotsman 26 Dec: http://www.scotsman.com/news/biology-teachers-need-more-guidance-1-3643988 To my surprise, the statement I gave them was printed intact as an article. I referred to the strongly supportive statement at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_PublicPetitionsCommittee/General%20Documents/PE1530_DD_Society_of_Biology_10.11.14.pdf from the Society of Biology, the UK’s largest porofessional association of biologists, which states:
We encourage the Scottish Government to follow the strategy taken in other nations of the United Kingdom to provide clear guidance to schools and the teaching community stating explicitly that creationism and intelligent design are not considered to be scientific theories based on tested hypotheses, and therefore should not be taught in science lessons. Furthermore we urge the Scottish Government to provide teachers with appropriate training opportunities to develop the skills to answer controversial questions posed in science lessons in a clear and sensitive manner.
I mentioned that this had not been available as it should have been to the Committee and to the Government when considering the responses to our petition, and invited the Government to think again. I also drew attention to the need to provide appropriate training, especially to non-science teachers, as it is within a religious rather than a scientific context that problems are likely to arise.
Answers in Genesis 23 Dec: http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2014/12/23/scottish-government-rejects-creation-ban/
[T]eachers in Scotland still have the freedom to present the problems with evolution and millions of years as well as possibly present other alternatives, such as biblical creation, to their students. This is a victory for academic freedom in that country. Sadly, the secularists were trying to protect the teaching of their atheistic religion as the only worldview imposed on the current and future generations of kids.
Herald 21 Dec: Teaching with dinsoaurs http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/teaching-with-dinosaurs.26133681 “When it comes to Scotland’s culture wars, many would view this last week as a catastrophe for the Scottish Secular Society (SSS), and a success for the country’s religious fundamentalists”
but facing it on the next page http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/call-for-debate-on-religious-privilege.26133800 has SNP Councillor Sandy Howat questioning, on behalf of many SNP members, creationist teaching, opt-out rather than opt-in Religious Observance, and the presence of unelected representatives of religion on Council Education Committees.
Herald 1 Dec: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/letters/adopt-the-american-model-for-our-schools.25879090 Letters; Bob Downie reiterates support for keeping religion, science separated. Garry Otton repeats scope of petition.
Herald, 16 Dec: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/schools-creationism-ban-rejected-by-scottish-government.114739893 Government response, http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_PublicPetitionsCommittee/General%20Documents/PE1530_BB_Scottish_Government_15.12.14.pdf “…there are no plans to issue guidance to schools or education authorities to prevent the presentation of Creationism, Intelligent Design or similar doctrines by teachers or school visitors. The evidence available suggests that guidance on these matters is unnecessary. However, Education Scotland will continue to monitor, through the school inspection process and by other means, any instances where schools are not ensuring the teaching of science is based on well-established science and scientific principles.”
Spencer Fildes comments
The fear is that creationists will now use the government’s position to further validate the cause of creationism, young earth doctrines and the pseudo-science of intelligent design.
as happened very promptly; see notes on Dec 23, above, and I comment:
This [the Government’s] language blurs the crucial distinction, built into the wording of our own petition, between learning about creationist worldviews, and being taught that such worldviews are tenable. The SSS fear this will bring Scottish education into disrepute.
Herald 28 Nov: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/letters/respect-of-parents-rights-in-respect-of-education.25989631 Letter, Hugh McLoughlin, says we don’t explain what we mean by creationism, invokes European Convention on Human Rights
Herald 27 Nov: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/letters/should-creationism-and-evolution-be-taught-side-by-side-in-the-school-classroom.25979445 letters. Among other things, corrects Rev David Fraser, states “The EIS position is that teachers can be trusted to conduct themselves professionally without the need for legislation.”
Herald 26 Nov: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/letters/secularists-only-want-to-keep-religious-teaching-in-churches.25966308 Letter attacking Dvd Fraser’s defence of creationist teaching.
Herald 25 Nov: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/letters/secularists-need-science-lessons.25959745 Rev David Fraser
I think most of us have had enough of the aggressive and perverse campaign against free speech by the Scottish Secular Society … Our leaders need follow the robust example of the EIS and defend the rights of the majority for the expression of their faith across the spectrum of school subjects.
Herald 24 Nov: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/teachers-reject-creationism-ban.25940642 Unnamed EIS spokesperson(s) condemn our petition. Herald reporter once again confuses the teaching of separate creation (the subject of our petition) with the idea of God as Creator, discussion of which we explicitly defend.
Herald 23 Nov: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/scotlands-culture-war-secularists-and-church-head-to-head.25941169 Scotland’s culture war: secularists and church head-to-head. A wide-ranging review by Judith Duffy.
Herald 22 Nov: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/letters/a-mccarthyite-campaign.25937147 : In response to Spencer’s remarks to the Herald on November 21, the Reverend David Robertson accuses us of a McCarthyite campaign and anti-religious paranoia
21 Nov, The Centre for Intelligent Design warns those on its mailing list: Government to impose Scientism on our children http://www.c4id.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=262:government-to-impose-scientism-on-our-children&catid=52:frontpage&Itemid=1 So now you know. The Centre regards evolution science and the study of the age of the Earth as forms of Scientism, whatever that may be.
Herald, 21 Nov, reports on submission made to the Petitions Committee by Ken Cunningham is Secretary of School Leaders Scotland: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/banning-creationism-lessons-is-dangerous-warn-headteachers.25925821 My comment: Not Head Teachers; one ex-Head [in consultation, he later claimed, with the Association’s presidential team, whoever they may be] speaking for all his members with no further apparent mandate from his Association’s membership. And Cunningham and Noble [Director of the Centre for Intelligent Design, whose plans to promulgate creationism are a major matter of concern to us] are not as reported both members of the Free Church of Scotland; they are Elders (Cunningham also Secretary) of the same small independent Church, Cartsbridge in Busby, with a total membership of around 250; a much closer association. As usual this reporter, Andrew Denholm, misdescribes what we plainly said we meant by creationism.
See also commentary “Creationist Manoeuvres in the Dark” http://secularspen.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/creationist-manoeuvres-in-the-dark/ by Spencer Fildes, who has done more than any one to unmask the concealed connections.
Christian News 17 Nov objects to banning the teaching of biblical creationism as fact: http://christiannews.net/2014/11/17/secular-group-seeks-to-ban-biblical-creation-from-public-schools-in-scotland/ (I continue to be amazed at the arrogance of those, like the authors of this article, who claim a monopoly of Christianity on the basis of their boneheadedly ignorant interpretation of its foundational documents.)
Times Educational Supplement Scotland 14 Nov: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6450346 Schools are being infiltrated by cults, say secularists
12 Nov NCSE ([US] National Centre for Science Education] News Update from Scotland http://ncse.com/news/2014/11/update-from-scotland-0015982
‘Religious extremists infiltrating schools’ This otherwise excellent article includes the statement “Creationism is the belief that the universe and living beings originate from acts of divine creation.” Not in this context. Our petition specifically refers to separate creationism as opposed to the established science of evolution. Although our opponents pretend otherwise, it has nothing to do with religious or philosophical positions regarding creation as a whole.
Aberdeen Evening Express, [Glasgow] Evening Times 11 Nov: MSPs warned on schools creationism
STV News 11 Nov http://m.stv.tv/news/scotland/299236-scottish-secular-societys-petition-discusses-creationism-teaching/ Teaching of creationism in schools ‘cannot be ignored’, MSPs told
Good Morning Scotland 11 Nov https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyo89F5CGTQ Spencer Fildes interviewed
Press and Journal 9 Nov https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/politics/holyrood/395263/row-over-religious-education-in-schools/ echoing Scotsman of 7 Nov
Scotsman 7 Nov: http://www.scotsman.com/news/education/bid-to-ban-creationism-is-militant-atheism-1-3597863 Campaigners bidding to ban schools from teaching creationism in science lessons are “militant atheists” who want to impose their own views on youngsters and discourage questioning, a church leader has claimed. Reverend David Robertson…
(Interestingly, when preaching to Ken Cunningham, mentioned above, and Alastair Noble at Cartsbridge Evangelical Church, the Reverend shows full awareness that many of us are religious believers. Maybe he takes the Ninth Commandment more seriously when he is actually in church.)
Herald 4 Nov: http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/letters/topic-of-the-week-intelligent-design.25812362 A selection of letters
Herald 2 Nov: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/anger-over-move-to-teach-intelligent-design-in-schools.25756300 Introduces the topic