A few months ago we wrote about a UK Proposal To Ban Creationism. We are pleased to report that it appears to have been successful. Well, the original proposal wasn’t for an outright ban, just a ban on government funding, and that has been achieved.
In the Guardian (formerly the Manchester Guardian), which has probably the third-largest circulation of all British newspapers, we read Richard Dawkins celebrates a victory over creationists. It’s sub-titled “Free schools that teach ‘intelligent design’ as science will lose funding.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
Leading scientists and naturalists, including Professor Richard Dawkins and Sir David Attenborough, are claiming a victory over the creationist movement after the government ratified measures that will bar anti-evolution groups from teaching creationism in science classes.
The Department for Education has revised its model funding agreement, allowing the education secretary to withdraw cash from schools that fail to meet strict criteria relating to what they teach. Under the new agreement, funding will be withdrawn for any free school that teaches what it claims are “evidence-based views or theories” that run “contrary to established scientific and/or historical evidence and explanations”.
That’s pretty good in a country that doesn’t have a constitutional separation of church and state. The article continues:
Dawkins, who was one of the leading lights in the campaign, welcomed confirmation that creationists would not receive funding to run free schools if they sought to portray their views as science. “I welcome all moves to ensure that creationism is not taught as fact in schools,” he said. “Government rules on this are extremely welcome, but they need to be properly enforced.”
We assume that government-run schools are already under rational control, so this is especially good news because it applies to other schools. The Guardian explains:
Free schools, which are state-funded and run by local people or organisations, do not need to follow the national curriculum. Scientific groups have expressed concerns that their spread will see a reduction in the teaching of evolution in the classroom.
Private schools not receiving government funds are presumably free to teach whatever they want, and that’s okay with us. Actually, it’s tragic if a school teaches a child to be a scientific ignoramus, but if that’s what some parents want, it’s up to them. Let’s read on:
A BHA [British Humanist Association] campaign, called “Teach evolution, not creationism”, saw 30 leading scientists and educators call on the government to introduce statutory guidance against the teaching of creationism. The group said if the government would not support the call, an explicit amendment to the wording of the funding agreement could have the same effect. Last week the Department for Education confirmed it had amended the agreement, although a spokesman denied it was the result of pressure from scientists.
Why deny it? The Guardian tells us:
He [the unnamed government spokesman] said the revision made good on a pledge regarding the teaching of creationism given when the education secretary, Michael Gove, was in opposition. “We will not accept any academy or free school proposal which plans to teach creationism in the science curriculum or as an alternative to accepted scientific theories,” the spokesman said, adding that “all free school proposals will be subject to due diligence checks by the department’s specialist team”.
Okay, a politician gets the credit instead of scientists. No problem, really. Besides, the Guardian‘s headline gives credit to Dawkins. Here’s one last excerpt:
“It is clear that some faith schools are ignoring the regulations and are continuing to teach myth as though it were science,” Dawkins said. “Evolution is fact, supported by evidence from a host of scientific disciplines, and we do a great disservice to our young people if we fail to teach it properly. “
We’re shocked — shocked! — that creationist schools would take government funds and then ignore the rules. Anyway, we congratulate the Brits for adopting this very sensible rule. The UK creationists are still free to teach their ghostly “science,” but not at taxpayers’ expense.
We expect the usual creationist websites to be squealing about “viewpoint discrimination,” but the simple fact is that some viewpoints are flat-out absurd — and that’s especially true in science.
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