UK on ID: Creationism out of the science classroom

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The UK government has issued new guidelines to teachers on what to teach about creationism and intelligent design in science classes. They are pretty explicit that creationism and ID do not belong.

The Guardian, Creationism out of the classroom

You can Download the full text appropriately titled “GUIDANCE ON THE PLACE OF CREATIONISM AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN IN SCIENCE LESSONS”

Creationism and intelligent design are sometimes claimed to be scientific theories. This is not the case as they have no underpinning scientific principles, or explanations, and are not accepted by the science community as a whole. Creationism and intelligent design therefore do not form part of the science National Curriculum programmes of study.

To avoid inappropriate use of resources, the guidelines also clarify that

Any resource should be checked carefully before it is used in the classroom. If resources which mention creationism or intelligent design are used, it must be made clear that neither constitutes a scientific theory.

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When faced with IDiots who desire to have their creationist beliefs taught in the UK, the government has responded with guidelines to keep such non-scientific viewpoints out of science classes. The guidelines explain what it means to be a scientific th... Read More

39 Comments

Now the whining and groaning will begin at UD and ENV. The UK ID tamasha was pretty short-lived eh?

ID seems to be able to quickly align scientists and theologians alike to oppose it.

Almost as if a Dembski Waterloo curse is following ID :-)

Any resource should be checked carefully before it is used in the classroom. If resources which mention creationism or intelligent design are used, it must be made clear that neither constitutes a scientific theory.

Next thing you know, these close-minded people will be rejecting astrology and alchemy too. Whatever is the world coming to!

This won’t have much effect in the US– yet. But with other nations lining up on the side of good science teaching, it will become more and more obvious that there’s no legitimate controversy. ID and creationism will be shown as the scams they are.

Just when you thought ID creationism couldn’t get any cruder, I came across this statement: ‘To the evolutionist, natural selection doesn’t have any limits; while creationists see that natural selection has limits because it has been observed to have limits.’ So, now we can’t observe natural selection, but we can observe its limits?? For more crudity, see here:

http://www.wikihow.com/Defend-Creat[…]Evolutionism

(The website is editable, by the way, thanks to its wiki format…)

Pete,

That is really funny. You should file that one under straw man arguments. So “evolutionists” don’t think that natural selection has any limits huh? Well I can think of at least five different ways in which that is completely wrong (note that these are things that every good evolutionary biologist has known for at least fifty years or more):

First, NS is not a creative force. It cannot create new mutations. It can deal only with the random mutations that arise. If a beneficial mutation does not come along quickly enough when the environment changes, then extinction can oocur.

Second, NS does not act by helping beneficial mutations to survive, it only acts by selecting against deleterious mutations. That is a definate limitation, since even if beneficial mutations do arise, they can be lost due to drift, linkage to deleterious mutations, or being trapped in asexual lineages that go extinct.

Third, NS cannot act on variation that is selectively neutral. That is indeed why there is so much junk in human genome and the genomes of all eukaryotes. If there is no evolutionary cost and reproduction is not adversely affected, then lots of junk can accumulate that may never be eliminated. In fact, most mutations are selectively neutral. Although this is a limitation, it does generate and allow for the maintenance of lots of genetic variation and lots of sequences free of selective constraint that can be molded by RM/NS.

Fourth, NS can only act on phenotype not genotype. That is a serious limitation, since deleterious recessive alleles will persist in the population for significant periods of time. This is true even for the most deleterious recessives, such as recessive lethals, which can never be completely eliminated by selection alone.

Fifth, NS has definate limits due to historical contingency. For example, it would be nearly impossible for selection to produce an organism with a drastically different genetic code at this point. It would also be nearly impossible to produce a flying horse such a Pegasus or a flying elephant for that matter. This is because selection can only act on the lineages that already exist, it cannot start from scratch every time. And all of the lineages that exist have been shaped by millions of years of selection and have adapted to specific environments. In other words, it would be extremely difficult fot evolution to be able to explore all regions of the adaptive topography due to current starting position and the occurrance of fitness valleys which could cause extinction. That is why the tree of life is shaped like a tree and has lots of blank spaces between the branches.

So, the next time someone starts spouting this nonsense, just set fire to the straw man and watch it burn.

David,

I’m not convinced that point 4 is entirely correct. I’m thinking about abiogenesis, and the implications such a statement might have on it. For example, I would think that a genetic system, such as DNA, that permits highly flexible and reasonably rapid adaptations to new environments, would be selected for by natural selection when competing against simple forms of passing on “genes”. If not, we would have to postulate that DNA sprung fully formed from the primordial ooze, and that idea makes me rather uneasy…

demallien,

Point taken. To clairfy, I was referring to present day genetic systems.

There is however, one additional way in which “genotype” can be directly selected on, that is the case of nucleotypic selection. In that case, the amount of DNA affects cell cycle time and thus reproduction, regardless of coding function. However, in this case selection can be very sloppy and still has definate limitations. Oh well, it just goes to show you that there is an exception to every rule, even this one.

Actually, that reminds me of another limitation of NS. (Othere can feel free to add to the list). NS does not possess any foresight or planning. It cannot anticipate the unpredictable ways in which the environment can change in the future. Therefore, it cannot preferentially preserve currently deleterious mutations that might become beneficial in the future. The best that can be can hoped for is to not have eliminated them completely before they are required. Indeed, to a large extent, the limitations of natural selection are what have shaped the natural world we see around us today.

Admiinistration:

If this has gotten too far off-topic, please feel free to move this to the bathroom wall.

The arguments in How to Defend Creationism against Evolution will not convince any biologist but they will certainly entertain her/him.

I’m pleased to see that the UK government has come out against ID/creationism. So often governments prevaricate on topics like that.

Well, all I can say here is that at last the National Curriculum is proving to be of some value.

When I was taking my exams just before leaving school, I was in the penultimate year of the “old” system. So, after passing GCE “O”-levels and starting to study for “A”-levels, the students two years below me were being prepared for the first GCSE exams. At the time, it seemed ridiculously easy to get a pass mark in the new exam format: we once had a class in a lab that had been set up for a GCSE practical exam. One of the challenges to the GCSE students was to read the value on a balance (which had all been blu-tacked in place, so that they all gave the same reading, until some mischievous A-level students started playing around with them …). They actually got marks for reading the balance.

Later, when I was a PhD student demonstrating practicals to undergrads, I noticed a distinct difference between the level of understanding possessed by the students I was supervising and the level of understanding that I myself had possessed at the same stage of my education. So, up until very recently, I have only thought of the NC as a bad thing. By making it easier to pass exams, it devalues the resultant qualifications.

Then, along comes ID to the UK, and the NC shows its worth: a central body of educators indicates that ID does not count as science, and that’s it. ID is not permitted to be taught as science in the UK. Anyone taught otherwise will end up getting a lower score in the exam because they won’t be able to answer the questions about evolution. Although, having said that, this represents only a small portion of the curriculum at the GCSE stage. I don’t recall being properly introduced to evolution until my “A”-level studies, and I only really understood it after learning about population genetics as an undergrad at University.

Interesting wiki. At first, I was itching to correct all the blatant lies, but then I realised that the heavy handed approach would simply be reverted, and can’t be bothered to keep on top of it. However, I think some success can be had by directing anyone reading it to the talk origins archive - hopefully some of the less close-minded creationists will just realise that they have no leg to stand on in the face of the index. So I suggested that anyone wanting to debate “evolutionists” (God I feel dirty by typing that) should read through and become familiar with the index, and “have counter arguments”.

Not sure if that will survive, though - I did a couple of overtly anti-creationist edits, and may be simply reverted completely. I’m mentioning it in case someone else wants to pick up and run with the idea. The index is likely our best weapon to recover at least the less fanatical creationists.

Hoping that helps,

Grey Wolf

The UK government has issued new guidelines to teachers on what to teach about creationism and intelligent design in science classes. They are pretty explicit that creationism and ID do not belong.

Smart move. It could be that the UK saw what creationism has done here and decided a stitch in time saves nine. Other than divide an already thoroughly divided country, consume lots of time and resources better used elsewhere, and producing tens of millions of scientificly illiterate zombies, creationism doesn’t have much to show for itself.

The only groups that would benefit from a successful attack on science in the USA would be our economic competitors anywhere, and our enemies. Voluntary ignorance in today’s world is a loser strategy.

Hip Hip Hurray!

- well done to all those guys on this side of the pond in ‘Science Just Science’ and the ‘British Centre for Science Education’ for successfully campaigning for this.

Although this has been nothing like the issue you have in the USA - backed by well-funded evangelicals, we had a problem beginning to creep in. Tony Blair was very dismissive of scientists who made a fuss, and said we should concern ourselves with more important things - like helping out the economy.

The ‘Panda’s Thumb’ has been an invaluable resource for us in the UK, in understanding the tactics used in repackaging Creationism as ‘Intelligent Design’- and alerting us to the problem - so a big thank you to all of you in the US and elsewhere.

Hopefully the admirably clear UK guideline may be of some use to you in the future.

I’m going to celebrate with a pint or two of ale tonight - hurray for us!!!

Don’t forget to track the EU decision next week. The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly is to vote on a resolution opposing the teaching of creationist and intelligent design views in school science classes.

The evangelism of Harun Yahua is the main cause to thank for the draft resolution.

Grey Wolf:

Sneaky. I was going to protest that they should take that opportunity to learn the facts, but decided against it. (Instead FWIW I added a general comment to the growing pro-science list on the Discussion page. )

Note that the HowTo is filed under religion, but doesn’t even describe all types of religions creationism correctly, it concentrates on xian YEC.

David Stanton Wrote:

It can deal only with the random mutations that arise. … limits due to historical contingency.

I’m inspired to continue to think on the productive creative (vs imaginative creative) side and its anthropomorphic rough similes as intelligent process and learning population from the other thread.

It’s “intelligence” in selection has been described on PT as roughly analogous with the “choice” a filter can make, such as a sieve for gravel. [Modulo procreation, fixation, et cetera.] The mesh size is set by contingency, but it is clear by the above quote that so is the gravel size. [Here: too small gravel, no sieve function.]

So the simile picks out a part of a description of intelligence that is rather uninteresting as such.

It’s “learning” in selection has been described on PT as roughly analogous with the “trial and error” an algorithm can make, such as a learning machine. [Modulo forgetfulness then the environment changes, et cetera.] It is clear by the above quote that the trials have no “memory” or “intelligence” but can be stupidly repeated indefinitely, and that they are defined by contingency.

So the simile picks out a part of a model for trial and error that is rather uninteresting as such.

Sneaky similes. (Not that they are uninteresting in themselves IMHO.)

Oh yes, feel free to put this OT on the bathroom wall.

Pete Lindberg writes…

For more crudity, see here:

http://www.wikihow.com/Defend-Creationism-Against-

Ya gotta love creationist websites. This one has a list of bullet points that starts out emphasizing over and over that to defend creationism you can’t get all biblical, but instead, you have to argue the evidence.

Finally, by point #8 do they actually get around to the ironclad “proof” against evolution - Nebraska man, Piltdown man, and Haeckel’s embryos. All, of course, early mistakes that had been debunked in the 30’s by – wait for it – the weight of the scientific evidence.

The entire page, in fact, seems to be based around that one premise. Science has been known to make mistakes, therefore evolution is wrong. Good thing religion has never been known to make a mistake, huh?

It goes on to offer helpful tips like…

Point out that … Mutations also cannot add information. (It’s not true, but it may throw the scientist off for a moment.)

Er.. in other words, lie.

[quote]I’m going to celebrate with a pint or two of ale tonight - hurray for us!!![/quote]

Don’t celebrate just yet Dean:

http://www.lisburntoday.co.uk/news/[…]L.3233193.jp

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/n[…]e2999003.ece

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/n[…]e3002955.ece

Relax all, religion ALWAYS backs off when science proves them wrong. (The world was FLAT once) The only thing that gets my goat though, is the way the pope and other religious AH’s try and explain scientific facts to suit their bigoted ways

gerry, if you think “religion ALWAYS backs off when science proves them wrong”, then you haven’t been paying much attention to the fundie posters on this blog…

From what I’ve seen, religious institutions or individuals that insist on very literal interpretation of their doctrine are extremely frightened of any change. Since their revealed Truth is the cornerstone of the universe, discoveries by mere scientists will rarely cause them to shift their thinking.

“Don’t celebrate just yet Dean:”

Sorry Peter - I was just catching up with that.

I’ll have to celebrate Scotland winning their world cup Rugby match instead..

- good luck against Argentina tomorrow…

This reminds me of an old anecdote about the captain of an airliner announcing “ We are about to land in Belfast- please set your watches back three hundred years…”

Wright wrote:

“…if you think “religion ALWAYS backs off when science proves them wrong”, then you haven’t been paying much attention to the fundie posters on this blog…”

Agreed. Individuals can maintain any personal beliefs in the face of any contrary evidence for as long as they live. Religious institutions on the other hand do tend to face up to the truth eventually. After all, if they look too bad they won’t be able to keep any followers. It might take a very long time though, because they sometimes have to wait until everyone forgets how vehemently they proclaimed that science would eventually prove them right. When proven wrong, the strategy is usually to claim that that particular issue wasn’t really very important to their faith after all. Now all they have to do is admit that initially and all institutionalized resistance to science would vanish.

Relax all, religion ALWAYS backs off when science proves them wrong.

That is a nice theory. On centuries long time scales, my view is that holding obvious false and laughable ideas, the earth is the center of the solar system, it is flat, it is 6,000 years old etc. is a loser. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and other groups used to predict the End of the World. I’ve heard that they lost some members the last time a specific date was set and then came and went. The Heaven’s Gaters lost a lot of members when comet Hale Bop showed up also.

OTOH, the other principle is, “It can always get worse.” The attack on science has been getting worse over the last decade or two. It is possible they can stay dumb longer than my projected lifespan. We will have to wait and see, hope for the best, expect the worst.

good luck against Argentina tomorrow

Thanks Dean. I think we’ll need it !

We’ve been following this story about Lisburn over at BCSE ever since Conor brought it to our attention last week.

Despite producing some notable scientists over the years, it now seems that all evangelical church denominations (Brethren, Baptist etc.) and at least one mainstream one (the Presbyterian Church in Ireland), are firmly in the AiG anti-science camp.

The problem seems to be now that it has turned into a party political row, with those opposing the motion unsure of why they are doing it, other than the fact that they are just anti-DUP. Even the Education minister (Sinn Fein) didn’t give the correct response, in my opinion. The arts, culture, and leisure minister even admitted that he believed the biblical account of creation rather than the scientific one.

Richard Dawkins was brought onto Radio Ulster against Paul Taylor of AiG (UK) and in my view I didn’t think he (Dawkins) performed that well.

This reminds me of an old anecdote about the captain of an airliner announcing We are about to land in Belfast- please set your watches back three hundred years

Still, we’re taking our cue from the US. I mean, if Americans are flocking to the creation museum in droves and millions more believe in it then surely it must be right and those evolutionists are just plain wrong. Isn’t that the case? Who are we to argue with democracy ?

I forget who it was that said “democracy was no friend of science”.

Slightly OT @ David Stanton,

Praise for you from an unexpected quarter:

What is remarkable are the rational comments by David Stanton. I predict he will soon be relegated to the Bathroom Wall or worse, bannished(sic) entirely.

I wonder about his reading comprehension, though.

It must be a dilemma for ID proponents. Proceed by stealth and not enough people hear about it, or adopt a higher profile, get noticed well enough to make it obvious the emperor has no clothes.

Alan,

Thanks, I think. I’m actually not too sure how to take this. On the one hand, someone has apparently been reading the stuff I write here. I guess that is good. On the other hand, it seems that someone is under the impression that I am advocating a creationist positon and that I will soon be banned here on PT. Perhaps my comments have been too obtuse. Oh well, at least someone thinks I am rational.

If these comments are in regards to my post about the limitations of natural selection, I stand by my words. All real biologists agree that there are limits to natural selection. Indeed, the point that I was trying to make was that this is to a large extent what has shaped the biosphere we see today. I gave at least six different examples to defend my hypothesis and no real biologists have disagreed (although one did point out that one of my comments did not apply directly to early genetic systems). It is the creationists who must explain the observations I have cited. It is the creationists who must explain why an omnipotent force could not do better than what we observe in the world today. What we observe is exactly what is predicted by modern evolutionaray theory.

As for being banned, I was responding to a comment that had been allowed to remain on this thread. I specifically stated that if the discussion was considered to be too far off-topic that it could be moved to the Bathroom Wall, not banned. In my opinion, the moderators of these threads do an excellent job of allowing any reasonable discussion that arises. I have never seen any instance where anyone who was making a valid point was banned simply for expressing anti-evolution views. Indeed, sometimes the lattitude that is given here is excessive, IMHO. I consider this a strength of this site and possibly one of the reasons for the success it has enjoyed. I would not be in the least upset if this post was moved to the Bathroom Wall either.

Dave Stanton - as far as I can see none of your posts here have been remotely on-topic. Nothing about the UK or our education policy.

While I applaud your enthusiasm to speak your mind - perhaps you’d get a more welcome reception if you joined in the conversation rather than cutting clean across it.

Imagine your at a dinner party with real people and you want to impress your friends at how good you are at engaging in conversation.

Asking for someone else to censor stuff that even you admit is off-topic is just silly.

Why not exercise a little self-control - it’s a sign of maturity…

.….…..

… and commiserations Peter -

Sorry. You are correct, so I will cease and desist.

However, if you are not interested in my posts, you are certainly free to ignore them. If you are the administrator for this thread, you can always remove them. If you are not, then apparently the administrators disagree with you. Just imagine “your” at a dinner party and you only talk to people you want to and ignore the other conversations you are not interested in. Now that would be mature.

More on topic, at least I am happy for Nigel.

Alan Fox’s comment was admittedly OT, David Stanton’s was in response to that, and Dean Morrison is simply being an ass.

Morrison is also being a hypocrite: the topic is UK on ID, not Rugby. Not everything “about the UK” is on-topic.

Truthiness in science appear not to have updated their news blog: http://www.truthinscience.org.uk/si[…]egory/51/63/

Perhaps they are busy?

David Stanton Wrote:

More on topic, at least I am happy for Nigel.

Thanks. There have been moments when I considered a sojourn in the US as a career move, and there have been other times when I have been glad I chose to stay in Europe. Reading this blog entry was one of the latter.

Truthiness in science appear not to have updated their news blog: http://www.truthinscience.org.uk/si[…]content/blog…

Perhaps they are busy?

I’m surprised the ECLJ (European centre for law and justice) hasn’t weighed in yet Guthrie.

If you want to know what science teachers are up against in NI then have a look at this:

http://www.cprf.co.uk/pamphlets/gen[…]rhistory.htm

In the Protestant Reformed Churches, the covenant children begin their catechism instruction at the age of five or six. These are the questions and answers that they learn in the first lessons of the first book:

“Who is your Creator? God.”

“Did God create all things? Yes, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

“How do we know about this creation? God tells us about it in His Word, the Bible.”

“Who are our first parents? Adam and Eve.”

“How did Satan come to Eve? He used the serpent to talk to Eve.”

“What did God promise? A Savior, to save us from our sin.”

We want these little children to go to heaven. If they come to doubt all these answers as myth, they will go to hell as unbelievers. Whoever is responsible—parent, preacher, schoolteacher, theologian, or synod—it were better for them that a millstone were hanged about their neck and that they were drowned in the depth of the sea.,

These little ones, who cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, must believe a historical Genesis 1-11.

Thanks for the support guys. Now I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but I do find it interesting that no one objected to my posts until I made it clear that I was not advocating creationism.

This thread does point out some of the problems inherent in having an officially sanctioned religion that is endorsed by the government. Let’s hope that the example of the US continues to a good one and that that will help other countries to see alternatives to government endorsed religious education.

Problems with state sanctioned religions endorsed by gvt: Exhibit A) The Thiry year war. Exhibit B) The Albigensian crusade.

And so on.

Regular readers will be unsurprised to find DAvid Anderson, a smarmy creationist of the worst order on that Guardian thread, slagging of the BCSE. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to have anything to say about the science, I wonder why not?

guthrie Wrote:

Problems with state sanctioned religions endorsed by gvt: Exhibit A) The Thiry year war. Exhibit B) The Albigensian crusade.

Hmmm, yes, also: The dissolution of the monasteries; the reign of Bloody Mary; the attempted invasion(s) of Britain by Spain; and most of the unpleasantness that has happened in Ireland over the last 200 years.

On the other hand, living with the Anglican church isn’t so bad these days.

Regular readers will be unsurprised to find DAvid Anderson, a smarmy creationist of the worst order on that Guardian thread, slagging of the BCSE. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to have anything to say about the science, I wonder why not?

Just in case regular readers of the Panda’s thumb don’t know who Anderson is:

http://bcse-revealed.blogspot.com/

I don’t know whether to feel chuffed or angry at finding my way onto his blog:

http://bcse-revealed.blogspot.com/s[…]in%20Ireland

and what he has said is completely different to what the Presbyterian Church has told me !

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on September 28, 2007 3:06 PM.

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