TV Presenter misjudges young people who want to learn about creation

Professor Alice Roberts has voiced her opinion, that children should only be taught evolution and that teaching Creation should be banned from all science lessons (http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jan/17/ban-teaching-creationism-science-lessons-alice-roberts). “To teach creationism is indoctrination. We should be teaching children to be much more open minded.”Really? To teach a theory such as evolution as factual, not allowing any critical evaluation, is being open minded! This worrying trend appears to be less like education and more like the very indoctrination some more ‘open minded’ schools are being accused of! Graham Coyle from the Christian Schools’ Trust, which represents a group of 40 independent schools, told the TES: “There are people who would outlaw the discussion of creationism but that is a very dangerous position to adopt. Indoctrination is a misused word – it really means a point of view without any opportunity for discussion.”Should children be denied the opportunity of exploring any alternative to evolutionary theory? Could it be that the very intention of having a one-view-only approach, instead of inspiring a new generation of scientists, is in fact actually turning them off? Since when has it been in the interests of scientific endeavour to silence debate? To prohibit, by law, discussion of creation (as Prof Roberts proposes) is atheistic dogmatism in the guise of science.In a report given in the TES magazine (http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6406226) researchers from the University of York suggest: “The number of students in the UK who were sceptical about the idea of life developing on Earth without divine intervention was greater than many teachers would expect.” Dr Pam Hanley, research fellow at the university’s Institute for Effective Education, commented that because of this sceptism, it made sense to mention religion when discussing evolution.200 students aged 14-16, from four different schools, were questioned as part of the study. One was a faith-based Christian school and three were non-faith schools, one of which had a majority Muslim student population. 80 per cent of Muslim respondents believed in creationism, more than 60 per cent of those attending the Christian school thought that humans developed with some divine assistance, and one in three of the non-faith schools believed God played some part in our origins.Michael Reiss, professor of science education of University of London’s Institute of Education, said the study revealed that the number of students who did not accept the theory of evolution was greater than was often supposed.If as this research suggests, ‘students with a strong faith are likely to be turned off science because it does not correspond with their own outlook in life’, should there be a blanket ban on the teaching of creationism in science lessons, especially in private faith schools? Rather than indoctrinate young people with evolution, shouldn’t we allow them the opportunity to explore for themselves the truths of science? Surely science is about evaluating empirical evidence and must therefore allow a critical evaluation! If we override all who have a different world-view to the humanistic/ neo-darwinistic world-view, we will potentially alienate students who have every potential of being the leading scientists of the future.