Three in 10 science teachers believe creationism should be taught in science lessons, according to a survey published today.
And more than a third (37 per cent) of primary and secondary teachers in general believe that the subject should be taught alongside evolution and the Big Bang theory.
The Ipsos Mori poll of more than 900 primary and secondary teachers in England and Wales found that while nearly half (47 per cent) believe it should not be taught in science lessons, two thirds (65 per cent) agree that creationism should be discussed in schools.
This rises to three quarters of teachers (73 per cent) with science as their subject specialism.
Two in three science specialists (65 per cent) do not think that creationism should be taught in science lessons.
But few teachers think creationism as an idea should be dismissed outright.
Just one in four (26 per cent) agree with a view expressed by Professor Chris Higgins, vice-chancellor of Durham University that "creationism is completely unsupportable as a theory, and the only reason to mention creationism in schools is to enable teachers to demonstrate why the idea is scientific nonsense and has no basis in evidence or rational thought."
Fiona Johnson, head of education research at Ipsos Mori and director of the Ipsos Mori Teachers Omnibus, said: "Our findings suggest that many teachers are trying to adopt a measured approach to this contentious issue, an approach which attempts not only to explain the essential differences between scientific and other types of 'theory', but also to acknowledge that - regardless of, or even despite, "the science" - pupils may have a variety of strongly held, and arguably equal value, faith-based beliefs."
Prof Higgins said: "Creationism, as an alternative to the evolution of species, has long been thoroughly discredited by rigorous analysis of data.
"Of course, if a pupil raises it as a hypothesis then a brief discussion as to why creationism is wrong might be appropriate as part of an education in intellectual integrity and rational thought.
"But it would undermine any educational system to purposefully teach discredited ideas which are now only perpetuated through ignorance or flawed thinking - one might as well teach astrology, flat earthism, alchemy or a geocentric universe."
A Teachers TV poll of 1,200 teachers, published last month, revealed that a third of teachers believe creationism should be given the same status as evolution in the classroom.
In September, leading biologist the Rev Professor Michael Reiss resigned as the Royal Society's director of education days after suggesting creationism be included in science lessons.
Speaking at the British Association Festival of Science at the University of Liverpool, Prof Reiss - an ordained Church of England minister - said it was better for science teachers not to see creationism as a "misconception" but as a "world view".
Ipsos Mori questioned 923 primary and secondary school teachers in England and Wales between November 5 and December 10.Reuse content