Scientists rally against creationist 'superstition'
To mark a double anniversary celebrating Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, his supporters are taking the fight to their opponents
Sunday 01 June 2008
The rise of creationism in Britain to the point where four out of 10 Britons believe it to be the literal truth – as well as the idea being taught in state-approved schools – has spread alarm throughout the scientific community.
But this week sees the start of a concerted fightback, as an 18-month celebration of evolution and its greatest proponent, Charles Darwin, gets under way, marking the 150th anniversary of the unveiling of his theory and the 200th anniversary of his birth.
People all over Europe will take part in a mass experiment to discover evolutionary changes to a species of snail; a major series of programmes is to be shown by the BBC; several books are to be published; and the Open University plans a new course on the subject.
Entries for a competition to design "Darwin's Canopy" – a piece of art to cover a ceiling in the Natural History Museum – will be unveiled this week, and the museum will hold a major exhibition on Darwin beginning in November.
Dr Bob Bloomfield, head of special projects at the museum and a key figure in the "Darwin200" project, said he was concerned by the prevalence of creationist ideas.
"The statistics in this country are quite frightening. If you add up the percentages that either believe in creationism or intelligent design, it is approaching 40 per cent," he said.
"I don't think society can be complacent when ideas which are unsound are perpetrated. We are trying not to compromise people's faith views, other than where they are absolutely inconsistent with science."
He said the teaching of creationism in schools was "very problematic".
Professor Jonathan Silvertown of the Open University, who is writing a book entitled 99% Ape: How Evolution Adds Up, said the OU would be running a course called Darwin and Evolution. "The idea is to give people a feel for the modern evidence," he said.
He and the geneticist Professor Steve Jones, of University College London, are involved in a mass science project to study changes in banded snails, by recruiting tens of thousands of people across Europe.
Professor Jones said religious students – even those studying medicine – were becoming increasingly vocal in their opposition to evolution, saying he was "telling lies and insulting people's religion" by teaching the subject.
"They want permission not to come to those lectures and sit those exam questions," he said. "I have been teaching genetics and evolutionary biology for 30 years and for the first 20 I think the issue arose once. That's changed."
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity
Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94
Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)
- 1 Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
- 2 Ridley Scott on Exodus, Gods and Kings casting: 'I'm not going to get it financed if my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such'
- 3 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 4 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
£50000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: For the first time in its 1,000...
£27400 - £33500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time air conditioning, ven...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of web an...
£12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader in the events...