Creationism may come to science class

“Treating intelligent design as too obviously simple-minded to merit discussion is a mistake. Creationist beliefs are much more likely to be part of a complex set of related cultural ideas than a simple misconception”. The latest contribution to a Slugger favourite comes from the most august scientific body of all the Royal Society. Rev Michael Reiss, a biologist and RS director of education (his title at both ends of his name gives you a clue to where he’s coming from) makes an argument that isn’t quite what the headline suggests:”Leading scientist urges teaching of creationism in schools.” He doesn’t mean equal treatment for creationism; only for accepting a discussion if it comes up in science class, as he make clear on the Today programme 0.7`19 slot. In coverage of the debate, it’s the first time that I’ve seen reported how many believe in creationism. – one in ten children according to surveys. The other day I was looking at Charles Darwin ’s tomb in Westminster Abbey and recalled what was said by a bishop just after his death.
“Harvey Goodwin, in a memorial sermon preached in the Abbey on the Sunday following the funeral, said “I think that the interment of the remains of Mr Darwin in Westminster Abbey is in accordance with the judgment of the wisest of his countrymen…It would have been unfortunate if anything had occurred to give weight and currency to the foolish notion which some have diligently propagated, but for which Mr Darwin was not responsible, that there is a necessary conflict between a knowledge of Nature and a belief in GodŔ. A later, widely believed, rumour of a “deathbed conversion” to Christianity was denied by his daughter, who was actually present at his death.”

There’ll be many who’ll find this far too cosy and not actually true. But good old C of E. Rev Reiss is speaking in that tradition of calm dialogue rather than angry confrontation.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London