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 Issues | Doctrine | Science and Religion

Teaching the Truth about Evolution

In March of 2001 a meeting held in the buildings of Emmanuel City Technology College in Gateshead provoked an extraordinary reaction in the media and even in parliament. The College was initially involved simply because their building was the venue for a conference on creation science. However, as a Christian College it emerged that they were also prepared to teach their children that evolution is a theory with much evidence against it and that there are alternative theories of origins. The ensuing furore, apparently largely orchestrated by prominent atheist Richard Dawkins, was evidence that the subject touches a raw nerve. What particularly concerned Church Society was that six Bishops decided to wade into the fray by signing a letter along with various academics and addressed to the Prime Minister. The letter gives all the appearance of attempting to censor the teaching of science in schools so that scientific criticism of aspects of evolutionary theory is suppressed.

Church Society responded by writing to the Bishops concerned and by publicly refuting their views in a news release. A second letter to the Bishop of Oxford explains why this was such a serious issue.

A fuller article was produced in the Society's magazine Cross†Way and a meeting was arranged at the General Synod of the Church of England when Professor Edgar Andrews spoke to the subject 'Teaching the Truth about Evolution'.

The teaching of Gateshead College appears to fall well within the expectations of the National Curriculum in sharp contrast to the closed mindset displayed by Richard Dawkins and the six Bishops.

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Texts:

  • Press Release : Bishops must not suppress debate : 16 March 2002
  • Cross†Way Article Teaching the Truth
  • Letter to the Bishop of Oxford
  • National Curriculum extract

    Note : Church Society is committed to the inerrancy of the Bible as God's Word written. Some members of the Society therefore believe in a young earth and in six day creation whilst others believe Scripture to be compatible with a longer time-frame.  The Society took action on this issue because of the censorship of views the Bishops' letter represented.  There is clearly considerable disquiet amongst scientists about the viability of naturalistic evolution as an adequate model for explaining the world as it is. To hide this from children is sheer folly. Moreover, all Christians, being committed to the authority of the Bible as God's Word written, accept that naturalistic evolution as it is commonly taught is false.


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Second letter written to the Bishop of Oxford.

The Rt Rev Richard Harries
Diocesan Church House
North Hinksey
Oxford
OX2 0NB


Dear Bishop Richard,

Thank you for your letter of 2 May. I realise that you will have had a lot of correspondence on this matter and that your reply was a standard letter. However, I fear that your reply did not engage at all in the fundamental question we raised regarding freedom of speech and the suppression of scientific opinion.

Your position appears to be that you think the views of those who doubt the theory of evolution should be suppressed. This was very evident in your initial letter to the Secretary of State for Education. Your letter of 2nd May is interesting in that it shows why, in the light of your own background, you think such views should be suppressed.

One of the speakers at the apparently controversial meeting in Gateshead was a Professor of Combustion Science from Leeds University. Apparently you consider that his views, as a Professor of Science, on the validity of the theory of evolution should be kept hidden from young people. I trust you are aware that there are many many scientists from many disciplines, holding many different religious convictions (and none), who assert that the standard views about the big bang, the age of the universe and naturalistic evolution are all contrary to observable data. They often find themselves ostracised and some find it very difficult to get papers printed. You yourself seem to be contriving in this attempt to suppress scientific knowledge.

This is not simply a matter of the Bible vs Science. It has to do with the future of scientific endeavour. Writing in relation to theories about the source of the Sun’s power Hilton Hinderliter, Professor of Physics at Pennsylvania State University wrote ‘this is just one more situation in which the belief in evolutionism has proved a mental roadblock to true scientific progress!’

By now you should have received an invitation to a meeting at the York General Synod to be addressed by another Professor of Science, Edgar Andrews. I know that there are many meetings competing for our time but hope that you will be able to join us, hear from Professor Andrews and engage with him on this important matter.


Yours sincerely,

David Phillips
General Secretary

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Extract from the National Curriculum

Sc1 Scientific enquiry
Ideas and evidence in science
1. Pupils should be taught:
a) how scientific ideas are presented, evaluated and disseminated [for example, by publication, review by other scientists]
b) how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence [for example, Darwin's theory of evolution]
c) ways in which scientific work may be affected by the contexts in which it takes place [for example, social, historical, moral, spiritual], and how these contexts may affect whether or not ideas are accepted
d) to consider the power and limitations of science in addressing industrial, social and environmental questions, including the kinds of questions science can and cannot answer, uncertainties in scientific knowledge, and the ethical issues involved.

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