UCL News


Academics fight rise of creationism at universities

21 February 2006

A growing number of science students on British campuses and in sixth form colleges are challenging the theory of evolution and arguing that Darwin was wrong.

Some are being failed in university exams because they quote sayings from the Bible or Qur'an as scientific fact and at one sixth form college in London most biology students are now thought to be creationists. …

In the United States there is growing pressure to teach creationism or 'intelligent design' in science classes, despite legal rulings against it. Now similar trends in this country have prompted the Royal Society, Britain's leading scientific academy, to confront the issue head on with a talk entitled 'Why Creationism is Wrong'. The award-winning geneticist and author Professor Steve Jones [UCL Biology] will deliver the lecture and challenge creationists, Christian and Islamic, to argue their case rationally at the society's event in April.

"There is an insidious and growing problem," said Professor Jones. "It's a step back from rationality. They (the creationists) don't have a problem with science, they have a problem with argument. And irrationality is a very infectious disease as we see from the United States."

Professor David Read, vice-president and biological sciences secretary of the Royal Society, said that they felt it was essential to address the issue now: "We have asked Steve Jones to deliver his lecture on creationism and evolution because there continues to be controversy over how evolution and other aspects of science are taught in some UK schools, colleges and universities. Our education system should provide access to the knowledge and understanding gained through the scientific method of experiment and observation, such as the theory of evolution through natural selection, and should withstand attempts to withhold or misrepresent this knowledge in order to promote particular beliefs, religious or otherwise."

Duncan Campbell, 'The Guardian', 21 February 2006