Science shouldn't shut down discussion
21 Sep 2008

The furore over Michael Reiss’s comments on creationism signify a worrying tendency that is bad for academic freedom and for science, says Steve Fuller

On 16 September, Michael Reiss (pictured) resigned from his post as director of education at the Royal Society in the wake of comments he made the previous week at the annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Liverpool. Reiss observed that science educators should realise that creationism is a widely held worldview among students deserving of respect, even while teachers contested its specifically scientific claims. Although Reiss vacated his post voluntarily, a letter-writing campaign amongst Society fellows was already in place, describing his views as outrageous and calling for his resignation. While some fellows have rallied to Reiss’s defense, they have also tended to blame the media for allegedly twisting his comments to make it appear that he had called for the teaching of creationism as a viable scientific theory. However, and most regrettably, the media figures here merely as a scapegoat, since it is clear that the Reiss’s opponents at the Royal Society truly objected to what Reiss actually said. This last point should be a source of grave concern to those interested in the future of academic freedom.

Reiss turns out to be a man of many parts who is uniquely qualified to pronounce on matters of science education, especially in the context of religious beliefs. He is an ordained minister in the Church of England, a trained biologist, a former science schoolteacher and, most importantly, one of the UK’s foremost researchers in science education — indeed, the holder of a chair at the University of London’s Institute of Education. It is to the great credit of the Royal Society that they hired Reiss in the first place and to their great shame that they have now made his position untenable. Even a cursory examination of Reiss’s comments about creationism makes clear that their spirit was one of ensuring that students are not discouraged from pursuing science merely because they hold creationist beliefs. Without pretending to speak for Reiss, I would suggest that the most natural — and innocuous — interpretation of his remarks is that he concedes at the outset that creationism is unscientific but that it is also believed for more than specifically scientific reasons, which science instructors should treat sensitively, if not with outright respect.

The Royal Society’s statements on this affair reveal that their conception of science education profoundly differs from Reiss’s. Whereas Reiss places the stress on the ‘education’ part of ‘science education’ (ie science as one of several components in the overall education of the person), the Royal Society places the stress on the specifically ‘science’ part (ie science as a competence that can be judged independently of a person’s other competences). From a strictly pedagogical standpoint, Reiss clearly has the upper hand over his former employers. Science education at the primary and secondary school levels should be about persuading students about the value of science to their lives, given that they constitute the ranks from which the next generation of scientists will be recruited, despite lacking any prior exposure to science. This gives the pedagogical advantage to teachers able and willing to argue for the compatibility of creationism and science, even after demonstrating creationism’s scientific errors. Here it is worth recalling two recent concomitant tendencies: affirmations of creationism have grown and science enrolments have declined (outside specifically applied areas).

But behind the Reiss affair lies a deeper problem with the Royal Society’s orientation to creationism, one that only serves to stifle free scientific inquiry. Reiss himself did not raise the matter – perhaps out of tact -but nevertheless it demands comment given the actual wording of the Royal Society’s statement:

Creationism has no scientific basis and should not be part of the science curriculum. However, if a young person raises creationism in a science class, teachers should be in a position to explain why evolution is a sound scientific theory and why creationism is not, in any way, scientific.

The problem here is that what makes a theory ‘scientific’ — creationism or otherwise — is not its basis but rather the uses to which it is put and the handling of their consequences. All theories with the grand explanatory aspirations of creationism or evolutionism are based on worldviews that people have believed for reasons other than their specific scientific payoff. The challenge then for the science educator – especially the science textbook writer — is to demonstrate how such worldviews provide the basis for valid scientific research.

No one seriously doubts that evolutionism has been much more successful than creationism in this task. But the problem here is one of practice not principle. In particular, there is nothing intrinsically un- or anti-scientific about creationist ideas. On the contrary, creationist assumptions, especially when God is understood as an intelligent designer, have deeply informed the history of the science that both theists and atheists continue to promote today. However, generally speaking, the textbooks and modes of instruction employed in the name of creationism have failed to exploit its full scientific potential. Had Reiss remained in post and operated in more liberal institutional environment, he might have come to make just this point.

Steve Fuller is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. He is the author of 15 books, the most relevant of which are Science vs Religion? (Polity 2007) and Dissent over Descent (Icon 2008)

38 responses to “Science shouldn’t shut down discussion”

  1. Science shouldn’t shut down discussion | Index on Censorship

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  9. mick says:

    “All theories with the grand explanatory aspirations of creationism or evolutionism are based on worldviews that people have believed for reasons other than their specific scientific payoff.”

    Not true, not one scientific theory is based on anything anyone ‘believes’ based on their worldview…that’s utter nonsense…All theories are simply explanations based on the facts. Not on what anyone believes, but on what can be demonstrated regardless of what anyone believes or does not believe.

    You can think theory is based on belief if you like… I would hope you continue to do so because when it comes time to apply creationism as theory, well you won’t get very far.

    Or is it the plan to never apply creationism to any applications whatsoever?

    Let me give you a hand there with one example…there are millions…but I’ll stick to two…

    1. Biological evolution predicts that based on the current diversity of the human population given the dissemination of haplogroups worldwide we should be able to create drugs that are race specific.

    This would enable biologists to produce a genetic therapy that would eliminate sickle cell disease for example. Whilst also creating another therapy that gives the same immunity to maleria that is given to people who suffer from sickle cell anaemia to the other races on earth. Basically eliminating maleria (until malaria adopts or goes extinct of course)

    At the moment only people who are specifically Negroid and who are also unlucky enough to have sickle cell have the ability to produce immunity to malaria.

    2. Biologist evolution predicts based on what we know of human evolution and other arthropod hominids such as chimpanzees and bonobos that we may be able to adopt some genes present in other apes and also present in humans (but turned off) to reduce the effects of obesity. Chimpanzees and Bonobos do not produce fat, If we can adopt their ability to not produce fat…and incorporate it into humans that suffer from obesity then they will stop storing off fat the way they do!

    You see biological evolution is not some silly game… its a science with a goal. It also has a methodology of applying what it learns to have a real effect in the real world.

    Now lets see what creationists would apply as a solution…

    Well creationists won’t really have a clue, not one creationist organisation in the world has even one gene sequencer…which would be a base requirement to do any science in this area. Even the largest Christian university doesn’t posses one gene sequencer. For a group that go on, and on, and on about how right they are, how they have all the ‘proof’ would it be too much to ask that they invest in one piece of equipment that is an absolute requirement in 2012? They only cost 150k or so… in fact because they are advancing in speed and effectiveness so quickly you can pick up an old one on Ebay for 15k!

    But anyway lets see how creationist science would apply a solution to sickles cell… hmmm.. well ‘goddunit’… solution aborted!

    If you think this is disingenuous and creationist actually have an application of creationism…then lets hear it…any application… one will do. In other words.. put up, or shut up until you can!

    Until creationism can be APPLIED to something to solve a problem then it is not a science…its a philosophical talking shop (I use the word philosophical here in its most generic form)

    Creationism has basic tenets that fly directly in the face of things its own adherents can demonstrate are nonsense!

    So lets see someone offer up an application of it based on creation science. Come on… don’t be shy… and please don’t answer this comment by not addressing what I said.

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  13. I think science can’t stop the discussion, it causes it.

  14. AJF says:


    I thought it was interesting how you engaged “Dissenter” in a discussion of the evidence. Dare we call it a “scientific” discussion? I mean afterall, you are against such discussions as they pertain to origins no?

    You afterall seem very confident in your ability to rebut any and all anti-darwinian arguments, and to imagine yourself to be in a position to be “condescending”….as if the arguments you forward are so very cutting edge, enlightening,..and of course scientific! I’m sure you will have Dissenter up nights now trying to reconcile his worldview based on the websites you provided. There is surely no rebuttal to those!

    You should be beside yourself with eagerness to see these arguements hashed out in science classrooms so that darwin-dissenters can be vanquished from the earth once and for all at an early age, and “others” won’t waste time as adults running pro-darwin websites and blogs. Funny, haven’t seen too many pro-gravity blogs around.

    But no, we can’t have that can we. Why? Because you know damn well that would be a gripping, engaging discussion, filled with point, and counterpoint. Students might actually find it fascinating wouldn’t they? They also might come away thinking that Darwinism isn’t quite on the same scientific ground as gravity after all.

    THAT is why this discussion can NEVER take place in the classroom.

  15. […] Reiss’ sacking has been perhaps the most public demonstration of an Expelled-like phenomenon in Britain to date. To this day, I am surprised at how little outrage it generated. I protested immediately at the time. […]

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  17. Matt says:

    Something was lost in my comments. The last sentence ought to read, “If either stance becomes an ideal that CANNOT be challenged, then it instantly falsifies itself as a scientific theory and becomes dogma.” (emphasis added in my update)

  18. Matt says:

    The term, “Evolutionism”, is correct. It is contained in the Concise Oxford Dictionary as the noun pertaining to the philosophy of an evolutionist.
    Science is not just about knowledge: it is about discovery about what we currently do not know. Let those who believe in creationism discover what makes their case, while those who believe in evolutionism discover what makes the evolutionary case. Then compare, test the theories and establish the facts and the logic. This is true science; not the one-eyed perspective that evolution is fundamental truth nor the belief that creationism is true just because it is! If either stance becomes an ideal that be challenged, then it instantly falsifies itself as a scientific theory and becomes dogma.

  19. Dissenter says:

    An long essay if not a dissertation could be written on the use of distraction tactics, misrepresentation, personal abuse, ad hominem and missing the point posted in the comments above attacking Steve Fuller’s very reasonable item about the anti-Reiss witch hunt.

    Lets agree on one thing-Reiss is an evolutionist. I commented on my questiondarwin.blogspot site that he was only suggesting a more effective way of dissuading ‘creationist’ students from their views by what he saw as the light of science. The severity of the putch against him has upset even some members of the Royal Society and fellow evolutionists. Not enough to make them take a principled stand against the bullies. Bullying works, people wouldn’t do it otherwise.

    A message has been sent-if you see a Darwin dissenter coming, cross the road to avoid them or we’ll take you out too. Sack all dissenters from science jobs (Reiss isn’t even a Darwin dissenter!) and even people who talk nicely to them, then all the scientists can be claimed to accept evolutionism-self fulfilling prophecy or what?

    The real reason for Reiss’s career liquidation was to prevent anything like the following discussion.

    Student ‘sir, I don’t believe in evolution.’

    Teacher ‘thank you for sharing that piece of your religious baggage with us Daniel. None of us can be blamed for what our parents indoctrinate us with. However, the scientific method rules, so tell us how you would prove your religious beliefs about creationism and we can discuss why they are wrong in the light of science.’

    Student ‘it’s got very little to do with religion sir, and I wouldn’t bring religion into a science class. I want to talk about the impossibility of abiogenesis (remember Pasteur?) thermodynamics and entropy, undirected progress, the deleterious nature of mutations, lack of inter species fossils of living examples, irreducible complexity, Piltdown and Nebraska man and other frauds, deliberate misrepresentation of results as in Miller Urey and peppered moths …..


    So it wasn’t simple hate and spite, Kroto and Dawkins and chums want to maintain the widest possible Berlin Wall style cordon sanitaire between Darwinism and sceptical questions, and if that means misrepresenting and shooting a ‘useful fool’ who is actually on their side but is asking for ANYTHING LIKE an open discussion about the issues, then so be it.

    PS there is no gravityism or electricityism since these natural laws can be observed and measured directly and nobody (not ‘nobody except swivel eyed flat earth fairy worshipping science denying maniacs’-just plain nobody) questions them. Evolutionism is a set of beliefs which are clothed with scientific respectablility by a relatively small but well organised atheist elite, but cpontrary to the normal rules of science is protected from criticism by the kind of intellectual terrorism we have seen in the Reiss case.

    Evolutionism is not a theory since it makes no fulfilled predictions and violates scientific laws (such as entropy and biogenesis). Once it was a hypothesis, not it is a myth. Anyone with an open mind just compare the facts of the Rreiss case with the hysterical and lying misrepresentation. but open minds are rare, and no wonder-its scary out there away from the comforting certainties of atheism.

  20. Cai says:

    Dissenter, I don’t understand your distinction between “evolutionism” (as opposed to “evolution”) and “gravity” (as opposed to “gravityism”), and I think this is one of the core issues.

    In science, to my understanding, there are *hypotheses* – propositions which are just “educated guesses” an ripe for the testing; and *theories* – collections of many inter-linking hypotheses with supporting mathematic descriptions and a peer-reviewed wealth of corroborating evidence.

    Both “gravity” and “evolution” fit the “theory” label. Note, therefore, that when creationists say “evolution is *just* a theory”, they’re being disingenuous, since “theory” has a different meaning in scientific nomenclature to in every day lay parlance.

    You claim that:

    “There is no gravityism or electricityism since these laws of nature can be directly observed and nobody … questions them.”

    and that

    “[Evolution is] about how life originated and then diversified and complexified by chance in the distant past.”

    Unfortunately, this displays a certain degree of misunderstanding on your part: First off, gravity and electricity are not just “laws of nature” which can be “directly observed”. When’s the last time you “directly observed” electricity? More to the point, when’s the last time you “directly observed” an electron?

    The nature of electricity (or “electric current”, as I believe it’s called) is just a theory which is extremely good at making accurate predictions about real-world phenomena, is corroborated by a LOT of past experiments, and whose mathematical content coheres nicely with other areas of physics.

    Ditto with gravity.

    Ditto with evolution, which brings me to my next point:

    Your characterisation of evolution is almost entirely misinformed. Evolution has *nothing* to do with “how life originated”, although this is a common misconception. It is *still* a misconception because, I feel I should point out, it is popular amongst creationists to claim this. Actual evolutionary biologists would *never* claim to have a scientific understanding of the origin of life, and repeatedly affirm that it’s not their area of study. Abiogenesis (I think that’s how it’s spelt) *is* an area of study, but it’s rather seperate from evolution. Seriously, go ask *any* evolutionary biologist.

    Next, evolutionary theory definitely does not say that life “diversified and complexified by chance in the distant past”, this is just a false caricature set up (again) by creationists with ulterior motives.

    Evolution is not “in the past”, it’s a description of a constant process which occurs with self-replicating entities which pass on genetic code in a changing environment (so that the concept of “fitness” is unfixed).

    Although genetic mutations themselves happen “by chance”, it is a fallacy to assume that the “diversification” happens by chance – the principle of “survival of the fittest” ensure that it is *anything BUT chance* – the “force of evolution (as it is sometimes inaccurately referred to) pushes firmly in the direction of adaption to a changing environment and maximisation of survival and reproductive characteristics of a genotype. By definition!

    I don’t mean to sound condescending, but the criticisms you have of evolution are not only out-dated, but also commonly used by creationists in their political struggle against science (as opposed to religious doctrine). This suggests to me, unfortunately, that you haven’t done a lot of research into this yourself, or read much (two-sided) commentary on the “dispute”, since these very points which I have made are made *time and time and TIME again* by scientists, as well as many other cogent arguments and evidences which can (currently) only be explained by evolutionary theory. Certainly not by creationism.

    If you’re genuinely interested, check out:
    • Cross-species endogenous retro-viral insertion patterns (I think I got that right… just look for “retro-virus” and you’ll find the good stuff)
    • The “broken vitamin C gene in higher primates”

    Also, a site which I can’t recommend enough is:
    which refutes the oft-mentioned-by-creationists idea of “irreducible complexity”.

    Seriously, take a good look at *everything on offer*, if you really want to get at the truth.

    And to bring this back to the point at hand, surely it’s the *truth* we want taught to kids? And isn’t it suspicious how many under-handed techniques creationists use to win (and, in fact, *make*) arguments? I think it is…

  21. Dissenter says:

    What a lot of spiteful nonsense, repetition of unexamined cliche (flat earth my FHA) and ignoring the main point in these responses to a measured and accurate article by Steve Fuller about a vile injustice which revealed so much about the real powers behind evolution that a damage limitation exercise has been launched.

    let’s get one thing straight, Reiss is an evolutionist. He became the victim of an extremely vicious attack and censorship because he even suggested that in the cause of persuading creationist students that they were wrong it might be appropriate to respectfully engage with them and argue science against religion, without ever acknowledgeing that there were any problems with Darwinism.

    The sheer level of hate anbd deliberate misrepresentation directed against him (which many commebnts reflect) has stunned even some atheists.

    The real reason he was squashed with such extreme prejudice was to prevent the following discussion.

    student, ‘Sir, I don’t beleive in evolutionism’

    teacher ‘well my dear boy, we can’t help it if your daddy indoctrinated you. We must help you to understand why science proves evolution. Now, can we talk about the reasons why you think your religious beleifs trump science?

    student’ Actually sir, I don’t doubt evolutionism just because of my Holy Book, that’s just a Dawkinist distraction tactic. I want to talk about abiogenesis, thermodynanics, irreducible comnplexity, genetic entropy, deleterious mutations, lack of intermediate forms, fixity of species, fraud….


    PS it is creation and evolutionism. Creation is a putative historical event, evolutionism is an unsuported set of beliefs, a mythos really, about how life originated and then diversified and complexified by chance in the distant past. There is no gravityism or electricityism since these laws of nature can be directly observed and nobody (not ‘nobody except a swivel eyed fairy worshipping nutcase-just NOBODY) questions them.

    The skilled use of language to skew thinking is an old trick of sophists, sneaky lawyers and others with no evidence to prove a dodgy case.

  22. Andrew says:

    What Roger Stanyard fails to understand is that science developed because of a commitment to the literalness of the Word of God. The Protestant mindset thus enabled nature to be studied literally away from the pre-modern symbolic interpretation. See Peter Harrison – The Bible, Protestantism and the rise of natural science.

  23. […] Science shouldn’t shut down discussion The furore over Michael Reiss’s comments on creationism signify a worrying tendency that is bad for academic freedom and for science, says Steve Fuller […]

  24. Kiltreiser says:

    I must strongly disagree with everything in this article, right down to the title itself. Science most definitely should shut down discussion as long as the subject being discussed:

    1 – Is being discussed from a scientific standpoint
    2 – Has either been proven false or has absolutely no evidence to support it.

    If conditions 1 and 2 are fulfilled then the subject matter has no merit in any scientific discussion. In the case of teaching creationism in science classes then 1 and 2 are most certainly fulfilled.

    Please, let’s stop pandering to all sorts of nonsense like this. If we allow creationism into school science classes then we must also allow astrology, alchemy, homeopathy etc. Let’s concentrate on ACTUAL SCIENCE and leave faith, magic and other related topics for discussion elsewhere.

  25. […] UD post Steve Fuller on Michael Reiss and academic freedom links to the article Science shouldn’t shut down discussion which contains this quote: In particular, there is nothing intrinsically un- or anti-scientific […]

  26. steve martin says:

    I am really mystified as to why the RS and others are so upset with Reiss. As someone who wants to see more people accept the scientific consensus of evolution, I believe Reiss’s approach will ultimately be more successful. Sometimes a blunt message (even if it is 100% truthful) is counterproductive.

  27. […] Read more – Steve Fuller – Science shouldn’t shut down discussion, Index on Censorship, 21/09/… These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  28. To quote Professor Fuller “In particular, there is nothing intrinsically un- or anti-scientific about creationist ideas. ”

    Way, way, hang on there Professor Fuller. The Discovery Institute has claimed for years that Intelligent Design has nothing to do with religion. The ICR has claimed likewise with young earth creationist. No sirree Bob, nothing at all to do with religion. So if they are just science why do both lie? Seems to me that this is the ultimate in anti-science.

    Well, lets look a bit further at the scientific method. Both claim that a supernatural agent has been involved in creating or modifying genes. Well that is not science as science rules out supernatural explanations. But it’s worse than that because both are not falsifiable so are in breach of the scientific method twice over.

    Then of course, there is the “top secret” Wedge Dopcument which nobody was supposed to know about (censored from public view!) and which showed that the objective of the Discovery Institute was a political right-wing re-engineering of society. What the heck has that got to do with sound science?

    Creationism is this utterly anti-science and un-science. Unless of course Professor Fuller believes that we should have seperate scientific diciplines based on each religious viewpoint – Buddhist Science, Druid Science, Islamic Science, American Fundamentalist Science, Catholic Science, Anglican Science……

    Still, Professor Fuller was spectacularly on the losing side in the Dover trial and has showed his lack of good grace by claiming Judge Jones was biased because he was a Lutheran who didn’t attend church every Sunday.

  29. Cai says:

    Yeah, I take issue with that too, Steve. It’s difficult to see how you can spin creationism to be anything but unscientific. I know “science” and “scientific” are words whose precise definitions are still debated. I’m not a professional philosopher, but I’ve taken courses in the philosophy of science up to 3rd year undergrad level, and studied the history of the debate, but no matter how you slice it, I can’t make out how you can class creationism (or ID) as science.

    The creationist position has to ignore existing evidence; can only make ad hoc improvements to itself; offers no real explanation as to the structure of the phenomena it claims to describe; where it does make predictions, they are surely falsified (intelligent design => no design redundancies? What about the broken vitamin C gene in high primates or wisdom teeth in the contracted human jaw?); it claims to throw problems with evolution (not “evolutionism”… what?) into relief (like irreducible complexity) but by doing so merely display a lack of understanding of evolutionary theory and biology (the mousetrap example is perfect); they often misuse nomenclature and theories from other parts of science (what’s that nonsense about information theory? what an inappropriate usage!). Not to mention their obvious religious and political agendas.

    I’m certainly not claiming that there are no problems with evolution, or that the word “creationism” should be censored in the science classroom, as Reiss says; but whatever creationism/ID is, it’s not science.

  30. gutzperson says:

    If I follow your general logic then one should introduce the Flat Earth Theory, the Geocentric Model, etc. and allow these to be part of the science discussion again. These were all models supported by religious groups — okay Christianity — etc. etc.
    Sorry Mr. Fuller, I think there is a problem how you interpret Mr. Reiss’ statements. I agree with bobxxxx.
    Creationism is not a scientific model. It is a narrative that fits into religious concepts.

  31. bloodstone says:

    I’m sorry, but why do they have such a problem with creationism? People defend the theory of evolution with such ferocity, but really, they don’t have any true evidence to back it up. Just random bones they found – like a pig’s tooth – and say, “Look it’s the missing link!” They’re the same people who deny any evidence that’s been brought forward to defend creationism – it’s out there, look!

  32. David T says:

    In any case, Fuller is some sort of zany post-modernist Morris Zapp type media don, who professionally pushes Creationism: perhaps because he’s trying to be noticed, or conceivably because he actually believes it.

    Which is all well and good:

    (a) if you’re teaching a non-subject like sociology; or

    (b) if you’re a vicar, and so expected to come up with mystical hippy rubbish.

    However, this is NOT a freedom of expression issue, and is NOT appropriate in any way, shape, or form, in science classes.

  33. Jimbo says:

    @David T:

    Why this article was submitted to IoC? My guess:

    The game is to portray criticism on creationism as censorship. We all agree censorship is bad, so attempts to suppress creationism in teaching, whether in sociology class or in science class, is bad.

    For more absurdity of this kind, see Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers on ‘Expelled’:

  34. David T says:

    In fact, I don’t understand why this article is even on the Index on Censorship website.

    Nobody is suggesting that people ought generally to be prevented from advocating creationism.

    All that has happened is that a man, whose job is to oppose the teaching of fantasy in science classes, has resigned: because he appeared to be condoning it.

    IoC wouldn’t be upset if a religious organisation accepted the resignation of a vicar for preaching athiesm in Church.

    Why the fuss over Reiss?

  35. Jimbo says:

    Creationism and evolution (not evolutionism, please!) as competing worldviews, one of which happens to be more successful under scientific scrutiny? I’ve never seen relativism pushed to such an extreme by a British academic. It is a grim reminder what rationalism is up against in this country.

    Evolution is more than just another theory. As “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” (Dobzhansky), evolution is an integral part of that discipline, and several other disciplines, such as geology, cosmology and anthropology, are closely linked. Evolution is not just the subject of scientific study, it is the foundation on which a major part of science rests.

    Creationism on the other hand is not even a theory. It is indoctrination, make believe, escapism, and most of all, dishonesty. It is not prescientific, it is antiscientific. Steve Fuller is clatching at straws when he tries to distinguish “creationist ideas” and “textbooks and modes of instruction employed in the name of creationism”. For creationists, the way of thinking (“distort the facts to make them support Genesis”) is more central than the ideas themselves. Arguing that the ideas are unscientific is pointless if science itself is rejected.

  36. David T says:

    Reiss opined that creationism should not be dismissed as a “misconception” but as a “cultural worldview”

    I had initially thought that all Reiss had said was “let’s use science lessons to explain to students why creationism is wrong”.

    In fact, Reiss went beyond that. He opined, not that creationism was wrong by that it was “unscientific”. It was not a “misconception” but simply a “worldview”.

    I happen to think that creationism is not simply unscientific but also wrong. I accept, however, that there are some people -some but not all religious people – who are prepared to accept that creationism may have some validity as part of a “worldview”. I can see why a sociologist, like Steve Fuller, might be sympathetic to that sort of relativist way of thinking.

    That is absolutely fine, in my view, in a sociology class. However, it has absolutely no place in a science lesson. Likewise, it is wholly inappropriate that such an approach be advanced by a body committed to scientific education.

    Disturbingly, a large minority of science teachers in the UK believe in some form of creationism, and want it “debated” in the classroom.

  37. bobxxxx says:

    “No one seriously doubts that evolutionism has been much more successful than creationism in this task. But the problem here is one of practice not principle. In particular, there is nothing intrinsically un- or anti-scientific about creationist ideas. On the contrary, creationist assumptions, especially when God is understood as an intelligent designer, have deeply informed the history of the science that both theists and atheists continue to promote today.”

    Wow. Are you ever full of it. First of all, nobody but uneducated creationists use the word ‘evolutionism’. It’s called evolution. Do you also call gravity ‘gravityism’?

    Nothing could possibly be more anti-science than a belief in magical creation. Leave your sky fairy out of science. Science doesn’t need your childish abracadabra religious insanity.

    Creation magic assumptions have deeply informed the history of science? That’s just plain nutty. Scientists laugh at your childish magical creation myth.

  38. […] At Index on Censorship Warwick U sociologist calls the case “a source of grave concern to those interested in the […]