Atheists press to ban creationism from U.K. schools

September 20, 2011

LONDON (RNS) A group of 30 leading scientists, including a Nobel
laureate and a prominent atheist professor, are pressing the British
government to ban all teaching of creationism in the nation's publicly
funded schools.

The scientists delivered a petition to the coalition government of
Prime Minister David Cameron as part of a new campaign to make it
illegal to teach the biblical story of creationism as a scientific
theory in schools.

Official government policy is opposed to creationism in school
curricula and has issued guidelines against teaching it, but officials
have stopped short of legally barring it from state-funded institutions.
The scientists' campaign urges that Charles Darwin's theory of
evolution be taught in all schools at both the primary and secondary
levels.

Among the signatories to their petition is Paul Nurse, a Nobel
laureate in physiology or medicine, and atheist professor Richard
Dawkins.

"We need to stop calling evolution a theory," Dawkins said recently.
"In the ordinary language sense of the word, it is a fact ... as solidly
demonstrated as any fact in science."

The British Humanist Association is among the groups calling for the
teaching of evolution in all schools in Britain.

"It has never been more urgent for concrete steps to be taken to
ensure that all state schools teach evolutionism, and not creationism,
and we urge the government to implement the simple and sensible
measures" in the scientists' petition, BHA chief executive Andrew Copson
said.