Chemistry chief slams creationist teaching in science

12 September 2008

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has totally distanced itself from the older Royal Society over its comments on the teaching of creationism in science lessons in UK schools. 

"If this really is the view of the Royal Society, where is science leadership in this country?" said Dr Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry. 

He said that the debate must be brought into historical perspective and swiftly concluded, by considering the single example of Copernicus, which every schoolchild can relate to. 

Dr Pike emphasised: "Until the fifteenth century in Europe the scientific view, heavily influenced by theological doctrine, was that the sun revolved around the Earth. 

"Crucially, once Copernicus had demonstrated that it was the Earth that went round the sun, mainstream science was to accept this, and the discredited view abandoned - it was not taught as an equally valid alternative. 

"Creationism represents man's attempts thousands of years ago to explain a complex world within the religious, social and limited scientific framework of that time. 

"Science has had many 'Copernicus moments' since, and must move on. To teach creationism as a current alternative theory, rather than an ancient philosophy, is to dismiss the entire body of quantitative, evidence-based science. There can be no 'cherry-picking' to select what is now socially acceptable to teach in science lessons. 

He added, "It is incongruous that the Royal Society conveys the message it does, at a time when many of its Fellows are engrossed in replicating the birth of the universe within the Large Hadron Collider." 

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