21 February, 2006

Creationism on the march

When I discussed last month’s BBC poll which showed worryingly high levels of support for ID and creationism, I argued that some ambiguities in the questioning may have exaggerated the problem. It’s rare for me to suffer from excessive optimism, but this report in today’s Guardian does not make happy reading.

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.

The article cites medical students at Guy’s Hospital in London distributing anti-evolution leaflets as part of Islam Awareness Week; reports from an unnamed campus of students being failed for presenting creationist accounts as fact in their exam scripts; and the following testimony:

Most of the next generation of medical and science students could well be creationists, according to a biology teacher at a leading London sixth-form college. "The vast majority of my students now believe in creationism," she said, "and these are thinking young people who are able and articulate and not at the dim end at all."

It’s true that these are isolated incidents. But it is a worrying pattern, particularly because these stories are all about medicine and science students, who should have had more exposure to biology than most. Muslim or Christian, the fundamentalist notion that faith cannot be reconciled with the findings of science is apparently becoming increasingly pernicious.

The Royal Society is worried enough about all of this that it has invited Steve Jones (geneticist and author of a number of popular science books) to give a public lecture in April entitled Why Creationism is Wrong (details here). I’m finding myself quite tempted to go along.

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