Richard Dawkins celebrates a victory over creationists

How would you feel about government funds being used to propagate creationism? It just so happens that over here in the UK quite a few folks were not exactly thrilled at the concept, and so they lobbied the government to do something about it. The good news is that in these cash strapped times, the UK Department of Education has now agreed, and have officially declared, “Sure, go ahead and teach Creationism, but if you do, you will not get any funds from us“.

The UK’s Guardian reports …

Leading scientists and naturalists, including Professor Richard Dawkins and Sir David Attenborough, are claiming a victory over the creationist movement after the government ratified measures that will bar anti-evolution groups from teaching creationism in science classes.

The Department for Education has revised its model funding agreement, allowing the education secretary to withdraw cash from schools that fail to meet strict criteria relating to what they teach. Under the new agreement, funding will be withdrawn for any free school that teaches what it claims are “evidence-based views or theories” that run “contrary to established scientific and/or historical evidence and explanations”.

The British Humanist Association (BHA), which has led a campaign against creationism – the movement that denies Darwinian evolution and claims that the Earth and all its life was created by God – described the move as “highly significant” and predicted that it would have implications for other faith groups looking to run schools.

Dawkins, who was one of the leading lights in the campaign, welcomed confirmation that creationists would not receive funding to run free schools if they sought to portray their views as science. “I welcome all moves to ensure that creationism is not taught as fact in schools,” he said. “Government rules on this are extremely welcome, but they need to be properly enforced.”

Not only can you can read the rest of that story here, but you can also have fun browsing through the comments as well. For example, one kook writes, “I think both theories should be taught.“. Yep, you guessed correctly, he quite obviously went to the wrong school. However, generally the kooks are indeed (quite rightly) being hammered in the comments (yea). OK, I confess, I jumped in there as well.

If you do not live in the UK and just happen to be wondering, “What the heck is a free school?”. Well, Free schools, are state-funded but run by local people or organisations (think religious groups), so they do not need to follow the national curriculum. As you might imagine, it was a license for the wing-nuts to do what they liked, so in response the British Humanist Association ran a campaign entitled, “Teach evolution, not creationism“. Many leading lights gave it their full support, and that not only included Richard Dawkins (of course), but also lots of others including Sir David Attenborough, Professor Steve Jones, and Professor Sir Anthony Epstein. (See here for a list if curious).

It is a true delight to have some good news for a change and not just another instance of publically funded insanity to rant about.

Let us now hope that the Department of Education gives this stance some teeth and enforces it.

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