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The battle for evolution in Scottish schools

Tomorrow, the Scottish Parliament’s Petitions Committee will be hearing from members of the British Centre for Science Education (BCSE) and Scottish Secular Society (SSS). Earlier this year, the SSS started a petition urging the Scottish government issue guidance on the teaching of creationism in schools. In England and Wales, there is clear guidance that creationism and Intelligent Design are not valid scientific alternatives to the theory of evolution, and should not be taught as such. In Scotland, there is no equivalent document.

This is a problem, because as we’ve previously seen, there have been significant inroads by creationists in some Scottish schools. Fortunately in that case, there was a decisive win for science. But what that case showed was that creationism genuinely is an issue in Scotland, and it will continue to be so without clear guidance. So you might think that the SSS petition, backed by three Nobel prize winners, would be uncontroversial.

Cart pulled by dinosaur

In case you’d forgotten, this picture of a dinosaur working as a beast of burden was included in creationist material distributed in a Scottish school in 2013.

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Our fundamentalist neighbours

I’m honoured today to host a guest post by Adam Laats.  Laats is an historian in the Graduate School of Education at Binghamton University, State University of New York, USA (recently appointed Associate Professor).  He is the author of Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era: God, Darwin, and the Roots of America’s Culture Wars.  He blogs about conservatism and American education at I Love You but You’re Going to Hell. When I started writing, Adam’s blog was the first one I found, and it’s been one of my most-read blogs ever since. Adam and I recently got into a debate about whether a petition to ban the teaching of Creationism is a good idea. Here is Adam’s argument; my response will be on his blog soon.

My fundamentalist neighbor is a dick.

He lets his dogs bark at all hours of the day and night.

He parks his work truck in the yard.

He built a huge ugly palisade fence between his yard and that of our other neighbor.

After years of living next door, he still doesn’t know my name.

He berates me occasionally about America’s woeful abandonment of God and the Bible.

He throws his garbage into the yard of the church next door.

I think he drinks.

In short, my fundamentalist neighbor is a dick.  But it wouldn’t make any sense to try to pass a law to stop his dickishness.  Yet that is the attitude, apparently, behind some other recent anti-fundamentalist efforts.   Read the rest of this entry