PE01530: Guidance on how creationism is presented in schools


Petitioner: Spencer Fildes on behalf of Scottish Secular Society


Date Lodged: 03 September 2014

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to issue official guidance to bar the presentation in Scottish publicly funded schools of separate creation and of Young Earth doctrines as viable alternatives to the established science of evolution, common descent, and deep time.

Petition History:


11 November 2014: The Committee took evidence from Spencer Fildes, Chair, and Professor Paul Braterman, Board Member and Scientific Advisor, Scottish Secular Society. The Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government. The Committee also agreed (by division: For 4, Against 0, Abstentions 0) to write to the Educational Institute of Scotland, the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association and the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland. Link to Official Report 11 November 2014

Below: Professor Paul Braterman and Spencer Fildes at the meeting on 11 November 2014

27 January 2015: The Committee agreed to refer the petition, under Rule 15.6.2, to the Education and Culture Committee to consider under its remit. Link to Official Report 27 January 2015

10 March 2015: The Education and Culture Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government to ask it to: clarify its position on the petition; comment on the different approaches to this issue adopted in other parts of the United Kingdom; and, provide its view on the prevalence of creationism teaching in Scottish schools. Link to Official Report 10 March 2015

12 May 2015: The Education and Culture Committee considered a petition by Spencer Fildes, on behalf of the Scottish Secular Society, on Guidance on how creationism is presented in schools. The Committee agreed to close the petition. Link to Official Report 12 May 2015

Written Submissions

Creationism in Scottish schools is present, insidious, and undermines science teaching and science teachers. Yet chaplains endorse it, teachers ignore the issue, children are confused by it, and the Government has refused to act or even acknowledge the problem. In the face of pressures, how can we help our teachers ensure that creationism remains where it belongs, in the museum of discarded ideas? How can anyone pretend in the face of recent dramatic evidence that there is no problem? How much more remains unreported? Don’t our teachers deserve the support they themselves have asked for, in dealing with the professionally packaged anti-science of outright creationism, or the technically complex semi-science of Intelligent Design?

Happily creationism is only being promoted in a very small number of Scottish schools but it should be promoted in zero! It is not science. It is an attempt to interpret one particular set of religious myths as science and to deny any and all scientific evidence that contradicts this approach. I have talked to several school chaplains over the years. To my knowledge, only one was a creationist. That is still one too many. I have worked with several science teachers. Some were theists and some were not. To my knowledge, 'none' were creationists. A few had, however, received unsolicited creationist tripe through the post at their school addresses. Science cannot rule out a God but it can certainly rule out creationism. Theological and philosophical questions of whether or not a God exists who is ultimately responsible for the existence of life, the universe, and everything can be passed along to the RMPS department. Some scientists (e.g. Francis Collins) would argue yes, other scientists (e.g. Richard Dawkins) would argue no. Creationism is not "in the museum of discarded ideas" -- but it should be! Intelligent Design in not a "technically complex semi-science." -- It is a mix of god-of-the-gaps reasoning and evolution-denial! A pity, by the way, to see a few comments below arguing for pupils to be kept ignorant about the beliefs, values and practices of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Humanists, Sikhs, etc ("Belief does not belong in the classroom the same as facts are not accepted in Chuches", "Keep religion in the churches", "Why is religion in our schools at all?", "Any coverage of religion should be in a History lesson", "If people want to educate their children...").

Keith Gilmour

23:06 on 03 Sep 2014

Seriously, just don't.

David Somers

12:51 on 02 Sep 2014

Personally I don't think any form of religious belief should be part of the publicly funded education system. If people want to educate their children in matters of faith or religion, then they have the ability to do so through churches, sunday schools and their own family time. Religion should stay out of education, healthcare etc. It's only relevance is in matters of faith, and education is most definitely not a matter of faith.

Lois Bell

12:32 on 02 Sep 2014

Just stop this nonsense please.

mich wood

13:54 on 29 Aug 2014

By allowing ALL religion the 'acceptance' and legal protection that it currently enjoys, we are storing up a major problem for the future generations which will prove to be the demise of all 'civilized' cultures. People are entitled to believe in absolutely anything they wish (a point which cannot be denied under any circumstances), but no 'belief has a right to be included in law, and certainly not in any education system. We must wake up to the dangers of any religion infiltrating political systems. Most, at least in the western world, are at present, fairly benign, but all have the potential to produce extremists,and impose their will on everyone else at some point in time. It is time to act now by removing EVERY trace of religion from law so that we all, whatever our beliefs, can live together in harmony. Every single one of us is entirely dependant on science, and it is the only thing that keeps us all ticking along. To undermine it in any way is pure stupidity and should not be tolerated at all.

Carl Wright

15:40 on 28 Aug 2014

We don't allow anti-vaxxers into our schools to undermine health education and we shouldn't invite (as we presently do) anti-evolutionists into our schools to undermine science teaching.

Paul Braterman

22:11 on 27 Aug 2014

Unbelievable that we still have to fight this battle in this day and age

Nigel Walker

13:17 on 27 Aug 2014

Brainwashing young minds is obscene. Any coverage of religion should be in a History lesson. Any idea of individuals entering into any unsubstantiated sect should only happen when they have a critical brain able to cope with it.

Brian Rees

13:05 on 27 Aug 2014

Inaccurate religious dogma should not be taught in schools as if scientific fact. To do so is utterly reprehensible.

Allan Beattie

12:42 on 27 Aug 2014

Creationism and its equivalents are mythical interpretations and cannot be presented alongside scientific enquiry. Our children deserve better.

Sandeha Lynch

13:31 on 26 Aug 2014

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