“Shameful to legislate in favour of religious bigotry”, writes a prominent British socialist politician who wants to stop the British government from allowing Christian Schools to teach students there are alternatives to evolution. In a scathing article in The Guardian, 19 May 2003, p18, Roy Hattersley claims allowing creationism to be taught in schools is the equivalent of allowing Hindus to burn widows and Muslims to kill “infidels”.

As part of his tirade he asks the following questions: “Should society tolerate – and subsidise from taxation – schools which teach that natural selection is a myth and that the world was created in six days, just over 4,000 years ago? Sir Peter Vardy, a motor sales tycoon, has already founded such a school in Gateshead and proposes to open two more. Is it right to allow religions which regard homosexuality as a sin to be absolved from the employment clauses in anti-discrimination legislation?”

Further along he makes the following statement: “It is surely self-evident that to teach in schools that Eve was created from Adam’s rib injures children’s interests. They either go into the world believing manifest nonsense, or spend their adolescence under the impression that their teachers are cranks.” Hattersley also states “Questions of such moral complication cannot be answered in a philosophic vacuum.”

Editorial Comment: Hattersley is particularly scathing about Peter Vardy and Gateshead school because last year Richard Dawkins and other prominent evolutionists tried but failed to get this school’s official accreditation removed. UK education inspectors gave it a glowing reference as an excellent place of learning.

However, amongst his blustering Hattersley makes one correct statement: education cannot be conducted in a “philosophic vacuum”. Exposing students to the evidence of a transcendent personal creator is a threat to Hattersley’s philosophy of secular humanism. We shouldn’t be surprised when such vitriolic attacks are mounted against us, but neither should we be discouraged.

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