Sunday, September 14, 2008
The repercussions over the statements of Michael Reiss, director of education for Britain's Royal Society, concerning creationism being discussed as another "worldview" in science classes, are continuing, despite his "clarification." Now two Nobel prize winners, Sir Harry Kroto and Sir Richard Roberts, are demanding that the Royal Society sack Professor Reiss.
Kroto said of Reiss, a Church of England minister and former biology teacher:
I warned the president of the Royal Society that his was a dangerous appointment a year ago. I did not realise just how dangerous it would turn out to be.
I think it is outrageous that this man is suggesting that creationism should be discussed in a science classroom. It is an incredible idea and I am drafting a letter to other Nobel laureates - which would be sent to the Royal Society - to ask that Reiss be made to stand down.
A clergyman in charge of education for the country's leading scientific organisation - it's a Monty Python sketch.
Kroto, who teaches at Florida State University and was involved in supporting the recent upgrade in that state's science education standards, may be speaking from that experience when he said:
The thing the Royal Society does not appreciate is the true nature of the forces arrayed against it and the Enlightenment for which the Royal Society should be the last champion.
It certainly sounds familiar, at any rate.
As far as I am aware, no one at the Royal Society, certainly not Reiss, has proposed that creationism or Intelligent Design be taught in science classes as established scientific theory. But if children ask a science teacher about them, they are entitled to an answer that is more than just a brusque dismissal. They should be told that intelligent design and creationism are not discounted by academic fiat, that there are good reasons for not accepting them as science and those reasons are as follows.
The fact that some science teachers might not be up to this challenge is not a reason for failing to practice what science preaches, it is a reason for better training for science teachers.
Except for my reservations concerning the US, because of our unique constitutional situation and the need for the teachers to be trained in the legal ramifications as well as in science, I agree with that. The issue certainly ought to be addressed in one way or another.