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RE conference bid sparks Darwin row

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: December 19, 2013

Comments (3)

ISLES of Scilly councillor Gordon Bilsborough didn't much take to the notion of two local school teachers, at a cost of £1,832, attending a religious education conference on "awareness, mystery and value".

He wanted emphasis being placed on evolutionist Charles Darwin, although he conceded: "I am not against religion being taught in school."

Quoting OFSTED's words that religious education "fosters civilised debate and reasoned argument" Mr Bilsborough said that was only true if the work of Charles Darwin, his book The Origin Of The Species, and the ideas of other recognised researchers into evolution and the origin of the universe were included.

He sought "an assurance" that Darwin was being "taught in parallel with religious education" at the islands' school.

"Religion should be education not indoctrination," he added.

Local SACRE (Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education) chairman Christine Savill, while not in a position to give that assurance, said the current curriculum "is shared with three other authorities and has been through our own local committee and the agreed syllabus conference".

Mollie Peacock made the point that no one in the chamber ever said anything about other teachers going away for training. She felt that the conference would be "of great advantage".

Attendance was agreed, with Mr Bilsborough's opposition being recorded.

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3 comments

  • mygodlesslife  |  December 19 2013, 9:20PM

    Need what I am about to say really be said? With regard to religious education, there is no requirement for mention of either Charles Darwin or the theory of evolution. The two are not related in any way. It is like saying that bibles should be handed out as science text books in biology lessons, but I suspect no one on Scilly is actually suggesting that. R.E. is (I believe, still) compulsory for the first couple of years of secondary school, so it would be remiss of us not to teach it in a manner that rewards our children with a fair and balanced overview of the world's major religions, and their societal ramifications. No one religion has any valid claim to establishing its truth to all - or even a majority - of the world's population, so comparative religion serves the children's educational needs well. Science, too, is (I also believe, still) compulsory for the same period of their education. Evolution is taught - however briefly - to all of these students as a matter of course; and so it should be. It is almost universally accepted (importantly, by actual biological scientists) as the best explanation for the origin and propagation of species. No other theory exists in science. Certainly, there remain unanswered questions in the theory of evolution, but our understanding of species only continues to be tweaked within the evolutionary framework that already exists. Why? Because it works. It actually explains observed facts and makes predictions that can be either verified or falsified. That is why it is science. Why do I go to this length on a matter that appears only vaguely linked to the article? I fear that councillor Bilsborough is categorically stating that evolution is a religion in as much the same way as it is a science, and that it should be given equal weight with Christianity, Islam, Judaism et al in R.E. lessons. This is as ludicrous a suggestion as stating that creationism should be given parity with evolution in science classes. I do hope no one is actually suggesting either, for no other reason than the theory of evolution is not a religion, and creationism is not science.

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  • josdave  |  December 19 2013, 3:55PM

    Religion is also the direct cause of so many wars some still ongoing. The Hindus and Sikhs, different factions of Islam, protestants and catholics in Ireland etc. And going back into history the Crusades among many others and yet funnily enough all these religions claim to be peace loving. The ten commandments taking out references to God are a good code to live by but how many do?

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  • Lafrowda  |  December 19 2013, 10:48AM

    Christianity has served the World well in the teaching of moral responsibility and compassion. The Darwin theory hands out excuses for bestial behaviour to all by stating we are animals. I know which I would rather have taught to children.

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