Leading scientists and science organisations are pushing for the Welsh government to ban the teaching of creationism in science.
In an open letter signed by nearly 50 prominent scientists, science educators and organisations, they called for the removal of creationism and the addition of evolution in the Welsh primary school curriculum.
They said “it is vital children in Wales are not exposed to pseudoscientific doctrines masquerading as science”.
Creationism is the belief that the universe and life forms are acts of divine creation, while evolution notes that all living things develop from primitive beginnings through a process of natural selection.
Scientists have long viewed evolution as an established scientific theory explaining the development of life on Earth, thus discrediting creationism. Their concerns follow the Welsh government’s draft national curriculum which does not see evolution taught until students are in secondary school.
A curriculum grounded on scientific evidence
Signatories of the letter include Sir David Attenborough, Humanists UK and its President Professor Alice Roberts, as well as the Association for Science Education.
They have also called on the Welsh government to follow the example of the British national curriculum where there is a ban on creationism being taught as science, and schools are already required to teach evolution in class.
Their letter read: “The new Science and Technology Area of Learning and Experience (AoLE) doesn’t explicitly prohibit presenting creationism and other pseudoscientific theories as evidence-based, and evolution is only mentioned once (and only at secondary level at that).
“Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. It is a fundamental concept that describes and explains the development of the diversity of life on the planet. Pupils should be introduced to it early – certainly at primary level – as it underpins so much else.”
Wales Humanists co-ordinator Kathy Riddick was quoted by the BBC, saying that she was not aware of “blatant teaching of creationism” within Welsh schools.
However, she said the approach in the draft curriculum “could make it much easier for a school, such as a religious school, to openly teach creationism as science”.
Meanwhile, a Welsh government spokesman said: “It is wholly incorrect to claim that evolution will only be introduced at 14 -16. We believe that providing children with an understanding of evolution at an early age will help lay foundations for a better understanding of wider scientific concepts later on.”