Christian schools are concerned that a South Australian board decision to stop the teaching of creationism as part of science lessons will trigger similar action nationwide. The chief executive of Christian Schools Australia, Stephen O'Doherty, said a statement by the South Australian Non-Government Schools Registration Board was too strident, removing the right to teach "biblical perspectives" as part of science, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. He said the policy set a precedent which might be taken up in other states, including NSW, where the issue had been the subject of intense debate two years ago

Under policies published in December, the board said it required "teaching of science as an empirical discipline, focusing on inquiry, hypothesis, investigation, experimentation, observation and evidential analysis". It said it "does not accept as satisfactory a science curriculum in a non-government school which is based on, espouses or reflects the literal interpretation of a religious text in its treatment of either creationism or intelligent design". Furthermore, science teaching which was not scientifically or evidence-based would not be part of assessment for the School Certificate or Higher School Certificate.

Mr O'Doherty said the South Australian policy indicated it was banning teaching of the subject altogether. It was the only such subject singled out, he said. Taken literally, "it means you cannot mention the Bible in science classes", he is cited saying.

Of course, the Board is being perfectly logical and sensible. Religious hypothesis has no place in a science class. However, science and even empirical data should be questioned and, especially, by scientists themselves. In England, at the moment, there is a very heavy bias towards science, technology and business in our schools and we are in danger of turning out a generation of boring techies (as opposed to interesting, free-thinking, creative techies, of which there are many, especially around this neighbourhood). In my opinion, philosophy should be made a core subject at an early age, so that children are given the thinking tools they will need to question everything as they grow up. This will lead to better science as no great scientific discovery has even been made by a person who just accepted what they were told by their teachers.



  1. This will lead to better science as no great scientific discovery has even been made by a person who just accepted what they were told by their teachers.

    Then again, not even piddling scientific discoveries have been made by those who just accepted what they were told by their priests.

  2. I don’t know how widespread this problem is in SA, though obviously there must be some church schools who have caused concern. If asked, I would have said there would be proportionally more schools in the US trying to introduce the Bible into science classes. But that’s not based on anything except that generally speaking Oz is a more secular country across the board.

    Thanks for the headline, MP, which has of course made my day. In fact though I thought your opinion was that Australia is a remarkably backwards place with a population entirely made up of beer-drinking idiots, so why you’re voicing surprise I don’t know.

  3. There is a huge difference between being vulgar and common and being backward. People from some very primitive cultures (for example, New Zealand) can have impeccable manners.

  4. I think you should insult Americans while you’re about it, to see if you can get rid of your entire fan base in one go.

  5. Excuse me! But I don’t think anybody would accuse me of being lax in my insulting and offending of my American friends (or that pesky Mexican who hangs around here). You should be grateful, Cathy, that I am even aware of your little island on the other side of the world. Most Americans will, no doubt, believe that Australia is somewhere near Puerto Rico (which, in turn, is in New York).

  6. You opened my eyes MP. I thought creationism and intelligent design were only taught on this side of the pond. Just goes to show that we have no monopoly on stupidity.

  7. Mandating the teaching of science in science classes? Would the South Australian Non-Government Schools Registration Board consider a speaking tour of the United States? We can use all the exposure to logic we can get.

    MP, I’m all in favor of free-thinking and creative scientists, but if they aren’t taught the difference between hypothesis and fact, they don’t have the tools to question anything.

  8. Australians are lovely folks! Real “down home” types as we’d say in Texas, and not nearly so stuck-up as some Brits I’ve met ;->

    It’s just a shame that their beer is so horrible (Foster’s, *gack*). Of course, maybe they export the swill to us and keep the good stuff for themselves…

  9. and not nearly so stuck-up as some Brits I’ve met

    For goodness sake, man! How dare you? They’re not even in the same ball park. No one, I repeat, NO ONE, can do stuck like we do stuck up. Honestly, I don’t know how you could even think of making a comparison, David.

  10. David – I don’t know if you are a gardener, but any gardener knows that if you want to catch slugs to stop them eating your nice plants, the easiest way to do it is with a beer trap, basically just a container sunk in the ground and filled with beer. Slugs love beer and will drink it, get drunk, fall in and drown. I have seen them do it. The one time this has not worked for me was when I baited my slug traps with Foster’s. Not even slugs will drink that.

  11. Is Australia where Julie Andrews lived in “The Sound of Music?”

    When it comes to origins, it’s all hypotheses, supported, or not, by the data. I cannot understand why science teachers do not jump at the chance to have students review the data, create theories based on that information, then compare their theories to the conclusions of leaders in the field, yes, including creationists.

    BTW — “Intelligent” design can, but does not always imply 6-days of creation. In fact, I think that I fit in that camp, as I have difficulty believing that humankind, well at least the wimmins, was an unintended consequence of creation. I think that one can hold to that, and have no difficulty with the theory of evolution as currently understood. Some immediately assume that such a position stifles query. Really? I don’t understand that. Why would that dampen one’s quest to learn more of origins? Now, for a 6-day Creationist, that’s completely a different matter.

  12. I’m with you 100%, KJ. I am a believer in intelligent design and an interventionist God. But just as a potter can only work in the way that the medium allows so, I believe, God works through the scientific framework God created in the first place. And just as a potter can be creative within the restrictions of his craft so God can be creative within the restrictions of the evolutionary process. In fact, I cannot see how evolution can work unless an intelligence is involved. The option is having to accept an almost infinite number of coincidences at all levels of that which exists that is possible but less likely than the existence of an interventionist God (in my opinion).

  13. Oh, you might be right about Julie Andrews and Australia. Certainly, at the end of the film they climb over a mountain and escape into Swaziland, which I know is down there near Australia somewhere.

  14. Julie’s Aussie accent wasn’t very convincing, was it? However, I still remain very fond of her.

    The thought of “intervention” in evolution leads to a robust debate that we’ve encountered here, and I’ll leave that discussion to others. I will just say, that at mid-age, I have never stopped being amazed at the diversity and adaptability of flora and fauna and the life-force that makes that so. I am fascinated by scientists’ efforts to discover the process that has caused Mr. Owl to live in the trees behind my home, hooting at 2 in the morning, waking me up. Seriously, I am amazed by the myriad events that occurred to make that moment possible.

  15. FWIW David – nobody I know here would even contemplate drinking Fosters. You can’t. I don’t know any pubs having it on tap, and our local liquor store (we call them “bottle shops”) doesn’t stock it. Think of it as the alcoholic equivalent of Jensenism – a very nasty substance exported to the rest of world which in no way represents the locals.

    & BTW: Stephen O’Doherty is a Sydney Anglican. Originally he was a “journalist” on a very nasty talk-back radio station, after which he became a member of the NSW parliament. He left politics shortly after his party leader resigned in the wake of proven accusations of corruption. Enough said – his type are the same the world over.

  16. I cannot see how evolution can work unless an intelligence is involved. The option is having to accept an almost infinite number of coincidences at all levels of that which exists

    Well why the hell do you think that it took so damn long. 14 billion years allows for a lot of coincidences to finally work out.

  17. 14 billion years is nothing – hardly enough time to boil an egg cosmologically speaking. And don’t forget life wasted the first 3.5 billion years on earth just hanging around being protozoic. But, of course, if you have a boring techie mind you won’t be able to begin to complicate the numbers involved and you probably think there is life on Mars.

  18. Ahhh… Alcibiades confirms it: the buggers are exporting the swill to us and keeping the good stuff for themselves.

  19. Then again, not even piddling scientific discoveries have been made by those who just accepted what they were told by their priests.

    What, you mean like the meaning of allegory and it’s importance in understanding key issues of the human condition?

  20. Okay, first of all:
    good scientists ahve to be creative.

    Based on your description of what you believe, MP, you do not believe in Intelligent Design. You believe in a sensible GOd, which is not te same thing at all. Intelligent Design does NOT believe in Evolution, or a God smart enough to make it all internally consistent without invoking his name. In fact the basis of ID is that evolution COULDn’T have happened. They try to make the name less threatening, but it’s really just bog standard creationism.

    Not at all the same thing.

    I just saw a Darwin exhibition that finished with video of scientists discussing ID and evolution. One was the estimable Francis Collins, now head of our National Institutes of Health, and thus the top biomed scientist in the US. He’s also a serious Christian, who has no problem balancing his belief in evolution with his belief in God.

    He commented in the video something along the lines of, if you assume God had to have left his fingerprints, you are putting him in too small a box. If you hang your faith on the fact that we can’t explain something right now, then what happens when we do explain that thing?

    basically, let God be God and revel in remarkable biology. Wherever it came from. 😉

  21. I know IT. That’s why I wrote intelligent design without capitals. But intelligence is the key word for me. I think it is the missing component in the theory of everything. It doesn’t have to be a divine intelligence but as a believer in God I assume God is the most likely source of this intelligence.