Fwd: 'Creationist' school has evolution debate

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    Subject: Fwd: 'Creationist' school has evolution debate
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    'Creationist' school has evolution debate

    Tania Branigan
    Tuesday April 9, 2002
    The Guardian


    The school at the centre of the row over creationism in
    education is inviting one of its chief critics to speak to its
    students about evolution, it has emerged.

    Sir Peter Vardy, the multimillionaire entrepreneur who donated
    2m to found Emmanuel city technology college in Gateshead, and
    who remains director of its board, wants Richard Dawkins to take
    part in a debate.

    Emmanuel has been criticised since the Guardian revealed last
    month that lectures given by its staff, suggested evolution was
    a "faith position" and urged teachers to "counter [its] false

    At the time, Professor Dawkins, an authority on evolution,
    wrote: "Any science teacher who denies the world is billions (or
    even millions) of years old is teaching children a preposterous,
    mind-shrinking falsehood. These men disgrace the honourable
    profession of teacher."

    But the two men have been corresponding privately since the
    dispute broke out and are now planning to meet. Sir Peter said:
    "We are quite open to talking to anybody. I would like to have a
    debate at Emmanuel college for the students to hear and I'll be
    asking him to take part."

    He added: "I am not a creationist and neither is Emmanuel
    college. We have guys who do believe in young earth [theories],
    but we also have atheists and agnostics and folks that believe
    in the old earth _ What we seek to do is present all the views
    of both creation and evolution."

    But in a lecture, the school's head of science, Steven Layfield,
    urged Christian teachers to "show the superiority" of
    creationist theories.

    He added that they should "note every occasion when an
    evolutionary/old-earth paradigm [millions or billions of years]
    is explicitly mentioned or implied and courteously point out the
    fallibility of the statement". Most scientists agree that life
    on earth is around four billion years old.

    "I'm keen to meet Sir Peter and no doubt the idea of a debate
    will be one of many things we discuss when we meet up," Prof
    Dawkins said.

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