Views from the News
Charles Clarke opposes creationism
Charles Clarke (recent Home Secretary) stepped into the controversy over creationism by declaring that he was ‘totally opposed’ to the concept.
Mr Clarke, who said that he did not believe in God, insisted that science was the basis for progress and praised Charles Darwin as one of the greatest scientists in history.
‘It is certain, in my view, that Creationism is antiscientific and as I believe that science should be the route of where we go, I therefore do not approve of it’, he said at a London conference. He added that it was acceptable for schools to teach that there were people who held a creationist point of view.
His remarks follow an interview given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, in which he said that he opposed the teaching of Creationism in science lessons. Dr. Williams told The Guardian that it diminished rather than enhanced the biblical story of the origins of the world. ‘I think creationism is, in a sense, a kind of category mistake, it’s not as if the writer of Genesis, or whatever, sat down and said, ‘’Well, how am I going to explain all this? I know: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’’. So if Creationism is presented as a stark alternative theory alongside other theories, I think there’s just been a jarring of categories. It’s not what it’s about’.
His comments will refuel the debate over whether Creationism or ‘intelligent design’ should be taught in schools alongside Evolution. While the issue is most contentious in the American Bible Belt, in the UK creationism has been promoted in at least one academy sponsored by the evangelical businessman Sir Peter Vardy.
Creationism is anti-scientific and as I believe that science should be the route of where we go.
Source – The Guardian
FOCUS ON NORTH KOREA
Christian charity Open Doors has voiced concerns about possible international sanctions against North Korea and the effect they may have on Christians within the country. According to Open Doors, up to 70,000 North Korean Christians are imprisoned because of their faith, and there is ‘no freedom or opportunity’ to share one’s beliefs with others. The organisation expressed concerns that, should sanctions be applied in response to North Korea’s recent test firing of nuclear missiles, imprisoned Christians may stand the risk of increased persecution.
Sources: Christian Today (5/7); MMN Online (6/7)
PRISON COURSE CLOSED AFTER A YEAR
The closure of a Christian discipleship course for inmates of Dartmoor Prison has given rise to fears for the future of similar prison programmes, such as the Alpha Course. The Alpha-style course, Inner Change, includes post-release follow-up and mentoring. It appears, however, that the Christian nature of the material is at variance with both the Prison Service’s diversity policy and the Chaplain General, William Noblett, who is currently asking prison chaplains to sign a multi-faith covenant requiring them not to ‘say or do anything which insults the faith of any other person’. Lady Georgie Watts of the Prison Fellowship expressed her disappointment and said the future of chaplaincy work in prisons was now ‘hanging in the balance’.
Source: Church of England Newspaper (7/7)
BMA U-TURN ON ASSISTED DYING
A year after the British Medical Association (BMA) narrowly adopted a neutral stance on euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide, it has reinstated its original opposition to ending patients’ lives. After a heated debate, 65 per cent of the 500 doctors present rejected euthanasia. The vote came after the failure of Lord Joffe’s Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill in the Lords in May. Earlier in the week, Dr. Peter Saunders of the Care not Killing coalition stressed the BMA’s isolation among physicians worldwide. The World Medical Association, comprising 80 national groups, had just announced its opposition to euthanasia.
Sources: BBC online (29/6); The Times (29/6)
Ring the changes for Charles’ Coronation
The next coronation should reflect recent changes in Britain’s religious landscape, according to Lord Carey, a former Archbishop of Canterbury. Speaking during an interview for Channel 5 television, he said that while he hopes the ‘distinctively Christian character’ of the ceremony and coronation oath will remain, it needs to be more inclusive of other religions. The Times and Daily Telegraph report that Lord Carey’s opinion differs from the present Archbishop of Canterbury, who in 2003 affirmed Prince Charles’ unique relationship with the Christian church in the UK.
Source: Daily Telegraph (4/6); The Times (5/6)
No Da Vinci Code for China
Today is the last day Chinese cinema-goers can watch The Da Vinci Code on the big screen, before it is withdrawn allegedly ‘to make way for Chinese films’. Religious groups within China have protested against the film’s content, however a spokesperson for the distributor says the withdrawal is purely a ‘business decision’.
Sources: The Times (9/6)
Churches attack flouting of collective worship
Senior church figures have told the Education Secondary that secondary schools are restricting students’ spiritual and moral development by failing to organise regular collective worship. Representatives of the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches also asked Alan Johnson to introduce training in running religious assemblies and remind schools of their legal obligations. The joint statement said collective worship helped ‘equip young people to understand more about themselves, foster a sense of the aesthetic and to cope with lifechanging moments’. Ofsted admits that only 17 per cent of secondary schools comply with the law in holding a daily ‘broadly Christian’ assembly. Meanwhile, Oxford University has announced it is to revive its RE training to meet a national shortage of teachers of RE which has become the fastest-growing subject at GCSE and A-level.
Sources: The Guardian (13/6); Times Educational Supplement (16/6)