Posted by Steve Reuland on March 21, 2006 12:20 PM

The Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has stepped into the controversy between religious fundamentalists and scientists by saying that he does not believe that creationism - the Bible-based account of the origins of the world - should be taught in schools.

Giving his first, wide-ranging, interview at Lambeth Palace, the archbishop was emphatic in his criticism of creationism being taught in the classroom, as is happening in two city academies founded by the evangelical Christian businessman Sir Peter Vardy and several other schools.

“I think creationism is … a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories … if creationism is presented as a stark alternative theory alongside other theories I think there’s just been a jarring of categories … My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it,” he said.

The debate over creationism or its slightly more sophisticated offshoot, so-called “intelligent design” (ID) which argues that creation is so complex that an intelligent - religious - force must have directed it, has provoked divisions in Britain but nothing like the vehemence or politicisation of the debate in the US. There, under pressure from the religious right, some states are considering giving ID equal prominence to Darwinism, the generally scientifically accepted account of the evolution of species. Most scientists believe that ID is little more than an attempt to smuggle fundamentalist Christianity into science teaching.

States from Ohio to California are considering placing ID it on the curriculum, with President George Bush telling reporters last August that “both sides ought to be properly taught … so people can understand what the debate is about.” The archbishop’s remarks place him firmly on the side of science.

The ABC is head of the Anglican Church which is the world’s 3rd largest Christian denomination. The cre/ID response, if there is one, is guaranteed to be fun. They will claim either that he lacks faith, that he doesn’t understand science like they do (as apparently over 90% of the world’s scientists don’t understand it like they do), or perhaps they’ll go full throttle and declare him non-Christian. For the Discovery Institute folks, I’m putting my money on option two. For Answers in Genesis and other YEC outfits, I’m going with three.