Scientific 'dogma'decried

June 23, 2006

Lectures on alternative explanations of the origin of life and its development should be compulsory for all biology undergraduates, a controversial sociologist has argued, writes Jessica Shepherd.

Steve Fuller, professor of sociology at Warwick University, said many science academics teach the theory of evolution "like dogma".

He said: "I think the reason why evolution is sometimes taught in such a dogmatic way is that biologists are afraid of the 'religious people'.

"Among the scientists, there is a lot of dispute. They have their doubts on origins in many cases. My guess is that there is quite a lot of variety in their interpretation of evolutionary theory."

Last October, Professor Fuller pleaded the case for incorporating alternatives to evolution into the curriculum to a judge in a Pennsylvanian court. He took the stand to support an education authority that had been sued for advocating intelligent design in its schools. The evolutionists won in the landmark trial, with the presiding judge ruling that it was unconstitutional to teach intelligent design in biology classes.

Professor Fuller, who describes himself as a secular humanist, has an MPhil from Cambridge University in the history and philosophy of science.

He said: "How creationism and intelligent design are presented in the lecture theatre depends on how evolution is presented. Academics should not be making claims that life can be explained through natural selection and that that is the ultimate goal of biology."

He wants academics not only to present alternatives to evolution in the lecture theatre, but also to distinguish between creationism and intelligent design.

He praised academics who are open about their beliefs. "I think the scientific establishment prevents dissenting views. I have a lot of respect for those who have true scientific credentials and are upfront about their views."

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