SCHOOLS in Scotland should not be teaching the theory of creationism in science classes.

The unequivocal statement from Learning and Science Minister Alasdair Allan was read out during a discussion at yesterday’s meeting of Holyrood’s Education and Culture committee.

The minister was responding to an MSP who had written on behalf of a constituent about the guidance issued to Scotland’s schools over the teaching of the Christian theory of the creation.

Allan said it was not for the Government to issue guidance to schools, but rather any guidance should come from Education Scotland and should be based on the Curriculum for Evidence.

The minister said: “The guidance does not identify creationism as a scientific principle, and consequently it is not, and should not, be part of science learning and teaching. Likewise Education Scotland does not identify creationism as a scientific theory or a topic for inclusion within the curriculum. Therefore, creationism should not be taught in science lessons."

The letter was being discussed as part of the education committee’s discussion around a petition submitted to the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Secular Society.

The petition, signed by 652 people, called on the Government to “issue official guidance to bar the presentation in Scottish, publicly funded schools of separate creation and of Young Earth doctrines as viable alternatives to the established science of evolution, common descent, and deep time”.

Creationism is the belief that the world was created by God and is about 6,000 to 10,000 years old, rather than 4.54 billion years, an age based on evidence taken from radiometric age dating.

Committee chairman Stewart Maxwell MSP said: “The consensus of the committee was that it agreed with the Scottish Government that government should not issue directives or guidance detailing what should or should not be in the Curriculum for Excellence.”

The committee did write to the minister to ask him to publicly state the Scottish Government’s policy on teaching creationism, and to explain any differences between approaches to creationism in schools in Scotland and the rest of the UK. The committee also asked the Minister to look into how prevalent creationism was in Scotland’s schools.

Petitioner Spencer Fildes from the Scottish Secular Society welcomed the committee’s decision to write to the government. “The committee clearly recognise that science education in Scotland does indeed have issues with groups or would-be advocates of Intelligent Design/Creationism, we welcome the recommendations proposed on next steps,” he said.

Fildes said: “Scotland has a rich history contributing to the scientific endeavour, in particular life sciences – our young learners must be protected from those who seek to distort that learning.”

Yesterday was, Fildes said, “a good day for common sense”.

However, John Mason MSP, a long-standing advocate for creationism, argues that science teachers should make clear when talking about evolution and the big bang that some people believe this was the work God.

“I’m happy that we don’t have science teachers talking about did God create or did God not create the world,” said Mason, “At the same time then they should not also be saying that we definitely know the world is x years old, because that’s making an assumption that miracles don’t happen."

In Poland an MEP has called for an end to teaching evolution in schools, saying it was incorrect to suggest dinosaurs predated man.

Maciej Giertych said: “In every culture there are indications that we remember dinosaurs. The Scots have Nessie; we Poles have the Wawel dragon.”