The spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans does not believe that creationism — the Bible-based account of the world’s origins — should be taught in schools.
“I don’t think it should, actually. No, No,” said Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, reflecting on the bitter education debate over religion and science that has so divided the United States in particular.
Williams, head of a church that has no problem with the Darwinian theory of evolution, told The Guardian newspaper: “I think creationism is, in a sense, a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory, like other theories.”
Asked if he was comfortable with the teaching of creationism in schools, the mild-mannered and usually cautious theologian said: “Not very. Not very.”
In the battle to bring God into the classroom, Christian conservative supporters of creationism and intelligent design seek to deny or downgrade the importance of evolution.
Intelligent-design proponents say that nature is so complex that it must have been the work of a creator rather than the result of natural selection as outlined in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Williams’ stance is similar to that of the Roman Catholic Church, the world’s largest single Christian denomination, which does not reject evolutionary theory — while still teaching that God created the world and the natural laws by which life developed.
British businessman Peter Vardy has funded schools in northern England that came under attack for teaching creationism in biology classes. But the creationist movement has certainly not taken hold as strongly in Britain as it has in the United States.
“Religion has become politicized in America. That is not the case here. This is not a major issue,” religious commentator and broadcaster Clifford Longley told Reuters. “There is no intellectual credibility given to creationism in this country. There is no parallel between English evangelicals and American evangelicals.
"When I wrote an article saying there were no creationists in Britain, they both wrote to me.”