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Anglican leader opposes creationism in schools

The archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the world’s Anglicans, says he is opposed to teaching creationism in schools.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the world’s Anglicans, says he is opposed to teaching creationism in schools.

“And that’s different ... discussing, teaching about what creation means,” Archbishop Rowan Williams said in an interview published Tuesday in The Guardian newspaper.

“For that matter, it’s not even the same as saying that Darwinism is — is the only thing that ought to be taught. My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it,” said Williams, the spiritual leader of the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Followers of creationism believe in the literal truth of the Genesis account in the Bible that God created the world in six days.

Williams’ position is in line with that of the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Anglican Communion.

‘Category mistake’
In 1982, the governing General Convention of the Episcopal Church adopted a resolution affirming “the glorious ability of God to create in any manner, and in this affirmation reject the rigid dogmatism of the ’creationist’ movement.” The resolution expressed support for “scientists, educators and theologians in the search for truth in this creation that God has given and entrusted to us.”

Williams described creationism as “a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories.”

“And for most of the history of Christianity ... there’s been an awareness that a belief that everything depends on the creative act of God is quite compatible with a degree of uncertainty or latitude about how precisely that unfolds in creative time,” Williams said.

Asked if creationism should be taught in schools, Williams said: “I don’t think it should, actually. No, no.”

Williams’ office confirmed that he had been quoted accurately in The Guardian, and said he was not scheduling further interviews immediately.

Major education role
The Church of England plays a major role in education, operating 25 percent of the state-funded primary schools and nearly 6 percent of the high schools. Education about religion is required in all public schools.

The church’s schools “represent not an attempt to indoctrinate or control, but to say here is an educational environment in which certain specific values and beliefs are assumed in the landscape, you may or may not make them your own, but they’re there, and they may help you orient yourself, whether or not as they fully adopt them,” Williams said.

Charles Darwin, who was born in England, concluded that species evolve over time, based in part on his zoological and geological discoveries made during a five-year voyage around the world on the HMS Beagle.

The intelligent design movement in the United States challenges Darwin’s theory, contending that organisms are so complex that they must have been created by some kind of higher being. Critics of intelligent design say it is creationism camouflaged in scientific language.