Beware fundamentalist Christians bearing gifts.
Last month, a Scottish headteacher was removed from her duties after it emerged she allowed a preacher from a creationist sect to become a chaplain at her primary school. Alex Gear, from the West Mains Church of Christ, a US-based group that does not believe in evolution and condemns gay relationships, took up the post at Kirktonholme Primary, in East Kilbride, eight years ago.
The issue only came to light after pupils took home free creationist books they had been handed at assembly, which provoked a vociferous response from parents. Initially, the headteacher defended the book donation, telling parents: "While I appreciate not every family in our school are practising Christians, I was only too happy to accept this generous gift. I hope you will all accept it in the spirit with which it was offered." The council saw the matter differently, starting an investigation which is ongoing.
In fact, even a basic reading of the texts should have been enough to alert suspicions that all was not as it should be. One book, entitled Exposing the Myth of Evolution, says the Big Bang could not have caused the universe because scientists have never seen any type of matter that could be so dense and then explode on such an enormous scale.
By contrast, the alternative theory provided is far more definite, stating simply: "God is undoubtedly an adequate cause because He is all powerful." No similar scientific test can be applied to the existence of God because "He is an eternal spirit".
On the subject of dinosaurs the book states: "If man can live with and tame such amazing creatures as the elephant, the blue whale, the killer whale, lions, tigers and bears, it should not be hard to understand that man could have lived with, and possibly even tamed, the dinosaurs." And the extinction of dinosaurs is "probably best explained by the worldwide flood of Noah's day" .
Creationism in education was back in the news a few weeks later when a Midlothian parent complained after a physics teacher at a secondary school told a pupil he did not accept some of the science he was expected to teach because of his Christian faith.
Following these two unrelated incidents, the Scottish Secular Society suggested councils should ban the teaching of creationism as a science, bringing Scotland into line with England and Wales, where the presentation of creationism, intelligent design and similar ideas as scientific theory is prohibited.
While both recent examples show the importance of school staff and parents remaining vigilant, in truth the idea that there is any risk of creationism creeping into the mainstream curriculum in Scotland, either in science lessons or anywhere else, remains highly unlikely. In both recent Scottish cases, the materials were never actually taught in school. While Scotland does not have a set national curriculum and diversity is increasingly celebrated, the professionalism of most teachers ensures controversial subjects such as abortion and politics are handled with the required balance, sensitivity and impartiality.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.