AN MSP has called for a crackdown on creationism in classrooms saying there is a need to stand up to "nonsense" being promoted to children.

Stewart Maxwell, SNP MSP for West Scotland, has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament, which has been backed by 19 MSPS, stating that creationism should not be presented as a scientific theory and viable alternative to the established theory of evolution in classrooms.

Maxwell is also convenor of Holyrood's education and culture committee, which is due to consider a petition by the Scottish Secular Society calling for official guidance to be issued barring the teaching of creationism in schools.

Meanwhile a motion lodged by John Mason, SNP MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, which stated that beliefs about God creating the world in six days - or longer - and evolution cannot be "proved or disproved by science", has attracted the support of two MSPs. Richard Lyle and Dave Thompson, who are also both SNP MSPS, backed the call by Mason for children to be made aware of these "different belief systems".

Maxwell told the Sunday Herald he had concerns about the activities across the world of those who advocate creationism as a genuine alternative to evolution.

He acknowledged there had been a small number of incidents in Scotland, but said problems tended to grow if ignored.

"I don't think we should give any succour to those who want to push this kind of agenda," he said. "I think there is an anti-science, anti-rational view that has taken hold in some parts of society.

"It is particularly abroad, but there are small groups here that want to push this agenda and they use the cover of religion, in that they should be allowed to do this as no-one should criticise their religion - which I don't accept.

"I think if we don't stand up and face down those who, in my view, are promoting nonsense to our children - in the face of scientific evidence based on in terms of evolution over a century of research and detailed scientific work by thousands of scientists - then frankly we are in a bad place."

Maxwell said the issue was part of wider debate facing society on free speech versus 'protectionism', which some groups "believe they should have".

He added: "Fundamentally for me it is the idea of free speech which is important, and people can have those views - but at the same time when it comes to education it should be about teaching our children facts and evidence-based science.

"While creationist myths should be discussed in schools - in religious and moral education and philosophy and all those places - they have no place in science classes."

Both motions were put before Parliament following a decision by South Lanarkshire Council to introduce new measures on chaplains in non-denominational schools, which includes barring creationist teaching.

Mason's motion states that the parliament "understands that some people believe that God created the world in six days, some people believe that God created the world over a longer period of time and some people believe that the world came about without anyone creating it.'

The motion calls on the Parliament to support his belief "that none of these positions can be proved or disproved by science and all are valid beliefs for people to hold, and further considers that children in Scotland's schools should be aware of all of these different belief systems."

It triggered a storm of controversy with Mason branded a "dinosaur" by Professor Paul Braterman, scientific adviser to the Scottish Secular Society.

Mason told the Sunday Herald: "As soon as you mention God and anything like that, you get a reaction.

"We are in quite a secular society...and I think some people do have it in for all forms of religion and yet religious people are a minority like anyone else and deserve to be treated with a bit of respect."

When asked if creationism should be taught in science classrooms Mason said: "I am not sure science should be going into why did we get to be here and the different theories about the past - you can argue science is all about theories, but there is enough to teach in science without having to go into how old the earth might or might not be.

"A lot does hinge on if you believe in God, and you believe there are miracles or you don't, so that is probably better in some of the religious education classes."

But he added: "In any subject if there is a range of views out there in society, I think it is the school's job to say there is a range of views but without taking sides really."

Mason admitted he had not necessarily been expecting any support at all from other MSPs for his motion.

"The problem is with these things, people may agree with you, but they know if they put their name to something they also will be vilified." he said. "I think some people see this as a very controversial area and will just stay out of it."