Publicly-funded schools in England and Wales are to be told by the government that material distributed to educational establishments advocating alternatives to the Darwinian theory of evolution should not be used in the teaching of science.
The guidance follows the recent distribution by the Truth in Science group of material promoting the teaching of the theory of "intelligent design", which centres around the idea that the universe has been created by a higher power.
Opponents of the theory assert that it is actually a new version of biblically based creationism.
"Since neither intelligent design, nor creationism are recognised scientific theories, the Truth in Science information pack is not a suitable resource for the science curriculum," a spokesperson for the British government’s education department told Ecumenical News International.
The spokesperson said her department was working with the government-sponsored Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) to "find a suitable way of communicating to schools that neither creationism nor intelligent design are part of the national curriculum".
The Truth in Science group states on its Web site www.truthinscience.org.uk: "We consider that it is time for students to be permitted to adopt a critical approach to Darwinism in science lessons. They should be given fair and accurate presentations of alternative views."
The group’s material maintains that science can identify aspects of the natural world that are best explained by an intelligent cause and not by an undirected process such as natural selection.
Ken Boston, chief executive of the QCA told ENI: "I am totally opposed to the teaching of creationism. I honestly take it no more seriously than someone wanting to teach flat earth theory."
So far none of the major churches in Britain has endorsed the use of intelligent design material in the classroom.
John Kerry, the Methodist Church’s secretary for learning and worship, said the theory did not fall within the beliefs of the Methodist Church. "We do not encourage its use in science teaching but it can be used in religious education to illustrate the variety of beliefs about the origin of life," he said.