Dawkins campaigns to keep God out of classroom
by Alexandra Smith, EducationGuardian.co.uk
Monday, November 27, 2006
The University of Oxford geneticist and campaigning atheist Richard Dawkins has established a foundation to keep God out of the classroom and prevent "pseudo science" taking over in schools, it emerged today.
The new Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason will subsidise books, pamphlets and DVDs for teachers to fight what the professor describes as the "educational scandal" that has seen the rise of "irrational ideas".
His foundation will also conduct research into what makes some people more susceptible to religious ideas than others and whether these people are particularly vulnerable.
Prof Dawkins' renewed push to counter what he perceives to be the religious indoctrination of young people comes amid revelations that dozens of schools are using teaching materials in science lessons that promote the creationist alternative to Darwinian evolution, condemned by the government as "not appropriate to support the science curriculum".
Prof Dawkins, Oxford's professor of the public understanding of science, is the author of several bestselling books extolling evolution, such as The Selfish Gene. His latest book, The God Delusion, is a sustained polemic against religious faith.
He has established foundations in both Britain and the US and is now applying for charitable status. They were founded in response to what he calls the "organised ignorance" that is promoting creationism, the belief that the Biblical account of the origins of man is true.
Prof Dawkins said: "The enlightenment is under threat. So is reason. So is truth. So is science, especially in the schools of America. I am one of those scientists who feels that it is no longer enough just to get on and do science. We have to devote a significant proportion of our time and resources to defending it from deliberate attack from organised ignorance."
He also plans to campaign against children being labelled with the religion of their parents. "It is immoral to brand children with religion," he said.