Emmanuel College – Lying for Jesus

by David on June 21, 2004

State-funded secondary school Emmanuel College hit the headlines when it was discovered that senior staff, including the Head Teacher, promoted fundamentalist creationism.

To teach creationism to children as if it were a serious competitor to science is worse than irrational, it is educationally and morally irresponsible

Dr A C Grayling

Birkbeck College, University of London

AnswersInGenesis is an organisation that promotes Young-Earth Creationism (YEC), an eccentric doctrine that rejects contemporary biology, geology, physics and cosmology. Its supporters claim that the world was created only 6,000 years ago, in 6 days.

In March, 2002 a UK secondary school – Emmanuel College, Gateshead – hosted a creationism conference organised by the international fundamentalists AnswersInGenesis. The conference had the support of the Head Teacher, who said it was not an improper focus for the school.

Young-Earth Creationism

The evolution of species through natural selection operating over very long times simply doesn’t happen, say YEC supporters. Starlight was created by God to look as if it had travelled through space for millions of years, although it hadn’t really done so (because the Bible said it hadn’t). Kangeroos and Koala Bears trekked from Mt Ararat in the Middle East to their home in Australia immediately after a worldwide flood 4,000 years ago. Coal beds were laid down at the same time.

In January 2002, AiG publicised a creationism conference to be held in March at Emmanuel, a state school in Gateshead (in the north-east of England).

attempts to reconcile evolutionary theory with the Biblical account of creation strain and distort scripture.

Nigel McQuoid

Head teacher

Emmanuel College

Head Master McQuoid’s support for Young-Earth Creationism shocked people who thought the school should steer clear of what one critic dubbed intellectual dishonesty. Headmaster McQuoid responded that it was fascist to suggest that schools shouldn’t consider YEC.

The Guardian newspaper published an exposé of Emmanuel College and of the extreme beliefs held by some teachers there. The Telegraph joined in, as did The Independent and others. The BBC and Channel 4 ran tv news stories about the affair. The British Humanist Society helped organise opinion and sent its letter of concern to the Prime Minister, signed by such luminaries as Professors Francis Crick, Antony Flew, Richard Dawkins, Lewis Wolpert, Colin Blakemore and others.

To begin with it hadn’t been realised that some of the school’s senior staff were enthusiastic opponents of evolution – and opponents, too, of most of modern anthropology, geology, physics and cosmology.

But we discovered that McQuoid and others from the school had published their strange views for all to read on the website of the Christian Institute.

The Christian Institute

Governors can question science and geography teachers about their treatment of evolution

John Burn

‘Faith In Education’

July 2001

The Christian Institute, based in Newcastle (very near to Emmanuel College) happens to be chaired by Nigel McQuoid’s predecessor at Emmanuel, John Burn. McQuoid and Burn have contributed a number of essays published on the Institute’s website, where you can read McQuoid’s claim:

attempts to reconcile evolutionary theory with the Biblical account of creation strain and distort scripture

The Institute used to publish essays by others from Emmanuel College but it removed them from the website when the school made the headlines. A spokesman for the Institute said at the time that the essays had been removed temporarily. They haven’t reappeared.

  • Steven Layfield, the Head of Science at Emmanuel, wrote:

    Note every occasion when an evolutionary/old-earth paradigm (millions or billions of years) is explicitly mentioned or implied by a text-book, examination question or visitor and courteously point out the fallibility of the statement and, wherever possible, give the alternative (always better) Biblical explanation of the same data.

    If you’d like to read more of Layfield’s remarkable essay, you still can, thanks to Google and Andrew Brown.

  • Gary Wiecek, a Vice-Principal at Emmanuel has written:

    There are Christian scientists who have … provided convincing scientific counter evidences of the Evolutionist’s position.

  • Paul Yeulett, a Maths teacher at Emmanuel, wrote:

    A Christian teacher of biology, for example, will not (or should not) regard the theory of evolution as axiomatic, but will oppose it while teaching it alongside creation.

So we have a Headmaster who opposes evolution; a Head of Science who urges opposition to evolution; a Vice Principal who thinks that evolution has been convincingly opposed; and a Maths teacher who, again, urges opposing the theory and teaching creationism at the same time.

These four pretend their opinions are scientifically credible. They aren’t. They’re simply a consequence of bizarre religious beliefs.

Responses to Cloudsoup about Emmanual College

It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that)

Professor Richard Dawkins

Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, University of Oxford

To teach creationism to children as if it were a serious competitor to science is worse than irrational, it is educationally and morally irresponsible

Dr A C Grayling

Birkbeck College, University of London

Myth and fairy tale are the stuff of creationism. To dress it up as science is an insult to centuries of human rationalism and to the mountain of evidence that unequivocally places mankind and all other organisms on this planet within a single evolutionary continuum of life. To deny children this marvellous world view is a perversion, particularly from teachers whose role must be to broaden young minds, not fill them with nonsense

Professor Sir Alec Jeffries, FRS

Leicester University. Professor Jeffries is the inventor of DNA fingerprinting

Creationism is a puerile lie and comes with the fundamentalist baggage of xenophobia, homophobia, the dismantling of the welfare state … and is an attack on pluralism

Ralph Levinson

Institute of Education

The theory that the biosphere was created without evolution, a few thousand years ago, is ruled out by overwhelming scientific evidence. To claim that there are ‘alternative (always better) Biblical explanations of the same data’, which make creationism a reasonable alternative to our best theories of biology and physics, is appalling intellectual dishonesty

Professor David Deutsch

Professor Deutsch is considered to be the ‘father’ of quantum computing

Creationism is not science. Evolution theory is. As Karl Popper pointed out, you can tell scientific ideas from non-scientific ones because the former make predictions, and so would be falsified if the predictions don’t hold up. No conceivable fact could falsify creationism – one can always say God made it that way. But, as my teacher Haldane pointed out, a single fossil rabbit in Cambrian rocks would falsify evolution.

Professor John Maynard Smith FRS

University of Sussex

The so-called “creation science” is not only bad science it is also bad theology. My friends of faith should base their beliefs on something much stronger than the outcome of a scientific debate on the age of some fossil bone fragment or the details of some obscure enzymic reaction. In the short term the arguments of creationists may seem to be a useful straw to grasp in search for answers of how to teach students civilized behavior or respect for our fellow men, but think ahead of the letdown of your pupils who might come to associate important and valid concepts of morality with flimsy arguments which will continue to wither in the face of new discoveries.

Dr Charles Simonyi

10 comments

We’re not forgetting you. We We’re not forgetting you. We will have this resolved.

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by Marc Draco on February 4, 2006 at 9:06 pm. #

Exstudent of emmanuel, i can Exstudent of emmanuel, i can honestly say, that this doent effect the sciences, but every single moment you spend in that building, the daily bible readings called “the thought for the day” to teachers stopping me in the corridor asking what i learned from that assembly, and me having to give the answer jesus died for our sins for fear of punishment, a school, where opinions are crushed, they told my parents to stop me reading any phillip pullman, dan brown or harry potter books, told her to throw away any CDs i had of rock music…. endless tales of this

by James Johnston on June 16, 2006 at 7:38 pm. #

Evolution HAS been proven to Evolution HAS been proven to be nothing but ABSOLUTE bull from the atheist fools. Dawkins is evidence of a fool leading fools to the doldrums of stupidity!

by Anonymous on July 20, 2007 at 4:17 am. #

I find it incomprehensible that the British Government not only allows schools like this to exist but actually funds them from the public purse. Religion is too deeply embedded in our national school system to allow it to be taught as simply a historical subject but to have a school teaching that the Earth is 6000 years old beggars belief.

by Alan Browne on June 2, 2008 at 11:48 am. #

As another ex-student of Emmanuel College, I can confirm that the teachers are petty, short sighted and totalitarian in their self-righteousness. To me it seems that in their determination to promote evangelism they have forgotten the core values of Christianity itself.
The turnaround in their attitudes to me was unbelievable after word got out that I am Wiccan. I do not see this as a coincidence. I was lectured frequently by various teachers to “change my ways” and to “stop distracting the students from their studies with all of my nonsense” on pain of expulsion. I suffered major anxiety throughout my attendance there and suffered the effects of that school for years afterwards.
It is my firm belief that the school should be taken under government control to prevent any more students being damaged by this torturous and medieval institution.

by Simon on August 24, 2008 at 7:50 pm. #

I went to Emmanuel College and I never found it in any way oppressive, hateful or discomifiting. I am now pursuing graduate study at Oxford University, and I know I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t received the sterling education they provided. I am not a Christian; they never made me feel uncomfortable about that. I was taught evolutionary biology according to the syllabus, I was taught it well, and I got 11 GCSEs at A*, so obviously the exam boards felt that it had been adequately taught to me as well. Creationism theory was there, yes. But it was never pushed upon us as The Only Truth and I never suffered from it or felt pressured by it.

by Emma on February 9, 2009 at 12:08 pm. #

I’m pleased you’ve been smart enough to get into Oxford, Emma. James, above, seems to have had a very different experience of the school to you.

Would you mind explaining what ‘Creationism Theory’ (whatever that’s supposed to mean) was doing in school at all?

by David on February 9, 2009 at 12:47 pm. #

I currently attend Emmanuel College and I’m Christian myself.
My friends tell me that they feel fine with the curriculum where the Christian ethos comes into it. Pupils are encouraged to listen and acknowledge Christian teachings but are put under no pressure at all to, for instance, join in with prayers in Tutor. In Science lessons we have learnt fully about the theory of Evolution and are given a clear option to believe in either Creation or Evolution. In RE we were taught the story of Creation and not at all forced to believe it.
Only about 50% of the teachers there are Christians, mainly the RE teachers and the Senior members of staff, so the students are taught fairly and openly.

by Mary on March 22, 2009 at 9:13 am. #

Thanks for the information, Mary. When you say ‘Pupils are encouraged to … acknowledge Christian teachings’ then alarm bells start ringing.

This State school has no business encouraging Children to adopt the evangelical, fundamentalist religious beliefs held by the shool sponsors and senior staff.

But what really, realy disturbs me is this remark of yours:

In Science lessons we have learnt fully about the theory of Evolution and are given a clear option to believe in either Creation or Evolution

You are being told in Science lessons that creationism – and young-earth creationism to boot – is a serious alternative to evolution. That’s very, very disturbing because evolution is a fact, natural selection is an extremely well-supported theory of its mechanism and creationism is not science.

That school is doing you a great disservice.

by David on March 22, 2009 at 10:06 am. #

I go to Emmanuel and I’m an Atheist. I had no knowledge of the controversial background of the school before coming across articles such as this. I’m in year eight now, so have been attending Emmanuel for nearly two years. In Science we are taught both creationism and evolution, and to be honest, although I do not consider creationism to be a valid view and I don’t believe it myself, I do believe that children should be given all the information and be able to make up their own minds. Critics accuse the school of forcing Christianity upon its pupils, but the students chose to attend a school with a Chrisian ethos, and it’s only fair that they listen to what has to be said. We’re not all innocent and naive, we can make our own choices. We’re sensible enough to take everything into consideration and chose our own path. In R.E we are taught about the Bible and Christianity, and I have to admit, when I express my opinion on the subject, it is quite often dismissed with no further discussion. But, then I realise that it’s not my problem that they are, well, deluded to be perfectly honest, but I do hope that other students won’t be lead down the path that has caused so much destruction in the world.

by Lauren on April 20, 2011 at 4:06 pm. #

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