Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/17/reiss_leaves_rs/

Royal Society says goodbye to creationism row vicar

So long and thanks for all the fish

By Joe Fay

Posted in Science, 17th September 2008 09:31 GMT

The Royal Society has parted company with Professor Michael Reiss following the furore over the reverend slash biologist’s recent comments on how science teachers should tackle creationism in the classroom.

The top boffin club issued a statement late yesterday saying that “Professor Reiss and the Royal Society have agreed that, in the best interests of the Society, he will step down immediately as Director of Education a part time post he held on secondment”.

Reiss will return to his regular job as Professor of Science Education at the Institute of Education, the UK’s premier factory training and research establishment for school teachers.

Reiss sparked a row last week when papers reported he advocated the teaching of creationism in school science classes during the British Associations festival of science in Liverpool.

The society hit back last Friday issuing a statement quoting Reiss saying, "Creationism has no scientific basis."

The statement went on to quote Reiss: "However, when young people ask questions about creationism in science classes, teachers need to be able to explain to them why evolution and the Big Bang are scientific theories but they should also take the time to explain how science works and why creationism has no scientific basis.”

However, the clarification was not enough to calm a furious reaction from other scientists who said creationism had no place in science classes at all. Yesterday, the society recalibrated its position, saying that Reiss’ remarks at the festival, “were open to misinterpretation.”

“While it was not his intention,” it continued, “this has led to damage to the Society's reputation.”

However, it seems that the society still has some damage limitation to do, with scientists quoted by The Times this morning divided over Reiss’ treatment. While some were glad to see the back of him, others suggested he had indeed raised a serious point over how science teachers were supposed to deal with students from creationist backgrounds. ®