Faith-Based Schools and the Creationism Controversy: The Importance of the Meta-narrative

  • Sylvia BakerEmail author


The recalcitrance of some creationist pupils when they are presented with evidence for Darwinian evolution cries out for an explanation and for a solution and in recent years a measure of mutual understanding has been provided by positioning the controversy within the context of worldviews. This chapter argues that now is the time to take that understanding further, especially in the light of the finding that such pupils in certain educational settings may be suffering anguish. What is the worldview inhabited by creationist pupils and what is its relation to science? The chapter contends that many creationist pupils view the world in the same way as did the founders of modern science and that science teachers need to understand this in dealing with them. Within the United Kingdom a research population exists which is ideally placed to investigate the matter further. A network of small independent Christian schools have been in existence for up to 40 years which, generally speaking, are ‘creationist’ in their foundation. The teenage pupils attending the schools have been extensively surveyed for their beliefs concerning both religion and science. One important aspect to emerge from the survey concerns the significance of the Christian meta-narrative of ‘creation/fall/redemption/restoration’ which influenced early modern scientists and which creationist pupils may regard as providing a coherent framework within which scientific data can be interpreted. Once the data have been described, the relevance of this finding to the teaching of creationist pupils in other settings is then explored.


Creationism Creationist Creation Christian Schools Trust/CST Evolution Evolutionist Evolutionary The Fall Meta-narrative Modern science Reformed Reformation Secular Secularization Worldview 


  1. Alexakos, K. (2009). Science and creationism: A response to Kenneth Tobin. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 4, 495–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Astley, J. (2005). The science and religion interface within young people’s attitudes and belief. In L. J. Francis, M. Robbins, & J. Astley (Eds.), Religion, education and adolescence (pp. 39–54). Cardiff: University of Wales Press.Google Scholar
  3. Astley, J. (2009). Religion versus Darwin: Should evolution denial go to school? Theology, 112, 270–278.Google Scholar
  4. Baker, S. (2010). Creationism in the classroom: A controversy with serious consequences. Research in Education, 83, 78–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baker, S. (2012a). The Theos/ComRes survey into public perception of Darwinism in the UK: A recipe for confusion. Public Understanding of Science, 21, 286–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baker, S. (2012b). Response to Nick Spencer and Denis Alexander. Public Understanding of Science, 21, 297–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baker, S. (2013). Swimming against the tide: The new independent Christian schools and their teenage pupils. Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  8. Baker, S., & Freeman, D. (2005). The love of God in the classroom: the story of the new Christian schools. Fearn: Christian Focus Publications.Google Scholar
  9. Barrett, J. (2012a). Born believers. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  10. Barrett, J. (2012b, March 17). Born believers. New Scientist, pp. 39–41.Google Scholar
  11. BHA. (2013). Accessed 6 Jan 2013.
  12. Branch, G., & Scott, E. C. (2008). Overcoming obstacles to evolution education. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 1, 53–55.Google Scholar
  13. Christiansen, G. (1984). In the presence of the creator: Isaac Newton and his times. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  14. CST. (2009a). Statement concerning the place of the teaching of the creation/evolution debate and intelligent design in schools affiliated to the Christian schools trust. Worcester: Christian Schools Trust.Google Scholar
  15. CST. (2009b). Creationism and the new Christian schools: Some empirical data. Worcester: Christian Schools Trust.Google Scholar
  16. Francis, L. J. (2005). Independent Christian schools and pupil values: An empirical investigation among 13- to15- year-old boys. British Journal of Religious Education, 27, 127–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Francis, L. J., & Robbins, M. (2005). Urban hope and spiritual health: The adolescent voice. Peterborough: Epworth.Google Scholar
  18. Francis, L. J., Penny, G., & Baker, S. (2012). Defining and assessing spiritual health: A comparative study among 13- to 15- year-old pupils attending secular schools, Anglican schools and private Christian schools in England and Wales. Peabody Journal of Education, 87, 351–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Garner, P. (2009). The new creationism. Darlington: Evangelical Press.Google Scholar
  20. Harrison, P. (1998). The Bible, protestantism and the rise of natural science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Harrison, P. (2007). The fall of man and the foundations of science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hooykaas, R. (1972). Religion and the rise of modern science. Grand Rapids: Wm.B.Eerdmans Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  23. Jones, A. (1998). Science in faith: A Christian perspective on teaching science. Romford: Christian Schools Trust.Google Scholar
  24. Nagel, T. (2012). Mind and cosmos: Why the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. NCSE. (2013). Accessed 6 Jan 2013.
  26. O’Keeffe, B. (1992). A look at the Christian schools movement. In B. Watson (Ed.), Priorities in religious education (pp. 92–112). London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  27. Poynz, C., & Walford, G. (1994). The new Christian schools: A survey. Educational Studies, 20, 127–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Reiss, M. J. (2008). Teaching evolution in a creationist environment: An approach based on worldviews, not misconceptions. School Science Review, 90(331), 49–56.Google Scholar
  29. Reiss, M. J. (2009). Imagining the world: The significance of religious worldviews for science education. Science and Education, 18, 783–796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Reiss, M. J. (2011). How should creationism and intelligent design be dealt with in the classroom? Journal of Philosophy of Education, 45(3), 319–415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Tobin, K. (2008). Collaborating in turbulent times. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 3, 793–798.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Walford, G. (1995). Educational politics: Pressure groups and faith-based schools. Aldershot: Avebury.Google Scholar
  33. Williams, J. D. (2009). Belief versus acceptance: Why do people not believe in evolution? BioEssays, 31, 1255–1262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Health, Medical Science and SocietyGlyndŵr UniversityWrexham, WalesUK

Personalised recommendations