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The rise of creationism in the uk to the point where four out of 10 people in the country believe it to be the literal truth--it is also being taught in state-approved schools--has spread alarm throughout the scientific community. But the last week of June saw the start of a concerted fightback, as an 18-month celebration of evolution and its greatest proponent, Charles Darwin, got under way, marking the 150th anniversary of the unveiling of his theory and the 200th anniversary of his birth.
People all over Europe will take part in a mass experiment to discover evolutionary changes to a species of snail; a major series of programmes is to be shown by the bbc ; several books are to be published; and the Open University plans a new course on the subject. The Natural History Museum will hold a major exhibition on Darwin beginning in November (also see online review).
Bob Bloomfield, head of special projects at the museum and a key figure in the "Darwin200" project, said he was concerned by the prevalence of creationist ideas. "I don't think society can be complacent when ideas which are unsound are perpetrated. We are trying not to compromise people's faith views, other than where they are absolutely inconsistent with science.," Bloomfield said, adding that it was a matter of great concern that schools in the country have begun teaching creationism
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