A bid to have evolution taught in primary schools has been launched amid concerns that pupils with no religious beliefs are “not represented” in the classroom.
The Scottish father behind the public petition insists he is not seeking to “negate” religion and says the subject could be taught alongside Christianity and other faiths.
A Catholic Church spokesman insisted that pupils are informed about evolution in its schools and that theories of faith and evolution are not “mutually exclusive”.
Evolution teaches that life on Earth developed through gradual adaptions and changes among species over hundreds of millions of years, in a process known as the “survival of the fittest”.
Glaswegian James Robertson wants Holyrood’s public petitions committee to urge the Scottish Government to add evolutionary studies to the primary curriculum and was prompted to act after his children started school.
“I was wondering at what age in their education they would find out about evolution, Charles Darwin and things like that,” he said.
“My daughter is now in Primary Seven and they’re starting to learn about different types of religion.
“Although it’s good that they’re doing different religions because its multicultural and other people are being represented, what about people who are not religious? Where do they stand? Where’s their support?”
He added: “It’s important to show an alternative to religious faith, that’s the balance. It’s not about saying evolution negates the Bible in any way, it’s about an additional idea for discussion.”
But this might also “question things that happen in the Bible,” Robertson admitted.
“It’s also important to give children scientific fact to support their education, then they can have their own balanced arguments, they can have their opinions.”
A spokesman for the Catholic Church said: “The Church does not believe that faith and theories of evolution are mutually exclusive. The Big Bang theory in fact underscores church teaching on the world having a moment of origin or creation, while the concept of evolution is not opposed to the notion of Creation, because evolution presupposes the creation or existence of beings that subsequently evolve.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said evolution is “covered” in the sciences area of the curriculum. “It is for teachers, schools and local authorities to determine how best to deliver learning and teaching on any topic and subject, in line with the Curriculum for Excellence.”