What can I say, you get up Friday morning, buy the papers and start to think "oh my that's awfully trippy" when you see headlines like "Leading scientist urges teaching of creationism in schools" and "One in 10 pupils believes in creationism", and then run to leaders and commentary akin to what you wrote the previous morning. Talk about being mildly prescient!
On the point made by the Anglican clergyman and scientist at the Royal Society though, I do actually get what he's trying to say. If there is indeed a growth in children either not being taught about evolutionary science, or just being taught that the world is 10,000 years old, then those sort of ideas should be discussed in the context of understanding what science is, and in that sense can exist in a classroom dedicated to scientific inquiry.
They don't have to be presented as an "alternative theory" in order to do this either. If the science curriculum took the starting point of outlinging what makes a theory scientific compared to what doesn't, and then took on - with the intent of identifying types of theories - the question of the evolutionary origin of the species in comparison to the contrary philosophical and/or theistic arguments, then it would do wonder for improving critical thinking in schools.
For me the instinctive opposition to having the discussion of non-science (and for that matter pseudoscience) in science lessons seems rather odd. After all, science has nothing to fear from such arguments because it can distinguish itself as a body of thought and method which has the ability to strengthen its position over time through experimentation unlike the linguistic formulations and argumentation which cannot.
Incidentally, and purely as an aside, I also find it odd that those that oppose these sort of changes of approach on dogmatic principles about what science is, rarely complain about the concept of "social science", which is of course not science at all in the sense of the theories it produces (no doubt that statement will put the cat amongst the pigeons for some people too). If philosophical or theistic arguments about origin cannot be discussed in science lessons beacuse they are not scientific, likewise "social science" should not be named as such.
At the end of day I think we should have schools that teaches kids how to understand what science is, and actually get to grips with what the purpose of an experiment is. Let's start teaching them that they're not trying prove something to be true, but are experimenting to test whether a theory is wrong. If they cannot produce a test for a theory to show that it is wrong then the theory is not a scientific one.
Outline the philsophical basis of science early, and then bring in those theories, like Aristotlian rationalism, Intelligent Design, Creationism and others, and have them criticially assess their value as scientific theories. In depth discussion of these things can be left for other lessons like philosophy and religious studies of course, but that doesn't mean they should be excluded from a biology lesson because their presence can actually further a greater understanding of science and excite young minds into further inquiry.
The one thing we don't want is for this issue to become a wedge one like in the USA. If we take the approach of outlining the philosophical basis of science, and then otuline the limitations to our understanding of "truth" then that can only be a good thing for the advancement of pupils. Rather than regimenting kids with "facts" we should be explaining the ideas and methods that led to how we consider those "facts" to be our strongest understanding of how things are. Philosophy (the angle to which I am coming from on this) and science have always gone hand in hand. Without the probing questions about reality by the first, we would not have reached the method and finding of the second.
Also, and one final thing on the whole evolution, ontology question. Let us not forget that the random chance of things coming together in such a way as to create the conditions for the evolutionary process to begin is currently as untestable as the idea that some form of intelligence kickstarted the whole thing dame thing with a specifc purpose. We can know that a process existed, but the cause of that process still comes down to two untestable positions. Random Chance, or desired purpose. There is of course a third option that it was both. Who knows, an intelligence might have decided to have a random throw of the dice whilst playing with the Universe ;-)
Anyhow, it's Friday, let's do some less serious posts.