A LEADING Bolton teacher says Creationism has a place in science and should be taught alongside evolution.

Philip Williamson, head of Canon Slade Church of England school, believes the theory, which suggests humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe were created by God, would be a useful topic for discussion in science lessons.

He said the theory of evolution as put forward by Charles Darwin was not fact and was instead a model which best explained the current scientific evidence.

Mr Williamson welcomed comments by The Rev Jan Ainsworth, a former church curate for the parish of East Farnworth and Kearsley, who said intelligent design, which argues that God, as opposed to evolution, is the creator of life, could be debated in science classes.

Intelligent design - also known as neo-Creationism - contends that the complex features and characteristics of living things are better explained as having had an intelligent origin rather than being a product of the processes of evolution and natural selection.

The Rev Ainsworth, who is now the Church of England's new head of education, said in an interview with the Times Education Supplement: "You would get howls of protest from the scientific community, but you could do (teach) it in history of science."

Mr Williamson argued that it was important to present young people with all of the theories alongside each other.

He said: "This school firmly believes that God is the maker and creator, but church schools are not in the process of indoctrinating children.

"In teaching evolution and scientific theories we put it in the context that they are not fact. They are the models that best fit with the evidence available now. Scientific theories of the past have been superseded by more recent evidence."

Mr Williamson believes children should be allowed to reach their own interpretations to help them on their "spiritual journey".

He argued that discussing both Biblical and scientific interpretations of the creation of life would enable young people to be more informed. "It would be arrogant to teach just one interpretation," he said.

A spokesman for the Church of England said: "The Rev Jan Ainsworth was representing the fact that some schools currently discuss intelligent design within the context of lessons exploring how our understanding of science has developed historically.

"She was not suggesting that intelligent design should be taught as a scientifically-based theory, but merely stating that some schools do include the topic on their history of science curriculum, and she does not propose to prevent them from doing so."