Article 24.11.06

GOVERNMENT religious education policy should be challenged, insists a Dorset researcher promoting an alternative reading of Genesis.

As I revealed last week, Edmund Marriage, of Milborne Port, wrote to Education Secretary Alan Johnson about the work of his late uncle, Christian O'Brien, a geologist and archaeologist, whose books, including The Genius of the Few, propose that civilisation and all religions stem from the teachings of the Shining Ones, survivors of an advanced race hit by a global catastrophe 10,500 years ago.

Myths and legends worldwide, from the Sumerians on, relate back to this group under various names, including angels, ancient masters, the Seven Sages and, simply, gods. Edmund has received a reply from Mr Johnson's office which points out that the department does not promote, pay for or endorse curriculum resources, unless they are a part of a national strategy for raising standards.

Edmund told me: "Raising standards should involve giving children wider access to the knowledge on which religious beliefs are based. On the basis of Mr Johnson's reply, there is clearly room here for a legitimate and constructive challenge to Department of Education religious education policy."

I agree. If it was accepted that all religions derived from an advanced race in ancient times there would be fewer grounds for enmity between creationists and evolutionists, and between people of different faiths.

"Currently, there is no national strategy for religious education and therefore the Department is unable to provide support for this resource," said Mr Johnson's letter. "It is important that we trust schools and local authorities to know what is best for the learning outcomes of their pupils.

"Good RE must be rooted in a clear understanding of the beliefs and practices that are important to the followers of a particular faith."