By Alex Stevenson
Professor Richard Dawkins has hit out at science teachers being "so ignorant of science" after a poll showed a majority backed the teaching of creationism in schools.
The outspoken Oxford professor was responding to research out last month by pollster Ipsos Mori which found 65 per cent of teaching staff backed its discussion.
Creationism remains a politically sensitive subject. Many believe there is no place in science lessons for the belief that the Earth was created by God as told in the Bible.
And just one in four teachers agreed with the view that creationism should not be taught in schools.
Although a majority agrees science lessons are not the place for it to be discussed Prof Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, blamed Tony Blair's attitude for current guidance from the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
"Tony Blair was always soft on that," he told politics.co.uk.
"He would say things like 'in the interests of diversity' and things like that. I don't know about the Brown government."
Commenting on the Ipsos Mori poll, Prof Dawkins added: "I think there's a misperception it's kind of fair there are these two theories [creationism and evolution]. If there were two theories, of course it would be fair. There aren't."
He added: "I'm a bit shocked that science teachers should be so ignorant of science."
Prof Dawkins was speaking as he supported the launch of the Atheist Bus Campaign, which will see bus advertisements bearing the slogan: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
Though pleased with the adverts, which will feature on 800 buses in Britain, he said he would have liked to see different slogans used in ways which would address ways in which children receive influence on religious issues outside school.
"Slogans which I'm particularly keen on are with respect to children - 'there's no such thing as a Christian child', for example," he commented.
"I think the automatic labelling of children with the religion of their parents is absolutely despicable."
Revd Jan Ainsworth, the Church of England's chief education officer, said both she and the Archbishop of Canterbury were against teaching creationism as if it was a scientific theory in schools.
She added: "Many schools rightly include the subject in RE lessons or in the discussion of the development of scientific ideas.
"Part of the role of education is to explore and challenge contrasting ideas and viewpoints, and to encourage students to debate these and reach their own informed opinions - and these discussions should include creationism."