Professor Steve Jones Named “Secularist Of The Year”

The geneticist and anti-creationist Professor Steve Jones has been named Secularist of the Year by the National Secular Society. Professor Jones is the 2006 winner of the £5,000 annual Irwin Prize for his contribution to the promotion of secularism.

He will be familiar to many for his many media appearances, and is admired for the large body of work he has contributed to the world of science. But most of all he is a great advocate of Darwinian evolutionary theory at a time when it is under renewed and sustained attack. He has, indeed, been hailed as a modern day Huxley, a 21st century Darwin’s Bulldog, pitched against the might of the American creationist movement.

Denis Cobell, President of the National Secular Society, who hosted the event, said: “More and more students are being duped by the increasingly strident attacks on science by the forces of unreason. Professor Steve Jones has been highly effective in staving off these attacks. We salute him for this crucial work and are delighted to award him the Secularist of the Year Prize.”

In his acceptance speech, Professor Jones spoke of the attack from groups and individuals determined to sneak creationism, and its deceitful equivalent “intelligent design”, into British schools, even into science lessons. “Normally I wouldn’t engage with such people because it simply gives them legitimacy,” Professor Jones said, but such has been the pressure from them recently that he had felt it necessary to actively campaign against them. He has recently been giving a lecture around the country entitled “Why evolution is right and creationism is wrong.” He shocked the audience by telling them that a third of sixth-formers believe in “intelligent design” compared to less than 1 in 100 ten years ago.

Steve Jones is professor of genetics at University College London. He has broadcast widely on science and has won many scientific and literary prizes for his promotion of science.

The prize was presented by Lord Dick Taverne who has himself recently published a well-received book “The March of Unreason” which comes to the defence of evidence-based science, which he is convinced is also under pressure from irrational thinking.

A lifetime achievement award was given to George Broadhead, who for twenty-six years has served as secretary of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association. George was unwell and not able to receive the award in person, and it was accepted on his behalf by Jim Herrick, a vice president of the NSS.

See some pictures of the event here.