A group backed by hundreds of supporters has called on legislators to press the government to scrap curriculum guidelines it says make Hong Kong 'a world-class laughing stock' by condoning the teaching of creationism in biology lessons. The group was launched on Facebook in February after four leading scientists accused the Education Bureau of tacitly encouraging schools to promote creationism in biology through its guidelines on teaching evolution. More than 350 people have already joined the group, whose leaders are urging the Legislative Council's education panel to lobby for the guidelines to be changed. Under the biology and curriculum assessment guide for the new senior secondary curriculum, students are encouraged to explore 'other explanations for evolution and the origins of life', in addition to Darwin's theory, to help illustrate the dynamic nature of scientific knowledge. At least 30 aided secondary schools already teach creationism or intelligent design as an alternative explanation for evolution in biology lessons under a similar clause in the existing curriculum guidance. The Concern Group for Hong Kong Science Education submitted a paper to the panel on Thursday, calling on it to demand a full review of the secondary school science curriculum. It posed five questions that it asked legislators to put to the bureau. These included: Have and will the bureau and its advisers consider the definition of science/ scientific theory/scientific methods in drafting the curriculum for science? Are there any criteria as to what type of explanations other than evolution teachers can cover under the new biology curriculum? Are teachers allowed to offer alternative explanations that do not fit the definition of science? 'The way they have drawn up the biology guidelines for the new Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education is allowing the teaching of non-scientific ideas and therefore falls short of the objective of modern, quality science education,' said the group's founder, Virginia Yue Wai-sin, an auditor from Tsuen Wan. 'They are letting go of a very important principle in education - what constitutes scientific knowledge and what doesn't. It is a dangerous direction. We are letting our education system go back at least 200 years to a time when the methods of science had so many influences from people in power.' Ms Yue said it was a recipe for undermining Hong Kong's development as a knowledge-based society and could result in students accepting 'all kinds of untested ideas'. She said most international scientists had reached a clear consensus that the theory of evolution was the only established scientific theory regarding biodiversity on Earth and that pseudo-sciences should not be taught in science classes. Ms Yue said the questions put by the group used a definition of science drawn from the National Academy of Sciences in the US and an InterAcademy Panel on International Issues statement, backed by 68 learned societies including the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 'The government has to do something to clear up this gaping loophole in its curriculum guidance. It is essential that the changes are introduced before the new curriculum is launched in September.' The bureau should also consider adopting the IAP statement and consulting the Chinese Academy of Sciences and local scientists on revising the guidelines, she added. The groups' members include academics, teachers, professionals, university students and secondary school students. Member Adrian Mok Kwai-lung, a research assistant at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, said the guidelines would give biology teachers the false impression that creationism was a valid scientific alternative to the theory of evolution. The bureau indicated in February it would not revise the biology curriculum guidelines following criticism by the four scientists at the University of Hong Kong, including science dean Sun Kwok and science faculty board chairman David Dudgeon. Legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee urged the panel to discuss the paper at its April 30 meeting.