Europe Moves To Ban Creationsim in Schools

October 11th, 2007 | Tags:

That’s it, I’m moving the Europe.

The dangers of creationism in education

Resolution 1580 (2007)1

1.       The aim of this report is not to question or to fight a belief – the right to freedom of belief does not permit that. The aim is to warn against certain tendencies to pass off a belief as science. It is necessary to separate belief from science. It is not a matter of antagonism. Science and belief must be able to coexist. It is not a matter of opposing belief and science, but it is necessary to prevent belief from opposing science.

2.       For some people the Creation, as a matter of religious belief, gives a meaning to life. Nevertheless, the Parliamentary Assembly is worried about the possible ill-effects of the spread of creationist ideas within our education systems and about the consequences for our democracies. If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights which are a key concern of the Council of Europe.

3.       Creationism, born of the denial of the evolution of species through natural selection, was for a long time an almost exclusively American phenomenon. Today creationist ideas are tending to find their way into Europe and their spread is affecting quite a few Council of Europe member states.

4.       The prime target of present-day creationists, most of whom are Christian or Muslim, is education. Creationists are bent on ensuring that their ideas are included in the school science syllabus. Creationism cannot, however, lay claim to being a scientific discipline.

5.       Creationists question the scientific character of certain items of knowledge and argue that the theory of evolution is only one interpretation among others. They accuse scientists of not providing enough evidence to establish the theory of evolution as scientifically valid. On the contrary, they defend their own statements as scientific. None of this stands up to objective analysis.

6.       We are witnessing a growth of modes of thought which challenge established knowledge about nature, evolution, our origins and our place in the universe.

7.       There is a real risk of a serious confusion being introduced into our children’s minds between what has to do with convictions, beliefs, ideals of all sorts and what has to do with science. An “all things are equal” attitude may seem appealing and tolerant, but is in fact dangerous.

8.       Creationism has many contradictory aspects. The “intelligent design” idea, which is the latest, more refined version of creationism, does not deny a certain degree of evolution. However, intelligent design, presented in a more subtle way, seeks to portray its approach as scientific, and therein lies the danger.

9.       The Assembly has constantly insisted that science is of fundamental importance. Science has made possible considerable improvements in living and working conditions and is a not insignificant factor in economic, technological and social development. The theory of evolution has nothing to do with divine revelation but is built on facts.

10.       Creationism claims to be based on scientific rigour. In actual fact the methods employed by creationists are of three types: purely dogmatic assertions; distorted use of scientific quotations, sometimes illustrated with magnificent photographs; and backing from more or less well-known scientists, most of whom are not specialists in these matters. By these means creationists seek to appeal to non-specialists and sow doubt and confusion in their minds.

11.       Evolution is not simply a matter of the evolution of humans and of populations. Denying it could have serious consequences for the development of our societies. Advances in medical research with the aim of effectively combating infectious diseases such as AIDS are impossible if every principle of evolution is denied. One cannot be fully aware of the risks involved in the significant decline in biodiversity and climate change if the mechanisms of evolution are not understood.

12.       Our modern world is based on a long history, of which the development of science and technology forms an important part. However, the scientific approach is still not well understood and this is liable to encourage the development of all manner of fundamentalism and extremism. The total rejection of science is definitely one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights.

13.       The war on the theory of evolution and on its proponents most often originates in forms of religious extremism which are closely allied to extreme right-wing political movements. The creationist movements possess real political power. The fact of the matter, and this has been exposed on several occasions, is that some advocates of strict creationism are out to replace democracy by theocracy.

14.       All leading representatives of the main monotheistic religions have adopted a much more moderate attitude. Pope Benedict XVI, for example, as his predecessor Pope John-Paul II, today praises the role of the sciences in the evolution of humanity and recognises that the theory of evolution is “more than a hypothesis”.

15.       The teaching of all phenomena concerning evolution as a fundamental scientific theory is therefore crucial to the future of our societies and our democracies. For that reason it must occupy a central position in the curriculum, and especially in the science syllabus, as long as, like any other theory, it is able to stand up to thorough scientific scrutiny. Evolution is present everywhere, from medical overprescription of antibiotics that encourages the emergence of resistant bacteria to agricultural overuse of pesticides that causes insect mutations on which pesticides no longer have any effect.

16.       The Council of Europe has highlighted the importance of teaching about culture and religion. In the name of freedom of expression and individual belief, creationist ideas, as any other theological position, could possibly be presented as an addition to cultural and religious education, but they cannot claim scientific respectability.

17.       Science provides irreplaceable training in intellectual rigour. It seeks not to explain “why things are” but to understand how they work.

18.       Investigation of the creationists’ growing influence shows that the arguments between creationism and evolution go well beyond intellectual debate. If we are not careful, the values that are the very essence of the Council of Europe will be under direct threat from creationist fundamentalists. It is part of the role of the Council’s parliamentarians to react before it is too late.

19.       The Parliamentary Assembly therefore urges the member states, and especially their education authorities:

19.1.       to defend and promote scientific knowledge;

19.2.       strengthen the teaching of the foundations of science, its history, its epistemology and its methods alongside the teaching of objective scientific knowledge;

19.3.       to make science more comprehensible, more attractive and closer to the realities of the contemporary world;

19.4.       to firmly oppose the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline on an equal footing with the theory of evolution and in general resist presentation of creationist ideas in any discipline other than religion;

19.5.       to promote the teaching of evolution as a fundamental scientific theory in the school curriculum.

20.       The Assembly welcomes the fact that 27 Academies of Science of Council of Europe member states signed, in June 2006, a declaration on the teaching of evolution and calls on academies of science that have not yet done so to sign the declaration.

1 Assembly debate on 4 October 2007 (35th Sitting) (see Doc. 11375, report of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, rapporteur: Mrs Brasseur). Text adopted by the Assembly on 4 October 2007 (35th Sitting).

  1. BlackSun
    October 11th, 2007 at 10:00
    Reply | Quote | #1

    Too bad #17 panders to non-overlapping magisteria. Otherwise, great news!

  2. AngryHuman
    October 11th, 2007 at 13:41
    Reply | Quote | #2

    Now if they’d only do that here in the states.

  3. Euan
    October 11th, 2007 at 16:02
    Reply | Quote | #3

    Everyone has the right to be ignorant. They do not have the right to pass that ignorance onto children in the guise of knowledge. The fact that this even has to be debated shows a very worrying trend in today’s world. I can only hope that this debate will be won by the side of reason, and hopefully lead to the removal of all forms of religious bias from the schooling systems of the world. Belief must be taken out of our schools and left in Sunday Schools and Faith Classes of whatever religions where it belongs.

  4. Elyse
    October 11th, 2007 at 17:10
    Reply | Quote | #4

    Goooooooo Europe! Now let’s just all take our fingers out of our ears and take just one quick glance at reality, American people! I’ll die before I let my [future] children be taught Creationism in school!

  5. Evan
    October 12th, 2007 at 23:43
    Reply | Quote | #5

    Banning information from school. Sounds logical to me.

    I doubt that this will pass. (or at least i hope that it doesn’t!) I can only speak from my own experience, but what i would like to say is that my practice as a Christian has lead me to live a better life. But i wont rant on where my opinion’s unlikely to be wanted.

    After reading through the article more closely, I have to say that it hardly seems legit. I guess we’ll see though.

  6. James
    October 13th, 2007 at 02:04
    Reply | Quote | #6

    Evan, it’s not information they’re trying to ban, it’s mis-information.

  7. Ian
    October 13th, 2007 at 10:17
    Reply | Quote | #7

    We should totally have teachers teach magic alongside science, that way the kids can see BOTH sides of the story! Let them decide what’s true or not!

  8. ninja
    October 14th, 2007 at 06:21
    Reply | Quote | #8

    i’m from Slovenia(Europe), and i have to say that it dooesn’t seem likely that we will ever fall as far as America is now. I shall leve your goverment for now, but what is happening in America regarding human rights… i feel sory for the people who live in america and are constanlty bombarded with American patriotism, christianity(inteligent desing is only one of the great misscourses you took), terrorised and being brainwashed. aparently some people like it that way, not to think too much, not to have responsibility… but for others this must be hard. i am trully gratefull to live outside of Usa, knowing that Europe’s goverments and people observe what is happening there and will do almost anything not to go there(and also being able to actually locate Iran and Iraq). we respect diversity, intelectuals, and free will. i can’t say that we are absolutely free, but far more than Americans. (and also more open minded)
    i don’t want to insult anyone, it’s just the way i see it.

  9. Bri
    October 16th, 2007 at 00:38
    Reply | Quote | #9

    No free society should have pubic funds supporting churches nor government schools. Government schools are none other than humanist churches. See the Humanist Manifesto of 1933 where humanists proposed to replace traditional religion with humanist religion, e.g. government schools. Hence, we are fed one form of dogma to replace another. In the name of academic science, and with fear that their intellectual monopoly might be challenged, the EU institutes a more progressive educational fascism.

  10. Carlos
    October 16th, 2007 at 05:17

    It is really true alright. Now… i really cant believe that you in the US are teaching religion in science classes, oh man, im sorry for saying this, but… that is really stupid. And Im from a country mainly catholic (Portugal), and in here we don’t even began to think on such absurdity.

  11. Ian
    October 16th, 2007 at 08:19

    Bri: Religion is classified/defined by the belief in a supernatural being as well as in scripture; Humanism has neither. Humanism is in no way a religion, it’s a philosophy, there’s a big difference.

  12. Dritan
    October 17th, 2007 at 06:52

    When I read your comments, I hear a lot of stupid people. You’ve been given a choice of “freedom” and “there’s no such thing as God”. Imagine this, you are an expert programmer and just created AI (artificial intelligence). You create a virtual world with about 10 people, 100, 1 million, 98 billion… it makes no difference how many, they will never be able to prove your existance namely because you’ve programmed them that way, BUT if you programmed them really smart they’re going to know of that *something, someone, somehow* they were created. To adapt that little comparison to us, I’m neither claiming or not claiming that we’re programmed, but we _know_ that we were created somehow…. EVEN THROUGH MEANS OF EVOLUTION. How did the first cells in water come to be? Sure.. black chimneys can spit out a lot of CO2 but why must millions and billions and whatever years go by for these small carbon, inate objects suddenly come to life? BECAUSE those are the rules of life, nature, universe…. some rules that everything follows by; and who/what might have created these rules I ask? Your blind science teacher who can’t accept that God created the Universe INCLUDING evolution so that your little minds can post on this website stupid things like “I’ll die before I let my [future] children be taught Creationism in school!” — Good one Elyse, you really contributed to the information. *Someone, please remove her from the gene pool* j/k but you’re really showing stupidity with stupid comments like those.

  13. Ian
    October 17th, 2007 at 07:37

    Believing in God and believing in trash like creationism are two *very* different things.

  14. Dave
    October 22nd, 2007 at 11:23

    Ok so we know evolution exists. I did the whole fruit fly thing in school and evolution is obvious. That doesn’t automatically mean, however, that humans evolved from single celled organisms. It just implies it.

    Also creationism doesn’t automatically mean that the Christian God, who is omnipotent, is the One who created humans. Creationism is based on occam’s razor. That there is no way it could’ve happened by chance so the simplest conclusion is that something created humans. Christians like to think that God did it, hell maybe even aliens put us here or we are part of an AI program. Whatever.

    I don’t see how we can only show one theory on how humans came to be in our schools. Isn’t science about gaining all possible conclusions and systematically working through them to find the truth? I’m not saying I believe either way, but I am a curious person by nature. I don’t want to ignore an entire theory just because it’s seeded in religion. Just take the religion out of it and look at it objectively.

    I could fully see humanity in 200 years or so attempting to grow life on an uninhabited planet.

  15. Ian
    October 22nd, 2007 at 17:09

    Believing that a god created the universe is by no means simpler than believing the universe was not created by a god. Why? Because all you’re doing is adding another variable to the equation: God.

    If you say god created the universe because you cannot accept that the universe created its self, then ask yourself the very simple question as to who created god? Another more powerful god? then who created that god? Assuming god had any part in any of this merely creates more questions and complicates things all that much more.

  16. Kieren
    October 24th, 2007 at 09:18

    Iv got to agree with Ian here, following the idea that we’re too complicated to have just came into existence and that something even more complicated than us must have made us is just a horrible piece of logic.
    I can understand people want to know where we came from and how everything around us came to be, and how people thousands of years ago who had no means of coming up with a reasonable idea could just make up stories that made sense to them, but that fact that we still believe those stories…and by the way thats all they are… really does disturb me on a deep level, I don’t have any hate for religion, I was lucky enough to grow up in a family and country (England) that respects peoples beliefs, be they Christian, Muslim or Atheist. But when I look at activists of any religion I have to think back to what one of the most peaceful men in all of history said ”I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”, my point being a lot of the time people who claim they are of a ‘true’/'deep’ faith seem to distance themselves from the values they claim to be following. And when you look at this is it so hard to wonder why any nation would want to distance themselves from a system of education that would encourage this, science is just a theory, open to change and adaption as we as a society evolve and discover more about our origins, but claiming that we should teach the ideas of people that lived thousands of years ago as facts is just insane to me.
    Although I will say that i feel sorry for all the free thinking Americans that aren’t mad, Atheist and Christians alike, who tend to get pasted with the same image that the nutbars have given you.

  17. John
    October 26th, 2007 at 14:35

    Why are we here? Because we’re here! Believing in a spiritual world, simply because one does not wish to accept the likelihood that after death there is nothing is quite tragic. Once we overcome our fear of death and accept that it is, in all probability, a similar state to pre-birth, we will surely all progress as a species. Religions do not have a monopoly on morality and I don’t need to fear a final judgement to make me care about my fellow human beings.

  18. Tom
    November 6th, 2007 at 20:02

    “Ok so we know evolution exists. I did the whole fruit fly thing in school and evolution is obvious.
    Also creationism doesn’t automatically mean that the Christian God, who is omnipotent, is the One who created humans. Creationism is based on occam’s razor. That there is no way it could’ve happened by chance so the simplest conclusion is that something created humans. Christians like to think that God did it, hell maybe even aliens put us here or we are part of an AI program. Whatever.”

    That’s not what Occam’s Razor is. Occam’s Razor is that you shouldn’t claim the existence of an entity that’s not necessary (God, in this case). “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity”

  19. William Poe
    November 26th, 2007 at 02:16

    The problem is, Dave, the “Theory of Intelligent Design” is religion masquerading as science. It can never even be a hypothesis because it lacks the crucial element needed: the ability to be tested. It should be explained in a theology or comparative religion course in college, not in an science curriculum as major proponents would like because it gives them a cheap validity.

  20. Onikaze
    August 13th, 2008 at 03:45

    People who suggest that evolution attempts to counter the idea of a deity demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the basics of science. Science is defined as “natural explanations of natural phenomena.” That being the case, science limits itself to *only* natural explanations. When you attempt to attribute anything to a supernatural source you’ve stepped outside the bounds of science. Thus, science doesn’t necessarily deny or reject the existence of some kind of diety… it simply does not include it. Attempting to impose the use of supernatural phenomena for explanations in a science classroom would be like demanding that English teachers include a discussion on how to poach salmon as a precursor to diagramming sentences. The two are totally separate things and simply have no place being mixed together. That’s not to say one MUST contradict the other… they just don’t belong together.

    Now, if one day there was a way to define “god” in terms of natural phenomena and natural descriptions via scientifically measurable means then sure, it could be factored in. But until then including a deity in scientific explanations is no more valid than including the mentions of Shiva, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, or unicorns in a science textbook.

    It’s always interesting that this is a crusade taken up specifically by Christians. You never see Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Wiccans, etc. getting uppity about convincing science teachers to say their interpretation of supernatural events has relevance in the realm of science. The thing that’s really silly is if there is some deity(s) out there they’re most likely too broad and incomprehensible to be encompassed by one religion’s interpretation. It’s like the blind men and the elephant. They may all have a modicum of an idea, but no one religion has the big picture and certainly not the truth. But then, human beings are generally uncomfortable with the unknown. They’re rather make up stuff and kill people over whose fictions are more right than the other.

  21. Russ
    March 11th, 2010 at 17:05

    In the article it refers to evolution as a theory, which is untrue. Evolution is a fact, the modes that evolution OCCUR are what people dispute. This article has some insight to set things straight.