Council of Europe Officially Condemns Creationism and I.D.
A lengthy and strident policy document was issued by the Council of Europe denouncing creationism. The summary statement makes it clear there is no compromise possible, because “religious fundamentalists” are behind it, and that creationism and intelligent design must be firmly and unequivocally opposed. Evolution, by contrast, is given supreme status as the explanation for everything:
The theory of evolution is being attacked by religious fundamentalists who call for creationist theories to be taught in European schools alongside or even in place of it. From a scientific view point there is absolutely no doubt that evolution is a central theory for our understanding of the Universe and of life on Earth.
Creationism in any of its forms, such as “intelligent design”, is not based on facts, does not use any scientific reasoning and its contents are pathetically inadequate for science classes.
The Assembly calls on education authorities in member States to promote scientific knowledge and the teaching of evolution and to oppose firmly any attempts at teaching creationism as a scientific discipline.
The document issued June 8 contains 18 sections of a Draft Resolution with recommendations, and 105 numbered sections of an Explanatory Memorandum written by one Mr. Guy Lengagne, elaborating on these themes. Creationism is continually portrayed as a “threat” to education, democracy and human rights, and therefore it must be stopped at all costs. The warfare motif appears often. In the Draft Resolution:
1. The Parliamentary Assembly is worried about the possible ill-effects of the spread of creationist theories 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….
12. 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 the advocates of strict creationism are out to replace democracy by theocracy….
14. 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…..
Notice also that creationism is linked to political conservatism. The Explanatory Memorandum adds,
89. ….The theory of evolution constitutes a body of fundamental knowledge for the future of our democracies and cannot be arbitrarily challenged.….
94. ….The teaching of evolution by natural selection as a fundamental scientific theory is therefore crucial to the future of our societies and our democracies….
Given the central importance of evolution to the future of democracy, the authors of this document must have been convinced that the evidence is strong and incontrovertible. To what evidence, therefore, did they turn? The part that most directly addresses this question is paragraph 12 of the Explanatory Memorandum:
12. There is a considerable body of scientific evidence concerning evolution. Scientists have shown that evolution is a fact because of
- the evidence provided by palaeontological data,
- the numerous cases of characteristics shared by organisms with a common ancestor,
- the reality of continental drift,
- direct observations of genetic changes in populations.
13. It should be pointed out that the human being is just one of the links in the long chain of evolution.
This list is surprising, because since Darwin’s time and even more so today, paleontology has been one of the weakest sources of evidence for evolution, and today, genetics remains a source of heated controversy and contention – so much so, that creationists and intelligent design proponents have been using both of these as effective hammers against evolutionary theory (e.g., next entry). Also, continental drift has nothing to do with evolution, and asserting that organisms share characteristics, or that humans are “links in the long chain of evolution,” merely restates what the document is trying to prove.
The document elaborates on the alleged evidences in the subsequent paragraphs. The only other evidences cited in favor of evolution are bacterial resistance and the adaptation of organisms to their environments. Neither of these, however, is doubted by creationists. Bacterial resistance is due to loss of genetic specificity, they would say, and would argue that the fit of organisms to their environment points to design, not evolution.
Sections 23-28 deal with the “rules of science” argument. Excerpts:
24. ….science is the totality of operations that produce objective knowledge. A statement on the world can only be described as objective if it has been verified by an independent observer. This verification depends on three factors: scepticism, rationality and logic and, finally, methodological materialism. These three pillars ensure the objectivity of a scientific result.
25. Scientific research on the subject of evolution has been no exception.
Yet whenever the leading proponents of intelligent design, many of whom have one or more PhDs in the sciences from prestigious universities, try to practice this skepticism using rational and logical arguments, they are routinely shut out of the debate. Furthermore, no modern philosopher of science would accept uncritically the claim that science produces objective knowledge, and many would differ with the view that methodological materialism is essential to science. That was certainly not the case with the founders of science nor with many practicing scientists today. It is, in fact, what Darwin skeptics point to as a straitjacket that forces conclusions contrary to the evidence. Methodological materialism becomes indistinguishable in practice from philosophical materialism, they argue, when design is prohibited as a cause.
The bulk of the document (sections 29-79) details the threat posed by the rise of creationism in Europe, country by country. The writings of Harun Yahya in Turkey are given particular scorn, but no distinction is made in any creationist material: Christian, old-earth, young-earth, Muslim, scientific, intelligent design. All creationism is portrayed as equally flawed and equally contemptible.
Sections 80 to the end claim that creationism is harmful to education. To the degree creationism is a threat to democracy, human rights, social justice, rationality, scientific progress and every other kind of good, evolution is lifted up as the greatest salve for every ill, the greatest positive force in civilization, the great unifying theory of science and the greatest answer to every question in the Universe.
In short, “The truth and scientific nature of evolution remain irrefutable today,” states paragraph 89, and introducing creationist ideas would only bring “confusion” into the classroom. Creationism, which is equated to religious fundamentalism, contributes to “The total rejection of science” which is “definitely one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights.” (Resolution, 11).
So what should be done? The end of the Draft Resolution makes the following recommendations:
18. The Parliamentary Assembly therefore urges the member states, and especially their education authorities, to:
18.1. defend and promote scientific knowledge;
18.2. strengthen the teaching of the foundations of science, its history, its epistemology and its methods alongside the teaching of objective scientific knowledge;
18.3. make science more comprehensible, more attractive and closer to the realities of the contemporary world;
18.4. firmly oppose the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline on an equal footing with the theory of evolution by natural selection and in general resist presentation of creationist theories in any discipline other than religion;
18.5. promote the teaching of evolution by natural selection as a fundamental scientific theory in the school curriculum.
Creation groups would heartily endorse the first three points, but would notice a strange disconnect starting at 18.4.
The resolution concludes by saying, “The Assembly welcomes the fact that, in June 2006, 27 Academies of Science of Council of Europe member states signed a declaration on the teaching of evolution and calls on academies of science that have not yet done so to sign the declaration.” One would be hard pressed to find any other scientific theory that requires a declaration by political entities for its support.
What is the Council of Europe?1 Founded in 1949, it “seeks to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals.” The COE currently has 48 member states and 5 observer countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico and the Vatican.
A former Soviet dissident writing for the Brussels Journal fears that the European Union in general is headed for a dictatorship. Calling it a monster that must be destroyed, that is endangering freedoms, he said “What you observe, taken into perspective, is a systematic introduction of ideology which could later be enforced with oppressive measures.”
Update 07/12/2007: The ACLJ reported that its sister organization in Europe defeated the resolution from being adopted on the grounds it violated freedom of expression, free exercise of religion, and academic freedom. Their document calling for defeat of the proposal was published online.
1The Committee on Culture, Science and Education that voted for the resolution on May 31 included 30 voting members, though an equal or greater number of members were not present to vote. There was one vote against it and one abstention. The Explanatory Memorandum of Mr. Lengagne relied heavily on works by Pascal Picq (paleoanthropologist) and Jacques Arnoult, a researcher at the French National Centre for Space Studies and a Dominican monk. For documentation on the opposition, “a number of articles on creationism as seen by its supporters were found on the internet,” none of which were listed.
The COE’s angry tirade reads like Mein Kampf, a ridiculous rant by a madman who was only a threat when he gained power. Similarly, this document is easily refuted on every point (mountains of rebuttals in 7 years of these pages), and is almost laughable in its shallowness. But give the Darwin Party power to enforce these views, and this is easily the kind of policy that could produce persecution. Talk about human rights: there are some radical Darwinists who feel so strongly about this they would put creationists in zoos (at best) and kill them for thinking unDarwinian thoughts (at worst). How completely inverted to point to creationists as a threat to human rights and democracy, when we just endured the bloodiest century in the history of man with states dedicated to advancing Charles Darwin’s dangerous idea. Theocracy? Try atheocracy.
Aware of charges like this, paragraph 87 tries to distance evolution from “social Darwinism,” calling the latter an aberration: “Social Darwinism is an ideology that claims to have been inspired by Darwin but it has nothing to do with the Darwinian theory of evolution” (italics theirs). Darwin “is not responsible for the deviations from his theory after his death,” they shouted: “It is absolutely scandalous to present Darwin as the father of terrorism, and that may sow doubt and bewilderment in the minds of many young and inexperienced individuals.” They point to the wars that were done in the name of religion.
Must we repeat? There is a direct line of reasoning from “survival of the fittest” to social Darwinism, eugenics (Francis Galton = Charlie’s cousin) and the totalitarian regimes Darwin inspired (Stalin read The Origin and became an atheist). By contrast, there is no way anyone can get religious war and theocracy out of the teachings of Jesus (blessed are the meek, love your neighbor as yourself, pray for those who persecute you, turn the other cheek, greater love has no man than one lay down his life for his friends). Jesus taught dying to oneself and serving others, submitting oneself to God in meekness and humility. Past wars in the “name of Jesus” stemmed from corruptions of His teachings by power-hungry leaders of institutions. (Most of such wars arguably stemmed from political and economic factors primarily, with religious differences as a tacked-on rationalization; e.g., the Thirty Years’ War.) The totalitarian leaders of communism and nazism, by contrast, looked to Darwin as their hero and the one who provided a “scientific justification” for their actions.
As an example of the shallowness of the COE document, look at their treatment of “evolutionary psychology” in paragraph 90:
90. It is important to point out that the theory of evolution has had a profound effect on science in general, philosophy, religion and many other aspects of human society (for example, agriculture). Evolution has also entered the field of psychology: evolutionist psychology is a field of psychology that aims to explain the mechanisms of human thought on the basis of the theory of biological evolution. It is based on the fundamental hypothesis that the brain, like all the other organs, is the result of evolution and thus constitutes an adaptation to specific environmental constraints, to which the ancestors of the Hominidae were forced to respond.
It seems to escape the notice of dear Mr. Lengagne that he has just shot his argument in the foot. We’ve explained this so many times here, this time let’s let Dr. Michael Egnor do it for us: see Evolution News. Lengagne’s treatment of the Galileo Affair and the Scopes Trial are also pathetically uninformed.
There is no part of the COE’s arsenal against creationism that has not been disarmed or turned right back against the Darwinist stronghold. It would make a good term paper or debate topic for a reader to respond to it point by point. He or she would find plenty of documentation right here in these pages. While you’re at it, try to find one example among the reputable groups promoting creationism or intelligent design that wants only creationism taught in the schools. All want both sides to be heard, as long as they are taught accurately and honestly – so did Charlie himself. As always, it is the liberal progressives, be they stem-cell advocates, abortion advocates, homosexual advocates, open-borders advocates, global warming advocates, tolerance advocates, political correctness advocates and Darwinism advocates, who want to shut off debate and have their views imposed by political declaration or court decision. They have a miserable track record on free speech. Conservatives, especially creationists and intelligent design advocates, are asking for a chance to be heard – to debate the issues. Darwinism is a huge issue. It needs to be discussed with all the evidence and logic and reason the best minds can muster.
Using this document as a prime example, ask yourself if there is any group in the world you know of that routinely gets more angry lambaste than creationists. In these days of political correctness, you can advocate and practice any weird or evil belief you want and usually get away with it: any sexual deviation, pagan sun worship at solstice festivals, parades of shame and flaunting of the most irrational or weird or downright stupid idea or behavior, and people will either look the other way or actually cheer you on. Not even teachers who have sex with their students or child pornographers are getting this much official condemnation. But try to pass some evidence against Charlie using reason, logic and evidence, and the hate speech is unbelievable.
And is this not hate speech? The Council of Europe and the U.N. appear more forgiving and tolerant of suicide bombers than they are of creationists. (Notice also how the intelligent design movement has made absolutely no headway in trying to distinguish their views from “creationism.” To the Darwin Party, there is no difference whatsoever, despite book after book after book explaining why I.D. only is trying to answer the question if design can be inferred using scientific methods.) To the radical Darwiniacs, any hint of trying to tarnish the reputation of Father Charlie is cause enough to bring on the full wrath of the Western World.
But the “official ” Western World is not the “real” Western World. Despite their power and official status, the radical Darwinists are a minority. Most people don’t buy their line. A recent poll reported by USA Today showed that 2/3 of Americans still trust creation more than evolution, despite decades of strict indoctrination in the public schools.
Encouraging as that is, let history quickly remind us that fanatics with power affect the world more than silent majorities. In each case of the worst 20th century genocidal totalitarian regimes, whether Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or any of the others, the revolutionaries were usually more motivated, better organized and more ruthless than the majority. Lenin’s followers called themselves “Bolsheviks” (majority) when they were actually a minority. The Russian White Army, despite valiant efforts, was no match for the radical revolutionaries with their lies, propaganda, purges, assassinations, publicity stunts, chicanery and subversive tactics. (For Mr. Lengagne’s education, we would like to point out that Mao was one of the very few genocidal maniacs of the 20th century who did not study in France.)
A totalitarian regime’s strategy for gaining and holding power is to whip up the masses with hatred and fear of a perceived threat. We see now the radical Darwinists refusing to debate, refusing to reason, and refusing to listen; instead, they are trying to whip up the nations of the world into a frenzy over a perceived threat from creationists. If you are the target, you may have thought you were just trying to get somebody to listen to reason and look at some evidence, but no: you are a bogeyman, and bogeymen are fair game.
As we have said before, do not think for a moment that the evils of radical Darwinism were exhausted by the atrocities of the 20th century. In the Information Age, where your location can be tracked by GPS and there is no place to hide, where you could be implanted with mind-altering devices and coerced with new scientific tortures, the potential for abuse could make the Stalin era look like a picnic. If the COE really means what it says that social Darwinism and communism and nazism were perverted deviations and wrong, let them (1) denounce these regimes in the strongest of terms, (2) say “never again ”will they allow such ideas to ever gain sway, and (3) explain exactly why evolutionary psychology, morals and philosophy invariably lead to peace on earth and gentle brotherhood. It cannot be done.
Poor Christians and Jews: the hatred comes from all sides. The radical Muslims hate them for doubting Mohammed. The radical Darwinists hate them for doubting Darwin. Such irrational hatred boggles the mind. That fact alone should cause someone to ponder that something strange is going on. Could they be doing something right?
Jesus predicted, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.” (John 15:18-19). He noted, “They hated me without reason.” If the radical Darwinists and Muslims had a reason for their hatred, Christians should be the ones repenting and confessing their sins. Since they do not, we can take comfort that Jesus said, shortly before receiving the most brutal treatment man could bring on a person – death on a cross – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
So join the Christian Recipients of Hate Society. You’ll be in good company. Till that day, recall too that for years Jesus employed reason and evidence in public debate. Those are also good footsteps to follow.