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Council of Europe Approves Resolution Against Creationism

Martin Mahner

October 23, 2007

On October 4, 2007, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly approved a resolution recommending that its member governments oppose the teaching of creationism as science. In June an earlier attempt at approving a resolution, entitled “The dangers of creationism in education”, had failed. The revised and approved resolution 1580/2007 now states, “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.” The resolution also comprises Intelligent Design, which is described as a more refined version of creationism.

Noting the religious roots of creationism, the resolution stresses, “the aim of this report is not to question or to fight a belief [...]. The aim is to warn against certain tendencies to pass off a belief as science.” Of particular concern is the fact that, “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 [...] is that some advocates of strict creationism are out to replace democracy by theocracy.”

The resolution urges to keep science and religion separate in education. “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. [...] 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.”

The resolution ends by urging the 47 member states of the Council of Europe and especially their education authorities:

  1. To defend and promote scientific knowledge;
  2. Strengthen the teaching of the foundations of science, its history, its epistemology and its methods alongside the teaching of objective scientific knowledge;
  3. To make science more comprehensible, more attractive and closer to the realities of the contemporary world;
  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;
  5. To promote the teaching of evolution as a fundamental scientific theory in the school curriculum.

More information as well as the text of the resolution at: http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta07/ERES1580.htm

Martin Mahner

Martin Mahner is Executive Director of the Center for Inquiry-Europe in Rossdorf, Germany.