Latest Articles


21.11.2014
Carl Henrik Fredriksson

Vienna has fallen!

The challenges of a European public sphere

How much in common must a community have? Quite a lot, says Eurozine's Carl Henrik Fredriksson. At the very least a common public sphere. Because without it, Europe's publics will be easy prey for those who know how to play the strings of history. [ more ]

19.11.2014
Eurozine Review

Another music! Or no music at all!

19.11.2014
Johanna Rolshoven

Open city calling!

19.11.2014
Almantas Samalavicius, Sajay Samuel

Notes from a technoscape

New Issues


Eurozine Review


19.11.2014
Eurozine Review

Another music! Or no music at all!

"Dilema veche" says Romania's new president had better lead the country out of the swamp; "Krytyka" invests its hopes for Ukraine in a new generation; in "Vikerkaar", Rein Müllerson says increasing western pressure on Russia is a mistake; "New Eastern Europe" takes stock of the Maidan one year on, and celebrates literary Krakow; "Blätter" publishes Jaron Lanier's 2014 Peace Prize speech; "Polar" considers debt not a curse but a blessing; "Arena" notes how a feminist party has changed Swedish politics; "Dérive" inspects the "safe city"; in "Kulturos barai", Sajay Samuel warns of the perils of checking your smartphone; and "Multitudes" scopes out the anthropo-scene.

29.10.2014
Eurozine Review

A centre receding

15.10.2014
Eurozine Review

This revolutionary moment

17.09.2014
Eurozine Review

Independence in an age of interdependence

03.09.2014
Eurozine Review

Was Crimea a preliminary exercise?



http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2011-05-02-newsitem-en.html
http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2009-12-02-newsitem-en.html
http://mitpress.mit.edu/0262025248
http://www.eurozine.com/about/who-we-are/contact.html

My Eurozine


If you want to be kept up to date, you can subscribe to Eurozine's rss-newsfeed or our Newsletter.

Articles
Share |


Western front

Well-funded creationists are on the march in Europe, writes Peter C Kjærgaard. The Council of Europe recently issued a resolution warning against the rise of creationism, based on a report that documented not only the existence of a strong Christian creationist lobby in Europe, but also the rise of Muslim creationism.

On 4 October 2007 the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly passed Resolution 1580, which issued a stark warning: creationism, the denial of Darwinian evolution, is on the rise in Europe. The resolution focused on the way that creationists across the continent, using the model pioneered in America, have been targeting education, and warned of "a real risk of 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," it concludes, "may seem appealing and tolerant, but is in fact dangerous."

The resolution urged member states to "defend and promote scientific knowledge" and "firmly oppose the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline on an equal footing with the theory of evolution." But what provoked this European body to issue such an uncharacteristically clear and forthright statement?

The resolution was based on a comprehensive report prepared by the Committee on Culture, Science and Education and delivered to the Assembly by the special rapporteur Guy Lengage on 5 June 2007. This report synthesised research from across the EU citing examples of the rise of creationism in 14 member states, as well as significant non-members Russia, Serbia and Turkey. Examples cited of a growing creationist influence ranged from subtle downgrading of evolution in science education to outright attacks on the validity of Darwinism and the personality of Darwin himself. In Greece, the report found, evolution education was relegated to the very bottom of the science curriculum, which often meant in effect that secondary students learnt nothing about it because of a lack of time. In Switzerland organisations like The European Biblical Centre and the ProGenesis group were devoting considerable resources to promoting creationist education. In Russia a 16-year-old girl launched a court case against the Ministry of Education, backed by the Russian Orthodox Church, challenging the teaching of just one "theory" of biology in school textbooks as a breach of her human rights. In the UK in 2006 the Intelligent Design propagandists Truth in Science sent out a "teaching pack" to every secondary school and sixth-form college in the country.

One of the more bizarre cases cited by the report comes from Poland, where in October 2006 deputy minister of education Miroslaw Orzechowski told the Gazeta Wyborcza that "The theory of evolution is a lie, an error that we have legalised as a common truth." He further argued that evolution is the "feeble idea of an aged non-believer" and put this error down to the fact that Darwin was "a vegetarian and lacked fire inside him".

Each of these cases confirms the existence of a strong Christian creationist lobby in Europe, but the report also focused its attention on a new phenomenon ­ the rise of Muslim creationism. The central figure here is the Turkish Muslim creationist Adnan Oktar, who, writing under the pen name Harun Yahya, has made a career out of attacking Darwinian evolution. Oktar is a figure fairly well known to Darwinists and despite his claims to scientific competence is clearly little more than a crank. However what had changed, according to the report, was the scale and ambition of Oktar's pseudo-scientific message. Since 2006 copies of a substantial, glossy and smartly packaged book called Atlas of Creation, credited to Harun Yahya, had been arriving at schools and universities across Europe. In Spain, France, Switzerland and Denmark clear evidence of the growing resources and confidence of European Muslim creationism was thudding on to the mat. The book is the first of a projected seven-part series, and parts two and three have already begun arriving at educational institutes Europe-wide.

Clearly, for the assembly, the report amounted to strong evidence that creationists were working strategically across Europe, with the aim of influencing the science curriculum as well as public opinion. Though it does not say so explicitly the implication of the report is that creationists of different denominations and faiths are, or might soon be, working together in a concerted assault on science teaching, in the same way that American creationists have been for the past decade. In response to the call for action from the Assembly, only the Swedish government acted promptly, swiftly issuing a general ban on the teaching of creationism and Intelligent Design in their schools.

My own copy of Atlas of Creation, all six kilos, arrived in 2006, just after my research group at the University of Aarhus had launched our Darwin in Denmark project, with online editions of Danish translations of Charles Darwin's writings. In fact 20 copies arrived, unrequested and completely free.

Hardbound and expensively produced with almost 800 pages of text and images printed on glossy paper, this book presents one of the most remarkable attacks not only on the theory of evolution but on science itself. The book is full of scientific jargon, diagrams and tables, and appears to discuss Darwinian evolution in detail and refute it through careful consideration of the evidence of the fossil record, animal biology and the history of science. Most of this is the same old tired creationism, emphasising the gaps in the fossil record and making much of the various scientific hoaxes like "Piltdown Man" which, it argues, were attempts by Darwinians to fabricate proof for their hypothesis.

One of the most astonishing claims in the book is that Charles Darwin ­ the quiet Victorian gentleman naturalist ­ was responsible for the worst evils of the 20th century: racism, communism, fascism, Nazism, terrorism and, ultimately, 9/11. In a piece of overt symbolic theatre the book's creators marked the anniversary of 9/11 last year by sending the Atlas to a large number of Protestant priests across Europe. The message was clear: in the fight against the theory of evolution Christians and Muslims stand united.

But despite the hyperbolic claims the shock caused by Atlas of Creation is largely unrelated to its contents, which do not stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny. The real point is that before the book arrived many had no idea there was a resurgent Muslim creationism in Europe, and certainly didn't know it was so well funded and organised. Who, people began to ask, is bankrolling Oktar's Science Research Foundation or Global Publishing of Istanbul, which published and distributed the book? So far no one has been able to find out, and all Oktar says is that he is funded by donations.

One thing is clear: creationism has indeed come to Europe and unfortunately, therefore, we have to take it seriously. We can't afford to be complacent, or imagine that creationism is just a bizarre and distant American phenomenon. Just as manipulative as the worst of American creationists, European creationists are hard at work and some of them have a lot of money (Oktar also sent his book to many universities in the US). What we have seen so far is just the beginning.

As the bicentenary of Darwin's birth and 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species coincide in 2009, those of us who support science have an excellent opportunity to reclaim the agenda. To be successful we need interdisciplinary collaboration, across all branches of science and the humanities. The issue at stake is not just a question of ideologically motivated attacks on the theory of evolution. At the very heart of the debate lies the question of the standing of academic knowledge in society. We need to take this seriously, both in the humanities and in the sciences. Now more than ever it is time to bridge the gap and together stop the nonsense.


 



Published 2008-05-20


Original in English
First published in New Humanist 3/2008

Contributed by New Humanist
© New Humanist/Peter C Kjærgaard
© Eurozine
 

Focal points     click for more

Beyond Fortress Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/lawborder.html
The fate of migrants and refugees attempting to enter Fortress Europe has triggered a new European debate on laws, borders and human rights. A debate riddled with the complex, often epic, narratives that underlie immediate crisis situations. [more]

Russia in global dialogue

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
In the two decades after the end of the Cold War, intellectual interaction between Russia and Europe has intensified. It has not, however, prompted a common conversation. The focal point "Russia in global dialogue" seeks to fuel debate on democracy, society and the legacy of empire. [more]

Ukraine in focus

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/publicsphere.html
Ten years after the Orange Revolution, Ukraine is in the throes of yet another major struggle. Eurozine provides commentary on events as they unfold and further articles from the archive providing background to the situation in today's Ukraine. [more]

The ends of democracy

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/democracy.html
At a time when the global pull of democracy has never been stronger, the crisis of democracy has become acute. Eurozine has collected articles that make the problems of democracy so tangible that one starts to wonder if it has a future at all, as well as those that return to the very basis of the principle of democracy. [more]

The EU: Broken or just broke?

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
Brought on by the global economic recession, the eurocrisis has been exacerbated by serious faults built into the monetary union. Contributors discuss whether the EU is not only broke, but also broken -- and if so, whether Europe's leaders are up to the task of fixing it. [more]

Support Eurozine     click for more

If you appreciate Eurozine's work and would like to support our contribution to the establishment of a European public sphere, see information about making a donation.

Time to Talk     click for more

Time to Talk, a network of European Houses of Debate, has partnered up with Eurozine to launch an online platform. Here you can watch video highlights from all TTT events, anytime, anywhere.
Dessislava Gavrilova, Jo Glanville et al.
The role of literature houses in protecting the space for free expression

http://www.eurozine.com/timetotalk/european-literature-houses-meeting-2014/
This summer, Time to Talk partner Free Word, London hosted a debate on the role that literature houses play in preserving freedom of expression both in Europe and globally. Should everyone get a place on the podium? Also those representing the political extremes? [more]

Eurozine BLOG

On the Eurozine BLOG, editors and Eurozine contributors comment on current affairs and events. What's behind the headlines in the world of European intellectual journals?
Ben Tendler
Law and Border - House Search in Fortress Europe: Further resources

http://www.eurozine.com/blog/
In addition to the Official conference report on The 26th European Meeting of Cultural Journals and all the articles in the focal point Beyond Fortress Europe, we've begun to collect resources mentioned during discussions in and around the sessions in Conversano, Italy. [more]

Vacancies at Eurozine     click for more

There are currently no positions available.

Editor's choice     click for more

Felix Stalder
Digital solidarity

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-02-26-stalder-en.html
As the culture and institutions of the Gutenberg Galaxy wane, Felix Stalder looks to commons, assemblies, swarms and weak networks as a basis for remaking society in a more inclusive and diverse way. The aim being to expand autonomy and solidarity at the same time. [more]

Literature     click for more

Olga Tokarczuk
A finger pointing at the moon

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-01-16-tokarczuk-en.html
Our language is our literary destiny, writes Olga Tokarczuk. And "minority" languages provide a special kind of sanctuary too, inaccessible to the rest of the world. But, there again, language is at its most powerful when it reaches beyond itself and starts to create an alternative world. [more]

Piotr Kiezun, Jaroslaw Kuisz
Literary perspectives special: Witold Gombrowicz

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2013-08-16-kuisz-en.html
The recent publication of the private diary of Witold Gombrowicz provides unparalleled insight into the life of one of Poland's great twentieth-century novelists and dramatists. But this is not literature. Instead: here he is, completely naked. [more]

Literary perspectives
The re-transnationalization of literary criticism

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/literaryperspectives.html
Eurozine's series of essays aims to provide an overview of diverse literary landscapes in Europe. Covered so far: Croatia, Sweden, Austria, Estonia, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary. [more]

Debate series     click for more

Europe talks to Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/europetalkstoeurope.html
Nationalism in Belgium might be different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account. The debate series "Europe talks to Europe" is an attempt to turn European intellectual debate into a two-way street. [more]

Conferences     click for more

Eurozine emerged from an informal network dating back to 1983. Since then, European cultural magazines have met annually in European cities to exchange ideas and experiences. Around 100 journals from almost every European country are now regularly involved in these meetings.
Law and Border. House Search in Fortress Europe
The 26th European Meeting of Cultural Journals
Conversano, 3-6 October 2014

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/conversano2014.html
Eurozine's 2014 conference in southern Italy, not far from Lampedusa, addressed both EU refugee and immigration policies and intellectual partnerships across the Mediterranean. Speakers included Italian investigative journalist Fabrizio Gatti and Moroccan feminist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Rita El Khayat. [more]

Multimedia     click for more

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/multimedia.html
Multimedia section including videos of past Eurozine conferences in Vilnius (2009) and Sibiu (2007). [more]


powered by publick.net