The Council of Europe has put up a wonderful motion for a recommendation. Can anyone imagine this being discussed in the American senate or house of representatives? The Republicans would howl in fury against it, and the Democrats would rush to bury it, lest they offend the Republicans and annoy the ignorant members of their electorate. (The Council of Europe, by the way, is not the same thing as the Council of the European Union or the European Parliament, so it’s not really comparable to our congress. Europe says some very sensible things, but Europe is also very confusing.)
1. The Assembly asserts the standard setting role of the Council of Europe and is aware of its own responsibility in re-assessing the basis on which our societies are to be built. It recognises science as part of this basis.
2. The advance of scientific knowledge through the process of rational enquiry is thousands of years old. Ancient civilisations around the World made valuable contributions. Modern science started in Europe with the scientific revolution of the 15th and 16th centuries. This was followed by the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th and has continued to the present. New theories were seldom easily accepted by the establishment, as was the case for instance with Lamarck and Darwin’s work on evolution in the 19th century.
3. However, in recent years we have witnessed attempts to reconcile the biblical account of creation with modern science and outlaw the theory of evolution. “Creationists” pretend that “intelligent design” by a supreme entity is the scientific explanation for the universe.
4. Such an approach has no credibility among the scientific community but has succeeded in raising doubts in less informed minds, including persons with high political responsibilities, mainly in the USA but also in Europe. Some schools are now forced to teach creationism. The middle path of providing equal time for both merely offers a middle way between truth and falsehood.
5. Support for the scientific theory of evolution is almost universal among those with religious beliefs in Europe and nothing in this motion is intended as disrespect for any religion.
6. However, the Assembly is concerned at the possible negative consequences of the promotion of creationism through education and recommends that the Committee of Ministers assess the situation in the Council of Europe member countries and propose adequate counter-measures.
Item #5 could be dispensed with, but otherwise, it’s a fine, strong statement.
Europeans can be proud of their representatives. Here’s a list of national delegations — write yours and thank them. I just sent a copy to my American representatives and suggested that maybe they could try to catch up with Europe and propose a similar declaration on the floor of congress. Does anyone think they’ll take me up on that?
Whoa…I was just sent a link to the latest version of this document. It’s growed some. It’s much stronger, and contains lots of details on creationism in Europe, and is less conciliatory towards religion, but it’s also a little less pithy. Still, wow, these guys are scathing.