Brazilian creationism under the wing of fascists

I really wish we could be over creationism. I see countries torn over bigger issues — racism, misogyny, deep inequalities, climate change, war — yet it’s clear that some people see an involvement with crises in the world as an opportunity to push their trivial stupidities on us. Case in point: Brazil and the Bolsonaro regime. They have a fascist running the country, rapid deforestation, oppression of native minorities, and what do we have to deal with? The appointment of an open creationist to run their science agency.

President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration on Saturday named Benedito Guimarães Aguiar Neto to head the agency, known as CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior). Aguiar Neto, an electrical engineer by training, previously served as the rector of Mackenzie Presbyterian University (MPU), a private religious school here. It advocates the teaching and study of intelligent design (ID), an outgrowth of Biblical creationism which argues that life is too complex to have evolved by Darwinian evolution, and so required an intelligent designer.

Is it a coincidence? Michael Behe visited Brazil and specifically the campus of MPU this past fall, where the Discovery Institute has a chapter, and Jonathan Wells visited the year before. Whenever we take our eyes off those wankers in Seattle, they’re off to build another foothold in some dogmatic religious institution somewhere, and next thing you know, some criminal politician hands them some tidbit of power over science.

This is the second time under Bolsonaro that a nominee’s views on creationism have become an issue. In January 2019, Damares Alves, Bolsonaro’s newly appointed minister of women, family, and human rights, drew criticism for saying, in a 2013 video, that Brazil’s evangelical churches had lost influence in society by allowing scientists to “take control” of the teaching of evolution in schools. Brazil’s evangelical Christians are among Bolsonaro’s strongest supporters.

Evangelical Christians everywhere are among the most ignorant and fanatical supporters of fascism, so this is not surprising. Creationist idiocy just never ends.


  1. kingoftown says

    “that Brazil’s evangelical churches had lost influence in society by allowing scientists to “take control” of the teaching of evolution in schools. ”

    … Isn’t Brazil majority catholic?

  2. anchor says

    They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Hardly surprising since the Old Testament God behaves exactly like a vain narcissistic fascist dictator. Just look at what that deity instructed Abraham to do.

  3. pjabardo says

    @1 kingoftown: Evangelical Christianity has been growing fast for the last 40 years. They could be as many as 30-40% of the population. And most of them are neopentecostal dipped in thick layers of prosperity gospel. As most are recent converts they are fanatical and single issue voters. The Catholics are still a majority but that will probably change in the next 20 years. What makes this worse is that the sectors of the catholic church that is growing or holding out is the bat-shit crazy kind, either middle ages crap or very similar to evangelical Christians! Liberation theology is all but dead.

    The leader (or owner) of the largest neopentecostal church Edir Macedo from the Igreja Universal recently declared that he forbids his daughters from going to college: they should be preparing to serve their future husbands. These guys have several million members and own a lot of tv and radio stations in Brazil and are quickly spreading throughout Latin America and Africa and making inroads in Catholic countries in Europe and elsewhere.

  4. says

    In October, on seeing Mackenzie Presbyterian University show up as the site an Intelligent Design “research” center affiliated with the Discovery Institute, I wondered whether this private university was anti-evolution, and what its political leanings were. After all, in the U.S., Presbyterians are not so benighted. It turns out that the Brazilian church is affiliated with a conservative branch of the Reformed churches, not the Presbyterians. The results of a little Google search are fairly horrific. From a treatise on legal jurisiprudence, which I found on Google Books, they described reactions to the 1964 military coup in Brazil: “In São Paulo, leftist thought penetrated the USP School of Philosophy, Sciences, and Literature, while the more conservative line, allied with the military regime, made its home the School of Law of the Mackenzie Presbyterian University.” The university was ready: at Mackenzie Presbyterian, during the period following the 1964 military coup, reactionary theologians had “transformed” the school “into one of the greatest centers of resistance against subversion, and defense of the regime installed in March, 1964.” In other words, defense of the brutal military dictatorship and of opposition to democracy. That quote is from the book “Gender, Sexuality, and the Cold War: A Global Perspective”, on page 81, where you will find more about the process by which MPU and the IPB church that runs it had become the center for ideologues who defended the murderous coup that extinguished democracy in Brazil for a generation. (And oh yes, that coup was openly supported by the American ambassador, who was implementing Lyndon Johnson’s foreign policy of encouraging right-wing military coups in Latin America. Thanks, LBJ!)

  5. unclefrogy says

    that coup was openly supported by the American ambassador

    when was it ever any different?

    uncle frogy

  6. nomdeplume says

    @7 @8 I have tried, and failed, to think of a South or Central American country in which America hasn’t tried, or, almost always succeeded, in replacing left wing governments with Far Right (usually military) ones. I can only think of one where they haven’t succeeded, and that’s Cuba, which has been as a result severely punished for over 60 years.

  7. pjabardo says

    @6 in the sixties, Mackenzie, was known as a right wing institution. There was even the famous battle of Maria Antonia street when students from the university of São Paulo were protesting against the dictatorship and were attacked by right wing elements from Mackenzie. My father was there by the way, and my mother was terrified the military would go after him…

    Today Mackenzie has progressive groups and recently they protested against censorship: lectures by Bolsonaro critics are being cancelled and Bolsonaro minions (aka bolsominions or cattle) are free to do whatever.

    @11 Brazilian billionaires who contributed to Notre-Dame refused to help the Museu Nacional. Sad to say this but I envy your millionaires and billionaires: ours are much worse! Parasites who long for days of slavery.

  8. Paulino says

    Bolsonaro appointed a radical catholic, Roberto Alvim, as secretary of culture, but the guy practically copied a speech by Goebbels to announce the government plan for Culture. The thing was so glaring that the secretary had to be fired. Later Mr. Alvim apologized and blamed Satan for the incident.

    Regarding the religious take over, Brazil is thoroughly screwed, evangelicals will the majority in about 15-20 years, but already they have a sizable caucus in congress, that grows at every election, and it is already hard to pass anything without their consent. They will tear down the flimsy curtain (here it was never a wall) between church and state, and we’ll have a nice confessional state.

  9. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    When I flew into Rio this summer, I hadn’t even completed my taxi ride into the city before I saw evidence of how controversial Bolsonaro is. I would up sharing a taxi with a Brazilian guy who was coming back from a performance up in Bahia. He was gay and scared to death of what a Bolsonaro presidency means for him. The taxi driver was fed up with corruption and thought Bolsonaro was just the man for the job–he sounded like one of the Trumpistas in the states.

    There really seems to be a sort of person who becomes dissatisfied with an admittedly intolerable situation, but lacks the imagination to envision any sort of solution short of “burn it all down.” And that type of person, unfortunately, is not limited to the English speaking world.

  10. rrutis1 says

    “Aguiar Neto, an electrical engineer by training”

    Electrical engineers, why does it always have to be electrical engineers??