26 June 2007

Council of Europe on creationism and human rights

Excerpts from the Council of Europe's draft resolution "The Dangers of Creationism in Education":

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. [...]

There is a real risk of a serious confusion being introduced into our children’s minds between what has to do with convictions, beliefs and ideals and what has to do with science, and of the advent of an “all things are equal” attitude, which may seem appealing and tolerant but is actually disastrous. [...]

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.

The Council has no binding authority, but considerable influence around the subject of human rights (hence the presentation of creationism as a potential threat to basic human rights via the mechanism of 'replacing democracy with theocracy.') The resolution goes on to urge educators to teach creationism as an alternative religious theory if necessary, but never alongside evolution as scientific theory. The whole thing was, naturally, sent back to committee for further retooling to make the language a bit less hysterical. (Incidentally, the resolution claims that post-Darwin creationism is more or less an American phenomenon -- can this be true? I suppose so, since the older European religions have pretty much tolerated evolution as something that can fit inside God's creation of the universe, whereas fundamentalist religions popular in America haven't. But what about Islam, which has its fair share of fundamentalist sects? More to come on this, after I do a little research.)