Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Anti-evolution nonsense - this time in Israel

Israel didn't want to be left behind in the department of creationism and global warming denialism (yes - the two often go hand-in-hand in the West. For example, see the rantings of the Disco. Institute and Uncommon Descent). It joined the anti-science party with a splash:
The Education Ministry's chief scientist sparked a furor among environmental activists and scholars Saturday with remarks questioning the reliability of evolution and global warming theory. The comments from Dr. Gavriel Avital, the latest in a series of written and oral statements casting doubts on the fundamental tenets of modern science, led several environmentalists to call for his dismissal.

"If textbooks state explicitly that human beings' origins are to be found with monkeys, I would want students to pursue and grapple with other opinions. There are many people who don't believe the evolutionary account is correct," Avital said yesterday.

"There are those for whom evolution is a religion and are unwilling to hear about anything else. Part of my responsibility, in light of my position with the Education Ministry, is to examine textbooks and curricula," he said. "If they keep writing in textbooks that the Earth is growing warmer because of carbon dioxide emissions, I'll insist that isn't the case."
And of course, there is nothing new in his motivations for rejecting evolution:
Prior to his appointment, Avital said in a video interview with Machon Meir, a religious-Zionist Jewish studies institute, "Another scientific field that is problematic is biology, or life and environmental sciences. When your doctrine is based on Darwin's theory of evolution and its implications, you are standing on unreliable foundations - that is, there is no God, there was only something primeval, and then there are certain random developments which led to the apex of all creation, the human being.

"Today I am pleased that more and more scientists engaged in pure science, rather than being employed in the name of an ideology, are reaching the conclusion that the world must have a master. Nothing is given to chance," he said. "These are my opinions and I won't deny them just because I was appointed to an Education Ministry position."
Perhaps Avitel's anti-evolution rantings may lead to a widespread acceptance of evolution in the Muslim wold :) . But I'm curious if this anti-evolution and anti-global warming nexus will also form amongst Muslim conservatives. If this happens, Fox News will probably get stuck in a loop - deciding how to deal with Muslims who share the crazy ideals of the various commentators on the Fox News. Now that will definitely make Glenn Beck cry. However, so far, I have not heard any climate change denialism in the Muslim world - but it will be good to keep an eye on that.

Read the full article here.


emre said...

Perhaps climate change is not on the Muslim agenda because they are not doing anything. No reason for the oil industry to be alarmed. If green activists get started, they might respond.

I looked up the chief scientist, Gavriel Avital. The guy's an aeronautical engineer (PhD 1997, "Interaction Between Detonation Waves and Shock Waves in Hypersonic Flow of Detonative Mixtures"). I wonder how strong his grasp of biology and climatology is?

Salman Hameed said...

You are right about why the problem is not there. Will it follow a religious/secular line - or some other divide. Again, it will be different for different parts of the Muslim world, but I'm curious if Shias and Sunnis (which ones?) will take a different stance regarding this.

As far as Avital's grasp of these topics is concerned, here is a good case.

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