Thursday, June 07, 2012

Creationism idiocy in South Korea

by Salman Hameed

It seems that some of the publishers in South Korea are planning on removing some examples of evolution from biology textbooks. The campaign (and yes, it is only a campaign) has been led by a Korean creationist group. This is a shame as South Korea has also been at the forefront of stem cells and genomic research. The country has a thriving research program and I doubt that this kind of creationist idiocy will last very long. Nevertheless, this is a shame that South Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) would succumb to that. Here is the story from Nature (tip from Muhammad A. Ahmad)
A petition to remove references to evolution from high-school textbooks claimed victory last month after the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) revealed that many of the publishers would produce revised editions that exclude examples of the evolution of the horse or of avian ancestor Archaeopteryx. The move has alarmed biologists, who say that they were not consulted. “The ministry just sent the petition out to the publishing companies and let them judge,” says Dayk Jang, an evolutionary scientist at Seoul National University.
And here is the group behind it:

The campaign was led by the Society for Textbook Revise (STR), which aims to delete the “error” of evolution from textbooks to “correct” students’ views of the world, according to the society’s website. The society says that its members include professors of biology and high-school science teachers. 
The STR is also campaigning to remove content about “the evolution of humans” and “the adaptation of finch beaks based on habitat and mode of sustenance”, a reference to one of the most famous observations in Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. To back its campaign, the group highlights recent discoveries that Archaeopteryx is one of many feathered dinosaurs, and not necessarily an ancestor of all birds2. Exploiting such debates over the lineage of species “is a typical strategy of creation scientists to attack the teaching of evolution itself”, says Joonghwan Jeon, an evolutionary psychologist at Kyung Hee University in Yongin. 
The STR is an independent offshoot of the Korea Association for Creation Research (KACR), according to KACR spokesman Jungyeol Han. Thanks in part to the KACR’s efforts, creation science — which seeks to provide evidence in support of the creation myth described in the Book of Genesis — has had a growing influence in South Korea, although the STR itself has distanced itself from such doctrines. In early 2008, the KACR scored a hit with a successful exhibition at Seoul Land, one of the country’s leading amusement parks. According to the group, the exhibition attracted more than 116,000 visitors in three months, and the park is now in talks to create a year-long exhibition.
Read the full article here.

21 comments:

Asad M said...

Kinda surprising and unexpected but then it shows that Creationism is a social and cultural phenomenon. It was imported into South Korea from their political/economic overlords across the Pacific along with other concepts such as democracy, free enterprise/economy, Hollywood, MTV, baseball, Christianity etc…

Ali said...

Asad, creationism need not be imported to any place. It is simply there in all cultures and nations where human beings live.

Our brains are capable of detecting God's craftsmanship in creating the universe.
Is this surprising?

Ali said...

‘God is not a Delusion: A Muslim Doctor Presents Evidence for Belief’
This is a well-researched book that presents arguments to counter atheism, written by a Muslim doctor, from an Islamic perspective. The book will be available in July from the following link.
https://www.createspace.com/3772911

Ali said...

Salman, the captcha words on this blog is super difficult to read.
Can you do something please?

The numbers are not as bad but I have to refresh the words a few times before I can get something legible. Am i the only one facing this problem?

Salman Hameed said...

Asad,

Absolutely. This is an interesting form of cross-cultural borrowing. I think the South Korean Creation Research Foundation is somewhat (if not directly) with the Ken Ham's group in the US (and Ken Ham himself is an Australian creationist). And remember that much of Harun Yahya's creationism is also borrowed from US creationists.

Ali:
This is not about seeing God's design in the universe. Creationism is a specific pseudoscience that argues for a young earth (less than 10000 years) and believes that all species were created as is. There is no science in it.

And I don't think I have much control over captcha...but I'll check.

Ali said...

Thanks Salman.

I think the definition of creationism is very braod. You have given one extreme end of that definition. On the other end will be something like 'the idea that God is involved in the creation of the universe'.

Anyone who supports ideas that fit in between these two definitions is called a creatioonist and therefore it is not surprising that there are various shades and colours of creationism.

My point here is that creationism is not an IDIOCY as you have stated. It is something that is inseparable from the cerebral processing of human beings. As long as we are capable of a human level of thinking, God CANNOT be separated from the creation of the universe.

For this reason I am arguing that creationism is NOT a social and cultural phenomenon as Asad says. It is a HUMAN phenomenon. It does not require importing or exporting. Nor does it require Hollywood or Bollywood or MTV or Baseball or Ken Hams.

I am really interested to hear Asad's and yours or anyone else's counter arguments to this comment. :)

Salman Hameed said...

Ali,

Within the popular discourse, the word "creationism" has a particular meaning. Primarily, it is against the idea of biological evolution and argues for spontaneous creation of all living things. This is common between Ken Ham, Harun Yahya, or these Korean creationist. Then there are old Earth creationists and Young Earth Creationists (YEC). The difference, as the name suggests, is whether they accept the astronomically accepted age of 13.7 billion years. But spontaneous creation still remains. And both of these forms of spontaneous creationisms are idiotic - with YEC even more idiotic as it also goes against geology and astronomy.

You can give "creationism" a different meaning. But then we are talking about something else. Not a perfect analogy, but you can think of this with the word "evolution". Usually people mean "biological evolution". But it can also mean the evolution of stars, or the universe - but this is not in the vernacular in the same way as biological evolution.

It is the common use of the word creationism that Asad and I are working here - and that is shaped by the culture and society.

As far as your issue that for "cerebral processing human beings", God "CANNOT" be separated from creation, is a factually incorrect statement. A vast majority of astronomers (and 85% of members of the National Academy of Science in the US) in fact do not believe in a deity. The study of the universe does not necessarily imply the existence or the non-existence of God. That comes from one's personal beliefs. But even after that, there are differences in thinking if God intervenes in the natural world, or is the universe being run by the laws set by God (deism). So these questions take us in many different territories and there is no single human response.

Ali said...

Thanks Salman.

I am thinking Asad is quiet because ehe agrees with me. Wishful thinking? :)

"A vast majority of astronomers (and 85% of members of the National Academy of Science in the US) in fact do not believe in a deity."
I need reference for this.
As far as I remember from an article I read sometime ago, the vast majority of US scientists believe in God.

So if I believe God created the universe, animals evolved and human beings are God's special creation, I am not a creationist?

Asad M said...

Ali: yes wishful thinking indeed :)

Now you seem to concede that animals do in fact evolve. But what do you think of human evolution? i.e. modern humans have come from an ape-like ancestor (a common ancestor of human & chimpanzees living some 6 to 7 million years ago). Are humans a ‘special creation’ in the sense that they are not descended from any other creature and that God Himself molded Adam out of clay at a specific point in time and breathed life into him?

Salman Hameed said...

Ali,

"So if I believe God created the universe, animals evolved and human beings are God's special creation, I am not a creationist?"

You will be in the "human exceptionalism category" of creationists. If you accepted human evolution but believed that God created the universe, then you would not be considered a creationist.

There is a famous study of the members of the National Academy of Sciences (the most prestigious group of scientists in the US) by Larson and Witham (1998). It was published in Nature in 1998 (Nature, v. 394, p 313). If you don't have access to Nature, you can the results here. Here is the key part within fields:
"Our survey found near universal rejection of the transcendent by NAS natural scientists. Disbelief in God and immortality among NAS biological scientists was 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was 79.0% and 76.3%. Most of the rest were agnostics on both issues, with few believers. We found the highest percentage of belief among NAS mathematicians (14.3% in God, 15.0% in immortality). Biological scientists had the lowest rate of belief (5.5% in God, 7.1% in immortality), with physicists and astronomers slightly higher (7.5% in God, 7.5% in immortality). Overall comparison figures for the 1914, 1933 and 1998 surveys appear in Table 1."

There has been another study of all scientists - not just the members if NAS (unfortunately, it also throws in social scientists and economists in there as well) - and there the belief in a personal God goes up to 40%. This is still much different than the general public in the US, where belief in a personal God hovers around 85% or so.

Ali said...

Asad,

"Now you seem to concede that animals do in fact evolve. But what do you think of human evolution?"

I believe animal evolution is a God guided process. Natural, purely automatic processes devoid of intelligence cannot increase the complexity of animals.

I also believe there is a huge gap in our knowledge about Human emergence.
I am no scholar and have little information about interpretations of Human emergence in the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH). From what I understand, the Qur'an does not contradict the view that we are descendants of ape-like animals.
However, I think our scientific knowledge is stretched a bit in formaing this conclusion.

If God created Adam (PBUH) from clay, (as in moulding a being from clay) then we will find evidence for this in science.
If God created Adam (PBUH) though a long process of evolution, we will find this evidence in science.

The thing is, our scientific evidence for human evolution is not what will convince us beyond reasonable doubt. We do not have that kind of solid evidence. We have gathered bits and pieces of information, dicarded what we do not like and valued what we like to form the conclusion we are descendants of ape-like primates.

Whatever our findings are, the truth cannot be changed. So I will wait until i can personally do all the reading (of scientific literature and the Prophet's (PBUH) sayings) before I conclude one way or the other.

Mean while, (ie today) I believe that human beings are God's special creation. How God created human beings, I don't know. For all I know, human beings CANNOT just emerge from ape-like animals, (or clay for that matter :)) without divine intervention. There HAS TO BE a divine touch. The gap i mentioned in the beginning of this comment is this divine touch.

Consciousness and human kind of intelligence cannot just appear on beings. These are features bestowed on us.

Ali said...

Thanks Salman for the stats.
That survery was done ages ago. Do you have something more recent?

I think the results will favour my view (ie most scientists believe in God) if the survey is repeated today.

Asad M said...

Ali, I’m glad you accept that the Qur’an does not contradict human evolution. Whether evolution is a God guided process (and to what extent God intervenes in natural processes like evolution), this we don’t know from science and is a matter of faith.

If you are looking for evidence of human evolution in Prophet’s (PBUH) sayings or the Qur’an, than I’m not sure how far that alone will help you. I’ll repeat my comments from a previous post that the Qur’an is not primarily a book of history or science but a book of guidance where there are moral lessons to be learned in each of its parables. It is itself mentioned in the Quran that not every story (e.g. the creation of man from clay) therein is to be taken literally and that allegories and metaphors are widely used.

Sorry that it’ll be a long post but I can’t make it any shorter. Humans have not ‘‘just emerged’’ from ape-like creatures; you must appreciate that evolution is a slow and long process. Life first originated approx 3.8billion yrs ago on earth (or some say it came from outer-space). Life was just mostly bacteria & algae in the sea (or on rocks on the coasts) and it took over 3B years for those organisms to evolve into more complex multi-cellular organisms such that plants & animals only began to emerge in the last 600M yrs or so.

“there is a huge gap in our knowledge about Human emergence”, is not exactly true as we know for a fact that humans are biologically related to all animals (and even plants & bacteria, viruses etc.) and descended from a common ancestor with the chimpanzees. The evidence comes from diverse scientific sources including genetics (DNA analysis), fossil records (paleoanthropology), archaeology, dating methods (e.g. radiocarbon), behavioral studies (incl. studying other primates) and anthropology itself (which has many fields such as biological/physical, social, cultural, linguistics).

Asad M said...

So here’s human evolution for you in a nutshell, it is all supported and corroborated by evidence provided by the sciences quoted above. There may be differences of opinion among scientists on specific facts but the following is generally accepted:

Modern humans shared a common ancestor with chimps about 6 to 7M yrs ago and that is when we went on a separate evolutionary path driven mainly by climate changes in East Africa. About 7M yrs ago East Africa started to dry up as tropical forests turned to grassy plains and our ancestors had to climb down from the trees and look for food on the ground. These prompted anatomical changes (e.g. upright posture, bi-pedalism, stronger hip muscles) and by 4.5M yrs ago they were fully bi-pedal.

Walking on two limbs freed up the arms causing them to access more varied food sources (e.g. nuts, meat/fish, tubers) and to develop stone tools. The next spark was provided by the discovery of fire-making and the skill of controlling it (approx 1.5M yrs ago) which led to cooking food as well as security against predators. Cooked meal is digested many times faster than uncooked, providing them more time to gather food, improve tools & cognitive abilities and to develop a cooperative family structure and share knowledge. All this contributed to the evolution of a considerably larger brain and along the way there were gene mutations (esp. in the brain) as well. The underlying mechanism for all these evolutionary changes was the struggle for survival in a specific geographical environment.

During this 6M yrs period many human-like species evolved in Africa and at any one time there were several such species living and evolving side by side either in the same region or in different places. By 1M years ago, some species had even migrated to Asia (e.g. Homo erectus, Floresiensis) and Europe (Homo erectus at first which probably evolved into Heidelbergensis & Neanderthal).

However, by 70,000 yrs ago only 2 species had survived; Neanderthals in Europe and Sapiens in Africa. Around that time there was again a severe drought in East Africa such that only a few humans hundred survived, some of whom crossed the narrow sea to land in bountiful Yemen (or some say they took the northern route through Egypt & Sinai) and eventually populated all of Asia, Australia & Europe in the next 30,000 yrs. Homo sapiens had also developed some form of basic language which aided them in outcompeting Neanderthals in Europe (they had other advantages as well such as better tools, a more varied diet etc.). We are still evolving to this day not just culturally/intellectually but anatomically (this one is up for debate) as well.

If you want some references than I can provides some website links or books.

Salman Hameed said...

"Thanks Salman for the stats.
That survery was done ages ago. Do you have something more recent? "

Huh! The Nature survey was done in 1998 and it compared results from 1916 and 1933, showing that members of NAS have gotten even more skeptical. The other survey results of all scientists are from 2007.

It is okay to find results that are not what one believes. You have to move-on from that. The fact most scientists do not believe in God (or vice versa) should not impact your own personal beliefs. The problem is that you have decided that all "cerebral beings" see and accept the evidence of God and are now having trouble reconciling your beliefs with data. The matters of personal faith should be based on personal beliefs - irrespective of what others might believe.

Ali said...

Asad, this is interesting.

You have given a narrative of the process of human evolution as many scientists have theorised. Actually its like I am listening to a story. And I did listen very carefully until the following quote after hearing which I am tempted to interrupt. :)

"All this contributed to the evolution of a considerably larger brain and along the way there were gene mutations (esp. in the brain) as well."
So you honestly believe that what you describe as "all this" CAN indeed evolve a considerably larger brain?
A human brain with all its functions and complexity?
That too without divine action?
This is where you will say 'no, no, I did not say without divine action. I am only saying that we dont know this from science.'
I agree.
We don't know the extent of divine action from science.
But, but, but, ...
I object when you tell me that it "is a matter of faith."
I can explain.
I have never met you. Never seen you. Never seen even a picture of you. Nor do I have any idea about who you are or even who you may be. I know nothing about you except the few bits you have written on your 'about me' page.
But I am 100 percent sure you are above at least 15 years of age.
Is this a matter of faith too?
If so, please explain.
If not, why not?

My explanation is like this.
There are a few things I know about you ...
From the few bits on your about me page and judging from the type of response you have written to my comments here, I can say that you have to be above 15 years of age.
I am using my analytical ability to say this.
Similarly, after learning what a human being is like and what a human brain is like, I am 100 percent sure that God created us.
It is knowledge not faith that brings me to this conclusion.
If the human brain is like a lump of jelly, I can agree with your story.
But the human brain's complexity antomically, histologically, physiologically and biochemistrically, defies me to believe that it can "just emerge" like the way you say it did.

Ali said...

Asad, many thanks for the offer to provide links and books.
Please feel free to provide anything that will contradict what I have said. :)
I have heard of the story of human evolution too many times.
Please mark the point in the story where there was the 'spark' for human kind of intelligence.

Ali said...

"The fact most scientists do not believe in God (or vice versa) should not impact your own personal beliefs."
Absolutely agreed.
The whole world can believe God played no role in creation, but I will believe that God created us.
I have no doubts about this, whatsoever.
There are 'sings for people who are wise', Salman.
No matter what meaning you take of this, this is so, so true.
So I am least bit bothered about what scientists think and what atheist propaganda machines are spreading.

Asad M said...

“…after learning what a human being is like and what a human brain is like, I am 100 percent sure that God created us.”

So you are not prepared to accept the overwhelming evidence for human evolution gathered by hundreds of experts who have dedicated their lives to science, yet are “100% sure” of creationism (human i.e.) based on your “knowledge” about human beings and the brain. Surely your “knowledge” comes from neither science nor faith as Islam doesn’t contradict human evolution anywhere.

The evolution of our species as well as our brain took place gradually over many millions of years. It wasn’t that humans suddenly appeared on the planet from nowhere with a bigger and smarter brain. Australopithecines (4M to 2M yrs ago) started to eat meat and by 2.3M yrs ago Homo habilis had a 30% larger brain. Homo erectus (1.8M yrs) was most likely the first to use fire and cook food and from then onwards brain size increased ever more rapidly. Check this http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8543906.stm

Sure the human brain is still very mysterious but science is slowly unraveling its mysteries too; e.g. there’s growing evidence that several functions of our brain as well as other biological processes such as photosynthesis are governed by principles of quantum mechanics. Just because you (or even the scientists) don’t understand something then it doesn’t mean that God must have done it in a particular way. If people had lived by this logic than we’d be still in the Stone Ages and never been able to make the discoveries that we made.

Here are a few sites and books (but I highly doubt they’ll be of any use to you unless you open your mind):

http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/index.html
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/humans/humankind/index.html

Human Evolution: An Illustrated Introduction – Roger Lewin
Origins: Human Evolution Revealed – Douglas Palmer

Take care.

Ali said...

Asad,

Work has kept me away from the mindset to comment any earlier than this.
I could sense that you are getting all pumped up. So the correct mindset from me is of utmost importance. :)

"It wasn’t that humans suddenly appeared on the planet from nowhere with a bigger and smarter brain."
The difference between our arguments, so far, is that I am telling I do not know what happened at this jucture of time and you are sayiing that you do know (from science, of course).

You say that I am saying God created us based on pure faith. (Later you seemed to have revised your position and said that it is neither faith nor science, Then what is it? lol)
I am saying you are telling a story and labelling it science.

Can you prove that yours is not a story?
No.
But I can prove that my position is based on knowldge.
I told you the example of me knowing that you are above 15 years old.

Now tell me. Am I wrong?

Asad M said...

Your denial of human evolution is 'neither faith nor science' in which ‘faith' means Islam (Islam never denies human evolution, at least how I interpret it).

Name one anthropologist (scientists who study human origins) who calls human evolution “a story” (i.e. not backed by scientific evidence), and no, creationism/Intelligent design is not science.

From your logic, 'knowledge' and denial of facts, i have no idea what your age is :)).... enough said, adios