Thursday, January 04, 2007

God vs Darwin in Russia - with bananas and a monkey suit

We know that opposition to evolution has really gone global when even Russia has to face a legal challenge over the teaching of evolution (thanks to the Panda's Thumb for bringing this to attention). The lawsuit is brought by a student who says that the teaching of evolution offends her religion, and that Darwin's theory is anti-religious, atheistic and unproven. The Baltimore Sun has the full article here
This nation's first-ever lawsuit on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution began with a biology textbook, a bunch of bananas and a man dressed in a monkey suit.

And it only got more tangled from there.
The student who brought the case, saying the teaching of evolution offends her religion, has accused her school of trying to flunk her as punishment for speaking up.

The principal has suggested that the girl and her family are not being driven by devout beliefs, but by a push for publicity.
While there are standard anti-evolution issues, in this case there may really be a problem with the textbooks being used:
And people on both sides - including the Russian Orthodox Church and one of the textbook's authors - are locked in a debate that touches not only on Darwin's observations on the origin of species but on atheism, Marxism-Leninism and the fall of civilizations.

The case revolves around 16-year-old Mariya Shraiber, who says her biology text presents a one-sided version of life's origins based on Darwin's theory and is dismissive of the view that God made man. The lawsuit challenges Darwin's theory as anti-religious, atheistic and unproven. It quotes the textbook as referring to biblical teachings as "legends" and calling it "stupidity" to assume that God created the world.
If biology textbooks are commenting on biblical teachings then perhaps that part of the lawsuit does have merit. But it seems that publicity is also playing a big part in the trial (there is also a related Russian wesbite ( as part of an information war against Darwin). Now, H.L.Menken brought the 1925 Scopes trial through the Baltimore Sun and so the paper's American coverage of this Russian scopes trial is quite appropriate - and its tone is certainly in the same spirit.
"It's quite disrespectful," said Mariya, who has short fingernails painted bright pink, multiple earrings in each ear and a fondness for poetry. "I believe we have the right to learn not only the theory of evolution, but creationism as well."
Stay tuned - we'll probably hear more about this trial that has already featured free bananas and a guy in a monkey suit.


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