By Michael Dixon
In recent weeks there have been alarming reports from both Israel and Turkey of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution being erased from school curriculums. In Turkey, this has been blamed on the concept of evolution – which is taught in British primary schools – being beyond the understanding of high school students. In Israel, teachers are claiming that most students do not learn about evolution; they say their education ministry is quietly encouraging teachers to focus on other topics in biology.
This news follows the astonishing statements made by India’s minister for higher education earlier this year. Satyapal Singh claimed Darwin was “scientifically wrong”, and is demanding that the theory of evolution be removed from school curriculums because no one “ever saw an ape turning into a human being”.
It is tempting to shrug off these latest attacks on Darwin’s greatest contribution to natural science. After all, no other scientific theory has attracted the same level of impassioned opposition and detraction – certainly not for more than 150 years. But that would be to miss the particular urgency of improving our scientific understanding of the natural world and how best to protect it for the future.
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