Council of Europe to vote on creationism in schools

PARIS Tue Sep 25, 2007 5:40pm BST

Student desks are shown in this undated file photo. Europe's main human rights body will vote next week on a resolution opposing the teaching of creationist and intelligent design views in school science classes. REUTERS/Danilo Krstanovic

Student desks are shown in this undated file photo. Europe's main human rights body will vote next week on a resolution opposing the teaching of creationist and intelligent design views in school science classes.

Credit: Reuters/Danilo Krstanovic

Related Topics

PARIS (Reuters) - Europe's main human rights body will vote next week on a resolution opposing the teaching of creationist and intelligent design views in school science classes.

The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly will debate a resolution saying attacks on the theory of evolution were rooted "in forms of religious extremism" and amounted to a dangerous assault on science and human rights.

The resolution, on the agenda for October 4, says European schools should "resist presentation of creationist ideas in any discipline other than religion." It describes the "intelligent design" argument as an updated version of creationism.

Anne Brasseur, an Assembly member from Luxembourg who updated an earlier draft resolution, said the vote was due in June but was postponed because some members felt the original text amounted to an attack on religious belief.

Only minor changes have been made to the initial draft.

"There are different views of the creation of the world and we respect that," she told Reuters. "The message we wanted to send was to avoid creationism passing itself off as science and being taught as science. That's where the danger lies."

The Council, based in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, oversees human rights standards in member states and enforces decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

If passed, the resolution would not be binding on its 47 member states but would reflect widespread opposition among politicians to teaching creationism in science class.

NATURAL SELECTION DROPPED

Creationism says God made the world in six days as depicted in the Bible. Intelligent design argues some life forms are too complex to have evolved according to Charles Darwin's theory and needed an unnamed higher intelligence to develop as they have.

Some conservatives in the United States, both religious and secular, have long opposed the teaching of evolution in public schools but U.S. courts have regularly barred them from teaching what they describe as religious views of creation.

Pressure to teach creationism is weaker in Europe, but has been mounting. An Assembly committee took up the issue because a shadowy Turkish Muslim publishing group has been sending an Islamic creationist book to schools in several countries.

Supporters of intelligent design want it taught in science class alongside evolution. A U.S. court ruled this out in a landmark decision in 2005, dismissing it as "neo-creationism."

"The aim of this report is not to question or to fight a belief," Brasseur wrote in a memorandum added to the new resolution. "It is not a matter of opposing belief and science, but it is necessary to prevent belief from opposing science."

She said the resolution also shortened references in the resolution to "evolution by natural selection" to "evolution" because some members had misunderstood the reference to natural selection to be an attack on their religious beliefs.

FILED UNDER: