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Top scientists wade in to evolution row
Evolutionary theory should be taught in schools, says think-tankA life-sized model of an archaeopteryx, which some scientists believe to be the first bird
- Stephen Hong, Seoul
- September 6, 2012
This could represent a decisive turn in the intellectualÂ battle over the teaching of evolution in high school textbooks.
The controversy began last year when the Society for Textbook Revise (STR) petitioned the Ministry of Education over the use of the archaeopteryx as an example of an intermediary species in evolutionary theory.
The society followed up with a second petition in March this year, calling current teaching on the evolution of the horse â€śa figment of the imagination.â€ť
The Ministry of Education forwarded the petition to publishers, six of whom agreed to consider amending their textbooks. An article in the journal Nature on June 5 brought the issue wider attention.
However, at a press conference in Seoul, KAST said the archaeopteryx should not be removed from textbooks â€śas it is evidence that theropods evolved into birds.â€ťÂ But they added that current textbooks need amending to provide supplementary information.
They said further information is needed to explain â€śwhat kind of species existed before and after creatures like the archaeopteryxâ€ť because there are also other fossils and evidence outlining the evolutionary process.
To illustrate their point, they said the â€śstraight-lineâ€ť evolution theory of a horse contained in books should be replaced by â€śa moreÂ elaborate evolutionary model with numerous branches in different directions.â€ť
STR spokesperson Baeck Hyun-jue told ucanews.com that though he welcomed the scientistsâ€™ opinions, ultimately â€śboth creation and evolution theories should not be taught in schools because they are ideologies.â€ť
He said evolutionary theory is now very much like â€śreligious doctrine,â€ť in that it does not tolerate any scientific challenge.
Kim Dong-won, manager of the Korea Foundation for the Advancement of Science and Creativity, which editorially supervises science textbooks, told ucanews.com the Foundation will pass the scientistsâ€™ opinions to publishers and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education. He added that the Foundation can â€śonly recommendâ€ť that publishers consider the opinions.
The Seoul education office is mandated to approve what textbooks are used nationwide.
One of the scientists at yesterdayâ€™s press conference, Lee Duck-hwan, a chemistry professor at the Jesuit-run Sogang University, said the publishers said they would try to reflect the scientistsâ€™ suggestions regarding the textbooks after reviewing them.
Biologists rally against attack on evolution
More Koreans believe in evolution