That’s the headline of a short blurb in yesterday’s issue of Science. According to Science, the National Research Council (CNR) of Italy helped to fund and promote a creationist book that was edited by a vice-president of CNR. I have not investigated CNR, but I assume it has properties in common with the US National Science Foundation.
The book, Evolutionism: the decline of an hypothesis, was edited by a historian of Christianity at the European University of Rome and was based on the proceedings of a meeting at which scientists and philosophers argued, in the words of Science, “that conventional dating methods are wrong, that fossil strata resulted from the Deluge, and that dinosaurs died 40,000 years ago,” not to mention “why evolution is unscientific.”
Evidently CNR contributed money to the publication of the book, but CNR President Luciano Maiani said that CNR has not endorsed the book. Rather, he told Science, “I’d like to stress the fact that intellectual research is an open enterprise as well as my [opposition to] any form of censorship.” If creationism were intellectual research, then he might have a point.
Ferdinando Boero, a zoologist at the University of Salento, got it right: He told Science, “Here we are not talking about the freedom of expression. If you send a scientific paper stating that the Earth is flat, no scientific journal will ever publish it.” The President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, according to Science, thinks it is ironic that “while the Church has devoted many conferences to the topic [of evolution] this year, the vice president of CNR organized conferences in favor of creationism.”
Ironic is probably not the word I would have chosen.