Perhaps there are still true guardians of human rights and opponents of tyranny within the Council of Europe.
That’s great!, you are probably thinking, Finally the EU has decided to send troops to Darfur; to call for free elections in North Korea; to forcefully condemn human rights abuses in Guantanamo; or demand the right to vote for Saudi women; or to read Mugabe the riot act…
Ah, think again.
The paean to the enlightened minds in the CoE comes from our friend Casey Luskin and, alas, celebrates the Council’s decision, as reported by some news agencies, to postpone a vote on a Report from their Committee on Culture, Science and Education, issued a couple months ago, condemning Creationism and unequivocally supporting the teaching of evolutionary science in European schools.
So, what does the rant about tyranny and human rights gotta do with it? See, Luskin is claiming that the CoE resolution aims to “criminalize” ID and to impose “thought control”. But as it often happens with ID propaganda, Luskin is banking on his faithful readers not to read the original sources, because if they did, they’d clearly become aware that the Report states:
The teaching of alternative theories can only be considered if they provide sufficient guarantees as to the scientific nature and truth of the ideas put forward.
The alternative ideas currently presented by the creationists cannot claim to offer these guarantees, so it is inconceivable that they can be allowed to be taught within the scientific disciplines, either alongside or instead of the theory of evolution.
The creationist ideas could, however, be presented in an educational context other than that of a scientific discipline. The Council of Europe has highlighted the importance of teaching culture and religion. In the name of freedom of expression and individual belief, creationist theories, like any other theological position, could possibly be described in the context of giving more space to cultural and religious education. [emphasis mine]
In other words, Creationism/ID do not have sufficient scientific support at this time to be taught in science classes, and hence they should not, until and if they do. They can however be discussed openly in more appropriate contexts, having to do with religion and philosophy.
Does this equal a “ban on ID in science classes”, as Luskin ominously claims, a violation of human rights and academic freedom? It would be puzzling if it did, because this is the very same position espoused by prominent ID-sympathetic figures, such as Paul Nelson and Bruce Gordon. Heck, who would argue against the proposition that concepts taught in science classes should provide guarantees “as to the scientific nature and truth of the ideas put forward”? And where would those “guarantees” come from, in science, if not via peer review and widespread academic acceptance? The Committee report clearly says that its suggestion to keep Creationism/ID out of science classes is not final, but reversible should either idea assert itself scientifically based on evidence and the judgment of the scientific community.
Of course, what Luskin really wants, as argued by pro-ID defense expert sociologist Steve Fuller at the Kitzmiller trial, is a form of affirmative action for ID in school curricula, which presumably should apply liberally to all fringe scientific ideas that wish to be taught in science classes. Not surprisingly, the pedagogical value of such a free-for-all curriculum escaped the CoE Committee on Culture, Science and Education.
But hey, never let common sense and truth come between you and a nice bit of purple-prosed propaganda, uh, Casey? Let’s throw our young hearts over the barricades of bureaucratic barbarism, under the banner of Truth, Freedom, and the ID way. Sic semper.