IN Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper, we read Scientists irate after top education official questions evolution. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:
The Education Ministry’s chief scientist sparked a furor among environmental activists and scholars Saturday with remarks questioning the reliability of evolution and global warming theory. The comments from Dr. Gavriel Avital, the latest in a series of written and oral statements casting doubts on the fundamental tenets of modern science, led several environmentalists to call for his dismissal.
What did Dr. Avital say? Let’s read on:
“If textbooks state explicitly that human beings’ origins are to be found with monkeys, I would want students to pursue and grapple with other opinions. There are many people who don’t believe the evolutionary account is correct,” Avital said yesterday.
“Other opinions”? And what might those be? We continue:
“There are those for whom evolution is a religion and are unwilling to hear about anything else. Part of my responsibility, in light of my position with the Education Ministry, is to examine textbooks and curricula,” he said. “If they keep writing in textbooks that the Earth is growing warmer because of carbon dioxide emissions, I’ll insist that isn’t the case.”
This guy sounds like the Don McLeroy of Israel — somebody’s got to stand up to the experts! Here’s more:
Prof. Hava Yablonka of Tel Aviv University said Avital’s statements are tantamount “to saying that space should be given in textbooks to the view that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it. It’s astonishing that the chief scientist of a government ministry can say such bizarre things.“
Yes, it is astonishing. But from across the ocean with similar problems of our own, it’s also amusing. Moving along:
In a November 2009 article in the journal B’sheva (published by the national-religious media network Arutz Sheva), Avital wrote, “A ‘green crusade’ has taken place around the world over the past few years, part of a broader phenomenon that could indeed be called ‘green religion.’
“Why are environmental organizations pressuring the government over alternative energy that is both unattainable and probably very costly? These questions cannot be avoided,” Avital wrote.
Those questions ought to be asked. But evolution? Another excerpt:
Prior to his appointment, Avital said in a video interview with Machon Meir, a religious-Zionist Jewish studies institute, “Another scientific field that is problematic is biology, or life and environmental sciences. When your doctrine is based on Darwin’s theory of evolution and its implications, you are standing on unreliable foundations — that is, there is no God, there was only something primeval, and then there are certain random developments which led to the apex of all creation, the human being.”
How did this guy get appointed to his current office? It doesn’t matter, really. He is where he is — and it’s a good thing. Life was far too tranquil in the Middle East. They needed some controversy to liven things up.
Update: See Reactions to Creationism in Israel.
Update: See Creationism in Israel: Expel the Ignoramus!
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