Reactions to Creationism in Israel

THIS is a follow-up to what we posted yesterday: Creationism in Israel — Oy!

In Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper, we read Israel Prize laureate joins chorus condemning official’s critical remarks on evolution. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

One of Israel’s most noted scholars yesterday denounced remarks by the Education Ministry’s chief scientist, who cast doubt over the weekend about both evolution and global warming.

Dr. Gavriel Avital, triggered an uproar in the academic community when he said he would encourage students to consider other theories besides evolution. “There are many people who don’t believe the evolutionary account is correct,” he said. “There are those for whom evolution is a religion, and they are unwilling to hear about anything else.”

Okay, what was the reaction?

Yehoshua Kolodny, a professor emeritus at Hebrew University who won the Israel Prize for his contributions to the study of earth science, responded furiously to these statements yesterday. “Denying evolution is like denying science itself,” Kolodny said.

That’s not all he said:

“Evolution is not a theory, but an observation point that anyone can see. Perhaps Dr. Avital did not notice that throughout history, various species existed and then became extinct. In 2009, the entire world celebrated 200 years since the birth of Darwin and 150 years since the publication of his book ‘The Origin of the Species,'” he added.

“When a top scientist ignores these things, it’s a cultural calamity,” Kolodny said. “There are no disagreements among scientists regarding evolution. Catholics and Protestants long ago ended their war against evolution, and Avital is for all intents and purposes joining the radical fringe of evangelicals in the United States.”

Ironically, some of those “radical fringe” people are among the most dedicated supporters of Israel. Life is often complicated. We continue:

“There won’t be a need for us to bomb Tehran, because Tehran has already come to us,” he added.

Now that’s a strong reaction! Here’s more:

Jonathan Erez, a professor at Hebrew University’s Earth Sciences Institute, echoed Kolodny’s sentiments. “We have returned to the dark Middle Ages,” Erez said. “It’s difficult to believe that a man who harbors such opinions has climbed the ladder to become the Education Ministry’s chief scientist.

Actually, some of these remarks are an over-reaction. It’s just one embarrassing goof-ball in the Education Ministry’s bureaucracy. Here’s our last excerpt:

It’s remarkable, and it places Israel on a lower rung from a global standpoint. The education minister has to draw the appropriate conclusions immediately, because it is clear that Avital is not fit for the job,” he said.

Dare we make a prediction? We’ve been wrong before, so why not? We predict that within a week, Dr. Gavriel Avital will be relieved of his responsibilities as chief scientist of the Education Ministry.

Update: See Creationism in Israel: Expel the Ignoramus!

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5 responses to “Reactions to Creationism in Israel

  1. Three cheers for Dr. Kolodny, and shame on Dr. Avital.

    And three cheers to our Curmudgeon for reporting this item. It is striking — though I my report can only be anecdotal — how little reporting there appears to be in the US on internal Israeli affairs. On a recent trip to the US, I was astounded at the number of folk who, while professing ‘support’ for Israel, couldn’t name the principal political parties therein nor the even approximate make up of the current Knesset. And an apparently widespread assumption that any criticism of Israel — even by Israeli oppostion parties — was “anti-semitic.” Which seems bizarre.

    Dr. Avital simply indicates that Israel has some kooks, too — who doesn’t? Let us continue to hope that such remain a minority.

  2. STUPID… knows no geographical boundaries…………..

  3. Great Claw says: “… how little reporting there appears to be in the US on internal Israeli affairs.”

    I’m no expert on such things, but I think it’s because politics over there are extremely complicated. It’s not something an American reporter can brush up on for a quickie column now and then. They have lots of parties, and each has a different position on hot-button issues like religion, labor unions, taxes, defense, etc. The names of the parties and the politicians are unpronounceable, and if a reporter gets anything wrong the offended party is really offended. On top of that, everything is literally a life or death issue. So if I were a journalist, I’d either specialize in Israel exclusively — thus limiting my career opportunities — or else I’d avoid it entirely.

  4. Also, it’s a small country. There isn’t the need for broad-brush simplification or distortion of issues (Death Panels, anyone?) to hold a Big Tent together across an enormous constituency.

  5. There’s always a group everywhere that prefers superstitions to reason, particularly if that group is the prime exporter of said superstitions. The problems come when said group has access to massively destructive weapons and potential world-ending self-fulfilling prophecies that it gets a little worrisome.