Brazil Succumbs to Creationist Madness

This news item about Brazil is completely insane — so it’s the kind of thing we like to blog about. We found it at the news site of Science — the peer-reviewed journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Their headline is Brazil’s pick of a creationist to lead its higher education agency rattles scientists. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

The appointment of a creationism advocate to lead the agency that oversees Brazil’s graduate study programs has scientists here concerned — yet again — about the encroachment of religion on science and education policy. President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration on Saturday named Benedito Guimarães Aguiar Neto to head the agency, known as CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior). Aguiar Neto, an electrical engineer by training, previously served as the rector of Mackenzie Presbyterian University (MPU), a private religious school here. It advocates the teaching and study of intelligent design (ID), an outgrowth of Biblical creationism which argues that life is too complex to have evolved by Darwinian evolution, and so required an intelligent designer.

Groan. The Discoveroids have been blogging recently about how they’re making headway in Brazil — see, e.g.: Discoveroids’ Top Ten for 2019 — #7 and also Discovery Institute Makes Progress in Brazil. Now it’s really paying off for them. The article then says:

Researchers are decrying the move. [Darwinist fools!] “It is completely illogical to place someone who has promoted actions contrary to scientific consensus in a position to manage programs that are essentially of scientific training,” said evolutionary biologist Antonio Carlos Marques of the University of Sao Paulo’s Institute of Biosciences.

It promotes creationism, so of course it’s illogical. Science tells us:

CAPES is a key federal agency within Brazil’s Ministry of Education. It is responsible for regulating, supervising and evaluating all graduate-level programs at Brazilian universities, and funds thousands of scholarships for masters and doctoral students. It also issues funding calls for research and provides training for teachers in primary and secondary education.

This is a huge victory for the forces of darkness. The Discoveroids must be thrilled! Here’s one last excerpt from the news story:

Aguiar Neto [the newly appointed creationist] was recently quoted in an MPU press release as saying that ID should be introduced into Brazil’s basic education curricula as “a counterpoint to the theory of evolution,” and so that creationism could be supported by “scientific arguments.” He made the comments prior to the 2nd Congress on Intelligent Design, which was held at Mackenzie in October 2019. The event was organized by Discovery Mackenzie, a research center created by MPU in 2017 to mirror the Discovery Institute in Seattle, which also promotes ID.

Yup, this is definitely a victory for the Discoveroids. They’ll be bragging about it — maybe even today. We’ll be watching.

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10 responses to “Brazil Succumbs to Creationist Madness

  1. It’s worse than it sounds. There are direct links in Brazil between the spread of evangelical and Adventist religion, climate change denial, reckless disregard for the environment (and remember, this in the country that is host to most of the Amazon rainforest), and biblical creationism.

  2. Karl Goldsmith

    The Idiots had their own crap in Texas as the weekend, Dallas Conference on Science and Faith 2020.What is it with all these pretend conferences from creationists, that you never hear about them afterwards from anyong the attended.

  3. Dave Luckett

    I don’t follow Brazilian politics. Who does? I wonder, what’s in it for the President of Brazil to appoint this person to this position? Is Bolsonaro a creationist himself? I don’t know. Is there a powerful creationist lobby? Possible, I suppose. I take it this clown is a Presbyterian, and Brazil is mostly Roman Catholic, at least nominally, although Protestantism has been making inroads. I thought that particular ball was being mostly carried by the Adventists, Evangelicals and assorted Holy Rollers, though. The Presbyterians are certainly capable of craziness, as anyone who ever listened to the late, mostly unlamented Ian Paisley would know, but they aren’t particularly associated with six-day-six-thousand-years-ago creationism, and at least in Britain, the US and the Commonwealth generally they have always had a good name for respect for education and learning, if not exactly science.

    I quote Wikipedia: “The current Constitution of Brazil, in force since 1988, ensures the right to religious freedom, bans the establishment of state churches and any relationship of “dependence or alliance” of officials with religious leaders, except for “collaboration in the public interest, defined by law”.” This is clearly somewhat weaker than the forthright language of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Further, the Preamble to the Brazilian Constitution invokes “the protection of God”, unlike the US Constitution. I can find no history parallel to the US Supreme Court’s rulings on the First Amendment, either. It would appear therefore that the Brazilian Government is not Constitutionally barred from promoting religious objectives, ends or doctrines, although it is barred from actually establishing a State church.

    It is a scary thought: only a rational and straightforward interpretation by a Court of a few plain and unequivocal words of a two hundred and thirty year old document prevents the US from going down this road. And even nominally less in my own country. The only thing preventing the Australian government from appointing a creationist to the directorship of our flagship scientific organisation, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, (CSIRO) is the fact that they’d face open revolt, first from the scientists, and then from practically everybody.

  4. I cannot help pointing out that President Bolsonaro also is a social conservative. The largest socialist country, China (with a political system I detest), at the other hand is totally OK with evolution theory.

    So much for socialism = creationism.

    @DaveL: “I don’t follow Brazilian politics. Who does?”
    I do. Perhaps it’s because extremists like me understand the relevance of one of the biggest countries in the world (the 9th biggest economy for instance) and have a wider horizon, so to say. Your Australia for instance is only 14th. So a lunatic in Brasilia will have a bigger impact than a lunatic in Canberra.
    Brasil is a very religious country and last few decades it has been infiltrated by especially American fundagelical missionaries. Also, not unlike USA politicians, Bolsonaro is culturally and politically tied to economical Brasilian elite. For his conservatism (our dear SC is an admirable exception) it’s the favourite (and too often successful) way to keep the poor and the middle class in control. In other words: what Bolsonaro does, the Tories have begun with Iron Lady Maggie and Donald the Clown and his crew would like to do more is the good old “we keep them poor, you keep them dumb” politics.
    Right wing parties in my own Netherlands have done the same last 40 years by systematically cutting expenses on education and science (they have been relatively halved). The evidence is the ever growing social inequality as expressed by for instance the Gini-Index.

  5. Thanks for the link, MichaelF. Unfortunately I’m not surprised by

    “paraphrasing Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels”

    Politically at least the Netherlands are on a slippery slope. For one and a half decade we have had Geert Wilders (of Danish “if necessary we’ll deport 80 million muslims from Europe” fame). But things always can get worse. The most popular alt-right (better: crypto-nazi, but it’s socially and politically unacceptable to say so) politician is one Thierry Baudet. He demonstrably has ties with several neo-nazis. Sure enough he thinks all music composed after Chopin Entartete Kunst (the Dutch translation Ontaarde Kunst somehow sounds less offensive) and hates modern painters like Jeff Koons. Art has to be beautiful and celebrate national values. Sounds familiar, eh?
    I must add that Bolsonaro unlike Donald the Clown is not stupid and ignorant at all. Also the weird American political system prevents its president to go too far, alas unlike the Brasilian system. So Bolsonaro is worse.
    But yeah, the modern counterparts of the Brown Shirts are marching the streets again.

  6. @DaveL, you are far too optimistic about Presbyterianism. The theologically conservative wing of Scottish Presbyterianism continued to take the Westminster confession seriously:

    It pleased God … in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world, and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days; and all very good. (Gen. 1, Heb. 11:3, Col. 1:16, Acts 17:24)… the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments

    There are strong links between Scottish Presbyterianism and creationist Presbyterianism in the American South. Highland Theological College,with two of its trustees being six-day creationist Presbyterians theologians based in the American South; Ligon Duncan, author, within The Genesis Debate,,of the defence of the 24 hour view, and Rev Dr Douglas F Kelly,author of Creation and Change, . Publisher’s blurb, ” In this book Professor Douglas Kelly persuasively argues for a literal interpretation of the seven day account of creation found in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. He assesses both the biblical details and the scientific data to show that there is a convincing case for this understanding and how it is scientifically viable”. Both Duncan and Kelly are at the Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

  7. @PaulB: very nice blogpost (unfortunately I can’t read Portuguese). I liked this:

    “Prof Vieira argues that the present-day theory of evolution, and biblical creationism, are not in fact rival theories, but representations of differing untestable worldviews”
    Such a clever Tu Quoque.

  8. @DaveL (in particular), are their links between Scotland Morrison and creationism? His own church believes in the accuracy of the Bible (except when it says anything about wealth and poverty), but in its statement of faith, while clearly evolved from the Westminster Confession, is so devoid of specifics as to be completely uninformative.

    And, more generally, does the Australia-based creationism movement share the US creationists’ contempt for environmental concerns? Scottish creationism doesn’t.