Council of Europe votes on creationism in schools
The Council is based in Strasbourg, and oversees human rights standards in member states and enforces decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Its primary task, according to its own website, is ‘to develop throughout Europe common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals’. Its wider aims are:
- to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law;
- to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe's cultural identity and diversity;
- to find common solutions to the challenges facing European society: such as discrimination against minorities, xenophobia, intolerance, bioethics and cloning, terrorism, trafficking in human beings, organised crime and corruption, cybercrime, violence against children;
- to consolidate democratic stability in Europe by backing political, legislative and constitutional reform.
So if its raison d’être is to sustain plurality and to promote diversity, why is it voting soviet-like to ban the teaching of creationism and ‘intelligent design’ in Europe’s schools?
Whether or not one has a faith, one believes in evolution, one perceives ‘intelligent design’ to be a valid theory for scientific examination, or one believes that the subject belongs solely in the religious studies class, any decision on its teaching should be a matter solely for the Secretary of State for Children, Schools, Families, Breast Feeding and Nappy Changing, or the heads and governors of schools. While Cranmer does not support the notion of a National Curriculum, he is at least a believer that education should remain the preserve of the nation state.
Yet the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly faces a motion that creationism ‘attacks the theory of evolution’, and that such a challenge has its origins in ‘in forms of religious extremism’. This, apparently, constitutes ‘a dangerous assault on science and human rights’.
The resolution therefore urges Europe’s schools to ‘resist presentation of creationist ideas in any discipline other than religion’, and dismisses ‘intelligent design’ as a pseudo-scientific ‘updated version of creationism’. The Council sees it as its function ‘to prevent belief from opposing science’.
This amounts quite simply to an attack upon religion and the teaching of religion, which, it may be counter asserted, has its origins in forms of secular extremism. Both the EU and the European Council are seeking to relegate the role of religion to the realms of the private, and assert an increasingly aggressive secular agenda in the public realm.
Yet there is an interesting dimension to this story which Cranmer would like his communicants and readers to consider. Many of Europe’s schools have been teaching that God made the world in six days for centuries. It is the literal teaching of orthodox Judaism and Christianity. And true to its Enlightenment foundations, the modern education system encourages children to question, analyse, seek knowledge, and to make up their own minds on the matter. Intelligent design is simply another theory which posits that some life forms are too complex to have evolved according to the theory of evolution, and that they would have required a higher intelligence or force to develop as they have. And this theory is as scientifically supportable as the theory of evolution, which, Cranmer would like to point out, remains a theory.
So why, after centuries of harmonious coexistence, is ‘Europe’ seeking to expunge creationism from the continent’s schools?
Well… Reuters notes that the issue has been taken up by the Council ‘because a shadowy Turkish Muslim publishing group has been sending an Islamic creationist book to schools in several countries’.
It is purely a mechanism to limit the influence of Islam.
Cranmer would like to suggest that this is an area where all of the Continent’s faiths should unite to challenge the increasingly God-less and pathologically anally-retentive European institutions, and tell them, politely but firmly, how pluralism and diversity are wholly in accord with nature, what they can therefore do with their soviet secular religion, and where they can put their myopic man-made god.