Evolution Beats Creationism in South Korea Textbook Battle
A fossil archaeopteryx, an early relative of modern birds. Photo: Denise Chan/Flickr
By Ian Steadman, Wired UK
There’s been a victory for sense and science in South Korea, as the government there has rejected calls to drop references to the evolution of birds from the national school curriculum.
As previously reported on Wired.co.uk, pressure group Society for Textbook Revise had managed to persuade textbook publishers to drop sections from their books that discussed the evolution of horses and the Jurassic-era early avian-like dinosaur Archaeopteryx.
Now, however, a special panel convened by the South Korean government has recommended that the publishers ignore the creationists’ arguments — which should mean that textbooks reintroduce the old segments before the start of the next school year.
The argument of the Society for Textbook Revise — an offshoot of the Korea Association for Creation Research — rested on there being debate among evolutionary scientists over whether Archaeopteryx could fly, or glide, or merely had feathers for decoration. This disagreement was extrapolated to cast doubt on the whole evolutionary history of birds.
In response, South Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology set up a panel experts to assess the campaign’s claims. They disagreed that their Archaeopteryx objection was a valid argument, and said it should remain in the textbooks. The campaign group also claimed that a section on the evolution of the horse was too simplistic, which the panel agreed with — but they have merely recommended replacing it with a more thorough explanation, or a new section on the evolution of another animal like the whale.
Creationism is a growing issue in South Korea, which has experienced a surge in evangelical Christianity over the past few decades — over 20 percent of South Koreans claim some kind of Christian faith as of 2005, and a 2009 survey found 41 percent of those asked said they didn’t think there was sufficient evidence to support evolution as a theory.