Creationism in the Land of the Bible

Quick: When I say “creationist,” whom do you picture? Ken Ham, the Australian-American creationist impresario of Kentucky? Or Arye Dary of Israel’s Shas Party?

Is THIS the face of creationism?

Is THIS the face of creationism?

As Josh Rosenau of the National Center for Science Education pointed out recently, the question of Palestinian statehood received the lion’s share of attention after the last round of elections in Israel. But those elections could also have significant impact on the teaching of evolution in Israel’s schools.

In a nutshell, the new government will likely be dominated by conservative parties. In Israel, that means a significant political presence for the more conservative religious factions. Many of those groups oppose the teaching of evolution.

...or is THIS?

…or is THIS?

As Rosenau relates, the topic of evolution only recently became a required part of the middle-school curriculum in secular Israeli public schools. Arye Dary of the Shas Party, a likely government partner, made no bones about his opposition to evolution education. “As an ultra-orthodox party,” Dary explained,

that believes that our forefathers were Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that our holy matriarchs were Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, we refuse to teach our children that they originated from apes.

For those few who continue to believe that creationism is uniquely American, or peculiar to conservative Protestantism, this serves as a healthy reminder of the truth.  Creationism as a political and educational impulse is strong worldwide.  Conservatives of many backgrounds in many countries insist that there is more to “truth” than can be divined by human scrabblings.

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  1. I was actually informed yesterday that YEC is still the official position of the Catholic church. Even tho multiple popes have voiced their support of evolution, it has not made its way into official church doctrine yet. That’s a big deal considering the size of the Catholic church.

    • Tim,
      Informed by whom? I also thought that the Catholic Church had expressed its firm and continuing creationism, but a kind of creationism that remained neutral on the question of the age of the earth and universe. I don’t know how reliable it is, but this pamphlet from “Catholic Answers” assures us that the official Catholic position includes plenty of room for a young or ancient earth:

      The Church has infallibly determined that the universe is of finite age—that it has not existed from all eternity—but it has not infallibly defined whether the world was created only a few thousand years ago or whether it was created several billion years ago.

    • I don’t think that’s accurate, and the idea of there being an “official position” or that it has some kind of automatic and immediate impact on Catholics worldwide is a little humorous.

      @Adam can you say more about the history of Jewish anti-evolutionism? I have never come across it before. My guess is it’s rather recent and marginal which is not to say a minority can’t be very influential when organized and focused in certain places.

      • Dan, I’m even more ignorant of Jewish anti-evolutionism than I am about other non-christian types. But have you looked yet at Ron Numbers’s updated Creationists? The 2006 edition? He examines a variety of non-Christian and non-USA creationists.

      • I have never heard of Numbers — looks like a great book! Duly added to my cart.

        Did you see this 2013 Pew survey of American Jews that showed a decline in religiosity except among Orthodox branches (roughly 500k Americans) who are enjoying an expansion — while at the same time a third of all American Jews are now willing to accept messianic Jews as Jews even though the state of Israel does not? There are about 250k messianic Jews in the US, and it’s largely a new, post 1960s movement connected closely to the evangelical movement. The most evangelical and ecumenical group of Orthodox Jews in the Chabad or Lubavitcher movement apparently carries along some of their founders’ antipathy toward evolution. I guess there is some history of anti-materialism and “anti-scientism” among some orthodox and ultra-orthodox groups who also have ongoing debates about historical-critical approaches to the Bible that are equally troublesome to conservative Christians and Muslims. It would makes sense for similar or cross-influenced ideas on creationism/evolution to surface in these groups.

  2. Then all we need to do is show the universe is eternal and the infallibility of the Catholic Church will disappear in a puff of logic.

  1. March 27 Religion and Atheism News Report | Evangelically Atheist

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