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Danish Scholars Stand Up for Intellectual Freedom
on the issue of Intelligent Design vs. Darwinian Evolution

[COMMENT:  The question is whether the Danes will listen.   E. Fox]
 

Dear everyone.
 
In the beginning of November a letter written by Professor Peter Ohrstrom from the University of Aalborg concerning the Council of Europe's resolution on ID and creationism was sent to all the members of the Danish Parliament. The letter was signed by 16 Danish scientists and intellectuals. I thought you would like to see a translation of it. Maybe something similiar can be done for all of Europe. The letter reads as follows:
 

Dear <<name of MP>>

 

Re. The Council of Europe’s resolution no. 1580, passed on October the 4. 2007 (see http://assembly.coe.int/Mainf.asp?link=/Documents/WorkingDocs/Doc07/EDOC11375.htm):

 

We are writing to you because the Council of Europe on October the 4. 2007 passed Resolution no. 1580 about intelligent design and creationism in Europe (se above reference). The resolution encourages the member states to keep intelligent design and creationism out of the educational institutions and schools, in particular in regard to science education. The resolution also warns against creationism and intelligent design as real threats not only against education, but also against science, democracy and human rights.

 

We do not with this statement want to take a position in the scientific debate about evolution, intelligent design, and creationism, since this precisely ought to be a scientific discussion and not a matter for politicians to decide on. On the other hand, we are of the opinion that the claim of a threat to democracy and human rights is absurd, and we want to call attention to the fact that the Council of Europe with this resolution clearly is astray in respect to essential democratic and educational ideals. We find the Council of Europe’s resolution to be a threat to teachers’ freedom of speech and method of teaching, and that it will stifle the scientific debate on this issue. We therefore ask you to disregard the resolution.

 

The mentioned views (intelligent design and creationism) are different minority-views in the area of the origin and evolution of life. Intelligent design and creationism are not the same thing. There are important differences between them and also many variants of them. But common to all these views is a scientific dissociation from the prevalent theory of evolution. It is hard to estimate the spread of these views in the scientific world. One can get an idea at http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/, where more than 700 scientists (Ph.d. or more) have signed the following statement:

 

"We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

 

We think that the public schools must emphasize the current theory of evolution in the education – simply because this theory has such a prominent position in the scientific world, as the case is. But w see no good reason to prohibit discussion of the mentioned minority-views from the academic world. On the contrary, we think that a good scientific education must stress that scientific theories are always open to discussion and must constantly be compared with the given observational data. In the education in the schools, no ideology and no scientific theory – including the current theory of evolution – should be presented as being above criticism. Doing that would give the students a wrong idea about what science is. And to prohibit certain minority-views from being mentioned in the schools is in reality an attack on the individual teacher’s freedom of speech and method of teaching and thus a violation of essential principles of democracy and human rights. We therefore ask you to disregard Resolution no. 1580 and instead uphold the very strong Danish tradition of tolerance, intellectual liberty, openness and discussion in the schools.

******
 In continuation of the letter to the parliament, I have also started a petition against the resolution. The petition is again to the Danish Parliament and states the following:

"We hereby ask the Danish Parliament to disregard the Council of Europe's resolution no. 1580 about intelligent design and creationism in Europe. We consider the claimed threat to democracy and human rights absurd and baseless, and we can see no good reason to prohibit discussion of the mentioned minority-views from the academic world. On the contrary, we think that a good education in science precisely will emphasize that scientific theories are always open to discussion. No scientific theory - including the current theory of evolution - should appear as being above critique in the education in the schools. To forbid mention of certain minority-views i the education in the schools is in reality an attack on the individual teacher's freedom of speech and method of teaching og thus a violation of essential ideals of democracy and human rights. We therefore request the Parliament to disregard resolution no. 1580 and instead uphold the strong Danish tradition of tolerance, intellectual liberty, openness, and discussion in the education in the schools."
 
This petition can be found at http://www.petitiononline.com/id108/petition.html. Please feel free to sign it if you want to. Please note that 'stilling' means title or position. It will add more weight if you add your position to your signature.
All the best
 
Leif Asmark Jensen

 

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