South Korea: Evolution lessons will remain in textbooks


In this 2005 photo, a visitor checks out a display at the Museum of Creation and Earth History in Santee, California. The museum contains exhibits that depict the story of creationism and refute the scientific theory of evolution.


Sandy Huffaker

Debates over teaching creationism in school have moved east of their usual US battleground to South Korea, where the government has rejected calls by an outside group to drop references to evolution from textbooks, Wired reported.

The Society for Textbook Revise, part of the Korea Association for Creation Research, earlier this year managed to convince publishers of high school textbooks to remove some references to the evolution of certain species, Nature reported.

But after a special government panel was convened to review the changes, South Korea's Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is recommending yet another edit to reverse most of them, according to Wired.

"The furore created by scientists from South Korea and many other countries forced the government to revisit its decision and set up the 11-member panel to oversee the textbook revision," wrote the Hindu.

Their verdict: ignore creationist arguments and reinstate, or rewrite, sections of text that were previously pulled.

Much of the textbook debate had centered around detailed disagreements over how the development of a bird known as archaeopteryx was characterized. But that narrow discussion reflects wider trends and debates: as Wired reported, "creationism is a growing issue in South Korea, which has experienced a surge in evangelical Christianity over the past few decades."

And, in spite of its common association with the United States, belief in creationism is a worldwide trend. A 2011 poll by Ipsos that surveyed 23 countries found that 28 percent of respondents believed in creationism, while 41 percent believed in evolution and 31 percent were unsure.