Extinct 'bird' stokes furor of creationists
A heated debate about an archaeopteryx in science textbooks is raging between a Christian group and scientists.
The Christian group denies the theory of evolution and has asked publishers to remove images of fossils of the bird from textbooks. Claiming evolutionism contains many errors the creationist group says such errors should be removed from textbooks to give only “correct” information to students.
Darwinian scientists claim the removal is unreasonable because the archaeopteryx is suitable and sufficient to explain the evolution theory.
Last December, the Society for Textbook Revive (STR) filed a petition with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to delete the part about the archaeopteryx, which is considered evidence of evolution, from high school science textbooks.
The current national curriculum adopts the theory of evolution for the origin of life, and science textbooks say the archaeopteryx, which lived in the late Jurassic period, is presumed to be a creature that had evolved from a reptile to a bird.
But the STR claims the archaeopteryx is not the interim specie between reptiles and birds, saying some recent studies indicate the archaeopteryx was a kind of dinosaur with feathers and not the progenitor of birds.
The ministry conveyed the petition to six textbook publishers, and five of them decided to delete or revise the related descriptions.
Under the current textbook publication system, publishers can edit the content at their discretion as long as the changes satisfy the curriculum standard set by the ministry which state they should teach Darwinism. But it doesn’t detail which part of the theory they should teach.
On the publishers’ accepting the petition, scientists, mainly Darwinians, raised objections.
In a survey conducted by the Biological Research Information Center (BRIC) on its 1,474 members last week, 88 percent said the theory of evolution should be included in textbooks and most of them said the content should be revised to include new research results rather than removing the theory as a whole.
More than 50 percent said the archaeopteryx part in the textbooks needs more scientific evidence but should not be deleted.
Some 86 percent also said the petition process was improper because it lacked sufficient investigation by experts. Some presumed the petitioner, a religious group, seemed to have a different purpose, such as preaching creationism.
The Paleontological Society of Korea is also opposed to the textbook changes. “Researchers have different opinions in examining fossils, but the STR is distorting the argument as if researchers don’t agree with Darwinism. It is unreasonable that publishers can accept the claim without seeking counter opinions from scientists,” a member of the society said.
The ministry plans to set guidelines by collecting opinions from experts by September, the deadline for revision for next year’s textbook publication, and encourage publishers to follow them.