Schools shun evolution

Some 250 university academics have prepared a petition asking the government to improve the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution at Greek schools, which the professors say is disorganized and in some cases completely nonexistent. Members of the group told Kathimerini yesterday they signed the petition because the theory is not taught properly in high school even though it is «the uniting framework of the science of biology» and has «priceless educational value.» The teaching of the theory of evolution has not been banned in Greece but it is not included in senior high textbooks and although it is part of the course material for junior high school students, they are not tested on it at end-of-year exams. «Whether students learn about Darwin or not is up to the goodwill of some teachers,» said the head of the Greek Union of Bioscientists, Manos Papadakis. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, as explained in «The Theory of the Species» in 1859, introduced the notion that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor. Darwin’s general theory presumes that complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally over time. The theory of evolution has since become the main organizing principle of modern biology Darwin’s theory has been challenged recently in the USA by the theory of intelligent design – the concept that some aspects of life are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process like natural selection. «We can criticize the USA for the fact that 150 years later the evolution of the species is still a divisive issue but in reality we are further behind,» said Papadakis. «The meaning of evolution has diffused into all areas of life but is systematically being excluded from education.»