Further to my article of July 2, 2007, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly decided to withdraw their resolution, entitled “The Dangers of Creationism.” This resolution had proposed that creationists were a “danger to human rights and democracy.” Many news agencies in Europe reported the original resolution and also the fact that it had been withdrawn. What the news agencies did not report was why the resolution was withdrawn.
A big factor in the withdrawal of the resolution must have been a rapidly produced 14-page booklet compiled by the European Center for Law and Justice (www.eclj.org).1 The ECLJ, which is affiliated to the ACLJ (the American Center for Law and Justice), keeps a close watch on what is happening in European institutions and legislative assemblies. This masterful document pulled apart the original resolution and showed how so many statements in it were illogical and actually contrary to many European statements on human rights. For example, the Council of Europe’s Report had pointed out that the majority of scientists accept evolution. The ECLJ’s document states the following:
“The Report does not respect the freedom of expression of teachers, researchers, and students, as manifest in academic freedom, because it seeks to eradicate an alternative to the Darwinian model of the origin of life, thereby elevating the theory of evolution to scientific dogma. While the majority of scientists have concluded that evolution is the soundest theory concerning the origins of life, scientific truth is not proven by consensus.”2
Using such language, the ECLJ’s document makes it clear that even those who accept evolution ought to be defending academic freedom. Very tellingly, the ECLJ’s document states, “Academic freedom cannot thrive where criticism of a scientific theory is equated with the wholesale rejection of modern democratic society.”3
In the context of education, the ECLJ points out that statements on human rights, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) are in opposition to the direction of the Report. This quote from the ECLJ includes a quote from the Council of Europe’s Report.
“Aside from mere promotion of the theory of evolution, the Resolution also specifically requests the authorities ‘firmly oppose the teaching of creationism as a scientific discipline on an equal footing with the theory of evolution ... and ... resist presentation of creationist theories in any discipline other than religion.’ This narrow view directly contravenes the nature of an educational institute. It is founded in promotion of the principles of democracy, and this includes respect for religious freedom.”4
The ECLJ come to a very clear conclusion.
The result of passing the instant Resolution would be the prevention of academic and educative discussion between the theory of intelligent design and the theory of evolution. This approach can only hamper the educational progress of students by restricting their examination of competing scientific ideas and will necessarily violate the right to freedom of expression, including academic freedom, the right to free exercise of religion in education. Therefore, the Parliamentary Assembly should reject the Resolution as incompatible with the goals and ideals of the Council of Europe.5
The ECLJ are to be congratulated on producing such a thorough report in such a short space of time. It is our view that their document must have been a major factor in the Council of Europe’s Report being withdrawn.