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Creationists Convince South Korean Officials to Remove Evolutionary References From High School Textbooks

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An Adam and Eve exhibit at the Kentucky-based Creation Museum (AP)

In America, the debate over evolution and creationism is seemingly never-ending. And, judging from the numbers, the battle is poised to continue. But it's not just the U.S. that finds itself embroiled in controversy surrounding the creation and development of mankind. In South Korea, where disagreement is also fierce, a shocking decision has been made: Officials plan to remove some evolutionary references from high school student textbooks.

(Related: Nearly Half of Americans Believe in Creationism Over Evolution — Do You?)

The creationist-led victory was achieved last month when a petition to remove references to evolution was accepted. While the theory isn't being taken out entirely, specific examples, including the horse and the avian ancestor Archaeopteryx will be nixed. Biologists who embrace evolution are voicing their concerns with the development, Nature reports.

The journal goes on, explaining where the campaign originated and how it reached this latest victory:

The campaign was led by the Society for Textbook Revise (STR), which aims to delete the “error” of evolution from textbooks to “correct” students’ views of the world, according to the society’s website. The society says that its members include professors of biology and high-school science teachers.

The STR is also campaigning to remove content about “the evolution of humans” and “the adaptation of finch beaks based on habitat and mode of sustenance”, a reference to one of the most famous observations in Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. To back its campaign, the group highlights recent discoveries that Archaeopteryx is one of many feathered dinosaurs, and not necessarily an ancestor of all birds2. Exploiting such debates over the lineage of species “is a typical strategy of creation scientists to attack the teaching of evolution itself”, says Joonghwan Jeon, an evolutionary psychologist at Kyung Hee University in Yongin.

The textbook advocacy group is part of the Korea Association for Creation Research (KACR), a group that works to tout creation science and the biblical story of humankind's formation. Apparently, South Korea has a strong religious tradition, with half of the population practicing either Christianity of Buddhism. This influence, very clearly, leads some to embrace the Biblical story of creation, rather than accepting science's take on evolutionary matters.

The same debate continues to rage in America, with creationists scoring occasional victories here as well. And the U.S. proportions on evolution and creationism are fascinating. As reported earlier this week, new research from Gallup conducted this month found that 46 percent of Americans still embrace creationism, the notion that God directly created human beings in their present form at one point in the last 10,000 years.

While nearly half of the nation believes in the aforementioned view, an additional 32 percent maintain that humans evolved — but with God’s guidance. Taken in its collective, this means that 78 percent of Americans believe that God played a substantial role in mankind’s creation. An additional 15 percent of respondents embrace evolution with no involvement from the Almighty. Nature has more about the South Korean data on this same issue:

In a 2009 survey conducted for the South Korean documentary The Era of God and Darwin, almost one-third of the respondents didn’t believe in evolution. Of those, 41% said that there was insufficient scientific evidence to support it; 39% said that it contradicted their religious beliefs; and 17% did not understand the theory.

Pro-evolutionists in South Korea are, quite obviously, frustrated by this latest development, as they plan a counter movement that will work to instill evolutionary teaching in classrooms.

(H/T: io9)

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