Russia Church wants end to Darwin school "monopoly"

Wed Jun 9, 2010 3:44pm EDT
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By Conor Humphries

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian Orthodox Church called Wednesday for an end to the "monopoly of Darwinism" in Russian schools, saying religious explanations of creation should be taught alongside evolution.

Liberals said they would fight efforts to include religious teaching in schools. Russia's dominant church has experienced a revival in recent years, worrying rights groups who say its power is undermining the country's secular constitution.

"The time has come for the monopoly of Darwinism and the deceptive idea that science in general contradicts religion. These ideas should be left in the past," senior Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion said at a lecture in Moscow.

"Darwin's theory remains a theory. This means it should be taught to children as one of several theories, but children should know of other theories too."

Charles Darwin's theory of evolution has proved divisive in the United States, where Protestant groups promote Creationism, the idea that God made the world as described in the Bible, and the "intelligent design" view positing an unnamed creator.

The atheist Soviet state, which collapsed in 1991, used Darwin to disprove religious teachings. The theory, which biologists say gives a verifiable explanation for how life forms develop through natural selection, now dominates in Russian schools as it does in science teaching in most countries.

Hilarion said the theory that one species could evolve into another had never been proved. Children "should know about the religious picture, the creation of the world, which is common to all the monotheistic religions," he said.

DANGEROUS IDEA   Continued...

<p>A detail of British artist John Collier's 1883 painting of Charles Darwin is displayed as part of an exhibition in Darwin's former home, Down House, in Kent, southern England February 12, 2009. REUTERS/Tal Cohen</p>