Ignore at Your Own Peril

The creationist movement scored another victory this month but it did not happen in Tennessee, Kansas, or Texas. No, this victory occurred in South Korea.

The country’s Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology adopted new textbook standards which require the removal of examples of evolution from the nation’s science books. This policy was the result of a creationist campaign waged by the Society for Textbook Revision, a group affiliated with the Korea Association for Creation Science. While not formally removing evolution from the curriculum, deleting it from the nation’s textbooks goes a long way in diminishing and marginalizing the importance of evolution as a foundation of modern biology. It also becomes that much easier for teachers to ignore and avoid the controversial topic altogether.

So far the scientific community has remained largely silent on this issue lest their response give the creationists legitimacy. This strategy is appropriate if you are confident that the opposition will not gain any traction politically or culturally. It seems that not engaging with the opposition was the wrong strategy in this case because it ceded the framing and policymaking influence to the creationists. Time will only tell if the scientists can mobilize and counter the effort of the creationists but one thing appears to be clear, the scientific community can no longer ignore the creationist movement in South Korea.

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