Blasphemy laws promote God-fixated tyranny in an attempt to stop the spread of an idea.
* * Torah Tyranny: Leviticus 24:16 states that those who speak blasphemy "shall surely be put to death". * * In the United Kingdom the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel were abolished by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy_law_in_the_United_Kingdom
Inculcating ancient, SACRED ignorance in Yemeni Jewish children
Click for my blasphemous blog - Thank God for Infidels!
Click for my blasphemous blog - Thank God for Infidels!
The reason is sacred, tyrannical dogma - click for video
The Muslim world is weak because of the success of religion
For my convictions I respectfully and cheerfully give credit
The reason why there are no Jewish Nobel Prize winners from the Muslim World and so few Arab winners is religion"
Click the following image to view my "amazing" Holocaust Haggadah
Tyranny: If you are a heretic, there is no point in rebuking you
Blasphemy in Islam is irreverent behavior toward holy personages, religious artifacts, customs, and beliefs that Muslims respect.
Wafa Sultan, elected personality of the year
El-Baradei: "The Arab World Has Sunk to the Lowest Depths" - http://tiny.cc/w580e
What distinguishes us from the Talibans
Heretics are far worse than Hitler? they "kill the soul"?...
See my blsphemous blog: http://holyheretics.com/
George Bernard Shaw - Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925
Dr. Nasr Abu-Zayd Who Stirred Debate on Koran - Exile and death - Click image
http://tiny.cc/aqncs - - - - Nasr Abu Zayd, Dies at 66 - During a visit in Indonesia he was infected by an unknown virus...treated in Egypt for an unidentified illness.
Arabic for freedom
Blasphemy against God and the Church was a crime punishable by death in much of the world, and remains punishable by death in some parts to this day.
no blasphemy harms Islam and Muslims so much
in 1994 Islamic extremists almost succeeded in assassinating the 82-year-old novelist by stabbing him in the neck outside his Cairo home. He survived, permanently affected by damage to nerves in his right hand.
Blasphemy Is A Victimless Crime
I would vote for a Muslim
Islam isn't the problem - religion is - click image of Kaaba for the video
Spirit - Percy Bysshe Shelley
In fighting for his God
Torah: Leviticus 24:16 states that those who speak blasphemy "shall surely be put to death".
Tyranny: Blasphemy laws promote God-fixated state killings in an attempt to stop the spread of an idea.
Audacity to confront sacred tyranny
In the early 21st century, blasphemy became an issue for the United Nations. The General Assembly passed several resolutions which called upon the world to take action against the "defamation of religions".
Rejection of the concept of "monotheism" is a shirk, the most heinous and unforgivable crime.
Christianity: Thomas Aquinas says that “it is clear that blasphemy, which is a sin committed directly against God, is more grave than murder, which is a sin against one's neighbor.
* * * Tyranny: Kill those who spread other IDEAS, a.k.a."corruption”. * * *
* * * * * * * * TYRANNY: KILL THOSE WHO SPREAD "CORRUPTION”, A.K.A. OTHER IDEAS * * * * * * * * The hadith and other writings suggest death is the proper punishment for someone who insults Prophet Muhammad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_blasphemy
Tyranny: Kill freedom of speech; spread sacred, organized, dangerous ignorance!
The punishments for different instances of blasphemy in Islam vary by jurisdiction. A convicted blasphemer may, among other penalties, lose all legal rights. The loss of rights may cause a blasphemer's marriage to be dissolved, religious acts to be rendered worthless, and claims to property—including any inheritance—to be rendered void.
Dawkins video: blasphemy is a victimless crime
Dawkins video: blasphemy is a victimless crime http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAQNM_nySmM
The TRINITY is shirk - the most heinous and unforgivable crime
Shirk is the vice that is opposed to the virtue of tawhid, literally "declaring [that which is] one
tawhid is often translated into the English term monotheism.
Christians are kaafirs - the most heinous and unforgivable crime
Christians are kaafirs [Arabic kāfir "unbeliever, infidel"]
The history of intellectual progress is written in the lives of infidels
Jefferson and Ataturk - Political Philosophies
This book is a comparative study of the political theories of Jefferson and Ataturk
eternal hostility against every form of tyranny
Ignorance is preferable to error
"If by religion we are to understand sectarian dogmas..."
I do not find in our particular superstition, Christianity, one redeeming feature
Values of the founding fathers
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
One of the great men of this century, his perceptive understanding of the modern world
They see only two supernatural outcomes
Click for "Religious education in the Turkish Republic"
The religion of Islam will be elevated if it will cease
all laws should be inspired by actual needs here on earth
religion will be cleansed from all superstitions and will be purified by real science
It should enforce all the requirements of democracy
Atatürk closed the religious schools and replaced them with secular schools with modern concerns
The Christian God
God told Abraham to slaughter his child!?
An honest God is the noblest work of man
Rambam Ranks Facts Above Fantasy
Islam is untrue, Christianity is idolatry
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Science is a philosophy of discovery
Republicans do not want to die poor
The Perimeter of Ignorance
Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Click on the following image to watch an enlightening video on the “Perimeter of Ignorance”.
So few Muslim Nobel Prize winners because of the success of their religion
CLICK - Why the Islamic world is behind - Beyond Belief '06 - Neil deGrasse Tyson First Talk (Full)
In the west, science won
A defining moment between religion and science
To assert that the earth revolves around the sun
Galileo before the Holy Office, a 19th century painting by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury
Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition - Cristiano Banti's 1857 painting
Galileo, Darwin, Einstein, Heisenberg
National Academy of Sciences building
National Academy of Sciences - Darwin
The National Academies
Biological scientists in the National Academy of Science
ignorance of nature gave birth to gods
DISBELIEF CREPT OVER ME AT A VERY SLOW RATE, BUT WAS AT LAST COMPLETE
Person of the Century
Google's Einstein logo - Apple Einstein billboard
Becoming a Freethinker and a Scientist
I am a deeply religious nonbeliever
For me the Jewish religion, like all others
The Jewish people to whom I gladly belong
The more a man is imbued -1
The more a man is imbued -2
The more a man is imbued -3
The more a man is imbued -4
The more a man is imbued - Hebrew
Einstein: God is the “Product of Human Weaknesses”
Einstein was not only a great scientist - he was a man of PEACE
I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain
A human being is part of a whole
Jefferson: The Freethinker
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free
There is more honor and magnanimity in correcting
one God or twenty gods
opposition to their schemes
Freedom for and from
Thomas Jefferson rejected the divinity of Christ and is best described as Post-Christian
"Terrorism is the war of the poor. War is the terrorism of the rich."
The MISSION of the Institution for the Secularization of Islamic Society
Click for a video of the speech given by Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the AAI 07 conference in Washington DC
why not Israelis?
Jews rank high among winners of Nobel
Superstitions stood in the way of going into science
Poverty Rate of the Fervently religious Tops 60%
Jews recite every day three times
The Institution for the Secularization of Islamic Society
The St. Petersburg Declaration
Statement of Principles of The Institution for the Secularization of Islamic Society
A secular Muslim, Dr. Wafa Sultan
Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-American psychiatrist
A God who hates
Survivor Of Sharia, Wafa Sultan Now Fights Against It
At last I have use of the word: Surprize! For that is surely the least that can be said about this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama.
But enough about that, maybe even too much. It’s a different Nobel Prize, with larger ramifications, that I find fascinating — to wit, this year’s prize in chemistry, awarded to Ada Yonath, of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Simply put, her research has determined the complete high-resolution structures of both ribosomal subunits and discovered within the otherwise asymmetric ribosome the universal symmetrical region that provides the framework and navigates the process of polypeptide polymerization. Consequently she showed that the ribosome is a ribozyme that places its substrates in stereochemistry suitable for peptide bond formation and for substrate-mediated catalysis.
Got that? The rest is easy.
Yonath is the first woman to win the prize in chemistry in 45 years, the ninth Israeli Nobel laureate. If you start the record in 1948, when Israel was born, you find that Israel is tied for 11th place in the number of Nobels its citizens have been awarded — three for peace, three for chemistry, two for economics and one for literature. It has been topped by the United States (279 Nobels), the United Kingdom (78), Germany (54), France (28), Russia (20), Sweden and Canada (17), Japan (16) and Switzerland (14). That’s not a shabby record for a small country. (India and China have five each, Austria, Poland and Australia have eight, and South Africa and the Netherlands, like Israel, have nine.)
Here is where it gets interesting: Israel’s winners were born in 1885 (Agnon), 1913 (Begin), 1922 (Rabin), 1923 (Peres) and, in the sciences, in 1930, 1934, 1937, 1939 and 1947. Let’s stay with the sciences, since the award of the peace prize, as we have once more been reminded, is rather more idiosyncratic. The Israeli winners in the sciences were, at the time of their award, 75, 70, 68, 67 and 57 years old. That’s standard for Nobel awards, since they tend to be given years after the work being honored has been completed. And that is why it is useful to ask whether the current crop of students in Israel is likely, 40 or more years from now, to produce new Nobel laureates.
Here are a few items from the extremely disquieting data:
According to Haaretz, last year 116,000 Israeli youngsters graduated from high school. Of these, 9,362 had studied some chemistry, 13,000 had studied some biology and 11,000 had studied some physics. That means that the vast majority of high school graduates were not exposed to science at all.
The still more disturbing statistic, drawn in the main from publications of the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, requires a word of background: There are four different education “streams” in Israel. These include the national education stream, primarily for non-religious Jews; the Jewish national-religious stream; the fervently Orthodox (a term I prefer to “ultra-Orthodox”) or Haredi stream, and the Israeli Arab stream. In the year 2000, 39% of school-age children were enrolled in either Haredi or Arab schools. By the beginning of the current school year, those two streams accounted for 48% of all school-age children. From 2000 to 2009, the number of Arab pupils rose by 10% — and the number of Haredim rose by 51% (while enrollment rose by 8% in the national-religious schools and declined by 3% in the national education stream).
Although we have very little data on the Haredi schools (20% of all students), since they lack a national core curriculum and do not take part in nationwide tests, it is likely safe to assume that they lag well behind the other streams in math and science. This means that within the very near future, a majority of Israel’s schoolchildren will be drawn from the two sectors of society — Arab and Haredi — that perform well below international standards.
Those Israeli students who do take part in nationwide tests, as judged by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment, score well below all 39 OECD members save for Mexicoin reading, with 39% of Israel’s students below proficiency (compared to the OECD-member average of 20%); 42% score in the lowest two categories in mathematics, and only 6% in the highest two (compared to the OECD averages of 21% and 13% respectively); in a general measure of science, they rank just ahead of Kyrgyzstan and Qatar, and rank 38th in their ability to use scientific evidence. (A part but not all of the deficit may be explained by the poor performance of children in the Arab sector, where schools are often underfunded.)
These data are more than disturbing; they are alarming.And they are about much more than Nobel Prizes. They give sinister credence to the widespread complaint in Israel that the education system is failing. Nor is there more reason for satisfaction if we look at Israel’s universities, which have suffered a budget cut of two billion shekels in the last decade (even as student enrollment has tripled in the last two decades), where one new staff member has been hired for every two who have retired.
Israel has long and correctly boasted that its principal natural resource is its people. That resource is not self-replenishing. And these days, inequality in education seems even more pronounced than the record-high inequality in income. Without a long-term and serious commitment both to general reform and, specifically, to reforms in both the Arab and Haredi sectors, a whirlwind approaches.
Next month, Prof. Ada Yonath will be awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry, becoming the fifth Israeli scientist to win this award. This has sharpened, once again, the grim statistics regarding the scarcity of Nobel laureates in the Muslim and Arab worlds. While Jews, who are only around 0.2 percent of the world population, have won a quarter of all Nobel Prizes awarded in the sciences, Muslims, who are one quarter of the world population, have won only a handful, even by the most generous accounts. And while relative to its size, Israel's tiny academia has been the world's leading Nobel power over the past decade, Arab universities have yet to produce their first Nobel laureate.
Israelis and Jews worldwide consider these awards a source of pride - and rightly so. It's always nice to be on a winning team. Muslims and Arabs view these numbers as a source of shame and even soul-searching. Even Muslim religious scholars who portray Western political systems, social foundations and cultural achievements as manifestations of infidel entities in decay recognize that the West's huge scientific and technological edge must be narrowed. Some openly discuss Israel's scientific achievements to encourage their followers to become more academically competitive.
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM offers a conventional explanation for the disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes in science awarded to Jews and Israelis: the "Jewish genius," whereas Muslims and Arabs fail because they live under dictatorships. This explanation is not completely detached from reality, but is, nevertheless, not sufficient.
The truth is that a certain type of Jew has won Nobel Prizes. These Jewish laureates drew on a Jewish heritage that dedicates itself to learning, reveres scholars and places intellectual demands on its young people. But these laureates were also modern Jews, open to modern sciences and rational thinking, and keen on making their way in the greater world that exists beyond their communities. Remove one part of this equation - heritage or modernity - and the "Jewish genius" vanishes.
This particular type of Jew is a nearly extinct species. Secular Jews, especially secular Israelis, are increasingly detached from the heritage of giving primacy to education and scholarship. They are inundated by a culture that reveres instant celebrity, shameless greed and utter stupidity. Observant Jews, especially observant Israelis, are increasingly facing trends that are hostile toward rationality, suspicious of modernity and indifferent to the merits of scientific experimentation.
Many lament the reduction in funds earmarked for sciences in Israel. But this is the symptom, not the disease. Where scientists receive no respect, they also receive little or no money. To continue winning Nobel Prizes, the Jewish world in general (and the State of Israel in particular) need more than financial resources. They need to defend and cultivate the particular kind of Jew who has been awarded one out of every four Nobel Prizes. And they must do so without caving in to political correctness or cultural relativism.
The case of the Muslim and Arab worlds also evokes a discussion. It is a historical fact that authoritarian regimes and dictatorships have produced inferior scientific achievements in comparison to liberal, open societies. Until its collapse, the Soviet Union lagged scientifically and technologically behind the United States; the gap increasingly widened and eventually led to the breakdown of the communist empire. However, the Soviet Union did excel in some sciences and produced many brilliant academics. The same holds for other non-democratic regimes.
Today, Stalinist North Korea sells technology to Stalinist Syria, not the other way round. Thus, the lack of political pluralism accounts for part of the Muslim and Arab scientific failures. But it does not explain why they are so absolute.
Another explanation is the lack of religious and intellectual freedom in most Muslim societies, where religious scholars have monopolized the spiritual and the metaphysical in a way that disrupts scientific progress. What does a monopoly of the spiritual and the metaphysical have to do with the study of chemistry or physics? Everything. Science can only flourish in a culture that does not recognize any taboos and constantly doubts creeds of all sorts. Nobel laureates cannot grow from cultures that raise kids from an early age to never question a certain conceptualization of reality.
This does not imply that science and religion are not commensurable; some of the world's greatest scientists have been deeply religious. But it is almost impossible for great scientific minds to exhaust their potential in societies where the clergy have ultimate control over intellectual quests.
IN THE late 19th century, a reform movement emerged in the Muslim world. It recognized that for Muslims to embark on an age of renaissance, modern sciences must be embraced. Reformists endeavored to convince Muslims that modern sciences do not contradict Islam - and were quite successful in doing so. This school, developed by Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh, is often mistakenly described as liberal; in fact, its primary goal was to defend Islam against Western hegemony. It aspired to offer a theological framework that would allow Muslims to be part of modernity without compromising their belief in the comprehensive essence of Islam.
The one thing these reformers never intended to do was to release society from the shackles of religious scriptures monopolized by religious establishments. And ironically enough, it is exactly because Afghani and Abduh's relatively modern and relatively tolerant school of thought became so influential - appeasing the minds of so many Muslims that religion can indeed encompass every aspect of modernity - that the Arab intellectual world is still locked in a spirit of taboo and fear.
Some 100 years ago, it was possible, although risky, for an Arab to doubt whether the Koran was a divine text. Any Arab who does so today would be signing his own death warrant. Sadly enough, many contemporary Western intellectuals also think twice before discussing Muslim creed. Where particular aspects of life, such as religion, cannot be openly debated, thorough scientific investigation is impossible.
Contemporary Arab religious scholars commonly offer apologias that attribute Western scientific achievements to the intellectual legacy an ungrateful West inherited from the Muslim world. By doing so, they shut their eyes to the deep historical context of Western renaissance. Contemporary leading Arab universities produce books and essays that depict Darwin, Freud, Marx and other brilliant modern minds as part of a Jewish conspiracy to bring about the downfall of humanity. By doing so, they distract their audiences from entire fields of scientific study.
Despite whatever racists imply, there is nothing essential about Muslims or Arabs that prevents them from winning Nobel Prizes. But for a scientific revolution to occur in these regions, more than political reform is needed. Rather, true intellectual freedom must be established. Since this is nowhere in sight, my hope - in fact, my guess - is that the first Muslim affiliated with a Middle Eastern university to win a Nobel Prize will be an Arab-Israeli. And he or she will teach Jews and Muslims alike a very valuable lesson. The writer is director of Programs in Democracy at the Adelson Institute. This article was first published by the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies, at the Shalem Center,www.adelsoninstitute.orgThis article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com /servlet/Satellite?cid=1256799072254&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull
* * *
Jews rank high among winners of Nobel,
but why not Israelis?
SHULE KOPF Friday October 25, 2002
...The first theory says that Jews are cleverer than others, a theory dismissed by Volkov and other serious academics.
The second theory, proposed first by an American sociologist in 1919, holds that because Jews were on the margins of society they were forced to excel.
The third and more common explanation, says Volkov, states that generations of Jewish Orthodox learning later translated brilliantly into secular learning.
"In fact, very often the Jewish learning tradition stood in the way of going into science,
keeping some of the best minds in the yeshiva," says Volkov.
"We have autobiographies of scientists who talk about how difficult it was
to break away from the Orthodox world."
The dramatic rise of the United States as a hothouse for Nobel Prizes following World War II is attributed partly to the large number of Jewish scientists who fled there to escape Nazism.
To date, counting Kahneman's prize for economics, Israel has won five Nobel Prizes: one for literature, by Agnon in 1966, and three for peace, with Menachem Begin in 1978 and Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in 1994.
Einstein: Becoming a Freethinker and a Scientist Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that beliefs should be formed on the basis of science and logical principles and not be comprised by authority, tradition, or any other dogma.
The cognitive application of freethought is known as freethinking, and practitioners of freethought are known as freethinkers.
When I was a fairly precocious young man I became thoroughly impressed with the futility of the hopes and strivings that chase most men restlessly through life. Moreover, I soon discovered the cruelty of that chase, which in those years was much more carefully covered up by hypocrisy and glittering words than is the case today. By the mere existence of his stomach everyone was condemned to participate in that chase. The stomach might well be satisfied by such participation, but not man insofar as he is a thinking and feeling being.
As the first way out there was religion, which is implanted into every child by way of the traditional education-machine. Thus I came - though the child of entirely irreligious (Jewish) parents - to a deep religiousness, which, however, reached an abrupt end at the age of twelve.
Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionallybeing deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression.
Mistrust of every kind of authority grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude toward the convictions that were alive in any specific social environment — an attitude that has never again left me, even though, later on, it has been tempered by a better insight into the causal connections.
It is quite clear to me that the religious paradise of youth, which was thus lost, was a first attempt to free myself from the chains of the "merely personal," from an existence dominated by wishes, hopes, and primitive feelings. Out yonder there was this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking.
The contemplation of this world beckoned as a liberation, and I soon noticed that many a man whom I had learned to esteem and to admire had found inner freedom and security in its pursuit. The mental grasp of this extra-personal world within the frame of our capabilities presented itself to my mind, half consciously, half unconsciously, as a supreme goal. Similarly motivated men of the present and of the past, as well as the insights they had achieved, were the friends who could not be lost.
The road to this paradise was not as comfortable and alluring as the road to the religious paradise; but it has shown itself reliable, and I have never regretted having chosen it.
* * *
The religious kulturkampf
(who would doubtlessly be disqualified from teaching in a typical haredi school
because of his secular education) wrote in Mishna Torah,
"Whoever thinks he can study Torah and not work, and relies on charity,
profanes God's name."
In addition, during these difficult times, graduates from haredi schools obliged to seek employment
are discovering that having been denied a secular education and lacking professional skills,
they are doomed to a life of poverty and reliance on welfare.
Until the 1970s, the Bnei Brak municipality was headed by Religious Zionist mayors. After Mayor Gottlieb of the National Religious Party was defeated, Haredi parties grew in status and influence; since then they have governed the city. As the Haredi population grew, the demand for public religious observance increased and more residents requested the closure of their neighbourhoods to vehicular traffic on the Shabbat. When they demanded the closure of a main street (HaShomer St. now Kahaneman St.), the non-religious residents protested but the town's religious inhabitants won the battle. Since then, their influence in the city continuously grew.
In a short period of time most of Bnei Brak's secular and Religious Zionist residents migrated elsewhere,
and the city has become almost homogeneously Haredi.
The (ultra-religious, Jewish) city of Bnei Brak at the bottom of matriculation table list with a meager 15% pass rate -
The northern Arab village of Fureidis passed with a pass rate of 75%
Kohav Yair tops matriculation table
Aug. 11, 2009
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
The Education Ministry on Tuesday morning published a list of matriculation pass rates according to region for the past year.
For the third year running, Kohav Yair topped the table, with a pass rate of 82 percent. Tel Aviv was placed 23rd with a 68% rate, Haifa had a 63% rate and Beersheba got 55%.
The northern Arab village of Fureidis scored a major achievement, jumping 73 places to third, with a pass rate of 75%, one place below Shoham.
Sderot dropped 30 places, from 25th to 55th. Bnei Brak was at the bottom of the list with a meager 15% pass rate.
The national average of the 144 cities and local authorities listed stands at 44%, and unsurprisingly, with the notable exception of Fureidis, there was a direct correlation between socioeconomic level and matriculation pass rates.
Army Radio said that the report aroused a anger in the haredi sector due to the fact that their communities were included on the list, even though in cities like Bnei Barak some 90% of students are in the religious education system and are not part of the Education Ministry curriculum. They said that the list doesn't reflect ability, and that many haredi students reach very high accomplishments in their religious studies and don't even learn for matriculation exams.
Bank of Israel Chief to ultra-Orthodox community: Get jobs
By Motti Bassok, TheMarker
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer on Monday called on the heads of the ultra-Orthodox sector in Israel to promote employment among Haredi men and women in order to minimize the prevalent poverty among them.
During a conference for the ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem, Fischer said that the low employment rate among the Haredi men and women was the root cause of for the high incidence of poverty, higher than any other sector in Israeli society, including the notoriously poor Arab sector.
According to Fischer, 60 percent of the ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel were defined as poor in 2008, and that number has only grown since. "There is an enormous pool of human resources in the Haredi sector, which, harnessed, could contribute another driving force for growth to the economy, while also minimizing the poverty," he said.
Addressing the general financial situation in Israel, Fischer said that the economy is beginning to display signs of growth over recent months, with exports up in May and June and imports up during last month as well. The Bank of Israel combined index has risen for the first time in 11 months, he added.
"We have a strong economy, but unemployment is rising and there is also inflation in Israel," Fischer said. "Right now, we just don't know when the market will begin growing again."
national-religious, secular education has shrunk over the last decade.
Haredi children in class (illustrative} Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
Study: 48% of pupils are Arab, haredi
Aug. 30, 2009
Abe Selig , THE JERUSALEM POST
With the 2009-2010 school year set to begin this Tuesday, a new report released by an independent research institute shows that non-ultra-Orthodox Jews are rapidly becoming a minority in the country's education system, while the soon-to-be majority, Israeli Arab and haredi pupils, are receiving a level of education that is "considerably below Western standards".
Using recently published figures from the Education Ministry, the Taub Center for Social Policy Research, a socioeconomic research group based in Jerusalem, found that at the beginning of the decade, 39 percent of the country's pupils studied in either the Israeli Arab or ultra-Orthodox school systems.
Over the last decade however, preliminary findings from the group's annual survey show that the number of Israeli Arab pupils in the country grew by 10 percent while the number of ultra- Orthodox pupils grew by over five times as much, 51 percent.
In contrast, the study shows that the number of pupils in state-run religious schools grew by 8 percent while the total number of pupils in the largest group of schools - the non-religious state education system - actually decreased in size.
As a result, within the span of just one decade, 48 percent of the country's pupils now study in either the Israeli Arab or the ultra-Orthodox school system, and increase of nearly 10 percentage points. The remainder, which is currently 52 percent of the total - and falling annually, according to the study - are enrolled in either the state-run religious or state-run secular schools.
"In light of the rapidly changing demographics within Israel, the Taub Center concludes that it is vitally important for the country to begin focusing on what is being taught to the children who will be the majority population in a generation, and asks whether they are being given the basic skills to work in a modern economy and live in a modern society," a press release from the Taub Center said.
The Taub Center's Executive Director, Professor Dan Ben-David, said that at present, the answer to this question was an overwhelming "no".
Ben-David explained that a comparison with 25 countries from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), who participated in the 2006 Program from International Student Assessment (PISA) tests, which focused on some of the more important core subjects like math, science and reading, showed that the average achievements of Israel's non-ultra-Orthodox Jewish population were tied with the last place OECD country, while the achievement levels of Israel's Arab pupils were even worse.
"[The Israeli Arab pupils'] grades were 14 percent below the Israeli national average," he said. "And ultra-Orthodox pupils didn't even participate in the exams - no other country excluded such a large proportion of its population from the exams - and the [haredi schools] have no national core curriculum that is enforced."
The report goes on to show that one consequence of the evidence from the educational realm could be found in Israel's labor market, where employment rates for both groups are substantially below what is common in developed countries with correspondingly low average incomes.
"While other factors certainly contribute to the low employment rates, the role played by the education system has been considerable," the report states. "The quickness of the demographic changes that are taking place within Israel's education system and the level of education that is currently being provided to these two groups suggest a current default economic and social trajectory that will not be sustainable in the future."
"A government which does not dramatically improve Israel's educational system in the very near future, with substantial emphasis on improving the quality of education received by these two groups in particular, is letting the country edge ever closer to a point where it may no longer be possible to change direction - with all of the existential implications that this implies for the country," the report concludes.
"I knew that this was happening, but I had never really looked at like this," Ben-David said. "For me it was a real surprise to see how fast these changes were happening, and when you combine them with the level of education these groups are receiving, you have to ask, what kind of country is this going to be in a generation?"
Some religious leaders may take issue with Charles Darwin and what he represents, but the Vatican has announced that it is officially on board with evolution. A leading official declared yesterday that Darwin's theory of evolution was compatible with Christian faith, and could even be traced to St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas. "In fact, what we mean by evolution is the world as created by God," said Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi [Times Online].Both St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas recognized that life changes slowly over time, Ravasi said, and that was a step towards comprehending evolution.
The Vatican's effort to show that science is not incompatible with religion will culminate in a conference on evolution next month, organized to mark the 150th anniversary of Darwin's landmark publication, On the Origin of Species. The Vatican has backed away slightly from its original proposal to completely ban discussion of intelligent design at the event, which organizers called "poor theology and poor science". [Instead,] Intelligent Design would be discussed at the fringes of the conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University, but merely as a "cultural phenomenon", rather than a scientific or theological issue, organisers said [Times Online].
The Catholic Church was certainly hostile to Darwin's ideas when they were new. But Ravasi pointed out that the Church had never formally condemned Darwin, and he noted that in the last 50 years a number of Popes had accepted evolution as a valid scientific approach to human development [The Register]. A recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that Catholics joined mainline Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and the "unaffiliated" in accepting evolution as the best explanation for the origin of human life on earth.The strongest opponents of evolution were Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and evangelical Christians (76 per cent of whom opposed evolutionary theory.) U.S. Muslims were almost evenly divided on the question [Vancouver Sun].
Although evangelical Christians are unlikely to seek common ground between their religious views and Darwin's theory, many other religious groups are actively promoting that reconciliation. This coming weekend, 929 churches in 14 countries will be holding special services to celebrate the compatibility of Christianity and evolution at "Evolution Weekend" events launched in 2005 by an organisation called the Clergy Letter Project [New Scientist]. The Clergy Letter argues that the Bible should not be taken literally, as its "purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts."
A group of prominent scientists and religious leaders also signed their names to a letter last weekend calling for an end to fights over Darwin and evolution, and asking both sides to scale down their rhetoric. They argued that militant atheists are turning people away from evolution by using it to attack religion while they also urge believers in creationism to acknowledge the overwhelming body of evidence that now exists to support Darwin's theory [Telegraph].
Albert Einstein, shown at left in a 1938 photo, revolutionized physics
and became a cultural icon. Charles Darwin, shown at right
in a circa-1880 painting, laid the foundation of modern evolutionary
theory, and today that theory is a cultural flashpoint. Einstein, Darwin: A tale of 2 theories
David Friedman / MSNBC.com
Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium and co-author of the book "Origins," says it's simply a matter of time before the fundamentals of evolutionary biology are as widely accepted as the fundamentals of relativistic physics.
Q&A with 'Origins' astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson
By Alan Boyle
updated 9:05 a.m. PT, Tues., April. 19, 2005
SEATTLE - One scientist came up with a new way of explaining how biology works. A generation later, the other one came up with a new way of explaining how physics works.
Today, after a century of scrutiny, both explanations still pretty much hold up. But in popular culture, physicist Albert Einstein is idolized, while biologist Charles Darwin's legacy is clouded with controversy.
Why do Darwin's theories on the origin of species, put forth in 1859, hold a status so different from that of Einstein's theories on relativity, published between 1905 and 1916? Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York's Hayden Planetarium and co-author of the book "Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution," reflected on that question during a recent interview at the University of Washington.
Here's an edited question-and-answer transcript of the interview:
MSNBC: Einstein and Darwin seem to hold two different places in our society. One is virtually a pop culture icon, while some people almost want to take down the other guy's statues. Why is that we have two different approaches to these people, even though they developed theories that are in very similar states of evidence?
Neil deGrasse Tyson: While they were both scientists, Einstein was the first very public scientist who was visibly active in social causes as well as political causes. I don't know that the same was true with Darwin. I know he was well known in his day. I know his book, "On the Origin of Species," was a best seller. But I don't know that he was active in politics, influencing governments. I don't know that he was approached by a sovereign nation and was asked to be its president, as Einstein was with the new state of Israel, for example.
As a citizen, as a public scientist, I can tell you that Einstein essentially overturned a so strongly established paradigm of science, whereas Darwin didn't really overturn a science paradigm. There was a paradigm there, but it was a gradual process: "Does evolution work as Lamarck said, with the inheritance of acquired traits? No, it doesn't" … You can see the evolution of an idea there, settling on what works, whereas Einstein took Newtonian physics and said this is incomplete, which is something that was unimaginable for the hundreds of years that we were doing Newtonian physics.
My read of history is that people wanted to get opinions on everything from someone who was so widely recognized as being so smart.
It's kind of like the situation with rock stars today: You want to know what Bono thinks about global hunger, even though he made his money as a musician.
Exactly. So Einstein is not necessarily an expert in these other fields. Not even necessarily informed in these other fields. But people know that he's a deep thinker. So what are his deep thoughts about Jews and Arabs, and the civil rights movement, and the bomb, and Nazi Germany? He became this sounding board for people to try to get some point of view from someone they implicitly trust, from a smart person.
So there's that factor that distinguishes Einstein from Darwin. But I think there's a stronger factor: There is no science in this world like physics. Nothing comes close to the precision with which physics enables you to understand the world around you. It's the laws of physics that allow us to say exactly what time the sun is going to rise. What time the eclipse is going to begin. What time the eclipse is going to end. What time the meteor is going to hit.
Do you remember when David Levy and Carolyn and Gene Shoemaker discovered a comet, and they had a few measurements of it, and they said, 'The next time around, it's going to slam into Jupiter.' And what's remarkable is that no one questions that. Because they know it is the powers of understanding, derived from the fundamentals of physics, that give you that capacity to basically predict the future with high precision.
Biology doesn't do that. Chemistry doesn't do that. You can predict reactions, yes. You can get an understanding of how things work, yes. Darwin's theory of evolution is a framework by which we understand the diversity of life on Earth. But there is no equation sitting there in Darwin's "Origin of Species" that you apply and say, "What is this species going to look like in 100 years or 1,000 years?" Biology isn't there yet with that kind of predictive precision.
So, when we speak of the theory of relativity, and the theory of evolution, they are each extremely important ways of understanding the world. But the tool kit that comes with the relativity theory, that comes with any physics theory, has a level of precision that puts it just in another category. It's not simply an organizing principle.
When you predict that the sun is going to rise at 7:22 tomorrow morning, and someone wants to debate you … you're going to be wasting your time having that conversation. Just walk away from it, because you know in advance what's going to happen.
For that reason, Darwin's theory of evolution, because it's a theory of biology, because biology is a different kind of science from physics, it looks to the outsider as if you can just jump in and claim that things are just not what the biologist sees them to be. Now of course that's false, but I'm just submitting to you that when you have your tool kit of predictive powers, that's kind of like an armor at the perimeter. You're not going to get past that to say that somehow that equation is wrong. The equation is demonstrably correct, so go home.
The trouble with evolutionSince evolution is an organizing principle of biology that allows you to understand phenomena, there are people who resist it.
Now the way I see it, that level of resistance is not fundamentally different from the resistance that prevailed when Copernicus and Galileo demonstrated that Earth goes around the sun and not vice versa. We didn't have Newtonian gravity back then. You couldn't predict, with high precision, the clockwork solar system. That would have been a new word back then: "solar system," implying that the sun is at the center of things.
Back then, you had religious types arguing this, saying that it was against scripture, against God, against God's way, God's will. Back then, of course, the church was very powerful. They were basically the state in Italy. So there was the power to enforce a point of view, which made it bad for your health to espouse views that were different from people's interpretation of scripture.
Today, I'm happy to report that they don't burn people at the stake if they claim that Earth goes around the sun, or that there are other stars that might have other planets that themselves could have life. It's statements like that that got Giordano Bruno burned at the stake in 1600, just 10 years before Galileo really came on the scene with his "Starry Messenger," reporting that Jupiter had moons, which made Jupiter the center of that motion, and not Earth.
So things were changing rapidly back then, from burning Bruno at the stake, to putting Galileo under house arrest, to modern days, with the Catholic Church issuing statements saying evolution's OK. So history has shown that some theistically based belief systems have been able to adapt to the prevailing discoveries of science. Those that don't will be left behind. And if you're left behind, you become disenfranchised from the forces that control emerging economies.
We're in the 21st century. The emerging economies are going to be scientifically and technologically driven. We're not agrarian anymore.
What were the consequences in the mid-1800s of saying you didn't believe Darwin? There weren't any, really. But today, with biotech companies, there is no understanding of biology without the theory of evolution. And so if you say, 'I don't believe the theory of evolution, I think we were all specially created,' you must understand the consequences of it to your own employability.
Now if you don't want to become a scientist, then maybe it doesn't matter. Fine. There are plenty of professions that do not involve scientists. But as I said, the emergent economies are going to be scientifically and technologically driven, with biotech front and center. If you're coming in saying that there was Adam and Eve, you're not going to get past the front door. Because they can't use your knowledge base to invent the next vaccine, the next medicine, the next cure for cancer. That knowledge base does not track into discoveries we know are awaiting us in the halls of biotech firms.
You're saying that your perspective on those theories affects the pace of innovation?
Yes. And I would add this, just to nip this argument over "theories" in the bud: Until Einstein, all tested, confirmed physical theories were labeled laws. There's Newton's three laws of motion … the laws of gravity … the laws of thermodynamics. When Einstein came along, he showed that Newton was incomplete — not wrong, but incomplete, describing just a subset of reality. Einstein showed that a deeper understanding was required to account for this reality. At that point, physicists – I think not even consciously, just sort of subconsciously – stopped calling things "laws."
There are no "laws" of physics in the 20th century. It's quantum theory … the theory of relativity … you just look in the books, they all use the term "theory." I think it's a recognition that someone who comes after you may achieve an even deeper understanding of how things work. But "deeper" doesn't mean that what you did is no longer valid. It just means that there's a larger sphere of understanding that awaits you, in which what you just learned is embedded.
It's like the old classical Venn diagram: Here's the Newton universe. The Einstein universe is now that, enclosing Newton. Einstein's equations look like Newton's equations, when you put in low gravity and low speeds. They all reduce, and they're identical to Newton's equations. Because Newton's equations work: They don't suddenly fail to work in the regime in which they were demonstrated to work. They don't become undone. They're still there.
So now we know that general relativity is incomplete, because it doesn't marry with quantum mechanics. They don't talk to each other. We know that already. So now we are asserting that there's yet an even bigger circle out there, that would include quantum mechanics with general relativity. And this is what the string theorists are doing. That's what drives them. They're not driven by some whim.
Right. It's not a mere desire to come up with something esoteric.
They're not doing this just for the hell of it. No. There's a gap there. And that deeper understanding, like I said, is an understanding that encloses the previous understandings because they've already been demonstrated to work.
But the change in vocabulary is not received the same way by the public. They hear the word "theory" and they say, "Well, it's only a theory. Tomorrow it could be different." Well, if it's different tomorrow, it's because we've found something that's even more powerful than this. It's not because we looked and found something completely different over here.
Now, the word "theory" is also used to describe ideas that are very tentative. That's true. So now we're stuck with a problem: We've got evolutionary theory, quantum theory, all very well tested and very well established – and now we've got somebody's theory on the frontier of the science, that will probably be shown to be wrong, because most fresh theories are wrong. But they keep you investigating. You're hacking through the brush and bramble, trying to make a clearing where you understand what's going on. There's an unfortunate mismatch in the way scientists use the word "theory" and the public's interpretation of the word, as applied to these century-old understandings of the world.
So that's unfortunate. But what the public needs to understand is, there is nothing more powerful than successful theories. They organize ideas in ways that grant you a power of understanding that is without equal in any system of human thought that has ever come before.
Do you expect that there would be a test down the line that would enable the confidence in Darwin's theory to be solidified to the point that the Copernican view of the solar system holds today? Are there tests that can be done to show that kind of precision that we have for planetary motion nowadays?
There are two issues there: Let me unpack them to make them separate. The issue of precision simply distinguishes Einstein from Darwin. I think that alone is not what accounts for the resistance that we see in the various communities.
Most of what Einstein said and did has no direct impact on what anybody reads in the Bible. Special relativity, his work in quantum mechanics, nobody even knows or cares. Where Einstein really affects the Bible is the fact that general relativity is the organizing principle for the Big Bang. That's where it affects origin science, and then you have the religious community reacting to that.
Going back to the analogue with Copernican systems, I think it's a matter of time. The world fully accepted the heliocentric model long before Newton came out with his laws of gravity and laws of motion. Copernicus' book was 1543. Newton was 1687, OK? That's 130 years.
Now it's been 130 years since Darwin. So you have to ask, what is your measure of this resistance? Is it most of the world? No, it's not most of the world that's resisting this. It's a small subset of the world. One might even say the holdouts. But they need to understand that their counterparts in the past were no less passionate about their objection to a scientific discovery as people objecting to the sun going around the earth or vice versa.
They were no less passionate in the invention of the microscope, the discovery of germs: that when you got sick, it wasn't because God made you sick, it was because you exposed yourself to these microorganisms. And I can hand you these microorganisms and you'll come down with all these symptoms. That discovery removed God from many equations that people had going in their head for why you got sick.
There's a famous statement about venereal disease… when penicillin was demonstrated to cure venereal disease, there was some bishop who at the time said that this medicine was the work of the devil, because it allows you to fornicate and not face God's punishment. And you still see a little bit of that with the AIDS virus. But by and large, people are not thinking that germs are handed off by supernatural powers.
So I think it's a matter of time. There's an old saying about the evolution of every great truth: First, people say they don't believe it; then, they say it contradicts the Bible; and third, they say they've known it all along.
So just give them a little more time. They might warm up to it.
On the other hand, Einstein's work was inspired by the incompleteness of past theories – how some experiments showed that the way scientists thought the world worked in the late 1800s was just plain wrong.
There were some gaps in physics, and if you did not have foresight, you might think, "Oh, they will just resolve themselves. Add a little decimal place, and they'll fix themselves." But they were not fixable by themselves. It took someone like Einstein, and the other forward-thinkers around him, to figure it out.
Would you say that the analog for the present age are the discoveries about the accelerating universe?
Yeah, we've got gaps today. We don't know what dark matter is. We don't know what dark energy is. We don't know what was around before the Big Bang. We don't know what's going on at the center of a black hole. We don't know how gravity can merge with quantum mechanics. We don't know how galaxies formed. There are major areas of the unknown that remain today. But that's the nature of science.
And are those the sorts of things that could spark the sort of inspiration that Einstein had?
I would hope. What you really want out of this is to have someone come up with an explanation of, let's say, dark matter — and just as part of the accoutrements of the theory, it explains 10 other things. That's what happened with relativity.
Einstein said, 'Well, here's the speed of light,' and so on, and all of a sudden general relativity explained Mercury's precession around the sun, it explained the bending of starlight, it explained all this stuff. He didn't start the day with that objective, but that's what gives you that much more confidence in the theory. If you start the day wanting to explain something, then you'd wonder whether somebody made something up just to account for it. ...
Einstein was explaining stuff for free. And that power of understanding led to extreme confidence that he was on the right track, and was deeply plugged into how nature worked.
Sir — The question of religious belief among US scientists has been debated since early in the century. Our latest survey finds that, among the top natural scientists, disbelief is greater than ever — almost total. Research on this topic began with the eminent US psychologist James H. Leuba and his landmark survey of 1914. He found that 58% of 1,000 randomly selected US scientists expressed disbelief or doubt in the existence of God, and that this figure rose to near 70% among the 400 "greater" scientists within his sample . Leuba repeated his survey in somewhat different form 20 years later, and found that these percentages had increased to 67 and 85, respectively . In 1996, we repeated Leuba's 1914 survey and reported our results in Nature. We found little change from 1914 for American scientists generally, with 60.7% expressing disbelief or doubt. This year, we closely imitated the second phase of Leuba's 1914 survey to gauge belief among "greater" scientists, and find the rate of belief lower than ever — a mere 7% of respondents. Leuba attributed the higher level of disbelief and doubt among "greater" scientists to their "superior knowledge, understanding, and experience" . Similarly, Oxford University scientist Peter Atkins commented on our 1996 survey, "You clearly can be a scientist and have religious beliefs. But I don't think you can be a real scientist in the deepest sense of the word because they are such alien categories of knowledge."  Such comments led us to repeat the second phase of Leuba's study for an up-to-date comparison of the religious beliefs of "greater" and "lesser" scientists. Our chosen group of "greater" scientists were members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Our survey found near universal rejection of the transcendent by NAS natural scientists. Disbelief in God and immortality among NAS biological scientists was 65.2% and 69.0%, respectively, and among NAS physical scientists it was 79.0% and 76.3%. Most of the rest were agnostics on both issues, with few believers. We found the highest percentage of belief among NAS mathematicians (14.3% in God, 15.0% in immortality). Biological scientists had the lowest rate of belief (5.5% in God, 7.1% in immortality), with physicists and astronomers slightly higher (7.5% in God, 7.5% in immortality). Overall comparison figures for the 1914, 1933 and 1998 surveys appear in Table 1.
Table 1 Comparison of survey answers among "greater" scientists
Belief in personal God
Doubt or agnosticism
Belief in human immortality
Doubt or agnosticism
Figures are percentages.
Repeating Leuba's methods presented challenges. For his general surveys, he randomly polled scientists listed in the standard reference work, American Men of Science (AMS). We used the current edition. In Leuba's day, AMS editors designated the "great scientists" among their entries, and Leuba used these to identify his "greater" scientists [1,2]. The AMS no longer makes these designations, so we chose as our "greater" scientists members of the NAS, a status that once assured designation as "great scientists" in the early AMS. Our method surely generated a more elite sample than Leuba's method, which (if the quoted comments by Leuba and Atkins are correct) may explain the extremely low level of belief among our respondents. For the 1914 survey, Leuba mailed his brief questionnaire to a random sample of 400 AMS "great scientists". It asked about the respondent's belief in "a God in intellectual and affective communication with humankind" and in "personal immortality". Respondents had the options of affirming belief, disbelief or agnosticism on each question . Our survey contained precisely the same questions and also asked for anonymous responses. Leuba sent the 1914 survey to 400 "biological and physical scientists", with the latter group including mathematicians as well as physicists and astronomers . Because of the relatively small size of NAS membership, we sent our survey to all 517 NAS members in those core disciplines. Leuba obtained a return rate of about 70% in 1914 and more than 75% in 1933 whereas our returns stood at about 60% for the 1996 survey and slightly over 50% from NAS members [1,2]. As we compiled our findings, the NAS issued a booklet encouraging the teaching of evolution in public schools, an ongoing source of friction between the scientific community and some conservative Christians in the United States. The booklet assures readers, "Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral". NAS president Bruce Alberts said: "There are many very outstanding members of this academy who are very religious people, people who believe in evolution, many of them biologists." Our survey suggests otherwise.
Edward J. LarsonDepartment of History, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-6012, USA e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.orgLarry Witham3816 Lansdale Court, Burtonsville, Maryland 20866, USA
Fewer Americans Accept Evolution Theory
Published 16 Aug 2006
GUEST: Jon Miller, Jon Hennah Professor of Integrative Studies at Michigan State University, lead author of a study on popular acceptance of evolution theory
A new study published in Journal Science last Friday reveals that only forty percent of Americans accept the theory of evolution. In European nations, such as Iceland, Sweden, Denmark and France, more than eighty percent of adults surveyed stated an acceptance of evolution. The United States posted the second lowest numbers of the thirty-four nations surveyed, ranking only slightly higher than Turkey. The study also found an increasing skepticism about evolution among the U.S. adult population. Over the last two decades, the percentage of Americans who are uncertain about the merits of evolutionary theory has increased from seven percent to twenty-one percent; a three fold increase. The lead author of the study, Professor Jon Miller, cites religious fundamentalism, the politicization of the evolution debate and a poor understanding of biology to be among the leading factors in the decreasing acceptance of the theory of evolution among Americans.
Charles Darwin would have been 200 tomorrow, an event that Gallup is marking with a new poll showing that 39 percent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution. A quarter say they don't believe in evolution, and 36 percent say they have no opinion.
The strongest predictor of respondents' views on evolution? Church attendance.
In fact, Gallup's analysis says religiosity outweighs educational level in shaping views on evolution, even though those with the most education are far more likely to support evolution than those with the least. Just 21 percent of respondents who had up to a high school level of education believe in evolution, compared with 74 percent of those with postgraduate degrees.
But Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief, says religion is the determining factor:
Previous Gallup research shows that the rate of church attendance is fairly constant across educational groups, suggesting that this relationship is not owing to an underlying educational difference but instead reflects a direct influence of religious beliefs on belief in evolution.
Among weekly churchgoers, 24 percent believe in evolution, while 41 percent do not and 35 percent have no opinion. Among those who seldom or never attend church, 55 percent belief in evolution, while 11 percent do not, and 34 percent have no opinion.
Look to the question of how many Americans believe in Darwin's theory of natural selection, and the numbers shrink further. Gallup puts that number at 14 percent, while the Pew Research Center puts it at 26 percent. Both organizations put the number of Americans who favor creationism at about 43 percent, higher than the proportion than believes in evolution, according to a recent Pew report.
Vatican Accepts Darwin's Theory Of Evolution Compatible With Christianity February 12, 2009 12:14 p.m. EST
Vatican City (AHN) - The Vatican has changed its stand about the Theory of Evolution advanced by Charles Darwin. Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said Darwin's theory which the Church was against in the past, is compatible with Christianity.
The archbishop pointed to the writings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas as proofs. St. Augustine, a 4th century theologian, wrote about the big fish eating the smaller fish and the slow transformation over time of the forms of life. Similar observations were voiced by Aquinas during the Middle Ages.
The acknowledgement of Darwin's theory coincides with the holding of a papal-backed conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University to observe the 150th anniversary of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species".
Ravasi clarified Darwin's theories were not formally condemned by the Roman Catholic Church.
Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI sought to ease the controversy created by a Catholic bishop who said Jews were not killed by the Nazis in gas chambers. At a Thursday meeting with the delegation of the Conference of American Jewish Organization, the pontiff said the Church is "profoundly and irrevocably committed to rejecting all anti-Semitism and to continuing to build good and lasting relations between our two communities."
Pope Benedict also announced during the private audience with the CAJO he has tentatively scheduled a visit to Israel on May.