Culture&Arts

Indian minister dismisses Darwin's theory of evolution

Indian minister dismisses Darwin's theory of evolution

In remarks on the sidelines of a conference in Aurangabad, in central India, Singh further noted that "nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, have said they saw an ape turning into a man".

Discussion on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, most commonly, if erroneously, held to mean that humans descended from apes, has moved out of classrooms to drawing rooms and opinion columns with Union minister for human resource development Satyapal Singh saying recently that it was "scientifically wrong". Indian scientists, working in the country or overseas, also wrote a letter titled "In support of evolution" addressing the minister, in which they said they were "pained" by his claim, which was an "insult to genuine research work". The Minister can not come up with half-baked statements against a scientific theory especially as he has a constitutional duty to spread a scientific temper among people. "They (i.e. the existing apes and monkey species) are our cousins, if you like, not ancestors", he said.

"I absolutely stand by my comment that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is not scientific". I am a man of science, I'm not coming from Arts background.

"It would be a retrograde step to remove the teaching of the theory of evolution from school and college curricula or to dilute this by offering non-scientific explanations or myths".

Another open letter signed by several eminent scientists terms the minister's proclamation that the Vedas contain answers to all questions an "exaggerated" claim that can not be substantiated with available evidence. An editorial on the Indian news site The Wire said: "Singh's remarks are risky because he is a minister with the power to change what's printed in school and college textbooks".

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These broad ideas have overwhelming support within the scientific community."What has been said by Dr Singh is wrong at multiple levels".

When a minister working for Human Resource Development in the country makes such claims, it harms the scientific community's efforts to propagate scientific thoughts and rationality through critical education and modern scientific research. "Since the time, a man was seen on earth, he has been a man and will remain a man", the IPS officer-turned-politician had stated.

There is nothing in the Indic traditions that would demand the rejection of such a theory or for that matter any scientific finding from anywhere in the world, Rajan wrote in an angry Facebook post.

Amitabh Joshi, an evolutionary biologist at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bengaluru, read in the minister's statement a "cavalier disregard" for the established scientific norms, and also termed it "illogical".