Theory of evolution: Scientists want Satyapal Singh to retract his comments
As on 7pm Sunday, the letter that will be submitted to the Union minister had more than 1,800 signaturesmumbai Updated: Jan 21, 2018 22:20 IST
The Indian scientific community criticised union minister Satyapal Singh and demanded a retraction of his statement that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution of man was “scientifically wrong and needs to be changed in school and college curriculum”.
In a letter, which has turned into an online petition, the scientists wrote: “We urge you to retract the reported speech at the All India Vedic Sammelan with immediate effect and issue a clarification about the Ministry’s policy towards teaching the theory of evolution”
Singh, while talking to reporters at the event in Aurangabad, on Saturday, had said, “Since the man is seen on Earth he has always been a man. Nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, have said they saw an ape turning into a man. No books we have read or the tales told to us by our grandparents had such a mention.”
As on 7pm Sunday, the letter that will be submitted to Singh had more than 2,000 signatures, including that of distinguished scientists from national and foreign research institutes.
“When a minister working for Human Resource Development (HRD) 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. It also diminishes the image of the country at the global level and reduces faith of the international historical research community in the genuine research by the Indian researchers,” reads the letter.
Science educators said the Indian scientific community can longer keep silent on ill-informed statements because it affects the scientific temper of the country.
“In the past, we have ignored these kinds of statements. Many Indians have a poor understanding of science since our education system emphasises on rote memorisation. So as scientists if we don’t protest against these statements, people think it is true,” said Aniket Sule, researcher, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education. “If ministers and policy makers make such statements, what is future of our country?”
Excerpts from the letter
-It is factually incorrect to state that the evolutionary principle has been rejected by the scientific community. On the contrary, every new discovery adds support to Darwin’s insights.
-Statements such as ‘humans did / did not evolve from monkeys’ is an overly simplistic and misleading representation of evolution. There is plentiful and undeniable scientific evidence to the fact that humans and the other great apes and monkeys had a common ancestor.
-You have also supposedly claimed that Vedas contain answers to all questions. Such an exaggerated claim cannot be substantiated with the evidence available and is an insult to the genuine research work on history of Indian scientific traditions. Vedic traditions through the Mimamsa discipline, teach us ways of analysing Vedas through rationality and logical reasoning. Your claims are at odds with the very traditions you claim to uphold.
To letter scientists wrote
First Published: Jan 21, 2018 21:39 IST