Thursday, September 9, 2004

Lliljana Colic is an idiot

/ serbia / political / de-evolution /
Serbia has suspended the teaching of Darwin's theory of evolution for the current school year.

...The country's predominantly secular schools will eventually be allowed to reinstate it in the curriculum only if they balance it with lessons on creationism - the Old Testament belief in human descent from Adam and Eve.

The education minister, Ljiljana Colic, said: "Darwinism is a theory as dogmatic as the one which says God created the first man."

Ms Colic, an Orthodox Christian, did not dispute that her beliefs had influenced her decision.

"It is normal that a minister's personality leaves a mark", she said. "This is my mark and time will tell if I was right."

Two things crop up to mind:

a. This is an instructive lesson on what happens when you let Orthodox priests spread their ignorance on a country. An object lesson on what our own fundamentalist and power-mad archbishop here in Greece might attempt, given the opportunity.

b. Isn't the post-Milosevic political scenery enlightened?... Moving along with great strides to the 12th century, Serbia follows the most benighted of religious fanatics in middle America to join the most backwards wastelands of christian religious hysteria. And I'm sure the fundamentalists in the US are jumping up-and-down from joy now that they have an ally in a European country...

Always trust Kostunica to know how to pick them...

update Sept 10: Common sense has triumphed: "...After a deluge of protest from scientists, teachers and opposition parties, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica called Ms Colic in for a meeting.

They agreed to drop the move, [deputy education minister] Mr Brdar said..."

Relief... the post title remains accurate however. Let me also add that the first to attempt this return to ignorance in Europe was that other beacon of rationality and clarity of thought, the quasi-fascist Burlesquoni coalition... Over here in Greece the situation has had many ups and downs, though I'm under the impression that evolution is taught in Greek schools as biology ever since I was a schoolboy - although frankly I don't remember anymore!

1 comment:

talos said...

old comments

Niko Angelis:

If I may I would like to point out some past relevant posts [via com[m]union] on the subject of religion. Here's the link - the comments with G. Dafermos are very interesting:…

To-day I believe that any constructive discourse on religion and its application has to avoid polarization and fanaticism. Established institutions are inherently afraid of change and of critical thinking thus will only be too pleased to create confusion, polarization and conflict - under such circumstances the vast majority of people will almost certainly fall back into the "security" of established ways of thinking, conversing and acting.

2004-09-09 17:00

I don't think this has anything to do with the discussion of religion in any meaningful sense. The late, great Stephen Jay Gould proposed the idea of religion and science as two "non-overlapping magisteria" (See http://www.stephe… ), two domains of human endeavour that pertain to different questions and can therefore never collide. This was too optimistic IMHO, since I know of no religion that willingly conceded some of its "truths" to empirical science unless forced to by the glaringly obvious error of its beliefs. Religion is by its natute holistic and domianting. It cannot tolerate dissent on anything it perceives as a matter of dogma. There are other issues one can raise with SJG's Magesteria, but this is worth pointing out:

"…creationism based on biblical literalism makes little sense in either Catholicism or Judaism for neither religion maintains any extensive tradition for reading the Bible as literal truth rather than illuminating literature, based partly on metaphor and allegory"

This is even more true of the Orthodox church, with its emphasis on allegory and its mystical bend. The debacle in Serbia shows that Orthodox churches are being protestantized in their attitude toward society and science. Christian religion is being dumbed down, to a Biblical literalism that is lazy and passionless instead of immersing itself in its much more spiritual traditions. American Evangelical Protestantism is, in my atheist, outsider opinion, to Christianity what McDonalds is to cuisine. Easy to consume, cheap and lacking any nutritional value…

But even more ominously, this signifies the weakening of the secular state and the intrusion of organized religion into matters (i.e. science curricula) it has no business involving itself. This is reason enough to disparage these developments.

…Anyway the sheer ignorence required to utter the phrase: "Darwinism is a theory as dogmatic as the one which says God created the first man", provides reason enough for the post's title.

2004-09-10 00:05

"power-mad archbishop "


A mujahedin of Orthodoxy I don't think he is. He is however more than a little vain and fond of the TV camera. Am I mistaken or has he recently given up on the lame jokes. If so, a wise move.

2004-09-15 16:19
Doug Muir:

Kostunica fired her, and good for him.

She got the position in the first place because she was (1) an old-time Kostunica loyalist from the early days of the DPS, when it was a fringe party struggling to survive under Milosevic, and (2) the DPS wanted a "bridge" to the Church, so that Vuk and the monarchists couldn't claim to be the one true defenders of the Faith.

Since taking office in March, though, she'd committed one gaffe after another… firing school superintendents without legal process, making English classes optional instead of mandatory, halting all teacher training that was funded by foreign donors. The Darwin thing was the straw that broke the camel's back.

I note in passing that, in Orthodox countries, the pattern seems to be that the Church sucks up to strong governments, while weak governments suck up to the Church. (Value-neutral political observation, no offense intended.) Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Welcome back, BTW.

Doug M.

2004-09-20 10:32

A Serb friend told me that she also tried to ban computers from classes because of their "radiation"…

In Greece strong and weak governments alike suck up to the church. As the current leader of the church of Greece likes to remind people, "no one has succesfully messed with the church in Greece"… Governments have tried to break the (very material) ties that connect state and church in Greece and time and again they have hastily retreated. Even an attempt by PASOK in the 80s to tax and redistribute the church's obscene land holdings failed miserably… In some respects the CoG is one of the country's largest capitalists.
The one exception was the Simitis government removal of religious affiliation from the ID cards, which went on despite the hysterical reaction of the church… The whole ID debacle was a wake up call, though, into how much Greece has regressed into narrow-minded medieval religiosity.

Good to have you back as well.

2004-09-20 13:34

To be fair let me also point out Bishop Ignjatije's enlightened response who, "…acknowledged Darwin had a place in schools.
Darwin "spoke about ways that humans and the rest of the nature are connected. The connection must not be ignored by anybody, not even by us theologists", he said."

A quote that those fighting for rationality and against fundamentalism across the Atlantic, might find useful.

2004-09-20 14:17
Doug Muir:

For a series of snapshots of the endless creation/evolution argument, check out It mixes that with some very good articles about biology. (I wish the author would do more biology and less arguing with creationists, but it's his blog.)

What made me think of the strong government/weak government theory was comparing Serbia and Romania. The Church in Romania seems to have settled into a very cozy symbiosis with the present administration; the Church nudges rural voters to the polls to vote PSD, and the government makes sure that the Church can keep the land it "recovered" in the early 1990s.

But the PSD is very much the senior partner. The Church leaders lie awake nights worrying about a government that would — for instance — start listening to claims that the Church simply grabbed land that belonged to other churches (like the small Uniate Church in Transylvania). Or, worse yet, start treating Protestant churches, like the disturbingly popular Jehovah's Witnesses, as equal in fact as well as law. So they're willing to let PSD take the lead on things like social policy.

Finally, I note that the Catholic Church officially made its peace with Darwin around the time of Vatican II (1965). It's formal Church doctrine that evolution is acceptable, and that biblical literalism is a snare and delusion. However, there are still Catholic congregations, in the US and elsewhere, that don't seem to have gotten the news.

Doug M.

2004-09-23 07:35