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In Indian Politics, Evolution News Helps to Stir Things Up

David Klinghoffer

Satyapal Singh

India. Large country in South Asia. No doubt you’ve heard of it. Little did we realize, but over the past weekend Evolution News was busy helping to keep the Indian political scene from turning dull for even a moment.

An Indian Cabinet minister, Satyapal Singh, with responsibility for education, had noted that Darwinian evolution is “scientifically wrong” and “not scientific.” Accompanied by remarks from Singh that did not sound well informed, this provoked the usual storm of indignation. However, Singh received support from his party’s National General Secretary, Ram Madhav. The latter weighed in with a tweet, citing a 2006 article from Evolution News by Rob Crowther about the Scientific Dissent From Darwinism statement. From the Indian publication Scroll.in:

On Saturday evening, social media users criticised Singh’s statement.

[Bharatiya Janata Party] leader Ram Madhav tweeted his support, by forwarding an article from a website called Evolution News. The publisher of the site is a US think-tank called the Discovery Institute, which runs a campaign to have US high schools teach anti-evolution theories.

They point, for example, to one critic, Sadanand Dhume, a Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and columnist for the Wall Street Journal on South Asian affairs. Dhume tweeted in reply to Madhav’s tweet from Evolution News, “Congrats on the BJP joining the eminent company of Islamists and creationists on this issue.”

For some perspective, Ram Madhav leads the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which according to Wikipedia is India’s “largest political party in terms of representation in the national parliament and state assemblies,” as well as “the world’s largest party in terms of primary membership.”

In the 12 years since we published the brief post that Madhav tweeted about, the debate regarding evolution and intelligent design has grown and developed dramatically. One thing that never seems to change, though, is media and other distortion, both of the strength of the evidence for Darwinian theory and of Discovery Institute’s own position.

What AEI’s Sadanand Dhume had in mind with his response to Ram Madhav, I frankly do not know. “Islamists” behind Rob Crowther’s 2006 post for us? That is lunacy, obviously, while the reference to “creationists” is of course the usual mindless putdown. Leading proponents of intelligent design argue from scientific evidence alone, not from the Bible’s account of creation. It’s a very different proposition from creationism, assuming, for one thing, a standard scientific framework of the age of the universe and of our planet.

True, Discovery Institute is a “US think-tank” but we do not “run a campaign to have US high schools teach anti-evolution theories.” For the umpteenth time, please consult our Science Education Policy, which calls for freeing science instructors to teach objectively about evolution, drawing on mainstream scientific evidence of both its strengths and weaknesses.

Singh said, “Darwin’s theory is being challenged the world over,” to which a large group of Indian scientists replied in a letter, “On the contrary, every new discovery adds support to Darwin’s insights.” Well, as far as that goes, Singh is right, and his critics are wrong. He now seeks a “grand conference” on the subject.

Documenting the almost daily evidentiary challenges to orthodox neo-Darwinian theory, including from very mainstream sources, is one of our primary missions here at Evolution News. We modestly commend our work to Indians and others with an interest in the subject.

Photo: Satyapal Singh, by Praketarya (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.