Evangelical Church in Germany knocks creationism, ID in school

April 2, 2008

EKD logoThe Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) has just published a booklet for school teachers urging them not to advocate creationism or intelligent design (ID). That’s “evangelical” as in the German evangelisch (meaning Protestant, mostly Lutheran), and not “evangelical” as it’s more commonly used in the United States. Still, it’s interesting to see that the EKD in Germany, where there are few U.S.-style evangelicals and almost no dispute about the theory of evolution, felt it necessary to issue a 22-page booklet about teaching evolution. It’s called “The Origin of the World, the Theory of Evolution and the Belief in Creation in School” (here in German).

EKD Chairman Bishop Wolfgang Huber (pictured below) writes in the introduction that there is “an intense debate” about these issues but that “it is being conducted in Germany in a different way from, for example, the United States of America. Still, a fundamental clarification is of considerable practical importance.” He doesn’t elaborate.

Bishop Wolfgang Huber, 5 Nov 2003//Vincent KesslerThe daily Die Welt gave a bit more background. “This dispute is increasingly spilling over from the USA to us and has already led to political debates. The Hesse state culture minister (and Protestant synod member) Karin Wolff spoke last year of a “surprising agreement” between evolution and the Bible. With that she sparked a dispute within the Church in which the reasonable faction of the EKD found itself confronted with the growing strength of evangelicals loyal to the Bible. This “orientation aid” should now calm the dispute by setting limits towards both sides.”The “orientation aid,” as the booklet is called, criticises Richard Dawkins and other atheists for thinking science can disprove the existence of God. It compares the books of the “new atheists” to the communist textbooks in East Germany: “The new atheism propagated by Dawkins and others today fits seamlessly into this ideological scheme.”

The booklet has several pages on the relationship between science and religion. Sorry, I can’t translate them all but they boil down to saying that biblically literal creationism is unseriös (“unserious” is a serious put-down in German). ID turns God into a god-of-the-gaps, it adds. So how does the EKD want German schools to deal with creation? Unlike in the U.S., even state schools in Germany have religion classes, separated according to religions and denominations. The EKD says it believes the Biblical story of creation explains the overall purpose of life while science explains the physical details. “God the creator is part of this belief, but not creationism,” the booklet writes. “So Protestant religion class can discuss creationism, but not advocate it.”

The booklet talks positively about “cooperation that connects subjects” (fächerverbindende Kooperation) and says “in principle all classes can deal with both the belief in creation and the theory of evolution.” Religion class is special in that it can advocate a religious view such as God as creator. “But teachers, because of their pedological responsibility and the duty to be evenhanded that goes with their occupation, cannot claim a comparable right for themselves, neither about creationism nor other views, for example atheist ones,” it adds.


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Intelligent design vs evolution

Evolution is proved scientifically. We (human race) are doing it as we speak, slowly. Animals also do it at a faster pace, the fastest being the fruit fly, if I remember it well.

Intelligent design is not proven, far from it. It is an act of faith. As such it is a personal decision and a matter for a state or religion to impose a point of view that changes as man grows up.

Let everyone decide as they/we grow up. There is a place for everything. Religion is at home or in reserved places. Education is also at home and reserved places. Those educated in private school can get anything they want, to follow their parents beliefs, it often backfires. Those in public school should never be forced to learn about any sort of god as ‘best’ or ‘only viable explanation to life’.

Students should be exposed to the openness of beliefs as a philosophical and social subject. During the course of their classes creationism can be introduced as one of the many offered beliefs, not as a fundamental truth.

Posted by jacques | Report as abusive

Evolution is proven? Pleaseeee…let me ask you one simple thing. If we came from monkeys why are monkeys not still evolving into humans? Simple question, simple answer. Evolution is MADE UP and there is NO proof whatsoever. I hope you learn very soon to stop hardening your heart towards your creator because it would not be pretty to wake up in hell one day and realize it a little too late.

Posted by Nicole | Report as abusive

jacques wrote:

“Evolution is proved scientifically.
We (human race) are doing it as we speak, slowly.
Animals also do it at a faster pace,
the fastest being the fruit fly, if I remember it well.”

What is observed is that humans produce humans,
and animals reproduce after their kind.

This is variation within a kind,
and is in accord with the creation account:

Genesis 1:21
So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds,
and every winged bird according to its kind.
And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:25
God made the wild animals according to their kinds,
the livestock according to their kinds,
and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.
And God saw that it was good.
From: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea rch=Genesis1-11;&version=31;

Science agrees with the Bible.


Posted by Joseph | Report as abusive

This represents a very significant step by a church in the current reformation of the christian church.

The first took root in Germany with Luther. Should we be surprised that it may do so again in Germany

Posted by just jack | Report as abusive

Dear Nicole,
Species evolve; individuals can only adapt since adaptation is a behavioral response and evolution is a genetic response to changes in environment, stresses (e.g. diseases, loss of habitat, less food), and such. Hence evolution’s time scale is the generation; it takes many generations to see evolution occur, hence the only species in which humans can watch evolution occur are those with short gestation periods, large broods and such, which pretty much rules out watching real time evolution in primates and limits it to e.g. insects, bacteria, other small things. And how do you know that God doesn’t work through evolution?

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive

I’m quite happy with ID and Creationism being taught in schools, but it has to be done in Religious Education classes and it must be made clear even then that science does not back up such claims.

It can have no place in a science class though. People say evolution is just a theory, but it is the best we have got to explain how complex entities exist.

ID supporters say science is changing all the time and 500 years ago theories were labelled as true that are now shown to be wrong. I agree that science is fluid but that is it’s great strength. Many would argue religion is too static and relies on bronze-aged myths

Posted by Mark Meadows | Report as abusive

I have no comment on creationism or ID, but rather on the mistaken belief that evolution is a fact.

Evolution has not by any means been proven a fact, it is still termed a theory due to the lack of evidence. There are still huge gaps in the supposed evolutionary chain AND bandied about issues regarding the accuracy of carbon dating.

Until the proof is categorically revealed as to Darwin’s theory of evolution, we can continue to debate until we’re blue in the face. It’s always interesting to see these blatant viewpoints of black or white in a world wrought with grey.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Hey Dave,

You don’t seem to be aware of the scientific usage of the word theory. It means that it explains lots of facts and made/makes predictions that have been shown to be correct.

Also science does not ever provide proof of anything.

Two such basic and fundamental errors regarding a subject you seem to have such a strong opinion about seems odd – but then perhaps you have a bias you are not revealing.



Posted by psiloiordinary | Report as abusive

I can see some people favoured their religion classes over their science classes in school. Looking in the dictionary evolution means change. If Evolution does not exist what do you call the changes in a species over a number of generations adapting to changes in their environment? These changes are recorded of certain species on the Galapagos Is. But I suppose that is one (or more), person’s documented version of what has occurred over a period of time. Just like the physical records of the dinosaurs and the interpretation of their beginning, evolution and demise by the various scientists who study them. Just like the Bible had been written by a group of people who interpreted the word of God ‘their way’. I don’t know of anyone around who can honestly say they heard the exact words that God said and have evidence to prove such. The Bible was written for the masses (initially poorly/un educated) to understand in simple easy terms how things came into being. And that word is still being interpreted in various ways by those who read it. (Good and bad). Either literally or otherwise. Basic common sense and logic (from a bit of education), questions how Adam and Eve and the animals came into being, in the Bible. It’s just a little more logical that the human species had changed over the millennia from something different to what we are today, than being molded straight into homo-sapien from dust (Adam). But as an open-minded person I understand it’s ok for people to remain ignorant and narrow-minded. Just as long as such ignorance and narrow-mindedness doesn’t interfere with another person’s right or wanting to learn about their ancestry. Let’s hope the German government ensures that those people who will be educating the young this way will do it with an open mind and not denigrate the basic common decency (not science), teachings of the Bible.

Posted by Conscientious Observer | Report as abusive

To briefly discount two of the most hackneyed arguments against evolutionary biology:

1. Monkeys/Apes as we now know them were never claimed to have “evolved into” humans, the evolutionary observation is that we share numerous characteristics that leads biologists to believe that we share a common ancestor.

2. Science doesn’t work with absolute “proof” of things, and a “theory” is a long-standing hypothesis that has numerous observations documented to support it and has yet to be disproven. To ask for “facts” from the scientific method is ridiculous, and “theories” are not some weak category that unprovable drivel is relegated to.

Now, I would go on to say that since nearly all of our biology is based on the Theory of Evolution, it would be patently ridiculous to teach a biology class without what is aptly named the “unifying theory of biology.”

Furthermore, I’m annoyed that the people arguing in these debates are for the most part simply repeating overwrought and meaningless rhetoric, much of which a child could debunk.

Posted by neZ | Report as abusive

A plague on both their houses.
So-called creationists and ID activists are mostly weasel-word-loving agitators for wholly illogical but very serious power plays to empower priestcraft. The currently fashionable atheists are equally blameworthy of tarring all persons of faith with the brush of antique and humanly evolved established religions and are equaly guilty of obsessive exclusivity. The one cannot speak for all persons of faith; the other cannot speak for all users of science. Whatever the exact mechanism used by omnipotent deity to organize this earth, the essentials are that it works here now, has worked in other worlds heretofore, and will work hereafter. Even a fool can see that all living things appear linked in a grand design, sharing elements of DNA and suggesting a common origin.
Humanists may claim that the highest study of man is man. The Lord God, however, declares that one should best study God: ” This is Eternal Life, to know the only true God…” And He claims to be the Father of all humankind. As a loving Father, he can and does speak to his children, not in a laboratory, but convincingly heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul, mind-to-mind, now as in times past, to us as to Adam, Enoch, Abraham and others anciently — who also knew more than we suppose of applied science, for they spoke intimately with the Cosmic Engineer. Science has self-defined limits. If we, like Einstein, want to know the mind of God, we must needs learn from God, who is far more transcendent than a micrometer.
— Angelos

Posted by Michael R Jackson | Report as abusive