The government of Cyprus is putting Noah’s Ark in school biology textbooks (granted, it’s not explicitly presented as a fact), and they’re also completely leaving out evolution. This information was sent to me by Marc Srour, a research associate at the Enalia Physis Environmental Research Center, who has posted a piece on Cyprus Freethinkers: “Open letter concerning Noah’s Ark in biology textbooks“
Srour also posted a description of this duplicitous and offensive practice on the website Teaching Biology,
The Ministry of Education of Cyprus has issued new biology textbooks for schoolchildren [JAC: Marc says these are for 12- and 13-year olds], and one of the pages there is devoted to retelling the story of Noah’s Ark, placing him as the saviour of Earth’s biodiversity. The offending page and my letter to the Ministry are below. Please, if you care at all about this issue, share the letter (or this whole post), sign the petition linked at the end, and spread the word around. A clean copy of the letter without my lengthy introduction can be found at Cyprus Freethinkers.
You can sign the petition here; it’s in Greek but I think Google translator or the Chrome translate will enable you to verify its content. And anyone can sign it. Strike a blow for good biology everywhere. And here’s the relevant page of the textbook:
According to the Book of Genesis from the Old Testament (2: 15, 19-20), God:
a) asked Adam to cultivate and protect the Garden of Eden, and
b) brought to him every living entity, so he can name them.
Think of why Adam’s action in naming all the organisms was an important prerequisite allowing him to cultivate and protect the garden.
Noah continued Adam’s work, preserving all the living organisms that would be endangered by the waters of the cataclysm.
Therefore, in modern terms, Noah protected the biodiversity of our planet.
Think of what you can do today to protect the living organisms of our planet.
I asked Marc if he could find any mention of evolution in the textbook, and he said this:
Not at all. I didn’t spot any mention of evolution in any section, not in the introduction and not in the most relevant section about classification and taxonomy (where Noah’s Ark is). The other sections are organismal biology (no mention of evolution, just information on organs, tissues, cells), human reproduction, photosynthesis, and trophic relationships. It’s simply not in the curriculum for this age.
Why is this happening? As you might guess, Cyprus is one of the Western world’s most religious nations. In a list of European countries ranked by religiosity, Cyrus is second highest (after Malta), with 90% of the inhabitants agreeing with the statement “I believe there is a God,” 7% asserting “I believe there is some sort of spirit or life force,” and only 2% saying that “I don’t believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force” (data from a 2005 Eurobarometer poll). 78% of Cypriots are member of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus. And as I’ve stressed here repeatedly, the more religious a country is, the less likely it is to accept evolution. Only faitheists, liberal religious folks, and present or former members of the National Center for Science Education would deny that there’s a real connection between the two factors.
Here’s how Cyprus ranks in accepting evolution (statistics published by Miller et al. in 2006):
They’re third from the bottom: only the U.S. (shame on us!) and Turkey are lower. (Turkish citizens answer the three religion questions given above at 95%, 2%, and 1%. Many Cypriots are of Turkish origin, of course.)