Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Help Counter Creationism in Russia
NCSE member Barbara Forrest, who recently attended a conference in St. Petersburg, reports that Russian scientists desperately need resources to stem the rising tide of creationism in their country. In Russia, as in many American communities, there are two important dimensions of the situation, religious and educational. But in Russia, both problems are more severe.
In the US, the voices of Biblical literalist religious denominations are balanced by those of denominations that accept evolution. In Russia, there are great numbers of conservative Christian American missionaries fueling a new fundamentalism, while church/state separation in education has come to an end, and the traditional Russian Orthodox Church has considerable influence on the schools. At the same time, science education is limited: "Only one new biology textbook has appeared in the last ten years," Dr. Forrest reports, "and most Russians don't have to study biology in high school anyway."
Forrest's host, Dr Sergei Orlov, is urging colleagues to develop answers to unscientific claims (sound familiar?) and collecting as much creationist literature as he can - a task that's all too easy because St. Petersburg is flooded with Russian translations of books and pamphlets about "creation science". "He once had a copy of Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy," Forrest told us, "but it was so popular with his students that he couldn't get it back. He was delighted when I gave him my own copy."
NCSE is sending more copies, and several back issues of Creation/Evolution, but there is more to do. Will you help?
* If you or a friend is fluent in Russian, you could translate some NCSE literature for Russian scientists to use as a resource, or possibly distribute.
* When NCSE first reported on Institute for Creation Research efforts to export creationism to Eastern Europe (NCSE Reports 14:8), we offered to help members send gifts of literature rebutting "creation science", or explaining science as a way of knowing. You can order any such book that we have in stock and we will send it, charging you our discount price plus cost of shipping. The same offer applies to back issues of Creation/Evolution.
If some among our countrymen are exporting a problem, the rest of us can help with the cure. In 1989, we were moved to see replicas of the Statue of Liberty carried by democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. Like the idea and practice of democracy, the understanding of scientific method and critical thinking is important everywhere. Let's spread the word.
By Molleen Matsumura
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.