Heresy in Israel! Chief education scientist dismissed for denying evolution and global warming
Photo by Ilan Assayag, www.haaretz.com
Dr Gavriel Avital, former chief scientist for the Israeli education ministry, is the latest of a long series of high-profile scientists ‘Expelled’ for voicing skepticism at evolution.
Published: 19 October 2010(GMT+10)
Heresy. Is that the right word to use here? It seems so harsh! But that is precisely how skepticism of evolution1 and anthropogenic global warming2 are treated in modern academic, political, and social discourse. Creationists can’t really expect a fair hearing in the public square any more. Any who hint that even ID should be given a hearing, even if they make plain their allegiance to the orthodox Darwinist dogma, are berated, ostracized, and even dismissed from their employ. Dr Gavriel Avital is merely the latest of a long series of high-profile scientists who have voiced skepticism at these sacred cows of modern academia and has paid the ultimate professional price—termination.
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar has dismissed the chief scientist of his ministry, Dr Gavriel Avital, over his statements denying the “fundamental tenets of science”—evolution and anthropogenic global warming.3 The news reports are quite straightforward; there is no other cited reason for his dismissal.3
Avital has been an outspoken critic of evolution and anthropogenic global warming during his time as chief scientist, and has attracted the disapproval of numerous scientists in Israel for it. In February 2010 two Israeli Nobel Prize laureates issued an open letter to Gideon Sa’ar saying,
“We don’t see any alternative other than to replace Dr. Gavriel Avital with an individual suited to fill the position, one who could do so faithfully and professionally.”4
Lest any think it was because of poor performance that these scientists wanted him sacked, the letter went on to state:
Dr Gavriel Avital is merely the latest of a long series of high-profile scientists who have voiced skepticism at these sacred cows of modern academia and has paid the ultimate professional price—termination.
“We view Dr. Avital’s remarks gravely because they undermine the standing and importance of science and take us centuries backward, even as the world celebrates the importance of Charles Darwin’s discoveries and the great contributions he made to human knowledge and scientific development, and is striving to uproot benighted doctrines such as intelligent design.”4
I find remarks such as this perplexing. I wonder what the creationists Newton, Kepler, Pasteur, Lister, Maxwell, Joule, Kelvin, Steno, Faraday, etc. would think of such comments. All but three were contemporaries of Darwin, and a number were very public in their criticisms of his work.
His personal doubts about evolution are well known, but what exactly did Avital propose as the educational solution? He said:
“If textbooks state explicitly that human beings’ origins are to be found with monkeys, I would want students to pursue and grapple with other opinions.”3
He’s not talking about not allowing evolution to be taught—he assumes children will be taught evolution because it’s in the textbooks. Rather he simply wants to give children the right to hear other views. Avital is not the one suppressing alternate views—evolutionists are.
Evolutionists’ tactics to silence their opponents
Evolutionists are in the habit of bullying and forcibly silencing their critics. Confessed evolutionists Michael Reiss and Richard Sternberg were dismissed from their posts because they hinted that people should be able to think for themselves about creation/evolution. Creationists and ID proponents have suffered similar fates, whether students, teachers, or academics (See Discrimination against creation scientists).
Whenever creationists try to discuss the evidence, typical evolutionist responses are: “all true scientists believe in evolution”, “creationists are liars”, or “creationists don’t publish articles in the peer-reviewed literature”. Such ‘arguments’ are just more smokescreens evolutionists use to avoid dealing with the actual arguments.
“All true scientists believe in evolution” presumes a self-serving and inaccurate definition of “scientist”. Though a minority, there are many practising scientists (with Ph.Ds. and active in scientific research) both past and present who don’t believe in evolution. It also presumes that majority vote decides truth. As evolutionists are so fond of pointing out, Copernicus and Galileo were almost lone soldiers fighting the tide of geocentrism. And yet we know today that the majority were wrong, and Galileo and Copernicus were right.5 But this is a double-edged sword—evolution cannot be proclaimed right just because it has the majority vote in academia.
For a similar reason, the appeal to “peer-reviewed literature” holds no water either. Evolutionists are the “peers” who review and edit such journals. How can IDers and creationists expect to get a fair hearing when evolutionists won’t let them speak?6
Creationists are often branded “liars”, or are treated as committing some ‘sin’ against ‘science’ by their very existence. However, this idea of ‘science’ is more like scientism, which states that science is the only way of knowing. However, that very premise can’t be proved scientifically, so it’s a self-defeating statement and thus false. Neither is evolution a scientific question, it’s a historical question, just like creation. It needs experimental science to make its historical reconstructions plausible,7 but the reconstruction itself is interpretation based squarely on some form of naturalism—God either doesn’t exist, can’t act in history, or refuses to. Evolutionists play fast and loose with the term “science” (whether knowingly or not) because the public views “science” as reliable. Science is a very useful way of investigating the world, but evolution is not science.
These charges have been answered time and again, and yet evolutionists generally respond merely by putting up the same smokescreens (they are not legitimate arguments), or by actively seeking to discredit and silence the dissenters. There are no attempts at rebuttals, because to do so they’d have to acknowledge there are arguments to rebut.
Why such language and tactics?
They assert that the truth of evolution is so obvious that it’s impossible to honestly disagree with it if someone understands it.
Such emotive and religious sentiments are communicated not just because evolution is assumed to be true. It’s more than that. Secularism’s fundamental tenet is not a denial of the existence of a god/s per se, but that said god/s never interfere in the real, physical world.8 This is assumed to be intuitively obvious—i.e. it’s impossible to reasonably disagree with. This principle is applied to evolution, so they then assert that the truth of evolution is so obvious that it’s impossible to honestly disagree with it if someone understands it. Dawkins says it most bluntly:
“It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”9
Such a worldview ignores both philosophy10 and the history of science.11 But secularism must sustain such a view in order to survive, and creationism and ID call that very foundation into question. Therefore, we became the heretics—the pariahs of a secular regime that will do anything to keep any god (especially the Christian God which it rebelled against) from interfering in history. But since we know that the God who intervened in history, the God of the Bible, is also its sovereign, secularism cannot win.
- I use the word “evolution” throughout this article in the “molecules-to-man” sense, which includes the naturalistic origin of life. This sense is the most common understanding of the term in popular usage. Terms such as “natural selection”, “mutation”, and “speciation” are often held to be synonyms of “evolution”, but this obfuscates the issue because molecules-to-man evolution is qualitatively different from these concepts. Return to text.
- The scientific merits and faults of anthropogenic global warming are beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that the tactics used by the most ardent adherents to anthropogenic global warming are strikingly similar to the evolutionary establishment. Debate is not allowed; you either toe the party line or you are ostracized (often to the point of ending a skeptic’s career). See Grigg, R., The ‘Great Global Warming Swindle’ debate, 1 August 2007. Return to text.
- Kashti, O., Sa'ar dismisses chief scientist for questioning evolution, Haaretz.com, 5 October 2010; Velmer, T., Chief scientist who questioned evolution theory fired, Ynetnews, 4 October 2010. Return to text.
- Kashti, O. and Rinat, Z., Scientists irate after top education official questions evolution, Haaretz.com, 21 February 2010. Return to text.
- At least, closer to the truth than their contemporaries. They proposed heliocentrism, which is not just that Earth revolves around the sun, but that the sun is the centre of the universe. The most accurate understanding is geokineticism, which merely states that the earth moves—the sun is not the centre of the universe. Return to text.
- Kulikovsky, A., Creationism, science and peer review, 2 February 2008. Return to text.
- Likewise, since there is a severe lack of experimental support for evolution (or any naturalistic net increase in novel biological information ex nihilo on even the smallest scales), evolutionary historical reconstructions are rendered extremely improbable (but not impossible!) a priori. Return to text.
- Atheism is the logical end of such thinking because there’s no practical distinction between a god who never intervenes (deism), a god who is everything (pantheism), and a god who doesn’t exist (atheism). However, all three can live in uneasy truce when allied against the opposite idea: that God (or possibly gods) exists and can and does intervene in the real world independent of us. Return to text.
- Cited in Dawkins, R., Ignorance is no crime, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, 15 May 2006. He thinks there may be a fifth category originally subsumed under “insane” better stated as “tormented, bullied or brainwashed”, but he makes it clear he has never retracted this statement. Return to text.
- Weinberger, L., Whose god? A theological response to the god-of-the-gaps, Journal of Creation 22(1):120–127, 2008. Return to text.
- Williams, A., The biblical origins of science, Journal of Creation 18(2):49–52, 2004; Sarfati, J., The biblical roots of modern science: A Christian world view, and in particular a plain understanding of Scripture and Adam’s Fall, was essential for the rise of modern science., Creation 32(4):32–36,2010. Return to text.
Darwinists fulfill prophecy as Paul spoke of the Apostasy that would occur in the last days, and that men would not suffer the truth, and would heap together teachers, having itching ears, that would need scratching. Peter says that they would deny the Flood,and introduce gradualism. Isaiah says they will turn things upside down and shall what is formed say to him who formed it, “He did not make me.” (29:16). CMI is not into eschatology, but I would say that since the Jew is beginning to stand up for the truth, the hour of the end is dawning.
Really good article! Well done Shaun!
It is pity that Evolution science is becoming worse than some political party that character assassinates and silences their opponents by legal and political forces. When Richard Dawkins lists ‘wicked’ as one of the possibilities for completeness sake against those who don’t believe in evolution as he does, he is redefining moral standard. This is not science but scientism.
Timely article. Expertly written, well researched and very interesting. However, it is but one of the lonely voices crying in the wilderness for a lost earth to return to God. The Bible tells us that in the last days men will be willfully ignorant. They will know the truth but chose to believe the lie instead. There has never been an excuse for not knowing the truth but especially today when Bibles are being printed in every possible translation and nearly every possible edition.
When I went to school science was defined by something called the scientific method. For a thing to be true, scientifically speaking, it had to be observable and repeatable. Any truth outside those parameters was not science but religion. Therefore, it’s exactly proper for Dr. Avital to be called apostate by his fellows. He has attacked their religion.
With politics about to make an abrupt right turn, isn’t it time that we decide if government is going to support science, it should support science that still exhibits curiosity? This is not to slam evolution (I am agnostic on the subject) but to insure all voices have a chance to be heard.
… but God! The Jewish nation, like every other nation will bow it’s knee soon, at His glorious return and then all of this conflict will end. He is the only Hope and His grace is sufficient for all.
The world and Israel both are sorry places to live in if most so called scientist believe in evolution!! To loom at the world and the variety of life that flourishes, the diversity of DNA alone is staggering and what it does. And for so called scientific elite to believe that it just happened are worse than ignorant imbeciles. Thinking themselves wise they became fools!!
Terrific article thank you.
As a scientist, I am appalled at the unscientific lack of objectivity and moral honesty of many who call themselves scientists. I was a scientist before I became a Christian. It was as a researcher in the military assigned to top secret projects in biological warfare in the 60’s that opened my eyes to the moral dilemma of science and the secular humanistic philosophy that pervades much of our scientific education and research as well as politics. As a consequence, I began an intensive study of religions looking for answers. Sadly religions are in an equal state of misguided confusion, but in my studies over the years I have been able to scientifically and historically prove the truth of the biblical narratives in their original languages.
Why do the heathen rage so furiously together, and why do the people imagine a vein thing? Psalm 2:1. Although the olive branch of ID is being charitably held out to them they will have no part of it. This reminds me of a certain pharaoh who continually hardened his heart. Eventually God began to harden pharaoh’s heart. How so? we might ask;
“no man comes to God except the Spirit draws him.” Every time God’s truth is rejected the consequence to this action is a distancing of ones self from the true source of life, Gods life giving spirit. Eventually God stops calling and it becomes impossible for that individual to hear and repent. My advice to any reader is don’t harden your heart but give ID. a serious look. It may be the last olive branch you will ever receive.
Yes, well written-I like how you clearly presented who is opposing other views.
When suppressors of truth reach this point—“secularism must sustain such a view in order to survive,” the best and Biblical way to refute them is expose their lack of foundation using PA.
Since they deny God, they must deny absolutes. One could ask:
Is it absolutely true that creationists/ID views must be suppressed?
Sye Tenbruggencate engages atheists in radio debates / blogs and keeps asking the same question(s) to them. They refuse to answer since answering will expose their worldview. Yet I think there is some value in continuing to expose them. Over time this may sink in with some of them. His website is proofthatgodexists.org
I read your website daily (for years now) and really appreciate it. It has made me confident and stable. Thank you.
Combining evidential arguments with presuppositional arguments I think is a powerful tactic to expose fallacy of God deniers.
I hold a PhD from Stanford (EE-1961) and have worked in both Academic & industrial research (now retired). Though I deplore the sloppy thinking & outright ignorance of some (not all) creationists, I think this article is well written and deserves a hearing.
We are hearing this more and more. Thank you for your clear analysis of the true situation. God is still in control and we Christians must hold fast to the truths we read in the Bible. God bless you all.
It’s so troubling reading this sort of thing, I have been reading Melanie Phillips book “the world turned upside down” which puts a lot of light on this sort of bullying by academia. It just shows so clearly that when the solid principles and foundations of western civilization-freedom of speech, reason etc-are disregarded and made something of ridicule, then the people that are shouting “we’re reasonable” are acting as the cultural totalitarians!
Thanks for your brilliant, well thought out and calmly written articles about these issues.
All for the free open discussion of these issues!
You state “And yet we know today that the majority were wrong, and Galileo and Copernicus were right.”
The Bible is clearly geocentric in describing the workings of the universe and that is what we should trust in formulating our view of the world we live in. Astronomers must admit that there is no scientific way to prove either heliocentrism or geocentrism but have chosen heliocentrism as the preferred way of seeing the workings of the universe. Is there a scientific experiment that clearly demonstrates heliocentrism?
I had no idea that Israel had such a strong evolutionary base. That doesn’t leave much hope left for the rest of the world. How can so many people be led down the path of destruction so easily. The path to heaven in narrow and getting narrower everyday. My strength is knowing that God will prevail, but it is so said that so many will be lost
I am saddened beyond words that the simple right to have an opinion can have a terrible effect on people’s lives. But thankfully there are people like Dr. Avital who desire that people have the right to examine ALL schools of thought and make up their own mind. Shame on evolutionist as they present no better than school yard bullies. A fine article. Many thanks.
In one blog I passed through, a commentator said he was afraid of those believe in creation in seven days.
Looking at the mass-murderers of history it’s easy to see that by far the majority (perhaps all) believed in some form of evolution.
If I were inclined to the politics of fear, I would say it was the evolutionists we should be afraid of..
“Peer Review” = Popularity Contest
Sad that the same people claiming to be God’s chosen people would fire someone for believing that God, in fact, created his chosen people.
This situation is so common these days. Why not simply present the evidence and let people decide for themselves? I know the world was created by God, because it is clearly seen in the world. Even so, if someone wants to put forth some idea that the everything just created itself fine. This is no threat in a truly fair society because the evidence speaks for itself. Too bad that evolutionists have taken hold of so much of modern society and won’t let people think for themselves. It begs the question, “How long oh Lord?”.
… interesting that the Israeli Education Ministry wants someone who is faithful to their doctrine … a reference to a belief system.
Thank you for your excellent article which is up to your usual standard of fairness and truth. I pray in agreement with others who will honour CMI’s commitment to spread the word of God in all honesty and true to the bible’s intended meaning. God bless all at CMI.
I am appalled at the way people re-act to truth.
If we all evolved from monkeys etc. why is human DNA different to animal DNA; surely there would be a connection.
The scientific community and the media continue their attacks on creation scientist and politicians that confess their belief in creation. Ben Stein has made a good documentary/film on the subject called “ Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” Please don’t miss it if you haven’t seen it yet.
This case supports those of us who believe that governments control education-from preschool to university/college-in order to teach the state religion, which is antitheistic humanism (humanism: the belief that man is the supreme god). Most followers of this religion turn the theory of evolution into the axiom of evolution and use it as justification for everything else.
All children are indoctrinated ("eat with a fork, not fingers" is indoctrination), it’s just a question of what they’re indoctrinated with. There are two choices: good and evil. State schools are state indoctrination camps that teach an evil religion and the firing of Gavriel Avital shows clearly what happens in all state education systems, i.e. expulsion of the ‘heretics’ who may interfere with the state’s indoctrination of children.
Why do governments want to indoctrinate children? Because the sinful nature of man is proud, and pride leads to a desire for power and control. Just as it is easier for Christian parents to control children who have been taught biblical principles (e.g. Col. 3:20), so it is easier for those in power to control those who have been taught the state’s humanist principles.
Just as wise Christian parents will not allow unbelievers to teach their children, so does the state not allow unbelievers to teach the children of the nation, which it believes are its dominion by right. Gavriel Avital is an unbeliever in the eyes of the state.
We are told to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and mind: the battle is for the control of children’s minds and Gavriel Avital is a casualty in that war.
It is sad to read this. I would think that Israel of all places would consider the consequences of such a belief. Several years ago, I read “Mein Kampf”. I do not recommend anyone reading it as it is like putting your mind into a mad man’s mind, however he was highly logical. One of his main postulates was evolution and survival of the fittest. At that time, Germany was among the most highly educated and cultured countries of the world and they did what they did. What then is there to prevent any other country from doing the same?
Thank you for bringing this important issue to my attention. I think that you’ve written about this issue in an impactful way. However, you’ve seriously diminished the credibility of your argument by saying that evolution is not science.
I reject macroevolution because it has not been subjected to crucial experiments and thus not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet evolution is scientific because research is carried out inductively and, to a lesser extent, deductively. Inductive scientific research is going out and gathering information to try and piece together an explanation of what happened in the past (i.e., theory building). This sort of activity is well within the domain of science.
Thank you for your comments.
I did state that empirical science has an important role in evaluating the plausibility of evolution. I also noted it’s severe lack of experimental support as a reason to doubt evolutionary storytelling:
“Likewise, since there is a severe lack of experimental support for evolution (or any naturalistic net increase in novel biological information ex nihilo on even the smallest scales), evolutionary historical reconstructions are rendered extremely improbable (but not impossible!) a priori.”
The problem is that natural history, which evolution and long ages seek to explain, is a mixed question—there is more to natural history than empirical evidence. Philosophical groundings and testimonial evidence can’t simply be ignored, which is unfortunately what we’ve been trained to do since the Enlightenment.
Induction can’t hold the prime place in historical methodology because of two conundrums: historical events are unrepeatable, and induction can never guarantee complete uniformity in time and space. There is another issue: how do you perceive a historical record in a rock? Rocks can’t tell a story by themselves.
For more information, I recommend our Science Q and A page, and especially these articles:
Congratulations Dr. Avital. Truth is more important prestige. May more scientist stand in your integrity. Thanks for the article. I pray CMI will find the wisdom to take this discussion to the next phase.
Sadly this so-called High View of Criticism of Holy Scripture was the direct cause of the Nazi Holocaust. German higher criticism infected not only the church but the synagogue. How many more deaths before Darwinism dies? Eugenics and evolution are not science because they have no scientific basis. God says, “Them that hate me love death.”
After reading Jonathon Sarfati’s The Greatest Hoax on Earth I wonder how anyone can entertain the idea of evolution. So how closed are the minds of those who do?