Let’s debate! How Satya Pal Singh reacted to critics on Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was ‘unscientific’ comment

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New Delhi | Published: January 23, 2018 1:36:28 PM

Was Charles Darwin's theory of evolution wrong? Days after raking up a controversy by claiming that Darwin's theory is "not scientific", junior Union HRD Minister Satya Pal Singh has reacted to his critiques.

satya pal singh baghpatUnion junior HRD minister Satya Pal Singh at an event in his constituency Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh. (Twitter)

Was Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution wrong? Days after raking up a controversy by claiming that Darwin’s theory is “not scientific”, junior Union HRD Minister Satya Pal Singh has reacted to his critiques, saying there should be an international debate on the matter. The Union minister had stoked the controversy last week by casting doubts on Darwin’s theory of evolution and saying that human’s ancestors had never seen an ape turning into a man. Even as several scientists came out against Singh’s remarks, the Union minister has stuck to his claim. At an event in IIT Guwahati on Monday, Singh called for an international debate on the matter to decide if Darwin’s theory merits a place in school textbooks.

“I absolutely stand by my comment that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is not scientific. There is hardly any evidence to substantiate the theory. Great scientists of the world came out to say there is no evidence available in the world which can prove the theory of evolution is correct,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. “There has been no ‘evolution’ or ‘destiny’. There is only ‘being’. Evidence has come out against the theory,” he added.

The Union minister also gave out a list of international scientists who have opposed the theory of evolution since Darwin’s time. When asked if the Union government will delete references to the theory of evolution, Singh said he would urge the HRD ministry to organise an international seminar of scientists to debate out the issue. “I propose if the Ministry of Human Resource Development is ready to sponsor a world-level international conference to decide what is true and factual and that must be taught in schools and colleges.”

In the seminar, the minister said all kinds of scientists should be invited for the debate.

Reacting to scientists’ claim that people cannot see evolution taking place because it happened millions of years ago, Singh said, “You can find the evidence in the fossils. There are billions of fossils, not even in one fossil in intermediate evolutionary stage has been found.”

The former Mumbai police commissioner-turned minister also said that in the last 100 years many “evidences” have come out against the theory of evolution proposed by Darwin.

Scientists react:

In a report, PTI quoted several scientists reacting against Singh’s remarks. Here’s what some of them said:

Raghavendra Gadagkar, professor, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore: “To start with, all scientific evidence suggests that humans diverged from their closest living relatives, namely the chimpanzees, about five million years ago. Thus, there was no question of our ancestors being able to witness the event and record it in their scriptures.”

Amitabh Joshi, professor at Bangalore’s Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR): “What has been said by Dr Singh is wrong at multiple levels. Indeed, it defies both logic and biology…”First, the broad facts of evolution, and how it occurs, as well as the rough timeline of major changes in human, and hominid, evolution are widely accepted by scientists worldwide.”

Manaswini Sarangi, PhD research scholar in Evolutionary Biology Laboratory at JNCASR: “Evolutionary biologists have provided numerous experimental evidence to show that one can observe evolution happening in the laboratory in real time, using fruit flies, bacteria, for example, among other model systems.”

Ayan Banerjee, associate professor at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata: “I have two kids and I am scared he is actually going to somehow change what we have worked on.”

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