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Science Textbook Dispute in South Korea Continues

Image: The president of STR, Lee Kwang-won, submits petition to the Seoul Education Chief.
Source: Christian Television System of Korea.

The Society for Textbook Revision (STR), which triggered the science textbook dispute in South Korea with its “petition for Archaeopteryx removal”, has submitted a third petition for revision, this time saying that science textbooks that reference the Miller-Urey experiment – considered as a classic experiment on the origin of life – are wrong.

STR said it submitted the petition for the revision of high school science textbooks on 18 December 2012 to the acting Seoul Education Chief Lee Dae-young. This petition, titled “Chemical evolution has nothing to do with birth of life – focusing on Miller's experiment and synthetic response” was signed by 175 science-related educators including 85 science and engineering university professors, 67 middle and high school science teachers and 23 elementary school teachers. Most of the STR members who signed the petition are known to be Christians.

The petition contains a claim that “the described contents of chemical evolution about the ‘birth of life’ recorded in current science textbooks are based on assumption and imagination and contradicts with today's academic research contents [translation]” and “we have to remove chemical evolution [translation]”. It stated that if the content was difficult to remove, “it must be revised...that experimental ground of chemical evolution is very weak, especially Miller's experiment is not relevant with birth of life [translation]”.

The Seoul Education Office received the petition and stated that it would arrange expert council soon and embark on review work.

STR, an independent organisation formerly known as the Textbook Revision Committee under the Korea Association for Creation Research, intensified the science textbook dispute when it submitted its first petition in December 2011, saying that Archaeopteryx was not an intermediate species between reptiles and birds and therefore any references to it should be removed. In April 2012, it submitted a second petition stating that the content regarding the evolution of the horse contained in textbooks was wrong, bringing another tough backlash from the science community.

The Korean Association of Biological Sciences, a co-academic organisation consisting of six biological field societies, said “the petition of STR is based on religious doctrine and seriously distorted evolutionary biology” and “we must never accept it”. The first two petitions submitted by STR were rejected.

However, as STR revealed that it would continue to petition for textbook revision and claim the falsity of evolution theory, the dispute surrounding science textbooks is expected to continue.

References:
Kookmin ilbo, “Science textbooks chemical evolution theory revision petition” 
Summary of the STR's 3rd petition, official STR website 
Press release, official STR website
SisaIN Live, “What is the intended purpose of the petitions by STR”
Newsis, “Biological creationists’ amended petition should be dismissed”