Two recent events portray creationism debates in very different settings. First, Nature reports that a creationist organization in South Korea has successfully campaigned to remove references to evolution from high-school textbooks. The Society for Textbook Revise (STR) petitioned South Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to make these revisions, and ministry allegedly deferred judgment to textbook publishers who yielded to the demands.
The petition was just one in a series of public campaigns by the creationist movement in South Korea. In 2008, for example, the Korea Association for Creation Research created an exhibition at a popular South Korean amusement park which, they claim, attracted more than 116,000 visitors in three months. More recently, the STR began an effort to publically contest evolutionary theory by highlighting scientific discord over the lineage of particular species, such as Archaeopteryx. Nature noted that this is indicative of a larger trend:
In a 2009 survey conducted for the South Korean documentary The Era of God and Darwin, almost one-third of the respondents didn’t believe in evolution. Of those, 41% said that there was insufficient scientific evidence to support it; 39% said that it contradicted their religious beliefs; and 17% did not understand the theory.
Interestingly, a recent survey of trainee teachers indicates that 40% of South Korean biology teachers agreed with the statement that “much of the scientific community doubts if evolution occurs.”
These numbers are within range of the United States, where creationism is even more popular. According to a poll released Friday by Gallup, 46% of Americans agree with the statement that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” 32% believe that human beings evolved with God’s guidance; 15% say that humans evolved and that God had no part in the process.