Speed Reads

The Descent of Mensch

Israeli schools to start teaching evolution

CC by: Bryan Wright

The theory of evolution is finally being incorporated into the standard public education curriculum in Israel, the Ministry of Education announced on Sunday — but there's a catch.

As The Times of Israel reports, although the evolution of animals is being included in revamps of the 8th and 9th grade curricula, the common ancestry of homo sapiens and other primate species will still be left out. Reportedly, this decision was made so as not to stir up too much controversy with the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel, which have held a wide political sway on numerous issues.

Until now, the only Israeli schoolchildren to actually be taught the theory of evolution as part of a standard curriculum have been the narrow few who pursued advanced biology certificates. (As The Jerusalem Post notes, the topic might also be touched upon by some science teachers.) By contrast, as Israeli schools do include religious content, the biblical creation story was taught.

In a way, Israel's Education Ministry is taking a page from Charles Darwin himself: Although he first publicly expounded the theory of evolution in his landmark 1859 book, On the Origin of Species, even Darwin avoided an express analysis on the human species and the rise of the human intellect until his follow-up book, The Descent of Man, published 12 years later.