Government science advisor rejects evolution

The Chief scientific adviser of the Israeli Education Ministry may be forced to resign after he rejected evolution and the connection between human activity and global warming.

Doctor Gabi Avital, an expert in rocket science from the Technion and a veteran Likud Party member, was posted to the education ministry three months ago. Accusations of political cronyism soon followed as in the past the post was held by experts in the field of education.

The adviser's responsibilities include reviewing the national science school curriculum.

It has now emerged that in an interview with the religious right-wing weekly BeSheva last November, Dr Avital said that "if they continue to write in the school books that the earth is heating up because of carbon emissions, I will insist that changes".

He accused scientists of "waging a worldwide 'green crusade'" which said was politically motivated, and equated them with the supporters of evolutionary theory, which he said was based on "shaky science" and "non-believing elements, in other words, the absence of God".

Dr Avital promised to act on this too, saying: "If school books specifically say that man originates from monkeys, I will want the students to be exposed to other challenging views. There are many people who think that evolution is wrong."

Following the outcry from the Israeli scientific community and environmentalist groups, Education Minister Gideon Saar has been forced to publicly disassociate himself and the ministry from the scientific adviser he appointed. He has promised to discuss the matter with Dr Avital, and senior sources in the ministry are predicting that his replacement is inevitable.

Last updated: 5:31pm, November 3 2010