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14 Dec, 2006 09:33

Masha takes on Darwin

Masha takes on Darwin

Darwinism is still the main theory of the origin of man taught in Russia's schools. A schoolgirl from St. Petersburg, Masha, doesn't agree. It's not the only explanation, she says, and has filed a lawsuit demanding an impartial approach.

“At some point, I started to think, look, they should not teach the evolution theory as the only true version,” explains 15-year-old Masha. Her father supports her and she has now become the first in the country to challenge her school's curriculum in court. The case has evoked strong public reaction. Masha's main demand is that all possible theories of mankind's origin, including creationism, should be taught at school.

“They should admit in the biology textbooks that science cannot answer this all-important question, the question of man's and the world's origin. It's just a hypothesis. In other words, they should be impartial,” says a Trial Expert.

The school's administration denies its education program is misinforming students. “If parents send their children to a secular school, clearly, they have to abide by the rules of the school. They have to follow the rules of this secular organization,” says the girl’s headmaster.

If Masha's demands to the education authority are met, the education program could be changed.

Russia is now a member of countries, including the United States, which are concerned about the best way to explain to children how people emerged on this Earth.

Disputes between Darwinism and creationism advocates have been taken to court in other countries, giving schoolchildren an opportunity to study both theories on equal grounds. The longest running argument over the issue has been in the United States. It was only in 1968 that the states of Arkansas and Mississipi abolished anti-Evolutionists laws, allowing Darwin's theory to be taught in schools. But last year, a US court said allowing creationist theory to be taught would be an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.