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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Serbia reverses Darwin suspension
Charles Darwin
Darwin's theory of evolution is dominant in the scientific world
The Serbian government has reversed an order to ban Charles Darwin's theory of evolution from schools, following widespread criticism from scientists.

"I have come here to confirm Charles Darwin is still alive," said deputy education minister Milan Brdar.

His boss, Ljiljana Colic, who had announced the controversial policy, had gone "away on business", he said.

She had proposed banning the evolution theory this school year, until creationism could be taught alongside.

Both Darwin's theory of natural selection and the Old Testament view on the beginning of life were equally dogmatic, the minister had said.

After a deluge of protest from scientists, teachers and opposition parties, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica called Ms Colic in for a meeting.

They agreed to drop the move, Mr Brdar said.

'Theocratic state'

Biologist Nikola Tucic described the original ruling as "outrageous" and said it showed Serbia's Orthodox Church was interfering in politics.

"We are slowly turning into a theocratic state and in the 21st Century we are going back to the Book of Revelations," he said.

However, an influential figure in the Orthodox Church, Bishop Ignjatije, acknowledged Darwin had a place in schools.

Darwin "spoke about ways that humans and the rest of the nature are connected. The connection must not be ignored by anybody, not even by us theologists", he said.

Creationism accepts the Old Testament account of the beginning of human life, in which God created Adam and Eve.

Darwin's theory of evolution is the dominant explanation of man's origins within the scientific community.

His theory is that life evolved over billions of years through natural selection, from microbes to man; with man and modern apes sharing a common ancestor.

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