Poland is the largest of the ten new countries that joined the European Union in 2004. It has a proud history of opinion-forming within Europe—not least when the Solidarność (Solidarity) movement challenged the dominance of the Communist Party in 1980, during the Cold War era, ultimately leading to the downfall of the Communist Party in 1989, and the collapse of Soviet influence over Eastern Europe. Could Polish politics shake the monolith of evolutionism as it once shook communism?

On October 14, 2006, Poland’s Deputy Education Minister, Miroslaw Orzechowski, launched a withering attack on Darwinian evolution and its place in the education system: “The theory of evolution is a lie, an error that we have legalised as a common truth.”1

However, Orzechowski has not called for the removal of evolution from school science lessons. “We are not going to withdraw Darwin’s theory from the school books, but we should start to discuss it,” he suggested. It is that very discussion that is anathema to evolutionary scientists, in Poland as well as in the UK and US. The evolutionary establishment denies that there’s any possibility that evolution is incorrect, and they do not wish to give ground, however unreasonable their position is.

Miroslaw Orzechowski is a member of the League of Polish Families (LPF), a conservative Catholic grouping often attacked in the media as “far-right.” It is a junior partner in Poland’s conservative coalition government (led by Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński). The LPF party leader, Roman Giertych, is also Orzechowski’s boss in government—he is the Education Minister.

Giertych’s father, Maciej Giertych, is also an LPF politician, and holds one of Poland’s seats in the European Parliament. In the week prior to Orzechowski’s comments, Giertych the older organized a discussion on evolution in the European Parliament, described the theory as not supported by proof, and called for its removal from science textbooks.

On Thursday, October 26, Roman Giertych was forced to make a statement in response. He said that, in his opinion, he saw no difficulty in believing evolution as well as the biblical account, adding that “[a]s long as most scientists in our country say that evolution is the right theory, it will be taught in Poland’s schools.”2

What lessons can we learn from these extraordinary events in Poland? First, we see how easily a biased media can paint anyone taking a conservative or creationist position as “far-right.” Second, we see that, all too often, there are leaders who get cold feet and who find themselves unable to articulate strong arguments against the evolutionary paradigm. These are issues that also affect American and British Christians.

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Footnotes

  1. Keep Darwin’s ‘Lies’ Out of Schools: Polish Official,” Agence France-Press, October 14, 2006. Back
  2. Polish Minister Says Schools Will Keep Teaching Evolution Despite Deputy’s Comment,” International Herald Tribune, October 26, 2006. Back