An online letter by scientists and “scientist oriented members of public” also asked Mr Singh to retract his statement.
New Delhi: Darwin’s theory of evolution that different species are related through common ancestry is accepted worldwide though there may be debate on the details, say senior Indian scientists.
Discussion on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, most commonly, if erroneously, held to mean that humans descended from apes, has moved out of classrooms to drawing rooms and opinion columns with Union minister for human resource development Satyapal Singh saying recently that it was “scientifically wrong”.
Senior scientists slammed the minister’s comment — that nobody, “including our ancestors”, mentions seeing an ape turning into a man — as wrong at multiple levels and defying both logic and biology.
An online letter by scientists and “scientist oriented members of public” also asked Mr Singh to retract his statement. Raghavendra Gadagkar, professor, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, said he wasn’t sure how useful it was to refute the statement on the basis of facts, which are “very clear.”
“To start with, all scientific evidence suggests that humans diverged from their closest living relatives, namely the chimpanzees, about five million years ago. Thus, there was no question of our ancestors being able to witness the event and record it in their scriptures.”
Expressing concern that such statements are aimed at polarising science and scientists on the lines of religion and politics, he explained that the evolution of man from a primate-like ancestor was not a quick event.
Evolutionary events take long periods of time and cannot even be considered events for anyone to witness, he said.