New Delhi, Jan 23: After casting aspersions on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and ruffling the feathers of the scientists recently, Union minister Satyapal Singh now wants to hold an international debate on the whole issue.
On Monday, the minister of state for human resource development in the Narendra Modi cabinet said that he stood by his statement that the theory of evolution was "scientifically wrong".
He added that an international debate on the issue would settle the controversy whether or not Darwin's theory merits a place in school textbooks.
Last week, Singh created a major controversy by saying that our ancestors have nowhere mentioned that they saw an ape turning into a man, thereby casting doubts on Darwin's evolution theory.
Several scientists have come out against Darwin's evolution theory and the comment he made last week was based on facts, Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Guwahati, Assam on Monday.
"I absolutely stand by my comment that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution is not scientific. There is hardly any evidence to substantiate the theory. Great scientists of the world came out to say there is no evidence available in the world which can prove the theory of evolution is correct," the minister said.
"There has been no 'evolution' or 'destiny'. There is only 'being'. Evidence has come out against the theory," Singh said, giving out a list of international scientists since Darwin's time who opposed his theory of evolution.
Asked if the Centre will delete references to Darwin's theory from textbooks, the minister said, "I propose, if the ministry of human resource development is ready to sponsor a world-level international conference to decide what is true and factual and that must be taught in schools and colleges."
He said all kinds of scientists should be invited to the debate--evolutionists and Darwinists, and also "other kind of scientists".
"They (scientists) are saying no we cannot see evolution is taking place because it happened millions of years ago. You can find the evidence of the fossils. There are billions of fossils, not even in one fossil in the intermediate evolutionary stage has been found," Singh claimed.
Blaming the media for fuelling a controversy over his statement, Singh said the issue calls for debate and not controversy. "In the last 100 years, many pieces of evidence have come out against the theory, in favour hardly anybody. It is not my statement. So many world scientists have said it," Singh, the former Mumbai Police Commissioner, said.
Several prominent scientists of the country wrote an open letter addressed to the minister, where they urged him to "retract the reported speech at the All India Vedic Sammelan with immediate effect and issue a clarification about the ministry's policy towards teaching the theory of evolution."
"We, the scientists, science communicators and scientifically-oriented members of the public, are deeply pained by your claim. It is factually incorrect to state that the evolutionary principle has been rejected by the scientific community. On the contrary, every new discovery adds support to Darwin's insights.
"One should also note that it is no longer merely a mechanism for organic evolution, but several other evolutionary phenomena in nature. Statements such as 'humans did/did not evolve from monkeys' is an overly simplistic and misleading representation of evolution. There is plentiful and undeniable scientific evidence to the fact that humans and the other great apes and monkeys had a common ancestor," the letter stated.