Sweden has its fair share of religious nutjobs. Actually, we probably have less than our fair share. Spokespeople for the main religions struggle to appear as rational and reasonable as possible here because otherwise no one will take them seriously. So far so good – but what would paradise be without a snake?
Recently, a man called Stavros Louca said the following in a newspaper interview (translated by yours truly — all the articles linked in this post are in Swedish):
What is the biggest hoax of our time?
– I would like to say it’s the theory of evolution, there are way too many holes in it to convince me that men come from monkeys. I believe in creation. But that doesn’t mean I’m a creationist and believe that the world was created a few thousand years ago.
Aside from the fact that he doesn’t appear to understand that believing in creation by default makes you a creationist (just not a young earth-creationist), what’s so special about this? He’s just your regular run-of-the-mill religious person who doesn’t have a clue about the theory of evolution.
Well, that, and he’s also a celebrated science teacher.
Stavros Louca is known from the tv show “Klass 9A”, which is a sort of reality show about a bunch of pupils in their last year of elementary school who are the worst of the worst, and the three star teachers who save them. Louca received a prize in 2006 for being an outstanding maths teacher, and apparently worked wonders with the kids in Klass 9A.
Now, after coming out as a creationist, Louca has gotten some quite harsh criticism (by the Swedish Humanist Youth Organisation among others), and was given an opportunity to defend (or at least explain) himself. He pointed to the fact that he teaches maths and physics and never talks about the theory of evolution in class. Well, fine. But what about the fact that a lot of young people look up to him as a role model? As someone who knows what he’s talking about? It is one thing for a teacher to have his private beliefs that he doesn’t bring into the classroom. I’m fully aware that it is perfectly possible to adequately teach children something you don’t personally believe in. But as far as I’m concerned, the moment you are a celebrity and end up getting interviewed by newspapers, you have additional responsibility.
He also claimed that he didn’t in fact call the theory of evolution a hoax, but merely that he finds it flabberghasting that people can speak of either evolution or God as the truth. Then he said that no one can prove to 100% that the theory is true, and therefore it shouldn’t be presented as the truth.
Oh, wow. You do realise you can’t do that about the theories you teach in physics, either, Mr Louca? As my eminent SkepchickSE colleague charmkvark pointed out: If he thinks it’s so important to criticise evolution because some people don’t believe it’s true, why doesn’t he bring up every nutjob who has their own theory about gravity or the properties of light when teaching physics? You know, for balance? That a famous science teacher apparently has such a poor understanding of how scientific theories work does not bode well for the education of our children…
And here’s the kicker: In his spare time, he goes door-knocking to give people the Good News. Yup, Sweden’s most celebrated maths and physics teacher is an active Jehova’s Witness. Facepalm.