A wealthy 81-year-old shipowner from Kristiansand is donating NOK 15 million (USD 1.6 million) to a foundation that challenges Darwin’s theory of evolution. Einar Johan Rasmuseen also wants the foundation’s own theories to be taught in Norwegian schools.
Newspaper Vårt Land reports how the new foundation, called BioCosmos, promotes another allegedly scientific theory of “intelligent design,” while its own website calls for a “more open debate on biology and the cosmos.” It’s meant to appeal to “everyone interested in science and the big questions,” especially “youth and young adults.”
Its theory is based on a belief, according to news bureau NTB, that nature is so finely tuned that evolution can’t have coincidentally occurred and is rather a result of engineering. BioCosmos itself states that the engineering “can no longer be clarified as a result of coincidental mutations and natural choice.” Its own “ambassadors” include a Danish professor, a doctor, a civil engineer and a theologist.
Rasmussen himself told state broadcaster NRK that he wants to make BioCosmos’ “modern research” available and acknowledged. “It breaks with Darwin in considerable areas,” he told NRK. Rasmussen, who hails from Norway’s so-called “Bible Belt” in the southernmost area of the country, conceded that many Christians acknowledge Darwin while also believing in God but argues that not all parts of evolution can be documented.
The shipowner’s major financial donation was quickly challenged, branded as “creationism” and criticized, not least by a professor at the University of Oslo and a religious researcher at a theological college. “When you wonder how nature came about, you should talk with a scientist,” researcher Martin Jakobsen at the Ansgar Theological College in Kristiansand told NRK. “When you wonder how God functions, you can speak with a theologian.” He believes Rasmussen’s method in financing the foundation will defeat its purpose.
A Member of Parliament from the Labour Party was more blunt. “It’s completely wrong for wealthy people to try to buy access to Norwegian classrooms,” MP Torstein Tvedt Solberg told NRK. “This is way too alternative, it’s not scientific. It’s quite close to rubbish.”