Niels Jørgen David Vilhelm Rasmussen (1869-1939)

Educational thinker, science writer, politician, MA geography and natural history 1894, rector of the State College of Education 1924-39.

During his university studies Vilhelm Rasmussen became an outspoken atheist, socialist and a supporter of Darwinism. He popularised his controversial views in lectures and in books, which resulted in removals, complaints and many controversies. In the first decades of the twentieth century, Rasmussen wrote the popular works on evolution Verdensudviklingen [The Evolution of the World] (Copenhagen: Det Nordiske Forlag, 1903-1904) and Menneskets Udvikling [Evolution of Man] (Copenhagen: Gyldendal/Nordisk Forlag, 1911) and several biology textbooks including Biologi [Biology] (Copenhagen: Gyldendal/Nordisk Forlag, 1907) from a materialist point of view. He also engaged in debates in educational journals such as Vor Ungdom [Our Youth] about the teaching of natural history, which was introduced as a compulsory subject at secondary and high school levels in school reforms around 1900. He argued against the teaching of Christianity in public schools and offended many Christians by ridiculing the biblical history of creation. Rasmussen was no doubt the most controversial pro-Darwinian writer in the early twentieth century, and he was often attacked by both evangelical and liberal Christians.  

Hans Henrik Hjermitslev

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