Evolution Education in Turkey

Have you read any of the recent restrictions in Turkey on teaching evolution? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-40384471
I grew up in Niger (the son of missionaries) and while there was not much education there, the typical approach is very much that Islam is very scientific (Bucaille was a French physician who argued that the Qur’an was concordant with evolution; one of my medical education texts in the US tried to argue in a foreword by Keith Moore’s partner that Muhammad miraculously predicted that the zygote/early embryo was like a drop (“nutfa”). It’s not only here. I’m not aware of anyone arguing in Asia that the world was actually created on a back of a turtle, though.

It just shows that we all struggle with changing a paradigm, I guess. I still struggle a great deal.


Yes, this is being done by the government which is supposed to be secular. However, while there is religious freedom in Turkey, the government is not required to be neutral on religion as in the US. So things like this happen and there is not much that can be done legally to stop it. The only thing to stop it is the public outrage but that doesn’t seem to be happening there.

The Richard Dawkins Society for Science and Reason does a lot of work for secular scientific education in Niger.


the rate of education and literacy is very low in Niger, and the last number I recall is about 20% literacy rate. That would be much higher in the cities, and very low in the country. There are madrasas that taught Quran, but that was mainly rote memorization of the Quran. Saudi Arabia has been financing a militant wahabi type of Islam, which really has changed the countryside a lot. It was very Peaceable when I grew up, but last time I visited, it’s changed. If Dawkins can encourage secular education, that would be terrific. edit, that’s not to say the people that were our neighbors were not still terrific. There’s still a wonderful people there, everywhere. typically, it’s a much more Peaceable area than, for example, parts of Nigeria in the Northeast. I would trust my children with the people I knew when I was growing up.


Based on your insight with the people of your country, how would secular education (neutral on existence of God) be accepted by the people compared to say Christian based education or Islamic based education?

BTW to explain, my parents are from the US; but I grew up in Niger as a missionary kid. I was born in Nigeria, so supposedly could have dual citizenship, but never did :slight_smile:
Good question. Do you remember the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris? There were riots against the mocking of Muhammad. They don’t understand the freedom to criticize religion. They thought that it was actually Christians behind Charlie Hebdo, and thus attacked churches. I don’t think they would handle secular thinking well, if it criticized Islam (I think that many don’t really understand the idea of secular thinking; 99% of Nigeriens find religion important, which is likely in part from living a very difficult life. Birth rate is 6-7 or so per couple, under-5 death rate ranged from 30-50% about 30 years ago and is now about 9% under 5, and income is about $1-$3/day. Infectious disease in the form of malaria, meningitis, HIV and hep b (1/3 of the population) makes day to day survival difficult.

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That is a very interesting answer which leads me to what Stephen Pinker says in Enlightenment Now - Do you think that as a country becomes wealthier as in higher life expectancy, lower child mortality, lower birth rate that secularism inevitable rises and religiosity goes down?

Yes, in a partial observation, but there are exceptions.

Osama BinLaden and some of the worst jihadists were raised wealthy. The US is relatively wealthy, but the disparity between rich and poor Is possibly a reason for the exception. It’s probably not a hard and fast one.

The extension–that we only rely on God (or gods) because of material need–doesn’t seem to carry necessarily, as there are many reasons for belief in the divine.

There’s a Proverb about that from biblical times: (not that I would ever take it as a reason to shirk in helping the poor!)

Proverbs 30:7-9 .
“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God

I thought it was interesting that the writer was aware of the link.

Now, I would far rather have a large secular population with wealth and health, than a poor one with religion and death. God isn’t evil. He would not wish the death of little ones to keep people fearing him.


The Islamisation of Turkey is unfortunate, but I’m not sure we should equate the country entirely with ignorant literalism. Turkey actually ranks fifth in the world for visits to The Hump off the Camel at 3.7% - that’s about 450 hits a month.

As you know, my site is neither Creationist, nor Waving a Flag for Science for the disgruntled liberals there. Someone is thinking through the issues - maybe it’s the Christian minority.

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Wow, interesting. It’s good to think through issues, either way. I do know that there is a large secular section of Turkey, though they are not as politically powerful. Muslim creationists apparently use Western 7 day creationist materials. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adnan_Oktar