Gene Expression

Charles Darwin was quite the infidel

There was recently a conference on evolution in Egypt. Some interesting numbers:

Dr Guessoum, who is a Sunni Muslim, said that in countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia, only 15 per cent of those surveyed believed Darwin’s theory to be “true” or “probably true”. This stand was equally prevalent among students and teachers, from high school to university. Most alarmingly, he claimed, science teachers were misrepresenting the facts and theories of evolution by mixing it with religious ideologies.

A survey of 100 academics and 100 students that he conducted at his own university showed that 62 per cent of Muslim professors and students believed evolution to be an “unproven theory”, compared with 10 per cent of non-Muslim professors. “The rate of acceptance of evolution and of the idea of teaching evolution was extremely low,” he said. “I wondered, who are all these educated people rejecting evolution? They are even rejecting the fact that it should be taught as scientific knowledge.”

I put more stock in the second paragraph since he did that survey himself, though I wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers for the first checked out. I did find this Boston Globe article with more concrete numbers:

It’s hard to say exactly how much support the theory of evolution enjoys in the world’s Muslim countries, but it’s definitely not very much. In one 2006 study by American political scientists, people in 34 industrial nations were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the idea that human beings evolved from earlier life forms. Turkey, the only Muslim country in the survey, showed the lowest levels of support – barely a quarter of Turks said they agreed. By comparison, at least 80 percent of those surveyed in Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, and France agreed. (The United States ranked second lowest, after Turkey, at 40 percent.) Turkey is widely seen as the most culturally liberal Muslim nation, and on attitudes about evolution, other polling has borne this out: A recent study of religious attitudes found that only 16 percent of Indonesians, 14 percent of Pakistanis, and 8 percent of Egyptians believed in evolution.

“A recent study” seems a bit vague. So I emailed the piece’s author and will place an update if I get a reply. In any case, according to Pew 21% of Mormons, 23% of white Evangelicals, and 45% of Muslims, in the United States completely or mostly agree with the contention that evolution is the best explanation for the origins of human life on earth.

Josh Rosenau of Thoughts from Kansas was actually at the conference.

Comments

  1. #1 bioIgnoramus
    November 18, 2009

    “The United States ranked second lowest, after Turkey, at 40 percent.” That’s presumably before you add in all those leftists who seem to believe in evolution except insofar as it applies to mankind over the last 100,000 years.

  2. #2 morgaen
    November 18, 2009

    62 per cent of Muslim professors and students believed evolution to be an “unproven theory”

    I suggest establishing a “teach everyone what ‘theory’ fucking means” day.

  3. #3 John Harvey
    November 18, 2009

    People can hold very superficial views on things which they do not think about very much. Most people spend very little time contemplating where their distant ancestors came from. In addition, in the case of Moslem countries there is a fairly widespread suspicion of Western intentions generally. ‘Charles Darwin’ is a Western name, so his theory must be suspect. It would be fascinating if we were able to carry out these same surveys once again, but this time having first convinced the interviewees that the theory of evolution had originated in the Sinai Peninsula, or that Darwin was a devout Muslim.

  4. #4 Joshua Zelinsky
    November 18, 2009

    The thing I find most puzzling about Islamic evolution denial is how little theological basis there is for it. Christianity has strong theological reasons to be unhappy with evolution since the Fall is theologically important. Judaism doesn’t care about that as much but has a text that seems to contradict evolution in many ways. But Islam has neither a textual or a theological issue with evolution. There’s no creation story in the Koran and there’s no issue with a Fall.

    Harvey’s hypothesis above is an interesting suggestion but it seems unsatisfactory. It doesn’t for example explain the low numbers in Turkey very well.

  5. #5 Meng Bomin
    November 18, 2009

    “That’s presumably before you add in all those leftists who seem to believe in evolution except insofar as it applies to mankind over the last 100,000 years.”

    It doesn’t take much effort to say that you accept evolution. What fraction of those that do do you suspect would be able to give a detailed account of the process and its implications?

  6. #6 miko
    November 18, 2009

    “That’s presumably before you add in all those leftists who seem to believe in evolution except insofar as it applies to mankind over the last 100,000 years.”

    What leftists don’t think humans have evolved in the last 100,000 years?

  7. #7 Jon
    November 19, 2009

    Why is it than whenever I read someone harping on about “leftists” I know it’s yet another North American retard?

  8. #8 razib
    November 19, 2009

    sorry mate, but he’s from the mother country :-)

  9. #9 miko
    November 19, 2009

    re: leftists

    It’s good to be warned that they’re everywhere, preventing the spread of Truth about recent human evolution. I usually only worry about them with regard to my CIA-backed banana republic narcogovernment.

  10. #10 Hisham
    November 19, 2009

    It might be worth noting that the article mentions Dr Guessoum conducting his survey within the United Arab Emirates. While the sample sizes may not be really huge, it seems safe to assume that a large portion of participants were from Muslim backgrounds.

  11. #11 ABM
    November 20, 2009

    The thing I find most puzzling about Islamic evolution denial is how little theological basis there is for it.

    Yeah but, as with some Christians, bashing it is a cheap and easy way for clerics to score points with their un/miseducated followers and foster an us/them mentality against science and rationalism.

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