Democracy & Creationism in Turkey

Another article on Creationism in Turkey:

To John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas, however, the news could hardly be more encouraging.

"Why I'm so interested in seeing creationism succeed in Turkey is that evolution is an evil concept that has done such damage to society," said Morris, a Christian who has led several searches for Noah's Ark in eastern Turkey. Members of his group have addressed Turkish conferences numerous times.


After a decade in the trenches, Kence said he believes aggressive creationism "is part of a larger plan to convert people to a more conservative Islam."

The Islamic-oriented government, elected in 2002 and reelected in 2007, has telegraphed its views on evolution by adding doses of creationism to a required public school course on "Religion and Morals," proponents of evolution say. This year, the editor of one of the nation's prominent science journals, Science and Technology, was fired by government officials over her magazine's plans to put Darwin on its cover.

Without more longitudinal data it is hard to say, but I think this is wrong to view this a renaissance of Creationism driven purely by the government or outsiders. Turkey isn't becoming more religious, the majority of Turks who have always held to Islam as it is practiced in most of the Muslim world are becoming more assertive at the expense of the secular elite. Kemal Ataturk was an autocrat who leveraged his incredible victories against European powers in the wake of Word War I, which preserved the Turkish state from being cannibalized, into enough personal authority to wage a one man culture-war in which he was mostly victorious. But he's been dead for 70 years.

Americans should not be surprised at democratization shifting a political culture toward more religiosity. In the American republic expansion of suffrage to all white males resulted in a more evangelical religious political class. It is likely that the first five American presidents, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe would not be considered Christians by the American public today because of their personal beliefs (or lack thereof).* In many nations the anti-clerical and laicist faction tends draw strength from a segment of the elite which perceives itself as progressive or liberal in thought, at least before more widespread secularization percolates across the society.

* This is not to say that they themselves would have viewed themselves as non-Christians. John Adams for example was a Unitarian Christian in good standing. Thomas Jefferson seems have been the most personally dismissive of the claims orthodox Christianity, but he surely considered himself Christian insofar as he espoused the ethical message of the Christian gospels.

More like this

Half Sigma points me to The Legend of a Heretic, which chronicles the close relationship between Robert G. Ingersoll, a prominent American agnostic of the 19th century, and the Republican Party elite of that time. It seems ironic that though we are a nation which explicitly bans formal religious…
A new story highlighting the waxing of Creationism within modern Turkey. A depressing tidbit: Education Minister Huseyin Celik, an AKP member, said he has an open mind over the debate about evolution, but in 2005, the Ministry reportedly suspended five teachers for advocating evolution too…
Steve Waldman has been blogging some of the major arguments from his new book, Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America. He says: As for their religious beliefs, someone in the comment thread said I was being incoherent or contradictory by saying the Big…
As demonstrating and rioting against the heavy-handed Chinese occupation of Tibet increased in intensity this weekend, it's not surprising that China cracked down using one of its favorite tools: internet censorship. As of sometime Saturday, the Chinese government had already blocked YouTube in…

evolution is an evil concept

That's funny coming from a professional liar who makes a living from mentally abusing children.

yes you need "more longitudinal data" most of Turkish see Mustafa Kemal a hero and a human not an "autocrat". Autocrats dont need a second political party in their system. They dont give their power to the public.

But yes we have to work hard for a perfect democracy. of course its not for EU its for us.

American Presidents: I don't know whether it came up here or somewhere else, but Unitarians back in John Adams' time were not the mellow, tolerant Unitarians of today. (The mellowness came from Universalism, IIRC). They were secularized Christians by our standards, and especially by fundamentalist standards (in a sort of way they created fundamentalism, by antithesis) but they didn't think of themselves as less Christian, but as the most Christian (Christians purified of superstition), and they had a real arrogance.

Far off topic, but Lincoln's religious education was as a Primitive (Hardshell) Baptist. And yes, there dioes exist a Progressive Primitive Baptist Church, with 8,000 members.

By John Emerson (not verified) on 08 Nov 2009 #permalink

Very insightful.

Both on the Turkish front and on the USAmerican one.

I always found utterly ridiculous the pretense of fundies that the US is a christian nation due to the "Founding Fathers". When these were products of godless Illustration. And most of their fight was to avoid religious problems in a country that consisted of colonies of intolerant religious fundies running away from other religious loons of opposing brands.

The lack of a true democracy at that time allowed the imposition of the illustrated ideals of these antichristian intellectuals over the majority of fundamentalists boors. When democracy grew, it allowed the majority of fundamentalists to be able to peddle their religious nonsense shared by so much of those who did not had a voice or vote before.

Same in Turkey. As right as he was, Atatürk imposed his secular views on Turkey without a real backing by the majority of Turks. Now that democracy has progressed, the opinion of the religious majority is beginning to matter and pose problems.

By El Guerrero de… (not verified) on 09 Nov 2009 #permalink