creationist

Academics fight rise of creationism at universities

Amazing that someone would want to become a Geneticist, while being a creationist..  how does that even work?

Academics fight rise of creationism at universities

A growing number of science students on British campuses and in sixth form colleges are challenging the theory of evolution and arguing that Darwin was wrong. Some are being failed in university exams because they quote sayings from the Bible or Qur’an as scientific fact and at one sixth form college in London most biology students are now thought to be creationists.

Earlier this month Muslim medical students in London distributed leaflets that dismissed Darwin’s theories as false. Evangelical Christian students are also increasingly vocal in challenging the notion of evolution.

In the United States there is growing pressure to teach creationism or “intelligent design” in science classes, despite legal rulings against it. Now similar trends in this country have prompted the Royal Society, Britain’s leading scientific academy, to confront the issue head on with a talk entitled Why Creationism is Wrong. The award-winning geneticist and author Steve Jones will deliver the lecture and challenge creationists, Christian and Islamic, to argue their case rationally at the society’s event in April.

“There is an insidious and growing problem,” said Professor Jones, of University College London. “It’s a step back from rationality. They (the creationists) don’t have a problem with science, they have a problem with argument. And irrationality is a very infectious disease as we see from the United States.”

Professor David Read, vice-president and biological sciences secretary of the Royal Society, said that they felt it was essential to address the issue now: “We have asked Steve Jones to deliver his lecture on creationism and evolution because there continues to be controversy over how evolution and other aspects of science are taught in some UK schools, colleges and universities. Our education system should provide access to the knowledge and understanding gained through the scientific method of experiment and observation, such as the theory of evolution through natural selection, and should withstand attempts to withhold or misrepresent this knowledge in order to promote particular beliefs, religious or otherwise.”

Leaflets questioning Darwinism were circulated among students at the Guys Hospital site of King’s College London this month as part of the Islam Awareness Week, organised by the college’s Islamic Society. One member of staff at Guys said that he found it deeply worrying that Darwin was being dismissed by people who would soon be practising as doctors.

The leaflets are produced by the Al-Nasr Trust, a Slough-based charity set up in 1992 with the aim of improving the understanding of Islam. The passage quoted from the Qur’an states: “And God has created every animal from water. Of them there are some that creep on their bellies, some that walk on two legs and some that walk on four. God creates what he wills for verily God has power over all things.”

A 21-year-old medical student and member of the Islamic Society, who did not want to be named, said that the Qur’an was clear that man had been created and had not evolved as Darwin suggests. “There is no scientific evidence for it [Darwin’s Origin of Species]. It’s only a theory. Man is the wonder of God’s creation.”

He did not feel that a belief in evolution was necessary to study medicine although he added that, if writing about it was necessary for passing an exam, he would do so. “We want to become doctors and dentists, we want to pass our exams.” He added that God had not created mankind literally in six days. “It’s not six earth days,” he said, it could refer to several thousands of years but it had been an act of creation and not evolution.

At another London campus some students have been failed because they have presented creationism as fact. They have been told by their examiners that, while they are entitled to explain both sides of the debate, they cannot present the Bible or Qur’an as scientifically factual if they want to pass exams.

David Rosevear of the Portsmouth-based Creation Science Movement, which supports the idea of creationism, said that there was an increasing interest in the subject among students. “I’ve got no problem with an all-powerful God producing everything in six days,” he said. He said it was an early example of the six-day week. Students taking exams on the subject should not be dogmatic one way or the other. “I tell them – answer the question, it’s no good saying it [creationism] is a fact any more than saying evolution is a fact.”

A former lecturer in organic chemistry at Portsmouth polytechnic (now university) and ICI research scientist, Dr Rosevear said he had been invited to expound his theories at many colleges and had addressed the Cafe Scientifique, a student science society, at St Andrews university, Fife. “The students clearly came expecting to have a laugh but they found there was much more to it. Our attitude is – teach evolution but mention creationism and let students decide for themselves.”

Most of the next generation of medical and science students could well be creationists, according to a biology teacher at a leading London sixth-form college. “The vast majority of my students now believe in creationism,” she said, “and these are thinking young people who are able and articulate and not at the dim end at all. They have extensive booklets on creationism which they put in my pigeon-hole … it’s a bit like the southern states of America.” Many of them came from Muslim, Pentecostal or Baptist family backgrounds, she said, and were intending to become pharmacists, doctors, geneticists and neuro-scientists.

Backstory

The doctrine of creationism holds that the origins of humanity and the Earth are recent and divine as related in the book of Genesis. Strict creationists believe Adam and Eve are the mother and father of humanity and God created the Earth in six days. Support for creationism in the UK has traditionally lacked real vigour but in the US a recent poll found 45% of Americans believed God created life some time in the past 10,000 years. Recently American creationists suffered a setback when Ohio’s board of education threw out a model biology lesson plan which gave credence to creationism. Not all creationists believe in a strict six-day creation. Current scientific research suggests the universe is 13bn years old and humans are descended from ape-like creatures.

Muslim academics and students are turning against Darwin’s theory

Muslim academics and students are turning against Darwin’s theory

Muslims in many countries are increasingly rejecting Darwin’s theory of evolution, under the influence of conservative elements in Islam, a science conference was told yesterday.

Nidhal Guessoum, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, told the conference, being held in Egypt by the British Council, that in too many places students and academics believed they had to make a “binary choice” between evolution and creationism, rather than understanding that one could believe both in God and in Darwin’s theory.

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.”

Evolution did not contradict Islamic beliefs, Dr Guessoum said, unless a literal reading of the texts were adopted. “Many Muslim scholars, from the golden age of Islam to today, adopted an evolutionary world view,” he said.

Addressing the conference in Alexandria, organised for the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, he said that concerns among Muslims about evolution were being fuelled by Christian creationists. People in Muslim countries would find creationist theses on the internet and, not realising that these were on the fringes of scientific debate, assume that creationism had scientific credibility in the West.

“It is a serious problem,” he said. “It would be like going to my students and telling them the planets are not related to the stars, there is no relationship between them and gravitational pull or radiation, and they were all created on one day. We would not dream of describing the cosmos in such a ridiculous manner … We cannot allow people to go into the 21st century with no understanding of science.”

Science and faith

— Charles Darwin lost his faith, but did not become anti-religion. The Rev John Brodie Innes, his friend and parish priest, wrote: “I never saw a word in his writings which was an attack on Religion. He follows his own course as a Naturalist and leaves Moses to take care of himself”

— The trial in 1925 of John Scopes, who taught his high school class about evolution, tested a Tennessee law that made it illegal “to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of Man as taught in the Bible”. Scopes’s conviction was overturned on a technicality

— In 1968 Susan Epperson challenged the state of Arkansas for preventing her from teaching evolution to her students. The Supreme Court ruled in her favour

— Last year a Muslim creationist succeeded in getting the website of the leading atheist Richard Dawkins banned in Turkey. Adnan Oktar, from Ankara, offered £4.4 trillion to anyone who can point to a single fossil that proves evolution