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Evolution is ‘too complicated’ for young minds in Turkey

Evolution is ‘too complicated’ for young minds in Turkey

The chair of Turkey’s Board of Education, Alpaslan Durmus, above, announced this week that evolution will no longer be taught in Turkish schools.

Durmuse said in a video published on the Education Ministry’s website that evolution was debatable, controversial and too complicated for students.

We believe that these subjects are beyond their [students] comprehension.

Durmus said a chapter on evolution was being removed from ninth grade biology course books, and the subject postponed to the undergraduate period.

Another change to the curriculum may reduce the amount of time that students spend studying the legacy of secularism.

Critics of the government believe public life is being increasingly stripped of the secular traditions instilled by the nation’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

The secular opposition has long argued that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pursuing a covert Islamist agenda contrary to the republic’s founding values. Education is a particularly contentious avenue, because of its potential in shaping future generations. Small-scale protests by parents in local schools have opposed the way religion is taught.

There is little acceptance of evolution as a concept among mainstream Muslim clerics in the Middle East, who believe it contradicts the story of creation in scripture, in which God breathed life into the first man, Adam, after shaping him from clay. Still, evolution is briefly taught in many high school biology courses in the region.

The final changes to the curriculum are likely to be announced next week. The draft changes had been put forth for public consultation at the beginning of the year.

The subject of evolution in particular stirred debate earlier this year after Numan Kurtulmus, the Deputy Prime Minister, described the process as a theory that was both archaic and lacking sufficient evidence.

Reports in Turkish media in recent weeks, based on apparent leaks of school board meetings, have also predicted a diminished role in the curriculum for the study of Atatürk, and an increase in the hours devoted to studying religion.

Durmus said that a greater emphasis would be placed on the contributions of Muslim and Turkish scientists and history classes would move away from a “Euro-centric” approach.

The BBC reports that the plan to scrap evolution lessons had sparked a furious debate on an online forum

One participant said:

This is bigotry, this is all about being a fanatic. How are they going to teach biology now? How are they going to talk about science?

Another wrote:

Evolutionary theory is one of the most powerful and fundamental theories in modern science. To describe it as ‘controversial’ is unbelievable.

Yet another claimed the theory was not well taught anyhow:

Once the teacher asked us who believed in evolutionary theory. I raised my hand. The teacher said: ‘Are you a monkey then?’

But on Facebook another commenter said:

I want to thank the government for preventing our youth to be poisoned by this rotten and absurd theory. There is nothing more natural than excluding it from the national curriculum.

Feray Aytekin Aydogan, the head of Egitim-Sen, a teachers’ union representing over 100,000 members across the country, said:

Turkey will be the second country after Saudi Arabia that excludes theory of evolution from its curriculum. Even in Iran, there are 60 hours of lessons on evolution and 11 hours on Darwin himself.

In covering this story, Friendly Atheist Hermant Mehta pointed out that Turkey was shown in a 2006 chart to be at the very bottom of a list countries that accept evolution. Shockingly, America is second last.

Hat tip: Trevor Blake, BarrieJohn and Pasties

13 responses to “Evolution is ‘too complicated’ for young minds in Turkey”

  1. Har Davids says:

    Religion is beyond my comprehension, so why foist it on young minds without offering them all the different religions that exist? Throw in some philosophy as well as good literature, and religion might really home obsolete.

  2. CoastalMaineBird says:

    Shockingly, America is second last.
    Not sure why this is a shock. Isn’t the U.S. the global leader in creationism?

  3. ray metcalfe says:

    Evolution is beyond is beyond students comprehension is it. So if that is so it is down to the teachers then. I first herd about evolution when I was about 9 although I have never really studied biology(my secondary school taught mostly physics in science) at school I understood what I was taught. I read some off dawkins books and understand most of it with a bit of head scratching. Why don’t these religious nut jobs just say that they don’t want anything taught in school that will contradict the version of the book of myths. After all they have or claim to have the big man in the sky on there side.

  4. barriejohn says:

    Thankfully, young people have the internet today, despite attempts at censorship. I wouldn’t be brave enough to claim that the forces of rationalism are bound to prevail, but I am at least hopeful!

  5. Trevor Blake says:

    Those who disbelieve the evidence for evolution are welcome to refrain from getting an annual flu shot.

  6. Paul says:

    And they have wanted to join the EU since 1963 or so.
    What a joke.

  7. STEPHEN G GULAS says:

    Science flies people to the moon.
    Religion flies aircraft into buildings .

  8. Bart says:

    Get used to it. Turkey is heading down the islamic sewer. There will be more and worse to come as the vultures of allah pick clean the carcass of a once secular democracy. Erdogan has set his face to inflict hard core islamic rule to Turkey to bring back the caliphate with him as the deputy of god. IS tried to restore the caliphate but that evil bunch of lawless thugs and bandits got it wrong. Erogan is a calculating slime ball wannabe dictator and caliph with a different more political strategy to get what he wants.

  9. L.Long says:

    So this dude is saying his people and ‘mericans are stoopid! Well he aint too far off on that!

  10. barriejohn says:

    Hold on – we may have it all wrong. It appears that the Turkish authorities are so concerned for the welfare of their gay fellow citizens that they have gone to great lengths to protect them from danger yet again:

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/06/24/istanbul-pride-banned-by-turkish-authorities-amid-safety-fears/

    “I wish you’d stop being so good to me.”

  11. Paul says:

    Barriejohn
    It’s such a conundrum in Turkey because some of the most loved and famous singers are either gay or transgender or asexual. And I mean reallly famous; for us I guess it would equate to Tom Jones or Rod Stewart or Shirley Bassey.

  12. 1859 says:

    Religion — it’s easy to understand, it’s full of quaint stories of slaughter and miracles, flying angels, horses, walking on water and letting the dead breathe again. Evolution —- is hard! it’s full of animals trying to survive by adapting to their surroundings and those that don’t get eaten, but those that do live on to have babies. Babies FFS! This must mean these animals are rutting away night and day! Disgusting! And don’t mention ‘Fossils’ These were placed by satan in the ground to confuse us humans. Nope. Stick with good old angels, they’re sweet, pretty, blond-haired and fly Quantas.

  13. Cali Ron says:

    Science is great when it produces better weapons or better transportation, or can be used to indoctrinate, but bad when it contradicts religious beliefs. I’m beginning to think mankind is just top stupid to ever overcome his superstitious beliefs, greed, violence and intolerance. In theory is should not be that difficult to educate the masses, but in reality it’s a herculean task. My cynicism is in high gear today, or is it just being realistic?