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Health

Charles Darwin was quite the infidel

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanNovember 18, 2009 4:47 PM

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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.

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