Color us just a bit skeptical about news reports that Turkey will eliminate evolution from its official 9th grade curriculum. If true, though, it is of course a terrible idea.
From The Telegraph:
Turkish schoolchildren will no longer be taught about evolution, a government official has said, in another sign of the conservative direction the country is heading in under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Alpaslan Durmus, the head of curriculum for the ministry of education, said that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was “controversial” and would be removed from school programmes by 2019.
“We have excluded controversial subjects for students at an age unable yet to understand the issues’ scientific background,” Mr Durmus said.
“As the students at ninth grade are not endowed with antecedents to discuss the ‘Origin of Life and Evolution’ section in biology classes, this section will be delayed until undergraduate study.”
The proposal to strip evolution from the curriculum was included in a draft proposal that has already been approved by Mr Erdogan, Mr Durmus said. The final curriculum will be released next week.
The move is part of what secular critics describe as a creeping strain of Islamism throughout Turkey’s once proudly secular state.
News like this filtered through the Western media can’t necessarily be taken at face value. That having been said, the fact that evolution is both important and “controversial” is one reason we strongly favor teaching it thoroughly in high school biology classes, with due attention to objective scientific evidence and arguments for and against the theory. Critically evaluating scientific theories is what responsible scientists do, and with care and thoughtfulness, instructors can help students do the same.
That’s the scientific, pedagogical value in the approach we advocate. In an advanced society, young people need to cultivate the skill of arguing intelligently about complex ideas, rather than merely regurgitate a party line. See our Science Education Policy.
If Turkey’s motivation is religious, on the other hand, as the news suggests, then concealing evolution is also very ill advised. The move to hide the idea from high school students smacks of a cover up that raises questions about the ability of one’s faith to stand up to challenges.
Turkey is a complex and conflicted society. Our friend mathematician Granville Sewell was in Istanbul last month to address the Fifth International Congress of Evolution, held at Uskudar University in Istanbul. Dr. Sewell is a proponent of the theory of intelligent design. Another ID advocate, computer scientist Winston Ewert, co-author of Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, was also present and scheduled to speak but was prevented by illness.
All the other speakers were Darwinists, including one U.S. atheist biologist who fatuously sought to instruct Muslim students about Islam and what he characterized as its past support for evolutionary thinking. From photos, it was interesting to see that the audience was overwhelmingly female, with some in traditional head coverings, others not.
The Turkish move – again, if it genuinely comes to that – will benefit no one other than Western atheist activists, including Richard Dawkins and his Center for Inquiry, who quickly seized on the news as red meat for their followers.