Ümit Sayin and
A New Challenge for Turkey
First published in: Reports of
the National Center for Science Education
No. 6 ,1999, November/December, pp: 1820, 2529
Reproduced here with the permission
of the copyright owners.
This version may differ slightly from the print publication
the time that "Creation Science: A Successful Export?" was published
in RNCSE (Matsumura 1998), there was an notable debate among
intellectuals, scientists, lay people and fundamentalist Islamists concerning
Islamic scientific creationism in Turkey. Since the early 1990s, the Science
Research Foundation (Bilim Arastirma Vakfi, or BAV) has undertaken a new
mission of spreading an Islamic version of scientific creationism in Turkey,
the ideology of which was mainly imported from the US. However, it was not
until late 1998 that many scientists and academics, as well as Turkish science institutions,
such as TUBITAK (the Turkish Scientific and Technical Research Council) and
TUBA (the Turkish Academy of Sciences), protested against the pseudoscience of
BAV and published declarations against Islamic scientific creationists. To
understand better the Islamic scientific creationism movement in Turkey, it is
expedient to review the history of the Turkish Republic and the rise of Islamic
fundamentalism in Turkey.
Republic: A Unique Democratic and Secular Islamic Country
is one of the few secular and democratic Muslim countries. Ninety-nine percent
of the population is said to be Muslim - although the definition of "being
Muslim" in Turkey makes it unlikely that all of these Muslims practice
orthodox Islam. In most of the other Islamic countries, Sharia,
Allah's Law for Muslims, dominates the constitution and the legal system, so
that the state and the religion are united. The separation of the state and
religion remains alien and unrealistic to such countries. In contrast with the
constitutions in many other Islamic states, the Turkish Constitution forbids
religious laws from dominating government and society and requires that the
state and religion be separated (Article 2, Turkish Constitution [revised in
The Turkish Republic was founded in 1923 after the fall of the Ottoman Empire
and a period of revolution and reformation led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who
became Turkey's first president. When the new republic was formed, the
government took many precautions to prevent Islam from being as influential in
governance as it was during Ottoman times. Among these reforms were replacing
the Arabic alphabet with the Roman alphabet, which is more suited to expressing
the Turkish language; granting equal rights to women; and reforming education,
including the elimination of compulsory religion courses and the introduction
of evolution theory as an important part of the biology curriculum. Prayers
once recited only in Arabic were translated into Turkish, so that everyone
could understand them; religious education based in extremist sectarian centers
called Tekkes, Tariqas, and Zaviyes was
banned; and a new legal system based on a European model was adopted. Wihin 10
years (1923-1933), a new modern Western country, with a new identity and
ideology, was created from an oriental empire. There was a clear conceptual shift,
and it expressed a new secularism.
When Atatürk died in 1938, many other reforms of governmental and cultural
affairs still waited to be finished. However, after 1950, the
Enlightenment-based ideals and reforms of the revolution started to decline.
Right-wing and conservative cliques and political parties were ready to exploit
the weaknesses of the inexperienced government. Some of the social changes and
civil rights attained by the revolution in 1923 were lost. Some politicians
appealed to the uneducated and illiterate majority of Turks, who were still
very religious and strongly influenced by local religious authorities (Sheiksand Mullahs),
who promised a return to the good old Ottoman days. This turmoil continued
until the military coup in 1960. A new constitution based on a Western legal
system was approved in 1961, which banned efforts to support the establishment
of a non-secular religious state based on Sharia Law.
Despite this setback, fundamentalist self-assertion continued into the 1970s.
Various fundamentalist parties founded and headed by Necmettin Erbakan were
able to attract as much as 9% of the vote, while other right-wing parties also
continued to appeal to religious sentiments in order to attain power. In 1980 a
right-wing junta headed by Kenan Evren took power, warning of the threat of
communism. This was a milestone for the fundamentalists and extreme religious
groups, which started to gain even more power. Soon Evren was succeeded by
Turgut Özal, an active member of a religious order.
Fundamentalist groups organized within the government, in the bureaucracy, in
the armed forces, and among the public, while the secularist, leftist opposition
was suppressed. During the 1980s and 1990s, thousands of writers, scientists,
journalists, and ordinary people suffered years of imprisonment for criticizing
Evren's regime. During this period, no critique of or comment on the possible
consequences of the deeds of the government was allowed, since this would be
considered a thought crime the equivalent of being involved in a conspiracy
against the Republic, and being a separatist or even a communist. The
fundamentalist vote increased to about 20% through the 1990s before declining
to 16% in 1999. The main aim of one of these fundamentalist parties (known as
the Welfare [Refah] Party), as stated many times by Erbakan and other
party members in public talks, was to establish a theocratic and Sharia-based
state (as in Iran or Afghanistan) through civil war and to promote Jihad (religious
By the late 1990s, things began to change. On February 28, 1997, the National
Security Council responded to the fundamentalists and took steps to protect the
constitution and the secular-democratic structure of the state by issuing a
strong declaration that the Turkish military would protect the constitution and
its secular and democratic system by any means necessary. The government
toppled, and in 1998, the supreme court revoked Erbakan's senatorship and
disbanded the Welfare Party. A few months later, the fundamentalists
re-organized under the name of the Virtue (Fazilet) Party.
The Islamic version of "scientific creationism", as promoted by BAV,
sprang up and gained power under these circumstances in the early 1990s, with
the support of the Islamic fundamentalists and radical Islamic sects (tariqas).
Qur'an, like the Bible, accepts the creation of the universe, the earth, and
life on earth by Allah (the God of Muslims) in 6 days. According to Islamic
sources and the Qur'an, Allah created the soil first, then the mountains,
light, and the animals, and then Adam (Qur'an: Hjcr 26-29; Zumar 6; Ta
Ha 116-119; Baqarah31-34, 36-37; A'raf 19;
also see Arsel 1996, 1997a, 1997b, 1999; Dursun 1992). Adam is created from the
soil. However, scholars acknowledge that the Qur'an has been modified and
rewritten through the centuries (Lebster 1999; Dursun 1992).
The Qur'an accepts the divine validity of the information presented in the
sacred books of Jews and Christians; consequently the creation accounts in the
other sacred books are also accepted by the Qur'an. In the Qur'an, the
description of Adam and Eve's adventures in Eden is not as detailed as it is in
Genesis, but it is obvious that the creation story in the Qur'an was influenced
by Genesis. However, the Qur'an provides no basis on which to estimate the age
of the earth, in contrast to the scriptural accounts that form the basis of
much of Christian "scientific creationism".
Islam, philosophers use the word ilm to refer to science in
the broader sense of human knowledge, which can accommodate religious as well
as natural studies. In contrast, the Western tradition sees science as a
valuable way of describing and predicting the natural world without reference
to any religious precepts. Christian fundamentalists promoting "creation
science" cloak religious precepts in the trappings of science because of
the pre-eminence of scientific method in Western countries. However, such an
approach was rare in Islamic countries, where science emerged in a different
cultural and religious context-that is, until BAV arose as an Islamic
missionary to become the Muslim champion of "scientific creationism"
in Turkey and in other Islamic countries.
BAV's activities are integrally connected to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism
in Turkey, where secularism and science have become rooted to some extent and
more strongly established than in many other Islamic countries (Sayin 1998a,
1998b; OECD Report 1996). In the style of the Institute for Creation Research,
BAV is now trying to supply "scientific" data to the public that, it
proposes, proves the religious accounts of the creation, instead of appearing
to appeal strictly to dogmas or sacred books.
Even though the Qur'an describes the creation of life on earth as a purposeful
action by Allah, some Muslim philosophers have defended evolutionary ideas
based on the notion of the Great Chain of Being. This interpretation is similar
to that advanced by Christian theistic evolutionists, who claim that evolution
is also created by God. One such philosopher was Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), who
proposed an evolutionary theory in which created life originated from minerals,
evolved into plants, and then evolved into animals.
Ibn Khaldun wrote:
should be known that we May God guide you and us notice that this world
with all the created things in it has a certain order and a solid construction.
It shows nexuses between causes and things caused, combinations of some parts
of creation with others, and transformations of some existent things into
others, in a pattern that is both remarkable and endless. ...Each one of the
elements is prepared. It started out from minerals and progressed, in an
ingenious, gradual manner, to plants and animals. The last stage of minerals is
connected with the first stage of plants...The last stage of plants is
connected with the first stage of animals. ... The word "connection"
with regard to these created things means that the last stage of each group is
fully prepared to become the first stage of the next group (Ibn Khaldun
Khaldun is also one of the philosophers who suggested that humans evolved from apes:
animal world then widens, its species become numerous, and in a gradual process
of creation, it finally leads to man, who is able to think and to reflect. The
higher stage of man is reached from the world of monkeys, in which both
sagacity and perception are found, but has not reached the stage of actual
reflection and thinking. At this point we come to the first stage of man after
the world of monkeys. This is as far as our physical observation extends (Ibn
Khaldun 1967: 195).
(1839-1897), who initially opposed the theory of evolution, later accepted it,
proposing that Muslim thinkers preceded Darwin in advocating the theory of
evolution (Bezirgan 1972).
There is considerable room for interpretation within Islam as to the date of
the Creation, since there are no explicit statements about it in the Qur'an as
there are in the Bible. Other aspects of the Qur'an afford room for
interpretation as well. In one place in the Qur'an, a single day is said to
correspond to 1000 years, yet in another verse, a day is said to correspond to
a period of 50 000 years (Edis 1994). Thus geological time scales do not
disturb the Muslim conception of creation (Edis 1999). It is also interesting
that those contradictions and many uncertainties in the Qur'an do not disturb
Muslims, and the interpretation of thesurahs (parts of the Qur'an)
can vary depending upon the circumstances or the reader (see Dursun 1992; Arsel
1996, 1997a, 1997b, 1999).
Religion, Creationism, and Evolution in Turkish High Schools
the Ottoman Period (13th-20th centuries CE), Medreses -
Ottoman schools for teaching science and religion roughly equivalent to
sectarian religious universities in the West - taught Islam and the Qur'an as a
part of the official curriculum; science was seen as a small part of religious
education. It was not only compulsory to learn the Qur'an, but also to believe
it under penalty of imprisonment, exile, or execution by order of Sharia judges.
There was no tolerance for contradictions between science and creation
according to the Qur'an. Ottoman religious authorities banned printing presses
and kept Ottomans isolated from the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment
until late in the 18th century.
When the Turkish Republic was established in 1923, the whole education system
was reformed from high school to the universities. Atatürk himself wrote some
chapters in the famous Tarih ve Medeni Bilgiler (History and Civilized
Knowledge) textbook for high schools, which defended evolution,
materialism, and Western science (Afetinan 1968; Perincek 1994). The
participants in the reforms of the Turkish Revolution included intellectuals,
scientists, politicians, law professors, and so on, who were educated in Europe
(especially France and Germany). Between 1928 and 1948, books about quantum
theory, relativity, evolution, Western literature, and modern and classical art
were translated into Turkish by the government and delivered to people for free
or at low cost. Creationism and compulsory religious instruction were
nonexistent in the education system of Turkey during this period.
Under the rising influence of the fundamentalist party of Erbakan through the
1970s, the right-wing governments made religion courses, as well as the
recitation of prayers in high schools, compulsory once again. Memorizing and
reciting Arabic prayers became obligatory in the 1980s. Thousands of Qur'an
courses followed, some outside of the high school curriculum, but all meant to
institute government-sanctioned religious instruction.
At first, creationism was taught only in religion and ethics classes in high
schools (Ayas and Tumer 1994). Later, in the mid-1980s, creation was made
compulsory in biology courses (Kence 1985, 1995; Edis 1994). In 1985 Vehbi
Dincerler, the Minister of Education in Ozal's government and a member of a
religious tariqa, sent a bulletin to high schools that accused
educators who taught and defended evolution of being communists. The fear of
communism was as effective for intimidating people in Turkey as it was in the
McCarthy era in the US and has been used successfully more recently by BAV to
Thus creationism was introduced to high school biology textbooks as an alternative
"hypothesis" (Guven and others 1985). This form of creationism was
mostly adopted from Henry Morris's Scientific Creationism (Morris
1974), which was translated into Turkish by the Ministry of Education in 1985.
Creation was explained in the biology textbooks as follows:
creationism's opinion, all living entities and species were created by Allah
separately. Although they may have undergone some changes since the day they
were created, neither did any evolve into other species (Guven and others 1997:
though evolution was still in the textbooks, it was taught in
a biased, ludicrous, and non-scientific way, so that it could be discredited
easily by some of the religious high school biology teachers. One of the
ridiculous statements found in the high school books is:
to what evolutionists claim, it has been demonstrated that frog, mouse, and
snake bloods are closer to human blood than that of monkeys (Ayas and Tumer
sentence misconstrued Darwinism by stating that, according to Darwin, strong
ones would live, and weak ones would be eliminated. However strong organisms
such as dinosaurs, and mammoths have become extinct, whereas some weak
organisms such as earthworm could survive (Ayas and Tumer 1996: 13).
the Social Democrats came to power in 1998 under prime minister Bülent Ecevit,
the biology textbooks were revised, and chapters related to Darwin and Lamarck
were rewritten more objectively (Korkmaz and others 1998). Creationists'
arguments were still presented as alternative hypotheses, but to make the books
appear more secular, phrases such as "according to Islam" were
replaced with "according to sacred books".
The modifications in the biology textbooks infuriated and mobilized those who
wanted evolution to be taken out of the curriculum, including fundamentalists
and BAV. The result was a series of belligerent actions against Turkish
scientists at universities and at institutions such as TUBA and TUBITAK.
With its considerable political support, it seems that BAV could achieve its
goal of replacing evolution with a form of creationism. The BAV aims to
convince the majority of the politicians in the parliament that evolution is
not a fact, but a hoax. In February 1999 a representative from the fundamentalist
Virtue Party proposed a Bill of Anti-Evolution to ban teaching
of evolution in the schools and to collect and destroy all the books about
evolution in the official libraries, on the grounds that evolution is against
Islam (Hurriyet, March 9, 1999).
Research Foundation) and its Activities
is a radical fundamentalist foundation established in 1991 by Sheikh Adnan
Oktar. It is an integral part of the rise of fundamentalist Islam in Turkey.
BAV is not an independent organization and the source(s) of its funding remain
very obscure. Its activities and publications utilize millions of dollars each
year, so it is difficult to imagine that this amount of funding can be
supplied just by donations, as some at BAV claim. The
newspaper Hurriyet recently revealed that Adnan Oktar and BAV
have strong connections with Necmettin Erbakan, the former leader of various
fundamentalist parties. The newspaper Cumhuriyet recently reported
that other support for BAV comes from Fettullahcilar a tariqa established
by Fettullah Gulen, who used to preach the evil and wickedness of evolution (Cumhuriyet,
June 29, 1999).
BAV has also published several books under the pen name Harun Yahya and has
delivered copies to the public free of charge. It is generally believed that
Harun Yahya is actually a commission formed by BAV, although recent reports
have claimed that Harun Yahya is Necmettin Erbakan or a collaboration between
Erbakan and Adnan Oktar (Hurriyet, September 13-15, 1999).
However, considering the vast range of subjects and the sheer number of books -
from The Qur'an-Islam,Free Masonry and Anti-Semitism to Evolution
and Molecular Biology - it is unlikely that Harun Yahya is a single
person. Both BAV and Harun Yahya are still poorly understood. No one claiming to
be Harun Yahya has made any public appearances or has granted any
BAV has a long history of contact with American creationists, including
receiving assistance from ICR. Duane Gish and Henry Morris visited Turkey in
1992, just after the establishment of BAV, and participated in a creationist
conference in Istanbul. Morris, the former president of ICR, became well
acquainted with Turkish fundamentalists and Islamic sects during his numerous
trips to Turkey in search of Noah's Ark (Acts & Facts 1998a,1998b).
BAV's creationist conferences in April and June 1998 in Istanbul and Ankara,
which included many US creationists, developed after Harun Yahya started to
publish his anti-evolution books, which were delivered to the public free of
charge or given away by the daily fundamentalist newspapers Akitand Zaman as
BAV also organized local conferences on creationism in almost every major city
and town in Turkey (about 120 locations) about creationism, defending Harun
Yahya's claims (Harun Yahya 1997) and similar arguments by ICR. The main
premise of the conferences was that science has disproved evolution and proved
the truth of creation (for details of these conferences and more
information, see the web pages attributed to Harun Yahya http://www.harunyahya.org and BAV http://www.bilimarastirmavakfi.org ).
Scientists Respond to BAV
the early 1990s, when Harun Yahya's small inexpensive books started to
circulate among the public, academics did not take BAV and Harun Yahya
seriously, despite the long continuing dissonance between university and
scientific circles and right-wing governments over democracy, secularism, and
the creation/evolution issue. University academics simply ignored the books,
and most of the biology and medicine professors considered it beneath their
dignity to answer the arguments of Harun Yahya and other creationists. A
similar position was taken by the intellectuals before 1980s disregarding the
majority of the public and some peripheral movements was an important factor
that probably contributed to the rise of fundamentalism in Turkey (for details,
see Narli 1999).
However, at the turn of the millennium, scientists and academics in Turkey
realized that they were besieged by fundamentalist Islamists and a public
convinced by Harun Yahya that evolution has collapsed. Even so, most of the
scientific organizations and university professors remain unmoved to act
against the pseudoscience of BAV. However, the authors of this article believe
that defending science and evolution is indispensable in a democracy, and we
believe that every single statement of Harun Yahya and BAV should be opposed by
using scientific knowledge. As a part of our effort to do so, we have written
numerous articles to defend evolution and inform the public about what science
really says (see Kence 1982, 1985, 1994a, 1944b; Sayin 1998c, 1998d,
After BAV's conferences in 1998, we organized an independent commission to
answer the arguments of BAV and to warn the public about the pseudoscience of
Islamic scientific creationists. The short-term goals of the commission were
1) Publish declarations about the scientific facts to the public in response to
the activities of BAV;
2) Gather support from scientists in Turkish universities;
3) Write and/or translate books about evolution and inform the public, as well
as other scientists, about current scientific information;
4) Contact other centers, foundations, and scientific institutions, especially
in the US and Europe, that are also defending science and evolution against
5) Publish and distribute answers to the arguments of the Islamic creationists
and their pseudoscience; and
6) Inform governmental agencies, universities, schools, and the mass media
about the danger of Islamic creationists and their pseudoscience.
This commission made 2 declarations to the public about Islamic scientific
creationists in October 1998 and January 1999. In addition, more than 2000
university professors and scientists, along with TUBA and TUBITAK, signed and
supported the first declaration. A similar commission had already been formed
by TUBA, which also issued a separate declaration in the summer of 1998
defending science and evolution (TUBA 1999).
When BAV realized that scientists and scientific organizations were publicly
opposing its campaign, it responded by trying to intimidate the members of our
commission and TUBA, accusing them of being communists, Maoists, atheists, and
separatists. Each issue of the BAV bulletin was distributed by mail and by fax
to 11 793 addresses, including the high courts of the state, the attorney
general's office, district attorneys' offices, governorships, army
headquarters, police headquarters, and various government offices. Furthermore,
BAV included photographs of some of the scientists and described them as
Maoists. The addresses and names of 6 members of the commission were published
in the militant fundamentalist daily newspaper Akit (December
2, 1999). Akit published the names and photographs of some of
the scientists from the commission (Aykut Kence, Isik Bökesoy) who were giving
public lectures on evolution, accusing them of spreading propaganda and
However, BAV's intimidation tactics did not succeed. Academics and researchers
in universities and scientific organizations were galvanized into action by
BAV's tactics. Some of the authors of the declaration, Professor Aykut Kence,
Professor Yaman Ors, Professor Isik Bokesoy, Professor Dincer Gülen, Dr Umit
Sayin, and Dr Serhat Ozyar, whose names were particularly targeted in the BAV
announcements, filed a complaint in the 3rd Civil Court of Ankara against BAV
over its accusations. In May 1999, the court ruled against BAV and ordered it
to pay the equivalent of $6000 to the scientists for damages (Cumhuriyet,
June 25, 1999).
Scientific Creationism and its Christian Allies
though they are using arguments that ICR has developed and passed on to them,
Islamic creationists usually adapt ICR's arguments to fit their view of Islam
or construct their own arguments to meet their own objectives for defeating
evolution. So the Islamic creationism of BAV is not merely a carbon copy of
ICR's creationism; it has its own style and format.
Part of the difference between ICR's and BAV's versions of creationism relate
to their different scriptural bases. The flexible and interpretable text in the
Qur'an allows BAV to avoid the issue of the date of creation. In contrast to
some of the ICR's positions, BAV asserts that the Qur'an does not give any date
for creation and that the Flood may have been a local, rather than a worldwide,
Here are some examples of the basic ideas defended in Harun Yahya's books, which
were also featured in the nationwide conferences (Harun Yahya 1997, 1998a,
1998b, 1998c). There are several points of departure from the creation model
commonly promoted by the ICR.
1) Earth and life on earth were created by Allah all at once. There is no
evolutionary process. No species has ever evolved into another species. Life
was probably created on earth during the Cambrian Explosion.
2) The Qur'an is the best of the religious scriptures, so it does not make
mistakes as do the other sacred books, such as estimating the earth's age as 10
000 years or asserting the occurrence of a worldwide Flood. The Qur'an is the
ultimate scientific truth. Nothing can contradict the Qur'an.
3) Matter is an illusion of the mind. In truth, only mind exists; matter does
not! The outside world is the illusion of the mind, and mind transforms and
determines the reality. (However, they try to use data obtained from that
illusory world to prove that evolutionists are making mistakes!)
4) Evolution is the greatest hoax of all centuries. All the scientific data
collected during the last 150 years disprove evolution. All the scientific data
prove that, from DNA to organisms, everything has a design and purpose, and
that everything was created all at once. Science has proved that Allah exists
and created the life on earth.
5) Darwinists' or evolutionists' tendency to defend evolution is ideological,
rather than scientific. They probably defend it because of their communist,
materialist, Satanist, or racist ideologies. People who defend evolution are
mentally ill, because they continue to defend it against all scientific
6) Humans are created in the image of Allah, so we cannot have evolved from
apes, which are subhuman animals. Science has not found a single clue that apes
are relatives of Homo sapiens.
7) Modern secular systems are the traps and deceits of Satan. (They are not
against science, they say, but they oppose secular modern science
and its cooperation with Satan. They propose the way of the Qur'an andSharia as
the ultimate and ideal way. Their understanding and definition of science are
very obscure, especially since they deny that matter exists!)
8) Evolution is not a fact, because it is not reported in the Qur'an. (When
they do not have information or evidence to explain a phenomenon, they cite
some surah of the Qur'an and refer to the Qur'an as a
scientific source. When they oppose theistic evolutionists, they claim that
Allah could have created evolution, if he had wanted to, but since this is not
reported in the Qur'an, it cannot be a fact.)
Pseudoscience of Islamic Creationists
tactics and strategies are also adapted from those used by ICR for decades.
Most of the information, slides, figures, and ideas they use in their
conferences resemble those long used in ICR presentations. A quick overview
illustrates both the ICR heritage and the local adaptations in the BAV
1) BAV uses pseudoreferences. The references they cite in their books and
presentations usually support and defend evolution, but they take just one
sentence that they think might seem to support their arguments and use it as
their scientific reference. They claim that they can find scientific proof of
creation in journals such as Discover, Scientific American, Nature,
and Science, even though a cursory reading would show that these
references support evolution, not creation. Because it is so difficult for
Turkish readers to have access to these journals, however, most of Harun
Yahya's arguments go unchallenged.
BAV never acknowledges the overwhelming weight of scientific research
supporting evolution, but generally distort a single news item (for example,
from a popular journal like Discover) to "prove" their
conclusion. It does not discuss the fact that the rest of the article or other
articles in the same issue of that journal defend and support evolution.
BAV first concludes that evolution is wrong and then tries to build up a whole
system of "proofs". These proofs do not use any traditional logical
and scientific methods to reach the scientific conclusions; instead, they cite
the Qur'an as the ultimate (and also the scientific) truth. They
even cite surahs as scientific references. Creation is an
axiom, not a hypothesis to defend!
BAV rejects anything that opposes its ideology or that supports evolution. It
does not accept any evidence that shows its proposals as unscientific.
According to BAV, science is what proves the Qur'an and BAV's interpretation
These characteristics are consistent in approach and method with the ICR's
version of creationism selective citation, incomplete survey of appropriate
literature, prior conviction that evolution must be wrong (and evil) with an
emphasis on the scientific truth of scripture, and the conviction that
"true" science must be concordant with scripture.
However, there are some significant differences between the approaches of these
two groups. For the most part, Harun Yahya is not aiming for a sophisticated
scientific presentation. Acting in Turkey, BAV does not face the difficulty of
opposing a highly trained and prominent scientific community, as does the ICR
in the US where some of the world's most sophisticated scientific knowledge is
produced. BAV has not faced much resistance from the universities or scientific
organizations until our recent campaign.
scientific creationism has become a threat not only to science but also to
democracy and the secular system in Turkey. Unlike Christian creationism, it is
a critical part of the rise of an extreme religious movement and has actively
contributed to the decline of democratic reforms and progress in scholarship
and research in the Turkish Republic. If groups like the BAV are unopposed by
Turkish science organizations, universities, the government, and individual
scientists, they will continue their propaganda unchecked. If they succeed in
their efforts, they will influence not only the believers but also the rest of
the society, since there is a very weak scientific foundation among the vast
majority of the Turkish public. We must recognize the power of the BAV's appeal
and take a page from the successful opposition to the ICR and its allies in the
US. The only hope for Turkish science and society is a vigorous campaign to
expose and oppose Islamic creationism in every forum throughout the country.
Umit Sayin works
in the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine at the University of
Wisconsin, Madison; Aykut Kence works in the Department of Biology at the
Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. Both have long been active in
promoting science and opposing creationism in Turkey.
authors would like to thank Dr Taner Edis for reading the manuscript and giving
his valuable suggestions.
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