As Islam takes on a more visible public profile in Turkey, academia is becoming a battleground over the theory of evolution. Scholars who espouse creationist ideas are becoming more assertive in challenging Darwinism.
The recent push by those who see a divine role in human evolution has alarmed Darwin’s adherents. In May, hundreds of academics and students angrily protested against what was billed as Turkey's first academic conference on creationist ideas, held at Istanbul's Marmara University.
"Bringing the scientific theory of evolution together with creationism undermines the foundations of science,” asserted Alaeddin Şenel, a retired professor of anthropology, in remarks to protestors outside the May 16-17 symposium. “Creationism is not supported by scientific data and doesn't have any place in education at any level."
The two-day conference on intelligent design was titled, "Why Does Science Deny Inter-Species Evolution?” It brought together over a dozen academics from across the country who used the occasion to challenge some of Darwin’s core concepts, in particular the theory of natural selection, which explains how apes developed into humans.
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Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.