Sema Ergezen teaches biology to Turkish students interested in teaching science themselves, and she has long struggled with her students' ignorance of, and sometimes hostility to, the notion of evolution.
But she was taken aback when several of her Marmara University students recently accused her of being an atheist, or worse, for teaching anything but the doctrine that God created the Earth and everything on it.
"They said I was a liar if I called myself a Muslim because I also accepted evolution," she said.
What especially disturbed -- and amused -- the veteran professor was that the arguments for creationism presented by some of the students came directly from the country where she was educated in the biological sciences years before -- the United States. Translated and adapted for a Muslim society, the purported proofs that Darwinism and evolution were wrong came directly from American proponents of Christian creationism and its less overtly religious offshoot, intelligent design.
To John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas, however, the news could hardly be more encouraging.
"Why I'm so interested in seeing creationism succeed in Turkey is that evolution is an evil concept that has done such damage to society," said Morris, a Christian who has led several searches for Noah's Ark in eastern Turkey. Members of his group have addressed Turkish conferences numerous times.
Speaking in his home and television studio overlooking the Bosporus, Oktar asserted responsibility for "defeating" Darwinism in Turkey and said that Americans had helped him do it
Oh - what strange bedfellows. Read the full Washington Post article here. But how big is the creationism issue in Turkey? We had some mixed views on this at our conference on Darwin & Evolution in the Muslim World - some believed that this is the symptom of increasing religiosity of Turkey, while others considered it a relatively marginal issue within the Turkish cultural context. I think that the issue of evolution is perhaps playing a proxy in the political battle between the secular and Islamic-leaning parties in Turkey and its quite possible that it may get untangled - especially if mindless rejection of evolution only brings international ridicule without much political payoff at home. But this remains to be seen. And Razib on Gene Expression, perhaps correctly, does not view Turkey as becoming more religious - rather that the more religious population is becoming more assertive over the secular elite:
Without more longitudinal data it is hard to say, but I think this is wrong to view this a renaissance of Creationism driven purely by the government or outsiders. Turkey isn't becoming more religious, the majority of Turks who have always held to Islam as it is practiced in most of the Muslim world are becoming more assertive at the expense of the secular elite. Kemal Ataturk was an autocrat who leveraged his incredible victories against European powers in the wake of Word War I, which preserved the Turkish state from being cannibalized, into enough personal authority to wage a one man culture-war in which he was mostly victorious. But he's been dead for 70 years.
Read Razib's post here.