Darwin Clashes With the Quran in Turkey

charles darwin photoInternet filters against evolution: Evolutionary biologists find it increasingly harder to work in Turkey

Charles Darwin, the father of modern evolutionary theory, tried to reconcile his faith with his scientific observations about the origin of humans. But few religious fundamentalists in Turkey are willing to try the same: On November 22, the Turkish government instituted a new “Secure Internet” filtering system in the country. While a largely unfiltered version of the Internet is still available to the population, the new system offers two filters that did not previously exist: a “Child Profile” and a “Family Profile”. A few weeks ago, Turkish independent media network Bianet reported that all websites pertaining to Darwinian evolution are banned under the “Child Profile”.

Online input: a way around the ban?

Some evolution-related websites that were unavailable through the Child Profile, however, are now accessible.

Darwinday.org and evrimianlamak.org (“understanding evolution”), for example, were two of the blocked websites when Bianet’s story ran three weeks ago. But now they are accessible. Other sites, such as aboutdarwin.com and darwin-online.org.uk, are still blocked.

So how did these changes come about? Online votes.

As Bianet reported, the information website for the new filtering system has a webpage where users can search for domain names to check their status under each filter. Unfortunately, any computer can only search for ten domain names — after that, a message pops up saying that the number of queries is too high.

But for those first ten domain names, visitors to the site have the power to vote on whether they should be accessible or not, from either filter. Evidently, darwinday.org and evrimianlamak.org received enough votes to move off the “blocked” list.

Evolving attitudes

Evolutionary biologists have long found it hard to work in Turkey, where many reject Darwin’s theory on the grounds that it clashes with Koranic teachings about the origin of humankind. It is not unusual for high school biology classes to gloss over the theory, or deny it outright.

In March 2009, the Scientific and Technological Research Institute of Turkey (TUBITAK) refused to allow any articles commemorating Darwin’s 200th birthday in that issue of its monthly journal.

Many Turks accept the theory, however, and seem embarrassed by their countrymen who think otherwise. Thousands of marchers protested the decision by TUBITAK in 2009.

Now it’s up to Internet users to decide whether Turkish children using the Child Profile Internet filter can access accurate information about Darwinian evolution or not.

:: Bianet

Read more about evolution news from the Middle East:
Man Evolved When Elephant Meat Ran Out
The Tooth That Changes Everything
More Whale Fossils In The Egyptian Desert

Image via shehal

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11 thoughts on “Darwin Clashes With the Quran in Turkey”

  1. Quran With Translation says:

    My Quran Lesson is an easy way for you and your kids to learn the Holy Quran. All you need is a PC, headset with a microphone and a broadband internet connection


  2. Julia Harte says:

    Sorry this comment is late; I’d tried to post it a few days ago, but it didn’t appear for some reason.

    @ Dr_GS_Hurd: That’s the option for voting to make the site accessible from the family and child profiles. Sorry again on the lateness!

    @ Onursal Erol & Stu: Though the original piece was indeed published in December, not all of the formerly blocked sites had been taken down by the beginning of this month (as I said in the piece, aboutdarwin.com and darwin-online.org.uk were two that were still banned in the child profile). If those are now un-banned (which I can’t see because I’ve already checked my 10 sites), that’s wonderful – it means the voting process is working! And Stu: could you post the news article where the Turkish minister in charge of internet filtering acknowledged a mistake had been made? I’m amazed….

  3. GerryC says:

    Ha, ha. Very funny, Scott_G!
    150 years of evolutionary research overturned by 700 pictures that claim (without any scientific backing) to discredit evolution.
    Seriously, are you POE?

  4. Stu says:

    Only several weeks behind the curve… this news was published before Xmas and has been resolved. The Turkish ministry in charge of internet filtering acknowledged a mistake had been made ad unblocked several key words that were at issue. Anyway, the intenrent filters are opt in only and other sites blocked generally in Turkey by law can be accessed using alternate DNS nos or an edited etc/hosts file. Storm in a teacup in this instance, though I do acknowledge the issue with pressure from the creatonist lobby in Turkey, though it is as evident in the US as it is in Turkey.

    1. Good to know it’s been resolved. The fact that it’s an opt-in question, should still be an issue here.

  5. Dr_GS_Hurd says:

    Julia Harte’s information regardig the “vote” process on the was very interesting. It would be helpful if she would translate;

    “Aile ve Çocuk Profillerinde ERİŞİLSİN”

    1. Yes Julia, please do.

  6. Dr_GS_Hurd says:

    Over a decade ago, I was approached by a Turkish student’s group worried about the creationist nonsense being promoted by “Harun Yahya.” I looked at the publications by this creationist, and I found that they were known frauds merely copied from fundamentalist Christian publications. These false claims had been debunked long before there were Muslim creationists. For example, I recommend reading the materials at TalkOrigins. The “29 evidences for Evolution:” http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/index.html or “An Index to Creationist Claims:” http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/index.html

    These are entirely adequate to dismiss all of “Harun Yahya’s” creationist lies.

    For a competent historical, and theological examination of Islamic creationism, I recommend Taner Edis, “An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam” (2007 Amherst: Prometheus Books).

  7. Onursal Erol says:

    As a turkish citizen I was furious when I read this piece. So I decided to give a piece of my mind, even organise all my friends and family to do the same aginst it. However the information is not true, at least as of now. Maybe the source was this article incorrect, or maybe it was correct but then they changed it early in the game. I researched and there seems to be other articles around like this one, some of them specify the inaccessible sites, all of which are accesible in child mode. Just thought I’d make an update.

  8. Religious Jews in Israel have similar filtering systems going so far as to blot out any possible reference to evolution in kids books, etc. You certainly won’t find mention of evolution in papers like Hamodia. But religious families, very religious ones, don’t let their kids use the Internet at all.

    Raised as a Christian, and a student of Catholic School in high school, we were also taught that evolution doesn’t really fit with the model of Christian thought. My science teacher, a lunatic really – God what was his name? – found a work around that worked with my worldview. He said that before man was created, a day was not necessarily the same length of time as it is now. If God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th I can see why this might be a difficult idea to teach to kids. But to ban evolution on the Internet?

  9. Scott_G says:

    Its Obvious why they are against Evolution. See this site.
    This guy shows 700 fossils that show that evolution didn’t happen. It fights every aspect of Evolution. And its Not Christian or Jewish Based.

    So why would anyone think they would support Evolution.

    Is the site telling the truth, thats for you to decide.

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