Creating creationists: The influence of ‘issues framing’ on our understanding of public perceptions of clash narratives between evolutionary science and belief

Fern Elsdon-Baker

Clash narratives relating to evolutionary science and personal belief are a recurrent theme in media or public space discourse. However, a 2009 British Council poll undertaken in 10 countries worldwide shows that the perception of a necessary clash between evolutionary worldviews and belief in a God is a minority viewpoint. How then does the popular conception that there is an ongoing conflict between evolution and belief in God arise? One contributing factor is the framing and categorization of creationism and evolutionism within large-scale surveys for use within media campaigns. This article examines the issue framing within four polls conducted in the United Kingdom and internationally between 2008 and 2013. It argues that by ignoring the complexity and range of perspectives individuals hold, or by framing evolutionary science as atheistic, we are potentially creating ‘creationists’ − including ‘Islamic creationists’ − both figuratively and literally.



Evolutionary theory in letters to the editor

This research note presents the results of a content analysis of 234 letters to the editors that discuss evolutionary theory and were published in American newspapers. We find that letters to the editor both support and hinder the cause of teaching evolutionary theory in American secondary schools. On the one hand, anti-evolutionary theory messages are marginalized in the letters section. This marginalization signals a low level of legitimacy for creationism. It might also contribute to the sense of tension that sustains creationist identities. On the other hand, relatively few letters explicitly note the fact that scientists or the scientific community accept evolution. Interestingly, the obscuration of the scientific community’s support for evolutionary theory occurs both in letters supporting and opposing evolutionary theory.


Making sense of Islamic creationism in Europe

Salman Hameed

Islamic creationism has been noted as a serious concern in Europe. There have been reports of boycotts of university evolution lectures and, in one extreme case, even a threat of violence. While religious objections are indeed at play in some cases, our understanding of the rise of Islamic creationism should also take into account socioeconomic disparities and its impact on education for Muslim minorities in Europe. Furthermore, the broader narrative of rejection of evolution in Europe, for some Muslims, may be bound up in reactions to the secular culture and in the formation of their own minority religious identity. On the other hand, the stories of Muslim rejection of evolution in media end up reinforcing the stereotype of Muslims as “outsiders” and a threat to the European education system. A nuanced understanding of this dynamic may benefit those who support both the propagation of good science and favor cultural pluralism.