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.
Using a questionnaire validated by the project Biohead-Citizen, where 15 questions are dedicated to evolution, we analyse Muslim teachers’ conceptions of evolution in several countries. The first part compares nine francophone countries, with varying degrees of Muslim or Christian culture: France, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Gabon, and shows a strong contrast between France and the eight other countries. The second part compares Muslim and Christian teachers in the countries where the comparison is possible, finding no difference, or a few differences in Lebanon. The third part analyses the data related to the 2130 Muslim teachers sampled to identify the controlled parameters that can be correlated to their variations. The discussion is structured by three questions: Are Muslim countries, and Muslim teachers, more creationist than other ones? Is the teachers’ knowledge related to their more or less creationist conceptions? Are Muslim teachers more creationist in European countries?
Nick Allum, Elissa Sibley, Patrick Sturgis, Paul Stoneman
The use of genetics in medical research is one of the most important avenues currently being explored to enhance human health. For some, the idea that we can intervene in the mechanisms of human existence at such a fundamental level can be at minimum worrying and at most repugnant. In particular, religious doctrines are likely to collide with the rapidly advancing capability for science to make such interventions. The key ingredient for acceptance of genetics, on the other hand, is prototypically assumed to be scientific literacy – familiarity and understanding of the critical facts and methods of science. However, this binary opposition between science and religion runs counter to what is often found in practice. In this paper, we examine the association between religiosity, science knowledge and attitudes to medical genetics amongst the British public. In particular, we test the hypothesis that religion acts as a ‘perceptual filter’ through which citizens acquire and use scientific knowledge in the formation of attitudes towards medical genetics in various ways.
J Micah Roos
High scientific literacy is widely considered a public good. Methods of assessing public scientific knowledge or literacy are equally important. In an effort to measure lay scientific literacy in the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF) science literacy scale has been a part of the last three waves of the General Social Survey. However, there has been debate over the validity of some survey items as indicators of science knowledge. While many researchers treat the NSF science scale as measuring a single dimension, previous work (Bann and Schwerin, 2004; Miller, 1998, 2004) suggests a bidimensional structure. This paper hypothesizes and tests a new measurement model for the NSF science knowledge scale and finds that two items about evolution and the big bang are more measures of a religious belief dimension termed “Young Earth Worldview” than they are measures of scientific knowledge. Results are replicated in seven samples.