News / Europe

Turkey Blocks Web Pages Touting Darwin's Evolution Theory

Demonstrators protest against the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey [TUBITAK] over the exclusion of articles commemorating Charles Darwin's 200th birthday from a scientific journal published by TUBITAK, in Ankara, Turkey, March 2009.
Demonstrators protest against the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey [TUBITAK] over the exclusion of articles commemorating Charles Darwin's 200th birthday from a scientific journal published by TUBITAK, in Ankara, Turkey, March 2009.
Dorian Jones

The blocking by Turkish state authorities of Web pages advocating the theory of evolution has put the focus on wider concerns by teachers and academics that the ideas of Darwin increasingly are being undermined by the Islamic-rooted government.

Numerous web pages advocating the theory of evolution recently were deemed unsafe for children by Turkey's regulatory board controlling the Internet.

Yaman Akdeniz of Istanbul's Bilgi University is an expert on Internet freedom.

"The authorities are trying to establish one view, one morality that the youngsters of our generation should subscribe to," said Akdeniz.

Undermining evolution

The result was an outcry by the media and academics. Soon after, regulatory authorities re-instated the web pages, with the regulatory authority claiming the ban was a "clerical error." Recent media reports, however, say the evolution sites still remain blocked in schools.

The controversy is not only confined to the Internet. Professor Asli Tolon is a molecular biologist at Istanbul's Bosphorus University. She has been tracking the changes in how evolution is taught in school text books.  

Tolon said the idea of evolution increasingly is undermined by creationists who argue the world was created by God.

"Here, there is this, how life evolved. This part is quite scientific, but then right after that, it starts with the creation, the view of creation, which should really not be in a scientific book, because this is a religious view," said Tolon.

Tolon said the result of such changes are increasingly being felt by her students.

"They sometimes get the idea, that I am trying to teach them my own views. But this is not mine, because evolution is one of the basic theories," said Tolon.

Balancing the teaching


Mustafa Akyol, columnist and writer on religious affairs, said alternative theories to evolution have a place in education.

"There are some scientific facts in nature that point to a design by some intelligent being which is not a part of nature, this being might be God. This cannot be a reason to reject data just simply because it’s compatible with religion. I think a fair and objective scientific education should allow Darwin evolution and also critics of Darwin evolution," said Akyol.

Turkey's teachers are now increasingly being caught in the middle of the deepening dispute.

The country's main teaching trade union frequently complain that science teachers are facing increasing intimidation by the education ministry, local authorities controlled by the governing AK party and even religious parents.

The government has dismissed such claims. But one teacher, who did not want to give her name, said teaching evolution is increasingly difficult.

"In my school, three out of five science teachers now only teach creationism," she said, adding that she faces daily pressure from fellow teachers who are religious, and from some families of children who complain about her teaching evolution.

For teachers advocating evolution in Turkey's schools, they seem destined to be on the frontline of this ongoing struggle for the minds of the nation's young.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs