Why Muslim Students Boycotting Evolution Lectures is Worrying for Science

In a world that seems to be utterly consumed with political correctness, I found it bizarre to hear that some Muslim biology and medicine students had been walking out of their lectures on evolution as it conflicted with their religious beliefs. The Koran, which in says that Allah created all the creatures in the world in one act, goes against the theory of evolution and instead puts forward the ideas of creationism.

Concern has been raised at University College London, where this has been occurring. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution forms an important part of the biology course and Professor Steve Jones has questioned why these students are studying the subject when they aren’t interested in learning about views that conflict with their religious beliefs: “They don’t come [to lectures] or they complain about it or they send notes or emails saying they shouldn’t have to learn this stuff”. This does seem to raise a valid point, why waste money on a degree with a price tag of several thousand when you’re not interested in a major part of the subject matter? At school science subjects are taught alongside religious education, which is a compulsory undertaking even for atheists. We are taught to be knowledgeable of various religions and to understand their beliefs, so why should this not work both ways? In addition, if both the paths of theology and science are open to us at a university level, why undertake science when you are not interested in what is has to say?

If it had been the other way around, if various atheists had walked out of lectures on religion, then there would have been uproar and they would have been labelled intolerant and unaccepting, and perhaps even disciplined by university. Obviously the majority of Muslim students that undertake these courses accept these views, even if they don’t agree with them, so then why do certain students feel that their blatant disregard for the scientific theories of others is justifiable? If we really think about it, is science really that different from a religion? People dedicate their lives to it, will defend its theories tooth and nail, and will fight for it even when it goes against popular opinion. Take Galileo, who was forbidden to preach his beliefs and, when he published his book ‘Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems’, he was sentenced to life in prison, which was later reduced to permanent house arrest. There are martyrs of science as much as there are religious ones. It deserves the same open-mindedness that is demanded of atheists over religion.

To walk out of evolution lectures is not only ignorant but it’s doing their own religion a disservice. Surely it would be far more productive to sit through the lecture, take into account the arguments and evidence for evolution, and use that to form a case as to why you don’t believe in it that you can put forward. Walking out simply implies that you can find no other way to fight the theory of evolution.

Especially concerning is that these walkouts are also happening in medicine lectures. I would like to think that my doctors had a good understanding of evolution, after all evolution is always taking place in the body. Viruses and bacteria evolve and mutate and our cells evolve alongside in an attempt to fight them. A doctor who is intolerant, insensitive and narrow-minded towards the beliefs of others (and for that matter, medical science) is hardly desirable in a person whose duty it is to deal with many people from all walks of life on a daily basis. These traits are hardly productive in any career in such a multicultural society such as ours. We encounter prejudice and discrimination regularly in many different forms, but people with these kinds of views are never going to feel satisfied in a world that brings together so many different opinions and cultures if they expect everyone to adopt their way of seeing things and pander to their beliefs.

Society is about being diverse and developing ideas by embracing and learning about other peoples. The actions of this minority of students are counter-productive and disrespectful to this to say the least.

Ellis Schindler

One Comment
  • helena
    16 December 2011 at 17:03
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    I completey agree with everything you say. As soon as religion is criticised in any way, atheists and agnostics are shouted down and criticsed being labelled intolerant. it’s hypocritical if religious believers won’t even listen to another side to the argument!

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