On learning that the Iraqi government is dropping evolution from schoolbooks

This is how I appeared on Arabic-language Science News, أخبار العلوم – Science News, after a Facebook friend translated my remarks into Arabic

Teaching biology without mentioning evolution is like trying to teach chemistry without mentioning atoms. If you deny evolution, you have to deny the entire fossil record and also all the evidence of molecular biology. And evolution has nothing to do with religion. Within all the world’s great religions, there are thinkers who accept the evidence for evolution, and regard evolution itself as one of God’s creations. We do not allow scientists to tell religious leaders how to teach religion, so why should we allow religious leaders to tell scientists how to teach science?

The destroyed al-Nuri mosque and its gate in the old city of Mosul. Photograph: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images (via The Guardian)




Commenting on the recent decision by the Iraqi government to remove evolution from the school textbooks, I wrote these words to one of my many new-found Iraqi friends [1], a young man in Mosul now able to speak his mind after three years of Isis suppression; he then quoted me on Arabic-language Science News, أخبار العلوم – Science News, which has led in the first 12 hours to a brisk correspondence, more than a thousand likes, over fifty shares, and some not always friendly commentary in which chimpanzees feature prominently in my own assumed ancestry. I can only express my admiration for someone who, sheltering somehow in the ruins of that city, finds time to think of such things.

1] My piece on evolution in The Conversation was noticed by a Baghdad-based Arabic-language blog

About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on August 25, 2017, in Education, Evolution, Science and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. You may say evolution has nothing to do with religion but it comments on the origin of Man and man is the subject of religion. Any idea that suggests man may not be unique upsets many religious people, even Alfred Wallace who also discovered evolution had great difficulties in believing the mind of man could have evolved by natural selection. Hence we still have the Wallace Paradox a tricky one to overcome. Of course man certainly appears to be unique as pointed out by Steven Pinker in his effort to explain our use of language. For my part I believe many of these stumbling blocks will be explained by the scientific method in the course of time.


    • I suggest that one avoid the fallacies of composition and division, taking care to distinguish between an individual person (the special relation between a person and his/her Creator and Redeemer – reproduction & development) and the species Homo sapiens (a subject of interest of evolutionary biology – the non-orthodox Christian opinion of Universalism). A spiritual mind or soul is not a subject of interest to any science; and there is no mind of the species as a whole (as I understand theology), but each individual acquires a mind by creation.


  1. Pingback: Iraq reportedly deleting evolution from the biology curriculum « Why Evolution Is True

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