April 1, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

Darwinists Upset When Their Hegemony Slips

How do Darwinists react when their 100% authority in the schools and the scientific institutions slips a little?  Some recent stories provide glimpses into what the public can expect to see.

  1. Turkish outrage:  It was as if a Watergate scandal were uncovered.  “The main Turkish government agency responsible for funding science has provoked outrage by apparently censoring a magazine article on the life and work of Charles Darwin,” Nature reported last week.1 (see also NatureNews).  Anti-evolution sentiment is strong in Turkey.  It was unclear from reports why Omer Cebeci, vice-president of Turkey’s funding and research agency, decided to switch from a cover story honoring Darwin to one on global warming in the country’s widely-read popular science magazine published by the government agency, but Nature said some professors were calling for his ouster.  The article quoted scientists calling the action “outrageous” and “a very bad thing.”  Another calling for Cebeci’s resignation over the “affair” said, “The issue is not only about evolution but also about the proficiency of Turkey’s most important science organization.
        Nature’s editorial last week announced “Turkey censors evolution.2 

    It has been the biggest crisis in Turkish academia since last year’s lifting of the headscarf ban in universities.  Last week a portrait of Charles Darwin was taken off the cover of the March issue of the government-backed science magazine Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology) just before it went to press.  T?BITAK, Turkey’s national science funding agency, which publishes the magazine, then sacked its editor, ?ig brevedem Atakuman.  Scientists, assuming censorship, are justifiably outraged and protests are ongoing.

    Suspicions were aired that the publishers were trying to avoid provoking the voters on a sensitive issue before local elections, but Cebeci denied it was censorship.  “This row has brought into focus two issues that plague Turkish science,” the Editorial said.  “One is political interference in the scientific civil service; the other is high levels of public support for creationism.”  The editors called for a transparent investigation of the incident, and a statement denouncing creationism:

    The organization should also consider making an unambiguous statement of its position on evolution, intelligent design and creationism to reconfirm its credentials as a serious scientific body.  In the past, T?BITAK has provided reliable information on Darwin’s theory in a country where creation is offered as an alternative to evolution in high-school biology teaching.  The agency could do that again.  After all, none of the world’s religions commands its believers to be creationists.  Many Islamic scholars and thinkers have speculated on the origins of life.
        Turkey’s ruling party must learn from this latest affair.  It must keep religion out of science policy, and be seen to be doing so.

    Later, on March 25, Nature News indicated that Cebeci was backpedaling on the affair, blaming the cover change on a subordinate who has been transferred.  “T?BITAK has now issued a statement confirming its commitment to science and scientific literacy in the country, where many people do not believe in evolution.”

  2. Canadian outrage:  In the same issue of Nature last week,3 Hannah Hoag reported that Canada’s minister of science and technology is “under fire” for making comments that provoked “fierce criticism.”  What on earth did he say, to get a reaction described as fierce?  It’s more what he did not say.  He was asked whether he “believed in evolution,” and he took the 5th, so to speak: “I’m not going to answer that question.  I am a Christian, and I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate”.  A caption by his picture stated, “Gary Goodyear had a surprising take on evolution.”  His later admission that he does accept evolution was too little, too late.  He tried to cover the embarrassment by saying he thought the question was a distraction when he should be focused on the economy and creating jobs, but now a cloud of doubt about his qualifications has Nature worried.  The worry was couched in circumlocution: “At this point no one seems interested in calling for Goodyear’s resignation,” suggesting it might be a good idea if someone did.
  3. Texas outrage:  Pugnacious verbiage (fighting words, that is) characterized a press release from the American Institute of Physics (AIP) published by PhysOrg about the Texas Board of Education vote to authorize critiques of evolution in its science standards (see 03/27/2009).  The title set the spin: “Science setback for Texas schools.”  The mood of the Darwin army was glum in the opening lines: describing the vote, it said, “The results weren’t pretty.”  Arousing defenders of evolution, the article said that the new standards open “loopholes and language that make it even easier for creationists to attack science textbooks.”  Eugenie Scott and others at the NCSE got quotes – defenders of the Texas vote did not.  “The final vote was a triumph of ideology and politics over science,” Ms Scott said.  “The board majority chose to satisfy creationist constituents and ignore the expertise of highly qualified Texas scientists and scientists across the country.”  Here’s how the AIP viewed the changes:

    For example, the revised biology standard (7B) reflects two discredited creationist ideas–that “sudden appearance” and “stasis” in the fossil record somehow disprove evolution.  The new standard directs students to “analyze and evaluate the sufficiency of scientific explanations concerning any data of sudden appearance, stasis and the sequential nature of groups in the fossil records.”  Other new standards include language such as “is thought to”, or “proposed transitional fossils” to make evolutionary concepts seem tentative when, in fact, such concepts are well-documented and accepted by the scientific community.

    Eugenie Scott and Josh Rosenau of the NCSE made their frustration clear.  “There’s a reason creationists are claiming victory,” Scott said.  The vote threatens to produce “watered-down science textbooks across the U.S.” because of Texas’s clout in the textbook market.  The ending line accentuated the frustration: “NCSE’s Josh Rosenau summed up the frustration of scientists and educators alike: ‘This is a hell of a way to make education policy,’” even though the State Board of Education held numerous public hearings with ample input by experts on all sides.


1.  Alison Abbott, “Turkish scientists claim Darwin censorship,” Nature Published online 10 March 2009, updated 18 March, doi:10.1038/news.2009.150.
2.  Editorial, “Turkey censors evolution,” Nature 458, 259 (19 March 2009) | doi:10.1038/458259a.
3.  Hannah Hoag, “Canadian science minister under fire,” NatureNews, Published online 25 March 2009, Nature 458, 393 (2009),doi:10.1038/458393a.

This is not an April Fool entry.  Maybe it should be.  It’s hard to believe the Darwiniacs can be such spoiled brats, but they are, and they have clout.  If democracy, public hearings and testimony by experts on both sides is a “hell of a way to make education policy,” what would heaven be for them?  Dictatorship.  The Science Mandarins would be able to tell everybody what to believe, and punish anyone who dares question their authority.  Almost sounds like the world of 2009.
    The defenders of Darwin’s Sacred Image cannot endure one speck of tarnish on their idol.  They become unglued at any hint of blasphemy.  It doesn’t matter to them whether there might have been some legitimate reason for denying Charlie the cover of a Turkish science magazine: failing to give him center stage, for any reason, is tantamount to “censorship” – so heads must roll.  Darwin’s visage must be shoved in the face of a country where a lot of people doubt his omnipotence.  Failing to shout “Darwin is lord” with the right amount of enthusiasm is enough to call for the ouster of a science minister.  And when a state finally allows its high school students to think critically and analyze evidence, the Darwiniacs are beside themselves with frustration and rage, flinging out loaded words and ridicule and assorted other propaganda tricks.  They characterize the Texas vote as the death of science and the onset of the Dark Ages.
    The outrage of these people is no more plausible than the denunciations of a hypothetical totalitarian dictator screaming about the end of democracy when one member of the opposition party makes it to Parliament.

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