Trapped between Science and Religion: Theory of Evolution in Turkish Academia

Kaya Akyuz, Banu Saatci

The aim of this study has been to study the views of the academicians in Turkey on the theory of evolution, creationism and teaching, by analyzing the effect of religious affiliation, religiosity, age, gender along with their academic background. 251 out of 2530 academic personnel in all of the departments of biological and educational sciences at Turkish universities responded to our online survey. The results show that there has been a sampling bias due to the fear of being blacklisted by the conservative government as the survey includes questions on religion and religiousness. We conclude that academics’ views on such a sensitive issue in the Turkish context cannot be analyzed quantitatively through an online survey, given the lack of trust in the authorities, especially considering the surveillance on the internet. As the survey has been unintentionally turned into an arena for staunch creationists and Darwinists, we have decided to do a qualitative analysis of the comments provided by the participants. Our analysis demonstrates that regardless of their views, many of the academicians consider the theory of evolution to be a matter of belief rather than acceptance. Furthermore, it is also found that due to the strong peer pressure and the increasing political Islamist presence of the Turkish government in academic setting, both the evolutionist academicians and students choose to remain silent about the existence of evolution in public. Low acceptance rate of the theory among public is paralleled by attitudes of academicians in Turkey: being trapped between religion and science.

Department of Science and Technology Studies
External organisation(s)
Boğaziçi University (BU)
Publication date
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
Social studies of science
Portal url