Islamic Creationism in Europe: Biological Evolution in the Service of the 'Clash of Civilizations’ Narrative

A lecture by ICE Fellow Salman Hameed

Wilder 104
During the election campaign, Donald Trump often made statements about Muslims in the U.S. This type of rhetoric has been used quite frequently by some of the far-right groups in Europe. Therefore, there is an urgent need to understand the dynamic of cultural interactions that define Muslim minorities in Europe, and the way these interactions are used in domestic and international politics. Gender-related issues and radicalization of Muslims are two topics that frequent the headlines. But now science is also becoming one of the contested issues. 

For example, a rejection of biological evolution is increasingly being used by the media and the far-right groups in Europe to paint Muslim minorities as outsiders that threaten the European education system. Furthermore, Muslims are often treated in a unitary manner with an assumption that evolution rejection is their default religious position. Conversely, many Muslims in Europe are embracing this rejection of evolution as an identity marker for being a Muslim. While religious objections to evolution are indeed at play in some cases, our understanding for the rise of Islamic creationism should also take into account socio-economic disparities and their impact on education for Muslim minorities in Europe. A nuanced understanding of this dynamic may benefit those who support both the propagation of good science and favor cultural pluralism, and may also provide an insight into more politically charged subjects, such as debates over free speech and women’s religious attire in Europe. Furthermore, a look at these issues in Europe also may cast evolution battles in the U.S. in a different light.