Public acceptance of evolution on a university campus in Turkey

Public acceptance of evolution on a university campus in Turkey

Mahmut TOLON1, Serdar KURT2, and Gül GÜNER1

Published in

Int History Philos Sci Teach Group Newsl, November, 2008 in Australia,  I couldn\’t find it online, so a republishing  it  in my blog. 

Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, Turkey

1 Health Science Institute

2 School of Science and Art


The concept of evolution has enabled us to understand all life forms and has been the basic concept which is essential in understanding modern natural sciences. Miller, et al. (1)showed the public acceptance of evolution throughout 32 countries in 2005. Turkey is the only country among those examined by Miller, et al, with a predominant Islamic population. Miller has mentioned the resistance of biblical literarists to evolution. Islam is not as rigid in interpreting evolution as biblical literarists. Biruni, as an islamic scientist who has also been called the first antropologist, has been one of the first scientists to have a premonition of the concept of evolution(2).

In this survey we aimed to examine the public acceptance of evolution at our university, one of the larger western Turkish universites.

The statement in the survey was; “Human beings developed from earlier species of animals”; the choices were: “true”, “false” ,”not sure – don’t know”.

A total of 1131 individuals responded to our questionnaire 58% female): 868 students, 74 faculty members and 82 administrative staff, 99 visitors. The results are summarized in the Table.


Table. Acceptance of Evolution in a Turkish University (2008)


Population           True %                 False %           Not Sure%                 Lost value%

Overall 25.3 53.7 20.4 0.6
Female 26.2 50.3 23.2 0.3
Male 23.5 58.6 16.8 1.1
Students 20.5 56.5 22.3 0.7
Faculty 59.5 28.7 9.5 1.4
Admin.Staff 16.4 71.2 12.3 0.1



These results are similar to the findings of Miller et al. and are also self explanatory. But as Miller et al. give no further data about the educational level of the participants of their survey, our results show further insight. The awareness of evolution is higher among females and among the faculty members. This data already shows that extensive studies are necessary to measure the awareness and these results need to be followed up and different socio-economic groups should be examined.


Poitical influence of public awareness of scientific knowledge is evident in USA (1) as well as in Turkey. In congruence with Edis(3)we feel that sociocultural pressure is obvious and further courageous and diligent efforts of such studies and informative lectures about evolution are necessary to improve the awareness at the level before reaching university-level education. In addition, we think that evolution needs to be taught, both at high school and university level, using the scientific methodology, involving, relevant experiments allowing to make the final deductions. Today at the most, a timid approach to teaching evolution is present at schools, this topic being unwanted in many an eastern Turkish university.



  1. J.D.Miller,E.C.Scott,S.Okamoto Public Acceptence of Evolution Science 11.Aug.2006 Vol 313-315
  2. Akbar S. Ahmed (1984). \”Al-Biruni: The First Anthropologist\”, RAIN 60, p. 9-10.
  3. Edis Taner Islamic Creationism, History of Science Society Newsletter,Jan 2008 p 14-16

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