Muslim students boycott evolution lectures in London

December 2, 2011 • 12:26 pm

According to The Daily Mail, Muslim students training to be doctors at University College London—an excellent school—are boycotting the lectures on evolution because those lectures contravene the dictates of Islam.

Muslim opponents to Darwinism state that God created the world, mankind and all known species in a single act of creation, rather than the evolutionary process of gradual change through random mutations and natural selection.

Professors at University College London have expressed concern over the increasing number of biology students boycotting lectures on Darwinist theory, which form an important part of the syllabus, citing their religion.

Similar to the beliefs expressed by fundamentalist Christians, Muslim opponents to Darwinism maintain that Allah created the world, mankind and all known species in a single act.

Steve Jones emeritus professor of human genetics at university college London has questioned why such students would want to study biology at all when it obviously conflicts with their beliefs.

 He told the Sunday Times: ‘I had one or two slightly frisky discussions years ago with kids who belonged to fundamentalist Christian churches, now it is Islamic overwhelmingly.’They don’t come [to lectures] or they complain about it or they send notes or emails saying they shouldn’t have to learn this stuff.”What they object to – and I don’t really understand it, I am not religious – they object to the idea that there is a random process out there which is not directed by God.’

I suspect that many of those Muslims would be considered religious “moderates.”  Religion, even in its less extreme forms, poisons everything.

74 thoughts on “Muslim students boycott evolution lectures in London

  1. To be fair, it’s the Daily Mail. I’d prefer to have some outside sourcing and actual numbers on the amount of students walking out before taking them seriously.

    1. Sorry to break your heart but the daily mail does seem to do a good job of reporting stuff the bbc/guardian nexus prefers to ignore.

      have a gander at richard dawkins website

    1. One would hope so. However, since these students are medics, their degree presumably consists of little but anatomy and physiology, so it’s entirely possible that they’d be able to get graduate even with very low (or no) marks on the explicitly Darwinian parts of the course. The slightly irksome consequence is that they’d be able to sit through all those lectures on beautifully adaptive systems while smugly thinking ‘Watchmaker’ at the back of their minds. The very irksome, even disturbing, consequence is that we’d get creationist doctors.

      There may not be a problem if these students need to show an understanding of evolution in order to graduate (but, as I say, that may not be the case). Ditto, if this is just the Daily Mail having a lurid fantasy (to put things in context, they still haven’t admitted that the MMR scare was the work of an evil charlatan, although I believe they’ve now changed their position on Nazi Germany). If not, however, it’s not clear what can be done.

      1. since these students are medics, their degree presumably consists of little but anatomy and physiology, so it’s entirely possible that they’d be able to get graduate even with very low (or no) marks on the explicitly Darwinian parts of the course

        Right, so either we demand that all doctors actually understand evolution by making it a larger portion of their coursework, or we just accept that there are some courses that med students can fail and still be physicians. I don’t see why this is necessarily a special case — it is presumably the school that has set things up so that one can essentially skip evolution and still graduate.

        (It’s like the old joke: What do you call someone who graduates last in their med school class? “Doctor”.)

        1. And I’ll note for the record that there are thousands of doctors currently licensed in the US who were trained through the Loma Linda University School of Medicine. It is run by the Seventh Day Adventists, who do not believe in evolution and do not teach it at their medical school.

          My otolaryngologist is a graduate. He has nice soft hands when pulling compacted wax out of my ears. He’s really good at that. I doubt his lack of education into evolutionary theory holds him back professionally.

      2. This is not an evolution-specific problem, its an educational system problem. Any subject/class needs to test the material it deems important.

        If med schools are doing that, then as everyone else has said, the problem will fix itself with F grades.

        If, OTOH, a med school professor doesn’t think that material is valuable enough to make up a significant part of the grade, the students should not be punished “extra” just because we disagree with the professor. That issue you have to take up with the professor and the school, not the students.

    2. It’s pretty wasteful at this point — med school! — to flunk them on a failure to learn basic science, but I sure hope they don’t exempt them from such a basic requirement.

  2. ”What they object to – and I don’t really understand it, I am not religious – they object to the idea that there is a random process out there which is not directed by God.’

    Oh, that’s easy to solve. After every statement of fact mentally add in the phrase “by the glory of God.”

    Evolution is a process of gradual change through random mutations and natural selection — by the glory of God. University College London is in London — by the glory of God. Two and two make four — by the glory of God. I had a sandwich for lunch — by the glory of God.

    It either gives God a lot to do, or nothing to do, depending on your perspective.

    1. University College London is in London — by the glory of God.

      Somewhat tangentially to topic, UCL (where I did my PhD) was the third university in England, and was deliberately created to be secular, admitting students without the religious test that Oxford and Cambridge required (people may know that Percy Shelly had been expelled from Oxford for writing “The necessity of atheism”).

    2. Sastra, I think they actually did that in Pakistan in the 1970s/80s. “Two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen approach each other and by the will of Allah combine.”

  3. The phrase “According to the Daily Mail…” is logically equivalent to “The following is probably complete bollocks, but…”.

    1. I sympathise with the scepticism but Steve Jones is, as far as I’m aware, a liberal guy. He might have been misquoted but I haven’t heard of protestations.

  4. Escort these bigoted, idiotic, ignorant fuckers to the door of the institution and kick their arses out with instructions never to return, as they have no call to be in a place of education and learning.

  5. I would give them all a well-deserved FAIL. We do not need physicians who choose what to believe according to their whims or worse still superstition. If they cannot understand how science works they will not understand modern medicine and should not be given an opportunity for malpractice.

  6. This story is plausible, but the source is the Daily Mail, so I’m going to assume it’s false until demonstrated otherwise.

    I would do the same thing if the Daily Mail reported that the sun had risen this morning.

    1. Yes, the story has been posted dozens of times, but they all seem to refer back to the Daily Mail source. It’s not reliable.

  7. I suspect that moderate Islam equates to US Xian fundamentalism (if my prolonged conversations with a “moderate” muslim who claimed all life was created on earth in it’s current form.

  8. The Dail Mail story (which, incidently, I sent to Jerry on Monday… ;-)) seems to be rewriting a story from elsewhere: “ He told the Sunday Times:…”

    This story can also be found in The Australian (another Dear-Mr.-Murdoch paper): “UK: Muslim students boycott lectures on evolution

    It provides more details of the response from Muslims4UK:

    Inayat Bunglawala, founder of Muslims4UK and formerly a senior figure at the Muslim Council of Britain, … said: “[Adnan Oktar, a Turkish author who writes under the name Harun Yahya] has glossy books and videos, which are heavily promoted by Islamic bookshops and on Islamic TV channels where they are aired many hours a day.”

    He added: “It is unfortunate that some Muslim students, when it comes to the opportunity to learn about evolution, boycott them [sic] without even listening or walk out of classes. This goes against the express words of the Koran which are to read, open your mind and use your critical faculties.

    “Many Christian thinkers have … learnt to interpret the Bible in a way which does not in any way negate the teaching of science … it is important Muslim thinkers perform the same service.”


    1. “Many Christian thinkers have … learnt to interpret the Bible in a way which does not in any way negate the teaching of science … it is important Muslim thinkers perform the same service.”

      Translated: “Christians learned how to contort the reading of their Bronze Age book so as not to look like total anti-modernist morons — we Muslims should learn to distort our book in the same way!”

  9. Given that it is the Daily Mail, it is likely to be complete bollocks. However, Richard Dawkins has said that when he spoke to Steve Jones, Steve confirmed that it was indeed true.


    1. I heard Prof. Jones interviewed on BBC Radio 4 about it this week. It’s definitely true. The good Prof. has been saying the same thing in public since at least 2008 or 2007, when he spoke at the Hay Literature Festival, broadcasting exactly the same point. The difference is that now the papers are prepared to publish.

  10. I’m in my first semester of pharmacy school, and in the first week of anatomy lecture, naturally, discussions of evolution will creep in from time to time. The first such instance, the professor (a man named Hussain none the less) noticed that one of the students was vigorously shaking his head. The professor asked what was wrong. “It’s not true,” the student said. “Wait, you don’t think evolutionary theory holds any merit?” “No.” And in the snidest voice I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear, the professor said “Well, I guess that’s something you’re just going to have to figure out on your own.” Not mocking enough in my opinion, but wonderful anyway, and certainly not entirely unprofessional.

  11. What concerns me most about Christian and Muslim creationists is, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
    Ignorant follows of both might, in time, team up to beat science back down into the Dark Ages, though hopefully, if that happens, we will be strong enough to stop them.
    I often think,those who refuse to accept science should be prevented from accessing and using the results of science. Take away their pharmaceuticals, everything electronic, and include vehicles with electronic parts. Then, see where their gods take them.

    1. I often think,those who refuse to accept science should be prevented from accessing and using the results of science.

      Unfortunately, some Christian fundamentalist parents do just that when it comes to medical care for their children. The kids sometimes die as a result.

      1. Too true. That’s why the parents, only, should be subjected to their own limitations, and the children should be protected from such parents. Child Protective Services should be able to step in, when parents’ refusal to behave rationally.

  12. Evolution in a medical course would be treated very early on. I studied medicine in the ’70s, starting in 1973. First year units included zoology and human biology, both of which had components of evolution, adaptation and natural selection.

    It was the first time that I did biology. Human biology included the the then purported human ancestor Austropithecus africanus, with its cousin robustus (A afarensis had only just been found).

    I imagine the units could have been passed without understanding evolution. However, I was in the last year with a quota for admission into 2nd year. There were 190 1st year places and 90 2nd year places, so it was very cutthroat in the first year. Three ‘A’s and a pass in the optional 4 th unit (usually medical physics, which no one took much notice of, because the lecturer was a complete idiot) was the minimum for a reasonably safe passage to 2nd year, so if anyone wanted to boycott the evolution components, and there were literalist bible believers in my year, it was considerably ill advised.

    After 1st year, evolution lost its importance completely.

  13. Academic integrity. Any person who objects to science in medicine can go to one of the Islamic medical schools in the Middle East. And their degrees from there should be considered as worthless in other countries. UCL should take a stand. The students should stand by their principles and sign a statement to the effect that they do not accept evo–and therefore, biology as taught in any serious university. Then UCL should expel them. Seriously, if a person has that absolute lack of intellectual integrity (and laziness, how nice to have a fail-biology-class-free card, eh?) what kind of doctor will they be? I wouldn’t want such a person treating me, any member of my family, or any person I care about. It is a slippery slope, too; what else in the demanding educational process will they object to and lie about for “religious reasons”? Will they demand that bleeding, a treatment the Prophet (alhamdullilah) recommends, be brought back? I know someone (Turkish) who had the back of his head bled because his hair was thinning. His hair is still thinning, but he assured me it stopped as a result. The reason was that it removed the “stagnant” blood. So, if they stand by their “principles” at the next intersection, they’ll be screaming that blood stagnation must be respected.

    Honey has magical heallng powers, too, alhamdullilah. That should be in the curriculum, and any anti-honeyist propoganda should be taught. Blasphemous biochemistry! Biochemistry is haram!


    This has to stop. They don’t like the program? There are other schools in the world. What those religio-quacks want is the authority and cache (and cash) that a UCL medical degree will get them, but they don’t want a UCL education. So kick them out. UCL should stand by real principles. That is that. That’s the UCL program. Take it or leave it.

    These people feel entitled to a degree, while feeling entitled to shirk the requirements for the degree. There’s no gray zone. That’s what it is.

    Then again, maybe they are on to something. I was an English major. I want an M.D. Give it to me, UCL! My religion says that a medical degree should be based on a reading of High Modernist novels and poetry. And anatomy, physiology, biology, and biochemistry are all against my religion. Give me an M.D. Then I’ll demand a physics degree from Cambridge. Math is also against my religion, but I am entitled to it. My religion says so. Hey, cool, there’s no end to this! Now, what degree should I demand from Oxford? Hmmm….

    1. Urk. Anti-honeyist propoganda should not be taught. [sheepishly wishes there were a preview option and slinks away…]

  14. lol. hey when the director of the NIH reworked the story of adam and eve just so it fits his beliefs this boycott shouldn’t be that surprising.

    it’s all really just very strange.

    critical thinking just goes out the window.

    does this mean that these future doctors are simply just trained automatons? by that i mean, sure you can train them to do different techniques, diagnose this and that, stitch here and there, but they likely have no idea what it actually means.

    1. And there you have it: the difference between a technician and a technologist. Sadly, doctors are supposed to be the technologists while nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants are supposed to be technicians, but as docs get dumbed down, they’re more easily replaced with the cheaper “health care providers.”

      There’s no aspect of this which isn’t worrisome.

      1. I meant, replaced with cheaper labor, in the form of NPs and PAs — but you were all intelligent enough to figure that out, I’m sure.

  15. I forsee the problem getting bigger, as the denialists graduate (with maybe a fail in one subject) they get to call themselves “Doctor” as in “Evolution is not true. Trust me, I’m a Doctor.”


  16. This is what accommodations for religion leads to. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Hold on for a bumpy ride.

  17. Quite a few of my muslim colleagues (I’m an emergency physician) are evolution deniers. It doesn’t prevent you from being a capable doctor, but it does make you look like a total asshat.

    1. “Quite a few of my muslim colleagues (I’m an emergency physician) are evolution deniers. It doesn’t prevent you from being a capable doctor . . .”

      Doesn’t it? I, for one, would not wish to consult a doctor who had demonstrated himself incapable of logical thought and of assessing evidence. Isn’t an ability to assess evidence and think logically pretty important in diagnosis? And I wouldn’t want a doctor who was in the habit of wilfully and deliberately refusing to listen to evidence for fear of having his prior convictions overturned. And I wouldn’t want a doctor who was just plain stupid.

  18. I had been a Muslim. And through hundreds of hours of studying and analyzing the Koran juxtaposed by science, I came to this conclusion: Islam is just a very large bullshit. I do believe that the Muslims, unlike the Christian orthodox, will never come to terms with real science. It’s because they take everything Mohammad wrote in his Koran (Mohammad foolishly and unscientifically believing that it came from Allah/God) literally, which they believe is immutable and irrefutable.

    I just challenge those fucken Muslim students to refute what they are boycotting. Why do you boycott, if you can refute it? How will these ‘educated’ morons ever research into many diseases that clearly show evolutionary behavior?

    1. Indeed. Boycotting only suggests a fear of exposure to actual facts. If they’re so sure of the Islamic interpretation of creation, why aren’t they showing up in class and supporting it with good arguments?

      Fortunately only a handful of doctors are actually researchers. The majority get by fine by just being well-trained information-regurgitators.

  19. Also, from my personal experience, I have noticed that every Muslim ridiculously believes that the Koran is the source of all knowledge – be it sports or medical. I say: why do then they go to UCL, and study books written by the ‘infidels’? All they should do is study the dark age Koran and ‘get’ everything they want.

    1. I had a Muslim try giving me the “all knowledge comes from the Koran” song and dance one time, so I asked him what part had the answer to the Goldbach Conjecture.

      The totally blank lights are on but nobody’s home look on his face was worth the previous five minutes of bullshit.

  20. I wonder what parts of the Hippocratic oath these Muslim doctors will decide to boycott, based on their religious precepts, when they graduate and set up their own practices. All the while, having their diplomas from University College London prominently displayed.

    Birth control? Abortion? What does the Koran have to say about female genitalia? About whether a female should be seen or touched when she is “unclean”? What of medical procedures to be withheld because they would ameliorate sin against Sharia? What if a female patient wanted or needed a procedure but her husband vetoed the decision based on Muslim law or custom?

    The issue here is not evolution per se, it is whether these students are determined to adulterate the proper practice of medicine in sway to the precepts of their religious beliefs. The University College London needs to assess the willingness of these students to conform to the highest standards of medical ethics.

  21. Is there anything lunatic than this? Assholes . I object the selection of doing MBBS from these students. In our world doctor is god! Not god is doctor.

  22. I’m a lecturer in a biology department in another part of The University of London* and we have probably got a lot more muslim students than UCL.I have rarely encountered this sort of thinking on the part of our muslim students and I have never had muslim students refuse to attend classes with an evolutionary content, nor have I heard of such a thing from my colleagues. I would very much like to know how many students we’re talking about here: given the Daily Mail’s strong anti-muslim agenda I wouldn’t be surprised if it were only a very few.

    *UCL is part of the University of London even though they pretend they aren’t…

  23. Flunk them. Those students take up space other students could fill. They will not be able to practice medicine without endangering their patients. The decision is theirs. Some day, they will regret it. Alternative, complimentary, and integrative medicine is also dangerous.Not believing in the germ theory and the evolution of bacteria and viruses is downright dangerous.

  24. And why shouldn’t they? The prophet Mohammad (peas be upon him) brought the truth with the Koran and he (peas be upon him) never mentioned evolution. I would also support that male gynecology students be exempt from actually touching or looking at a vagina that belongs to a woman that they could potentially marry, as dictated by the prophet (peas be upon him).

    1. The so-called prophet Mo, didn’t talk about Evolution probably because he was an illiterate. And why on Earth do you wish “peas” to fall upon him? Why would anyone believe and follow the words of an illiterate? Your explanation makes no sense and your blind idolatry is pathetic.

      1. Mary – either you are missing something or doubling down or I don’t understand – which is of course possible. I believe that the enigmatic madam has her tongue firmly in her cheek. Peas = Peace, as in hoping for whorled peas. And the vagina speaks for itself.

      2. I thought the “peas be upon him” was just for the lulz, like “Okay, kids, use the bathroom now or forever hold your peas”, which my childhood friend’s dad use to say. It made the kids giggle.

  25. Evidenced-based thinking and wide spread access to facts/data/studies and “science” is really only a few years old via the web.

    It is silly, and deeply conceited, for those of us who love data and “science” to expect anyone to overthrow their central ideologies and beliefs for ideas that really only we understand.

    Mainly people just have no idea what data, facts and predictions exist. Think of medicine.

    In addition “science” is accelerating in complexity, specificity and speed. Wow!

    We all do get a bit defensive and self-righteous. We’ll bet that even someone like Haught(y) just doesn’t know much about evo theory. And why should he.

  26. The Moslem medical students didn’t have to walk out. They did that deliberately to make a statement.

    Which they did but not the one they thought they did. It is that they are ignorant and terrified of modern knowledge.

    They could have done what most creationists do, just sit there and keep saying goddidit mentally every once in a while.

    Some of the fundie xian private schools here in the USA do teach enough evolution to pass the SAT and similar exams. They saturate the kids with creationism. Then, at the very end right before the test, they have cram sessions with probable evolution questions and what the answers should be.

    I’ve also heard that some of the walkout students go to the library and learn enough evolution to pass any exam questions.

  27. For handling Muslim med-students’ objections to evolution, 
    there’s an easy “Modest Proposal”  solution, in two parts:

          First Part — 
    Give those med-students/pharmacists what they say they want:
    Allah-approvable, severely-edited radical/pharmacy schooling, 
    In a specially shortened course designed just for them. 
          THEN comes the Second Part — 
    Have these graduates’ diplomas bear a special
    wording/seal prominently identifying them as “Practitioners of
    Qur’anic Medicine/Qur’anic Pharmacology” … *and* they will be
    legally barred from dealing with any patient who is below the age of 
    legal adulthood, and likewise they will also be legally barred from
    dealing with any adult patient who hasn’t signed every page
    of some immense sheaf of paperwork that itemizes, in detail, all the
    treatments/services/interventions that the patient is legally
    forfeiting any right/permission to ever have … 
    such paperwork to be re-signed anew, in full and preferably
    in public [in the waiting room or drugstore], at the start of
    each visit.

    Then institute a similar “service” for Christian Fundies:
    since they, too, don’t believe in evolution, “invite” them all
    to legally forfeit all use of any medical treatments whose 
    inspiration/research/development has had, at any stage,, 
    anything whatsoever to do with evolutionary biology.
           Restrict them, in other words, to visiting no doctors but 
    “Practitioners of Anti-Evolutionary Medicine: 
    practice limited to Fundamentalists” with training limited accordingly …

    after all, if someone so bitterly disapproves of certain scientific
    developments, s/he should not be benefiting from them …

    Note that this scheme will increase Darwinian selection against the complainers:
    if Doc Complainer’s religion forbids him to learn about the evolutionary reason to 
    learn/administer/dispense Treatment XYZ for Disorder PDQ, 
    then Doc Complainer can usefully help evolution along by using his/her zeal to
    impede the health of others who think (or “think”) the same way.

  28. So imagine you are the administrator of this training med school and had to make a decision about graduating these students.

    They have demonstrated that they are willing to act on their personal magical beliefs to the exclusion of the best science.

    Say you graduated them and they hurt a patient acting in allegiance to their magical/religious beliefs instead of the best science.

    Then the patient’s attorney sues the medical school for graduating a student who had prior demonstrated the inability to separate science and medicine from their personal magical beliefs and behaviors.

    You clearly knew the student aggressively denied and fought the best medical and scientific knowledge during their education.

    If their belief system was pagan or Nazi, they would be summarily treated accordingly, but because they claim established/socially acceptable religious adherence — they are accommodated and the minimal science and professional standards are breached. dum

    1. It would appear that acceptability of Islam is due to nothing less than the shear number of its adherents, perpetuating the system of “might is right.”

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