Quilliam co-founder appears to be an evolution denialist

February 13, 2016 • 12:30 pm

Stephen Knight, the Godless Spellchecker, has done another bit of sleuthing and found out, sadly, that Ed Husain, the co-founder of the anti-religious-extremism think tank Quilliam (the other founder was Maajid Nawaz) appears to be an evolution denialist—or at least a questioner.

Here’s the first tw**t from Husain,


It was followed by followed by some pushback by geneticist and science writer Adam Rutherford as well as journalist and t.v. presenter Nicky Campbell. Husain replies to the pushback with a definite indication that he doesn’t accept evolution (it’s other people’s “theory”, he notes but doesn’t seem to comport with “Husain’s own facts”).

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.38.06 AM

Husain then follows with a snarky remark about the evolution “cult”:

Husain doesn’t appear to be on staff at Qulliam any longer, so this is not on Maajid Nawaz’s watch. Still, according to Wikipedia, Husain is on several “moderate” faith organizations, and it doesn’t help his credibility if he denies one of the most well established facts of science.


Ed Husain (born 25 December 1974) is a writer, adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and senior advisor at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. Husain is the author of The Islamist, a book about political Islamism and an account of his five years as an Islamist activist. Husain cofounded, with Maajid Nawaz, the counter-extremism organization the Quilliam Foundation.

He has also worked for HSBC Private Bank and the British Council. In 2014, he was appointed to the Freedom of Religion or Belief Advisory Group of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He is also a member of the Independent Review Panel for the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF).

In a way I’m glad Husain is no longer affiliated with Quilliam, as the organization would then be tainted by his antievolution views. Still, when has it become acceptable for someone in England to publicly deny evolution?

Husain is still a Muslim, and the majority of Muslims deny evolution, so perhaps it’s his faith still speaking. But the less closely “moderate” Islam is associated with creationism, the more credibility it will have.

46 thoughts on “Quilliam co-founder appears to be an evolution denialist

  1. ” . . . senior advisor at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.”

    Just what, and how much, does he advise to warrant his being hired as an “adjunct senior advisor”? Does he have any pearls of advisory wisdom to offer regarding critical free inquiry of and evidence for any given claim? It is certainly all too human for humans to take umbrage at the proposition that humanity is not all that special.

    1. And I also wanted to ask what the warrant for such a foundation is. Just what does the president of such a foundation DO during an eight-hour work day? Pare his nails?

    2. ” . . . senior advisor at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.”

      Yes, I got that far and burst out swearing and laughing simultaneously.

      The Tony Blair Faith Foundation – some things are just *too* perfect!


  2. It still confounds me how prevalent creationism is in British society.

    Just the other day the new presenter of the biggest breakfast news show in Britain (BBC Breakfast)was announced and he is also a creationist!

    1. Sadly, Britons are unconvinced on evolution, at least according to a 10-year-old BBC poll:

      Over 2,000 participants took part in the survey, and were asked what best described their view of the origin and development of life:

      22% chose creationism
      17% opted for intelligent design
      48% selected evolution theory
      and the rest did not know.

      I hope it’s better now, but I’d guess creationism would still take more than 10%.


        1. That is surprisingly bad. The 22% and 17% just about go together making it 39%. So the 13% who seem not to know – if those are thrown in makes 52%. A majority in Briton who are not on the side of evolution.

          1. It is not valid – in fact it’s misleading – to count the ‘don’t knows’ as supporting the opposition. That’s why they’re ‘don’t know’ – because they don’t support either side.

            Also note the ‘origin’ mention in the original question – does evolution deal with origin of life? That may have prompted some ‘don’t knows’.


          2. “Well, it might have been evolution. Then again, it might have been Biblical wizardry. I don’t really know. Who does, right?”

          3. What is more to the point is that evolution, classically, *does not* deal with the origins of life.

            There is massive evidence for evolution as such. Origins of life – abiogenesis – is still subject to a lot of speculation. In that respect ‘Don’t know’ is a perfectly valid answer because we currently don’t. (So far as I understand it). Even when we do know, evolution as we know it may not be applicable.


          4. But Randy was saying “not for”, not “against”.

            Agreed, including “origin” in the question muddies things. Origin of species, yes; origin of life itself … moot. (Although evolution would necessarily work on non-living replicators, leading to life.)


          5. ‘But Randy was saying “not for”, not “against”.’

            Except he’s lumping them together to make 52%, which by implication puts them on the same side. That’s invalid.


          6. I submit that ‘not for’ is a phony category. As is any category that lumps ‘don’t knows’ in with a particular viewpoint.

            ‘A majority in Britain who are not on the side of evolution’. ‘majority’? ‘not on the side of’? That’s weasel words.

            I could turn it on its head and say 78% were not on the side of creationism and 83% were not on the side of ID. It would however be misleading.

            More realistically, if you exclude the don’t knows – which is the usual way of looking at these things – it’s 48 to 39 *for* evolution. A clear majority.


          7. Incorrect analogy. In a Parliament there’s pressure to vote one way or the other. In a survey there’s no such incentive.


          8. LibDems are analogous to don’t knows … 😁

            It doesn’t alter the fact that LESS THAN HALF of those surveyed are positively “for” evolution. Which is very disappointing for the UK. And that’s that.


      1. Why have you Brits not admitted this here before, instead allowing the US to look like the only Western bastion of creobots?

        And since we’re always told about how very few English are actually religious, where are they getting this creation nonsense from, eh? Eh?

        1. Maybe because a study from 2006 paints a somewhat different picture:


          “In the U.S., only 14 percent of adults thought that evolution was “definitely true,” while about a third firmly rejected the idea.

          In European countries, including Denmark, Sweden, and France, more than 80 percent of adults surveyed said they accepted the concept of evolution.

          The proportion of western European adults who believed the theory “absolutely false” ranged from 7 percent in Great Britain to 15 percent in the Netherlands.

          The only country included in the study where adults were more likely than Americans to reject evolution was Turkey. “

  3. “But the less closely “moderate” Islam is associated with creationism, the more credibility it will have.”

    Moderate in Islam is on a completely different scale from moderate Christianity. Moderate mostly means you don’t support terrorism. Which is obviously a very good thing. I honestly can’t think of a single Muslim who has said publically that they support evolution. Maybe I just don’t get out much.

    1. I have a former colleague that works in genetics, and has written journal articles about evolution (my field is heavily influenced by evolutionary theory). He is an observant Muslim, and a super cool person, too. I haven’t known many Muslims (that I know of), but he is one of the “good ones” as far as I’m concerned.

  4. Mr. Hussein astonishes me with his over-confidence and arrogance. He claims to possess the Truth in a field in which he lacks any specific training, let alone expertise. I hope that he hasn’t the same attitude to electric devices and networks, because it could cost his life.

    1. And he seems to lean on the misunderstanding of the word “theory” in the scientific sense. I can’t tell if this is because he honestly doesn’t know the difference or if he’s using a cheap rhetorical device.

  5. Do we really care what Ed Husain ‘facts’ about?
    We all know Darwin has been vindicated time and time again with evangelical atheism a figment of his squirming faith.
    When ‘ugly’ facts destroys your ‘beautiful’ faith, you can cry all over your tw**ts… and why not? because that’s all he’s got.

  6. “Still, when has it become acceptable for someone in England to publicly deny evolution?”

    Care to rephrase that, Prof CC?

    That wording implies that evolution is some sort of, umm, required belief.

    Britain doesn’t have a First Amendment but it does have a deeply ingrained belief in free speech. It should never be unacceptable to believe – or disbelieve – in some phenomenon.
    (Usual limits on incitement to violence excepted).


    1. Since we’re getting picky – there is a difference between public denial and whether or not you believe. I suspect the professor was just stating what many of us yanks might say when folks in Briton vocally speak out against evolution. Same surprise if a person in the states speaks out-loud about the second amendment.

      I think you were correct that the wording of the question was bad.

    2. No, I don’t care to reprhase that. What I meant, of course, is that somebody who publicly denies evolution should not go uncriticized. So I’ve tendered my criticism here.

      Do you understand what I was saying now? Not a denigration of free speech, but a voicing of opinions that shouldn’t be taken without dissent.

      1. Agree entirely about the dissent. Ed Husain is begging for an argument.

        Just that ‘acceptable’ reminded me of the current student hi-jinks and their attempts to dictate what could be talked about and what couldn’t. I think a better word is needed (though I can’t think of one offhand).


  7. What would make Husain think such things? Faith. Or does he know something that no one else knows? More likely the former.

    1. He thinks he knows something scientists don’t know (vs everyone else in general). Damn know-it-all scientists with their fancy methods and their smarty pants hypotheses!

        1. Hahaha that was great! I have so many smart ass things like this to share. Pity I can’t draw. Words aren’t as impactful.

  8. “Husain is still a Muslim, and the majority of Muslims deny evolution, so perhaps it’s his faith still speaking. But the less closely “moderate” Islam is associated with creationism, the more credibility it will have”.

    I am sure it is his faith still speaking. As to the credibility of moderate Islam I am not sure how much difference belief in creationism makes to that. If acceptance of evolutionary biology is incorporated it just becomes ‘sophisticated theology’ surely (unless it goes all the way and does away with god altogether)?
    The moderateness of moderate Islam is surely not so much about the depth of belief in miraculous explanations for life, the universe and everything but rather about a willingness to accept that other people may not believe the same things and that that is not a reason to wage holy war on them.

  9. If all people would take scientific theories seriously we would all be atheists. In that sense Ed Husain is for me more coherent than Maajid Nawaz’s spiritual Islam. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t criticize bad ideas. The moment religion or other ideologies challenge scientific theories they are not totally harmless anymore.

Leave a Reply to Diana MacPherson Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *