Skip navigation.
The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/03/11

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A busy week, with a new "intelligent design" bill in Texas, threats
against a British imam over his acceptance of evolution, a new
antievolution bill in Florida, a discussion of "Evolution Abroad" in
Scientific American, and the apparent death of the second
antievolution bill in Oklahoma.


"Disingenuous efforts by creationists to portray themselves as
persecuted in mainstream academia for their anti-evolution beliefs are
getting a boost from a Texas lawmaker," reported the Texas Freedom
Network in a March 9, 2011, post on its blog. House Bill 2454,
introduced in the Texas House of Representatives on March 8, 2011,
would, if enacted, provide, "An institution of higher education may
not discriminate against or penalize in any manner, especially with
regard to employment or academic support, a faculty member or student
based on the faculty member's or student's conduct of research
relating to the theory of intelligent design or other alternate
theories of the origination and development of organisms." The sole
sponsor of HB 2454 is Bill Zedler (R-District 96).

Describing the bill as following "the strategy by
creationist/'intelligent design' proponents to portray themselves as
martyrs," TFN noted that the strategy was exemplified by the
creationist propaganda film Expelled, fronted by Ben Stein, which NCSE
extensively debunked at Expelled Exposed. TFN concluded, "Institutions
of higher education should -- and do -- protect academic freedom. Rep.
Zedler's bill would instead require our colleges and universities to
aid and protect academic fraud. But with the State Board of Education
promoting anti-science propaganda in public schools, we shouldn't be
surprised that higher education is increasingly a target as well."

For TFN's blog post, visit: 

For the text of Texas's House Bill 2454, visit: 

For Expelled Exposed, visit: 


A prominent British imam was reportedly threatened "for expressing his
views on evolution and women's right to refuse the veil," according to
the Guardian (March 6, 2011). On January 22, 2011, Usama Hasan was
speaking on "Islam and Evolution" at Masjid al-Tawhid, a mosque in
London, when his talk was disrupted by a group of protesters "handing
out leaflets against him and shouting in the mosque for his
execution." Hasan told the Independent (March 5, 2011) that one
protester told him, "You are an apostate and should be killed." Police
have urged him not to return to the mosque.

There are conflicting reports about the mosque's reaction; while the
secretary of the mosque claimed that Hasan was suspended from his
position as vice chairman on account of his views, the chairman of the
mosque (who is Hasan's father) claimed that there was not a quorum of
trustees present for the vote. Hasan told the Guardian, "I've been a
Londoner all my life and I grew up in that mosque," adding, "I'm very
passionate about living our lives in a modern way but, as far as they
[my opponents] are concerned, that makes me an extremist. I'm going to
have to live with extra cautions for the rest of my life."

In a column in the Guardian (September 11, 2008), Hasan, who holds a
PhD in electrical engineering and is a lecturer at Middlesex
University, argued that there was no necessary conflict between Islam
and evolution, writing, "Many believers in God have no problem with an
obvious solution: that God created man via evolution. ... There are
plenty of Muslim biologists who have no doubt about the essential
correctness of evolutionary theory." In recent statements on his blog,
however, he insisted on the special creation of Adam as revealed in
the Qur’an and apologized for any "inflammatory" remarks of his on

The Independent emphasized, "Like Christianity, Islamic opinion is
divided over evolution," commenting that "a small number of orthodox
scholars, mainly from Saudi Arabia -- where many clerics still preach
that the Sun revolves around the Earth -- have ruled against
evolution, declaring that belief in the concept goes against the
Koran's statement that Adam and Eve were the first humans"; the
Guardian also noted that Harun Yahya, the pseudonymous leader of a
prolific creationist organization headquartered in Turkey, was about
to begin a speaking tour in the United Kingdom.

For the articles in the Guardian and the Independent, visit: 

For Hasan's column in the Guardian, visit: 

For the posts on Hasan's blog, visit: 


Senate Bill 1854, introduced in the Florida Senate on March 5, 2011,
would, if enacted, amend a section of Florida law to require "[a]
thorough presentation and critical analysis of the scientific theory
of evolution" in the state's public schools. The bill is sponsored by
Stephen R. Wise (R-District 5), who in February 2009 introduced SB
2396, which would have amended the same section of Florida law in the
same way. Before Wise introduced SB 2396, he announced his intention
to introduce a bill requiring "intelligent design" to be taught in
Florida's public schools. "If you're going to teach evolution, then
you have to teach the other side so you can have critical thinking,"
he told the Jacksonville Times-Union (February 8, 2009). Wise
acknowledged that his bill was likely to invite a legal challenge, but
contended, "Someplace along the line you've got to be able to make a
value judgment of what it is you think is the appropriate thing."
Evidently he changed his mind about how to accomplish his goal, since
"intelligent design" was not mentioned in the bill. SB 2396 was
denounced as "an insult to citizens who are tired of stomping over the
same ground over and over again" by Florida Citizens for Science and
described as "a deliberate attempt to undermine the adopted science
standards" by the Florida Academy of Sciences. On May 1, 2009, the
bill died in committee when the legislature adjourned. SB 1854 is the
eighth antievolution bill introduced in a state legislature in 2011.

For the text of Florida's Senate Bill 1854, visit: 

For the article in the Jacksonville Times-Union, visit: 

For the opposition to SB 2396 from Florida Citizens for Science and
the Florida Academy of Sciences (PDF), visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Florida, visit: 


Scientific American continued its exploration of the controversies
surrounding the teaching of evolution by turning its gaze abroad.
"Many countries have only recently started taking a systematic look at
how the topic of evolutionary theory and biology is addressed in
classrooms," Katherine Harmon wrote. "Early research suggests that not
only does anti-evolution instruction make its way into science classes
worldwide -- from the European Union to Southeast Asia -- but in many
regions, it also seems to be on the rise."

Discussing the situation in the United Kingdom was James Williams of
the University of Sussex, who lamented the isolation of evolution in
the curriculum and the underpreparation of teachers, whose
"understanding of evolution is very, very poor," he said. In addition,
creationists have pushed for the inclusion of "alternatives" to
evolution in the national curriculum and of creationist literature in
school libraries. Williams speculated that the presence of religion
education classes may have helped to deflect creationists from
assailing the science classrooms.

Discussing the situation in the European Union, Dittmar Graf of
Technical University Dortmund observed that the Council of Europe's
firm rejection of creationism in 2007 was not binding, so when
creationism appears in the classroom, "Legal processes are not an
option in most European countries because we don't have something like
your First Amendment." Like Williams, Graf recommended starting
evolution education earlier; he also emphasized the linkages between
acceptance of evolution and acceptance of science in general.

And discussing the situation in the Islamic world were Jason Wiles of
Syracuse University and Salman Hameed of Hampshire College. Owing to
the efforts of Islamic creationists, Islam is sometimes regarded as
monolithically opposed to evolution -- but, Wiles commented, "The
diversity that you find in Muslim thought around evolution is just as
broad as you would expect to find in the West." Evolution is widely
taught in the Islamic world, but within a religious context. Hameed
concluded, "Thought regarding evolution is developing right now ...
It's unclear as to which way it's going to go."

For "Evolution Abroad," visit: 

For Scientific American's collection on "New Challenges for Evolution
Education," visit: 


Senate Bill 554, a hybrid of the "academic freedom" antievolution
strategy and the flawed Texas state science standards, appears to have
died in committee on February 28, 2011, when a deadline for senate
bills to be reported from committee passed. SB 554 was introduced by
Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), who described it in the Durant Daily
Democrat (December 24, 2010) as "requiring every publically funded
Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution." The
antievolution bill in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, House
Bill 1551, was previously rejected by the House Common Education
Committee on February 22, 2011. Leading the opposition to both
antievolution bills was the grassroots organization Oklahomans for
Excellence in Science Education.

For Brecheen's column in the Durant Daily Democrat, visit: 

For Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in Oklahoma, visit: 

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution education and threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

Subscribe to NCSE's free weekly e-newsletter: 

NCSE is on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter: 

NCSE's work is supported by its members. Join today!