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Creation and Evolution in Schools
Lecture Series: Science and Faith in Judaism and Islam
In the United States, Israel, and some Muslim-majority countries, some religious schools do not teach evolutionary biology. This has encountered growing criticism, including from some Jewish and Muslim theologians and scholars. They complain that the lacking or inadequate coverage of evolutionary biology could instill a distrust of the sciences in religious people. Also, they say, this compromises children’s and teens’ scientific education. Many even consider such censorship in the curriculum to be neglecting the religious obligation to strive for knowledge.
But how can religious pupils be presented with both scientific and theological views of the world without the teacher either de-legitimizing or absolutizing religious perspectives? And how should teachers handle positions that consider these perspectives incompatible?
A discussion with Rachel S. A. Pear and Anila Asghar. Moderator: Dr. Kathrin Klausing (Institute for Islamic Theology, Osnabrück University).
Rachel S. A. Pear
Rachel S. A. Pear is a research associate at the Center for Jewish Education in the University of Haifa, where she researches education about evolutionary biology at Israeli schools. She wrote her dissertation on American Orthodox Judaism’s conflict with the theory of evolution.
Anila Ashgar is a Professor at the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University, Canada. She researches science education and has published about the treatment of evolutionary theory at schools in Muslim-majority countries.
About the Lecture Series
Scientific discoveries in astronomy, geology, and biology over the past centuries have called into question the centrality of humans as the “crown of creation.” Today, religious and scientific positions are often seen as irreconcilable. While some present religions as incompatible with a modern worldview, others demand that creationism be giving equal billing in school as an alternative to the theory of evolution. In the past, this conflicting relationship between religion and science was hardly the rule. Many theologists were also scientists and made significant contributions to our understanding of humanity and the surrounding world.
This lecture series sets out to explore the tensions and affinities between Judaism, Islam, and the sciences. It aims to supplement the narrative of conflict with other narratives. To that end, the lecture series delves into subjects such as evolution and creation, belief in miracles, biological determinism and free will, historicist critical analysis of sacred texts, and how Jewish and Muslim religious educators approach the sciences.