British Muslim Perceptions of Biological Evolution

British Muslims are portrayed as rejecting biological evolution in sensationalist newspaper headlines and certain unsubstantiated academic literature reporting a rise in ‘Islamic creationism’. This narrative stems from the ‘conflict thesis’ which pits religion against science and portrays Islam in particular as anti-rationalist. According to the statement by Richard Dawkins, “Most devout Muslims are creationists so when you go to schools, there is a large number of children of Islamic parents trot out what they have been thought.” Yet, little academic research had been conducted to support such claims.

Dr. Glen Moran draws upon newly available data to critically examine the claim that most Muslims are creationist and that this is a result of religious ideology. According to his findings, the assumption that there is mass Muslim rejection of biological evolution is unsubstantiated. Surveys of British Muslims show that Muslims are not a monolithic group with a fixed outlook towards evolution. Rather, the results show that British Muslims vary in their perceptions of evolution with many expressing uncertainty. Furthermore, from the answers given by participants does not support the narrative that their views are shaped by religious indoctrination. There are a whole host of reasons why some Muslims reject biological evolution, including the fact that some people just do not like the idea that humans evolved from monkeys.

Dr Glen Moran, who formerly studied at AMI, is a research fellow at the University of Birmingham in the Department of Theology and Religion.  He is a sociologist of religion and belief in general. His doctoral research explored British Muslim perceptions of biological evolution. He is a Research Fellow on the ‘Investigating the Non-Religious Mainstream: A Challenge to Narratives of Science and Secularization?’ project


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