Saudi cleric to king’s university: don’t teach evolution, mix sexes

October 1, 2009

kaustA senior Saudi cleric said religious scholars should vet the curriculum at the kingdom’s only co-educational university, meant to be a beacon of science, to prevent “alien ideologies” such as evolution.

(Photo: King Abdulla at KAUST opening, 23 Sept 2009/Susan Baaghil)

King Abdullah’s University of Science and Technology (KAUST), designed to produce Saudi scientists, is the only educational institution in the kingdom where men and women can mix. It is located near a Red Sea village away from the clutches of religious police and opened on September 23.

“The recommendation is to set up sharia committees at this university to oversee these studies and look into what violates the sharia (Islamic law),” Sheikh Saad al-Shithri, a member of a panel of top scholars, was quoted by al-Watan newspaper.

“We are looking at some of the sciences that have included some irregular and alien ideologies, like evolution and such other ideologies,” said Shithri, who is one of several clerics who objected to co-education at the university.

Read the whole story here.

What do you think about this? Can a new university for science and technology not teach evolution?

With 2009 being Darwin Year, we’ve had quite a few blog posts on evolution recently. Here’s a selection:

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This scares me. there are enough evangelical fundamentalist Christians threatening to kill me for teaching evolution now I will have Muslims threatening to kill me as well. When billions can’t learn real science we are all doomed. bye bye human race. we will ignorance ourselves to death.

Posted by jim | Report as abusive

It’s better not to teach evolution, why? because:
1- it’s still a debatable matter. even in the US. i.e. Intelligent design vs Evolutionists.
2- If teaching Evolution, why not teach creationism and intelligent design too?
3- It’s against Religion at least in the matter of creating the first human beings, Adam and Eve.
4- Is reuters a news agency or an evolutionists promoter? :/

Posted by Fahad Alabdely | Report as abusive

Fahad Alabdely, we’re a news agency. Reuters covers the news and the debate between evolutionists and creationists is news. Reuters reports from around the world, and this debate has gone from being almost exclusively a Christian phenomenon in the United States to a debate you can find it in other regions, including in Muslim countries.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

Intelligent design is no more then repackaged creationism. And the American courts have ruled that neither are part of science.

-They are based on groundless assumption.
-They reach conclusions which are not based on actual observation or evidence.
-They are not capable of being subjected to the scientific method.

Evolution is a theory. The word “theory” meaning (in the scientific sense) that it is a cohesive explanation of human development, based on observation and evidence.

While religion is based on no evidence at all. Except for a holy book which is assumed to be true, regardless of the fact that there is no way of knowing if it is true or inspired by a deity.

It is fine to have faith, or believe in deities. But not to assume something is true based on no evidence. And when you assume your faith is true, and then restrict the development of science which contradicts it, faith becomes denial.

If religion must hide objective science from people in order to survive, perhaps it is not worth saving?

Posted by Hahaha | Report as abusive

Has anyone seen an example of evolution? Nope.

So we will just have to settle for:
-Peppermint moths
-Fossil forms
-Domesticated animals
-Pea plants
-Animal husbandry
-Blonde Hair
-Common ancestory
-Opposable thumbs
-Deep sea lifeforms
-Vestigal bones and organs

Posted by Flying Chocolate Kettle | Report as abusive

This is just another example of people trying to twist or deny science to validate their particular faith.

In both the Arab world and in the Christian world, the clerics should stay out of science – practicing or teaching science.

As for “teach both” – the answer is simple: evolution is science. It offers mechanisms, it is observable, it is testable and it makes predictions that turn out to be true. Creationism/ID are not science, offer no mechanisms, are not observable, are not testable, and make no predictions.

Every religious faith has its own creation myths. I notice that the clerics are not suggesting we teach ALL creation myths, just THEIR creation myths.

These clerics (Saudi or Texan) are no different than the inquisitors who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope. Nothing closes a mind more tightly than faith.

Posted by RickK | Report as abusive

[…] You have powerful intellectual allies among the clerics of Saudi Arabia. Reuters reports Saudi cleric to king’s university: don’t teach evolution, mix sexes. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us: A senior Saudi cleric said religious scholars […]

Posted by Saudi Clerics: Evolution Is Alien Ideology « The Sensuous Curmudgeon | Report as abusive

“Has anyone seen an example of evolution?”


Natural selection has been observed in both the laboratory and in the field. Speciation has been observed in the field. iation.html
Observed instances of Speciation

Educate yourself.

Posted by Reginald Selkirk | Report as abusive

Evolution is directly responsible for multiple multi-billion dollar industries.
Typically investors are large companies who invest in private research and development companies or into universities.

Such companies assess the risk involved with investing in a specific field and with specific people.

To say evolution is false is to say these companies are throwing money away for something that could never produce results.

But since they are investing and since results are published and since these results lead to new technology, evolution is true.

The truth cares not for your opinion.

Posted by S B | Report as abusive


Whether a company invests billions into evolutionary sciences, has no bearing on whether evolution is correct or not.

And I agree, a person’s opinion has no bearing on whether evolution is correct or not.

Lucky for us, there is a whole pile of scientific evidence supporting current evolutionary theory. Which means we don’t need to take opinions into account. Or faith, for that matter.

PS. Could you please provide examples of companies who are potentially throwing money away on evolutionary theory and on what projects they are funding? Details would be nice.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

[…] clerics are annoyed that evolution is taught at a new university created specifically for science […]

Posted by Noted | Report as abusive

Extremist Muslims are Social Conservatives.

Posted by RamonFHerrera | Report as abusive