Religion Is No Excuse For Ignorance
On the 28th of November, the Mail Online reported that students in a medical course are boycotting certain parts of the syllabus because the views presented clash with some of the beliefs upheld by the Koran. These classes were teaching Darwinian evolution, a key part in any biology-based study. The article itself with the history and subsequent worry associated with the problem. In fact I won’t go into that too much. Read the article for yourself.
While I don’t agree with the Muslim students’ viewpoint, I agree they have the right to boycott any and all classes which may go against their beliefs.
But there is one thing they do not have a right to, that is the right to graduate if they don’t attend these classes as they are not only a vital part of understanding biology, something which is crucial to any professional doctor, they are also reality. No amount of insisting will change the fact that the accepted reality of all life on earth has come about through natural selection and evolution.
Let me put it another way. Would you want a medical professional to believe the literal words of the Koran on the topic of sexual reproduction? The Koran says that life starts from the semen of a man, when mixed with the secretions of a woman. Nowhere does it mention the sperm or egg. Is this how it happens? No, it’s not, but these students could claim that, since the Koran says it is so, then that is what must be taught. These are outdated and disproven theories of sexual reproduction which were originally borrowed from the Greeks. Would it be wise to allow a pediatrician to believe this? Or an obstetrician? Or a gynecologist? It’s only a small part of the whole picture of what goes into making human life, but IT IS WRONG.
See the problem is not presenting different points of view. That can only be healthy. But presenting disproven and outdated fantasies as fact is not only disgraceful truth-bending at its worst, it is potentially harmful to human life. Under no circumstances should a student be allowed to skip a part of a medical degree on the grounds of religion. A student who fails to attend and subsequently fails to pass the subject should be treated the same as any student who refuses to attend class for whatever reason, including laziness or ineptitude. There is no such thing as Muslim biology, or Buddhist maths, and Christian science is a contradiction in terms, so if evolution is to be taught to students of the natural world, then it must be upheld for all students.
There is a lot of pressure from religions to allow for alternate viewpoints in education, and I’m all for teaching all sides, the students will work out the truth eventually. But for Islam, no matter how much evidence to the contrary there is, their belief remains stubbornly fixed in time, somewhere in the dark ages.
And it’s not just the wider community that should be concerned about this trend, the Islamic communities will suffer if it continues also. People could die because of medical “facts” from the Koran, and given the literalist viewpoint many Muslims hold it in, people treated by doctors who uphold these views are in danger.
If these students want to boycott the evolution part of the curriculum, citing the Koran, then they should also boycott the part about sexual reproduction. If they do this, then they should fail, and never be allowed to become doctors.