Among all interesting questions and comments that I get about growing up in Iran, I got a very interesting one yesterday from a fellow physicist grown up in Europe over the coffee table that I would like to share with you:
– Teaching on Evolution is forbidden in Iran, right?
– Hell no, why you should think so?!
– Because it is banned in Saudi Arabia!
– Well… They are actually two different countries…
– I know, I know! But…
The conversion went on and on and I shared my experience and thoughts with him about that. Honestly, I did not remember that I was taught anything against Evolution when I was in high school or college in Iran… I got home while I was still thinking about that in back of my mind… I asked myself, maybe it was banned and I was too stupid and haven’t noticed that, who knows?! I looked it up and I found somebody has written a whole paper about this… That was an informative read. This paper is available online here.
Here are a few quotes from this paper that I found interesting:
In the West both the Iranian and Saudi governments are often lumped together under as “Islamist states” supposedly sharing anti-modern ideals, but the two countries are quite different in their official attitudes toward the topic of evolution in science education.
First of all, Iranian society is far more complex. Although it is governed by Shi’a Muslim clerics, Iran officially recognizes its significant minorities of Sunni Muslims, Zoroastrians, Christians, and the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel (Office of International Religious Freedom 2008a). Though religious instruction is required in public schools at all levels, non-Muslim Iranians are exempt from examinations on the Qur’an and take classes on their own religious traditions.