Standing up for science

Jed Carosaari sacrificed his livelihood to stand up for the teaching of evolution.

I taught biology in Morocco for 12 years in four different schools. I studied biology as an undergraduate at Occidental College, and Islamic Studies in graduate school, so teaching science in Morocco was a good fit. I had become convinced of the truth of evolution when I was in college — I had gone to Occidental thinking that evolution was completely wrong, but left convinced of its truth, and rather in love with it. For me, evolution is an expression of God's glory. So all of my high-school teaching was built around evolution as a central backbone and principle. I learned to adapt it to the Muslim worldview, trying to be sensitive to religious and cultural concerns by discussing different philosophical paradigms, while teaching the actual science. There were times when I ran into difficulties with administration or conservative Christian parents, but I pushed through, and I was able to have mostly amicable relationships.

Then I came to my fourth, and last, school. Halfway through the year, the administration asked me to begin new science courses, which I was happy to do. I talked with my principal about celebrating Darwin Day with the students, as I always do. But this was to be a very special Darwin Day, as it would be my son Darwin's first ever. I was so looking forward to bringing him into class for the party. And the principal approved.

But the director of the school did not. She was aghast at the idea. She insisted that Muslims do not support evolution, and said I could teach it as only one of many accepted theories. She also forbade me from showing the movie Creation (a biographical film about Charles Darwin).

I tried to explain to her what a theory is in science. I tried to point out to her that Muslims actually have a great acceptance of evolution, and that I had taught it for many years in this Muslim country. But she insisted that Muslims never accept evolution, and it is not the Islamic way. And she was supported by the owner of the school. So I had to inform the school that the ethics of my discipline would not allow me to teach evolution as false, or just one of many acceptable concepts rather than the scientific consensus, and I was forced to leave. All because the school wouldn't let me teach … science.

Why teach evolution? Because we're teachers. Because truth matters. Because children matter.