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“Intelligent design,” based on the belief that some cellular structures are too complex to have evolved naturally, is a case in point.

Education Minister Huseyin Celik publicly supports the theory.

“Evolutionary theory overlaps with atheism, intelligent design with belief,” Mr. Celik told Turkish television in November.

Given that polls show only 1 percent of Turks are atheists, not allowing intelligent design into science textbooks would be tantamount to censorship, he said.

Author Mustafa Akyol, who organized two recent Istanbul municipality-backed conferences on intelligent design, argues that the theory can act as a bridge between science and religion in Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim nation.

“For Turkey’s secularist modernizers, science replaced religion as the new faith,” he said. “Religious-minded Turks need to be convinced that science isn’t a threat.”

These are not new arguments. A century ago, Said Nursi, arguably modern Turkey s most influential religious thinker, saw the reconciliation of faith and science as a means of avoiding the twin evils of unbelief and fanaticism. His followers have been at the forefront of Turkish creationism ever since.

Mr. Ertan, the geneticist, finds all the talk of reconciliation unconvincing.

“These people say science cannot answer all the questions. Fair enough, perhaps, but a science stripped of its basic principles is not science anymore. And without science, modern civilization is impossible.”