“And it is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days.” Thus read the draft version of a proposed textbook for 10th-grade geography students in Azerbaijan in a section about how the universe was formed. As homework, the book suggested that students prepare presentations on verses from the Koran, referring them to the Azerbaijani-language website quran.az.As the story notes, Azerbaijan is almost unique in the region as being a largely secular state, due to years of rule by the Soviet Union. It is surrounded by Islamic nations, however, and Islam is becoming more commonplace. This textbook is a reflection of that. Safarova continues:
The textbook draft was posted online at the end of March for public comment: it quickly became a hot discussion topic as Azerbaijan wrestles to determine the proper place of religion in public life. In response to the posted draft, a group of parents, scientists, and public figures used social media to organize a campaign against what they described as a government imposition of religious propaganda on their children.
“Until now, history books have only presented the theory of evolution,” said Kamran Asadov, the author of the 10th-grade history textbook. “Students should make the choice for themselves about what is correct.”The idea that students should make up the choice for themselves about which is correct is absurd, on its face. It is the kind of thing that is commonplace among young earth creationists, that we have access to the same facts, we just interpret them differently. This will be a hard thing to fight for the same reason it is hard to fight in the United States: the acceptance of creationism is tied to an acceptance of the one true religion. People don't tend to think clearly about science if they are driven by this perspective.
Others, though, worry about the impact of religion, and especially the growing influence of creationism and other forms of pseudoscience. Azerbaijanis, curious about new ideas after the collapse of the Soviet Union, were favored targets for creationist missionaries from Turkey.