Ideas for Change – Ahmed Zewail


18 Mar 2013

Evolution, Chemistry

Ahmed Zewail

In this video from Davos in 2013, Ahmed Zewail, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999, discusses the importance of education for world development, including education about biological evolution.  The program is a short interview by the unnamed moderator, followed by a question and answer session from the small audience.

At about 16:44, a professor of environmental science from the University of Vermont, who is a Muslim, asks about teaching biology when, as he puts it, a majority of Muslims resist biological evolution.  Zewail responds that education is key to change, but he points out that in the US, where he lives, the pattern for the rejection of biological evolution is much larger than just Muslims.  Zewail hopes that as Muslim majority countries move away from dictatorships that used religion to get what they wanted, open exchanges of ideas will allow scientific ideas to flourish.  He goes on to suggest that educational standards in the Muslim world are not as good as they were a thousand years ago, and that needs to change.

The interview is part of a series, Insight:  Ideas for Change.


Islam:  The material on Islam is within the bounds of what Muslims have historically understood as acceptable.  The professor who asks the question demonstrates the diversity of views among Muslims.

Science:  The scientific discussion here is accepted by contemporary scientists.

History:  There is insufficient historical material on which to base an evaluation.