Turkish academic mocked for claiming Noah used mobile phone

Incident seen as symptomatic of increasingly anti-intellectual turn encouraged by the government

January 12, 2018
Old brick mobile phone
Source: iStock

An academic in Turkey has faced ridicule for claiming that Noah called his son before the mythical flood on a mobile phone.

The incident has raised concern among some commentators that Islamisation is weakening the country’s universities.

Yavuz Örnek, an assistant professor at Istanbul University’s Institute of Marine Sciences and Management, made the comments to a television channel on 6 January, according to Hürriyet Daily News.

“There were huge 300 to 400-metre high waves and his [the Prophet Noah’s] son was many kilometres away. The Quran says Noah spoke with his son. But how did they manage to communicate? Was it a miracle? It could be. But we believe he communicated with his son via cell phone,” the outlet quoted Dr Örnek as saying.

He also said that Noah’s Ark was made of steel and powered by nuclear energy.

“I am a scientist, I speak for science,” Professor Örnek added.

The comments have attracted widespread attention in Turkey, with some seeing his statements as symptomatic of the increasingly religious, anti-intellectual turn encouraged by the government.

Using the incident as an example, one warned that “many studies today highlight the serious brain drain from Turkey towards the West” and “this is a country where imams close to the government are openly calling on Allah ‘to protect us from the wickedness of the educated’”.

Last year, the government introduced a new school curriculum that dropped the teaching of evolution at secondary schools.

david.matthews@timeshighereducation.com

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