Many religious leaders don’t want their flock to study science.
The excuses may vary. Some say they want the people to concentrate on studying [what they claim is the] “important things”. Others don’t want them to, say, have males and females in the same class. No matter what the “official” reason is, it always boils down to fear. Science is a real threat to religion, due to the simple reason that it shakes religion’s foundations.
Hence, forbidding the study of “foreign” things such as science, found its way into the very contents of some religions. Strict Orthodox Judaism, for example, forbids learning anything that contradicts religion. Nice.
The problem gets worse when the state cooperates with this despised trend, often as a result of political pressure. The Department of Education of the State of Israel officially gave up any scientific teaching (not to mention basic math) to ultra-Orthodox Jews. Any attempt to change this shameful situation resulted in public protests and political threats.
The actual result may be considered as mass child abuse. Basic knowledge is prevented from many thousands of children, with the formal approval of the government. When some of them grow up to leave the ultra-Orthodox community, they find themselves in a Kafkaesque situation, where the same country that abandoned them as children, does it now again as grownups.
Things become even more peculiar when special programs to enable academic education for ultra-Orthodox students – are put in place. Where else in a university there is segregation between men and women, and the teacher is not allowed to mention certain facts that belong to the curriculum?
Some may argue that the worst aspect of this phenomenon has nothing to do with religious people. It’s preventing certain study topics from the population as a whole, due to religious pressure. Thus very few young children get to learn about, say, evolution, or about the true historic origins of the Old Testament. Typically selected students meet these topics much later in life than needed.
For the sake of optimism, it’s worthwhile mentioning that in spite of all of the above, science does flourish, and scientific progress is achieved, including (and perhaps especially) in strange countries like Israel. This means that in our modern world, the truth has new ways of overcoming attempts to silence it.