This qualitative research aims at first defining how pre-service science teachers think regarding the theory of evolution (TOE) with a particular hands-on and minds-on activity (The article by O'Brien (Am Biol Teach 62(8):578-582, 2000) entitled A toilet paper timeline of evolution: 5 E cycle on the concept of scale is modified and applied in the present research as an intervention process.) Finally, specific suggestions in instructional techniques are offered based on a geological time scale. At the end of intervention, the research follows how participants respond to what they found out or came across. If participants had common misconceptions regarding the TOE, these are revealed. The present research was conducted in two spring semesters of 2009 and 2010 in a geology course. The participant number of the study was 129. The research lasted three weeks. Research results showed that participants were generally misinformed regarding conceptual knowledge of the TOE. Approximately half of the participants did not believe (the term believing in or acceptance of the TOE does not affect research findings) in the TOE. Mostly, they thought that there is no place for human evolution in Islam. Few of them could reconcile scientific information with their own Islamic point of view. Even though they did not believe in the TOE, most of them accepted that they did not have adequate knowledge regarding the TOE. They mostly said they were shocked about the first appearance of human beings in the geological time scale, which is the main issue in the present research. After intervention, conceptual change was considerable, though this is a secondary concern. The results also show that even though students were quite prejudiced regarding the TOE, they were ready to explore it deeply. Such concrete activities might be helpful to push students to think over the TOE. However, there are numerous barriers such as ill-prepared science textbooks and websites, unwillingness of instructors, and official policy of the Ministry of National Education.