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Rejecting Materialism Taner Edis Department of Physics, Truman State University ~edis/

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1 Rejecting Materialism Taner Edis Department of Physics, Truman State University ~edis/

2 2010Rejecting materialism2 Islamic Creationism Turkish origin, but internationally popular. Deny common descent. Borrows from Christian creationists. Sees “Darwinism” as a materialist conspiracy.

3 2010Rejecting materialism3 Science-in-scripture Seven layers of skies/heavens in Quran. H. Nurbaki, M.D.: 1.Solar system 2.Our galaxy 3.Local group of galaxies 4.“radio magnetic sphere” 5.Quasars 6.Expanding universe 7.“remaining boundless infinities”

4 2010Rejecting materialism4 Very popular pseudosciences Proves divine source of Quran. Like Biblical prophecy for conservative Christians. Spread by media, Internet.

5 2010Rejecting materialism5 Golden Age of Islamic science Muslim science did not greatly decline. Europe surged ahead with a new way of learning about nature. Medieval Muslim science embedded in religious, occult ways of thinking. Different from modern science!

6 2010Rejecting materialism6 Recent history Past few centuries dominated by need to catch up to modern, especially Western world. West has technological advantage  military and commercial power. Need science!

7 2010Rejecting materialism7 Defending Islam Borrow technology but guard against foreign cultural influences. Materialist aspects of science (as seen in popular 19 th century materialist literature) undesirable. External imposition, not indigenous heresy as in Europe. European secularization seen as a disaster for religion. Reluctance not to constrain knowledge by revelation.

8 2010Rejecting materialism8 Worrying about materialism Mustafa Akyol, (liberal Muslim, ID proponent): “ID is indeed a wedge that can split the foundations of scientific materialism… For the first time, the West appears to be the antidote to, not the source of, the materialist plague.” Symbolic enemy.

9 2010Rejecting materialism9 Responding to materialism Technology is attractive to modern religious people. Linked to science. So can’t ignore science. Need to appropriate science, and correct science if it disagrees with revealed truths.

10 2010Rejecting materialism10 Muslims respond to Darwin Early response to Darwin and evolution in the context of westernization and elite debates over materialist philosophy. Evolution largely ignored, or denounced as an offense to religion. Accepted by radical secularizers but not Muslim modernists.

11 2010Rejecting materialism11 Secularist impositions Turkish example: most radical secularist experiment in Muslim world. 1920s, 30s. Darwinian evolution part of state science education. But only minor offense to traditional religion, when compared to much more serious injuries.

12 2010Rejecting materialism12 Underground creationism Until 1970s Turkey, little public creationism outside of conservative Muslim subculture. (Though lots of passive resistance to evolution.) 1970s: Islamists in coalition. Opposition to evolution a culture-wars theme. Indirect way of opposing secularism. Grassroots modernist movements push pseudoscience. Mostly underground. Nur movement.

13 2010Rejecting materialism13 Said Nursi

14 2010Rejecting materialism14 Official creationism 1980: military coup. Conservative policy. Mid-1980s: conservative government, Islamists in Ministry of Education, Nur influence. Creationism in secondary education. Translations from ICR literature, distributed to teachers. Creationist paragraphs in Turkish textbooks, even today.

15 2010Rejecting materialism15 Harun Yahya In 1997, Harun Yahya literature takes Turkey by storm. Creationism central theme, but Yahya corpus includes material on all sorts of Islamist and Nur-associated themes. Opportunistic: Early Holocaust denial, now blame “Darwinism” for Holocaust. Evolution means materialism, which is the root of all immorality and evil, including terrorism, 9/11. Borrows from Christian creationists: ICR, ID. Adds more traditional Islamic themes.

16 2010Rejecting materialism16 Creationists: modern Muslims Nur movement famous for non-traditional authority structure, modern orientation, pro-capitalist development, and embrace of modern technology. Adnan Oktar projects modern image: western clothes, technological and financial competence. They’ve mastered modernity, remained devout, and can challenge materialists even in scientific arena. Muslim creationists are not traditionalists. Thoroughly modern movement. Oktar is controversial, but opposition to Darwinian evolution enjoys a broad constituency.

17 2010Rejecting materialism17 Sophisticated creationism Yahya-style creationism enjoys some support from devout intellectuals, as a useful attack on materialism. Muslim intellectuals are also attracted to more sophisticated opposition to Darwinian evolution. “Intelligent design” literature has been translated. Supported by some modernist intellectuals who see religious Westerners as supplying ammunition against Western deviations such as materialism. ID meeting sponsored by Istanbul city government, 2007. Includes D. Berlinski, P. Nelson, J. Lennox.

18 2010Rejecting materialism18 Academic creationism Well-known philosophers of science Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Iran, US), and Osman Bakar (Malaysia, US) are creationists. Claim: evolution cannot create information. Darwinian evolution (not just common descent) goes against top-down, spirit-first view of reality demanded by religion. Plenty of creationist academics, including applied scientists, and even biologists.

19 2010Rejecting materialism19 Quran  Evolution? 15:26 “We created man of potter’s clay of black mud altered.” 24:45 “And God created all animals from water: some of them travel on their bellies, some travel on two legs, some travel on four. God creates what God will; God is capable of all things.”

20 2010Rejecting materialism20 Guided evolution Many accept limited evolution –Common descent somewhat OK, but more problematic where humans are concerned. –Explicitly guided, non-Darwinian process. Creativity cannot reside in the material world. Attractive as a middle path, but even guided evolution always controversial.

21 2010Rejecting materialism21 Darwinian evolution Practically no popular base outside an increasingly discredited secularist elite associated with political despotism and cultural inauthenticity. To secularists, Darwin is a symbol: the backwardness of traditional religion, the power of science to produce knowledge.

22 2010Rejecting materialism22 TÜBİTAK controversy March 2009: Censorship of popular science and technology magazine.

23 2010Rejecting materialism23 Successful creationism Scientists (e.g. Turkish Academy of Sciences) publicly oppose creationism. Ineffectual. Unlike Christian creationism, Muslim creationism has enjoyed official support, and has penetrated deeply into education. Broad appeal beyond an insular fundamentalist subculture. Muslim creationism is relatively mainstream. Financial and media resources of operations like that of Harun Yahya envy of ICR.

24 2010Rejecting materialism24 More liberal options Christianity: the supernatural retreats to ultimate, metaphysical domain. Science deals with mere details, is autonomous. Islam: rarer. Science should be subordinate to revelation and moral concerns. (Even liberals think so.) Exceptions: some defend autonomy of science. Abdolkarim Soroush in Iran.

25 2010Rejecting materialism25 Doctrinal conservatism Liberal Muslim views weaker than Christian counterparts. Reinterpretation, seeing religion as human strongly opposed. Even modernists, democrats can be cultural conservatives. Rejecting materialism conditions both popular and intellectual discourse on science.

26 2010Rejecting materialism26 No separate spheres? Science and religion in West: intellectual friction, institutional accommodation. Separate spheres. Science independent of religion. Not in Islamic world? How much of a practical problem is scientific backwardness? Religion Science

27 2010Rejecting materialism27 Plug Taner Edis, An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam (Prometheus Books, 2007).

28 2010Rejecting materialism28 Thanks for listening! Any questions?

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