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Creation v Evolution The Muslim Debate Dr. Taner Edis Sponsored by departments of: Biology The Chapel Chemistry Communications Computer Science Economics.

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Presentation on theme: "Creation v Evolution The Muslim Debate Dr. Taner Edis Sponsored by departments of: Biology The Chapel Chemistry Communications Computer Science Economics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Creation v Evolution The Muslim Debate Dr. Taner Edis Sponsored by departments of: Biology The Chapel Chemistry Communications Computer Science Economics Engineering English Geoscience History International Programs Library Mathematics Philosophy Physics Political Science Religion Sociology & Anthropology Lecturers and Visiting Scholars Committee

2 Applied physics April 30, 2011 Dr. Taner Edis Creation v Evolution The Muslim Debate

3 2012Trinity3 Islamic Creationism “Harun Yahya” materials: Turkish origin, but internationally popular. Denies common descent. Borrows from Christian creationists.

4 2012Trinity4 US creationism less successful Large public support. (Gallup since 1980: 45% YEC, 45% guided evolution, 10% naturalistic evolution.) Creationism and ID unacceptable in intellectual high culture. Little penetration into public education (informal, private).

5 Islamic views ≈ Christian Very similar debate over evolution goes on among Muslims, both at popular and devout intellectual levels. Theological options, from conservative scripturalism to liberal reinterpretation, are also very similar. The history of science and Islam is different and makes a difference. 2012Trinity5

6 2012Trinity6 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 2012Trinity7 Importing science Borrow technology but guard against foreign cultural influences. Materialist aspects of science (as seen in popular 19 th century materialist literature, such as by Ludwig Büchner) undesirable.

8 2012Trinity8 Responding to Darwin Early response to Darwin and evolution in the context of westernization and elite debates over materialist philosophy. Largely ignored, or denounced as an offense to religion. Accepted by a few radical secularizers but not Muslim modernists.

9 From the Ottomans to Turkey Ottoman responses to science typical of larger Islamic world. Carries over into modern Turkey, at the forefront of responses to secular Western ideas. Grassroots, modernizing religious movements, such as “Nurcu”s, at the forefront of creationism later. 2012Trinity9

10 2012Trinity10 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.

11 2012Trinity11 Underground creationism Until 1970s Turkey, little public creationism outside of conservative Muslim subculture. (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.

12 2012Trinity12 Official creationism 1980: military coup. Conservative policy. Mid-1980s: conservative government, Islamists in Ministry of Education, Nurcu influence. Creationism in secondary education. Translations from US literature, distributed to teachers. Creationist paragraphs in Turkish textbooks, even today.

13 2012Trinity13 Harun Yahya In 1997, Harun Yahya literature took Turkey by storm. Creationism central theme. Borrows from Christian creationists; adds more traditional Islamic themes. Uses media very well. Modern, but religious image.

14 2012Trinity14 Creationists: modern Muslims Nur movement famous for non-traditional authority structure, modern orientation, pro-capitalist development, and embrace of modern technology. Adnan Oktar (“Harun Yahya”) projects modern image: western clothes, technological and financial competence. They’ve mastered modernity, remained devout, and can challenge materialists even in the scientific arena. Muslim creationists are not traditionalists. Thoroughly modern movement. Oktar is controversial, but opposition to Darwinian evolution enjoys a broad constituency.

15 2012Trinity15 Successful creationism Scientists (e.g. Turkish Academy of Sciences) publicly oppose creationism. Ineffectual. Many Turkish academics express skepticism about Darwinian evolution. Muslim opposition to evolution is intellectually mainstream. Defense of evolution entangled with a discredited secularism.

16 2012Trinity16 Example: TÜBİTAK affair March 2009: Censorship of popular science and technology magazine.

17 2012Trinity17 Global Islamic Creationism Harun Yahya is now internationally popular. Forms of opposition to evolution vary by country, but are usually quite popular. Western Muslims may be more creationist.

18 2012Trinity18 Alternative: guided evolution? Appealing compromise, outside science. Academic theology: metaphysical gloss. Liberal churches: usefully vague. Common descent OK, naturalistic mechanisms less so. (~ID)

19 2012Trinity19 Portable to Islam? Scientists seek allies among religious liberals; avoid confrontation (Turkish defenses of evolution). Independent of US example. Some Pakistani biology textbooks lead with Quranic quotation. (Preemption?)

20 2012Trinity20 Nonhuman guided evolution Many religious scholars accept guided evolution. They often exclude humans from evolution. Reinterpretations of verses such as 24:45 “And God created all animals from water...”

21 2012Trinity21 Limited 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.

22 2012Trinity22 Acceptance of “evolution”? Interpreting polls: many Muslims who affirm “evolution” have a guided, non- Darwinian process in mind. (~ID) Guided evolution does not overtly challenge science education. But it is not an accurate reflection of modern science. Is it a politically useful compromise?

23 2012Trinity23 Süleyman Ateş Turkish theologian. Modernist, moderate. Defends “evolution.” Headed Directorate of Religious Affairs. Prominent public figure, spokesman for Turkish official Islam.

24 2012Trinity24 Ateş and pseudobiology Guided evolution ~ ID. Ancient Greek “biology” defending “weakness” of women, gender roles. Ambivalence about human evolution. Typical of modernist Turkish theologians.

25 2012Trinity25 Academic anti-evolution Well-known philosophers of science Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Iran, US), and Osman Bakar (Malaysia, currently US) oppose evolution. Darwinian evolution goes against top-down, God- centered view of reality demanded by religion. “Intelligent design” also finding an audience.

26 2012Trinity26 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.

27 2012Trinity27 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.

28 2012Trinity28 Islam: weaker liberal options Liberal Christianity: the supernatural retreats to metaphysics. 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.

29 2012Trinity29 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.

30 2012Trinity30 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

31 2012Trinity31 Plug Taner Edis, An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam

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