Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mustafa Akyol backing away from ID?

Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol, in the past, has made a strong effort to promote Discovery Institute's version of Intelligent Design in Turkey. In fact, he also testified on behalf of the Disco. Institute at Kansas School Board hearings back in 2005 (talk about strange).

However, it seems that he is beginning to accept evolution (may be I'm reading too much into it). He recently wrote an article, Darwin Year is not the year of atheism, in which he (correctly) argues that acceptance of evolution does not necessarily lead to atheism:
For that Darwinism does not vindicate atheism. What it refutes is not theism (faith in God), but only a literalist interpretation of Scriptures.
Then he goes into the Fine-tuning argument - which opens up for other problems. However, Intelligent Design (the biological version) is conspicuously absent from the article. Akyol also wrote two articles following the Darwin censorship controversy in Turkey. In Inherit the Turkish Wind, he clearly makes a distinction between evolution and how it has been interpreted at times:
This is especially true for the Darwinian theory of evolution, which, from the very beginning, has been misused to advance philosophical naturalism and attack traditional religious belief. Darwin himself did not have such a bias, but some of his supporters did. The zeal of the latter day Darwinian atheists such as Richard Dawkins was shared by others as early as late 19th century.
There is again no mention of ID in the article and we even see a soft spot for Darwin. In the followup article, this is what he has to say about ID:

What about Intelligent Design (ID) then, which is a new and controversial theory that claims to find evidence for design in the complex structures of nature? It is another form of creationism? I know many people think that way, but I beg to differ. You might find ID convincing or unconvincing, but you have to see that it is an inference from scientific evidence, not religious texts.

The real controversial point about ID is that it challenges the way modern science works: methodological naturalism, i.e., the effort to find only natural causes for natural phenomena. In that sense, it is a very unorthodox theory. And I don't think that it will triumph over the orthodox naturalist paradigm in a foreseeable future. That's why I don't think textbooks or science magazines like the one TÜBİTAK publishes, "Bilim ve Teknik," should be expected to open their pages to ID theorists.

He is absolutely correct that ID requires an intervention of a supernatural agent (he is actually being more honest than William Dembski - who claims that he is not talking about any supernatural entity per se, and that "intelligence" could be that of really advanced aliens). After reading Akyol's last piece, I can't say for sure, but a strong endorsement of ID seems to be missing.

Overall, Akyol is taking a reasonable approach. He seems to have replaced ID with fine-tuning arguments, and while still problematic, at least he is talking about natural explanations for biology. For practical reasons, I share Akyol's concern for the backlash generated by linking evolution with atheism. I hope he will also leave the new fine-tuning crutch and believe for the sake of believing rather than twisting science to support his beliefs.

Here are links to Akyol's articles: Darwin is not the year of atheism, Inherit the Turkish wind, Getting "Creationism" Right. Also my earlier post on the censorship of Darwin in Turkey.

Also check out this Darwin 200 conference to take place in Turkey this coming April (tip from Nathan Schneider).

7 comments:

JAMSHED MOIDU said...
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JAMSHED MOIDU said...

Mr. Salman
WHY ARE YOU SO MUCH BOTHERED ABOUT EVOLUTION THEORY? YOU ARE JUST AN ASTRONOMER RIGHT? HAVE YOU TAKEN ANY DOCTORATE IN BIOLOGY? IF NOT YOU ARE NOT FIT TO DISCUSS ABOUT EVOLUTION DOGMA, YOU BETTER LOOK UP IN THE SKY AND DO SOME REASEARCH ON CLOUDS AND STARS!!!

Anonymous said...

You ask him in preson in MA: Mustafa Akyol at Boston University April 15

Salman Hameed said...

You ask him in preson in MA: Mustafa Akyol at Boston University April 15

Tempting. But he is not talking about evolution at BU. Is it worth a 2 hour drive? I'll have to see if something else is also at Boston that day.

But thanks for giving me a heads-up.

Salman

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