Friday, June 12, 2009

From Mustafa Akyol - On evolution and ID

Earlier this month I had a post about Turkish journalist, Mustafa Akyol, and the transformation of his views from ID to evolution. That led to some spirited discussion and Bulent Murtezaoglu pointed out that Akyol is still promoting ID on his Turkish language website. To clarify matters, I inquired directly from Mustafa Akyol and this is what he had to say:
It is true that I have been rethinking on the issue of biological origins. The rethinking continues, at the background of the many other issues that I am more deeply involved these days, and that's why I have been avoiding making strong statements on this topic.

Yet I can still say the following: I feel certain is that neither the biological world nor the physical universe can be explained according to the presuppositions of philosophical naturalism, i.e., matter is all there is, and there is no purpose, intention and meaning to it. On the other hand, biological evolution seems to be a scientific fact. There are still "gaps" in this evolution, especially in the very beginning of it ("abiogenesis"), and if this means that methodological naturalism is wrong, too, then that's fine. Intelligent Design would be the best explanation, in that case, to explain these "gaps." But there might not be "gaps" at all, and methodological naturalism can be confirmed as we learn more about the nature of these "gaps." Would this vindicate philosophical naturalism? No. Because the very laws of nature, under which evolution and all other natural processes operate, seem to have been "fine-tuned" and "designed."

To date, I have found the most intellectually satisfying example of this latter argument in Michael Denton's remarkable book, "Nature's Destiny." If you ask me what I think about evolution these days, I can probably say that I think along the lines Denton articulates in that book. In the future, I am ready to go wherever the evidence leads.
I don't endorse this reliance of the "God of the gaps" arguments (though he is open to reinterpretation if the gaps are filled...) nor of the crutch of "fine-tuning". Nevertheless, this is consistent with Akyol's recent (English) writings and confirms his move away from ID. I haven't read Denton's book, but from what I know, he has also moved away from ID and into the fine-tuning realm (sigh!). I can see why Akyol would find his views appealing.

As per our prior discussion, I also inquired about the difference between his Turkish and English language websites, and this is what he had to say:
There is no difference between what I write in Turkish or English on this matter. My Turkish website only has the visible section of my ID-related articles, with which I have no problem keeping there. I am not renouncing my older writings, I am just trying to approach the issue in a different way.
I leave this to my Turkish speaking friends to interpret. But I'm still puzzled as to why highlight ID (the Disco. version) on his Turkish website when he doesn't really agree with its basic premise anymore. Removing it from the website would not mean a renunciation of older writings. It may simply reflect an evolution in thinking - nothing wrong with that.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, it is not surprising that his turkish and english websites have different focus. Akyol's turkish readers are predominantly very conservative people with dominantly anti-science/some under the cover of postmodernism views. Akyol is a big sympathizer of the Gulen sect (he would deny that but it is so apparent, most of his ID conferences were promoted by this sect from the leasing of big conference halls in turkey), a religious sect accused by secular/muslim turks to influence the government to drag the republic into political islam. If you read this sect's journal, Zaman, the turkish and english versions, you will notice big discrepancies and change in focus. The english version is tailored to western sensibilities, and make the sect look like a moderate one while the turkish version has a constant anti science, anti secular propaganda. Of course, if you tell these to Mr. Akyol, he would give one of his classical lectures on blaming me of being paranoiac, elitist kemalist positivist jacoben and all that...

Nihat said...

though he is open to reinterpretation if the gaps are filled...

Rest assured, not all gaps will be closed in his life time... So the saga will continue.

Salman Hameed said...

"Rest assured, not all gaps will be closed in his life time... So the saga will continue."

Absolutely. What you get is a constantly retreating God. Moreover, God serves as a place-holder until we know more. For an example, check out the debates about the formation of the Earth in the 17th/18th centuries. It was considered an unsolvable problem. Hmm...no not really - and Laplace provided an explanation. The same will likely happen with the origin of life issues. Yes, it is a difficult problem - but not unsolvable. Once it is resolved, the gap will be moved back to something else.

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

The anonymous commenter has it correct as far as Zaman's behaviour goes. This is from English Zaman: Turkey and the age of unreason. As this appeared several columnists of Turkish Zaman were feeding people the standard tripe about how scientists were suppressing evidence etc. We dug some of this up in Jenny White's blog.

As for Gulen's people sponsoring conferences, I am not sure. I have seen this one advertised: Turkey’s First ID Conference—Accomplished. It says it was sponsored by Istanbul Municipality. Akyol claims -- rightly -- that this can be seen as official support.

Atif Khan said...

deI think of it this way that at least he has some thoughts going on in his brain which is yet very much confused (or may be he is scared to denounce his ID ideology in public). I have argued with few people regarding religion and science. I believe even people who understand that science is absolutely evidence based and explains thing without any doubts but their delusion is so strong it keeps them off admitting the strength and truth of science.

Nihat said...

"The same will likely happen with the origin of life issues. Yes, it is a difficult problem - but not unsolvable. Once it is resolved, the gap will be moved back to something else."

I think so, too. That something (the last gap) may well be the purpose question. But, at that point, a Seinfeldian answer may prove to be as good as any other: a show about nothing; no purpose but survival, a bad joke from a certain perspective.

Nihat said...

What do you mean Atif? There is no science without doubt.

Atif Khan said...

Nihat,

What I meant was that when Science proves something on the basis of evidence it leaves no doubt about its validity. I hope I made it clear this time.

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Hmm. I just remembered something. I quote from here:

He also no longer believes in "intelligent design", but has moved toward what he calls a belief in scientific explanations of science and philosophical explanations of philosophy. He says he has written about this, but clearly in Turkey whatever brush you are tarred with first sticks. The Turkish context is now so mindlessly divided that the idea that Akyol, as a thoughtful person, could have changed his mind about these issues isn't considered credible.

It is not my intention to get the guy hounded, but the entire affair and the process it exposes is very interesting. I think Atif Khan's comment about confusion might be apt. Let me theorize something to make sense of the evidence we see. Something is happening to smart young people in places like Turkey and they get pulled into some process that confuses them and causes them to confuse those they can reach. Add to that the political dimension and the desire for foreign (esp. American) approval and you get the soup that we're seeing.

Note how, in the comment I linked to, one of his friends is (perhaps inadvertantly) pulling the 'I am the scholar, and I know you Turks are deficient in that regard' trick. If that flies, it probably flies for the same reason that caused the quick disowning of ID (makes one look bad to Americans) and indeed its adoption (Americans were pushing it afterall and from '00 onwards those who were pushing it did seem to be running things). None of this needs to be conscious, of course.

JAMSHED MOIDU said...

Do we have any classic observation and evidence for Darwinism?

Jerry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Samet said...

I have also been observing a similar pattern of shift in M. Akyol's views on evolution and ID, and left several notes in his Turkish blog, inviting him to honestly make a self-criticism and declare his dissent from ID creationism (or acceptance of the theory of evolution). My comments were published, but he never responded.

I think he still owes a big apology to the Turkish public opinion for having falsely represented ID as science, having scrutinized scientists on false grounds, and having contributed to political distortion of science education in Turkey. However, he refuses such self-criticism and continues to blame the "evil atheist/materialist conspiracy" for the ongoing unreasonable debate on evolution and religion, overseeing the fanatic stance of his "religious liberal" camp against evolution.

Ironically, Zaman publishes his articles that represent his dissent from ID creationism with titles like "Darwinism is collapsing in the year of Darwin".

fugstar said...

whats with the inquisition. there seem to be some bitter and epistemicidal haters out there. not too useful in the path towards truth.