Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Mustafa Akyol's clarification on evolution

Couple of months back, I had a post inquiring about Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol's movement away from Intelligent Design: Mustafa Akyol backing away from ID? Well...now we can remove the question mark. While referring to a lecture he gave recently at Boston University, he clarifies his position on evolution:
I even don't have the slightest sympathy with some of the groups mentioned in those blog debates - such as the one led by Adnan Oktar.

I am not a "creationist," too, because I think that term implies an effort to manipulate science according to religious belief, something which I find wrong. (I just think manipulating science according to materialist belief is wrong, too.) I also think biological evolution is an established fact. I just don't think that it is totally random and devoid of meaning and purpose, as evolutionary atheists such as Richard Dawkins claim.

Ok..well we can debate about randomness or a sense of meaning from evolution. But it is very clear that his position has moved away from the ID folks at the Disco. Institute and more closer to the theistic evolution of Francis Collins and the position endorsed by the Catholic Church. I think it is commendable that he has changed his position publicly. At the same time, I wish he explicitly address his change of stance (not an easy thing to do) - rather than give the impression that he was never sympathetic to creationism and ID in the first place. Otherwise, his earlier writings would appear contrary and inconsistent.

10 comments:

Nihat said...

I thought ID --not creationism per se-- was "the" effort to manipulate science according to religious belief. Bare creationism is arguably much more honest, hence benign. I see no moving away, but walking around.

Salman Hameed said...

well..there are different flavors for both creationism and ID. But Akyol used to endorse the Discovery Institute version - dealing with Irreducible Complexity etc. However, lately, he has been stressing 'methodological naturalism' and he seems to be fine with the the evidence for evolution (something that the Disco. Institute is not).

I'm going to take him on his word. People do change their views - sometimes for the better. I give him credit for changing his stance publicly.

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Which word of his in which language are you going to take him on Salman? His Turkish site still prominently displays DI propaganda.

I dislike it when people of advertised religiosity (what on earth is a freelance Muslim?) are held to a completely different standard than the others. They are just people like the rest of us (pious or not). We are not talking about a household pet who's learning some manners and needing praise on every sign of progress. When a dog who'd been peeing on carpets seems to be making progress it might be sensible to praise him, but when a human does it we expect him to clean it up at the very least.

Salman Hameed said...

"Which word of his in which language are you going to take him on Salman? His Turkish site still prominently displays DI propaganda."

Good point, Bulent. I don't read Turkish, but I can see ID (yes - the Dico. version) being advertised strongly on his Turkish website but not on his english website (though there still are some ID-friendly article at the bottom). Yes, regardless of his own change of mind, this can be considered as sophisticated deception.

"We are not talking about a household pet who's learning some manners and needing praise on every sign of progress. When a dog who'd been peeing on carpets seems to be making progress it might be sensible to praise him, but when a human does it we expect him to clean it up at the very least."

Harsh - but funny. I agree with the essence of your argument. I think if he comes out and explicitly talks about his changing stance, that would lay to rest suspicion regarding his motives. And, at the very least, that may force him to be more consistent between Turkish and English.

Thanks for pointing this out. This says a lot about him.

Nihat said...

You both make good points. I still see no cause for celebration though. And it's not entirely a matter of saying different things in different languages, or cleaning up after one's self. I look at this article in English: Getting 'Creationism' Right (March 14, 2009), and still see the same old mumbo-jumbo, only worse.

I am quoting:

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.


I am asking: Why not? And answering: Because US courts do not appear to buy it.

One doesn't even have to consider the fact that the said "inference from scientific evidence" is not new as claimed, but is at least as old as Darwin's publication. Just ask this: What evidence is there in his writings that he would have spoken differently had, say, the Dover outcome been different?

Salman Hameed said...

"I am asking: Why not? And answering: Because US courts do not appear to buy it."

I would not link this debate to the US court system. The issue is ID is simply not science (i.e. it allows the intervention of a supernatural). We should not rely on the US legal system to make this point across the Muslim world. ID is bad science independent of judgments from any US courts.

I read Akyol's statement differently (at least what he is writing in english). I think he understands the difference between ID and the foundations of modern science. Unless, these foundations are changed (i.e. modify methodology to include some supernaturalism), ID will not make any inroads. And he does not see that happen in the foreseeable future. I think his sympathies are definitely with ID - but he acknowledges the reality.

Nihat said...

Salman, I don't reject your take. My mention of US courts was not for making the ID-is-not-science point across the Muslim world. No worries there.

Thanks for listening.

Martin Riexinger said...

@ B├╝lent

Actually he has posted once on the theory of evolution in the last months on his Turkish website and in the respective text he accuses the Turkish Academy for Science and technology for publishing books stressing the affinity of the toe with atheism as opposed to views as promoted by Conway Morris.

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Martin, thank you. He also seems to have managed to sneak 'Satan's Priest' for Dawkins in there when telling his readership that solely books written by Dawkins' kind have been translated. Lovely stuff.

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