Friday, July 10, 2009

In England next week for a conference

I will be attending Religious Responses to Darwinism 1859-2009 conference at St. Anne's College, Oxford (from Jul 15-18). In addition to that, this coming Tuesday, I plan to take a day-trip to Darwin's Down House (right) outside of London. There is a new exhibition there to celebrate the bicentenary of Darwin's birth. I will try to blog from the conference and will include pics from the day-trip.

In the mean time, you can find more information about the conference speakers here and contributed papers here. My paper is titled Muslim Responses to Darwinism in South Asia 1859-2009 and here is the abstract:

Abstract:
Muslim scholars in South Asia have debated Darwin's theory of evolution since the 1870s. The primary debates have not centered on the scientific details – but rather they have primarily been motivated by political and cultural factors. For example, Syed Ahmad Khan, an advocate of the adoption of British values and education system for the progress of Muslims, not only accepted Darwin 's ideas in 1870s, but he reinterpreted them to be in harmony with the Qur'an. In 1881, while visiting British India, Jamal-al-din-Afghani, wrote the first major Muslim response against evolution. However, the primary focus of his book was to counter the political stance of some of his contemporaries, such as Khan. Today, we continue to find a complex reaction to evolution in Pakistan: the theory is presented as a scientific fact in high school biology textbooks, but human evolution is omitted. The growth in biomedicine and biotechnology is concurrent with widespread rejection of the theory (only 14% of Pakistanis accept evolution). I will present an analysis of the reception of Darwin's theory by Muslims in South Asia – both historically (in British India) and in contemporary Pakistan (by religious scholars, medical doctors, and biology teachers).

7 comments:

Atif Khan said...

Can you put up the whole paper along with the presentation on net?

Umair said...

Great!

I might also come to Dawn House this tuesday.

JAMSHED MOIDU said...

please don't waste your time buddy....Evolution is already DEAD brother..

Muhammad Akbar Hussain said...

The reason of conflict is not the theory itself but drawing distant conclusions from it. Yes of course the God as an "oversized white male with a flowing beard, who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow" is long dead with the scientific advancement, yet the way the infinitely complex yet perfect laws of nature governing the delicate balance of the very fabric of this universe does tell a different story. What ruins a scientist's work is an outright rejection by people holding orthodox views not willing to accomodate any reasoning AND drawing distant unrelated conclusions by another group propagating opposite views than the former. For example, Miller's experiment did create amino acids from inorganic substrate, but if someone draws a conclusion that this is how "life" originated is absolute nonsense. Just as mere presence of ingredients in a kithen will not make a pizza even if left for 200 billion years. Someone has to make it. Darwins theory of evolution neither takes you closer to creator nor takes you away from it. And afterall it is a theory trying to explain a natural process by bits and pieces of information and based on valid assumptions. Immediate rejection or drawing ultimate conclusions both are nonsense. There should be a room for discussion and arguments.

Muhammad Akbar Hussain said...

...and dude, I was in London till yesterday, and now I am back in Belfast. I do have a plan to be in London for a couple of days later this month, but I am wondering if I could be there earlier. It would be an honour to be in Oxford for your lecture :-)

Salman Hameed said...

Atif,

Send me an e-mail and I will send you my powerpoint when I get back.

Umair,

See you Wednesday afternoon.

Akbar,

Yes, it would be great if you can come to Oxford.

Regarding your comment, I agree with your first part - i.e. no need to reject the existence of God based on evolution. But, as per our previous conversation, I don't see a scientific explanation of the origin of life any threat to the first assumption (unless people like Maududi make that connection explicit - but it doesn't have to be the case at all). More on that later...

May be I'll see you in England and we can chat more.

Jamshed:

Hey - remember I'm on the payroll of the freemasons - so I have to give these talks ;o)

Atif Khan said...

Dear Salman,

I tried sending email on your univ address but couldnt get through. Although you gave me your email add few months ago but I lost it somehow. Could you please send me "Hello" message on shehzadatif at gmail dot com.