Friday, September 25, 2009

Are we ignoring Muslim Creationism?

I was asked this questions by folks at Science & Religion Today (check their blog for daily stories on science & religion). Here is the beginning of my reply:

Muslim creationism is not being ignored, but I think our perspective in the United States is definitely skewed. Often, we focus on the rantings of Turkish creationist Adnan Oktar, who goes by the name of Harun Yahya. He loves controversy and publicity—especially when he is mentioned in newspapers like The Washington Post, The New York Times, or The London Times. He then uses this to frame his brand of simplistic creationism (borrowed from U.S. creationists) as a battle against the West. In fact, much of his efforts have been aimed at Muslim diasporas in the West.

But the actual situation is quite complex. First, there is tremendous diversity in the Muslim world. The political, cultural, and social factors that shape evolution-creation debates are quite different in Turkey as compared to Pakistan, or in Egypt as compared to Malaysia or the sub-Saharan Muslim Africa, or in majority Shi’a Iran. Painting with a broad brush may lead us to generalities that may not exist in reality.

Second, for the most part, evolution is a relatively new topic for the majority of Muslims. Increasing access to the internet and rising education levels is indeed bringing this topic to the attention of a larger population, but as yet, there is no consensus position. This is especially true in the majority Sunni Islam, where there is no Pope-like central authority figure. Thus, there are several social groups vying to interpret evolution’s place in Islam—from biologists and medical doctors to religious scholars and political leaders.
Read the full answer at Science & Religion Today.

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