Tuesday, November 03, 2009

NYT on Darwin & Evolution in the Muslim World conference

Today's Science Times has a nice article that brings up our last month's conference on Darwin & Evolution in the Muslim World at Hampshire College. Just in case you didn't see all the the participants, here is the group picture again and read the full NYT article, Creationism, Without a Young Earth, Emerges in the Islamic World.
From left to right
Back: Amina Steinfels, Sarah Bean, Anila Asghar, Jason Wiles, Laura Wenk, Saad Shafqat, Thomas Glick, Uwe Vagelpohl, Laura Sizer, Andrew Dole, John Schoeberlein, Martin Riexinger, Taner Edis, Don Everhart
Front: Betty Anderson, Berna Turam, Monica Ringer, Ron Numbers, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Saouma BouJaoude, Salman Hameed, Ehab Abouheif, Aykut Kence


Uzma Aslam Khan said...

Hello Salman,

Wonderful article -- so glad this topic is trotting all over the globe! I also loved the group photo.

Btw, I asked my publisher to send you a copy of Geometry of God (just released in the US). Please let me know if you didn't get it --I'll send another.


Salman Hameed said...

Hi Uzma,

Thanks! And we were surprised that almost all the conference participants were willing to put on the conference t-shirt for the group photo.

And no - I haven't received your book yet, but would love to read it. By the way, the Washington Times review of your book is written by someone here in Amherst, MA.

Uzma Aslam Khan said...

Don't know what happened. I'll ask them to send another one -- to your Hampshire address?

I think folks in the sciences are more sporting about "dressing up" -- in the arts it's all about being cool in black, which is no less uniform but a lot less fun.


Uzma Aslam Khan said...

p.s. could you email me when the book arrives? I'm trying to keep track of who gets them and doesn't!

Looking at the photo again, it occurs to me that "integrated" science and arts dudes and dudettes have the cool of arts and the smart of science.

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Um. I quote from the NYT piece:

They do not quarrel with astronomers and geologists, just biologists, insisting that life is the creation of God, not the happenstance consequence of random occurrences. (emphasis mine)

Need I point out to the readership of this blog that this is a false dichotomy and by leaving it at that the NYT is unwittingly implying that pure happenstance is what the biologists are claiming?

This just shows that people who are not creationists by any means or measure don't quite understand what they are talking about either. Otherwise how would you explain the NYT writing it up like this?

Or, it is possible that I am way off base. Am I?

Salman Hameed said...

Definitely, I will send you an e-mail.


I completely agree with you. It totally creates this false dichotomy and reinforces the (false) perception that evolution is a random process. I don't know the reason for why the sentence was left like that - but I think he was trying to capture the reasons for rejection of evolution - but a clarification should have been in place.

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...


I don't know. My lingering suspicion is that these theories are not really understood even by the laypeople (including journalists and even social scientists) who take pro-science stances. (This is independent of what actually caused this particular NYT guy to write like that. You might be right in this particular case.)

If I am right, though, this would not be surprising. We know science education is hard for many people. On top of this and for subjects as contentious as evolution there are additional pressures to take positions where a simple "I don't really know, but I'd go with the scientists" would both be honest and healthy. It doesn't fit the enlightended and informed person ideal though, so people fake it.

For the present case, it would take some sense of the power of search (in the Computer Science sense) and a feel for complexity ensuing from simple mechanisms to actually 'get' that randomness isn't really the cricial component. It is hard to get people to acquire and use these notions. I suspect what modern (secondary) education along with the wish for maintaining some kind of secular culture does instead is bully people into saying the right things w/o really having the understanding.

Now I am shooting from the hip but I have noticed that sometimes -- even though they miss the the point -- the local (Turkish) proponents of ID actually know more about what the biologists say and what the claims mean than people who reject ID. This doesn't show in the statistics. I wonder if anyone went beyond polling people and actually tried to discover what people think they know when they claim they reject various forms of creationism.

Term said...

Feel so proud to see this picture and really great article thanks for sharing..!