Saturday, April 09, 2011

Article in the Guardian on evolution and Muslims

by Salman Hameed

I have an oped in today's Guardian. It deals with the episode of Dr. Usama Hasan (please also see the list of related articles below):
Muslims Must be Free to Discuss Issues such as Evolution without Fear
The imam of a mosque in east London, Dr Usama Hasan, was earlier this year subjected to death threats over his support for the theory of evolution. Whatever the underlying reasons, and there are clearly other tensions within the mosque, we must categorically condemn tactics of intimidation and the suppression of diverse opinions within the Muslim community. Those in Europe who see Muslims as a threat to western values will see this episode as a further validation of their stereotypical viewpoint of Muslims. We should take care, however, not to let extreme positions on both sides define the issue.
The reality of Muslim attitudes to evolution is more complex. In this, Muslims are not alone. A survey in 2009 found that 60% of all British young adults – irrespective of religious belief – believe in intelligent design to a greater or lesser extent. But there is no "official" position of Islam on evolution. Many in the Muslim world reject evolution, while there are others who accept it. In places like Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, the fundamental concepts of evolution are included in high-school biology textbooks. Furthermore, in 2006, the national science foundations from several Muslim-majority countries endorsed a statement by the Inter-Academy Panel (IAP) supporting common descent and the evolution of humans from prior species.
That said, human evolution can pose a difficult challenge to the beliefs of many religious people. But a serious debate on this has yet to take place in most Muslim communities. For many, the conception of evolution is erroneously limited to a theory of "monkey-to-man" and it is often associated with atheism. There are others who have never really thought about the issue and are less concerned with it beyond the practical applications of evolutionary ideas to biotechnology and biomedicine. 
Read the full article here.

Other related posts on Irtiqa and some thoughtful articles by others on the issue of evolution and Dr. Usama Hasan:

Irtiqa (by Nidhal): Muslim Inquisition Today - the plight of Usama Hasan
Irtiqa (by Salman): Nuance needed regarding the issue of evolution and London imam Usama Hasan
Guardian (by Inayat Bunglawala): Islam must engage with science, and not deny it
Thoughts from Kansas (by Josh Rosenau): Imam gets death threats over pro-evolution comments
Gene Expression (by Razib Khan): Islam, creationism, and anti-modernism
Trans/Missions (by Salman): Fallen angels, risen apes - Covering Islam and evolution

And here is a collection of statements by various organizations and groups in support of Usama Hasan  and his right to think and speak freely:
Statements in Support of Usama Hasan

19 comments:

Ali said...

Hi Salman,

"A survey in 2009 found that 60% of all British young adults – irrespective of religious belief – believe in intelligent design to a greater or lesser extent."

Fantastic.
My only question is IF there is overwhelming evidence for Darwinian evolution, as Dawkins et al claim, why do so many people find it so hard to believe in the theory? Now, people call creationists idiots but these young Brits are no idiots. Or are they?

My answer is that there is NO overwhelming evidence. Period.

emre said...

My only question is IF people are born into religions, thoroughly brainwashed and threatened in various ways if they consider leaving, is it reasonable to expect them to think clearly about anything?

Perhaps you should check the stats about acceptance of evolution among people who know about it; biologists.

Salman Hameed said...

And here is a survey of all biologists named Steve who have no problem with evolution... :)

Ali said...

"My only question is IF people are born into religions, thoroughly brainwashed and threatened in various ways if they consider leaving, is it reasonable to expect them to think clearly about anything?"

Yes, absolutely.
But, emre, you don't have to be all that to see what I see. :)
Perhaps the cobwebs on the believers' brain have been removed with the washing. The atheists' brain needs a real good wash to clear it of their cobwebs. And it is because they see through their cobwebs that they do not see God's craftsmanship in His works.

Ali said...

Thanks, Salman for the link you gave. If I were a Darwinist, i would be disappointed that despite having the Steve-o-meter for more than 2.5 years, the number of SCIENTISTS (not only biologists, as Salman quietly tried to project) who support Darwinism is just above 1100. With the kind of OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE that I am supposed to see, I expect the number of scientists on this meter to be a lot more than that.

Salman, do you have more papers that give the percentage of people who reject Darwinism or accept ID? I mean the sort of paper you linked in your oped article? I am serious. If I can get a few, it would be wonderful. No, it is not solely for the purpose of arguing with you all here. :)

By the way, Salman, are you sure you linked the correct document in your article on the Guardian?

Daniyal Nawaz said...

No Evidence? Well then you are not looking in the right place. I suggest you to watch the video below with an open mind,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFxxrcoaIII

If you look at the Quran, you will find it more supportive of the Evolution. Evolutionary ideas have existed before Darwin in the medieval Muslim scientists.

I don't see any problem in being a Darwinian and a Muslim at the same time. :-)

Ali said...

I just realised that Project Steve has been going on even in 2004. So the 1100 scientists who have signed for the Steve-o-meter are the result of AT LEAST 6 years of work. Here is the article on Panda's Thumb that states there were 500 Steves. This was an article dated 2004.

http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2004/12/scientists-v-in.html

So, if there were 500 Steves in 2004, it is absolutely pathetic that they have only 1100 Steves now.

emre said...

Ali, are you sure you understand Project Steve? From Salman's link:

CSE has been asked numerous times to compile a list of thousands of scientists affirming the validity of the theory of evolution. Although we easily could have done so, we have resisted. We did not wish to mislead the public into thinking that scientific issues are decided by who has the longer list of scientists!

Project Steve pokes fun at this practice and, because "Steves" are only about 1% of scientists, it also makes the point that tens of thousands of scientists support evolution.

Daniyal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
obreption said...

Your post in the Guardian made a welcome change from the bad news stories that are often posted in the UK media. I enjoyed taking part. You're probably aware of the controversy over the award of the Templeton Prize to Martin Rees and the furore this kicked up among the fundamental, scientific atheists and even some Anglican theologians. I remember reading about Lemaitre in Simon Singh's book. Thanks for opening a sensible debate.

I tried to do this with my discussion on the anniversary of Muhammed Iqbal's poem Shikwa. He had a hard time proposing a fresh look and the struggle still goes on.

Ali said...

Hi emre,

You imply that I misunderstood what they said. They call it "a tongue-in-cheek parody." I call these sour grapes.

emre said...

Then you really did misunderstand. Scientific debates are not decided by tallying votes, but by examining the evidence. Genetic sequencing provides massive confirmation for evolution; the debate is over.

Ali said...

Hi again, emre.

"Scientific debates are not decided by tallying votes, but by examining the evidence."

Agreed.
But because their Steve-o-meter could only have 1100 scientists, after more than at least 6 years since the meter was started, it shows that they are not able to 'sell' their views as much as they would like to. I remember, sometime ago, i read an article that says there are more than 600,000 college and university professors in America alone. So to have 1100 on the Steve-o-meter, which is open to all scientists alive on Earth to join, is super-pathetic. People do not buy their arguments because it is not believable. If there is OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE, my question is why can't they sell their arguments that posit this evidence?

"Genetic sequencing provides massive confirmation for evolution; the debate is over."

Really?
Then scientists must be fools if they have not joined the Steve-o-meter.

emre said...

What a ridiculous claim. Ali, scientists are not signing the Steve-o-meter because they are smart enough to realize it is a joke. They are busy doing science.

Salman Hameed said...

"But because their Steve-o-meter could only have 1100 scientists, after more than at least 6 years since the meter was started, it shows that they are not able to 'sell' their views as much as they would like to."

Ali - I know that you don't usually let facts bother you. But I just wanted to clarify, that these are 1100 scientists named Steve! So you can imagine the total number of scientists who support evolution. But as was pointed out early by Emre, Steve-o-meter is making fun of the practice of counting scientists - since science does not work like a democracy, at the same time showing the overwhelming support that exists for evolution.

Now you can resume creating your own reality.

Ali said...

Ok guys, you win. :)

But Salman, I thought you will give me the link(s) to more articles on acceptance of ID or rejection of Darwinism. Or articles on surveys that highlight such issues - preferably surveys of academics, rather than the general public. If you have surveyed doctors, or if you have the links to such surveys, that would be just wonderful. I am thinking, you will have the links to such articles. You might not be willing to give these links to a "creationist" like me(?). If so, I think i will understand. :)

All the best,

Ali

emre said...

Plenty of sources here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_support_for_evolution

Salman Hameed said...

Thanks Emre

And Ali, as far as our Muslim medical doctors results are concerned, we are currently working on a paper on Pakistani doctors in the US, and will share it when the paper is peer-reviewed and accepted for publication (hopefully before the fall semester).

Ali said...

Thanks, emre.

Salman, I did not not mean links or details of unpublished papers. But links to any of the published articles that are worth seeing (like the one you included for the op-ed article). I probably could not have got it by a simple google search. But, never mind.