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http://www.islam-online.net/English/Scienc...006/06/01.shtml

 

Call for Muslim Scientists

Join the Scientific Dissent From Darwinism

 

By Mustafa Akyol**

 

"[An] 'ism' of great danger to Islam... is Darwinism," said Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one of the leading Muslim thinkers of our time, in his book Islam and the Plight of Modern Man. He is certainly right. Darwinism is indeed a dangerous idea, and the reason for that is its seemingly scientific affirmation of the naturalist philosophy — the belief that nature is all there is and that life on Earth, including humans, is the product of the blind forces of nature. If one accepts that philosophy, then one will have little reason to believe in Allah, the Lord and Creator of everything.

 

That's why Nasr thinks that accepting the Darwinian evolution theory would be to "surrender Islam" to modern atheism. And he warns fellow Muslims against this risk as follows:

 

Those who think they are rendering a service to Islam by incorporating evolutionary ideas, as currently understood, into Islamic thought are, in fact, tumbling into a most dangerous pitfall and are surrendering Islam to one of modern man's most insidious pseudo-dogmas, one created in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to enable men to forget God. (213)

 

Some Muslims might find Nasr's warning too farfetched because they think that Islam actually doesn't have any problems with the theory of evolution. Evolution, they would argue, might simply have been the method through which Allah manifested His creation. Besides, there are some medieval Muslim scholars who toyed with evolutionary ideas long before Darwin. So isn't evolution a problem for Christians — whose scripture is at odds with evolution in a literal reading— but not for Muslims?

 

Yes and no.

 

Few Muslims have taken part in the scientific challenge to Darwinism

 

It is true that the Islamic doctrine of creation could allow for an evolutionary interpretation, and thus the theory of evolution, per se, is not unacceptable in Islam. But Darwinism is not evolution. It is a special theory of evolution that insists that evolutionary mechanisms are undirected and unguided. Modern Darwinian theory accepts only two creative powers — natural selection and random mutation. These blind, purposeless mechanisms are the only accepted causes for life, and any divine guidance and intervention are never, ever allowed.

 

An End to the Ulama and Imams?

 

In his famous book The Meaning of Evolution, George Gaylord Simpson, one of the arch-Darwinists of the 20th century, explained this special meaning of Darwinian evolution quite clearly. "Man," wrote Simpson, "is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind."

 

Another prominent Darwinist, Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, is even blunter. Dawkins is a militant atheist who defines religious faith "as one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate." And he is Darwin's greatest fan, because, according to him, Darwin "made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."

 

William B. Provine is even blunter yet when he proudly says, "Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented."

 

We should carefully note that this "engine" is not running only in the Western world. Its target is to undermine all theistic religions, including, of course, Islam. Just take a look at what Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, a hard-core proponent of Darwinian evolution, said in accepting an award from the Freedom from Religion Foundation:

 

I personally feel that the teaching of modern science is corrosive of religious belief, and I'm all for that! One of the things that in fact has driven me in my life is the feeling that this is one of the great social functions of science — to free people from superstition. ... I can hope that this long sad story will come to an end at some time in the future and that this progression of priests and ministers and rabbis and ulamas and imams and bonzes and bodhisattvas will come to an end, that we'll see no more of them.

 

Ulama and imams coming to an end?

 

Although this is wishful thinking, it is noteworthy. And it confirms that Darwinism is indeed "a great danger to Islam," as Professor Nasr rightly says.

 

The Sun From the West

 

 

Charles Darwin

 

However this "danger" is not too hard to deal with because Darwinism is in fact a pseudo-scientific theory. Observable and testable data do show that there is some change in nature and that living beings have a capacity to adapt to their environment, but there is simply no evidence for the kind of macro-evolution that Darwinists envision — a chance-driven natural process that created all life without a Creator. That's why, in the past few decades, there has been a growing body of scientific literature that challenges Darwinian evolution and argues that this theory is not the correct explanation of biological origins.

 

Professor Nasr talks about this scientific challenge to Darwinism in his Islam and the Plight of Modern Man and emphasizes the works of Western scientists who criticize Darwinian evolution.

 

However, according to Professor Nasr, there is a problem. "Unfortunately," he writes, "few contemporary Muslim thinkers have taken note of these [Western] sources and made use of their arguments to support the traditional Islamic view of man" (212).

 

In other words, few Muslims have taken part in the scientific challenge to Darwinism.

 

Perhaps this was because, until recently, the challenge was mostly associated with the US-based Christian movement called creationism. Creationism was the effort to merge science and Christian theology. Some of its arguments — such as Young Earth — did not correspond to any traditional Islamic doctrine. Therefore Muslims had a good reason for not being associated with creationism in this narrow sense.

 

However a revolution took place in the early 1990s with the rise of a new theory called Intelligent Design (ID). ID does not try to infuse any theology into science; it just uses scientific evidence and rational inference. It argues that Darwinism is wrong in its assumptions about randomness, and that the complexity of life on Earth — and the fine-tuning of the physical universe, for that matter — can only be explained by positing a designing intelligence. In the same way that a book points to an author, ID theory argues, the universe and life points to a Designer.

 

It is not hard to see that this reasoning is very compatible with the Qur'anic verses that tell us that nature is full of Allah's signs and we should examine them to see His majesty. In his article "Taskhir, Fine-tuning, Intelligent Design and the Scientific Appreciation of Nature," published in the journal Islam & Science, Dr. Adi Setia of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization in Malaysia confirms the parallels between Qur'anic concepts and intelligent design.

 

In other words, although ID is a theory developed in the West, it is fully compatible with, and profoundly supportive of, the core faith of Islam. Just remember what our Prophet (peace be upon him) told us: "Knowledge and wisdom are the lost property of the believers, so if a believer finds it anywhere, he should take it." Today, ID is such knowledge and wisdom to be taken.

 

Sign the Dissent From Darwin Statement

 

I have written about Intelligent Design before on IslamOnline.net, in a piece titled "Why Muslims Should Support Intelligent Design." "Intelligent Design is very much our cause," I held, "and we should do everything we can to support it." After that piece, many Muslim sisters and brothers sent me supportive e-mails and I am so grateful for their responses.

 

This time I have a more solid suggestion to Muslim scientists who would like to join the global effort against Darwinism: Come sign the Dissent From Darwin Statement, which simply reads

 

We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged. (Learn more at the Dissent From Darwin page)

 

The Discovery Institute, the main organization supporting Intelligent Design and the criticism of Darwinian evolution, launched this two-sentence statement in 2001 and so far more than 500 scientists have stepped forward to sign their names. The list is growing and includes scientists from the US National Academy of Sciences; Russian, Polish, and Czech National Academies; universities such as Yale, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and others. Muslim scholar Dr. Muzaffar Iqbal, the editor of the journal Islam & Science, is also on the list. Several others from Turkey are just to be added.

 

It will be invaluable if more Muslim scientists sign the statement. It will empower the scientific case against Darwinism and it will show that it is a global phenomenon, despite the claims to the contrary by the Darwinist establishment. It will also have a deeper intercivilizational message: that the world is not necessarily divided between East and West, and that people of good faith and reason in all civilizations can join in proclaiming scientific truths overshadowed by materialist prejudice.

 

If you agree, and if you are a scientist, would you consider adding your name to the Dissent From Darwin list?

 

The list comprises scientists who have doctoral degrees and doctors of medicine who are professors of medicine.

 

If this fits your description — or if you have suggestions about reaching Muslim scientists whose do — please contact me at akyol@mustafaakyol.org.

 

Disclaimer: The article reflects the opinions of the author.

 

Note from the editor: IslamOnline.net invites its readers to join in on the debate surrounding Darwinism and evolutionary theory. You are welcome to send your writings and opinions, regardless of which side your argument supports, to the editor at sciencetech@iolteam.com.

 

Sources:

 

Nasr, Sayyed Hossein. Louisville, KY: The Islamic Texts Society, 2003.

 

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

** Mustafa Akyol is a Muslim writer and newspaper columnist living in Istanbul, Turkey. In May 2005, he testified to the Kansas State Education Board as an expert witness about Darwinism and Intelligent Design. His web blog is located at www.thewhitepath.com. Your e-mails to him will be forwarded to him by contacting sciencetech@iolteam.com.

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