Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Islamic creationism in the news | NCSE

Creationism is not just Biblical creationism. It turns out there's a healthy strain of non-Biblical Islamic creationism in the Muslim world. There's an article with links at the NCSE: Islamic creationism in the news

The phenomenon of Islamic creationism was addressed by two major newspapers, The New York Times (November 3, 2009) and the Boston Globe (October 25, 2009), in the wake of a recent conference at Hampshire College on evolution in the Muslim world.

From the New York Times:

...But, they said, young-Earth creationists, who believe God created the universe, Earth and life just a few thousand years ago, are rare, if not nonexistent.

One reason is that although the Koran, the holy text of Islam, says the universe was created in six days, the next line adds that a day, in this instance, is metaphorical: “a thousand years of your reckoning.”

By contrast, some Christian creationists find in the Bible a strict chronology that requires a 6,000-year-old Earth and thus object not only to evolution but also to much of modern geology and cosmology, which say the Earth and the universe are billions of years old.
But that does not mean that all of evolution fits Islam or that all Muslims happily accept the findings of modern biology. More and more seem to be joining the ranks of the so-called old-Earth creationists. 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.

From the Boston Globe: (link in NCSE piece is invalid)

Three weeks ago, with much fanfare, a team of scientists unveiled the fossil skeleton of Ardi, a 4-foot-tall female primate who lived and died 4.4 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia. According to her discoverers, Ardi - short for Ardipithecus ramidus, her species - is our oldest known ancestor. She predated Lucy, the fossilized Australopithecus afarensis that previously had claimed the title, by 1.2 million years.

The papers announcing the find described a transitional specimen, with the long arms and short legs of an ape and strong, grasping big toes suited to life in the trees, but also a pelvis whose shape allowed her to walk upright on the ground below.
...If you learned about Ardi on the Arabic-language version of Al Jazeera’s website, however, you discovered something else: The find disproved the theory of evolution.

“Ardi Refutes Darwin’s Theory,” Al Jazeera announced, in an Oct. 3 article not available on the English version of the website. “American scientists have presented evidence that Darwin’s theory of evolution was wrong,” the article opened. “The team announced yesterday that Ardi’s discovery proves that humans did not evolve from ancestors that resemble chimpanzees, which refutes the longstanding assumption that humans evolved from monkeys.”

Americans familiar with the long and bitter battle over the teaching of evolution in our schools likely have a set of images of what creationism looks like: from the Scopes trial, and its dramatization in “Inherit the Wind,” to more recent battles over textbooks on school boards in Kansas and Georgia and in federal court in Pennsylvania. The doctrine of creationism, and its less explicitly religious cousin intelligent design, are extensively developed counter-narratives of the origin of life on Earth, fed by Christian concerns and shaped by Christian beliefs. In its more extreme forms, creationist thought is guided by a faith in the inerrancy of the language of the Book of Genesis, so that some creationists see in the fossil record evidence that Noah must have herded dinosaurs onto his ark along with the rest of creation.

But there is another creationist movement whose influence is growing, and which is fueling challenges to science in countries where Christianity has little sway: Islamic creationism. Campaigners in countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, and Indonesia have fought the teaching of evolution in schools there, sometimes with great success. Creationist conferences have been held in Pakistan, and moderate Islamic clerics are on record publicly condemning Darwin’s ideas.

No comments: