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Published on January 3, 2008

Author: Sarah

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A World Designed by God:  A World Designed by God Science and Creationism in Contemporary Islam Taner Edis Truman State University Abstract:  Abstract Public conflicts between science and religion have become rare in the industrialized West, where even creationism is, in the end, a minority sectarian view. However, contemporary Muslim thought retains a much stronger sense of an explicitly designed universe infused with moral purpose. Creationism in biology and in physics, for example, has been very successful in Turkey. Muslim apologetics emphasizes the created nature of humans, to an extent that echoes of Aristotelian biology can be found in literature on the Islamic role of women. The high level of popular misuse of science in the Muslim world indicates that major conflicts between science and religion will have an increasingly Islamic flavor in the coming years. Science and Religion:  Science and Religion In the industrialized West: Intellectual conflict on supernaturalism Institutional compatibility Cultural separation Science vs. Religion?:  Science vs. Religion? In the industrialized West: Intellectual conflict on supernaturalism Institutional compatibility Cultural separation What about the Muslim world? Relation more unsettled, occasionally strained... Harmony and Design...:  Harmony and Design... Traditional Muslim apologetics presents a harmonious picture of nature: only a fool would overlook the obvious divine design. “Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before We clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?” (Qur’an 21:30) WWW: “Wonders of Creation” Miracles from the Qur’an...:  Miracles from the Qur’an... Claims that the Qur’an anticipates modern scientific knowledge are widely circulated. We have built the heaven with might, and We it is Who make the vast extent (thereof). And the earth have We laid out, how gracious is the Spreader (thereof)! (Qur’an 51:47, 48) Expansion of universe? (Bucaille 1979) Belief that all knowledge is in the Qur’an is combined with the prestige of science. “Islamic Science” in academia:  “Islamic Science” in academia Influential in social sciences, often due to Islamist political success. E.g. “Islamic Sociology,” (IIIT 1989, Sahin 2001). Even “Qur’anic miracles” make their way into medical papers and textbooks (e.g. Moore et.al. 1992). Science and religion not yet fully separated, culturally and institutionally. Example: Turkish Creationism:  Example: Turkish Creationism Widespread anti-evolution sentiment in Turkey, from popular creationism to quasi-academic attempts at “Alternative Biology” (e.g. Yilmaz & Uzunoglu 1995). Turkish creationism is successful in making inroads into state-run education and in attracting media and public attention (Edis 1999, Sayin & Kence 1999). Brief History:  Brief History Conservative Muslims have always written against evolution (e.g. Akbulut 1980). In the 1980’s, the conservative government discovered Protestant creationism, and let it influence education (Edis 1994). In the last 5 years, Turkish creationism has taken on a more aggressive public and media face (Edis 1999). Harun Yahya & BAV:  Harun Yahya & BAV Adnan Oktar and his “Science Research Foundation” (Bilim Arastirma Vakfi - BAV) spearheads the current creationism. “Harun Yahya” is their pseudonym. Particularly notable for their media-savvy events, attention to production values, and their ability to give away thousands of creationist booklets free of charge. Harun Yahya’s books:  Harun Yahya’s books A very familiar creationism, often copied from the Institute for Creation Research! International Outreach:  International Outreach Harun Yahya books, articles, videos and web materials are available in English, Malay, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Serbo-Croat, Polish, and Albanian. Translations into Urdu and Arabic are forthcoming. Yahya has become popular throughout the Muslim world; he is no longer just a Turkish phenomenon. BAV Resources:  BAV Resources Turkish creationists command significant resources, though their financial background is unclear. Available in Muslim bookstores worldwide. A good place to start learning more is the Harun Yahya web site (English): www.hyahya.org Comparison to Christian version:  Comparison to Christian version The most visible form only gives the illusion of scholarship -- misrepresenting evidence, quoting out of context, using dubious sources etc. Comparison to Christian version:  Comparison to Christian version The most visible form only gives the illusion of scholarship -- misrepresenting evidence, quoting out of context, using dubious sources etc. However, academic support exists as well. Some theologians in major institutions, and even a minority of scientists are sympathetic and publicly supportive. Comparison continued...:  Comparison continued... Primary concern is apologetic and culturally defensive. Creationism is geared to a popular, already religious market. Comparison continued...:  Comparison continued... Primary concern is apologetic and culturally defensive. Creationism is geared to a popular, already religious market. Islamic creationism part of very successful re-Islamization movement. Creationists have influenced education policies, and institutions such as BAV are very wealthy and politically well-connected. Comparison continued...:  Comparison continued... Typical arguments from ID or ICR: gaps in fossil record, 2nd law, paleontological fraud, probability of complex structure, … Comparison continued...:  Comparison continued... Typical arguments from ID or ICR: gaps in fossil record, 2nd law, paleontological fraud, probability of complex structure, … But not indiscriminate copying. BAV omits flood geology and Genesis, and draws on Islamic tradition of perceiving a harmonious, complex universe as a clear sign of divine creation. Why copy the Protestants?:  Why copy the Protestants? Fundamentalisms are not traditionalist. Their constituency is a modernizing, often technically sophisticated population which affords cognitive authority to science (Eve & Harrold 1991). Western creationism provides ready-made populist pseudoscience relatively free of Protestant doctrinal idiosyncrasies. Defending Morality:  Defending Morality Muslim creationists want to defend a moral order revealed in nature as well as scripture. Fitra, or “created nature” is central to morality: people and life forms have well-defined roles in a created universe. Evolution undermines this view of the nature of morality. Biological facts no longer carry moral significance. Aristotelian Biology Revived:  Aristotelian Biology Revived Aristotelianism in apologists’ view of biology (Edis & Bix, forthcoming). It is true that as a whole, the male sex has been created superior to the female. Even the sperm which carries the male sign is different from the female. The male-bearing sperm is more active, … the female less. The egg stays stationary, the sperm seeks her out, and endures a long and dangerous struggle in the process. Generally in nature, all male animals are more complete, more superior compared to their females. … Man, being more enduring at work, and superior in prudence and willpower, has been given the duty of protecting woman. (Ates 1991) Conclusions:  Conclusions Public distortions of science are widespread in Muslim countries where modernity has made inroads. Possibly more so than in the industrialized West. Religiously inspired objections to mainstream science has, on occasion, found political and institutional support in the Muslim world. Speculative Conclusions...:  Speculative Conclusions... It is not certain that the institutional and cultural conflicts between Islam and science will be resolved in an accommodation like that of liberal Christianity. The strength of Islamic revival suggests otherwise. “Science vs. Religion” debates may come to have an increasingly Islamic flavor in the coming years. Further Information:  Further Information For more information on Islamic Creationism, including copies of this talk and of my papers on the subject, visit my web site at: www2.truman.edu/~edis/ My e-mail is: edis@truman.edu References:  References Akbulut, S. 1980. Darwin ve Evrim Teorisi. Istanbul: Yeni Asya. Ates, S. 1991. Gerçek Din Bu, vol 1. Istanbul: Yeni Ufuklar. Bucaillle, M. 1979. The Bible, The Qur’an and Science. Indianapolis: American Trust Edis, T. 1994. “Islamic Creationism In Turkey,” Creation/Evolution, 34 1. Edis, T. 1999. “Cloning Creationism In Turkey,” Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 19:6 30 Edis, T, and A Bix. Forthcoming. “Premodern Concepts of Gendered Bodies in Current Popular Islam.” Eve, R, and Harrold, F. 1991. The Creationist Movement in Modern America. Boston: Twayne. International Institute of Islamic Thought. 1989. Islamization of Knowledge. Herndon: IIIT. Moore, KL. et.al. 1992. Human Development as Described in the Quran and Sunnah. Makkah: Commission on Scientific Signs of the Quran and Sunnah. Sahin, A. 2001. Islam ve Sosyoloji açisindan ilim ve din bütünlügü. Istanbul: Bilge. Sayin, Ü, and A Kence. 1999. “Islamic Scientific Creationism,” Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 19:6 18 Yilmaz, I, and S Uzunoglu. 1995. Alternatif Biyolojiye Dogru. Izmir: TÖV.

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