Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Bracing for Islamic Creationism
Salman Hameed in Science:
Early in 2007, biologists and anthropologists at universities across the United States received an unsolicited gift of an 850-page, colored Atlas of Creation, produced by a Muslim creationist, Adnan Oktar, who goes by the pen name of Harun Yahya (Science, 16 February 2007, p. 925). The atlas was a timely notice that, although the last couple of decades have seen an increasing confrontation over the teaching of evolution in the United States, the next major battle over evolution is likely to take place in the Muslim world (i.e., predominantly Islamic countries, as well as in countries where there are large Muslim populations). Relatively poor education standards, in combination with frequent misinformation about evolutionary ideas, make the Muslim world a fertile ground for rejection of the theory. In addition, there already exists a growing and highly influential Islamic creationist movement (1). Biological evolution is still a relatively new concept for a majority of Muslims, and a serious debate over its religious compatibility has not yet taken place. It is likely that public opinion on this issue will be shaped in the next decade or so because of rising education levels in the Muslim world and the increasing importance of biological sciences.
More here. And related to this, again Salman Hameed in The Guardian this time:
How should scientists respond to the rising challenge of creationism in the Muslim world? Despite surveys showing hostility towards evolution, there is also an overwhelmingly pro-science attitude. This is particularly true for sciences that have practical and technological benefits. The message about evolution in the Islamic world therefore needs to be framed in a way that emphasises practical applications and shows that it is the bedrock of modern biology. This is the approach advocated in the US in the recent National Academy of Sciences publication Science, Evolution, and Creationism.
The arguments for evolution will have to be framed differently in each country. The national academies of Muslim countries can tailor the specifics of the message according to the political and cultural realities of their respective communities. For example, while evolution is included in the high school curricula of both Turkey and Pakistan, the challenges faced by schools in secular Turkey are very different from those in highly religious Pakistan.
Crucially, if a link between evolution and atheism is stressed, as some prominent scientists in the west have been advocating, this will undoubtedly cut short the dialogue and the vast majority of people in the Muslim world will choose religion over evolution. Muslim creationists know this and they have been stressing this link in their anti-evolution works.
Posted by S. Abbas Raza at 09:35 AM | Permalink