Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Creationism part deux

Okay, creationism in Islam. Actually I had a tough time finding a lot of material, presumably most Islamic-creationist literature and websites would be in Arabic, which I can’t read, so it might be more prevalent than my English-language searches indicate.

Overall creationism, to the extent that it attacks science or denies evidence in favour of literal interpretation of scripture, does not appear to be too wide spread in the Islamic world. It does exist as there are some groups in Turkey that promote creationism, and I presume the same exists in more fundamentalist nations like Pakistan. But it appears to nowhere near as prevalent as in North America. A quick Google-news search didn’t find any recent articles (looks like everyone is still focusing on the Pope’s recent comments about Islam) so I guess the question is, why isn’t it more prevalent?

What is said about the issue in the Qur’an would be a major factor. While the Qur’an has much that is in common with the Bible (the virgin birth of Jesus for example) it does not go into the level of detail that Genesis does in terms of the creation of the world. The Bible has a detailed series of “A begat B who begat C . . .” and in North America there is a type of creationist called Young Earth Creationists who add up all the begats and thus determined that the maximum age of the Earth is something like 6,000 years, give or take a few thousand. This of course flies in the face of pretty much all of the sciences, as well as history, sociology, and other academic disciplines so YECs are pretty vocal in their anti-science stance. I think you have to go into pretty deep denial to wish away all of the evidence that shows that the Earth is older than 6,000 years - but they do it! Since the Qur’an lacks the detailed lineage in the Biblical Genesis, and I don’t think the Qur’an gives a specific age for the Universe, you don’t see the Islamic equivalent of YECs as there is no specific age to hang your hat on.

Generally Islamic creationism seems to focus on just attacking the theory of evolution, but rather than go into detail I’ll just link to a Wikipedia article on creationism in Islam, a good starting point in case you want to learn more. And of course there is always Talk Origins.

If I get a chance in the future to talk to an Islamic biologist I’ll ask them for their opinion on the issue and how widespread creationism and other anti-science thought exists in various parts of the Islamic world.

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