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Evolution of the Species of Inquiry 20 March 2006

Posted by MOZAFFAR in MOZAFFAR, Philosophy, Politics, Science.
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by MOZAFFAR

To all who have evolved from primates, and (heh,heh) all from whom primates have evolved:

The problem with the Evolution discussion is that somehow, people need to invoke theology. I don’t see why. We don’t do that when we’re talking about medicine/pharmacology; though perhaps we used to (and in some parts of the world we still do).

Further, it seems to me that many of the opinions we make on the hotbutton issues are little more than mimicking the opinions of others, and we do it without understanding the consequences of our choices. The result is that we misunderstand the issues, and box ourselves in to opinions which are not complete.

Take for example the issue of Abortion. In the United States, the issue of Abortion is only partially about the legality of terminating a pregnancy. Within the issue of pregnancy termination, we also have the issue of limits (discussing when a pregnancy termination is absolutely forbidden).

The issue also includes a discussion of whether or not the government should be involved (and in what capacity). Further, it claims to recall the age-old American issue of Church vs. State, though in reality it’s an issue of popular morality vs. legislation.

Further still, I doubt that anybody wants Abortions. I think that all sides would prefer to have no need for Abortions. But, the fact is that there are repeated situations in which the question of Abortion is raised. And, in many of those cases, we are talking about young people having babies. So, we also have the issue of cultural practices which are somehow getting packaged into the very tiny issue of Abortions. By either banning or endorsing government sponsored Abortions, are you changing the cultural practices? I don’t think so.

So, when a Muslim makes the knee-jerk choice of being “Pro-Life” s/he is making a much larger decision than s/he may realize.

So, regarding Evolution, here goes:

1- In terms of Evolution, in its connection with theology, it’s a non-issue.

a- If evolution took place, God made it happen. If it did not take place, God made it not happen. Somehow, people tend to believe that evolution is proof that God does not exist. Not sure what one has to do with the other, especially in terms of proofs of one’s existence against the other.

b- There are ayahs which, if taken literally, can be interpreted to have an evolutionary tinge. Of course, I don’t know what it means to “interpret” something “literally.” I’m saying that, in the same way we take those ayahs (for example in Surah al-Hajj) that seem to explain the formation of the embryo (if we read them literally), we also can read the ayahs stating that we are made from clay as evolution ayahs.

But, I’ll let you decide if we’re imposing readings; the fact is that it can be done.

2- In terms of evolution and its connection with science:

a- We can’t really use science to explain origins or destiny. Meaning, if the earliest point in the history of the universe is the Big Bang, science cannot tell us what came before it — that is not the purpose of science. But we can use science to explain what is in between the beginning and the end. Science can’t tell you what the first cause was, nor can it tell you if there is a last effect; that’s the stuff of religion and mythology.

b- In terms of what is indeed in between the beginning and the end (al-Awwal and al-Akhir), with specific relation to evolution, I think most (perhaps all) of the current theories are weak. But, I do believe that evolution took place; so the problem is in the theories right now. Maybe in a few decades, some thinkers will develop some solid ideas. But, for me, even though I do believe in evolution, it’s a belief near the bottom of my list of priorities.

3- Regarding Intelligent Design

a- Intelligent Design is great in terms of developing an appreciation for the universe. I can appreciate the Divinely-appointed ordered beauty of a spiral, whether it is something awe-inspiring, yet graceful, like a galaxy, or something awe-inspiring, yet horrific, like a hurricane, or something seemingly mundane, like the clockwise spiral of the toilet flush.

b- But, so much knowledge is about exploration and discovery. Intelligent Design is bent on hammering in conclusions. That’s the authoritarian death blow to discovery. It should be kept out of science, with force. Rather, the relationship with the Divine should ideally permeate the scientist’s quest. If a scientist, or a scholar of any field is a person who dedicates his/her studies to discover Allah’s amazing world (in physics or in ideas), then that’s just awesome. That’s why I love history. That’s why some of you love law, theology, sociology, etc.. You see God’s grace in it.

And, that brings me full circle — if evolution happened, it’s through God.

May Allah bless you.

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