Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Islam and Creationism

The NYTimes has an article about a study coming out of McGill University in Montreal about the increasing prevalence of Creationism in Islamic communities and countries, a topic I know many of my regular readers will be interested in and and more informed about than I am.

According to the article, Muslim Creationists tend to be "old earth" Creationists in contrast to the more Christian "young earth" Creationists, meaning most Muslim Creationists do not think the earth to be a mere 6000 years old. They have no real problem with geologists and astronomers who argue that the earth is billions of years old. But they do seem to have some problems with biologists:

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.

This, as with everything, varies from group to group and from country to country, but there is a growing presence everywhere in the Muslim world. What is interesting is that evolution is not totally excluded, but only HUMAN evolution:

For many Muslims, even evolution and the notion that life flourished without the intervening hand of Allah is largely compatible with their religion. What many find unacceptable is human evolution, the idea that humans evolved from primitive primates. The Koran states that Allah created Adam, the first man, separately out of clay.

All other life can evolve, it seems, except human beings who are created directly by God. For the information from country to country, check out the article.


khany said...

peace Jared,

"... even evolution and the notion that life flourished without the intervening hand of Allah is largely compatible with their religion."

i am surprised by this comment. in fact, muslims see god to be the source of all transformations, not only life processes.

the article seems to associate (incorrectly) a 'god of gaps' understanding to muslim belief. for example even if there one can understand rain as being caused or explained by a sequence of physical processes, it's ultimate cause is god's will. evolution is a means. muslims (who choose to believe in evolution) see it as a means chosen by god to achieve his purpose.

the reason why evolution of humans might be considered incompatible (by muslims) with their religious beliefs is because the quranic narratives state that adam descended to earth already in human form.


Jared Calaway said...

Thank you for your comment, and I apologize for responding so belatedly. I just noticed the comment today.

I admit a certain degree of ignorance. I was relying upon the article for that phrase. The "even" of the quoted phrase, however, indicates its perceived exceptional nature. There may be some "God-of-the-gaps" Muslims, but that is not exactly what that phrase means. It is more of God as catalyst.

I recognize that others hold to varying views. The idea that God is involved in every possible mutation in the evolutionary process does create a more intimate perspective on the divine-human relationship--one that I can see as quite attractive.

khany said...

hello Jared,

my contention with the article was not particular to its take on evolution but with the general islamic understanding of the relationship it advocated between god and his creation.

muslims do not believe the "intervention" of god with respect to human creation to be exceptional. god's interaction with his creation is believed to be absolutely essential, continuous and encompassing everything and every moment. thus the term 'intervention' seems out of place to me in the first place.

i was reminded of your blogpost after reading this article today:
is creation an evolutionary process?