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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Battling Islamic Creationism

"In the Muslim world there is tremendous respect for science itself. The general thinking is that Islam and science are compatible, or that Islam is a scientific religion. If evolution can be shown as a sound science, then the general belief that Islam and science are compatible may lead people to accept evolution within Islamic framework, especially if it is presented with good evidence," Salman Hameed, who teaches courses on science and religion at Hampshire College, tells New Scientist. "I think it's not a doomed situation. This is the time when people are starting to inquire more about evolution, so I think the next five to 10 years are crucial in solidifying people's opinions." The Quran, he says, "does not provide a single clear-cut verse that contradicts evolution," and young-earth creationism doesn't exist in Muslim countries, but the problem is the "misperception that evolution equals atheism" and the sense that evolution is "a symbol of the West and everything that is bad about the West—usually translated as material culture or materialism."
According to Hameed, who recently wrote a piece on Islamic creationism for the the journal Science, "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." (Click on image for larger view.)