Monday, August 27, 2007

Muslim Creationism - A Case of Interfaith Dialogue?

Just as some Christians feel the Theory of Evolution stands in conflict with the Bible, some Muslims feel it is in Conflict with the Quran. This is perhaps not so odd in itself, but I at least was surprised to find out that these groups actually stand in contact with each other.

During a visit to the University of Göttingen in Germany last week, I was given a publication in which Dr. Martin Riexinger tells the interesting story of Turkish Creationism. The history goes back to the 19th century, but gets interesting during the 1980's, when the school books in the (until then?) rigorously secular state schools were modified so that not only were creationism introduced as an alternative to evolution in biology, but fierce anti-evolution polemics was introduced in the books on religious education (a subject introduced at the same time).

The Turkish found inspiration among American Evangelicals, who were often cited as western scientists. The reason that evangelical protestants were noted in Muslim circles in Turkey also had to do with the fact that US creationists repeatedly visited Turkey to look for Noak's ark on mount Ararat. However, the evangelical argumentation for a young earth was of no interest to the Turks, since the Quran does not contain any narrative comparable to that of Genesis regarding the early generations of humans.

Even more fascinating is the fact that the contacts have also gone in the other direction, from Turkey to the US. In 2004, Mustafa Akyol, who teaches an Islamic variation of the "Intelligent Design"-theory, was invited to a hearing at the Kansas Department of Education, at which the question if ID was to be taught in Kansas Schools was discussed. The idea was to bring in a Muslim in order to rebut the argument that ID is based on Christian Theology.

13 comments:

The Arcadian said...

There's definately common ground there, and people of all faiths will increasingly find cause to close ranks in a post-enlightenment millitantly secular world.

However, creationism has no validity outside the religious context- there is no way to 'prove' it (or similarly 'disprove' it) for non-believers. Rather, there should be a call for more honest science that can admit the failings of broad theories and paradigms such Darwinism.

Check out S. H Nasr on the topic of science and the sacred.

ken said...

"Even more fascinating" as in "what the ... ??" or as in "Yeah, this is uber cool!"?

I find "American Evangelicals, who were often cited as western scientists" to be more more along the lines of "what the ..."

But that's just me.

Patrik said...

Fascinating since conservative Muslims and American evangelicals rarely see eye to eye.

Creationism, of course, is complete nonsense which makes the whole thing even more interesting.

laura said...

Wow!!

I still don't know where I stand on all of this. I understand creationism metaphorically, but metaphor has far more importance than we tend to give it in modern day society - within religion or outside of it. Evolution has more evidence to support it and may be more factual, but it exists in a different realm of understanding.

I keep meaning to read Evolution, Creationism, and Other Modern Myths by Vine Deloria to get the intellectual Native American perspective.

I appreciate your title. There is something both encouraging and terrifying about fundamentalists coming together to espouse the literal, "rational" truth of creationism.

Anonymous said...

Patrick,

This is off topic but I have a question regarding Tillich if you have a moment. I'm making my way through Systematic Theology and I don't really get the relation between the state of "objective reason" to that of non-being. As I I understand him 'objective reason' would correspond to the Divine Intellect in the Neoplatonic scheme and follows purgation and illumination in early Christian asceticism. It's the logos or one-and-many that transcends discursive thought or subjective reason. This in turn is conditioned by non-being or 'the power of being' and is linked to the experience of anxiety. Is Tillich's non-being the 'one' of neoplatonism, the simple ground of Eckhart or 'emptiness' in Buddhist thought in which the anxiety of non-being on the finite self is integrated and anxiety transcended? If that makes any sense. Usually when discussing non-being he makes reference to Plotinus, psuedo-dionysius, Boehme etc. but never refers to Eckhart who it would seem would be highly relevant to the issue and who he seems to have a high of opinion of in his brief mention of him in 'History of Christian Thought'. I'd appreciate any help, I'm pretty lost in regards to his discussion of this at the end of vol. 1.

Travis

Patrik said...

Travis,

I'm not sure I can help you, except it would seem strange to equate non-being with the neo-platonic One - in fact I would think they were opposites. God is that which stands against non-being, God is being itself.

My general feeling is that one should not read in to much neo-platonism in Tillich. I don't think the influence is that substantive - its more like he is borowing some language of him.

I think Eckhart would be a much more important reference-point.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patrik, again off topic, but I found your Blog vis Sharon Astyk, and my thoughts on your theology got a little too long for a comment. Do you have a place I could e-mail it to? I couldn't find an e-mail attached to this blog.

Brian M.

Patrik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

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Jeff said...

My name is Jeff and I have created GODSurfer.com. I am a huge Internet fan, I am a programmer by trade and I love the Internet. The mission of GODSurfer.com is to bring Christian related Articles, Blogs and Sites to everyone that is interested in Christianity. You may ask, what is Christan related Articles, Blogs and Sites? Well that is a good question. This site is a tool to spread the good word of Jesus Christ to the world. This includes all faiths of Christianity (Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, and Christian Non-Denominational). Although GODSurfer.com is tolerant of
other religions and point of views. The main point of GODSurfer.com is to spread the word of GOD to everyone who comes across this site.

The best thing about this site is that it is you, the user of GODSurfer.com that will post the URL’s of the articles, blogs and sites to GODSurfer.com so everyone can view what you are viewing. GODSurfer.com is very closely modeled after social networking sites such as: digg and reddit. Where the users can vote on stories that are interesting. The more votes the stories get, the longer it stays visible on the front page. That is how it works here at GODSurfer as well! (coming soon) Stories that are non-Christian, negative or stories that have very little value to the mission of this site will be buried and removed from the site.

What I would like to do is trade links with you. My information is as follows:

GODSurfer - Bringing God to your online life!

E-mail me back with your text link and I will be sure to add it.

Thanks and have a great day!

Jeff
http://www.godsurfer.com
http://godsurfer.com/blog/
jeffv@godsurfer.com

Martin Riexinger said...

Thanks for advertsing, but who gave you the article?

Patrik said...

I attended a symposium organized by Prof. Dr. Martin Tamcke. I was very muck impressed with that publication, much more solid than much universities use to present themselves.

Martin Riexinger said...

So you might be interested in this:

http://mujlt.law.muni.cz/view.php?cisloclanku=2009030010

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/brill/dwi/2009/00000049/00000002/art00003