Friday, October 31, 2014

The Story of Adam in the Qur'an VS Theory of Evolution

(Current) Sains kata manusia adalah sebahagian dari produk evolusi alam. Sementara Qur'an pula beritahu, manusia berasal dari keturunan Nabi Adam a.s. yang diciptakan secara langsung oleh Allah 'Azza wa jal.

There's ample evidence from science that shows things evolve, you have mutation, natural selection. People see a direct contradiction with god, Islam and evolution. How does a Muslim address this?

Answer (by Hamza Tzortzis)
It's very simple, Islam generally says go where the science takes you, to a point where it doesn't negate established theological facts.

As a Muslim when we look at evolution and we say it's amazing and interesting, we keep in mind that this is a theory that seems to work, it has a lot of empirical and theoretical justification. So as a Muslim scientist I would continue to do the science and agree with some of its conclusions.

- However, what we would say is if there is something that goes against the Islamic narrative, we would do an epistemic weighing, which means what is more valuable in terms of knowledge.

We know science is amazing and great but it changes all the time, e.g it changes because of two keys: thinking processes induction and empiricism.

- Induction is a thinking process where you have limited set of observations. And for the next observation, you make a conclusion based on the previous observations.

The issue is you might have a different observation that negates the previous observation e.g I'm a scientist in wales, I count the color of sheep and I count a 1000 sheep and they are all white so I conclude that they are all white, or the next sheep will be white. But there are black sheep so the next observation can be a black sheep and this will disagree with your previous conclusion. Science works heavily on induction which is never 100%

- Also science uses the worldview called empiricism, which basically says I can't have knowledge on anything unless it's directly or indirectly observable. But that means there might be something which you haven't seen, so there could be a future possible observation, that you haven't observed which can go against your current data. That's why every sincere scientist will say science is never 100%.

- So when we look at evolution, we need to realize that that's the best that we have now. But if in the best that we have, a part of evolution goes against the Islamic narrative (a part of it, not all of it as we agree with natural selection, mutations etc. but if there's something that goes against the Islamic narrative), we do an epistemic value weighing.

What is the value of knowledge? We saw in science, there's limitations, induction and empiricism. You will never get 100% truth. But with the Qur'an, it outweighs the conclusions made by science, why? Because we believe it's from the Creator. And we believe it's from the Creator for many many good rational and logical reasons. And therefore who will be more likely to be truthful? Us, humans as scientist, who are looking to the world to find the best conclusion using induction and empiricism which is limited? Or the Creator who created us and has all knowledge and He has the picture and we only have the pixel?

- We can also add that there was a time when most scientists believed that the universe was eternal. In the 1940's they believed in the steady state theory, the universe had no beginning or end, which contradicted the Qur'an, which says the universe began to exist.

So if you were a Muslim living in the 1940's, would you go with the Qur'an or with what scientists were saying? And there was a consensus amongst the scientists that the universe was always there. And it turned out science was wrong. And science changed.

The useful thing here is not to see this as a negative. It’s a good thing because science is the progressive development of knowledge based upon the empirical world and that’s a good thing. It becomes bad when you have the likes of Richard Dawkins etc. who say this is the 100% truth; and don’t entertain the fact that they might be wrong.


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