Saturday, December 16, 2006

81)Some thoughts from a friend and colleague on creationism and evolution.

A medical colleague of mine, who also happens to be an amateur astronomer, penned these thoughts recently. It made me think about the following excerpt from the Memoirs of our 48th Imam, Aga Khan III:

"There is a fundamental difference between the Jewish idea of creation and that of Islam. The creation according to Islam is not a unique act in a given time but a perpetual and constant event; and God supports and sustains all existence at every moment by His will and His thought. Outside His will, outside His thought, all is nothing, even the things which seem to us absolutely self-evident such as space and time. Allah alone wishes: the Universe exists; and all manifestations are as a witness of the Divine will."

"Islamic doctrine goes further than the other great religions, for it proclaims the presence of the soul, perhaps minute but nevertheless existing in an embryonic state, in all existence in matter, in animals, trees, and space itself. Every individual, every molecule, every atom has its own spiritual relationship with the All-Powerful Soul of God."

Evidence from science points clearly to creation being "perpetual and constant": how else could one explain the fact that, at this very moment, a new star(sun) and two or three orbiting planets are forming in the Orion nebula, not far from our own solar system in the Milky Way galaxy.

The Islamic view of creation being perpetual and constant could also be compatible with the modern scientific conception of chemical evolution as well as some aspects of Darwinian evolution.

My friend's recently-penned thoughts:

Despite my science background I believe in creation (by GOD) AND evolution working in concert. I do not buy the theory that organisms arose from a primordial soup with electric arc! There has to be a supreme "power" to start the life process. The problem with logical science as we know is NOT all events are logical even simple day to day medical maladies like arthritis are poorly explained by science.Even Darwin was a firm believer in the teleological argument:

If organisms arose spontaneously in primordial earth. Why do scientists only get "crude" proteins in an experiment using ingredients thought to be present in the "primordial soup"?

Aquinas and the scholastics.
The most notable scholastics (circa 1100-1500 CE) who put forth teleological arguments were Averroes (Ibn-Rushd) and Thomas Aquinas. Averroes was writing in Spain from an Islamic perspective in the latter half of the 12th Century, and his influence was very considerable in interpreting many of Aristotle's ideas for the first time in Latin, thereby directly helping to make Aristotle available to Aquinas. Averroes was a transitional philosopher, partly a priori neo-Platonic, and partly a posteriori Aristotlean. As a result of his overlapping of the two modes in interpreting Aristotle, and also as a result of what would be known today as a strong disagreement between a deistic and theistic viewpoint in religious circles of that era, Averroes' work was highly controversial and fairly quickly became officially banned in both the Christian and Islamic world. Despite the lingering Platonic influence, Averroes' teleological arguments can be characterized as primarily Aristotelean and presuming one God. He argues based mainly upon Aristotle's Physics, in essence that the combination of order and continual motion in the universe cannot be accidental, and requires a Prime Mover, a Supreme Principle, which is in itself pure Intelligence.

This would set the stage for Aquinas in the 13th Century, whose arguments were much more thoroughly Aristotlean, a posteriori and empirically based than his predecessors. Aquinas makes a specific, compact and famous version of the teleological argument, the fifth of his five proofs for the existence of God in his Summa Theologiae:

"The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that they achieve their end, not fortuitously, but designedly. Now whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer. Therefore, some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God."
Darwin spent the summer of 1825 as an apprentice doctor, helping his father treat the poor of Shropshire. In the autumn he attended the University of Edinburgh to study medicine, but was revolted by the brutality of surgery and neglected his medical studies.

Charles Darwin came from a Nonconformist background. Though his father and grandfather were Freethinkers, lacking conventional religious beliefs,[109] he did not initially doubt the literal truth of the Bible.[110] He attended a Church of England school,[111] then at Cambridge studied Anglican theology. He intended to become a clergyman,[112] and was fully convinced by William Paley's teleological argument that design in nature proved the existence of God.[113] However, his beliefs began to shift during his time on board HMS Beagle. He questioned what he saw—wondering, for example, at beautiful deep-ocean creatures created where no one could see them, and shuddering at the sight of an ichneumon wasp paralysing caterpillars as live food for its eggs — a contradiction, in his view, of Paley's vision of beneficent design.[114] While on the Beagle Darwin was quite orthodox and would quote the Bible as an authority on morality, but had come to see the history in the Old Testament as being false and untrustworthy.[115]


Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation:Aga Khan 4.
The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being:Aga Khan 3