Debate on Islam and evolution has to be called off after revolt by student societies

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Organisers behind a British conference on Islam and evolution say they nearly had to cancel the event after receiving a torrent of opposition from Muslim students at one of the country’s top scientific universities, The Independent has leanred.


The Deen Institute, a Muslim debating forum which promotes critical thinking, had hoped to hold a conference entitled “Have Muslims misunderstood evolution?” early next year. Among the speakers invited to attend included Muslim scientists, imams who have promoted the compatibility of Islam and evolution as well as those who preach a form of Islamic creationism.

The initial plan was to hold the event next month at Imperial College London, one of the country’s foremost universities for scientific exploration and debate, in cooperation with the local Islamic student society. But the Deen Institute said it was forced to pull out when it became clear that opposition to the event from supporters of creationism began mounting. It is now being held without input from any Muslim student society at Logan Hall, a conference centre owned by the University of London.

“We eventually had to give up of getting any support from student societies because it was seen as simply too controversial,” Adam Deen, co-founder of the institute, told The Independent. Deen, who describes himself as a “conservative Muslim” who encourages critical thinking, said he was surprised to receive such opposition at a place of scientific study, particularly as he had made sure to invite all sides of the debate including those who preach creationism.

“It’s symptomatic of a bigger problem in the Muslim world where people representing practical Muslims have to be seen to be more literalist,” he said. “It’s almost like there’s an intellectual mafia movement who won’t allow any freedom of thought.”

Written By: Jerome Taylor
continue to source article at independent.co.uk

71 COMMENTS

  1. The headline is misleading – the debate hasn’t been called off – just modified and relocated.  I find it heartbreaking that it is students who have created the partial shut-down of open debate when it should be our youth who, traditionally, should be leading the charge for change.  What hope have we when the “brightest and the best” are such dismal failures?

  2. Obviously Islam has its spectrum of hardliners-softliners-wishywashy compromisers-accommodtionists and way off in the wings, a handful of atheists. Superstition, especially when your entire culture is mired in it, is like a swamp, and you are born into it with just your nose above water. I wish there were a way to withhold all advances in science from those who do not accept it. And for those who accept technology but reject evolution, let them have the very first flu inoculation created for the very first flu bug. And no third generation antibiotics.

  3. After watching episode 3 of The Dark Ages (Age of Light) on BBC Four, which is about the Art and Science of Islam in the Dark Ages, (which by the way was joyful, scientific and creative) one can only draw the conclusion that Islam is now in the Dark Ages and the rest of the world is progressing without them.

  4. There is positive reference in early Muslim philosophy to evolution but as stated here, Islam has gone backwards since. I believe Islam is under extreme threat (as are all religions) and the reactions of denial and violence mandated by the koran is a desperate last-ditch attempt to ‘defend’ it. 

    Events in Egypt may provide an indicator of Islam’s progress which up to now has been worrying. Perhaps the secular protests will have an effect, even though it’s unlikely the anti- MB element can win.

  5. Quite so. As with other ‘scientific miracles’ in the ‘glorious koran’ its all laughably stupid yet the Islamist dopes tie themselves in knots trying to convince each other. 

    O/T-   FZ fan, perchance?  :-)

  6. It is very sad how far science in the islamic world has fallen, this was the culture that invented the numbers we use now, preserved a lot of the knowledge from ancient Greece and named many of the stars. Neil Degrasse Tyson does a great talk about it on YouTube.
     Prior to 1100AD Baghdad was the tolerant, intellectual capital of the world, christian, jew and muslim lived in peace and progress was fast, then some imam halfwit decided mathematics was the invention of the devil, the hardliners took over and progress stalled and then died.

  7. “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. Theodosius Dobzhansky. Nobel Laureate Biologist.   

    This, I submit, is the tip of an iceberg of ignorance induced by religion; poisonous indeed!

    One of our daughters is at Imperial reading Biochemistry, so I’ll have to get in touch with her about this childish nonsense.

    How on earth did these individuals manage to get in to the University in the first place? Did they feign acceptance of the knowledge? And if they graduate how trustworthy will they be in their applications?

    Methinks this has gone far enough; more than enough slack has been dished out.

    This is a very serious trend indeed, in that it is attempting to undermine scientific integrity and progress, not only at school level, but now at University level too, with fairy tails for grown ups. 

    I myself don’t possess sufficient knowledge to counter it – but I know a man who does!

    If these ignoramuses interrupt my daughter’s progress there will be skin and hair flying! 

  8. “It’s almost like there’s an intellectual mafia movement who won’t allow any freedom of thought.”
    That’s one of the best definitions of a religion (any religion) I’ve ever heard, it is for practical purposes THE definition of religion.   You can’t have religion without controlling the thought (basically preventing it altogether) of the followers.

    Anyone who starts actually thinking about religion and what it teaches is starting the process of moving away from religion.

  9. Deen’s comment sums everything up,  “It’s almost like there’s an intellectual mafia movement who won’t allow any freedom of thought.” As an ex-Muslim and living in a Muslim society, I see this aversion to critical thinking and and inability for logical discourse all around me. And hurts me deeply! 
    The self-description of Mr. Deen as ”a conservative Muslim who encourages critical thinking” was oxymoron.

  10. That glorious past was not Islamic just because of the fact that Muslims were doing science then. It would be like saying that Newton’s physics is an example of ‘glorious Christian past’ just because Newton was a Christian. Muslims did science despite of Islam, not because of it. Discovery and Arabic translations of Greek works were the reason of that intellectual phase. (I’m an ex-Muslim, and I’ve studied a lot about this misconception of glorious past of Islam)

  11. Really? I mean…REALLY? Let them die because they don’t accept evolution? Call me crazy, but methinks this is a bit too extreme… Having them flunk their courses if they don’t attend or disrupt the class would be enough. Of course, they could always fake it and just write down what they have memorized without agreeing, but nothing could be done about that, sort of forming an Evolutional Inquisition. :P

  12. This problem isn’t going to go away and there’s many reasons why not. Socially Islam is feeling insecure and there’s a symptomatic feeling of being in a ‘fight’ with everyone. The young instead of being the ones to grow Islam out of the darkness are becoming more aggressive and protective of their religion, mostly brought on by the brainwashing of going to Islamic schools and being brought up in Islamic traditions, even though they’re living in the UK.

    What needs to be done is that university shouldn’t accept students from known creationists schools and lets be clear, they are known. The problem of course is money. Universities are desperate for it and since the sciences are nowhere near the most desired positions anymore you’re going to continue to see this problem, not only in the UK but in other western societies.

    It is also a symptom of the school system itself. Too many schools bend over backwards not to offend students or make them question too much. There is too many easy outs in schools and this has to stop. When it comes to evolution, it needs to be more incorporated into the curriculum and seen as the main part of biology instead of this specialized field or part of.

    In fact I think the sciences in general need a re-thinking in how they teach them in schools in general.

    I expect to continue to see more of this type of problem. Islam knows how to shutdown discussion. Threats, violence and appeals to being ‘hurt’.

  13. When the students graduate and go back to their Muslim family or group, I wonder if they will have gained much and challenged their minds or will they revert to their religious ways. Hopefully, they are not getting funding or government aid. Incompetence or closed mindedness should not be funded off the backs of other people hoping to gain from these students’ advancement and future contributions.

  14.  Khomi, Do you think it has to do with the fear of something incorrect being exposed when they are challenged and then forced to change? Or maybe they fear that they will come out “looking bad” and this is unacceptable to their egos?

  15. It has to do with a very extreme and dangerous childhood indoctrination. They they are blindfolded into believing Koran is a book of facts, and that’s the evidence for its being divine. They are smart enough to realize if evolution is accepted to be true, it throws Koran out of window. And they are programmed since childhood (with this virus of the mind called religion) not to let that happen. What religion can do to one’s mind is a very complex and interesting subject, and needs to be explored further by evolutionary psychologists. Why We believe in Gods by Andy Thomson will give you a good idea of why they are so reluctant to even debate about evolution.

  16. Universities have a realpolitik to contend with.  They are now more mercantile than ever and Imperial gets a big chunk of its income from overseas students.  Basically they have to put up with what comes through the door brandishing enough money.  Even if you have an entry test that effectively bars religio-reductionist fukwits of the world from taking courses in medicine and biology it still means you could be up to the gunwhales in students with nutterist ideas from other faculties who will make enough of a stink to squash in sensible debate. 

  17. I concur, much of what passes for early muslim science is to be found in earlier sources though they were instrumental in moving the information around.

    Newton’s work is among the most profound thinking from human intellect yet the xtians did not pounce upon it and claim it as theirs.  Too busy with more important things like admonishing all future generations of humanity with the 2nd most important and profound idea to come from the mind of the master and creator of the universe.  “Though shalt not make any graven images!”  The devout muslims think this gem is so important they are prepared to kill for it.

  18. This does annoy me. What a shame it is that people waste their lives on nonsense. Of course it is more than a shame that the fastest growing religion is encroaching on secular democracies where freedom of thought and expression is being rescinded.

    By the way your “I think” image would make a great t-shirt. One for the RDFRS store

  19. There’s a chap I see now and then in the sauna who’s a devout Muslim and who visits Mecca to pray for a month each year, and he told me that everything that’s happening now was predicted in the Qur’ an, so I bought a copy.

    Admittedly I haven’t got very far in reading it, finding it very heavy going, but I look forward to coming across references that can be linked to present day science, medicine and technology.

    What are the chances of that happening please? Or am I on a hiding to nothing?

    I know about what was happening in Mesopotamia in the eleventh century, until that is people like Abu Hamid al-Ghazali stuck in their oars pronouncing all the learning to be the work of the Devil, – especially mathematics for some reason –  but did any of the activity before the Imams arived on the scene get translated into the holy book, and if so where can it be found please? After all, there are 114 suras to get through, and life’s fairly short!

      

  20. “It is now being held without input from any Muslim student society at Logan Hall, a conference centre owned by the University of London.”

    Who gives a damn about the evolutionary input of people totally devoted to Islam?

    Would we care if there was going to be no input into a discussion on plate tectonics from the flat earth society? Hell no.

    Not even news and if it is, it’s good news.

  21.   Vorlund –
      Newton’s work is among the most profound thinking from human intellect yet the xtians did not pounce upon it and claim it as theirs. 
    Too busy with more important things like admonishing all future generations of humanity with the 2nd most important and profound idea to come from the mind of the master and creator of the universe. 
    “Though shalt not make any graven images!” 

    But read through Xtian rosy specs, this reads: ” Decorate your R Catholic and CofE churches with statues and coloured picture windows, and hang painted icons in Orthodox churches

    The devout muslims think this gem is so important they are prepared to kill for it.

    Well what else  – from the “religion of PEACE”?

  22. I don’t agree with the notion that Islam had a glorious scientific past. Arabs did, and they happened to be Muslim.

    “The earth is flat. Whoever claims it is round is an atheist deserving of punishment.”

    —Sheik Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baaz, supreme religious authority of Saudi Arabia, 1993

  23. ‘The problem of course is money’ – my sentiments exactly.  Fewer young people are applying for any courses, not just science ones, ( about 11% fewer this year than last) so universities are desperate for applicants. A combination of the need to generate funds by universities and political correctness on their part will culminate in an educational disaster, the signs of which we are seeing already in the above article.  I am quite worried for the future not only of our education but society in general if national institutions such as universities don’t take positive action and stand firm in the application of modern and rational standards.  

  24. ” It’s almost like there’s an intellectual mafia movement who won’t allow any freedom of thought “

    What does he mean by ” almost ” ?

    Sounds to me like he almost understands the problem.

  25. Qu’ran is full of repetitions and contradictions and prolonged, or indeed any reading of it, will tax your nerves, as it did mine both times I read it.  The milder, more moderate suras are at the beginning and the more fanatical and violent ones near the end.  That’s why some Muslims are able to claim that Islam is peaceful while others agree that all it promotes are war and violence – it all depends whether they base their ideology on the first or last suras.  However, the very final pronouncements of the prophet are always the binding ones, so if you want to resolve the question of Islam being peaceful or not, look up the ones at the end, therein, alas, lies the true Islam, lest we forget it. 

  26. I have to say I’m rather surprised to hear this from Adam Deen.

    Let us not forget that he is the Islamic William Lane-Craig. Indeed he steals every one of Craig’s (cr*ppy) arguments and straw-man ‘ripostes’. The only difference is that he changes the name of the deity and doesn’t have any of Craig’s debating panache. Craig’s confidence and style are something to behold, to be sure; but, in terms of content, the ‘arguments’ he presents boil-down to the infamous Gish-gallop with the application of glitter to his series of turds. Deen’s version is the same (minus the glitter).

    A prating god-bot of the most intellectually dishonest nature is Deen…

  27.  I only recently learned flat-Earth belief is popular with Muslims. I dismissed references to it as hyperbolic slander, until Jaques Fresco gave an account of convincing an imam otherwise. The imam said if the Earth was round, water would roll off it like it does a ball. Fresco then charged a balloon with static electricity and showed it holding objects to its surface. The Muslim exclaimed “the Earth is a magnet?!”, to which Fresco just nodded.

    So much wrongness….

  28. Dave H

    ” It’s almost like there’s an intellectual mafia movement who won’t allow any freedom of thought ”

    What does he mean by ” almost ” ?

    Sounds to me like he almost understands the problem.

    He is heading that way, and has nearly got it! – but that would be “apostasy” and he would have to be suppressed by the identified religious “Mafia”!

    ” It’s that’s there’s an anti-intellectual Mafia movement who won’t allow any freedom of thought. “

  29. Andy Thomson’s book is excellent; I recommend it whole heartedly.

    Since I asked you if there are any cross references between the Muslim holy book and the achievements of the eleventh century I’ve read more of your comments and now realize that you’ve answered my question.

    The degree of cognitive dissonance religion induces is quite astonishing; so my sauna acquaintance is in all likelihood fantasising. No, he is certainly fantasising!

  30. Sorry I couldn’t answer you earlier, just logged in. Actually many Muslims make these ridiculous claims. They don’t know what the scientific concepts like the big bang or evolution are, but they still claim Koran has all these things explained in it 1400 years ago. Actually if you really want to, you can take ambiguous statements from old Hindu scriptures, the Greek/Roman mythology, the works of Nostradamus, or the ancient poetry in any language, and re-interpret them to try and ‘prove’ that they contain allusions to modern science. But any of such claims can be shown to be false by a serious, logical scrutiny. There is a book by a Mr. Zakir Naik, an Indian apologist of Islam, where he tries to ‘prove’ the connection of Koranic verses and modern science. All you have to have is a little knowledge of what the modern science actually says, and you’d laugh at his ludicrous, illogical attempts to show a connection between science and Muslim mythology.

  31. A main concern for a majority of Americans is whether a given presidential candidate believes in God. And America ranks pretty low among Western countries in their acceptance of evolution. And the ‘intelligent design” campaign actually started in the USA. You have many similar problems to overcome, mate.

  32. The milder Surahs are called Makki Surahs (revealed in Mecca), they were ‘revealed’ by Muhammad when he started spreading his message, and he was alone and vulnerable. They are usually shorter and more poetic. Once Muhammad was able to gather a strong group of people around him, and became a de facto King, he controlled the masses by other Surahs (called Madni Surah, revealed in Madina), longer, less poetic, and violent. Power corrupts.

  33. “… this was the culture that invented the numbers we use now, preserved a lot of the knowledge from ancient Greece…”

    These are politically correct myths. The so-called Arabic numerals are actually Hindu numerals. The Muslims just took them along with everything else they came across on their trips to the Indian subcontinent, such as other people’s lives an their wives. And how does not burning more than just almost all books that weren’t the Qur’an qualify as “preserving”? The works of Plato and Aristotle were doing just fine without Islamic meddlers, weren’t they? And the rest of the “Islamic” science done in the Islamic “Golden Age” were done by Jewish and Christian dhimmis who I suppose had a little higher status than the other dhimmis. The emulators of Muhammed have contributed nothing but war, murder, misery, rape and slavery to the project the rest of us deserve to call ‘civilization’.

  34. Imperial College ranks alongside MIT and CalTech as one of the three great science universities and research establishments in the world.

    How on Earth do people who do not accept something as basic to science as evolution manage to get past the admissions tutor?

  35. I’ve seen the Indian gentleman you mention, he even came to ‘lecture’ in Oxford, always in trousers slightly too short, and demonstrating much too short a scientific vision, it being wrung out of all things Koranic and nothing else.  What amazes me is how he manages to command such huge audiences, thousands of people in vast venues, back home in India.  People seem so eager to hear him, the venues usually packed to the rafters with keen and supportive listeners; however, sometimes he gets shown up by the questions, on occasion even by one from a child – there is hope!  His arguments are usually circular but what else can you expect?  They are based on the Koran, the Koran is true, the word of Allah is final, the prophet said so in the Koran – round and round he goes ad nauseum.  One of these days his audience will get too dizzy, that’s my hope anyway! 
    Thanks for your Makki and Madni explanations. Khomi. 

  36. What you say about Imperial College fills me with pride; one of our daughters is reading Biochemistry there.

    She also won a sojourn at the Karolinska Instutute, and spent a year in Strasbourg as an Erasmus Scholar.

    But of course Universities quite rightly vie with one another for the top position all the time. 

  37. So, there are one hundred and fourteen suras, written one thousand four hundred years ago, - there’s a certain satisfying symmetry there at least - and they are, each and every one of them, precisely what I thought them to be – self serving tripe! Well well! ; and how many Muslims are there?

    Just goes to confirm what Andy Thomson says; we are all susceptible to delusions.

    I sometimes think that evolution is fundamentally so simple, that it, must be an illusion.

    One thing I am pretty certain of though is that there are only two reasons why anyone won’t accept it : ignorance or religious belief; an extremely dangerous cocktail.  

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