Scientific American ignoring the Elephant in the Room: Darwinian Evolution: Islam or Christianity?

Can the Christian apologists see the elephant, after reading: Charles Darwin: An Epiphany for the Muslims, A Catastrophe for the Christians

Can the Christian apologists see the elephant, after reading: Charles Darwin: An Epiphany for the Muslims, A Catastrophe for the Christians

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Last week, John Horgan, a teacher at Stevens Institute of Technology, published an article in Scientific American titled, What Should Teachers Say to Religious Students Who Doubt Evolution?

The main theme of his article is reflected in the second and the third paragraph of his article:

One course is a freshman survey of the humanities and social sciences, and the other reviews the history of science and technology. I asked both classes to write a paper on the following question: Why do you think Darwin’s theory of evolution still encounters so much opposition today? I encouraged the students to personalize their responses—that is, to discuss how they reconciled their own faith, if any, with evolutionary theory.

While grading the papers, I separated them into three categories. 1. Evolution and faith can be compatible, as long as faith is willing to abandon literal interpretations of scripture. 2. Science trumps faith, period. 3. Faith trumps science. Some of the papers were hard to categorize, because they were noncommittal or simply confusing. But here are the numbers I came up with: Of the 35 students, a majority, 20, said that evolution and religion are or should be compatible. Six students said that science has replaced, or should replace, religious explanations of creation. Nine students rejected evolution because it contradicted their faith.

He then goes on to quoting from the nine students, who rejected evolution because it contradicted their faith.  He tackles their criticism of biology and evolution.  However, as is the case with most contemporary writers on the subject of religion and evolution, he ignores the elephant in the room.  The main conflict between religion and science is not between Darwinian evolution and God being a Creator, but did God create Adam and Eve, as the first human couple, some 6000 years ago and did that result in the Original Sin.  The elephant in the room is not whether there is a God, who created our universe, but, the Christian theology of Original Sin and vicarious atonement!

Judaism, Christianity and Islam all believe in a Creator God and this belief can be reconciled with Darwinian evolution, but Original Sin and young earth, no older than 6000-10,000 years old, cannot be reconciled with biology or geology.  Not only the Christian apologists fail to make this distinction, but, even many agnostic and atheist writers, because of their childhood religion and their lack of familiarity with Islam, as understood by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, miss the boat, of root cause of evolution wars in USA.  This is an article to encourage all to not tackle the subject with broad brush and generalizations, but, make distinctions between different religions and sects and their religious doctrines and metaphysics.

Andrew Dickson White, (November 7, 1832 – November 4, 1918) was a U.S. diplomat, historian, and educator, who was the co-founder of Cornell University[2] and its Founding President, understood the issues pertaining to Original Sin and Darwinian evolution, much better than the contemporary writers.  He has tackled many of these issues in his classical book, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom.  There was a time in history, when Christianity obsessed over  the doctrine or dogma of Original Sin, and called it by different fancy names including ‘the Fall,’ but, since the Enlightenment, the Christian apologists mention it sparingly and hence the contemporary writers fail to realize the real conflict between science and religion.  Andrew Dickson White did not have this blind spot, as he was the very reason why this blind spot has been tactfully created in the last century or more by the Christian apologists.  He writes  about ‘the Fall,’ in the chapter, the ‘Fall of Man’ and Anthropology:

The first blow at the fully developed doctrine of ‘the Fall’ came, as we have seen, from geology. According to that doctrine, as held quite generally from its beginnings among the fathers and doctors of the primitive Church down to its culmination in the minds of great Protestants like John Wesley, the statement in our sacred books that ‘death entered the world by sin’ was taken as a historic fact, necessitating the conclusion that, before the serpent persuaded Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit, death on our planet was unknown. Naturally, when geology revealed, in the strata of a period long before the coming of man on earth, a vast multitude of carnivorous tribes fitted to destroy their fellow–creatures on land and sea, and within the fossilized skeletons of many of these the partially digested remains of animals, this doctrine was too heavy to be carried, and it was quietly dropped.

But about the middle of the nineteenth century the doctrine of the rise of man as opposed to the doctrine of his ‘fall’ received a great accession of strength from a source most unexpected. As we saw in the last chapter, the facts proving the great antiquity of man foreshadowed a new and even more remarkable idea regarding him. We saw, it is true, that the opponents of Boucher de Perthes, while they could not deny his discovery of human implements in the drift, were successful in securing a verdict of ‘Not proven’ as regarded his discovery of human bones; but their triumph was short-lived. Many previous discoveries, little thought of up to that time, began to be studied, and others were added which resulted not merely in confirming the truth regarding the antiquity of man, but in establishing another doctrine which the opponents of science regarded with vastly greater dislike–the doctrine that man has not fallen from an original high estate in which he was created about six thousand years ago, but that, from a period vastly earlier than any warranted by the sacred chronologists, he has been, in spite of lapses and deteriorations, rising.

Dickson’s golden words speak for themselves and do not need any elaboration on my part.  Now I link a collection of articles from our new site Islam for the West, to elaborate the point.

Evolution and Biology: A cross for Christianity:

The field of biology has struck a fatal blow to the concept of Trinity and other dogmas in Christianity on several counts.  Firstly, there is the fundamental principle in biology “Like begets like,” which clearly refutes the concept of son ship of God. In the Holy Quran it is expressed in the words, “How can Allah have a son when He has no consort?” (Al Quran 6:102) Man’s genetic code is made of 46 chromosomes and God is transcendent and beyond time, space and matter.
Secondly, the concept of Original Sin is completely incompatible with the fundamental laws of bio logy including the principles of gene inheritance and the facts supporting the theory of evolution.  Read further in: November 2008 Alislam eGazette.

  • 4.
    The apparent conflict between religion and science is often due to the desire of theists to uphold the details of Genesis …
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    Edited: May 16, 2011 11:01 AMAccepted: Jun 6, 2011 8:27 AM

3 replies

  1. Preserving Andrew Dickson White’s biography from Encyclopedia Britannica

    Andrew Dickson White, (born November 7, 1832, Homer, New York, U.S.—died November 4, 1918, Ithaca, New York), American educator and diplomat, founder and first president of Cornell University, Ithaca.

    After graduating from Yale in 1853, White studied in Europe for the next three years, serving also as attaché at the U.S. legation at St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1854–55. He returned to the United States to become professor of history and English literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 1865 White’s dream of a state university for New York—based on liberal principles with reference to religion, coeducation, race, and the teaching of science unhampered by religious dogma—was realized when Cornell University was chartered. As Cornell’s first president (1868), White devoted his energies and much of his wealth for the next 17 years to assure its success and future growth.

    White served on numerous government commissions and was U.S. minister to Germany (1879–81) and Russia (1892–94) and ambassador to Germany (1897–1902). In 1899 he was president of the U.S. delegation at the Hague Peace Conference. His published works include A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896) and Seven Great Statesmen in the Warfare of Humanity with Unreason (1910).

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