Wednesday, September 17, 2008

404)Sorry, Charley: Church Apologizes to Darwin; Natural Selection and a Continuous vs Static Creation; Quotes of Aga Khan IV and Aga Khan III

The Church of England apologising to Charles Darwin and the Catholic Church apologising to Galileo Galilei! Charles Darwin's research in the 19th century showing evolution by natural selection has turned out to be one of the great scientific truths of all time. Galileo Galilei in the 17th century dared to suggest that the earth was not flat but round and that the earth revolved around the sun. In the end these churches are demonstrating a quality that religion is supposed to teach all of us: humility. What about Islam?

Islam had it all and threw it away:

The Death of Science in Islam:
"For a few centuries at the turn of the first millennium, Islam presided over a burst of exuberant scientific and philosophical inquiry. It began with the translation of the treasure of Greek and Roman manuscripts that had lain forgotten for centuries. It then went beyond translation, producing a large body of original work in mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, optics, and philosophy, among other fields. Then this burst of activity died away. Summarizing and simplifying the argument that follows: Islam provided a sense of purpose and vitality that helped power the achievements of its golden age, but Islam could not accomodate itself to the degree of autonomy required to sustain it"

"Why did the burst of activity fade so rapidly? The root cause of its decline is to be the ability of its orthodox upholders to stifle once-flowering science".

"Those accomplishments of Islamic mathematical and medical science which continue to compel our admiration were developed in areas and in periods where the elites were willing to go beyond and possibly against the basic strains of orthodox thought and feeling"

Charles Murray: "Human Accomplishment: the Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950"

In Islam the creation is considered not to be a static event but a continuous, perpetual and constant event. As such it is compatible with evolution by natural selection. Discoveries during the 20th century especially have borne out that creation is a continuous event. If you look in space there are numerous stellar nurseries inside galaxies that show new, baby stars being born all the time. Stars have their own life cycles and our sun in our solar system is a star that is half way through its life cycle whereas the 3 Arabic-named stars that make up the Belt of Orion, Al-Nitak, Al-Nilam and Mintaka, are almost at the end of their life cycles. There are numerous other examples in nature that show a continuous and not a static creation:

Quotes of Aga Khan IV and Aga Khan III:
"In Islamic belief, knowledge is two-fold. There is that revealed through the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) and that which man discovers by virtue of his own intellect. Nor do these two involve any contradiction, provided man remembers that his own mind is itself the creation of God. Without this humility, no balance is possible. With it, there are no barriers. Indeed, one strength of Islam has always lain in its belief that creation is not static but continuous, that through scientific and other endeavours, God has opened and continues to open new windows for us to see the marvels of His creation"(Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan University, 16 March 1983, Karachi, Pakistan)

"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"(Memoirs of Aga Khan III, 1954)

"Of the Abrahamic faiths, Islam is probably the one that places the greatest emphasis on knowledge. The purpose is to understand God's creation, and therefore it is a faith which is eminently logical. Islam is a faith of reason"(Aga Khan IV, Spiegel Magazine interview, Germany, Oct 9th 2006)

“Muslims believe in an all-encompassing unit of man and nature. To them there is no fundamental division between the spiritual and the material while the whole world, whether it be the earth, sea or air, or the living creatures that inhabit them, is an expression of God’s creation.”(Aga Khan IV, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, 13 April 1984)

"Our religious leadership must be acutely aware of secular trends, including those generated by this age of science and technology. Equally, our academic or secular elite must be deeply aware of Muslim history, of the scale and depth of leadership exercised by the Islamic empire of the past in all fields"(Aga Khan IV, 6th February 1970, Hyderabad, Pakistan)

"......The Quran tells us that signs of Allah’s Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation - in the heavens and the earth, the night and the day, the clouds and the seas, the winds and the waters...."(Aga Khan IV, Kampala, Uganda, August 22 2007)

"The second great historical lesson to be learnt is that the Muslim world has always been wide open to every aspect of human existence. The sciences, society, art, the oceans, the environment and the cosmos have all contributed to the great moments in the history of Muslim civilisations. The Qur’an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God’s creation"(Closing Address by His Highness Aga Khan IV at the "Musée-Musées" Round Table Louvre Museum, Paris, France, October 17th 2007)

Thus Islam's basic principle can only be defined as mono-realism and not as monotheism. Consider, for example, the opening declaration of every Islamic prayer: "Allah-o-Akbar". What does that mean? There can be no doubt that the second word of the declaration likens the character of Allah to a matrix which contains all and gives existence to the infinite, to space, to time, to the Universe, to all active and passive forces imaginable, to life and to the soul. Imam Hassan has explained the Islamic doctrine of God and the Universe by analogy with the sun and its reflection in the pool of a fountain; there is certainly a reflection or image of the sun, but with what poverty and with what little reality; how small and pale is the likeness between this impalpable image and the immense, blazing, white-hot glory of the celestial sphere itself. Allah is the sun; and the Universe, as we know it in all its magnitude, and time, with its power, are nothing more than the reflection of the Absolute in the mirror of the fountain"(Memoirs of Aga Khan III, 1954)

"Islam is fundamentally in its very nature a natural religion. Throughout the Quran God's signs (Ayats) are referred to as the natural phenomenon, the law and order of the universe, the exactitudes and consequences of the relations between natural phenomenon in cause and effect. Over and over, the stars, sun, moon, earthquakes, fruits of the earth and trees are mentioned as the signs of divine power, divine law and divine order. Even in the Ayeh of Noor, divine is referred to as the natural phenomenon of light and even references are made to the fruit of the earth. During the great period of Islam, Muslims did not forget these principles of their religion. Alas, Islam which is a natural religion in which God's miracles are the very law and order of nature drifted away and is still drifting away, even in Pakistan, from science which is the study of those very laws and orders of nature.……Islam is a natural religion of which the Ayats are the universe in which we live and move and have our being………..The God of the Quran is the one whose Ayats are the universe……"(Aga Khan III, April 4th 1952)

The above 9 quotes and excerpts are taken from Blogpost Four Hundred:

Sorry, Charley: Church Apologizes to Darwin

By David Waters
Washington Post Blog
September 17th 2008

Proving it's never too late to evolve, the Church of England has apologized to Charles Darwin for vilifying him for having the audacity to question, wonder, and doubt.

Darwin has been dead for 126 years, so it probably doesn't matter much to him, but the apology comes with a fascinating essay that could start a more intelligent conversation between religion and science, especially when it comes to the origin -- or genesis -- of the species.

"Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still," Rev. Malcolm Brown, director of missions and public affairs for the Church of England, wrote in an essay entitled "Good Religion Needs Good Science."

"We try to practice the old virtues of 'faith seeking understanding' and hope that makes some amends."

Brown's amends include a much needed corrective that Sarah Palin, Pat Robertson and other Christian creationists might consider.

"Subsequent generations have built on Darwin's work but have not significantly undermined his fundamental theory of natural selection. There is nothing here that contradicts Christian teaching. Jesus himself invited people to observe the world around them and to reason from what they saw to an understanding of the nature of God (Matthew 6: 25-33)," Brown wrote.

"The anti-evolutionary fervour in some corners of the churches may be a kind of proxy issue for other discontents; and, perhaps most of all, an indictment of the churches' failure to tell their own story - Jesus's story - with conviction in a way which works with the grain of the world as God has revealed it to be, both through the Bible and in the work of scientists of Darwin's calibre."

Though Darwin is a hero to atheists, he was raised in the Anglican church, thought about becoming a clergyman, later attended a Unitarian church and described himself as an agnostic. "In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God," he wrote in 1879. "It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist & an evolutionist."

Darwin's doubts about God weren't just scientific; they were human. As Princeton historian William Howarth told Newsweek, those doubts date to his enounters with slave-owning Christians and the death of his 10-year-old daughter in 1851, eight years before he published "On the Origin of the Species."

The Church of England isn't the first to reconsider its previous views. Earlier this year, the Vatican erected a statue of Galileo, who the Church put on trial for heresy 400 years ago. Pope John Paul II issued a number of apologies for the church's sins against Jews, heretics, women, Gypsies, native peoples and Orthodox Christians. In 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention renounced its racist roots and apologized for its past defense of slavery.

As Brown explained, "The trouble with homo sapiens is that we're only human. People, and institutions, make mistakes and Christian people and churches are no exception."
Even the Church evolves.

Related Posts:

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)