I was rummaging through the locally revered magazine called "Dharuma
" for a friend when a series of articles written by a Dr. Mauroof Hussain titled "Evolution Theory: Mulhidhunge Bahana
" (translated into english as "Evolution Theory: Atheists' Excuse") caught my eye. This was interesting because Dharuma magazine has supposedly caught a particular following of readers with its team of "high profile" writers, religious teachers and allegedly educational content.
Anyway, as someone who reads dhivehi magazines only rarely, I would have had no idea what sort of arguments the article might contain were it no for the title that clearly sets the stage - this was going to be creationist ramblings. Nonetheless, I bit my tongue and read through it, reading some bits twice just to make sure I read it correctly. The article surely had a load of surprises in store and by the time I was finished reading it I was beyond speechless - the author had managed to write complete, thorough, mindless, fallacious bullshit from the very start till the very end. I encourage you all to read this "brilliant" piece, it would teach you a thing or two about making a case without really making a case, how to obfuscate, how to commit a dozen logical fallacies and still have it all fit for publishing in a magazine. If this were an intentional hoax then it surely would make Sokal blush
The article starts off with "arguments" (attempting) to associate evolution with every sort of demonic, evil manifestation imaginable - especially to the ultra-conservative Islamic mind. Materialism, Marxism, communism, racism and atheism are served for starters as well as a claim from the outset that the theory really is devil's incarnate and no less than his greatest creation ever! The author then drops names of scientists/thinkers/inventors no less luminous than da Vinci, Galileo, Newton and Einstein themselves as having expressed belief in the existence of Allah. Many of you should know how outrageous a claim this is - I, and probably much of the rest of the world, would challenge the author to explain and show supporting evidence. First of all, philosophically speaking, it doesn't matter what who-and-who believed as it has absolutely no bearing on the truth values of those beliefs in question. However, the biggest problem with this claim regarding the belief of those scientists is the sheer dishonesty of this claim :- da Vinci, Galileo and Newton were all Christians (infact Newtons is well known to have been an extremely religious Bible believer) and Einstein was a deist/agnost. The Einstein quote "science without religion is lame and religion without science is BLIND" when read in the full context of his essay makes clear, very well, what he means by religion and what he means by a God or more precisely what he discredits as being false Gods and religions. The quote appears in his essay "Science and Religion
" and is a must (short!) read for anyone who is remotely interested in Einsteins views on the relationship between science and religion - I really recommend reading it.
Anyway, the author finally finds space for dispensing something about the theory itself. Anyone with even a mild knowledge of proper evolutionary theory and its workings would just stare at the garbage inked cheerfully by the doctor. It must be said that the author fails miserably at defining what evolution theory entails. Unlike what's said in the article, evolution theory does NOT include postulations on how life arose - evolution stands independent of abiogenesis and "origin of life" theories. The article also states that evolution theory claims white supremacy but again there is no such thing inherent in evolution theory. Rather, it has to be acknowledged that Darwin indeed held racist views (very much in accordance with the then contemporary views) and did denigrate Africans. However, it would be a logical fallacy to discredit evolution theory on this basis since, again as I mentioned above, a particular person's individual views are irrelevant to the truth evaluation of a claim. I hope I can skip giving analogies to make it clearer as to why this is a such an easy argument to make and why its fallacious...
The article continues on with a hogwash of standard Creationist and/or Intelligent Design objections with arguments such as irreducible complexity, apparent design, purported perfection of creation and (current) holes in the fossil record. I'm too sleepy right now to iterate them all here but I'm sure anyone curious to know the other side of these arguments (and their answers) can find them bundled up in short neat sections at the "Objections to evolution" page on Wikipedia
. Stand assured that the explanations you may read may lead to the elucidation of the false assertions made by the author, who seems to hint that humans walked and lived safely among bands of animals upto 60ft tall, 60lb heavy ferocious carnivorous animals we call dinosaurs and had been around unchanged since the Jurassic years.
Science is an evidence based enterprise that aspires to explain the world - it is not biased towards nor is hostile to any particular religion. It does not care whether its findings and theories conform to a particular preconceived framework for understanding and interpreting nature - for its goal is to build, refine and distil the best explanation of the universe and everything in it. Arguments such as the gaps in the fossil record mentioned in the article do nothing more than state a half-truth. There is no explanatory power in the creationist argument since all it does is say "God did it". Most amusingly, these particular people seem to be incapable of perceiving a God powerful enough to create a beautiful process as evolution to power the biological processes in the world just as the physical processes (or laws) govern motion, flight etc. It must be said that there are Muslims, Christians and Jews all of whom are pious and steadfast in their beliefs yet see no conflict with science and evolution - their interpretation and understanding allow for a God who creates magnificent mechanisms to drive the world without constant meddling by God himself...
After reading the article(s) in question, I was agitated enough to say something (thus the blog post!) about these sort of mindless crap being granted the authority to be published and spread without the freedom for countering arguments. I wish I am able to articulate better in Dhivehi so that I could myself write an article to respond to these sort of advocates of mysticism. I hope atleast some of you would think twice after reading articles in Dharuma and ignore the pseudoscience it packages to be passed off as modern science. It is always a delight to realize the true essences of science, the power of the scientific method and start re-learning and replacing strict ancient mysticism for a better, brighter life of knowledge and understanding. May God grant all those who aspire for such understanding the means and the will to do so.
My support for evolution theory does not imply anything more than just that and my criticisms of the article in question do not constitute of an attempt to support religious disbelief as some assume. I am compelled take issue with these sort of articles and ideas because it (in my view) presents bad science, incorrect information and is heavily tainted with the particular interpretation of holy books by its authors which they want to pass off as the ultimate truth. Any of you who bother to do further read up on its claims will find the extents to which most of its facts and arguments have been misquotes, misinformation and misappropriations - my post highlights a few of the more blatant ones. Such dishonesty seems to be indicative of an attempt to discredit a scientific theory that is well respected and accepted as the cornerstone in many areas of research. My goal in criticizing the Dharuma article certainly did not constitute of an attack on religion or religious belief but rather is an honest attempt to promote good science and critical thought.