A recent debate among Muslims on evolution had a better outcome than most of the similar debates among Christians — they ended up laughing at the creationists.
The high quality of scientific and theological discussion exposed the shallowness of Islamic creationists, such as Harun Yahya. One of his acolytes, Oktar Babuna, presented his arguments from Istanbul, via the internet. He kept on pointing to fossils as evidence that species have never changed in history. He also discounted any historical changes in the DNA. Babuna’s arguments were countered earlier on by both Abouheif and Jackson. But he unintentionally served as a comic relief, when the audience realised that after several hours of discussion, almost all of his responses included the mention of “fossils”, irrespective of the topic of discussion.
Yeah, “fossils” is the only argument they’ve got, and it’s a bad one. Anyone who has browsed Yahya’s Atlas of Creation knows that that’s what it is: page after page of stolen photographs of fossils next to stolen photos of extant organisms, claiming that there has been no change at all in millions of years, therefore evolution is false.
So it’s actually good progress that they ended up finding Yahya absurd. In the US (the debate took place in London), we instead end up nominating the loons for high office.
But, not to be complacent…most of the discussion was about reconciling evolution with Islam, and they trotted out the usual tropes, from “God inserted Adam in the natural order” to “science only tells us ‘how’ things happen, and not ‘why’”, and claiming that “the miracle of Adam is preserved theologically” without recognizing that those positions are almost as laughable as Yahya’s and Babuna’s.
I also have to take exception to the editor’s summary of the article: “A high-quality debate of a sensitive topic did not disappoint, as all panellists bar one accepted the scientific consensus”. Nope. The scientific consensus is that there is no teleological imperative in evolution at all. The panelists accepted a phenomenological narrative of evolution, while implicitly rejecting the mechanistic underpinnings of the science.
It’s still progress, though. American fundamentalists aren’t even that far along yet.