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Medicine Education United Kingdom Science

Muslim Medical Students Boycott Darwin Lectures 1319

First time submitter Readycharged writes "The Daily Mail reports on a piece from The Sunday Times revealing that University College London have seen an increasing number of Muslim students boycotting lectures on Evolution due to clashes with the Koran. Steve Jones, Emeritus Professor of Human Genetics, says, 'I've had one or two slightly frisky discussions with kids who belonged to fundamentalist Christian churches, now it's Islamic overwhelmingly.' He adds, 'What they object to — and I don't really understand it, I am not religious — they object to the idea that there is a random process out there which is not directed by God.' The article also reveals that Evolutionary Biologist and former Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins also experienced Muslims walking out of such lectures."
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Muslim Medical Students Boycott Darwin Lectures

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  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Monday November 28, 2011 @02:55AM (#38187238) Journal

    Chiefly among them the idea that randomness is not divine. How else would some being equal parts evil and good distribute his Will? In closely examining randomness we find what patterns we will, allowing us to imagine we grasp the whole until the patterns devolve until they're just a cloud.

    It's humor to keep a divine being amused for all time - to tease us with imagined understanding.

    • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:10AM (#38187306) Homepage Journal

      I wonder if they also object to quantum mechanics?

      • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:27AM (#38187392) Journal
        The question answers itself.
      • by theNAM666 ( 179776 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:54AM (#38187534)

        God does not play dice.

        -- Albert Einstein (aka Anti-science Jewish fundamentalist)

        • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:51AM (#38187902) Journal

          God does not play dice.

          -- Albert Einstein (aka Anti-science Jewish fundamentalist)

          It is worth noting that the great man produced little of scientific note later in life, mostly because he could not accept the evidence produced by the quantum scientists. If you allow your beliefs to interfeer with reality, you can no longer do science.

          • by teadrop ( 1151099 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:29AM (#38188414)
            That's not entirely true. Einstein spent his later part of his life trying to disproved Quantum Physics, in doing so he inadvertently helped to confirm it. In other words, his disbelieve in Quantum Physics was a great contribution in proving Quantum Physics. "God does not play dice." has often been misquoted. Einstein is not religious (not in the traditional sense). In his private letter to Eric Gutkind, he called the Bible "childish". Publicly, he also published an essay in New York time regarding his religious belief (he was neither Christian nor Judaic). When Einstein said "God does not play dice" he meant the uncertainty principle of Heisenberg. Later by his own experiments, Einstein proved that "God did play dice." Einstein use of the word "God" is as religious as the "God" in "God damn it!", a phrase commonly used by many atheists. You can't blame Einstein in doubting the uncertain principle, any good scientist will be upset. The only people who don't doubt it are those who don't understand it (the majority) or those who completely understand it (minority).
            • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:40AM (#38188778) Homepage Journal

              And there is this: [lettersofnote.com]

              tl;dr version: Einstein said that "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

              • by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @09:08AM (#38189298)

                "I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being."

                "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."

                "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

                "In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognise, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views."

                "I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God."

                "I believe in Spinoza's God, Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind."

                "I do not believe in a God who maliciously or arbitrarily interferes in the personal affairs of mankind. My religion consists of an humble admiration for the vast power which manifests itself in that small part of the universe which our poor, weak minds can grasp!"

                "Common to all these types is the anthropomorphic character of their conception of God. In general, only individuals of exceptional endowments, and exceptionally high-minded communities, rise to any considerable extent above this level. But there is a third stage of religious experience which belongs to all of them, even though it is rarely found in a pure form: I shall call it cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to elucidate this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it."

                "The man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation of the law of causation cannot for a moment entertain the idea of a being who interferes in the course of events — provided, of course, that he takes the hypothesis of causality really seriously. He has no use for the religion of fear and equally little for social or moral religion. A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man's actions are determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God's eyes he cannot be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it undergoes. Science has therefore been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is

        • by bryonak ( 836632 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:43AM (#38188808)

          An incredibly widespread misconception...

          From Einstein's letter to Max Born, 1926:
          "Die Theorie liefert viel, aber dem Geheimnis des Alten bringt sie uns kaum näher. Jedenfalls bin ich überzeugt, daß der Alte nicht würfelt."

          "The theory offers a lot, but hardly brings us closer the the old guy's secret. Anyway, I'm convicted that the old guy doesn't play dice."

          Einstein never said "God does not play dice", but rather used a slightly derogatory term to describe the metaphor of finding the world formula.
          Other quotes by Einstein, easily verifiable:

          "It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

          "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."

      • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:01AM (#38187574)

        I wonder if they also object to quantum mechanics?

        I know I do. Had a few working on my particle accelerator, but they could only tell me what was probably wrong with it...

      • by zero.kalvin ( 1231372 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:55AM (#38188558)
        I went to university in a country where more than half of the population is Muslim(I am talking about Lebanon). I remember during Quantum Mechanics and Relativity lectures "religious" students tend to object more often and refuse to accept certain things, most of the objections were on a religious basis. I still remember a certain day, when the speed of light in vacuum was being discussed, and some students stormed out of class, because the the professor ( whether he correctly used the term or not) used a term which described the speed as absolute, and the objection was that only Allah/God can be absolute, and that they can't tolerate staying in a class where such blasphemy was taught. It was 4 students out of ~50.
        • by aurizon ( 122550 ) <bill.jacksonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:26AM (#38188702)

          This desire that Science must be subjugated to religious interpretation essentially destroyed Arabic Science after islam arose. Prior to islam the Arabs were scientific leaders. After islam, their students were all directed to an internalized study of the koran - ad absurditum. Islam actively suppresses any potential reformations (like all the old time religions, they wanted to grab converts and keep people from leaving). I recall the pilgrims came to America to find freedom from religion - as distinct from freedom of religion. In schools here in Canada the islamist students hound the other students into the 5 times/day prayers. The students need freedom from this oppressive process - freedom from religion...

          • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @08:50AM (#38189150)

            From what I've heard recently, the pilgrims went to the US not to escape religious persecution, but to enable it, they went to a land where they could be free to persecute the crap out of whoever they felt like in order to keep their societies pure.


          • by zero.kalvin ( 1231372 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @09:12AM (#38189330)
            I could be mistaken, but after the rise of the Abbasid Empire in what is called nowadays Iraq, science flourished a period of time, and as well with the Ottoman empire. I think the reason is more of that Muslims have this sense they were supposed to be the last and best of what God sent, and for a period of time they were, they controlled large parts of the ancient world, they were the place to go where people wanted to study, they were the most advanced civilization for a long period of time. However with the demise of the Ottoman empire, and the way all modern science/technology came from what they see as "the inferior Christian west", I think they can't comprehend why! Why it's not them who is advanced and not doing all this might things. Now I do agree with you, and I see religion as detrimental to scientific progress. But that's not the way they see it. Advanced is evil if it's not a created from the Islamic culture.
    • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:23AM (#38187374) Homepage Journal
      I'm not sure about random, but if something is chaotic, it is directed by Eris.
    • by neyla ( 2455118 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:55AM (#38187548)

      It's almost as if religious folks -know- that they're wrong. Thus to preserve their wrongheadedness, it's requires to not even learn about the alternatives. (presumably, learning would risk realising that the alternative theories are correct.)

      Learning about something, doesn't require *agreeing* with it. I've read both the Koran and the Bible, and spend hundreds of hours learning about both. I don't *agree* with it,but it's still useful to understand it and know about it.

      But religious folks are frequently panicked about the idea that they might have to learn about something they themselves don't agree with. In my opinion, they're scared. And rightfully so. The thing about reality is that it does not go away, even if you don't believe in it.

      • by janek78 ( 861508 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:22AM (#38187714) Homepage

        I was going to write basically the same comment. You'd think that if they truly believed they would not have a problem going to a lecture and hearing arguments against their belief. It's the furious opposition to education that betrays how little some people *really* believe. They just cover their ears and go "la la la" not to hear anything that would lead to even worse cognitive dissonance than they already have to face.

        • by TheMMaster ( 527904 ) <hp AT tmm DOT cx> on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:38AM (#38188194)

          That's not actually a big surprise is it? All these religious people preaching the love of their deity are all scared, really, really scared. That's the problem. They can't listen to other arguments and risk going to incarnation of a less pleasant afterlife, hell, or whatever other things they might believe in.

          Religion is about instilling fear and shame in it's followers and this is just another example of what effects it has.

      • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:52AM (#38187904)

        The thing about reality is that it does not go away, even if you don't believe in it.

        I disagree. Wile E Coyote could defy gravity by denying its existence at will. Why he chose to sometimes believe in it, to his peril, and why the Road Runner never did believe is an ongoing philosophical debate with great controversy.

        Your statement also reminds me of the question, "If a tree falls in a forest and kills a mime, does anybody care?". Does reality effectively cease to be if you are not aware of it, or if you become aware of it, do you even care?

        Another question to ponder, one of the great mysteries too, is if Bugs Bunny really believed it was duck season, was it in fact duck season? That will bake your noodle too.

      • There is More ! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by golodh ( 893453 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:58AM (#38187952)
        I mean there is a little more to fervent religionists not wishing to be exposed to any thoughts that may clash with their dogma.

        As I see it, the reason is fear of "being led into temptation" (spiritual this time, not carnal), and fear of getting it wrong (so that they are due for a severe, and quite possibly eternal, ticking-off by their vengeful deity in afterlife).

        This is a theme that has pervaded religion as provided by the Catholic Church throughout the (Middle) Ages.

        Why-ever do you think that Catholics are (and have been for as long as the Catholic Church exists) discouraged from reading the Bible on their own instead of the officially approved Catechisms?

        Because the flock cannot be relied upon not to err when reading of and thinking about theological matters, and for very good reason: theological reasoning can be err ... complex and subtle ... to phrase it politely. And erring is dangerous for the soul. That's why The Flock needs a shepherd (the Latin word for that is: Pastor) as provided by the Catholic Church, in order to guide them along the True Path through the thickets of thought.

        We're seeing the very same thing with Fundamentalist Christians in the good old US of A, now enthusiastically mirrored by a resurgent Muslim Fundamentalism.

        The most surprising thing to me is that people are actually surprised. Religion, after all, is (as I see it) first and foremost a desire for an inviolate frame of reference (spiritual and intellectual) that provides an answer to all vexing questions ("the Lord is my shepherd") and solace ("pillar of strength"), and solace ("thy grace ... etc").

        Can you not understand how awfully threatening it is when someone in a white coat starts uprooting the emotional and intellectual certainties this provides? Especially if he makes a convincing case that large parts of "the Gospel" simply have no relation to actual reality? If "God's Word" is shown to be wrong in any respect, be it ever so minute, then what of all the rest of it? The whole edifice of trust comes crumbling down. Believers will certainly not thank you for that.

        In times past a popular way of dealing with such heretics was to burn them at the stake. Nowadays the preferred method seems to be to use IED's.

        • Re:There is More ! (Score:5, Informative)

          by mrxak ( 727974 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:16AM (#38188632)

          Nice story, but Catholics are not discouraged from reading the Bible. They hand them out in those Catechism classes you're criticizing. Good thing, too, since otherwise Catholic children might go and pick up one that's missing a whole slew of books the protestants found uncomfortable and edited out.

          Probably not a good idea to get your information about Catholicism from anti-Catholic propaganda literature, since "Catholics can't read the Bible" is the sort of ridiculousness found only from such sources. What's next, you'll accuse us of polytheism and ancestor worship?

          • Re:There is More ! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @09:44AM (#38189690) Journal

            Nice story, but Catholics are not discouraged from reading the Bible

            You'll have to excuse the grandparent for not paying attention to recent history. When an organisation presents itself as the guardians of an immutable truth and has a certain policy for the first 85% of its lifetime, it's forgivable to assume that the policy is still in effect.

      • by hairyfish ( 1653411 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:26AM (#38188126)
        The simple fact is that religious people don't truly believe the stuff they claim. They might want to believe it, but not to the same level that I believe a bullet to the head will kill me. If you honestly believed 100% that when you die you go to a beautiful place then why mourn death? Why be afraid of death at all? It should be like winning the lotto when you find out you have a terminal illness, or a friend dies. Why even look when crossing the road, when that could be your path to nirvana? Because deep, deep down they don't believe. Just like the rest of us they know it's the end, but there's some sort of cognitive dissonance preventing them from accepting objective evidence.
      • by TheVelvetFlamebait ( 986083 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:53AM (#38188868) Journal

        It's almost as if religious folks -know- that they're wrong. Thus to preserve their wrongheadedness, it's requires to not even learn about the alternatives. (presumably, learning would risk realising that the alternative theories are correct.)

        I strongly disagree. If I had to go back in time to Nazi Germany, and listen to lectures about the evils of the Jews, I would not have the stomach to sit there and listen to it. It's not because I secretly fear that the Jews are indeed responsible for the world's suffering, just that I could only tolerate so much hatemongering bullshit before realising that I had better things to do with my time.

        Of course, that's not to say that evolution is akin to Nazi propaganda, just that refusing to listen != you know you're wrong.

    • by xmundt ( 415364 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:44AM (#38188242)

      Greetings and salutations.....
                My first reaction is "well, why are they going to college in the first place??" For much of their existence, colleges existed to provide a safe haven for the free flow of ideas and alternative theories. Many times, I, and a number of other students, would end up sitting around a table discussing a new theory in computer science, or, cosmology, or political science. We debated topics such as the morality of War (When I was in college, the Vietnam War was in full swing, so it was a topic near and dear to those of us that were classed 1A, and, had selection numbers in the single and double digits), and what America's place in the world should be. There was always a collection of quite divergent views at the table, and more often than not, little or no agreement. However, we all listened to the arguments of the other person, debated points about them, and thought about their point of view. The only folks that were not welcome were the extremists who would degenerate into screaming matches and insist that it was "their way or the highway".
                WHile the education we received from the faculty was important, even there, some of the most important lessons learned came not from the lectures, but, the discussion in class and in meetings with the professor, where disagreements about the interpretation of some facts were expected, and, debated when they arose.
                From a personal example, when I was taking some history classes ranging from the colonization of America and the spread Westward, to the massive social upheaval of the early 1900s in Russia, I ran into problems with my professors over my analysis of the events. Why? Well, at the time most of them held onto the concept of "manifest destiny" - the divine right of Americans to roll across the middle and Western united stats, crushing the native population under them, or, of the people to rise up and overthrow their government. I, however, was more a follower of "Economic Determanism" - holding that the best way to explain large scale actions of society was to follow the money. I could, without too much trouble, find what I felt to be an obvious and strong economic pressure that caused these changes in society. Needless to say, my papers discussing social trends were not received well by the professors. In order to get even an adequate grade, I had to provide at least twice the foundation for my arguments that other students (who DID toe the party line) had to include. Even in the best case, though, my papers were, typically, marked down by a half to full grade simply because I disagreed with their point of view. However, I did not get into a huff and walk out of class, or boycott anything. Rather, I worked twice as hard to justify my point of view, and, to ensure that my arguments were clear and well supported. I did pass the classes, but only just, but, the lessons I learned there both about life in general, and, the nitty-gritty of organizing supporting points for a given argument were a valuable addition to my life and remain so today, some 30 years later.
                dave mundt

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2011 @02:55AM (#38187240)

    I would rather not have a religious whack-job as a doctor.

  • Up to them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2011 @02:57AM (#38187244)

    Well, I suppose it's within their rights to up and leave a lecture because they don't like the topic. However, when they subsequently fail the exam due to their refusal to attend the lecture or personal disagreement with the topics taught, they shouldn't complain. I don't understand why you'd even take a class knowing full well that you don't accept fundamental parts of it.

    • Re:Up to them (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:08AM (#38187300)

      Especially a medical class.

      I don't ever want to be examined or treated by a doctor that lets their religion get in the way of the study of basic biology or any other part or medical study.

      Not to mention that 'random' and 'evolution by natural selection' are not equivalent.

      • Re:Up to them (Score:5, Interesting)

        by kanweg ( 771128 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:31AM (#38187412)

        In the Netherlands there was a situation a couple of years ago where a muslim medical student refused to examine fellow male students (medical students practice on each other during their training). You don't want to have qualified doctors who refuse to help because the traffic casualty is of the opposite sex. I read recently a quote that the koran says that a prostitute went to heaven for giving a thirsty dog a drink (which she hauled from a well by climbing down, with the water in her shoe). So, helping a fellow (male) human being should be OK. Or she shouldn't be a doctor.


    • Re:Up to them (Score:5, Informative)

      by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:11AM (#38187316)
      This is the UK, one of the most politically-correct countries in the world. If they fail the exam, they might sue the university for religious discrimination.
      • Re:Up to them (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kanweg ( 771128 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:27AM (#38187384)

        The students are not asked to like the facts, or to drop their beliefs. They are to meet scientific standards, however. Refusal to look at facts objectively disqualifies you as a scientist. In case of a court case, the students should lose, even in the UK.


  • So fail them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TrekkieGod ( 627867 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @02:58AM (#38187250) Homepage Journal

    I don't get what the problem is. If you don't grasp the material, regardless of the reason, you fail the course. I sure as hell don't want to be treated by a doctor who doesn't understand evolution.

    • Re:So fail them (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jehlon ( 467577 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:02AM (#38187276) Homepage

      Seriously. Just fail them. Tell them the only way they'll get a degree from a respected institution is to not be an idiot. Doesn't matter what your degree is in, if you think your magic book has all the answers you are delusional and not degree-worthy material.

      • by imroy ( 755 ) <imroykun@gmail.com> on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:34AM (#38187432) Homepage Journal

        Tell them the only way they'll get a degree from a respected institution is to not be an idiot.

        Sadly, there are now a few creationists with degrees in things like biology or geology. They manage to fake their way through uni/college and then go on the creationist lecture tour circuit touting their degrees. It's the classic argument from authority fallacy: "I have a degree, so everything I say is factual. God did it. Really. I have a degree."

  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @02:58AM (#38187256) Homepage

    Why do they think that the "random" process is not the face of God, or something? If things work a certain way, that's the way they work. If it's God's will, it's God's will. If you think the two are contradictory, you have no faith. The problem is with you, not the science or the religion.

    • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:23AM (#38187722)

      Whoever modded this down is a twat.

      This is exactly the question I pose to fundies - "For the sake of argument I will stipulate that God exists. Who are you to deny God His tools? God made the Universe and everything in it, including Evolution which is a manifestation of Creation itself. You think you know better than God? Who here is really denying God?"

      I never get a decent enough answer. Maybe because they're wrong and can't spot allegory (Genesis) if it came up and slapped them in the face.


  • by mark_reh ( 2015546 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:02AM (#38187278) Journal

    I don't know what else to say.

  • Then fail them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kanweg ( 771128 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:02AM (#38187282)

    To suppress closed mindedness, exams on evolution etc. should be show stoppers. Don't pass them, no graduation. This is science. Can't handle facts? You're in the wrong business. Don't like the facts? Prove them wrong by the rules.


  • The Daily Mail? (Score:5, Informative)

    by RobinEggs ( 1453925 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:07AM (#38187290)
    Why are we discussing a Daily Mail article?

    The Daily Mail is closer to a tabloid than to a newspaper. Technically it's 'middle-market', so it has some real stories in there, but I'd never rely on it as a sole source for any opinion or discussion....which is what this summary asks us to do.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:13AM (#38187332)

    So, the article is from The Daily Mail, also known as The Daily Racist. Not that silly fairytale believing people aren't acting silly, but how big of an issue is this, really? Is there an agenda pushing this "news"?

  • issues with this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Walt Dismal ( 534799 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:13AM (#38187334)
    Another aspect of this is that some of these people may well actually cause harm to society in this way: it is known that overprescribing antibiotics is causing evolution of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. A doctor who does not believe in or agree with principles of evolution might then ignore the guidelines and thus add to emergence of new strains. (Overprescribing is also a problem in some countries where the medical practice is rather casual and antibiotics are too-commonly given out for viral diseases like colds or flu.)
  • by vga_init ( 589198 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:17AM (#38187352) Journal

    First I should say that we ought to know a little bit more about this story before we can make a complete analysis, but as a Muslim, I will be the first to say that there is no problem with evolution. I'm not going to go into all the details of the argument about whether or not evolution explains the biological origins of man; there are mountains of evidence supporting evolution and no other plausible alternative explanations. What I would like to say is there is really no inherent conflict between believing in a Creator and accepting evolution. In Islam especially the case for conflict is weak because the Qur'an lacks a creation story as detailed as the one laid out in Genesis. Yes, the Qur'an has references to creation and even Adam and Eve (the first humans), but conspicuously absent from the Qur'an are any statements that defy the scientific view of evolution. Does the Qur'an say that Adam and Eve were put on the Earth right after the Earth was created? No. Does it say no other creatures existed or preceded humans? No. In fact, one verse of the Qur'an talks about God breathing His spirit into Adam, which some scholars have read to mean that Adam was alive prior to becoming human (in a spiritual sense), and that Adam may even have had parents instead of being materialized spontaneously. Either way there is really no timeline for creation, and Islamic theology suggests that God is *active* in creation, meaning that God didn't just create everything all at once and stopped, but that creation is a current and ongoing process (in line with evolution).

    I do believe that there is no basis in Islamic tradition and culture for rejecting evolution--on the contrary, Islamic emphasis on science and knowledge would make Muslims more receptive to the idea. To me this habit of denying evolution is something that Muslim communities learned from Christian communities, and the article actually does a good job of pointing this out.

    As for the lectures, what I want to know is if it's really the mere idea of evolution that is offending the students, or if the lectures contain unnecessary statements that are specifically hostile to God and religion. If the course material or the professor is unfairly preaching atheism or making wild assumptions like "God has nothing to do with evolution" then I'd say the students have some legitimate grounds to object. The article doesn't make this part of the story very clear, but at least in one way suggests that this may be what's happening.

    • by ryzvonusef ( 1151717 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:35AM (#38187436) Journal

      I, too, will pitch my hat in the ring to provide a Muslim perspective.

      I am from Pakistan, which is about as conservative and Muslim as you can get (okay, so KSA is even more so...but you get the gist)

      However, when I was taught biology in school, guess what, I was taught Darwin!

      It was simple, the text simply said, "Charles Darwin, a renowned Scientist hypothesized in his theory that..." and then followed by "However, we as Muslims, believe that [insert relevant verses here]"

      Simple as that!

      If these students were to come to a medical college in Pakistan (and we quite a few of International level) then, surprise surprise, there would be a chapter on Darwin.

      Look, we are Muslims, and I know the general trend of Slashdot is towards atheism/agnosticism, but I strictly believe in a right to believe your religion in peace. So I will not say that the very idea of Creationism is wrong, If I (and they) want to believe that, it is my(/our) right.

      However, if an eminent scholar presents forward a *theory*, there is no harm in at least reading what he is writing.

      • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @05:27AM (#38188130)

        I strictly believe in a right to believe your religion in peace. So I will not say that the very idea of Creationism is wrong, If I (and they) want to believe that, it is my(/our) right.

        That's fine, but by the same token you have to afford us the same right - to say that we believe that Creationism is wrong.

  • Natural selection (Score:5, Interesting)

    by maweki ( 999634 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:18AM (#38187354) Homepage
    As many said before me: just fail them and let natural selection take its course.
  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:29AM (#38187400)

    Wouldn't boycotting an academic lecture be equivalent to willful ignorance? Understanding your opposition's arguments, even if you know going in that you completely disagree with their conclusion, is a useful thing to have.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:39AM (#38187468) Homepage

    If I understand it correctly, one of the Quran's directives is to seek all knowledge. I hypocrisy is a human failing, not a religious one... but then again, religion is a human failing.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:52AM (#38187530) Homepage

    Religion is getting nuttier.

    Today, evolution is an engineering technology. Watching vruses and bacteria evolve from generation to generation is routine medical research. Genetic engineering and some kinds of drug discovery are forced evolutionary systems. Most of the mechanics of the process are understood. It isn't mysterious any more.

    At this point, denying that evolution is real is on a par with claiming the earth is flat. Yet religious denial of evolution has increased.

    More religions are anti-education than 50 years ago. Some branches of Islam are explicitly anti-education. Now that's infected Judaism, too. [typepad.com] Which is strange, after centuries of a strong drive in the Jewish community to achieve a good education.

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:26AM (#38188394)

      The reason religion is getting nuttier is because there are less and less gaps for it to fill. So when you have a subset of religion who defines itself by being able to provide answers to the questions science can't, it gets threatened when science provides more and more of those answers. The gaps that you can fill get smaller and smaller.

      That is why there is more and more of it. For some, religion fills a spiritual needs and specific answers about the world aren't a part of it, and as such science isn't a threat. It is a different thing. However for others, they need their religion to be right about explaining things, and science keeps encroaching on that. So they lash out and get all anti-knowledge.

      Though it has been going on in Islam for a long time. Again, the talk by Dr. Tyson covers that.

  • by gregrah ( 1605707 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @03:57AM (#38187556)
    While I find radical religious fundamentalism just as distasteful as any other atheist, I would also hesitate to launch into Muslim bashing just because one professor has noticed "an increasing number" of Muslim students boycotting his lectures. For all we know, it may be a small number of students boycotting that do not represent a larger trend, and there may be more to the story than reported here (what if, for example, the professor made offensive remarks about Islam and its followers during a lecture, a la Richard Dawkins).

    In regards to whether or not these students should be allowed to graduate and become doctors, I'm a little torn. On the one hand, I don't see how someone's stance on evolution is going to have any demonstrable impact on their ability to perform surgery, for example. On the other hand, if a doctor doesn't believe in evolution, they might also not believe that over-prescribing antibiotics can bread new strains of drug resistant bacteria, which could lead to genuine threat to public health.

    I guess I'd say that if evolutionary biology is a requirement for the major, then they should be required to pass the course in order to graduate. They don't need to attend the lectures, and they don't need to believe that it's true - but in the same way that we force future doctors to suffer through organic chemistry (often against their will), these students should be required to pass the final exam in order to demonstrate that they are at least capable of understanding the material.
  • by bedouin ( 248624 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:10AM (#38187644)

    Too many Muslims have gotten caught up in Christain dogma instead of reading and thinking about the book they believe in. There's nothing inherently contradictory about evolution and Islam. The Quran doesn't specifically say days in Arabic regarding creation, it uses a word that really means periods of time.

    Allegory is used to explain many subjects because describing something like quantum physics to 6th century bedouins wasn't really feasible. Hell, it's something most 21st century Americans can't understand.

    • by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:16AM (#38188634)

      This does not have something to do with the religion. It has something to do with a strange interpretation of the text. Normally, people should read a text and put it in the historical context. Otherwise the language cannot be understand, as language is not a constant thing. Language reflects the traditions and context of the time it is used in, which is no surprise as it is used to communicate (and yes books are also communication). Furthermore, people use analogies to illustrate their thoughts. And in ancient times, people used to describe wonders to elevate a important person. Therefore, texts shouldn't be over interpreted, like god made everything in 6 days. We know today that time and the progression of time is not a constant. And for the assumed deity which exists out of time, 6 days is a stupid construct. It is much more logic to assume that the people of that time, assumed that the creation of everything happened in 6 phases. And this is not untrue, by what we know today. We need matter and energy to form planets and stars. We need planets to create/evolve simple life. We need simple live to evolve complex life. And yes humans appeared very late and from our perspective now the "creation" is complete.

      I always wonder why religion fanatics believe in a most stupid deity which act upon a strange set of rules. And by following those rules they act disrespectful to others. Fundamentalists are a little different, they try not to be disrespectful. However, the core message for all those religions out there is: "Be nice to each other." And we all fail greatly in that.

      Furthermore, if the god thing is true and one day we stand before god, he will not ask you. Have you always believed in creationism or evolution. He will ask if you tried to be a good person.

  • Pragmatism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vell0cet ( 1055494 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:28AM (#38187742)
    I don't care if you don't "believe" in evolution. It is the basis by which many of our concepts of biology come from. Even if it isn't FACTUAL by your standards, it's the best description of how the medicine and biology we practice work.

    I was once talking to a physicist friend of mine and she was explaining to me that the math is NOT the reality, it's simply the best representation that we have currently, and using it helps us to manipulate the world around us.

    If you really CHOOSE to not believe it, you should at least take a pragmatic approach and understand the usefulness of understanding the concepts.
  • "bye" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harvey the nerd ( 582806 ) on Monday November 28, 2011 @04:56AM (#38187936)
    "Ok. 'Bye, don't let the door hit you on the way out"

    You're welcome to get your medical or other degree from ibn Osama bin Kamel Inst of Technology, etc if our university is no longer your first choice.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter