creationary evolution

Zack started an amazing discussion at his blog about Muslims and belief about evolution and creation. It's amazing for its dignity - with honest expressions of belief alongside hard-core scientific explanations and links to resources such as Talk Origins (which I've semi-lurked on for years).

Talk Origins had an article on Evolution and the Qur'an back in November 1996. There also are some links to specific Sura in the "what is Creationism?" FAQ under the subheading Islamic Creationism.

I've been long interested in this topic, but I've never actually been motivated (until Zack's post) to sit down and try to exp[ress my own conviction in a formal sense. I've often adopted semi-temporary positions to refute people who have tried to bludgeon me one way or the other. But this is my first attempt to "reconcile" the Qur'an and the Origin of Species.

My theological framework is Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili - specifically, Dawoodi Bohra. As such we do believe in the Qur'an as both the literal and the symbolic word of Allah. We do not ascribe literal meaning to each and every ayat. That gives me an enormous flexibility in adapting my understanding to fit my unalterable convictions of faith and my professional belief in the scientific method.

I do believe that God created Man. The facility of reason is what differentiates us from animals, and I believe this is a divine gift.

I also believe that men and apes share a common ancestor. The genetic evidence is clear on this, and my intuition also resonates strongly with the science.

The logical conclusion then is that I must have an ancestor who did not have the faculty of reason. It is tempting to simply define all such ancestors as "clay" and be done, but there is room for more nuance. Some of that nuance is housed in religious theology that I cannot discuss here, but other parts are easily attributed to my finite capability for understanding in an infinite ocean of knowledge. I don't feel that the two bold statements above are neccessarily a contradiction, and in fact I intuitively feel that they provide the opportunity for a more complex answer than either Creationism or Science alone can provide. Whether I am capable of comprehending it, at my current stage of understanding of both God's law and Man's works, I personally doubt.

So, I guess my answer is a retreat, or an evasion at best. I have faith in God and the Qur'an. I also have faith in Science, because that too is the pure expression of Man's facility of reason, itself a divine gift. I don't see any real tension between these, so that removes any need for a "reconciliation".

I guess i Just don't know. My curiosity about human origins is well-fed by science and my religious educatoin, as separate processes. That's really all I can ask for. I know my questions have answers. I have faith.

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