iERA Challenges Prof. Myers, Maryam Namazie & Richard Dawkins
28 Oct 2012
The format of the video presents rolling text describing each of the three interactions, but little other context.
The first segment, lasting approximately 29 minutes, presents PZ Myers (a biologist from the University of Minnesota) and Hamza Tzortzis (with Adnan Rashid and An Ra joining later). They discuss the following topics: cosmology, history of science, sources of evidence, mountains holding the crust in place.
The second segment, which apparently was shot during the question and answer period of a talk by Maryam Namazie. This runs from 29:10-32:32. If Namazie answered, it was not included in the video; this segment is only Adnan Rashid’s response to the talk, and does not include any discussion of science.
The third segment, between Richard Dawkins and Hamza Tzortzis runs from 32:33 to the end. The topics they address: evolution, cosmology, physics and the “fine tuning” of the universe, philosophy of science, multiverses, spontaneous quantum fluctuation. Dawkins leaves when an onlooker asks about circumcision, and the video ends.
The iERA (Islamic Education & Research Academy) is a UK-based proselytization group.
This video is often clipped and one may occasionally find versions of it with footage added from some of the other people who are visibly filming as well.
The scoring here is cumbersome to disaggregate.
P.Z. Myers’ presentation of science is accurate, but his representations of Islam would not be accepted by most Muslims. Notably, it is Myers who pushes for the 7th century Arabs not to be represented as unknowing fools rather than Adnan Rashid.
Hamza Tzortzis generally avoids addressing science directly, rather talking about philosophy and concepts that are beyond empirical science. His representations of Islam is within the bounds of what Muslims have historically understood as acceptable.
Adnan Rashid, who is off-screen in the first segment and speaks at length during the second segment, also presents an Islam that is within the bounds of what Muslims have historically understood as acceptable. The degree of on-the-spot re-interpretation of the Qurʾān (sequential actions reinterpreted as simultaneous actions) would probably make most Muslims question his authority. His presentation on sharīʿa (second segment), for which we do not hear the answer, is ahistorical; the sources he mentions by name are dated. Scholars of Islamic law always start from a standpoint of when and where, and perhaps which school of law, in order to begin to discuss details of how the law affected society. Rashid also suggests in the first segment that “there were only 17 people in Muhammad’s tribe who could read and write”, which may or may not be true, but information passed among people in many ways others than through books, and Muḥammad lived (and traveled) through many areas beyond those controlled by his tribe.
Richard Dawkins suggests that evolution is something that happened in the past. This is not accepted by evolutionary biologists; seeing the traces of evolution is sometimes difficult because, depending on the species studied, the time required for natural change is quite large compared to human lifetimes. The results of evolution are often observable; it can be seen in cases such as antibiotic resistance and pesticide resistance, for instance. That God is “complicated” and therefore unlikely is not something that most Muslims would accept.
The rolling text between the segments presents at least a few negative personal characterizations of each of the atheists with whom the group claims to want an open, intellectual discussion.
About Hamza Tzortzis
Hamza Tzortzis is of Greek origin, though he was born and raised in London, England. Raised in Hackney, a rougher part of London, Tzortzis became involved in gang life and never finished a university degree after a plagiarism scandal. Following his difficulties in academics, he pursued project management in the business field; however, after a few encounters with Muslim friends, Tzortzis became more and more interested in Islam.
Tzortzis is now well known for delivering controversial lectures, workshops, and courses at various universities across the world on Islamic thought, in addition to participating in various debates where he uses philosophy to defend Islam. His interests lie around Islam, politics, and philosophy. Tzortzis is in charge of the Islamic Education and Research Academy’s (iERA) research team, and is also an instructor for AlKauthar Institute, a proselytizing organization.
As of 2015, Tzortzis is active on social media networks, operating public Facebook and Twitter pages, each with thousands of followers. His personal website also hosts his collection of research, debates, and lectures.
The Deen Show: Hamza Andreas Tzortzis. Perf. Eddie Redzovic. The Religion of Islam. Clip from The Deen Show, n.d. Accessed 24 May 2015.
“Hamza Andreas Tzortzis.” Hamza Andreas Tzortzis RSS. N.p., n.d. Accessed 24 May 2015.
“Hamza Tzortzis.” AlKauthar Institute. AlKauthar Institute, n.d. Accessed 24 May 2015.
Tzortzis, Hamza. “Hamza Andreas Tzortzis.” Facebook. N.p., n.d. Accessed 24 May 2015.
Tzortzis, Hamza. Twitter. N.p., n.d. Accessed 24 May 2015.
About Richard Dawkins
Born in Nairobi, Kenya on March 26, 1941, Richard Dawkins is an English scientist famous for his writings on evolution and atheism, his advocacy for the ideas of Charles Darwin, and his critical views of religion. Dawkins moved back to England in 1949, and eventually received his undergraduate degree from Balliol College, Oxford University in 1962. Four years later in 1966, Dawkins had earned his doctorate from Oxford and moved to California to teach zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, though in 1970 he returned to Oxford to teach.
Dawkins specializes in animal behaviour, though the majority of his research has fallen under the field of evolutionary biology since 1965. He is most well known for his first book, The Selfish Gene, which became an international bestseller when published in 1976. In it, Dawkins conveyed his ideas about the co-evolution of genes and ‘memes’ (a term loosely defined as a unit of imitation in regards to culture and society, coined by Dawkins himself) in addition to discussing his ardent atheist beliefs. Dawkins has published several bestsellers since, most notably The Blind Watchmaker (1986) and The God Delusion (2008).
As of 2015, Dawkins still lectures quite frequently around the world, maintains his Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and has millions of followers between his Facebook and Twitter pages. In addition, a large collection of his work is currently being put together on a Wakelet.
Dawkins, Richard. Twitter. Twitter, n.d. Accessed 13 June 2015.
“Richard Clinton Dawkins.” World of Sociology. Gale, 2001. Biography in Context. Accessed 13 June 2015.
“Richard Dawkins – The Ultimate Collection.” Wakelet. N.p., n.d. Accessed 13 June 2015.
“Richard Dawkins Bio.” Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Richard Dawkins Foundation, n.d. Accessed 13 June 2015.
“Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.” Facebook. Facebook, n.d. Accessed 13 June 2015.
Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Richard Dawkins Foundation, n.d. Accessed 13 June 2015.