Islam, Evolution and Darwinism
21 Apr 2017
Subboor Ahmad, one of the speakers for iERA from London, here frames a discussion of “Darwinian evolution”. Although he presents his representation of evolution as the dominant model, and one which he encourages the audience to accept, he nonetheless spends considerable time trying to present it as inherently flawed.
Ahmad constructs “Darwinian evolution” as being somehow different from “evolution”. He claims to present what Darwinian evolution is “actually about”. Much of these claims are based on ideas from the nineteenth century that have little or nothing to do with biological evolution through natural selection in the twenty-first century.
Part of Ahmad’s presentation is to maintain or enhance a dichotomy between “we Muslims” and those who he claims are pushing Darwinian evolution. He also contrasts his presentation of Darwinian evolution with constructions of “Christians” (apparently all Christians) who he suggests promote Intelligent Design or “Creationism”.
Included in his opening is a definition of science, theory, hypothesis and observations, but these key terms are not used consistently throughout the lecture. Once he has defined the field, he shifts to discussing philosophy of science without an explanation. This shift is important, since nearly all the material he references from his “evolutionary biologists” are actually from philosophers of science, not delimiting problems in Darwinian evolution, but defining what science itself is. Thus, his oft-repeated issues with Darwinian evolution — that it is a probabilistic framework, built on assumptions, and encountering debates — might be said of any scientific endeavor. The “alternative theories” he suggests are not. Some that he claims to be “theories” are merely additions to the standard model. Others are simply hypotheses that have little experimental science backing them up, not true alternative hypotheses. None of these so-called alternatives mentioned have risen to the level of a well-tested scientific theory, like biological evolution through natural selection.
But none of this slows down Ahmed in his hour-long presentation. Ahmad mentions a wide variety of individuals in the lecture, the majority of whom he provides little or erroneous information about. It is unclear what iERA as a group hopes to gain by misrepresenting science while at the same time encouraging Muslims to practice science.
This video was recorded in March 2017 at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK. The audience is not shown. No information has been found about who sponsored the lecture.
Islam: There is little here on Islam, other than Ahmad’s repeated assertions about “we Muslims” believing what he believes. Ahmad’s assertion that “Christians” believe in Intelligent Design and creationism is erroneous. These are not dominant beliefs in most Christian communities worldwide.
Science: Most of what Ahmad presents here about biological evolution is true for science generally. The material he presents as “alternative theories” are not theories in the scientific sense, and some of the material presented does not conflict with the basic understanding of biological evolution through natural selection at all. The repeated emphasis on Darwin and “Darwinian evolution” as opposed to biological evolution through natural selection is a smoke screen through which to present outdated and erroneous information.
History: Although Ahmad’s material on “human zoos” is accurate, how this relates to the scientific theory of biological evolution through natural selection is obscure. Darwin is no more to blame for those who use his ideas in other arenas than all Muslims are to blame for those who perpetrate violence in the name of Islam. Darwin was a man of his time, and the racial hierarchies prevalent at the time — in religion as well as science among Europeans others affected by Enlightenment thinking — were not at all unique to him. Suggesting that these ideas are somehow inherent in the scientific theory is erroneous.
About Subboor Ahmad
Subboor Ahmad (also sometimes spelled Subboor Ahmed) is a speaker for the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA), who, like many speakers of the iERA, made a name for himself at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, London. Ahmad attended City University London for engineering, though it cannot be confirmed if, or when, he graduated. Current iERA materials note he is pursuing a postgraduate degree in the philosophy of science. He specializes in arguing for God’s existence and aspects surrounding proselytization, with a particular focus on biological evolution. He can be found guest lecturing at colleges and universities, in addition to occasionally appearing on “The Big Debates”, “The Dawah Show” (Ramadan TV), and “Face the Faith”. According to Mission Dawah, Ahmad also manages iERA’s publishing company, One Reason.
Ahmad, Subboor. Facebook. Facebook, n.d. 16 June 2015, 6 January 2018.
Ahmad, Subboor. Twitter. 1 August 2016, 6 January 2018.
Ahmad, Subboor. LinkedIn. 1 August 2016, 6 January 2018.
“Course Instructors – IERA.” IERA Mission Dawah. IERA, n.d. 16 June 2015, 6 January 2018.
“Subboor Ahmed.” Islamic Education and Research Academy. IERA, 6 January 2018.