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Symposium to explore Islamic views on biological evolution

October 10, 2011

An international symposium examining views of biological evolution among students, educators and scientists within the Islamic traditions will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, in Argyros Forum 202.

Panel members for the “Chapman Symposium on Islam and Evolution” presented by Chapman University’s Evolution Education Research Center (EERC) will include Drs. Brian Alters, founder and director of the Chapman center, Anila Asghar of McGill University, and Jason Wiles of Syracuse University.

While many Muslim scientists have comfortably reconciled evolution within their faith, the teaching of evolution varies greatly within and between Islamic countries.  While students largely accept much of evolution, certain aspects of the science are widely rejected. It is apparent that students’ religious identities are important in shaping their scientific understandings, and the message they receive in schools depends greatly upon their position in a very complex sociopolitical landscape. 

Dr. Alters, will explain some of the major issues involving Christianity and biological evolution, and then segue into current research by members of the EERC involving Islam and evolution.  

Dr. Asghar will share the perceptions of Muslim teachers, scientists, and secondary students from six predominantly Muslim cultures and communities about biological evolution (Canada, Indonesia, Egypt, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Turkey).  She will share the conflicting understandings that these groups have about the science of evolution in relation to their Islamic beliefs.  This discussion will illuminate the similarities and differences between Islamic and Christian perspectives on creationism and evolution.  

Building on previous international comparisons of public opinion on evolutionary science, Dr. Wiles will explain that surveying peoples’ attitudes and understandings of science is no easy task. It would appear that much is lost in translation between cultures where the nuances of boundaries between science and religion are concerned.

Admission is free.

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