Jump to content

Imamology

  • entries
    38
  • comments
    389
  • views
    11,066

Devolution

Qa'im

1,300 views

devolution__steve_greenberg.jpeg

This is part three in my series on postmodernism. For part two, click here, and you will also find the link to part one there.

Many Muslims begin doubting their religion after surveying the evidence for evolution. Prior to Darwinian evolution, the Muslim civilization was usually not keen on hindering scientific progress, and in fact did what it could to propel it. With modern evolutionary biology however, there appears (at least on the surface) to be a clash between science and scripture. What are the forces at play here? What variables must we consider when dealing with this problem?

The common stem from which these doubts sprout is an epistemology grounded in naturalism. The scientific method obviously has a place in truth-seeking: it draws its conclusions from sensory observation, and gives us indubitable truths about the universe in which we live. I would never abandon the scientific method as a tool in the quest to understand reality, but it is a tool after all. Science is always at the drawing board, revising old research, devising new methods, and challenging old conclusions. The basis of science is reason, which is why an experiment begins with a hypothesis (an educated guess of what we logically expect to take place) and a null hypothesis (what we expect will not take place). This presupposes cause and effect, and the law of noncontradiction; the idea that our universe operates in an orderly way, and that events do not happen at random. In the same way that logic is the foundation of science, it is also the foundation of our kalaami arguments for the existence of God.

The scientific method as a tool will not be able to answer every question on ethics, anthropology, cosmology, purpose, metaphysics, consciousness/life/being, and epistemology - and although these areas are more uncertain and immaterial than the hard sciences, they are ultimately what we live for. So when I see New Atheists dismiss philosophy, or religion, I find it to be quite naive, because philosophy is the incorporeal foundation of science, and religion is the incorporeal foundation of society; with science being a tool with its own scope. New Atheism merely grew out of the carcass of occidental Christianity, and its logical conclusion is postmodernism, which is nihilistic, hedonistic, confused, and suicidal.

So with that in mind, when science, which is sensory observation with inconclusive fluidity, becomes the criterion by which convention is confirmed or denied, there will naturally be clashes. Sometimes, those clashes exist only in the mind, because they are a clash between an interpretation of convention and a perceived reality. Other times, the clash can be based on flawed or incomplete scientific research. I'm not someone who denies evolution, as I think the position of denial becomes more discredited every year. But there are gigantic discoveries that occur periodically, discoveries that challenge previously-held beliefs in evolution and clash with existing hypotheses, discoveries that may have their own flaws that are exposed in the next discovery. This is partly why I find it difficult to answer questions on evolution - it is like the big bang: some are quick to find references to the big bang in the Quran and hadith, but if the big bang theory were ever superseded by science (and alternative hypotheses do exist), then that would throw those interpretations out as well. What I've realized after my third university degree is that these educational institutions have their own faith-based biases, assumptions, and ideologies, which guide their research - this is far more pronounced in the social sciences of course, but isn't limited to them.

Ultimately, we won't achieve 100% scientific certainty in either the present evolutionary conclusions nor in the Adamic story. This then poses a question: is there any conventional value to the Adamic story? Whether or not it physically took place (and I believe that it did, in some way or another), it is an origin story that resonated with billions of people worldwide for thousands of years, with profound psychological truths and practical sociological lessons. Of course, the Islamic version is a bit more in line with naturalistic thinking - with the nasnaas, the thousands of Adams, the earthly setting of the story, the earthly origins of mankind, no mention of timeline/genealogy, and no "original sin" - but one has to go deeper into the story. The Quran avoids historicizing events, and so it lacks many dates, names, and places, and instead, encourages us to reflect on the lessons taught in each story. On one side, the story talks about humanity's vicegerency of God on Earth, humanity's ability to comprehend the aql (Logos), and humanity's eloquent mastery of language; on the other side, it talks about humanity's naivety, humanity's base desires, and humanity's sorrow after its fall. The story highlights the dualistic nature of man: that we are both celestial in one sense and earthly in another sense; spiritual and physical, supernatural and natural, "human" and animal. It is a story about the great natural telos of man, followed by his tragic fall, followed by his humble ascent. On another level, it talks of humanity's common, meek, and worldly origin, so as to avoid tribalism, racism, and chauvinism.

According to the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt, Adam lived in this very same world that you and I share. His "garden" was the state of his faith; he was living in the higher consciousness of the mind and the heart. Eventually, he "fell" into the lower, base desires of man (the stomach and genitals/nakedness), which made him shameful and regretful, because God created man for spiritual ascension and not decline. That regret brought him back to God in a corrective effort. This same story is reflected in mankind both on a microcosmic and macrocosmic level. We all have our own individual falls, where we immaturely decline into heedlessness. But on a civilizational level, we continue to fall vertically, from holistic celestial worldviews to our base desires. Philosophically, we have fallen from religious philosophy (philosophy of the spiritual hierarchy), to rational philosophy, to naturalist philosophy, to contemporary relativism (philosophy of the base human self). The problem with the evolutionary worldview is that it views mankind simply as bonafide tool-making animals. Evolution replaced the perennial notion of man’s fall with a theory of material progress. It gives us the guise of progress. But the reality is that we are falling from the divine to the mundane. The Christian world went from the leadership of prophets, to apostles, to false apostles, to pseudo divine kings, to secular materialist rulers, to the current White House spectacle. They went from traditional Christianity, to Protestantism, to capitalism and socialism, to modern base identities (vegetarians / what one eats, gays / who one has sex with, race / what colour we are born as). Islam went through a similar fall, from prophethood, to imamate and false caliphate, to colonialism, to militant secular states, to chaos. While this time is certainly noted for the rise of its science and technology, I see mankind falling into dogmatism, nihilism, social decadence, frivolity, vanity, impatience, and depression. Jahiliyya was a Fall to the bottom, where from which the Prophet stood his people back up. The hadiths describe the degeneracy of the End Times, but the night is darkest just before the dawn, and as soon as even the dimmest of light appears on the horizon, the very nature of people will pull them towards it - the Mahdi.

In this sense, conventional truths, which is the sifted and sieved amalgamation of human thought and experience, has a meta-historical archetypal nature that is often more authentic than sensory truths. It would be foolish to disregard either one, because one deals with how, and the other deals with why. With a purely evolutionary worldview, man is a toolmaking animal, and our progress as a species is measured in the linear paradigm of scientific and technological advancement. But this says little about our quality of life, purpose of life, why we live, how we should live, where we come from, what it means to be human, the power of thought and conscious experience, and whether we really are "better" or more developed than our ancestors. It gives the illusion of upward ascent, but I see a downward regress during what should be humanity's most enlightened time, and that regress comes from our killing of our father - tradition, convention, religion, and ritual.

The Fall gives meaning to human anxiety, depression, and alienation; and a promise of an ascent through effort, hope, promise, responsibility, and a return to being, vicegerency, sainthood.

"And from the evil of darkness when it overspreads" (113:3)



9 Comments


Recommended Comments

Nice essay brother. I would add that science is limited not only in scope (i.e. it cannot discuss issues of morality, etc that you mentioned) but also depth. We don't know how deep into the "material world" it can penetrate, or what that even means as our definition of the material world keeps changing. It is also cannot into penetrate into the realm of the ghayb, whereas human consciousness, if Allah Wills, can do so to varying degrees. It is for this reason that the saints can see or hear things others cannot, but science cannot grasp such things.

Share this comment


Link to comment

A man asked Imam Ja`far [a] about the Paradise of Adam.    The Imam said, "It was a garden from the gardens of this world. The sun and the moon would rise over it. If it were from the Gardens of Eternity, he would have never left it."    حدثنا محمد بن الحسن رحمه الله قال: حدثنا محمد بن الحسن الصفار عن ابراهيم بن هاشم عن عثمان عن الحسن بن بشار عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: سألته عن جنة آدم فقال: جنة من جنات الدنيا تطلع عليه فيها الشمس والقمر ولو كانت من جنات الخلد ما خرج منها أبدا.    (`Ilal ash-Shara'i`)

Share this comment


Link to comment

I know this isn't 100% related but I thought it would be interesting to mention. Some Biblical scholars believe that when Adam and Eve (I say Eve and not Hawwa because the story in the Bible, Eden/Paradise is on Earth but in Islam Adam and Hawwa lived in Jannah and were kicked out of it to Earth) were kicked out of the Garden is a allegory for when humans stopped being hunter-gatherers and began planting food. It's actually a pretty cool theory.

I know there are many Muslims who say that (macro) evolution is alluted to in the Quran. My older brother gave me a quick summary of the theory but not a lot of detail. I personally believe that micro evolution makes sense with the story of Adam.

And by the way, your article is written very well and is impressive. Good job!

Share this comment


Link to comment
On 10/5/2017 at 11:59 PM, Qa'im said:

A man asked Imam Ja`far [a] about the Paradise of Adam.    The Imam said, "It was a garden from the gardens of this world. The sun and the moon would rise over it. If it were from the Gardens of Eternity, he would have never left it."    حدثنا محمد بن الحسن رحمه الله قال: حدثنا محمد بن الحسن الصفار عن ابراهيم بن هاشم عن عثمان عن الحسن بن بشار عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: سألته عن جنة آدم فقال: جنة من جنات الدنيا تطلع عليه فيها الشمس والقمر ولو كانت من جنات الخلد ما خرج منها أبدا.    (`Ilal ash-Shara'i`)

I'm confused, I was always taught that Adam was kicked out of Heaven to Earth, I thought only Jews and Christians say Eden was on Earth. 

Share this comment


Link to comment
On ‎10‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 11:25 AM, A Muslim Artist said:

I know there are many Muslims who say that (macro) evolution is alluted to in the Quran.

Ayats 35:1 & 59:24

Both Quran and l3ibIe (not just in Genesis) have "kun fayakun". So in both cases we have "the How" but not "the When".

That writ, the "evolution and belief" problem lies not necessarily with Hezshaytan, but in understanding the preceding decades before the Theory of Evolution and "natural selection"(environmental processing) developed.

Beginning in the 18th Century zoological and botanical information began to be gathered and published at an accelerated rate. Researchers such a Buffon organizing biology with the fossil record, A. von Humboldt organizing biology geographically and J. von Goethe coining the word 'morphology' created more hypotheses, interest and questions. Entering the 19th Century, one question that emerged was postulated as: Man varies animals into different breeds such as dogs, cattle, horses and chickens so is there a natural mechanism that explains variations in wild animals and plants. Darwin followed by Wallace answered that question. A more complete and slightIy varied 'answers' began in the 1980s with rapid and increasingly inexpensive applications of genetic information.

Share this comment


Link to comment
On ‎2017‎-‎10‎-‎11 at 11:26 AM, A Muslim Artist said:

I'm confused, I was always taught that Adam was kicked out of Heaven to Earth, I thought only Jews and Christians say Eden was on Earth. 

A few reasons why the garden of Adam was not the same as the Jannah of the Hereafter:

1. Once you enter Jannah, you cannot leave, but Adam left.

2. There is no lying in Jannah (Surat Naba'), but Iblees lied about the tree.

3. There is nothing haram in Jannah, but Allah forbade the fruit of that tree.

4. There are no sins or mistakes in Jannah, but Adam disobeyed Allah.

So it's not the same Jannah. Adam's fall does not have to be a physical fall from a high place to the earth, because Jannah is not in the clouds or in space. Rather it was a spiritual fall, and Allah knows best.

Share this comment


Link to comment
11 hours ago, Qa'im said:

A few reasons why the garden of Adam was not the same as the Jannah of the Hereafter:

1. Once you enter Jannah, you cannot leave, but Adam left.

2. There is no lying in Jannah (Surat Naba'), but Iblees lied about the tree.

3. There is nothing haram in Jannah, but Allah forbade the fruit of that tree.

4. There are no sins or mistakes in Jannah, but Adam disobeyed Allah.

So it's not the same Jannah. Adam's fall does not have to be a physical fall from a high place to the earth, because Jannah is not in the clouds or in space. Rather it was a spiritual fall, and Allah knows best.

What you say makes sense, the only thing I can kinda disagree with is point 3. Technically the fruit from the tree was not haram, Allah just told Adam not to eat from it, but other than that I %100 get what you mean.

Share this comment


Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Latest Blog Entries

    • By 3wliya_maryam in deep poetry
         0
      Am I not allowed to grow a little confidence?
      To get past my self consciousness?
       
      Why youse gotta restrict me 
      From getting rid of my insecurity
      Youse will never understand why I keep disobeying
      Youse may think I'm selfish, but I keep praying 
      Hoping for a miracle to pass by and change your minds
       
      I know that it's for my protection 
      But I'm old enough to depend on my own
      Everyday I keep staring at my reflection 
      Wondering when youse will leave me alone.
       
      But seriously though
       
       
      Am I not allowed to grow a little more confidence?
      To get past my self consciousness?
    • By 3wliya_maryam in deep poetry
         0
      I'm only pretty if I have enough likes
      I'm not so pretty if I only have five 
       
      I'm only popular if I have many friends 
      I'm only special if I start to follow these trends
       
      I only get noticed with makeup
      Without it I'm no longer recognised
       
      You need that flat stomach and those fine curves 
      So you choose to put yourself  through that pain you don't deserve
      Starving yourself till your rib cages begin to show
      You want to be like the rest, because your self esteem is so low
       
      Society is committing a crime
      With how they define beauty
      Girls can no longer be themselves
      'Cause they fear society's judgements.
       
      Society made you forget your true beauty 
      That lies beneath all those flaws.
       
      "And you don't have to change a thing the world can change its heart" ~ Alessia Cara
    • By Bakir in Reflections
         0
      Tolerance is inherently moral and necessarily social. And it can only be applied to people who are different, people you wouldn't consider part of "your" group. It is taught, a developed moral characteristic that may become part of who you are. We aren't born tolerant though, and that is why so many groups of influence have tried to develop this concept of group. Fascism itself is based on it. Our natural intolerance spreads as the worst virus if there are no forces to put an end to it. This is what sociology, so far, has been able to appreciate in the concept of tolerance at a macro-social level, and it has its reasons.
      If tolerance is not natural to us, but rather "homophily" (the preference of those with similar characteristics: race, socio-economical class, ideology, etc.), then tolerance is a trait that we can only develop through education, and only if we find it any useful or right.
      In the Qur'an it was already pointed that we were created in different groups:
      "O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another." (Surat al Hujurat)
      So I can just expect that for an early Arabic society this indeed meant a call for tolerance for a religion that was going to spread across many nations. It was useful. However, nowaday, this is not what we, as individuals, face. Living in a globalized world, being connected by the Internet and its very own culture, tolerance seems less and less necessary and useful. Ideologies and groups compete between each other, and a call for tolerance is against the efforts to reinforce that feeling of group. It isn't useful for many. Not to mention that tolerance is a highly difficult trait to acquire, as it requires great efforts of empathy. Ask yourselves to which point can you accept the different? And I don't mean their mere existence, most don't care about that. I mean tolerating someone different that is part of your life, in some way or another. We have always been taught to be tolerant when it has been useful, but not because it is good, because it is morally right. Because it is not among the interest of any group of influence. Groups, as the master of history and sociology of the Muslim world once said, Ibn Khaldun, have only one goal: power.
      That's why, even revolutions, that are supposed to be the fight for ideas, end up in some sort of fascism and/or dictatorship. Even when the people that lead them truly wanted free elections (modern history is full of examples of this, it is something we can't avoid). They are still necessary, though, for the progress of ideas.
      What happens, however, in our societies? In the West, tolerance has been imposed as something useful, but racism, mysogyny, LGBTphobia, etc. are still realities that many people even hate to discuss (many people attack feminism, for instance). In the Muslim world, tolerance died centuries ago, and an enormous amount of groups appeared. We are still reinforcing through our culture this intolerance, based on unreasonable discrimination: country of origin, skin color, studies, amount of money, gender, sexuality, beliefs, family/tribe name, etc. You can realize this inability to accept the different for instance in the topic of marriage, at what type of characteristic will people, parents, or ourselves if we have sons or daughters to marry, will look at. And it's not always the obvious (like don’t be racist). It is usually ideological. We can't accept other mentalities because we weren't taught about that, because the group we belong to doesn't want that.
      Tolerance isn't only about accepting black people, or trans people, or seeing women as equals. People will probably try to appear as tolerant in that sense, because it is useful for them. However, as a moral trait, these people are not genuinely tolerant, but conveniently civilized. Real tolerance is being able to respect others by their opinion, beliefs, lifestyle, and of course, biological circumstances. Accept them as long as you are not tolerating the intolerant.
      This conflict is paradoxical, and it is a well known paradox in social sciences (originally proposed by Karl Popper). The problem with tolerating the intolerant, as I said at the start of this entry, is precisely how fast and easily their intolerance spreads (because it is natural). As individuals and iA as free thinkers, we should fight to develop tolerance within ourselves and condemn intolerance even when it is present in those people who are part of "our" group (be it our racial "group", ideological, whatever). Intolerance isn't a joke, it's a social human and moral issue of high importance, and has always shaped our destiny.
      Thus, I can only advise my readers to dedicate some time to observe that aspect of their hearts, if they behaved in a tolerant manner, identify our errors, ask for forgiveness to the Most Merciful, and ask him to guide us and make us more aware of being tolerant when we are, again, tested in life. Remember to ask Him to guide me as well, iA.
    • By 3wliya_maryam in deep poetry
         1
      Please let me help you 
      Let me help you get this through 
      We share the same blood
      And I want you to be loved
       
      Look I know that you're depressed
      And I know that you're in distress
       
      But I wish you could open up
      Instead of always shutting up
      You choose to conceal yourself 
      And I still don't know why 
      sometimes I hate myself 
      For even having to try 
      To make you fess up 
       
      I know you don't want my help 
      Maybe I do suck at giving advice 
      But why should I leave you to silently yelp
      When I'm here for you, but you're just like ice
       
      I am always contemplating
      And always wondering
      Whether I've done more than enough 
       
      I want to be there for you
      But you keep pushing me away
      So I chose to do the same
       
      Please let me help you 
      Let me help you get this through
      We share the same blood
      And I want you to be loved.
    • By 3wliya_maryam in deep poetry
         0
      When I'm in pain you say it won't last
      But I see you still paining about the past
       
      When I'm in tears you tell me to keep smiling
      But I still see you curled up in the corner crying
       
      You tell everyone it'll be alright 
      But the space around you is tight 
       
      You tell everyone you're fine
      But I already know that's a lie
       
      It's never that easy to let go 
      That strong feeling of betrayal
      But one day they'll know 
      Just how much they left you in denial .
       
      "It's never easy to walk away, let it go
      Nothing heals the past like time" ~ Dean Lewis
    • By starlight in Light Beams
         0
      Part II A Detailed Description of the Method and Way of Godward Wayfaring
      My notes on the book's content. I had to reformat and reduce the size of file to meet the specifications of the forum. Hopefully this image will be readable after zooming.

    • By 3wliya_maryam in deep poetry
         0
      You say it was a curse
      'Cause I became worse
      You say I am being punished
      'Cause I caused my old self to be diminished
      You say I am beginning to deteriorate
      As time passes by
      I don't know how much longer I can wait
      As I sit there and cry
      Staring at the blank wall
      Hoping for a miracle
      You say it was a curse
      But I believe it was a test
      You say I became worse
      But I am trying my best
      To return to where I was.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Blog Statistics

    73
    Total Blogs
    376
    Total Entries
×