As one of my friends is currently in the process of creating an ‘atheist and agnostic society’ at Imperial College (IC), and the most recent copy of the college magazine, Felix, contains several pieces regarding religion I have decided to make a few comments here to open the ideas to a wider audience.
The IC Islamic Ahul-Bayt Society invited Dr Cevat Babuna of the organisation Harun Yahya to talk on the subject of Evolution vs. Creationism (including Intelligent Design). As a bit of background, Dr Babuna is a Muslim neurosurgeon of Turkish nationality.
“The speaker was introduced with the claim that the society wanted to promote an exchange of ideas; he can’t have been listening, because he then proceeded with what can only be described as single-minded, bigoted propaganda.” Pietro Aronica, Felix.
Dr Babuna talked for over an hour, starting with the evils of ‘Social Darwinism’, trying to link anarchism, atheism, racism, fascism, Nazism, and communism to the theory of natural selection. In fact the words he used were more like, “the law of the jungle has killed more than 180million people’. This is clearly nonsense, as one attendee noted by pointing out that atheism and anti-Semitism were around long before
More ‘traditional’ attacks on Darwinism included the classic argument of ‘irreducible complexity’, clearly showing that Dr Babuna either does not understand the theory, or is wilfully ignorant of how powerful it can be.
As pointed out by Matty Hoban in Felix: “What made the lecture more interesting is that it was a Muslim speaking as opposed to an Evangelical Christian.” Perhaps Aronica pointed out the only real difference: “Everything was served with a large dose of Qur’an, added here and there to give a credible opinion… The plan backfired when even girls in hijab confronted him on the ridiculousness of his theories.”
Thankfully, many people found his arguments ridiculous (IC is one of the world’s leading science universities after all). Aronica reported, “Sometimes a chorus of dissent from the crowd would cover the speaker’s voice…”.
Pietro Aronica also gives a great example of what I like to call ‘Argument by Incredulous Substitution’. “The argument for Darwinism being the root of all evil was just bad, with no other word required. Maybe you are familiar with the reduction ad Hitlerum, an impressive sounding Latin phrase…basically, if Hitler liked X, X must be evil; other common variants are Nazis or Stalin instead of Hitler. Anybody can spot the fallacy in it, by putting as X something that is not considered unethical and still was supported by Hitler, like dogs, or paintings.
It’s a simple thing to forget, I guess, that anti0Semitism existed for millennia before