This week marks the 150th anniversary of the publishing of Charles Darwin’s book on The Origin of Species. To commemorate the foundation of evolutionary biology with confetti and a thirty second video clip on some news channel sure would have been appalling. So, it’s fair to view the week-long debate in Alexandria as tribute to Darwin.
As much as these debates synopsise the never ending battle between science and faith, they seem to unveil the ideological ramifications of the debate’s newer dimensions, where the two fuse in the classrooms of the Arab States and therefore, the future. A whole generation of high school and university graduates from the Arab world are taught theories of evolution, quite alarmingly, by entwining it with religious frameworks.
Conservative Islam, like most other religions, favours Creationism or at least uses the idea to spur the rejection of certain biological explanations. Faith gels Creationism in the science text books and caught in the line of fire are high school students, who later go on to become teachers, inconsiderately accepting their lessons and preaching the same to the generation that follows them.
It isn’t just Islam, the Church of England was the first and now ISKCON wages a war against Darwin with every book they publish and, in a way, blind their devotees to only see the hypothetical theory surrounding the supernatural.
In a way, in my opinion, Darwin’s book echoes postmodern traits as it questioned the meta-narratives of the society. It questioned the religious framework, it challenged the authenticity of what Faith was based on.
Now, a postmodernist might object though there is no specific time period when postmodernism permeated late modernity; an ISKCON devotee, along with the devout Muslim would voice what they consider the truth, the Vatican would then step in and throw in terms such as ‘astrobiology’ to justify, in a less geeky manner, talks about extra terrestrials and in the end, the postmodernist would succeed as there would be far too many truths.
The possibilities of multiple truths and the indefinitely long discourses shrouding Darwin in myth have good odds to be bet on. For now, Darwin would be the point where the thinker and the God fearing man met, slapped each other and sat for the rest of their lives.
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Sunanda Das, TOVP Communications Director