Evolution and the Big Bang have become a key part of modern science. It was Bertrand Russell who stated that the “universe exists, and that’s it”, this argument is ambiguous and certainly an attempt to avoid discussion. It is unscientific and unintellectual. Investigating causes of existence is a part of science. Russell largely hoped to avoid discussion as this would involve getting bogged down in the Big Bang theory and finite age of the universe. But it does.
Another prominent atheist who still doesn’t believe fully in the Big Bang Theory is Richard Dawkins. After overwhelming evidence, we can see that Dawkins has eventually committed to the Big bang theory. But not in it’s standard form. Dawkins supports the multi-verse theory. Which is that there were billions of big bangs and one made it out to today (which is our universe). All the more ironic that Dawkins is an empiricist and the multi-verse theory isn’t supported by scientific evidence, an institution which Dawkins holds so dear to his heart. So why this dogma, which even some atheists have demonstrated in refutation of the big bang theory or it’s mainstream version (as Dawkins has)?
Simply because the Big Bang theory provides ammunition to proponents of the cosmological argument that the argument for causation and motion or the Kalam could be valid. As before the Big Bang, there would be no space and time, the fact that a single event caused the beginning of space and time could say that support the argument for causation and as Aristotle said the absurdity of infinite regression; there could be room for God in this hypothesis. Henceforth the faith of “deeply religious non-believers” possess this dogma of supporting a multi-verse theory which lacks evidence. This also shows that religion and science don’t have to be in a perpetual war as painted by Richard Dawkins and puritanical elements of religion, both ends of the spectrum are neo-extremists. As shown by the evidence supporting the Big Bang Theory. The Big bang can also backup a part of the cosmological argument by St. Aquinas.
Islam has also been bought into the debate of evolution vs creationism. Unlike Catholicism, Islam does not have a hierarchal structure. The principal of tawhid (oneness) is so that Islam is literally between the individual and his interpretation of God (that’s the main message of the Prophet, it was tawhid that allowed him to end idolatry and the hegemony of one tribe in Mecca over others). Henceforth Islam doesn’t support the dogma to the same deep extent as the Catholic church does with regards to abortion and contraceptives. I can proudly point a similar claim to evolution. In the 1920’s, around the same time as the John Scopes trial in America, there was an Islamic philosopher by the name of Muhammad Iqbal. He wanted to reconstruct Islamic thought and modernise it. Iqbal too believed in evolution as a Muslim, 80 years prior to 47% of American’s finally accepting evolution. Admittedly the muslim world has a lower percentage rate of people who accept evolution than Western Europe. But that figure is rising, as is the Muslim population. So for the billions who prostrate to Allah there is a change: evolution and the five pillars are increasingly less in conflict. The religion is clearly going forward and embracing science in greater numbers. Also there is significant detail to show that major Islamic figures in history have supported earlier forms of evolution. One is the ubiquitously respected Rumi, who interpreted are part of the Sura An-Nisa in the Q’uran as below:
“First man appeared in the class of inorganic things, Next he passed there from into that of plants.
For years he lived as one of the plants,
Remembering naught of his inorganic state so different;
And when he passed from the vegetive to the animal state,
He had no remembrance of his state as a plant, ”
here we can see that major religious scholars have backed the idea that evolution is possible within a theological framework, that too in the 13th century! Rumi also believed in Biology determining the immortality of the human soul. And Ibn Khaldun said “a higher stage of man is reached from the monkeys”, here we can see that throughout medieval and modern Islamic history evolution has been an idea proposed and adopted by some and certainly tolerated far before it was in Western Europe. This too proves that religion and science don’t have to slog it out.
The fact that conservatives in America and the pre-Francis Vatican assume that there is a binary choice between evolution (atheism) and creationism (theism) i.e. science and religion will only exacerbate the tension which is turning millions away from faith. Even very conservative Islamic imams don’t condemn evolution as loud as American evangelicals for they’re smart enough to realise that there is no need to reject the concept (which has precipitated a secularising Western Europe) and will likely turn people away from religion in a liberalising and increasingly tolerant global society. Likewise “Militant Atheists” will have to recognise that the more they defame and offend religion the more isolated they will become; the ideological differences between Militant Atheists and Communists in terms of religion is very little, they both have contempt for religion in all forms and fail to recognise that religion in one form or another will continue to influence society.
The evidence is in the collapse of the USSR has created an unprecedented rebound of religious influence in former Soviet states e.g. the increasing role of the Orthodox Church in Russia and Islam in central Asia. Putting down either religion or irreligion by force or ignorance will only favour the oppressed in the long term.
Besides increasing partisanship and polarisation makes the middle route (which more often that not is effective in a world which truly isn’t black or white), increasingly difficult to achieve. It is Immanuel Kant who is the most respected amongst the Enlightenment philosophers, that too because he bridged the polarity between the rationalists and empiricists by pointing out that both were right and wrong.
An interesting statistic, according to the Pew research centre, 58% of Muslims in Middle east-North Africa believe in evolution, by contrast around 47% of Americans believe in evolution. The number 58% is significant enough to show that Muslims who believe in evolution are in a majority in significant Islamic regions.
Science and religion too will eventually reconcile, science is effective in many ways over religion and vice-versa, the two have and will co-exist. Dawkins might agree with Marx and consider religion to be the opium of the masses. Others will find Dawkins atheistic beliefs tantamount to consuming heroine.
Sadly. A few will despise theism at all costs even if reason indicates to the contrary that religion has done good for society and others will deride atheism without rationale. Thank God that both are in a minority.