The Imam letter finally joins the its Christian and Jewish counterparts, finally bringing representatives of the three major Abrahamic faiths together on a common platform. This project, launched in 2006 with the Clergy letter, now has 12,725 clergies signed up, with the Rabbi project started in 2008 now having nearly 476 signatories.
The the project started by Michael Zimmerman of Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, who has recently expressed his excitement about the Muslim letter, hoping it would be a common platform for those who do not ‘take the Scriptures out of context to deny the truth of evolution’.
However it would be naive to assume that there would not be counter reactions amongst the more orthodox segments who uphold special creation beyond any scientific evidence. Creationism has and will continue to fracture the followers of the major faiths for yet some more times to come. Recently a one pro-evolution imam, Usama Hasan from London the has written about his ordeal in having had received death threats for publicly stating that Evolution is compatible with the Koran.
Perhaps reconciling orthodox religious views about creation with scientific evidence is an impractical quest. Orthodoxy thrives through its reluctance to adopt new world views, and entering into direct conflicts perhaps fractures communities more than creating bridges for the future. As Imam Usama Hasan states : “With hindsight I probably went too far in stating a position so explicitly; a better option may have been to simply open up the debate.”
In the matter of the re-interpreting religious texts to retro-fit contemporary worldviews, there would probably be little common ground. If we examine the history of ideas, most ideas in humanity have had limited shelf lives. specialist creationist models for the universe and have had its own place in the the days when no scientific explanation was simply available for the diversity of life around us, and in that sense, the creationist models of religious texts were the earliest efforts to provide explanatory models on the lines of theories of everything (TOE’s). It is perhaps more mature to publicly discuss for the history of evolution of ideas (including the idea of evolution itself) , focusing more on the diversity of the history of ideas than attacking entire religious establishments based on ideas recorded in ancient texts hundreds to thousands of years ago.
Michael Zimmerman’s website [ http://blue.butler.edu/~mzimmerm/] perhaps aims at doing just that.
67-68 Hatton Garden
London EC1N 8JY