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Page last edited on 05 April, 2003

[Original source URL: http://www.kalam.org/papers/muz-main1.htm ]

Biological Origins: Traditional and Contemporary Perspectives

Muzaffar Iqbal

Chapters in this essay

Biological Origins

At the heart of contemporary discourse on science and religion is the question of Origins. This is understandable because the notion of Origins is fundamental to one’s religious beliefs. How and when did the universe begin? When, where and how have humans made their first appearance on earth? How old is the planet earth? How are they born and how do they live? Is there any teleology in creation?

These are perennial questions but they seem to have gained a special importance during the twentieth century both in sciences as well as in the science-religion discourse. This can be gleaned from the thrust of fundamental research in natural sciences as well as from the number of books that continue to appear on the subject with astonishing rapidity.

This paper explores traditional and contemporary perspectives on biological origins. By Traditional, we mean the worldview held in the ancient religious traditions that take the presence of a Creator God as their point of departure; by contemporary, we mean the secular worldview, based upon scientism. This is not to negate the presence of millions of human beings who hold the Traditional worldview in the contemporary era. But by definition, these are not “contemporary worldviews” for the perennial wisdom does not lend itself to temporal divisions.

The paper gives a summary of Christian responses to certain current theories of biological origins (which go back to the nineteenth century theory of evolution), reconstructs the historical foundations of the current scientific theories of biological origins and then focuses on its main thesis: the question of biological from a Traditional point of view. Taken in this sense, the question of Origin cannot be decided on the basis of biological sciences because in its essence, it is a metaphysical question, intimately bound with cosmology. This thesis is then defended by examining the limits of scientific data on biological origins within the epistemology of scientific investigation.

More specifically, the paper traces the historic rise of Darwinism, explores responses to Darwinism in the Catholic as well as the Protestant faiths, examines the scientific data on which the case for and against Darwinism rests and mention those links between biological and cosmic origins that are integral to an understanding of the biological origins.


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Last updated on 05 April, 2003

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