An international symposium titled “Human Genetic and Reproductive Technologies: Comparing Religious and Secular Perspectives” and organized by the World Health Organization, Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences and Council For International Organizations Of Medical Sciences was held in Cairo, on 6 – 9 February 2006.
At the symposium Mustafa Akyol presented the following paper explaining how recent scientific discoveries challenge the materialist theories on origins.
Rethinking The ‘Secular Perspective’ On Biology
Going Beyond The Monopoly Of Materialism
Our ideas about the future of life are undoubtedly linked with our beliefs about its past. The way we explain the origin of life will have an impact on what we regard as right or wrong about it, and thus, bioethics.
As for the origin of life, Judaism, Christianity and Islam accept and assert a theistic view — that life is created by God. Modern science, on the other, has adopted the materialistic view that regards life as a product of the blind forces of nature. The clash between the two views has been a major bone of contention in the past two centuries. Hence comes the “science vs. religion” dichotomy.
But in the recent decades, unexpected scientific discoveries about the origin of the universe and life have led some scientists to reconsider the materialist paradigm and its core theories such as neo-Darwinian evolution. The overwhelming evidence for design in nature suggests that the a secular perspective on biology may well end up accepting the theistic view; that life is indeed intended and designed by an intelligent Being.
It is truly a wise decision for The Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences to bring together Muslim, Christian, Jewish and secular perspectives for this remarkable symposium. The wisdom is, of course, based on the obvious: We need to develop a common ethical standard, at least commonly accepted acceptables and unacceptables in the area of bioethics and you can build these only through dialogue. Yet I think through dialogue we can achieve something even further, even more fundamental: The reconciliation of the Muslim, Christian, Jewish and secular perspectives themselves.
Actually the first three are already quite “synoptic”: they are based on the common premise of theism