Fox Loses “Fair and Balanced” Lawsuit

Good news.

A federal judge on Friday denied Fox News Channel’s request for an injunction to block liberal humorist Al Franken’s new book, whose title mocks the Fox slogan “fair and balanced.” U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said

Fox’s claim was “wholly without merit, both factually and legally.” The network had argued Franken’s book — “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right” — could trick some consumers into believing the book is associated with Fox.

I guess I can now go back to plain old “Procrastination.”

Evolution: Another Viewpoint

Following up on my critique of Muslims not accepting evolution and after finding out that Harun Yahya, one of the opponents of evolutionary theory, is not a scientist, I discovered a lecture by a Saudi geologist (specializing in micropalaeontology) Dr Zaghloul Al-Najjar that he gave at the University of New South Wales Islamic Society. He basically denies macroevolution and humans being related to animals.

Muslims have taken one of two stands regarding this issue. One is to completely reject it, and the other is that this is the result of scientific endeavour and we have to accept it fully. Both stands are completely wrong. In Islam we are taught not to accept theories dogmatically and at the same time, not to reject theories that have some evidence behind them.

The theory says that everything in this Universe was created gradually, created one step after another, which is true. We can find ample evidence that supports gradualism in Creator. This does not negate creation at all, and does not stand in the face in the limitless powers of the creation. So we believe in the gradualism of creation. Things were not created suddenly, but Allah has the power to say “Be” and it “is”.

The second part of the theory says that the simple forms led to more complex forms. This part must be considered more carefully and critically. How can a simple single-cell amoeba understand that in time it will develop into a human being, needing a backbone, and requiring particular dimensions for the skull and limbs, and certain organs to function? No man worth his salt would assume this. This assumption is beyond the scientific process itself. To assume that simple forms evolved to higher forms by themselves without any divine guidance is completely incorrect. It is unscientific. We know from life on Earth that this process is very slow, and neither subject to direct observation nor to direct experimentation. The shortest lifespan of a species is 500,000 years. Who would live for 500,000 years to observe that species A has slowly changed into species B? It is unscientific. It is a theoretical conclusion established on the background belief of whoever is expounding this theory. If you are a believer, you will frame this information in a completely different way from someone who has a disbelieving attitude.

In the area of evolution, Islam has no trouble at all accepting the concept of evolution, with three basic conditions:

  • We cannot believe that the earliest forms of life started spontaneously by the reaction of the sun with mud and water. One of our contemporaries wanted to estimate the probability of making a single protein molecule. Protein is composed of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen and sometimes Phospohrous. To simply select these five would take a mass much greater than that of the known universe and an ange several time the age of the universe. Then each protein molecule consists of amino acids and these can be very complex. The probability of assembing the amino acids into useful proteins and to DNA in particular is extremely remote.
  • For creation to take place by itself is impossible. The early beginnings of life must be carefully planned, else they are doomed to failure. This creation by whatever means, is a miracle that is beyond the reaches of science. These simple forms of life can not evolve upwards by themselves, and if evolution did occur as suggested, it must have been encoded into the first cells themselves.
  • Man is not part of this general schema and was created separately and is not linked to the process itself.

This means that in Islam, it is perfectly acceptable to accept one of two theories. One of separate creation of each individual lifeform, or what we might call “evolutionary creation”, carefully planeed and set out, with each lifeform having its own period and stage.

Why can’t he simply accept evolution while maintaining that everything is created by God? Sort of like the pope.

Agricultural Subsidies

I am probably late in this, but it’s a blog and I never promised timely coverage.

As we all know, the agricultural subsidies given by US, EU and Japan to domestic interests hit the developing world hard. The New York Times has a series of op-eds on the topic from different countries. These op-eds do not add new information but are interesting to read and give you a flavor of agricultural trade issues from different developing countries. The series is titled “Harvesting Poverty”.

Vanity Googling

This weblog is now #5 on the Google search for Procrastination; #1 for Zack Ajmal; #4 for Zack; and #2 for Ajmal.

Also interestingly, I am the #10 search result for “fair and balanced”.

Georgia Senator Race

Zell Miller is retiring next year as the senior senator from Georgia. Civil rights leader and former mayor of Atlanta Andrew Young is thinking of running for the open seat.

Thirteen years after he last held elective office, Andrew J. Young Jr. —- the former pastor, civil rights leader, congressman, mayor and ambassador, to pick a few lines from his résumé is eyeing a new title: United States senator.

He is 71 now, overweight, and hobbles on two bad knees. But because the Democratic incumbent, Senator Zell Miller, is stepping down next year and the Democratic Party can find no one more capable of trying to retain his seat, and because Mr. Young, ever the internationalist, is increasingly concerned about America’s place in the world and eager to do something about it, he is considering ending his political retirement.

It could be an interesting race, though Georgia is becoming more and more Republican nowadays. In his only statewide candidacy for governor, Andrew Young lost in the primaries to Zell Miller in 1990.

A Good Reason to Exercise

I guess I should start exercising regularly. 🙂

A new study offers an additional reason for men to exercise: It could add years to their sex lives.

Researchers hope men will learn from this, and exercise to protect their potency even if they haven’t exercised to protect their hearts.

Men over 50 who kept physically active had a 30 percent lower risk of impotence than men who were inactive, the study found.

As men aged, the odds rose that they would have erectile dysfunction. But physical activity seemed to slow the process.

Men who were physically active reported better erections, and the most physically active men did best. Men who were able to run at least 3 hours a week had a 30 percent lower risk of impotence than men who did little or no exercise. These men seemed to have the sexual ability of men two to five years younger than they were, Rimm said.

But Rimm said there was still a 15 to 20 percent reduction in the risk of erectile dysfunction among men who were able to do a brisk walk of 30 minutes most days of the week. This much activity is the minimum level that federal officials recommend for good health.

Rimm and other doctors hope men will worry about their penises even if they haven’t been worried about their hearts.

Via PhotoDude.

Pakistan Oil Spill

An oil tanker ran aground in the Arabian Sea off of Karachi last month spilling thousands of tonnes of oil in the sea.

An oil tanker which ran aground off the coast of Pakistan has broken into two. The tanker, which was carrying 67,000 tonnes of crude oil, broke apart when the tide changed. Port authorities say the worst of the spillage is over, but a large amount of crude oil remains on board the vessel. A thick black layer of oil covers much of the coastline around the city of Karachi, causing major environmental concern.

[…]The Greek tanker, the MV Tasman Spirit chartered by Pakistan’s National Shipping Corporation, ran aground at low tide close to Karachi on 28 July. A salvage operation was abandoned and the crew of the ship evacuated on Wednesday [Aug 13].

According to the BBC, 17,000 tonnes of crude oil have been spilled into the Arabian Sea but

The tanker is thought to hold another 22,000 tonnes of oil, which could take up to another fortnight to siphon away.

KO, a blog by Khalid Omar in Karachi, Pakistan, has been following this disaster.

Extinction of Men

Well, it seems men will be extinct soon.

MEN are doomed to extinction, victims of the decaying human Y-chromosome, the only piece of DNA men possess and women do not.

So says Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University, in a book that envisages the “Sapphic reproduction” of women by genetic manipulation.

A “genetic ruin littered with molecular damage”, the Y-chromosome cannot repair itself, nor arrest the steadily accumulating damage, he reports in Adam’s Curse.

He says that because the chromosome’s main function is switching on male embryos in the womb, its demise means the final curtain for men.

By his estimate, the male will go belly-up in about 125,000 years.

Guys, you have only 125 millenia left.

Via Letter from Gotham.

Harun Yahya

Continuing my previous post about evolution, I want to just let you know who Harun Yahya is.

HarunYahya is a pen name used by Mr. Adnan Oktar.

Born in Ankara in 1956, Adnan Oktar is a prominent Turkish intellectual. Completely devoted to moral values and dedicated to communicating the sacred values he cherishes to other people, Oktar started his intellectual struggle in 1979 during his education at Mimar Sinan University’s Academy of Fine Arts [emphasis mine — ZA]. During his university years, he carried out detailed research into the prevalent materialistic philosophies and ideologies around him, to the extent of becoming even more knowledgeable about them than their advocates. As a result of his accumulation of knowledge, he has written various books on the fallacy of the theory of evolution. His dedicated intellectual effort against Darwinism and materialism has grown out to be a worldwide phenomenon. Quoting from the 22 April 2000 issue of New Scientist, Mr. Oktar became an “international hero” in communicating the fallacy of the theory of evolution and the fact of creation. The author has also produced various works on Zionist racism and Freemasonry and their negative effects on world history and politics. Besides these, Oktar has written more than a hundred books describing the morals of the Qur’an and faith related issues.

If he was at the Academy of Fine Arts, he wouldn’t have studied Biology or not? Let’s check another source:

The author, who writes under the pen-name HARUN YAHYA, was born in Ankara in 1956. Having completed his primary and secondary education in Ankara, he then studied arts [emphasis mine — ZA] at Istanbul’s Mimar Sinan University and philosophy [emphasis mine — ZA] at Istanbul University. Since the 1980s, the author has published many books on political, faith-related and scientific issues. Harun Yahya is well-known as an author who has written very important works disclosing the imposture of evolutionists, the invalidity of their claims and the dark liaisons between Darwinism and bloody ideologies such as fascism and communism.

Great! An arts and philosophy major debunking evolution! I need to go find a Muslim scientist, specifically a Biologist, who has written on evolution.

Muslims and Evolution

Ticked off by The B. Files’ saying:

my anti-darwinism has been reaffirmed after I read “The Lost World.”

And Abez:

Evolution is bogus.

I am asking my readers, especially Muslims, to tell me their viewpoint about the theory of evolution. Do they think it is all bogus? Do they agree with the young earth creationists? Do they disagree with speciation and are ok with microevolution? I would also like to know why you have these views.

I must say that I do not know many Muslims, especially devout or fundamentalist (in the original sense of the term rather than the one common in the media) ones, who think that the theory of evolution is correct. On the other hand, evolution was not a big deal for the religious as it is in the US. The reason for that might be that evolution wasn’t talked in our Biology classes in Pakistan. (I took Biology only until my sophomore year of high school and this was about 17 years ago; I am not sure about the current textbooks.)

To start off my survey of Muslim opinion on evolution, I asked Amber. Since I can’t get her to post it herself here, I am going to describe her position. She agrees with microevolution and speciation/macroevolution. In fact, she agrees with the whole theory except for the fact about man being descended from apes. Her reason for that is it conflicts with the Quran.

Surfing the net, I found different viewpoints of Muslims on the theory of evolution. Let’s start off with Moiz Amjad.

if ‘evolution’ implies that man is actually an evolved form of a certain other creature, then Islam does not affirm such a standpoint. According to the Qur’an, Adam (pbuh) – the first man – was a direct creation of God, as a man. The Qur’an does not support that Adam evolved from another species.

However, it may be of some interest to note that in Al-Sajadah 32: 7 – 9, the Qur’an has referred to three different stages involved in the creation of man in such words that a slightly varied version of ‘evolution’ may be derived from it. The Qur’an says:

He, Who perfected everything that He created – He started the creation of man from clay then he inculcated in him [i.e. man] the potential to reproduce through a drop of humble fluid then He embellished and fashioned him in due proportion; and breathed into him of His spirit and [thereby] developed in you [the abilities of] listening, vision and feeling.

He then goes on to expound different theories which try to reconcile the fossil record of hominid species with this verse. A reader of Understanding Islam also wrote about reconciling the “blindness” of natural selection with theism.

The conservative website Islam-qa refutes that man evolved from apes and gives a religious description of the creation of man.

Nuh Ha Mim Keller uses the standard anti-evolution arguments along with some Islamic ones and declares:

In view of the above considerations of its coherence, logicality, applicability, and adequacy, the theory of the evolution of man from lower forms does not seem to show enough scientific rigor to raise it from being merely an influential interpretation. To show the evolution’s adequacy, for everything it is trying to explain would be to give valid grounds to generalize it to man.

[…]Allah alone is Master of Existence. He alone causes all that is to be and not to be. Causes are without effect in themselves, but rather both cause and effect are created by Him. The causes and the effects of all processes, including those through which plant and animal species are individuated, are His work alone. To ascribe efficacy to anything but His action, whether believing that causes (a) bring about effects in and of themselves; or (b) bring about effects in and of themselves through a capacity Allah has placed in them, is to ascribe associates to Allah (shirk). Such beliefs seem to be entailed in the literal understanding of “natural selection” and “random mutation,” and other evolutionary concepts, unless we understand these processes as figurative causes, while realizing that Allah alone is the agent. This is apart from the consideration of whether they are true or not.

As for claim that man has evolved from a non-human species, this is unbelief (kufr) no matter if we ascribe the process to Allah or to “nature,” because it negates the truth of Adam’s special creation that Allah has revealed in the Qur’an. Man is of special origin, attested to not only by revelation, but also by the divine secret within him, the capacity for ma’rifa or knowledge of the Divine that he alone of all things possesses. By his God-given nature, man stands before a door opening onto infinitude that no other creature in the universe can aspire to. Man is something else.

And finally the big guy: Harun Yahya. It seems he has made a career out of refuting evolution. Here are his books on the subject. His book “The Evolution Deceit: The Scientific Collapse of Darwinism and Its Ideological Background”, that Abez likes, is available online. In case, you are not interested in going through his books, he has a number of articles on his website on the subject.

And finally, the Hazara Society for Science-Religion Dialogue, Pakistan has some articles about evolution as well as the creation of the universe. I haven’t read these yet, but I’ll get to them soon and report if I find anything interesting.

In the end, I want to emphasize that I am not an expert myself but in general I trust scientific consensus on science questions and there has been consensus on the theory of evolution for quite some time now.

UPDATE: No discussion of evolution on the internet can be complete without the Talk Origins Archive.

Talk.origins is a Usenet newsgroup devoted to the discussion and debate of biological and physical origins. Most discussions in the newsgroup center on the creation/evolution controversy, but other topics of discussion include the origin of life, geology, biology, catastrophism, cosmology and theology.

The Talk.Origins Archive is a collection of articles and essays, most of which have appeared in talk.origins at one time or another. The primary reason for this archive’s existence is to provide mainstream scientific responses to the many frequently asked questions (FAQs) that appear in the talk.origins newsgroup and the frequently rebutted assertions of those advocating intelligent design or other creationist pseudosciences.