Happy Darwin Day!
Happy Birthday Charles Darwin! Across the world people are celebrating the life of this scientist who changed the way we view the world, humanity, and how things came to be. I have to admit, I find it astonishing that vast numbers of people don't accept evolution, but cling to the idea that the Heaven and Earth were created in seven days (or some other variation thereof). I can only assume that this is due to an irrational fear that accepting evolution will somehow destroy their faith.
On the one hand, as a writer and avid reader of poetry and fiction, I believe that the power of stories lies not in their empirical truth, but in their ability to speak to the human condition. Whether it be in myths or in fables, novels or fairy tales, the essence of the story is the insight it gives into being human. Whether Adam and Eve ever existed in flesh or not, their story speaks to us of what it means to be human, the nature of forgiveness, the nature of consciousness, and conscience.
On the other hand, to me at least, scientific knowledge only deepens faith. It is only when you try to reject what is empirically evident in order to cling to an explanation that is clearly untrue that faith wavers. For obvious reasons! But when you learn about the incredible complexity of the world as demonstrated by physics and biology and chemistry, your sense of awe and delight in this incredible universe only increases.
This, of course, accords with the Qur'an, which repeatedly tells us to study the world, for it deepens faith, and which tells us that it teaches us through parables and metaphor. (One of the very important things for me in my faith journey was that the Qur'an accorded with what I already believed with the exception of there actually being a God.)
It seems to me that right now many believers (Muslim and non-Muslim) are in a crisis of rationality that includes the Creationism/Evolution dichotmony, but also extends far beyond into morality and ethics, and personal responsibility. That is, the notion that true faith can only be expressed by blind following has become a norm in many circles. This has a devastating effect on moral behavior (which I'll have to go into on another post cause this one is already getting too long!)
Suffice it to say that when blind obedience becomes the standard, there is no room left for human authenticity and agency. I do not believe God wants humankind coming to Her/Him/It like carbon copies, cookie cutter identi-robots without independent thought, understanding or commitment, but rather God made us each as individuals with our own personalities and motivations so that we could come to Him/Her/It as individuals, with the sweet uniqueness of our our soul. I believe firmly that God wants each person to naviagate her/his relationship with the Divine on his/her own terms. It/She/He offerrs guidance if we need and/or want it, but is looking for that devotion from each one of us that is particular to our individuality and which expresses the essence of who we are as individuals. That to me, is truer devotion, truer taqwa (faith and righteousness rolled into one) than blind obedience.