Darwin Meets Fresh Teen in Pakistan

By FT and FoF

This is an almost unedited record of an email exchange between a Fresh Teen (FT) and a Friend of the Family (FoF) spread over ten days (February 13-23, 2009). FT is educated in the leading convent school in Pakistan (established 1876). Her parents are both physicians with doctorates from England. 

Friday, February 13, 2009

FoF: All the very best for the birthday tomorrow. Are you 14? 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

FT:  Thanks!!!
No, im 13. a fresh teen.

FoF:  I read it first as frash been! Congratulations anyway for crossing the milestone. Now the hard slog begins.

FT:  frash been!!!!!!???????
Why is it a hard slog???

FoF:  French beans in local language became distorted into frash been. Hard slog, because it is a long ways to go and your hair will turn white and your teeth will fall out by the time you are through!!

FT:   well thats good to know!!!!!

FoF:  Forewarned is forearmed as they say. Hope you have said your prayers – you can pray for everlasting teeth!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

FT:  yeah……i have said my prayers…..but for some strange reason i forgot to pray for everlasting teeth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FoF: In that case your teeth will not last forever!!

FT:  well thats a real tragedy!!!!

FoF: Indeed. And quite a tragic tragedy because you could have avoided it by being more careful with your prayers.

Monday, February 16, 2009

FT: ummmmm…………….i dont think many people normally pray for everlasting teeth!!!!!

FoF:  It is a mistake. They should. By the way fresh teen also reminded me of teen ka dabba or the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz.

FT:  wouldnt “teen ka dabba” be tin box??? shouldnt it be “teen ka BANDA”……???

FoF: How about teen ka bandar?

FT: yes……..im sure that would be perfect………………tin monkey!!! *confused*

FoF: I am also a bit confused now. Let’s start from the beginning – you are a fresh teen. So tin is fine but why do you want to evolve into a monkey? I thought evolution worked the other way. By the way, do you believe in evolution or in the Adam and Eve alternative?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

FT:  adam and eve…………..duh!!!!!!!  im nt evolving it into anything….your doing that!!!!

FoF:  If you believe in the theory of evolution, you must be evolving all the time. We evolved from bandars and it seems are evolving back into bandars again.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

FT:   i do NOT believe in evolution!!!!!!!

FoF:  That is a serious matter. This is the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th of his classic ‘On the Origin of Species.’ Almost the entire scientific community believes in evolution now. This needs more discussion. Why do you oppose the theory of evolution?

FT:  because its not true. IF it was then why are there still some monkeys and apes left on earth? Besides its written in the Quran.

FT:  and…….look at this:

“Although accepted in mainstream science as altogether factual and experimentally proven, a closer examination of the evidences reveal some inaccuracies and reasonable alternative explanations. This causes a growing number of scientists to dissent from the Darwinian theory of evolution for its inability to satisfactorily explain the origin of man.”

FoF:  Your first question is a very good one. I will ask someone knowledgeable to provide an answer.

Your second reason leaves no room for argument but the Quran also urges people to think and add to their knowledge. Is it possible that the Quran does not intend to make a literal statement but a metaphorical or allegorical one? The same thing is mentioned in the Bible but many eminent Christians now subscribe to the theory of evolution and still remain good Christians. 

FT:  no……..it is a literal statement. Adam and Eve were the first HUMANS on earth. They didnt evolve from anything. God made them and gave them power over all other living things. 
How are they good Christians if they are disbelieving their own Holy Book?
P.S. Did you get my second mail? The one with the scientists dissenting from the evolution theory thing?

FoF: I got an answer to your surviving apes question from an expert:
The short answer is that evolution as taught in the past looked at it as a ladder, which is the wrong picture.  A bush is a better analogy, and therefore when the primate branch bifurcated in the humanoid and others, the non-human branches continued to flourish.  Of course some branches die off as did many on the human branch.”
The expert has also recommended the following PBS documentary on evolution for students. Why don’t you browse through it slowly over the next week and come back with more questions for the expert.
Yes, I did get your second mail and will respond to it after I do some research. You are making me work hard!

FoF:  Okay, I thought about this and have the following comment:

The key here is the statement that evolution theory is “accepted in mainstream science as altogether factual and experimentally proven.” However, there are some inaccuracies and reasonable alternative explanations.

So, the way to look at this would be to see for which position the scientific evidence is stronger. Why would one prefer the position with the weaker evidence? What criterion does one use to accept or reject scientific evidence that is experimentally proven? Why not try to resolve the remaining inaccuracies (which is the normal path of scientific progress) rather than to reject outright a theory for which there is a lot of factual evidence?

There are still some people who believe that the earth is flat, that the sun revolves around the earth, that human beings could never land on the moon, and that women are less intelligent then men. But the scientific evidence for the contrary positions is very strong. Which position does one accept? As Groucho Marx said when caught in the act of cheating: “Are you going to believe me or your own deceiving eyes?”

Does one still go back to the holy books to see if the conclusions of science are validated? And if one goes back to the holy books, which holy book does one go back to? And what determines the logic of this latter choice? It cannot just depend on the accident of birth, can it? And how does one know that the interpretation of a holy book as literal fact is the right one?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

FT:  What about the part “a growing number of scientists to dissent from the Darwinian theory of evolution for its inability to satisfactorily explain the origin of man.”?
Everything in the Quran has been scientifically proven. Thats a fact. Take the Hajr al Aswad as an example.

Islam is also the only religion which is based on both “Deen” and “Dunya”. It does not ask Muslims to just pray and worship because Allah does not need our worship. Nor are Muslims supposed to completely ignore Allah. There is supposed to be a balance. The Quran is like an instruction manual for life. Reading namaz is not just doing a few actions and mumbling a bunch of words with no meaning. Everything has a reason. Namaz exercises every part of the body and contributes to the body’s fitness. That is proven. Wuzu keeps all parts of the body clean. All muslims are told to follow the path of the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet has never done a wrong in his life. What reasons do people have to NOT believe whats written in the Quran and instead turn to theories which even scientists are beginning to disbelieve?

P.S I didnt copy this from anywhere!!!!!  

FoF:  There should be an easy empirical answer to this question: growing number means what? What percentage of all scientists?

Science is really advanced in the Western countries (check the distribution of Nobel prizes for science). And the vast majority of Western scientists (who are also good Christians at the same time) accept the theory of evolution. They do not interpret the Bible literally – only fundamentalist Christians do that.
Take, for example, the following panelist from the PBS program on evolution I mentioned:
Arthur Peacocke is a physical biochemist and Anglican priest who pioneered early research into the physical chemistry of DNA and has since become a leading advocate for the creative interaction between faith and science. The 2001 winner of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, he is the author of Paths from Science Towards God: The End of All Our Exploring (2001).
He is a priest and he says “the second and third chapters [of the Bible] are kind of mythical stories which tell a story about Adam and Eve to convey a theological truth.”
The vast majority of scientists in Muslim countries do not accept the theory of evolution. But science education in Muslim countries is very backward – these individuals are Muslims first and scientists second; no evidence can convince them. If that is the case they cannot really be called scientists; they are technicians who have studied or memorized science. I am not even sure that they can be called Muslims because the Quran requires people to think.
The interesting question is: Why are Western countries advanced? Is it because they accepted the scientific worldview and were guided by objective evidence? And why are Muslim countries backward? Is it because they rejected the scientific worldview and refused to accept evidence no matter how powerful?
The Quran is a great instruction manual but it cannot teach you to design an iPod or make a computer. That too is necessary in today’s world. And that requires an open mind, a questioning nature and a willingness to give up cherished beliefs when they are contradicted by evidence.

FT:  They’re not just beliefs. Everything is PROVEN. By Science.
I never said it could teach us to design an iPod or a computer. But who do you think gives us the intelligence to think how we think and discover what we do?

Arther Duck is a dud. He can say what he likes but i wont lay an egg. Besides he’s talking about the Bible. I dont know anything about that. Talk about the Quran.

Who says all Muslim scientists are backward? Thats like saying all muslims are terrorists!! which they are NOT.

What about Sir Syed Ahmed Khan? He was very skilled scientist. One of his main works for Muslims was to promote education. He founded the Scientific Society. He made the University of Aligarh. He was a MUSLIM. MUSLIM. MUSLIM.

FoF:  Now you are displaying a biased attitude by ridiculing an eminent scientist who did pioneering work on the physical chemistry of DNA. You can disagree with his position on the basis of argument but calling him a dud will not turn him into a dud.
The story of Adam and Eve like many other stories in the Quran is taken from the Bible. If you don’t know anything about the Bible how can you say it is not an equally good instruction manual?
I termed Muslim scientists backward based on evidence. How many things have been invented by them, how many patents filed, how many papers published, how many Nobel prizes won? I don’t wish them to be backward but the evidence speaks for itself. This is different from calling all Muslims terrorists which is a biased statement.
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was not a scientist himself although he was a supporter of scientific education. He was a religious scholar and was a Munshi in the British civil service. We are not talking of one person (no matter how brilliant) but about the attitude of society. Intelligence to think has certainly been given but nobody seems to be making much use of it. Muslims seem quite happy to be living in barbaric times killing each other in their mosques – that does not give much confidence in their ability to think.
We should not fall into the trap of blindly defending everything. Rather we should use the intelligence to think and figure out what is wrong with our society.
I have no quarrel with the Quran. Why don’t we go over the PBS program on evolution and see if the arguments make sense to us. Let us not reject it without studying it – that is not a scientific approach. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

FT:  Im not saying anything against the Bible.

The stories have some differences by the way.

Just because some Muslim scientists can be backward doesnt mean every Muslim scientist will be. Some Christian scientists can be stupid too but you cant term all of them just by judging a few.

NOTHING can convince me of something that is against what the Quran says. Im not blindly defending it. I have reasons.
What do you believe in, by the way?

FoF:  I am going to write an article about this:
There are two broad attitudes to life – of the lawyer and of the detective:
1. The lawyer starts out believing in something (let’s say the innocence of his client) and then finds all the evidence that supports his or her belief. He/she ignores all evidence that contradicts his/her belief or tries to discredit it.
2. The detective (someone like Sherlock Holmes) starts out by looking at the evidence and bases his/her belief on whatever the evidence supports. If the culprit turns out to be his/her best friend, that is just too bad.
I prefer to be the detective type – I believe in what the evidence tells me even if it is contrary to my most cherished beliefs. I change my belief when the evidence tells me that my prior beliefs were based on false knowledge or understanding. I don’t want to go on believing that the earth is flat for ever or that disease is caused by jinns. I don’t want my ego to make me stupid.
On the scientists, I am not judging the many by the few. In fact I am not judging individuals at all. Often the problem is not with individuals but with the systems in which individuals live and work. I am just talking about factual numbers. I am saying that very few modern Muslim scientists have any noteworthy achievement to speak of. All major achievements are due to Christian, Jewish or agnostic scientists. That may not make us very happy but it is fact that can be verified by evidence. 

FT:  But what evidence is contradicting the story??!!!

Iv even forgotten what we’re arguing about now!! Are you supporting christians or evolution or are you just debating with me? *confused*

FoF:  The evidence provided by fossils casts serious doubt on the assumption that all life in the form that it exists today was created at one time – the Biblical seven days. Note that there are fossils of dinosaurs but no fossils of human beings of similar age. We have to explain that finding.
We are not supporting or opposing Christians or Muslims. Because it is Darwin’s 200th birthday which is being celebrated all over the world we are trying to understand better what his contribution was.
Sorry for the confusion. We can have a more coherent discussion once you have watched the PBS program. Our objective is to see how well Darwin’s theory can explain the evidence provided by the fossil findings.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

FT:  ummm…………what are fossils?

I dont think people are “celebrating” his birthday. What contribution did he make?

If the theory of evolution was true, why isnt it written clearly in the Quran? There were plenty of humans already before the Quran was sent to the Holy Prophet (PBUH). It would have been written there not just compatible with the Adam and Eve “story”.

FoF: Definition of fossils:

Fossils (from Latin fossus, literally “having been dug up”) are the preserved remains or traces of animals, plants, and other organisms from the remote past.

On the celebration of Darwin’s birthday (from Wikipedia):

Darwin 2009 commemorations

Two pound coin commemorating Darwin’s birth and publication of On the Origin of Species.

Darwin Day has become an annual celebration, and the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species are being celebrated by events and publications around the world.[162] The Darwin exhibition, after opening at the American Museum of Natural History inNew York City in 2006, was shown at the Museum of Science, Boston, the Field Museum in Chicago, theRoyal Ontario Museum in Toronto,[163] then from 14 November 2008 to 19 April 2009 in the Natural History MuseumLondon, as part of the Darwin200 programme of events across the United Kingdom.[164] TheUniversity of Cambridge features a festival in July 2009.[165] His birthplace is celebrating with “Darwin’s Shrewsbury 2009 Festival” events during the year.[166]

In the United Kingdom a special commemorative issue of the two pound coin shows a portrait of Darwin facing a chimpanzee surrounded by the inscription 1809 DARWIN 2009, with the edge inscription ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES 1859. Collector versions of the coin will be released at a premium, and during the year the coins will be available from banks and post offices at face value.[167]

In September 2008, the Church of England issued an article saying that the 200th anniversary of his birth was a fitting time to apologise to Darwin “for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still”.[168]

On Darwin’s contribution:

Charles Robert Darwin FRS (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist[I] who realised and demonstrated that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through the process he called natural selection. The fact that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community and much of the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural selection came to be widely seen as the primary explanation of the process of evolution in the 1930s,[1] and now forms the basis of modern evolutionary theory. In modified form, Darwin’s scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, providing logical explanation for the diversity of life.[2]

Many people consider this “the single most important idea to occur to a human mind”.

On why this is not described in the Quran:

I really don’t know. My guess is that the Quran is not intended to be a textbook of science. That water is made up of oxygen and hydrogen is also not described in the Quran but that does not mean it is not true.

My opinion is that the descriptions of genesis, heaven and hell, etc. in the Quran are meant to be interpreted metaphorically not literally. Ghalib also felt the same way when he wrote:

ham ko ma’luum hai jannat kii haqiiqat lekin
dil ke khush rakhne ko Ghalib yih khayaal achchhaa hai

Sunday, February 22, 2009

FoF:  This is from the latest issue of The Economist. You don’t need to follow the entire argument but just get a sense of how the modern scientific process works – trying to find coherent explanations (that can be tested) for observed phenomena.


This scientific enquiry is not inhibited by what is written in religious texts. That used to happen in olden times as, for example, when Galileo was punished for saying that the earth revolved around the sun because it contradicted what was written in the Bible. As you must have seen in the last email, the Pope has apologized to Darwin. I am sure he has also apologized to Galileo.

The lesson here is that religious texts should not be interpreted as scientific texts but only as moral guides using metaphorical stories to communicate important principles, messages and lessons. Then there will be no contradiction between religion and science – each will have its own legitimate domain.

FT:  but thats the thing about the Quran, that it supports both deen and dunya to go together!!!!!!!!!

You’re saying heaven and hell are not true? How can that be a moral guide? Its absolutely literal, in every sense. Wrong doers will go to hell and all those who deserve it will be granted the permission to go to heaven. It will happen. If anyone contradicts that then they shouldnt be called Muslims because thats one of our main beliefs. 

FoF:  The fact that the Quran supports both deen and dunya to go together does not mean that it is a manual of science or politics or medicine, or that it is supposed to provide an answer to every question.

For example, nowhere in the Quran is it said that the normal body temperature is 98.4 degrees F. Does that mean that the concept of a normal body temperature is flawed? And does it make the Quran any less as a moral guide? 

I am not saying that heaven and hell are not true. I am suggesting that the concepts of heaven and hell, of reward and punishment, are sufficient for the purposes of a moral guide. There seems little need to specify whether heaven is square or round and to start killing each other over who is right.

Let me ask a concrete question: You go to school to be educated. The Taliban, who are the most strict followers of literal Islam, are bombing schools and arguing that the education of girls is not allowed in the Quran. Who is right? If the Quran spells out everything clearly, why is there this immense difference of opinion?

I think the problem is arising because we are looking to the Quran to be a manual of educational policy rather than as a guide to moral behavior. In the process we are making fools of ourselves in the eyes of the rest of the world. 

FT:  they’re not real Muslims then. Because in the Quran it clearly says that all Muslims SHOULD receive education; boy or girl. The Quran can be interpreted in a million different ways and they just got hold of the wrong one.

im not saying the Quran can do everything. im just saying that if something is stated clearly in the Quran, then no matter how hard Darwin or anybody else tries they cant change it.

FoF:  There seems to be a contradiction in your logic. You are looking for something that is clearly stated in the Quran. Then you are saying that the Quran can be interpreted in a million different ways. If so, then things cannot be clearly stated – even something as basic as whether girls should go to school.

On top of that you are saying that of the million different interpretations, yours is the right one (when you are only 13 years old). Everyone else (including those who have spent years learning theology in madrassas) has got hold of the wrong one. Therefore they are not true Muslims.

This logic is the root cause of violent conflicts between Muslims with different interpretations – the cause of ruin in the country. Will you decide who is a true Muslim or should this be left to God?

I am sure Darwin had no interest in changing the Quran; most likely he never even read it. Darwin presented a theory – you can accept it or reject it or ignore it or work to improve it. If you reject it because it does not conform to what you interpret to be written in the Quran, your rejection is based on faith not logic. And blind faith is not good. How can you be so sure that your interpretation is the correct one and not that of the Taliban’s? At least they know Arabic, which you don’t.

FT:  So what if they know Arabic? They dont seem to be reading it right, anyway. And so what if I’m 13? My mom happens to be working for womens rights and told me that a learned Islamic scholar also agrees with the fact that women should receive education. The Taliban are mad nutters, everyone except them, knows that!

Basically God is Good without one “o”. Muslims are those who go out of their way to be good to people and refrain from causing anyone harm. No interpretations can change that.
This argument is getting us nowhere. Nothing can convince me that evolution is right because its not. Its not blind faith, i have reasons. 

FoF:  Okay. Tell me the reasons.

FT:   I did!!!
For one, its not written in the Quran. The Quran tells the Adam and Eve story, which i believe is true.
Second of all, even scientists are moving away from this theory as Darwin did not manage to provide satisfactory evidence for his theory.
Does Darwin have any evidence against Adam and Eve?
Its funny how all this started from a simple happy birthday message!!

FoF:  Yes, isn’t it funny how it all started from a simple birthday message. It was quite a lot of fun too.

Would you mind if I used some of this material in an article about Darwin – I won’t mention any names?

Monday, February 23, 2009

FT:  yes it was a lot of fun!!!!!

sure……!!!! are you writing against him or for him?

FoF:  Thanks.

Neither for nor against. I will send it when I finish it.

FT:  okey dokey………..

Thanks to Isa Daudpota for the expert input.

Back to Main Page

  • kabir
    Posted at 17:18h, 23 February Reply

    What an interesting exchange! It just goes to highlight the decline of critical thinking in Pakistani society, when someone educated in an elite school is not even willing to listen to something that contradicts what is written in the Quran. If this is the situation with the educated upper-classes what do you do with someone who has not even had access to this education?

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 17:59h, 23 February Reply

    Kabir, You have picked up on the right issue – the capacity to consider and evaluate alternative explanations – but you have jumped to two conclusions that might not be justified.

    1. The ‘something’ need not necessarily contradict the Quran. That depends on how the Quran is interpreted.

    2. Education is not necessarily an input that improves the recipient. That depends on the nature of the education.

  • kabir
    Posted at 20:32h, 23 February Reply

    I understand your clarifications. What I feel is missing is the critical thinking ability to even consider that perhaps when it comes to science and religion, religion can be interpreted symbolically or allegorically. Thus, they don’t really contradict each other, if you look at it as different levels of truth.

    Education doesn’t necessarily improve the recipient, but a quality education is at least supposed to make one able to absorb different points of view and evaluate them on their merits, rather than sticking to a dogmatic position.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 22:14h, 23 February Reply

    Kabir, As you are aware the fundamentalist movement is gaining strength in Pakistan and fundamentalism, by definition, insists on a literal interpretation of the basic texts. Thus it is not surprising that alternative perspectives are on the defensive and losing ground.

    Regarding education, would it not be a valid conclusion that the present fare does not qualify as quality education? A group of students in Pakistan have evaluated the school curriculum and their report provides strong evidence for this conclusion:


  • Sara
    Posted at 13:51h, 25 February Reply

    im sorry but i completely disagree with you two. Im compelled to agree with FT on this matter. If something is clearly written in a Holy Book revealed from heaven the how can anyone even try to contradict it………….and if they do they wont succeed. Take Darwin as an example.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 15:30h, 25 February Reply

    Sara, Thanks for your comment. It raises a number of points that need further discussion:

    1. Is it ‘clearly’ written in the Holy Books that the Adam and Eve account is to be taken literally? Is it ‘clearly’ stated that a symbolic interpretation is not allowed? If so, how can an Anglican priest say that “the second and third chapters [of the Bible] are kind of mythical stories which tell a story about Adam and Eve to convey a theological truth.”

    2. The purpose of science is never to try and contradict something that is in the Holy Books. The scientific process is an endeavour of curious minds trying to find an explanation for observed pheonomena – e.g., Newton trying to find why an apple falls down from a tree rather than floating up and in the process proposing the theory of gravity as an explanation.

    If the theory withstands the test of strict verification through repeated experiments, there is no option but to accept its truth. One can resist it at the cost of being left behind as was the Church in the case of Galileo to whom it had to ultimately apologize.

    3. What is the basis for claiming that Darwin has not succeeded? A man whose birthday is being celebrated voluntarily 200 years later must have contributed something valuable to deserve such recognition.

  • Sara
    Posted at 16:04h, 25 February Reply

    This discussion is getting us nowhere. The Quran is not to be taken theologically or allegorically. The story of Adam and Eve is a literal story. All Islamic teachings tell us this.

    Most people of Islam would agree that Darwin made no real contribution except to make doubts within the hearts of beleivers. Personally i doubt Islamic countries would be celebrating his birthday………

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 17:05h, 25 February Reply

    Sara, Is it possible that you may deciding too quickly that all things are stated very clearly in the Quran? If that were the case why are there such huge differences (and contradictory fatwas) amongst Muslims on simple things like:

    1. Is music allowed or not?
    2. Is family planning allowed or not?
    3. Is political succession to be hereditary or not?
    4. Can there be three prayers per day instead of five?

    Could the problem be that we are referring questions to the Quran that we should resolve by other methods? The Quran is an excellent moral guide. Are we being fair to it or to ourselves by treating it as a detailed manual for living in the 21st century, e.g., to answer questions like whether watching TV is Islamic or not?

    On Darwin: If people of Islam have rejected Darwin, is it then just a coincidence that most Islamic countries are woefully backward in science? Is that a good outcome?

  • almostinfamous
    Posted at 17:16h, 25 February Reply

    to me this fascinating, yet ultimately tragic exchange reminds me of similar exchanges (offline) with a few people who took quite literally the christian versions of adam and eve, and in one case the hindu version.

    ultimately, we (as in all of humanity) are faced with the same enemy as ever – ignorance and an unwillingness to rid oneself of the attached bliss of having a perfect worldview that shifts all blame for consequences of our actions and inactions onto some shifty ‘other’.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 22:56h, 26 February Reply

    AI, Is there an equivalent of Eve in the Hindu version of creation?

    I don’t think we can tie ignorance to belief in religion; they can exist quite independent of each other. Nor can we oversimplify and turn belief in religion itself into a problem. Science and religion should not be posed as mutually exclusive propositions. What we should be focused on is dogma that disallows all questioning.

    In this connection the views of Barack Obama can help to move this discussion forward. As we know, Obama is a highly intelligent individual with firm religious convictions. In response to the first question in a 2004 interview – what do you believe – he states first and simply “I am a Christian.” There is in the interview, however, a striking and recurring emphasis upon not just the presence, but the theological importance, of doubt as a component of religious conviction. As he flatly puts it, “I think that religion at its best comes with a big dose of doubt.”

    Dogmas and doctrines, as Obama sees it, presume to know too much, and contribute to the “enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty.” He refuses to believe that he has a “monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others.” And he clearly states that “religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and loved.”

    There is much to reflect upon in this perspective on religion.

    (This text is taken from Doubting Obama in Religion Dispatches:

  • almostinfamous
    Posted at 05:07h, 27 February Reply

    i think i was not clear enough, but i am not conflating ignorance with religious belief. far from it – several complex moral issues are dealt with in religion, by abstracting away from direct experience to a universal system – making certain points easier for people to understand. of course this is a double edged sword given the history of humanity, but it’s still not entirely bad.

    i am just saying that it’s almost an essential human quality to divert criticism of oneself or people like oneself and their practices onto some arbitrary ‘other'(the power politics also involved here are different and complex in themselves). religion has, more often than not, been used for this purpose and has used forced ignorance as a tool in this effort.

    when obama says “religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking…”, i believe him but i am not sure that it’s the experience of a majority of americans themselves, let alone the rest of the world. most humans, in my experience are altogether ready to give up any critical thinking in favour of some view that positively reinforces their experiences without much expended mental effort.

  • nai hamsai
    Posted at 14:15h, 27 February Reply

    I referred the question to a respected Islamic scholar and got the following reply:

    If you go through the passages about human creation in the Qur’an, you will see that there are a number of them in which the creation of humanity is described in evolutionary terms – from conception to the full development of the embryo. Medical researchers have noted that the stages of the development of the foetus described in the Qur’an closely match the actual process. So the concept of evolution is built into the Qur’anic concept of creation. The difference in this concept and that of Darwin and some other scientists is, that the Qur’an does not regard creation either as a mindless process, or as simply the survival of the fittest. It is important to note that in the Qur’anic passages which describe human creation in evolutionary terms, every step of the process is referred back to God. This means that the evolution of humanity, whether in the womb or otherwise, is in accordance with God’s intention and purpose. There are also Qur’anic verses which state that creation is an ongoing process, that “you shall travel on from stage to stage,” and “unto God is your limit.” Iqbal built his philosophy of “khudi” on these ideas.

    I feel that the Darwin school of thought is almost as dogmatic as the Adam and Eve group……why will they automatically assume that anyone who believes in the Quran is rejecting reason or logic and is closed to critical thinking. Surely there are unsolved mysteries in the universe…..creation being one of them……and Quran taken in the allegorical or literal sense, should at least be considered as providing one possible explanation. Darwin has provided one which seems logical to the limited human mind but at least I am humble enough to accept that that the whole truth could be one that is bigger and perhaps beyond what we can envision at this stage of our existence.

    Thinking people, whether those who believe in Darwin, or those who try and understand the Quran would discover that the two points of view are not mutually exclusive.

    However I agree with ‘almostinfamous’ that the majority of people are intellectually lazy. I think they have so much to grapple with in everyday life that they couldn’t really care less whether we were monkeys or we dropped out of the sky…. which is why a vague story in the Quran is more appealing than a rigorous scientific theory…..and thus the power of religion. That would also explain why religion has more appeal in countries where life is a struggle.

  • F.T
    Posted at 14:48h, 27 February Reply

    Kabir, I am willing to listen, but i am just not convinced. So how does that make me unable to think critically? Why are you not willing to accept that an alternative explanation could be possible? In my opinion science and religion dont have to be seperate matters, but sometimes one has to believe in something that hasnt been scientifically proven……..yet. For example, the existence of God. Just because you cant see Him doesnt mean He doesnt exist…..although thats probably what you think.

    Just because im 13 doesnt mean im stupid. Please dont be patronizing.

  • kabir
    Posted at 17:23h, 28 February Reply


    I didn’t mean to imply that you are stupid or your opinion is invalid. I’m sorry if my comments came across that way. What I was referring to was your seeming unwillingness to consider the other viewpoint. You said “NOTHING can convince me of something that is against what the Quran says”. To me, this doesn’t sound like the remark of someone who is open to critical thinking. Critical thinking means that one is open to all points of view, and to possibly being convinced if the evidence is strong enough. If you start from the position that nothing is going to convince you, then you are not giving the other arguments a fair shake.

    Of course, you are entitled to whatever personal religious beliefs you choose to have. No one is saying that you have to change your opinion.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 17:53h, 28 February Reply

    AI: You are right – It does seem like an essential human quality to blame the other. This must have been part of the evolutionary mechanism that ensured survival in harsh times populated by hostile and predatory tribes. The perpetuation of this legacy owes a lot to learnt behavior. It is a hope that it can be mitigated by enlightened education. See the model school curriculum we have mentioned as an example on The Best From Elsewhere page.

    Religion has been used to create hostility towards others (the Partition) but so have other emotions like nationalism (the two World Wars) and ethnicity (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka). So what we need to explain is what causes people to get so angry that they stop thinking and follow those who are manipulating them for political ends?

    NH: Personally I don’t place much credibility in Islamic scholars. I can easily find you another who will argue an entirely different position. The fact that Islamic scholars have not been able to decide for 600 years whether music is against Islam does not speak very highly of their learning. So, let us try and think through these issues on our own.

    The evolution of the human embryo is a very obvious phenomenon – people can feel and see the size of the mother’s womb growing over nine months. But the evolution of the human species is quite unobservable in that sense and so the explanations are more difficult. Here Islamic scholars would have to commit themselves whether they believe human beings were created as we see them today or whether they have arrived at this shape and form through an evolutionary process. In this they would have to take into account all the evidence that exists in the shape of fossil remains unless they want to take a position independent of evidence that has to be accepted on faith.

    I do not think the Darwin school of thought argues that anyone who believes in the Holy Books is rejecting reason or critical thinking. It was to emphasize this that we included the statement of an Anglican priest on evolution. Dogmatic belief on either side should be unacceptable. The real question today is about the frame in which the Holy Books should be interpreted – literally or symbolically? If they are taken symbolically, the points of contention disappear. But then there are fundamentalists who insist that they have to be accepted literally.

    FT: You are quite right – the argument is not between science and religion. The argument is whether we are willing to think critically or not. If we are willing to think critically, both sides have to start by accepting that alternative explanations are possible and remain open to evaluating the evidence objectively. Nobody has a monopoly on Truth – we are all in search of better explanations.

    Where scientific evidence is not yet available (e.g., on the existence of God) we are free to accept any explanation on faith. People of different faiths and different climes are free to believe or not believe anything they want since there is no evidence to refer to. But do we have a basis to insist that one faith-based explanation is better than another? Therefore we have to accept a position of live-and-let-live. We can’t go about killing others who refuse to accept the superiority of our faith-based explanation.

    We try and promote open and critical thinking on this blog. Therefore the discussion has to progress by asking questions of each other. Categorical, complacent and patronizing statements about others are not helpful. The blog emphasizes interaction based on personal respect. It also expects that people would have the courage to respect evidence when it contradicts deeply cherished beliefs. We stress the pleasure of the intellectual journey not the advocacy of any one set of beliefs.

  • kabir
    Posted at 18:24h, 28 February Reply

    Since we are talking about evolution, I thought readers would be interested in an article in today’s New York Times which talks about the discovery of new fossils in Kenya that show that hominoids 1.5 million years ago had essentially the same human foot that we have today.


  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 18:43h, 28 February Reply

    Kabir/FT: I think a statement like – “NOTHING can convince me of something that is against what the Quran says” – sets up the issue incorrectly.

    The issue is not the rightness or wrongness of the Holy Books; the issue is the rightness or wrongness of our interpretations of the Holy Books. When something seems at odds and in contradiction, we ought to go back and re-examine our interpretations. That is what the spirit of Ijtihad is all about and that, I suppose, was what Iqbal was attempting in his Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam and Ali Shariati in his An Approach to the Understanding of Islam.

  • F.T
    Posted at 18:57h, 28 February Reply

    Im not being categorical, complacent or patronizing. I just stuck to my position the same way you did, yet i am the one closed to critical thinking. I never forced my religion or beleifs upon you. I just gave my reasons for believing them. If you are convinced or not, that is for you to decide. As you said: live and let live.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 19:28h, 28 February Reply

    FT: You misunderstood. “Categorical, complacent and patronizing” was meant for the other side, not for you. It was in support of your earlier comment.

  • F.T
    Posted at 08:30h, 01 March Reply

    sorry……thats fine then.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 01:02h, 06 March Reply

    The following news item can help move this discussion forward:

    Vatican backed conference snubs creationism

    What do you think of the Vatican’s perspective on evolution and creationism?
    The Adam and Eve story comes originally from the Bible. So, the institution most upset with the theory of evolution should be the official Christian church, should it not? Why isn’t it?

    Update: A must-read interview with Karen Armstrong, a leading scholar of religion where she discusses how religious texts ought to be interpreted and what she thinks about evolution. See No. 12 on the Best From Elsewhere page.

  • Siddharth
    Posted at 19:07h, 03 February Reply

    FT, here is something that you have probably not heard anyone tell you: The Quran is a “Holy” book written by man and not something “revealed” from the “heavens”.

    This is how *all* “holy” books were ever written. Their purpose was to reform primitive barbaric societies and to consolidate political power.

    Don’t judge science, history or phlosophy without even reading up on them.

    And yes, because you are 13 (maybe 14 now), it, in all probability means you aren’t well read enough to comprehend some of these issues. Unless of course, you have read your Plato, Dawkins, Sen and Marx.

    Oh, and I forgot to add: since the Koran was written by man at a point of time when science was unadvanced, all scientific knowledge in Koran is limited to the prevailing base then. Modern science is only a couple of hundred years old.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 17:26h, 05 February

      Siddharth: This will not prove to be a useful approach to engagement on the issue. No ‘true’ Muslim would ever agree that the Quran is not a ‘revealed’ text. I am sure FT has come across the argument many times and dismissed it – you would just be talking past each other. There is no way to resolve this to the satisfaction of all parties.

      The relevant question is the relationship of science and religion and how ‘true’ Muslims approach the question. Here it is more important to focus on whether the Quran is to be interpreted literally or metaphorically – there is reasonable room for debate on this aspect of the text. The literalists (like the Christian fundamentalists) used to be a minority but their number is growing. By stifling open discussion, the educational system in Pakistan (in my opinion) is doing a great disservice to very bright and articulate students like FT.

    • Siddharth
      Posted at 18:08h, 05 February

      Dear SouthAsian,

      I don’t really expect anyone to break the shell of religion by reading a comment by a stranger on the internet. My basic belief is that the truth must be told, however uncomfortable it is. I personally do not like playing a part in feeding delusions and irrationality by trying to “compromise” on the truth.

      Of course, it’s a different thing that anyone who believes in the supernatural and the divine, will interpret “truth” differently. It is best if such a view is said rather than not.

      If a “true” Muslim is unlikely to concede that it was not a result of a divine revelation, then they are likely to perceive it as gospel and a word of god. Of course, by their reasoning, god cannot possibly be wrong. So if a verse encourage violence or subjugation of a particular group, than any activity in this direction will not be rejected, but rather people will become apologetic about it.

      When I provoke someone in such a way, all I expect is the person at the receiving end takes some trouble to prove that I am wrong. In his/her quest for the “truth” and in an attempt to find “facts” to refute my statements, I expect that at least some of them realize that their beliefs are in fact irrational, at least to a degree. If not, what is lost? They weren’t going to change their position anyway. By not challenging the divine origins, one actually gives the person justification that they are in fact correct.

      Also, I keep in mind that the debate is never between person X and me. Rather, it is a “conflict” between the idea of person X and my idea. In fact, it isn’t even “my” idea, but rather, a position taken by many others to form a group with a certain ideological position. When someone else doesn’t compromise on his/her ideas, there is no reason to expect anyone else to. Some might call this hypocrisy, but a dialectical argument can only proceed when both arguments are left to scrutiny.

      I also understand that I do not represent one particular position of a discourse. Different people have different styles of debate and resolution of conflict of ideas. I certainly don’t expect anyone else to be so straightforward. At the same time, no one should expect that no one else would be. If I were alone in defending a particular position, I would have gladly accepted your methods. But clearly, as we see in the above case, the “moderate” position hardly seems to be working.

      Anyway, I would like to add, just in case FT happens to read this, that one can be good without having to think that a god will punish us if not. One can be ethical, peaceful and content without the idea of the supernatural.

      Peace and love,

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 02:14h, 06 February

      Siddharth: I agree with a lot you say but I am uncomfortable with the presumption underlying your statement that your belief represents the ‘truth’ that must be told while others suffer from delusions and irrationality. There are contending arguments and I prefer to begin with the premise that our own position could also be mistaken.

      In the case of religion the real struggles would be over the interpretation of texts. Even if people believe that a text is divine and that God cannot possibly be wrong, still no one can say for sure what God might have meant by a particular section of that text. There are various schools and sects and our interest is in trying to ensure that extremist interpretations (like those of the Taliban) do not gain an upper hand. As you must be aware the Sufi interpretations of Islam had a very strong root in India but they have been suppressed by the Pakistani state in favor of the literalist Saudi version for political ends.

    • Siddharth
      Posted at 09:30h, 06 February

      But I did give credit to that fact, SouthAsian. In my comment above, I did mention why a person with opposing views can very well think that he/she is right (and very well be right), and that I could very well be wrong in their perception (and in reality too). Hence, only when what we think is the truth is stated, only then, in an attempt to disprove the opposite view, and to strengthen our own, will we go and research an try to see logic. Hence the debate becomes dialectic! Only then do we have a chance of exploring our own views. When anyone goes ahead to find the logical and evidence base of their argument, only then we can see the conceptual soundness of our own argument. If someone tells me that the Koran was indeed revealed, only then will I go about trying to find if that is true. But if someone tries to “appease” me and tells me that I am partially right even if he/she doesn’t feel that way, then the debate doesn’t remain dialectical, and moves closer to becoming rhetorical.

      It is all very well to debate that if the Koran (or any other holy book in the world) was indeed a word of god, then what did “he” really mean. You were doing that, and I commend you for encouraging that debate. But if the debate itself if standing on a tall claim, then it isn’t a crime to question the extraordinary claim in the first place. Whether it will work or not can only be answered in retrospect. Everything else is speculation.

      Take this very debate that you and I are having here. You stated what you felt about my method of debating and why it is not suitable. You stated a “truth”, as you define it. This led us to have a debate about my style of debate. So since you questioned me, I was forced to question my own method. This helped me understand my method better and helped me appreciate your view. In this case, your stating the uncompromised “truth” helped this become a “synthesis”, rather than a discussion of two “theses”.


    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 18:41h, 06 February

      Siddharth: The following questions come to my mind:

      1. Is it possible to simultaneously make two claims: (i) My position could be wrong and (ii) Your position is irrational and delusional?
      2. How useful is a debate whose starting point is the clash of two tall claims? Unless you reverse your position and state that your claim is not ‘tall’ at all, it represents the ‘truth’.
      3. Your extension of the argument to the method of effective debate is problematic. I am not stating a “truth”. I am expressing a view on how to have an effective debate. This can be correct or incorrect, wise or naive, but the categories of ‘true’ and ‘false’ don’t apply to it.

  • Siddharth
    Posted at 10:07h, 07 February Reply


    1. Not only is the positions non-contradictory, it is a more ‘consistent’ position to take.

    I have sound reasons to believe that the points made by the opposition are irrational and the views delusional. However, I keep open the possibility that given I do not know everything in this world, I could be wrong in the light of new facts and a new line of reasoning. Often, people, I included, change views when new facts, or a new logical discourse is presented. It would be foolish to hold the view that “I am right come what may”.

    I could rattle out the philosophical and scientific basis for which I make my claims. To the best of my knowledge, I have the right to believe I am correct. But I also realise that my knowledge isn’t all encompassing.

    I hence welcome debate by provocation and questioning the basis of the claims. I repeat, this could either make the other person understand my view as he/she goes to explore why he/she is correct, or it could lead to him/her coming up with facts that could destroy my position. Either way, in my opinion, the outcome is desirable. The third possibility, which I think is your position, is that such provocation might turn off the opposition, forcing him/her to leave the debate. Like I have said before, given I am not alone in challenging his/her view, I suspect the most he/she can do is dismiss me, while still engage the others in this debate. Nothing is lost in the discourse in this case either.

    2. I believe that a debate whose starting point is the clash of two tall claims makes for an analysis that starts ground up to reach a synthesis. This is the standard method of inquiry in philosophy.

    Now you bring up an interesting point, that of reversing the position. Let us attempt that. What is the claim I have made? I say that there is no proof to believe that the Koran (or any other holy book) is a result of some divine revelation, and hence, it is safe to say that there was no revelation. The claim of my opposing viewpoint is that the Koran was indeed a divine revelation. What proof is there for this? None. There is no credible proof for this. Hence supposedly the two tall clams are a result of, in one case, claiming something without evidence, and two, claiming something is untrue for the lack of evidence.

    But the burden of proof is always on the argument which makes the claim. Political Scientist and philosopher Bertrand Russel made the case very succinctly regarding this. If I claim that there is an invisible teapot floating in space between mars and jupiter, will you be able to prove that it doesn’t exist? No. Hence such a claim would be useless without physical proof or as a proxy, some logical/intuitive proof. It is for this reason, for example, the String Theory in physics has such a heavy opposition in the scientific community. Such claims are useless while discussing real world issues of science, society etc.

    3. There is a reason why I put “truth” in quotes. This is so because I defined “truth” differently (I have partially indicated the reason in the above comments, but will now clarify for I think you have misunderstood me owing to my lack of clarity).

    When I refer to “truth”, I don’t imply a “fact”, but rather, “an interpretation” of something. Because one always believes his/her interpretation to be “true”. It is for this reason, here, “truth” is subjective to individual inference. This is why I claimed above that someone who, say, believes in the ideas of Zaid Hamid or the RSS may claim “know” the “truth”, but n reality, it could be, in your words, “correct or incorrect, wise or naive” such that ” ‘true’ of ‘false’ don’t apply to it”. Of course, this is restricted to interpretation and not the “facts” they might present.

    What is problematic, hence, is not not the method of effective debate, but rather, the lack of lucidity on my part, for which I am guilty.


    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 14:12h, 07 February


      1. I am satisfied with the starting position that both sides could be wrong.
      2. I am not convinced that the standard method of inquiry in philosophy is the clash of two tall claims. A great example of debate are the Socratic dialogues. I have not come across one in which Socrates tells his audience you are irrational and delusional; here is the uncompromising truth; if you change your mind, great; if you walk away, nothing is lost. On the contrary, Socrates starts with what seems like a trifling question and leads the audience to the point where it is compelled to question its deeply held beliefs of its own volition.
      3. Yes, this is a semantic point but an important one. The categories of true and false cannot be applied to all claims and when they are the argument is distorted. This is a point made by Professor Balagangadhara in his book The Heathen in His Blindness (Chapter 10): “Literature that investigates the truth-value of the claims made by the ‘religious texts’ is absent in India. This lack indicates that the question of truth is not the right kind of question to ask with respect to these texts.” And also, “it is an ill-formed question to ask, “Do you believe that Ramayana (or whatever) is true?” I learnt a lot from reading this book which is available on the Internet.

    • Siddharth
      Posted at 14:37h, 07 February

      The setting of the Socratic dialogues was vastly different and the current conversation we are having is closer to the Hegelian-Marxist debate on ideology, dialectics, and materialism (I am not a Marxist by the way, but on these issues, Marxian Materialism made more sense).

      There is no reason for you to believe me, but when I am asked to talk about my beliefs or disbeliefs, my discussion begins with questions and answers, closer to the inquiry mechanism akin to Socrates in Republic. I am actually a fan of the work, even if far superior work on justice etc exists today. In this case, however, I happened to visit your blog by chance, and I probably didn’t think I’d come back. The conversation itself had progressed and a framework of debate had been established between FT and the rest. In my one comment that I thought I’d write, I challenged the very structure upon which FT’s point of view rests, akin to Marx’s questioning the “tall claims” of Hegel, which, similarly, had a framework established at the point of inquiry. (Of course, this is not to make any comparisons, but since you brought the Socratic conversations up, I thought I’d tell you what in my opinion this conversation is closer to)

      Also, in that first comment, I never made an ad hominem attack claiming he/she was delusional and irrational. Read my first comment again, and you’ll see that I even gave reasons (briefly) to substantiate my claim.

      Thanks for the book reference. I will have to read it before I react. Cheers.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 20:57h, 09 February

      Siddharth: The South Asian Idea is designed as a learning resource for students so the Socratic method is much more compatible with its pedagogical approach.

      In your second comment you wrote: “My basic belief is that the truth must be told, however uncomfortable it is. I personally do not like playing a part in feeding delusions and irrationality by trying to “compromise” on the truth.” This suggested to me that you believe you have the truth. It is a notion that makes me uncomfortable.

    • Siddharth
      Posted at 21:04h, 09 February

      I did not imply that I hold “the” truth. I meant that what people perceive to be the truth must be mentioned, even if someone else is to feel uncomfortable about it.

      I personally love your blog. Best of luck for it. I have read a dozen or so articles on it so far. Good job.

      If you feel I disrupted proceedings rather than contributed, do excuse me.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 21:45h, 09 February

      Siddharth: Your contribution is very valuable and exactly what the blog hopes to promote. I feel we have arrived at a fair conclusion that clears the semantic confusion. One should state one’s opinion frankly but be prepared to change it if the evidence weighs against it. The label that one assigns to one’s opinion is not really all that important. Is that a fair conclusion?

    • Siddharth
      Posted at 11:22h, 10 February

      Absolutely, I agree. Hopefully the region will see more discourse by the people. Cheers.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 14:59h, 11 February Reply

    February 12 is Darwin’s birthday and there is a good article on how the churches are celebrating it:


    There is one paragraph that I really liked – its spirit reaffirms the objective of this blog:

    We believe that among God’s good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God’s loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris.

  • hasan
    Posted at 01:49h, 15 November Reply

    hello SouthAsian

    It seems like you are well-versed with Theory of Evolution. Please comment on my following thoughts:

    Humans are in many ways unique:
    >There genus has only one species
    > Compared to ALL other forms of life, we are just way too better off. WAY BETTER OFF. I mean we are nothing like the rest of the kingdom. We dont just eat and replicate; that is just the start of our list of things.

    So, given that human beings are so anomalous, doesn’t it lend credibility to the belief that God gave us some careful attention. May be he did create Adam and Eve and some point on that fossil calendar and then humans descended on Earth. How does that negate any fossil or other evidence.

    I have one particular issue with theory of evolution too:

    I find it very improbable that in the millions-of-years span attributed to the life originating process, ONLY one cell managed to come into being, the progeny of which populate the entire Earth today. I mean it could have been two in two different parts of the world. Why just one? Earth is so big. Time span is so huge. If the conditions are right for origination of a self replicating cell, well they are right for multiple self replicating cells too. Enormous probability

    • Anil Kala
      Posted at 04:25h, 15 November

      While SA will give his comment, I would like to make my own observation……
      I think there is no consensus on origin of life i.e. how it began whether through dormant cells in the form spores landed on earth or through natural accident in primordial sea rich in amino acid building blocks. One theory is that protoplasm is nothing but liquid of primordial sea. What however appears reasonably true is that all the diversity including humans evolved from this origin. Humans have arrived only recently in evolution time scale and their progress from apes is fairly well charted. Ascribing their existence to God is akin to believing that earth is flat.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 07:05h, 15 November

      hasan: My response is along the lines sketched by Anil. One doesn’t know how life began but for those who rely on evidence, it is difficult to believe that all of life commenced at the same time in the form that we see it today. As against that, the evidence that life forms have evolved is much stronger. In his book (There is no God) Christoper Hitchens has a thought-provoking statement: “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” So the question really boils down to whether we want to discuss this issue on the basis of evidence or of faith.

      Personally, I am more interested in what we do rather than where we came from. I thinks apes would be the biggest opponents of the theory of evolution because they would be embarrassed at being labeled as our ancestors. We are indeed nothing like the rest of the kingdom.

  • Arun Pillai
    Posted at 04:57h, 16 November Reply

    Jane Goodall went to the Gombe Stream Reserve near Lake Tanganyika in East Africa when she was 26. By living among the animals and quietly recording their interactions, she was able to show that the chimp world included love, hate, fear, jealousy, tool use, brutality, even warfare. I spoke with Dr. Goodall last month at Western Connecticut State College, where she was giving a lecture, and then later by telephone. A condensed version of the conversations follows:


  • seo
    Posted at 17:29h, 31 January Reply

    Most of what you point out happens to be astonishingly legitimate and it makes me wonder why I had not looked at this in this light previously. This particular article really did turn the light on for me as far as this particular topic goes. Nevertheless there is one particular position I am not necessarily too comfy with so while I attempt to reconcile that with the central theme of the point, let me observe just what all the rest of the subscribers have to point out.Well done.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 11:37h, 22 April Reply

    This would be of interest to fresh teen who would no longer be a teen by now. Wonder how her views have ‘evolved’?


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