Dr. Guessoum is an astrophysicist. He attended the Lycée Amara Rachid School in Algiers and went on to earn a B.Sc. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Science and Technology of Algiers, Algeria in 1982. His earned his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, San Diego. From 1990-1995, Dr. Guessoum worked at the University of Blida, Algeria. In 1995, he moved to the College of Technological Studies, Kuwait where he stayed until 2000. He holds memberships with the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the International Society for Science and Religion (ISSR), and the Islamic Crescents Observation Project (ICOP). He was also a research associate at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
In addition to his research work on astrophysics, he has published numerous articles and books about Islam and science and is a passionate advocate of re-instilling the scientific methodology in the Muslim culture. In 2010, he authored Islam’s Quantum Question : Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science. He argues that modern science must be integrated into the Islamic worldview, including the theory of biological and human evolution, which he maintains does not contradict Islamic tenets and ethos. More recently, Dr. Guessoum has published Islam and Science : How to Reconcile the Quran and Modern Science (Dervy, 2013) and Islam, the Big Bang and Darwin (Dervy, 2015). He is currently Professor of physics and astronomy and Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the American University in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
Speech Title (Islam and Science panel)
Must Muslims accept the theory of evolution ?
Surveys that have been conducted in recent years indicate that about 60% of Muslims consider evolution as “an unproven theory” and often refuse to have it taught, while Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the most eminent biologists of the 20th century (and a believer) stated that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Further exploration reveals that Muslims consider evolution more from a religious than a scientific angle. In parallel to this, a strong anti-evolutionary campaign has been conducted among young Muslims in recent years, particularly by the Harun Yahya group, both in the Muslim world and in Europe, distributing free books and videos in many languages, often using completely spurious arguments and methods, thus making discussions very difficult, both on scientific and theological levels.
In my presentation, I will first insist on the distinction to be made between evolution as a phenomenon that we observe in nature and in the laboratory, and evolution as a theory, parts of which are stronger than others. I will cite several pieces of solid evidence for evolution : from the fossil record and the “missing links”, including in human evolution, as well as from genetics, comparative anat- omy, the universal biochemical organization, and examples of mutations occurring today. I will also briefly explain the difference between the Darwinian theory of evolution and non-Darwinian theories of evolution. Finally, I will present “theistic evolution”, i.e. the way a number of believing thinkers (Muslims and Christians) understand and accept evolution. I will conclude with some key remarks.
(Starting 22 min)