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Golden Ages in the History of Science


for Members

Golden Ages in the History of Science

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Columbia University, 500 W 120th St, Mudd Building, Room 520
Far from a categorical support of either religious scepticism (i.e. a ‘secular’ worldview), on the one hand, or religious traditionalism-cum-fundamentalism (i.e. a ‘creationist’ one) on the other, public debates over Darwin in Arabic led to a revivification in theological and hermeneutical questions around issues of exegesis and epistemology. In the case of the former, they spurred renewed arguments about the status of human reason in relation to scriptural hermeneutics; in the latter, over the nature of evidence, certainty and doubt. As such, the recasting of traditional systems of religious knowledge was involved in the very ways in which scientific claims were themselves assessed, and in the process, transforming the meaning and discursive reach of the former as much as the latter. This talk will examine one of the earliest exegetical responses to modern evolutionary theories to explore these issues before charting in broad outline the subsequent transformation of Muslim responses to Darwin in more recent times.


Marwa Elshakry

Columbia University

Marwa Elshakry is Associate Professor of History at Columbia, currently completing her manuscript, Theologies of Nature: Reading Darwin in the Middle East, 1860-1950.