More complex than coal

On my way back to work after a Doctor’s appointment this morning, I happened to tune my radio into BBC London. This was a journey of about ten minutes, so I didn’t catch much; the famous Vanessa Feltz (whatever happened to Jon Gaunt?) was asking listeners to phone in with their opinion on Creationism and Prince Charles’ dissenting role in politics. I heard two callers; the first was a fundamentalist evolutionist, who derided all followers of all religions whilst making his point that evolution is an indisputable fact. The other caller I heard was a Muslim who rang in to talk about Creationism, but was asked for his opinion on Prince Charles instead, only to be cut off abruptly once onto his topic of choice because there was no time before the 11 O’clock news.

For some reason, Vanessa and her studio crew were all stary-eyed about the first caller. She said his was an excellent call, but it wasn’t really. It was just a rant. A creationist had clearly asked earlier in the programme about the processes of evolution. So the first caller I heard explained that there are plenty of precdents; for example coal, and diamonds.

Now forgive me, but am I missing something? Coal is merely the altered remains of prehistoric vegetation that originally accumulated in swamps. Subjected to tectonic forces, these swamps were gradually buried over a period of around 200 million years, transforming the vegetaion first into peat and then into coal. Diamonds, too, are formed as a result of tectonic forces at least 100 km below the surface and at temperatures over 900 decrees centigrade. Complex processes indeed, but not exactly illustrative.

Why didn’t he tackle some more contentious topics, like the formation of amino acids? I admit that scientists have been doing a huge amout of work in these spheres, but it is still true to say that joining the dots requires as much faith at that required by the religious. There are huge numbers of questions. The concept of an organic soup in which amino acids were polymerized billions of years ago requires immense faith alone; how we got to where we are today adds infinite levels of complexity.

I wish some of these fundamentalist evolutionists would reflect on the scientific foundations laid before us by the religious scholars of our dark ages; the contribution of Jewish and Muslim scholars is well documented already. Perhaps if that Muslim caller had been able to make his point instead of focusing on Prince Charles just before the news, he might have mentioned that famous verse from the Qur’an, “And the Heavens and the Earth were a mass all sewn up…”

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