New Portal Presents Online Videos on Science and Islam

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Science and Islam is a hot topic on the internet; a Google search will show millions of hits. Videos discussing key themes such as Islam and evolution are particularly prevalent, though their quality is often questionable from the standpoint of both mainstream science and Islam.

The new Science and Islam Video Portal, funded by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation, offers a guide through this mass of content. Project members identified all of the videos on science and Islam using a variety of key terms and a checklist of eliminating factors. “Some of the videos are good, but many videos make claims that are not accepted by mainstream scientists or historians. And then in some videos Islam is misrepresented,” says Salman Hameed, an astronomer at Hampshire College, Massachusetts and director, Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies. “We were inspired by sites like snopes.com and rottentomatoes.com, but no such site exists for video content, especially related to science and religion.”

Sorting through the material turned out to be an enormous undertaking. “To date, we have cataloged close to a thousand such unique videos. A subset of these, close to 200, is available on the portal,” Hameed continues. The site shows the top videos organized by themes including astronomy, biology, miracles, and the history of science.

The content is also evaluated for its presentation in three key areas: Islam, the natural sciences, and history—with a symbol key that gives a quick sense of how they were rated in these domains. “Creating an evaluation system in itself is a tricky issue and has led to some spirited discussions. We worked with an advisory committee and they brought their expertise to the discussions,” says Hameed.

“Ultimately, the goal of our evaluation scheme is to notify viewers whether the content of the video is in sync with the consensus of the wider academic community. There is still a lot that we can improve with this portal. But we hope that it can provide some guidance for those individuals who are searching for videos on the topic of science and Islam,” Hameed concludes.