ISLAM AND SCIENCE

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DEFINITIONS
  • The word scientia originally meant general knowledge and was inferior to Sapientia which meant wisdom.
  • Before the 19th century, many scientists sought to provide evidence for religion (natural philosophy).
  • The knowledge that has been established through observations & experiments
  1. Acquisition of reliable but not infallible knowledge of the real world, including explanations of the phenomena
  2. Science is always tentative (what hasn’t been disproved)
  3. Science deals with empirical knowledge
  4. Science includes explanations in the form of hypotheses, theories, and laws
  5. The word religion initially meant inner piety or desire to lead a Christ-like life
  6. A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny
  7. An institution to express belief in a divine power
  8. A belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the practices and institutions associated with such belief
  9. The sum total of answers given to explain humankind’s relationship with the universe
SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE
  • Experiments seek to control all (or almost all) variables associated with a phenomenon
  • Observation of phenomena that can’t be controlled (paleontology, cosmology, ethology) together with a reason
  • Evidence is reported in peer-reviewed journals available to all
  • Best explanations are predictive
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE
  • Sacred texts are inspired by divine power
  • Individual revelation through visions, dreams, prayer, events
  • Reason about the nature of God and the relationship between God and humans
  • Study of sacred texts and the conditions under which they were written
  • Study of the natural world?
WORLDVIEWS
  • We all have belief systems in our religions that influence how we answer the important questions of life
  • Scientists also have worldviews (paradigms) that determine the questions they investigate
  • Are there differences in worldviews between science and religion?
  • Science doesn’t often give a complete knowledge of the truth.
  • Its domain is only in establishing the need for existence not how and why.
  • Hadrat Masih Maw’ud said: The Being of God is transcendental and beyond the beyond and is most secret and cannot be discovered by the power of human reasoning alone.
  • No argument can prove it conclusively, inasmuch as reason can travel only so far that contemplating the universe it feels the need of a Creator. But the feeling of a need is one thing and it is quite another to arrive at the certainty that the God, Whose need has been felt, does in fact exist
  • As the operation of reason is defective, incomplete and doubtful, a philosopher cannot recognize God purely through reason. Most people who try to determine the existence of God Almighty purely through the exercise of reason, in the end, become atheists.
  • Reflecting over the creation of the heavens and the earth does not avail them much and they begin to deride and laugh at the men of God. One of their arguments is that there are thousands of things in the world which have no use and the fashioning of which does not indicate the existence of a fashioner. They exist merely as vain and useless things.
  • These people do not seem to realize that the lack of knowledge of something does not necessarily negate its existence. Haqiqat-ul- Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 22, pp. 120-121]
Progress of Science
  • The 20th century has seen many scientific discoveries and inventions
  • Man constantly strives to achieve greater feats e.g. Travel to the Moon, Cloning of Dolly the sheep, the Human Genome Project, etc.
  • Inevitably, people are slowly starting to see science as the answer to their questions!
  • Science is a powerful tool that urges mankind to understand himself and his environment better
  • Ideally, it should lead mankind to reflect deeper onto his existence & the appreciation of his surroundings
  • There was a time when Muslims led the world of science and the world depended on them
Modern Science
  • Modern ‘Western’ science, however, subconsciously drives one away from the path of religion
  • Western’ science here refers to ideas and thoughts influenced by the West, which has dominated the academic world today! It is seen as the epitome of modern scientific efforts.
    Mostly deals with the ‘what,’ ‘how’ but conveniently omits the bigger question of ‘WHY?’
E.g. Force of Gravitation :
‘As physics students, we have thought what this force is, complete with its definition, formulae, and effects. But try asking the teacher the nature of the force and where it comes from? ’
  • Modern science, thus, is never really successful is explaining the ‘reality aspects’ of situations
  • Somehow seems to avoid the supernatural/ spiritual dimension
  • It emphasizes the material and the ethical essence of man is neglected e.g weapons of mass destruction e.t.c
Quran and Modern Science

It is not contestable that the most comprehensive work on religion and science in the contemporary world is Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge, and Truth by Hadrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (r.a)

  • Islam encourages insan to do ta’ffakur and tadabbur (contemplation)
  • ‘Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, there are indeed Signs for men of understanding.’ (3:191)
  • I challenge us all to explore the book. It is the most spiritually and intellectually fulfilling exercise.
Quran & the Big Bang Theory
  • The theory holds that the universe began with an explosive expansion of a single extremely condensed state of matter (singularity)
  • Only confirmed by modern science in the 20th Century, with the help of modern instruments!

    ‘Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (rataq) before We clove them asunder (fataqa)?’ (21:31)

    And the expanding Universe.

    ‘And it is We who have constructed the heaven with might, and verily , it is We who are steadily expanding it’ (51:48)

  • Confirmed by an American astronomer, Edwin Hubble, in 1923 with his discovery of the redshift of the galaxies.
  • Redshift phenomenon occurs when the light source moves away from the observer
  • Modern telescopes have proven that distant galaxies & stars emit red light
All life originates from water.
‘We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?’ (21:31)
  • Confirmed only in the 20th Century that water is the precursor to all life
  • Till today, modern science proves that water remains a pivotal medium for all chemical reactions in living beings!
  • Space researches are specially designed to search for water because wherever water is found, there is the possibility of the existence of life
  • The Quran speaks of this in clear terms, 1400 years ago when no modern apparatus existed!
  • Have We not made the earth as a bed, and the mountains as pegs? (Quran, 78:7-8)
  • Modern earth sciences have proven that mountains have deep roots under the surface of the ground and that these roots can reach several times their elevations above the surface of the ground
  • So the most suitable word to describe mountains on the basis of this information is the word ‘peg,’ since most of a properly set peg is hidden under the surface of the ground. The history of science tells us that the theory of mountains having deep roots was introduced only in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
  • Mountains have deep roots under the surface of the ground. (Earth, Press and Siever, p. 413.)
  • Schematic section. The mountains, like pegs, have deep roots embedded in the ground. (Anatomy of the Earth, Cailleux, p. 220.)
  • Another illustration shows how the mountains are peg-like in shape, due to their deep roots. (Earth Science, Tarbuck and Lutgens, p. 158.)
Conclusion
  • Use science to expand yourself and do not be constrained by it
  • Science allows us to appreciate our existence better and not take things for granted
  • ‘Such is the Creation of Allah; now show Me what is there that others besides Him have created; nay, but the Transgressors are in manifest error.’ (31:11)

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