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    Questioning Religion

    Salaam,

    I don't know if you all remember me or not. I joined this gathering last Nov but had to quit after a short while because of tests. Now I am back and will try to continue my stay this time.

    Ok here I am with another issue.

    I am sure many of us have had some experience with Tabligee party's Dawa or atleast have information about them and their ways. I have absolutely no problem with the good cause of Dawa in principle. The thing that makes me sick is the people who have taken up this job on their heads; their views and approach.

    The first problem is with their suggestions that one should abandon his studies and get into dawa movement. ("studies won't help you anything with Aa'khirat, only Dawa can.." or a lenient one, "come with us for this dawa trip, you can take your courses next semester").

    The second is with their approach to understanding Islam. Can we question about religious matters and consequently expect a logical answer? Unfortunately my experience is whenever I have asked any logical question, their reaction initially was to pretend being logical to college students and answer in a logical fashion but on further cross questioning they respond in nothing different than their fellow Christian missionary ("Dawa") people. They either evade, ("you come to our mosque/dawa, Inshallah all your questions will be solved automatically in the spiritual environment") or resort to some thing dogma like Islam is Submission and Questioning is Rebelling, logic and philosophy has nothing to do with Islam.

    My question is: Can we ask logical question about our religious matters and demand a logical answer in response?

    A more basic question would be: Could religion be logical, in the sense that its basis are logical, these basis could be understood logically and their is no such dichotomy of belief and reason, or atleast it(logic) doesn't contradict with religion. The question is about Belief not practices (like I am not asking why we have two rakat in fajr and not three). If not, how is Islam different from Greek methodologies or Christian beliefs?

    #2
    This answer is sure to raise many Hackles. No religion is consistent with the methods of science right now. That is why there are "secular humanists". Religion is a matter of faith. There are still many a things and matters that science does not touch or address. It is precisely these matters that Religion takes over. All attempts at connecting logic and scientific methodologies to Religion have failed so far.
    And perhaps that is a good thing.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by OldLahori:
      This answer is sure to raise many Hackles. No religion is consistent with the methods of science right now. That is why there are "secular humanists". Religion is a matter of faith. There are still many a things and matters that science does not touch or address. It is precisely these matters that Religion takes over. All attempts at connecting logic and scientific methodologies to Religion have failed so far.
      And perhaps that is a good thing.
      the problems faced by the world population
      depend on religenn to solve all their problem? do they have the luxury to debate
      about all the religious thoughts or worry about immediate needs?

      Comment


        #4
        To answer your question simply: YES. When I say "yes" I am saying yes to the Deen of Islam and I cannot speak for all religions. Although I am not against people who are non-muslims I can certainly tell you that not all religions are logical. But Islam is. Anything that islam asks you to do/perform/"abstain from" has a real/humanistic reason. Nothing is left to chance and all actions are for your benefit, even those that seem (at first) useless or even harmful.
        I might not be able to prove all facts to you because I am no scholar but I can gaurantee you that Islam dictates all that good for you.

        [This message has been edited by fayax (edited February 12, 2002).]
        "Don't guess a person's character on his present situation because time has the power
        to change an ordinary coal into a precious diamond"

        Comment


          #5
          [QUOTE]Originally posted by OldLahori:
          No religion is consistent with the methods of science right now. That is why there are "secular humanists". Religion is a matter of faith.{/QUOTE]

          Thanks for the reply.

          I think I have very much the same opinion that fayax has expressed. But I would add further. I think the difference between Islam and other faiths (Greek mythologies and other distorted religions), which makes Islam attractive and sensible, is Islamic philosophy is cosistent with logic and one can discern the truth in its basic beliefs through reasoning.

          The claim that religion and philosophy/logic/science are not(/supposed to be) compatible with each other because religion is a matter of faith, is not true.

          In my opinion applying the latter could help us in discerning the true Islam from the historical, regional and cultural influences and distortions and could help us towards solving the problems of Humanity.

          rvikz the problem the world is facing is today is all about social system. Humanity is looking for peace and welfare. The whole cold war is fought for this question. Which system can provide these, capitalism, communism, socialism or is there any alternative. Islam also claims to provide a welfare system, so isn't it worth discussing about Islam.

          OldLahori could you please elaborate what do you mean by methods of science and how Islam is not consistent with it?

          Comment


            #6
            One example from another thread: Religion: Allha (swt) created Adam (pbuh) . There was a great flood in the Time of Hazrat Nuh.

            Now there is extensive debate available between creationism and Intelligent Design, and the scietific community that accepts evolution or "Darwinism" to know that many a reputable scientists believe that scientific evidence is not there to support the above two claims of Religion.

            I really am not qualified to enter into a debate about science and religion, since I am neither a very good scientist nor a scholar of religion. I have simply outlined for you what I think. The belief in one's religion is a matter of faith and common sense. I agree that when we see what Islam asks of us as humans it appears to be more inline with human nature than other religions. I cannot prove it scientifically but I beleive it because of my faith.

            In science, as fas as I can tell, belief in anything is a matter of degree since everything is tinged with scepticism. Even laws are laws because no contradictory evidence has been found yet. There is a probablity of acceptance or rejection attached to every concept or statement. Everything is open to doubt, examination, and eventual rejection. It is not my acceptance or rejection as an individual that counts, but the "scientific community" that accepts or rejects evidence, experimental one preferrably.

            I do not beleive that religion and faith operate that way. We arrive at our faith that Quran is the word of God one way or another. Once we are there, then everything and anything in it has to be 100% correct. One does not have the liberty to accept some parts and reject others. All the arguments and logic has to be recruited to support the initial conviction that everything in the Quran is correct.

            I hope I have been able to explain what I meant by scientific method.

            [This message has been edited by OldLahori (edited February 12, 2002).]

            Comment


              #7
              you can take two courses in college one
              in geology and other in theology.
              you can pass both courses answering
              exactly opposite.

              Comment


                #8
                I was more interested in the first question about asking logical questions about religious matters. But it seems without solving the more basic question of faith and logic,and religion and science we won’t be able to proceed to that. So lets deal with it first.

                OldLahori,

                I am still not sure what do you mean by “Methods of Science” or “Scientific Methodologies” two terms you used in your first post. Then claimed religion to be inconsistent with them.

                To me methods of science could be understood in at least two ways. One is by discussing the subject of study of science. Present day science has limited itself to the study of material phenomena only. So today’s science in this respect is actually the empirical science. And I believe this empirical science is what you mean when you refer to science.

                But it is no surprise that science couldn’t find God in their laboratory testing because God in our claim is immaterial. Could empirical science prove that there doesn’t exist any metaphysical beings? Well according to the definition of empirical science it is out of its subject of study and could give no opinion on it. Only thing that science could prove is that they didn't find God in the empirical realm, which is perfectly in support of our claim.

                So in my view this science actually helps us in discarding any false claim of physical nature of God as some faiths do.

                Second way is to understand science in terms of rationality and knowledge. Science in this definition is the systematic study and inference according to logical principles. This systematic study could be of any thing both physical and metaphysical. One example of such a logical principle is law of causality that could be applied to both the realms. When applied in the empirical sciences, Newton founds out that the apple that has fallen down from tree must have a cause of going only in downwards direction and not in any other way. Thus he infers from it the Gravitation phenomena. Has anyone seen gravitation force by eyes. But we all believe it exists and it has its effects. Similarly the same law of causality when is applied broadly about the origin of universe, we reach to a first cause, the Creator. Has any one seen God? Never, but due to the effects (the creation) we know that He exists.

                So science in this respect is not only compatible with faith but it infact helps in discerning the truth from falsity, from false claims of distorted religions and man made mythological gods. And faith established on logical grounds is firmer than having just blind faith.

                May be due to some medieval traditions and lack of scientific knowledge, there is a problem in understanding how God is the cause of every thing in the nature. This understanding is, if God says he causes rain, then there is some invisible hand of God that is pushing the clouds, claps.. to make the sky light (Aas’mani Bijli) and pours the rain. But this is not how the system has been made.

                God is the creator of the matter, the laws governing it and he sustains that tie between the laws and matter, combined together we call Nature. So if it rains from sky, it is through the process of nature (and its laws) which is sustained by God (going back through the causal chain). So no wonder if there ever was a big bang. No wonder if there was evolution of species through natural selection. Because it is how things work (i.e. through natural process) in God’s system.

                Many times in its history the earth has been flooded by great storms, lava from volcanoes, big earth quakes etc (to some scientist the extinction of dinosaurs could be due to these reasons). So, where does science says that there couldn’t be a great flood in the past, in the time of Hazrat Nauh (A.S.).

                In science, as fas as I can tell, belief in anything is a matter of degree since everything is tinged with scepticism. Even laws are laws because no contradictory evidence has been found yet. There is a probablity of acceptance or rejection attached to every concept or statement. Everything is open to doubt, examination, and eventual rejection. It is not my acceptance or rejection as an individual that counts, but the "scientific community" that accepts or rejects evidence, experimental one preferrably.
                The truth is that your above remarks just show that empirical science claims shouldn’t be considered to be absolute. Many a times scientist presented hypothesis to be ‘facts’, ‘truths’ and ‘laws’ which later proved to be wrong. This just shows the imperfection/immaturity of Human knowledge and the empirical method.

                So isn’t it funny, that some people claim that science has disproved religion when it itself is not perfect, philosophically speaking not it is not dependable to be used to discard any belief. Because to discard any belief on the basis of science one has to first prove the validity, consistency of science.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Present day science has limited itself to the study of material phenomena only.
                  True, except for the a few subject areas like psychology, mathematics, linguistics, etc.
                  But it is no surprise that science couldn’t find God in their laboratory testing because God in our claim is immaterial.
                  Again true, but I think no reputable scientist ever did try to find God in their laboratory in the first place.
                  Science in this definition is the systematic study and inference according to logical principles.
                  The only thing I would add to it is that it seems be the definition of Logic and Semantics. However, Godel’s proof shows that it is always possible to formulate a paradoxical question within a ‘closed’ system of logic. So one has to be extra careful in parsing out what can and cannot be argued with logic within a particular system defined by a set of axioms or hypothesis.
                  Many times in its history the earth has been flooded by great storms, lava from volcanoes, big earth quakes etc (to some scientist the extinction of dinosaurs could be due to these reasons). So, where does science says that there couldn’t be a great flood in the past, in the time of Hazrat Nauh (A.S.).
                  Nearly any beginning level course in geology will contradict the notion of the Great Flood that covered the entire world. There is way too much literature on this topic. Please enter “Noah and the Great Flood” into any decent search engine and you will get many many hits that present arguments on either side of this old debate. However, there is little doubt that most ‘establishment’ scientists come down on the side that the story is merely a tale and not history.
                  Similarly the same law of causality when is applied broadly about the origin of universe, we reach to a first cause, the Creator. Has any one seen God? Never, but due to the effects (the creation) we know that He exists.

                  This is one of the classical arguments that is given in support of Existence of God. These days variations of it are included in Intentional Design arguments. Again there is a long history and extensive literature that provides both sides of the argument. Essentially, it boils down to that the law of correlation is not causality, and causality requires careful definition of ‘time’ and it is not clear that notions of beginning and end that we as humans feel comfortable with have a basis in ‘reality’. Anyway, if you are interested in cosmology I suggest that you look into popular explainations by Stephen Hawkings. Again, I don’t think this type of ‘proofs’ prove or disprove the existence of God.


                  The truth is that your above remarks just show that empirical science claims shouldn’t be considered to be absolute. Many a times scientist presented hypothesis to be ‘facts’, ‘truths’ and ‘laws’ which later proved to be wrong. This just shows the imperfection/immaturity of Human knowledge and the empirical method

                  True. As a matter of fact most scientist take pride in this imperfection. That is what allows science to grow and change. No scientist worth anything will ever claim 100% certainty on any topic. They will come close but never an absolute position. As I said skepticism is built into the scientific method. That is precisely why the scientific method is not consistent with the notion of faith in religion.

                  So isn’t it funny, that some people claim that science has disproved religion when it itself is not perfect.
                  I agree that it would be funny. I do not know of a single ‘scientist’ who would claim to disprove any religion. The closest they will come is to say that a particular claim by this or that particular religion is highly unlikely to be true since it is incompatible with such and such empirical evidence. For example, that the human race began with a single human (Adam) is considered highly unlikely or that the story of the Great Flood is very likely not a historical fact.

                  Now it is also true that such limited “incompatibilities’’ causes many an adherents of religion problems because it appears to contradict the Word of God in a simple and direct manner. Each individual who has faith deals with it in his own way.



                  [This message has been edited by OldLahori (edited February 12, 2002).]

                  Comment


                    #10
                    old Lahori: Nearly any beginning level course in geology will contradict the notion of the Great Flood that covered the entire world. There is way too much literature on this topic. Please enter “Noah and the Great Flood” into any decent search engine and you will get many many hits that present arguments on either side of this old debate. However, there is little doubt that most ‘establishment’ scientists come down on the side that the story is merely a tale and not history.

                    Ibrahim says LOL. And they also claim humans evolved form the monkey.

                    just visit here for details on the above matter http://www3.pak.org/gupshup/Forum13/HTML/003208.html

                    Comment


                      #11
                      yes, ibrahim, they certainly do claim that monkeys and humans evolved from a common ancestor.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        My point of view about this topic is:

                        ::: Religion / Logic

                        I think u can always ask logical questions about religion and that all religions (not mythologies) are based on logic. The distortions to the older relligions however, are not and could not be logical as they are not from the God. I've based my opinion on the following verses of Quran:

                        Say, "Have you considered those, that you call upon, apart from god? show me, what have created of the earth? or do they have a partnership in the creation of heavens? prove it to me from a book before this, or If you are true, then prove it to me through the logic of remnants of scienctfic/philosophical knowledge."
                        ( chapter 46, the sand dunes, verse 5)


                        Say: "produce your logic, if you speak truely"
                        ( chapter 27, the ant, verse 65 )


                        As you can see Allah has asked infidels to bring forth a logic to prove their point. Now knowing that Allah is All Just (Al Adal), we cannot expect from him to present an illogical religion and ask the infidels for logic to prove their point.

                        I must however add here that it is not necessary that we get a logical answer to every part of religion at everytime. For example in Quraan Allah tells us that he has created the universe and he is constantly expanding it. There was no logical proof to it till the last century. Similarly other matters. Personally i think that we should not try to prove every point in a religion. Because if somebody proves to us that Allah does exist and that Mohammad is his messenger, then automatically all the teachings of islam stand true. You should keep trying finding a logical solution to it, because if u find a logic for your belief, it is strengthened, but dont disbelief if u dont find a logical reasoning for some part of it.


                        Furthermore, i think religion and science do go hand in hand. Its only that religion is already perfect while science is in the process. But as it is Allah who revealed Quran and its He who created laws of the universe, therefore in the end the laws of science will definetely coincide with the verses of quran. As an example i quote a few verses that has already been proven right:

                        Of what did he create him? Of a sperm-drop. He created him, and determined him, then the way eased for him.
                        ( chapter 80, he frowned, verse 19,20,21)


                        did we not create you of a dirty water, that we laid within a sure lodging till a known term decreed? We have determined it; excellent determiners are we.
                        ( chapter 77, the loosed ones, verse 21,22,23,24)


                        Has man not passed a time when he was a thing of no consequence? We created man of a sperm-drop, a mixture, so that we can test him, and we made him hearing, seeing. surely we guided him upon the way, whether he be thankful or unthankful.
                        ( chapter 76, man, verse 2,3,4)


                        Does the man reckon he shall be left to roam at will? Was he not a sperm-drop placed in the right place? Then he was a blood-clot, and allah created and formed, and He made him of two kinds, male and female.
                        ( chapter 75, the resurrection, verse 38,39,40)

                        In the alteration of night and day, and the water that god sends down from the clouds, with which he revive the earth after its death, and the turning about of winds, there are signs for intellectuals/the wise/those who understand.

                        (chapter 45, hobbling, verse 6 )
                        And he rised the heaven up, and set balanced laws - transgress not in the balance, and weigh with justice, and skimp not in the balance.
                        ( chapter 55, the all-merciful, verse 8,9,10)

                        and the sun and the moon, that move within calculated laws.
                        ( chapter 55, the all merciful, verse 6)

                        Allah hath created every animal of water. Of them is (a kind) that goeth upon its belly and (a kind) that goeth upon two legs and (a kind) that goeth upon four.
                        ( Chapter 24, verse 45)

                        As far as creation of Adam and evolution are concerned, i think modern day scientific concepts are just what we are told in Quran. e.g.

                        He shaped you and made good your shapes, and unto Him is the journeying.
                        ( Chapter 64, Verse 3)


                        When He created you by (diverse) stages?
                        ( Chapter 71, Verse 14)

                        Who created thee, then fashioned, then proportioned thee?
                        ( Chapter 82, Verse 7)

                        Evolution, isnt it???????

                        Comment


                          #13
                          So sadeyes, if I understand you correctly you do not have any problem with that humans and monkies ancestors were the same, and you believe that Quran states that? How about the issue of the Great Flood? Scientists claim it did not happen the world over? You think that is also in agreemnet with what is stated in the Quran?

                          As I said in the post above, the "methods of science" are not consistent with matters of faith. If I understand the methods of science, then I think I am simply stating an obvious statement.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            OldLahori,

                            I am still not sure what you actually mean by methods of science. Therefore, I think I should specify my perception of methods of scientific here simultaneously answering your arguments. May be this will help in our better understanding.

                            I would first look at the Subject Matter of empirical science, which most of your arguments relates to.

                            In my opinion, empirical observations/findings in their very nature don’t prove or disprove any thing. They are just findings. It is then the observer/scientist who on these findings proposes his hypothesis and does further tests of the phenomena to reach at the laws and truth. Like for Newton, falling of an apple was just an empirical observation. It is then on this observation, he constructed his hypothesis and further tested it, did calculations etc., to finally reach at his famous Gravitation law.

                            Thus, scientific claims would always be subject to questioning because they are initially all hypotheses. Science goes from limited experiments to generalizations. It uses sense perception as its source of information that is not only limited but at times also gives contradictory information (like a stick immersed half into water appears to be broken, due to refraction of light).

                            It is for this reason many scientific claims that were previously considered to be true are today considered to be untrue. They were not direct scientific findings but hypothesis based on them. In this sense, the evolution theory of humans for example, is also not a scientific finding but a hypothesis. (Personally I don’t have any problem with the concept of evolution. In fact one scholar quoted me the very same verse that sadeyes_neverlie has cited (24:45). It is at the question of, are humans too a result of evolution, where I have heard differing opinions). About three decades ago scientist claimed to have found the missing link in Homo sapiens’ lineage (thus to them evolution of humans was confirmed) when they found an old fossil. But after a couple of decades later due to the development of information and technology they found out that that fossil was actually the missing link of Orangutans and not of Humans.

                            It is at this place where empirical scientific hypothesis lose their validity to claim to disprove any religious belief. They are always subject to questioning and corrigibility. But this doesn’t mean that science falls into skepticism. There is a very fine line between the two approaches, questioning and skepticism. Questioning suggest that a proper proof could provide satisfaction and confidence to conduct further investigation (based on previous knowledge, which is always questionable and corrigible) but skepticism suggest that even if the empirical proof is there, one won’t be sure if it is still true or not, making it useless to move forward into further investigation.

                            Now if there is some scientist who claims that that great flood didn’t happen. It obviously is not a scientific finding but a hypothetical claim based on current scientific findings, which is always subject to questioning and is always corrigible. And as I asserted before, philosophically, to discredit any religious belief, first science has to prove its own validity and absoluteness, which we all know that science hasn’t (and arguably couldn’t).

                            So as far as I could understand from “No religion is consistent with the methods of science right now”, by inconsistency one possible meaning is that you mean Contradiction. The impression that I got from the above claim in your first post is that some how you are considering science and its claims to be the truth and would consider only things found out through empirical science to be the truth and if any religious belief that doesn’t accord with it to be false (or if not false, a matter of blind faith). But this is not true, as we have seen above the limitations and problems of empirical science and its subject of study (only material object, giving opinion on any metaphysical reality is outside its scope of subject matter). But as I said before, these scientific findings and knowledge can help us in discerning the true Islam from its regional, historical and cultural influences.

                            The above was to answer in respect to Subject Matter of Scientific finding, which was never the original issue in the question of this post. As you would also acknowledge the subject matter of science and religion is very different (post February 12, 2002 11:54 AM).Religion in this case has an additional source of knowledge i.e. revelation. Unfortunately, all your arguments, to me were related to this subject matter issue, that is why I tried to clarify the two approaches in my last post and requested to elaborate what you actually mean.

                            But the real issue is about rationality/reasoning/logic and religion. When you raised the issue of method of science, I thought you were talking about the basic rational foundation of science and its investigation. Inconsistency in this second sense, to me, means Incompatibility, also could be understood as Irrationality. I already gave you examples of how religion and logic is not only compatible but also complement each other (post of February 12, 2002 11:54 AM) .

                            ---

                            I hope we all would agree that mere existence of extensive literature and long debates do not prove or disprove the issue in question and do not substantiate any claim. Since you are giving frequent references, I construe that you must have read at least some of that literature. Therefore, I would much appreciate if instead of giving references to those erudite literatures, please state specifically any good point/argument (related to our discussion) you have come across in support of your claim.

                            I have skipped some side issues that I could have discussed in my above reply, in order to save the discussion from digression. But you are an interesting thinker and I would like to discuss them with you. We can discuss them in the same thread or start a new thread as you like.

                            First is about Godel’s proof, what is this, remember mere reference is not enough to prove/disprove anything. How has modern scientific method has saved itself from falling into the problem posed in this proof and how my elaboration of rational method of science could fall into this trap.

                            Second, what is law of correlation and how it is different from causality.


                            Comment


                              #15
                              Very well sadeyes_neverlie. ** compeletly agrees.

                              I think atleast for the beliefs part, reasoning can help one to discern the right religion from wrong, before one accepts the truth. Yes in parts of fiqh/ahkaam its not necessary that we could understand all the philosophy with our limited knowledege, may be future generation could.

                              Comment

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