Sunday, November 30, 2008

428)My Favourite Cosmologist-Philosopher-Theologian-Poets: Abu Yakub Al-Sijistani, Nasir Khusraw And Ikhwan Al-Safa; A Collection Of Posts On My Blog.

"In fact this world is a book in which you see inscribed the writings of God the Almighty"(Nasir Khusraw, 11th century Fatimid Ismaili cosmologist-philosopher-poet)

"O brother! You asked: What is the [meaning of] `alam [world] and what is that entity to which this name applies? How should we describe the world in its entirety? And how many worlds are there? Explain so that we may recognize. Know, O brother, that the name `alam is derived from [the word] `ilm(knowledge), because the traces of knowledge are evident in [all] parts of the physical world. Thus, we say that the very constitution (nihad) of the world is based on a profound wisdom"(Nasir Khusraw, 11th century Fatimid Ismaili cosmologist-philosopher-poet, from his book "Knowledge and Liberation")

"Tarkib' is composition as in the compounding of elements in the process of making more complex things, that is, of adding together two things to form a synthesis, a compound. Soul composes in the sense of 'tarkib'; it is the animating force that combines the physical elements of the natural universe into beings that move and act. Incorporating is an especially apt word in this instance. It means to turn something into a body, as in 'composing'. But it is actually the conversion of an intellectual object, a thought, into a physical thing. Soul acts by incorporating reason into physical objects, the natural matter of the universe and all the things composed of it"(Abu Yakub Al-Sijistani,10th century Fatimid Ismaili cosmologist, d971CE, from the book, 'Abu Yakub Al-Sijistani: Intellectual Missionary', by Paul Walker)

"Every particle of the Creation has a share of the Command of God, because every creature shares a part of the Command of God through which it has come to be there and by virtue of which it remains in being and the light of the Command ofGod shines in it. Understand this!"(Abu Yakub Al Sijistani, 10th century Fatimid Ismaili cosmologist, d971, Kashf al-Mahjub("Unveiling of the Hidden"))

Imam Jafar As-Sadiq(the fifth Shia Nizari Ismaili Muslim Imam) was thought to be an anonymous member of the austere group of intellectuals known as the Ikhwan Al-Safa(Brethern of Purity):

"God – may He be Glorified and Exalted – created Intellect ('aql) first among the spiritual entities; He drew it forth from the right of His Throne, making it proceed from His own Light. Then he commanded it to retreat, and it retreated, to advance, and it advanced; then God proclaimed: 'I created you glorious, and I gave you pre-eminence over all my creatures.'"(Imam Jafar as-Sadiq, Circa 765CE)

"The beginning of all things, their origin, their force and their prosperity, is that intellect ('aql), without which one can profit from nothing. God created it to adorn His creatures, and as a light for them. It is through intellect ('aql) that the servants recognize God is their Creator and that they themselves are created beings …It is thanks to intellect ('aql) that they can distinguish what is beautiful from what is ugly, that they realize that darkness is in ignorance and that light is in Knowledge"( Imam Jafar as-Sadiq, (al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, Vol. 1, pp. 34), circa 765CE)

"The Intellect is the substance of (God's) unity and it is the one (al-wahid), both cause and caused, the act of origination (al-ibda) and the first originated being (al-mubda al-awwal); it is perfection and perfect, eternity and eternal, existence and that which exists all in a single substance"( Hamid al-Din al-Kirmani, 11th centuryFatimid Ismaili cosmologist (Kitab al-Riyad, pp. 221-222))

"My profession is to be forever journeying, to travel about the Universe so that I may know all its conditions."(Ibn Sina, aka Avicenna, 11th century Muslim Philosopher, Physician and Scientist, author of the Canon of Medicine, circa 1037CE)

“The physician considers [the bones] so that he may know a way of healing by setting them, but those with insight consider them so that through them they may draw conclusions about the majesty of Him who created and shaped [the bones]. What a difference between the two who consider!”(Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, Muslim Theologian-Philosopher-Mystic, d1111CE)

'Ismaili Philosophy' From The Internet Encyclopedia Of Philosophy, By Professor Azim Nanji; Quotes Of Aga Khans IV And Others

Dr Paul Walker: Abu Ya‘qub al-Sijistani: Intellectual Missionary; Publication of the Institute of Ismaili Studies

Abu Yakub al-Sijistani: Cosmologist, Theologian, Philosopher par excellence.

A Collection of Posts on Nasir Khusraw; Quotes of Aga Khan IV and Nasir Khusraw

Nasir Khusraw, another Fatimid Cosmologist-Philosopher-Poet of enormous intellect from the mid-Fatimid era

More about Hakim Pir Nasir Khusraw, by Ali Musofer, taken from the Pamir News Blog; including other excerpt and poem from my old blog

Nasir Khusraw's poetry reflecting Intellect and Soul in the Al Sijistani-Khusraw cosmological doctrine; link between science and religion in Islam

2 intellectual giants speak to each other accross a millenium on "time": can it be slowed, sped up, reversed, transcended?Ask Einstein and Khusraw

The Ikhwan Al-Safa(Brethern Of Purity), The Original Encyclopedists: Balancing Revelation And Reason; A Collection Of Posts; Quotes Of Aga Khan IV

A Collection Of Posts Describing The Philosophical, Theological, Doctrinal, Historical, Scientific And Esoteric Underpinnings Of My Blog.

Ismaili History by Dr. Farhad Daftary; An Encyclopaedia Article from the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, United Kingdom.

Easy Nash

In Shia Islam, intellect is a key component of faith. Intellect allows us to understand the creation of God: Aga Khan IV(2008)
The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The Holy Qu'ran's encouragement to study nature and the physical world around us gave the original impetus to scientific enquiry among Muslims: Aga Khan IV(1985)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)

Friday, November 7, 2008

427)Fall And Winter Reading For Those Who Are Interested: My Choice Of The Top 50 Posts On My 427-Post Blog.

1)Blogpost Four Hundred, Knowledge, Intellect, Creation, Science and Religion: Comprehensive Quotes of Aga Khan IV and Others; a never-ending post..

2)2 intellectual giants speak to each other accross a millenium on "time": can it be slowed, sped up, reversed, transcended?Ask Einstein and Khusraw

3)Allegories in Nature: "....a Cosmos full of signs and symbols that evoke the perfection of Allah's creation and mercy"; QuoteofAgaKhans.

4)No. 7: Ayats(Signs) in the Universe series. How are proteins made inside living cells and what does this have to do with religion?

5)The Death of Science in Islam/What have we forgotten in Islam?-COMBO DELIGHT

6)The Wonders of Blood: the Foundation of our Existence as Multi-Cellular Creatures; Quotes of Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan III and Abu Yakub Al-Sijistani.

7)The architect of universal good -Gulf News Interview with Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness Aga Khan IV, April 2008, United Arab Emirates.

8)Intellect and Faith in Shia Ismaili Islam as described on the Preamble to the AKDN website:Intellect and Faith

9)The uninterrupted thread of the search for knowledge of all types.

10)Abu Yakub al-Sijistani: Cosmologist, Theologian, Philosopher par excellence.

11)WATER, Life's Little Essential: Quotes of Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan III and Fatimid Shia Ismaili Muslim cosmologist-philosopher Abu Yakub Al-Sijistani

12)The Particle Zoo: The Building Blocks of All Matter; Quotes of Aga Khans IV and III and others.

13)One mega-post, encompassing five regular posts, on the pioneering 9th century Muslim scientist Ibn al-Haytham or Alhazen(965CE to 1039CE).

14)So how old is the Universe anyway, 6000 years or 14 billion(14,000,000,000) years old?; Quotes of Aga Khan IV.

15)Basics on the vast distances and sizes in Astronomy.

16)Islam and Astronomy: Vestiges of a fine legacy; Quotes of Aga Khan IV and Ibn Sina

17)Al-Nitak, Al-Nilam, Mintaka, Betelgeuse, Al-Deberan: Arabic-named stars in nearby constellations in space.

18)The Peter McKnight 4-part series should be read alongside my Blogpost Four Hundred to make them more relevant and meaningful for Muslims

19)A collection of speeches by Aga Khans IV and III, source of some of my doctrinal material on science, religion, creation, knowledge and intellect

20)Albert Einstein and Faith; Quote of Aga Khan III.

21)The Large Hadron Collider and the God Particle: Can Islam be in the middle of this exciting melding of Science and Religion?; Quotes of Aga Khans

22)Existential Wonderment: Huge star exploded 7.5 billion yrs ago, Earth was created 5 billion yrs ago: light from the star arrived here Mar 19 '08!!

23)"Knowledge Society", by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness Aga Khan IV

24)Pluralism and Ikhwan al-Safa: If society is to start from a premise that knowledge should be foundational, what form should that knowledge take?

25)Latest 2008 USA quotes and speech excerpts of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness Aga Khan IV, on the subjects of knowledge, learning and education.

26)Humans were nearly wiped out 70,000 years ago says Spencer Wells of the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project

27)Two back-to-back pictures on NASA Astronomy website reflect the tiniest living organisms(viruses) versus the largest galaxies of stars in space

28)No. 3, 'Ayats'(Signs) in the Universe series: The dynamic, roiling, rumbling surface of the earth.

29)No. 4, 'Ayats'(Signs) in the Universe series. Photosynthesis: Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth....

30)No. 2, 'Ayats'(Signs) in the Universe series: The miniscule universe inside a living cell.

31)No. 1, 'Ayats'(Signs) in the Universe series: A magnificent vista of nature as seen from a cottage deck

32)No. 5, 'Ayats'(Signs) in the Universe series: Speeding angels; the relativity of time; everywhere and nowhere all at the same time.

33)Excerpt: Aga Khan IV's interview with Spiegel newspaper, October 9th 2006.

34)Symmetry in nature; Symmetry as a product of the human mind.

35)Tiniest matter: The strange world of the Quantum; harbinger of the world of spirit?

36)The bending and scattering of light in the recent total lunar eclipse; Quote of Aga Khan IV.

37)Harmonious mathematical reasoning and the Universe in which we live, move and have our being; Quotes of Aga Khan IV.

38)20 things you need to know about Albert Einstein, the smartest scientist of the 20th century; Quotes of Aga Khan III.

39)Nima Arkani-Hamed, theoretical physicist, Iranian, American, Canadian: a junior Albert Einstein?

40)Sir Isaac Newton: Man of Science and Religion.

41)Abdus Salam: 1979 Nobel laureate in Physics.

42)"The learning of mathematics was therefore linked to the Muslim religion and developing an understanding of the world...."; Quotes of Aga Khan IV

43)Muslim Philosophy and the Sciences(IIS Review Article); Quotes of Aga Khan IV.

44)Matter and Energy: two sides of the same coin; how interpreting the light(energy) from the sun gives precise information about the matter in it.

45)Transcendence and Distinction: Metaphoric Process in Isma‘ili Muslim Thought, by Dr Azim Nanji, Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies.

46)Our Sun is a WILD place-doing all kinds of ablutions, looking like a Picasso painting, having a bad hair day, or just scintillating radiantly....

47)The Top Ten Hubble Space Telescope photographs of the past 16 years.

48)The Quran itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation(Aga Khan IV)

49)Four giants of 10th to 13th century Science in early Islam:Ibn Sina, Ibn al-Haytham, Ibn Butlan, Nasir al-Din Tusi; more quotes of Aga Khan IV.

50)Einstein=Genius squared: the man who taught us key insights about the Universal "Soul that sustains, embraces and is the Universe".

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)

426)New Series for my Blog: Week-In-Review; A Weekly Summary of News from the Much-Visited and Wildly Popular ISMAILI MAIL website.

My Blog on the link between Science and Religion in Islam deals in general with a narrowly focussed topic and I felt that a weekly post that gives us an up-to-date big picture of the world of Shia Ismaili Islam would balance things out. Fortunately the much-visited and wildly popular ISMAILI MAIL website publishes just such a weekly summary with internet links to all the articles they have posted for that week:

Week-in-Review — Nov 16, 2008

November 18, 2008
Posted by ismailimail in Newsletter. trackback

We are pleased to bring you news and stories of His Highness the Aga Khan’s upcoming Golden Jubilee visit to Canada. His Highness will be in Canada for a 10-day visit from November 18 to November 26, 2008 and returning on December 6 to officially open the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat located on Sussex Drive in Ottawa. The Aga Khan will visit Calgary on Nov 25, and Vancouver on Nov. 25 for a Golden Jubilee anniversary meeting with members of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. We have pictures of the Golden Jubilee banners on the streets of Vancouver and a video tour of Vancouver City showing Golden Jubilee flags and banners everywhere.

Thanks to one of the many readers/fans of Ismaili Mail blog who sent us the scanned article titled ‘Prince with a Purpose’ from the Globe and Mail editorial. The article was published in honour of His Highness the Aga Khan and his role in the world in the world- on Tuesday May 3, 1983, approx 1 week after the Silver Jubilee Darbar.

The Ismaili website has updates on His Highness the Aga Khan’s Visit to Central Asia, and pictures from the Kyrgyzstan visit. And we bring you pictures of our Jamat in Tajikistan awaiting the arrival of Hazar Imam, courtesy of Pamir Times.

We have a video about Aga Khan Foundation’s early childhood and primary education work in Kyrgyzstan. It was shot by BBC, as a contender for the annual “World Challenge” competition, a global competition aimed at finding projects or small businesses from around the world that have shown enterprise and innovation at a grass roots level. And we have another video, titled ‘First Steps - Confidence’ of AKF’s ECD work in East Africa, with the Madrasa Resource Centre. These Early Childhood Education Centres give a different view of the common misinterpretation of the word ‘Madrasa’.

Our Ismaili Muslims in the News this week features Naseem Jiwanjee, and other alumni of the Karimjee Secondary School, Tanga, who gathered in Toronto to raise funds for the Tanzanian school. 12-year-old Bilaal Rajan is a child ambassador for UNICEF, runs his own website - and is now an author of a book, ‘Making Change, Tips from an Underage Overachiever’. TED Prize winner Karen Armstrong’s wish to change the world led to the writing of the Charter for Compassion, an inspiring global endeavor to celebrate compassion and to promote a new collaboration between the world’s religions. Professor Ali Asani is in the Charter’s Council. Alykhan Velshi, former director of Parliamentary affairs to Mr. Baird has moved back to the office of the newly minted Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Hon. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, Alta.) as Director of Communications and Parliamentary affairs.

In this week’s Ismaili Muslim Authors, we have featured a review on Eboo Patel’s book ‘Ponderings on a Faith Journey: Acts of Faith. Mansoor Ladha, an author and journalist, is one of 36 other writers, novelists, poets, journalists and scholars invited to write about how they came to Canada in a book entitled, ‘The Story That Brought Me Here: To Alberta from Everywhere’. Liaquat Ahamed, author of ‘Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World’ talks about Lessons of the Great Depression.

We are pleased to introduce and highlight works of our Ismaili Muslim Artists under the Art and Culture category. This week we introduce you to Irfaan Manji and his on going production, ‘Bliss My Soul‘, a new generation for Ismaili music and Dr Zulficar Rahim who has written an inspiring poem for the Deedar. We have Drawings and Calligraphy by Jalal Gilani. There’s updated information and new drawings available at his blog. We have a Geet: Mitha Lage hai Naam by Imtiaz Fazalbhoy (Faiz).

From Central Asia, in Pakistan, the Karachi Press Club (KPC), a heritage building is undergoing a process of cleansing and “beautification” these days. The club is proud to have luminaries such as Prince Karim Aga Khan among the first members on this roll of honour. In Bangladesh, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture is holding a seminar on Monday to present the 2007 winning projects to the professional community and architectural students in Bangladesh,
In other news, Firoz Rasul, President of the Aga Khan University was one of the speakers at an event held to discuss the Wealth creation in the developing world: Is Africa a lost cause?
From Flickr, we have pictures of the AKF Partnership Walk 2008 in Houston and pictures of the Passu Village in Northern Pakistan. An Australian journalist talks about how Aziz Mehboob, a friendly official in the local Aga Khan development office, which promotes Wakhan tourism, assisted him to get permits to visit the Wakhan.

Al Azhar Park, created by Aga Khan Foundation, will host an outstanding exhibition from November 21st to 30th, lining up Cairo, Paris and Athens on the axis ‘Mediterranean Line’ and displaying artworks by several renoun Egyptian, French and Greek artists to illustrate common values that makes these three civilizations resemble one another.

One of the earliest event, which shaped the development of music in the Muslim world, was the introduction of scholars of the Islam to ancient Greek treatises,initiated during the ninth century under the Abbasid Caliph al-Ma’mun. An outcome of this exposure, music emerged as a speculative discipline and as one of “the mathematical sciences,” which paralleled the Quatrivium (arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy) in the Latin West.

We have various articles written by Dr Shafique Virani, Professor of Islamic Studies.
That is all from this week, hope you will be looking forward to more exciting and interesting news and stories next week. Click here for last week’s review. All previously archived weekly reviews are available here.

Earlier Week-In-Reviews from Ismaili Mail:

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)

Monday, November 3, 2008

425)The Peter McKnight 4-part series should be read alongside my Blogpost Four Hundred to make them more relevant and meaningful for Muslims

The preceding four posts of mine(Blogposts 421 to 424) consist of an outstanding 4-part series on Science and Religion written by Peter McKnight of the Vancouver Sun newspaper and each part is also available to listen to on video(video link at the bottom of each post):

For this 4-part series to be more relevant and meaningful to Muslims I recommend that you read my Blogpost Four Hundred first. It contains about a hundred quotes and excerpts on the subjects of Knowledge, Intellect, Creation, Science and Religion made by the Noble Quran, Prophet Muhammad, Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan III, Imam Ali, Imam Jafar As Sadiq, Abu Yakub Al Sijistani, Nasir Khusraw, Hamiduddin Al Kirmani, Albert Einstein, Aristotle and Azim Nanji:

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

424)Part 4, Peter McKnight: The tension between science and religion; Must they compete, or can they complete each other? Quotes of Aga Khan IV

"World and faith are inseparable in Islam. Faith and learning are also profoundly interconnected. The Holy Qur’an sees the discovery of knowledge as a spiritual responsibility, enabling us to better understand and more ably serve God’s creation.Our traditional teachings remind us of our individual obligation to seek knowledge unto the ends of the earth - and of our social obligation to honor and nurture the full potential of every human life...........The beauty of Creation is a function of its variety. A fully homogenized world would be far less attractive and interesting."(Aga Khan IV, May 2oth 2008, Dhaka, Bangladesh)

"The Qur’an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God’s creation"(Closing Address by His Highness Aga Khan IV at the "Musée-Musées" Round Table Louvre Museum, Paris, France, October 17th 2007)

"......The Quran tells us that signs of Allah’s Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation - in the heavens and the earth, the night and the day, the clouds and the seas, the winds and the waters...."(Aga Khan IV, Kampala, Uganda, August 22 2007)

" Islam, but particularly Shia Islam, the role of the intellect is part of faith. That intellect is what seperates man from the rest of the physical world in which he lives.....This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives. Of that I am certain"(Aga Khan IV, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, August 17th 2007)

"Of the Abrahamic faiths, Islam is probably the one that places the greatest emphasis on knowledge. The purpose is to understand God's creation, and therefore it is a faith which is eminently logical. Islam is a faith of reason"(Aga Khan IV, Spiegel Magazine interview, Germany, Oct 9th 2006)

"Our interpretation of Islam places enormous value on knowledge. Knowledge is the reflection of faith if it is used properly. Seek out that knowledge and use it properly"(Aga Khan IV, Toronto, Canada, 8th June 2005)

"A thousand years ago, my forefathers, the Fatimid imam-caliphs of Egypt, founded al-Azhar University and the Academy of Knowledge in Cairo. In the Islamic tradition, they viewed the discovery of knowledge as a way to understand, so as to serve better God's creation, to apply knowledge and reason to build society and shape human aspirations"(Aga Khan IV, Speech, 25th June 2004, Matola, Mozambique.)

"In this context, would it not also be relevant to consider how, above all, it has been the Qur'anic notion of the universe as an expression of Allah's will and creation that has inspired, in diverse Muslim communities, generations of artists, scientists and philosophers? Scientific pursuits, philosophic inquiry and artistic endeavour are all seen as the response of the faithful to the recurring call of the Qur'an to ponder the creation as a way to understand Allah's benevolent majesty. As Sura al-Baqara proclaims: 'Wherever you turn, there is the face of Allah'.The famous verse of 'light' in the Qur'an, the Ayat al-Nur, whose first line is rendered here in the mural behind me, inspires among Muslims a reflection on the sacred, the transcendent. It hints at a cosmos full of signs and symbols that evoke the perfection of Allah's creation and mercy"(Aga Khan IV,Speech, Institute of Ismaili Studies, October 2003, London, U.K.)

"The Quran very often refers to nature as a reflection of Allah's power of creation and says: Look at the mountains, look at the rivers, look at the trees, look at the flowers all as evidence of Allah's love for the people whom He has created. Today I look at this environment and I say that I beleive that Allah is smiling upon you, may His smile always be upon you"(Aga Khan IV, Khorog, Tajikistan, May 27th 1995)

"Education has been important to my family for a long time. My forefathers founded al-Azhar University in Cairo some 1000 years ago, at the time of the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt. Discovery of knowledge was seen by those founders as an embodiment of religious faith, and faith as reinforced by knowledge of workings of the Creator's physical world. The form of universities has changed over those 1000 years, but that reciprocity between faith and knowledge remains a source of strength"(Aga Khan IV, 27th May1994, Cambridge, Massachusets, U.S.A.)

"Science is a wonderful, powerful tool and research budgets are essential. But Science is only the beginning in the new age we are entering. Islam does not perceive the world as two seperate domains of mind and spirit, science and belief. Science and the search for knowledge are an expression of man's designated role in the universe, but they do not define that role totally....."(Aga Khan IV, McMaster University Convocation, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, May 15th 1987)

"The Divine Intellect, Aql-i Kull, both transcends and informs the human intellect. It is this Intellect which enables man to strive towards two aims dictated by the faith: that he should reflect upon the environment Allah has given him and that he should know himself. It is the Light of the Intellect which distinguishes the complete human being from the human animal, and developing that intellect requires free inquiry. The man of faith, who fails to pursue intellectual search is likely to have only a limited comprehension of Allah's creation. Indeed, it is man's intellect that enables him to expand his vision of that creation"(Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan University Convocation Speech, Karachi, Pakistan, November 11, 1985)

“Muslims believe in an all-encompassing unit of man and nature. To them there is no fundamental division between the spiritual and the material while the whole world, whether it be the earth, sea or air, or the living creatures that inhabit them, is an expression of God’s creation.”(Aga Khan IV, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, 13 April 1984)

"In Islamic belief, knowledge is two-fold. There is that revealed through the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) and that which man discovers by virtue of his own intellect. Nor do these two involve any contradiction, provided man remembers that his own mind is itself the creation of God. Without this humility, no balance is possible. With it, there are no barriers. Indeed, one strength of Islam has always lain in its belief that creation is not static but continuous, that through scientific and other endeavours, God has opened and continues to open new windows for us to see the marvels of His creation"(Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan University, 16 March 1983, Karachi, Pakistan)

"God has given us the miracle of life with all its attributes: the extraordinary manifestations of sunrise and sunset, of sickness and recovery, of birth and death, but surely if He has given us the means with which to remove ourselves from this world so as to go to other parts of the Universe, we can but accept as further manifestations the creation and destructions of stars, the birth and death of atomic particles, the flighting new sound and light waves. I am afraid that the torch of intellectual discovery, the attraction of the unknown, the desire for intellectual self-perfection have left us"(Aga Khan IV,Speech, 1963, Mindanao, Phillipines)

The above 15 quotes and excerpts are taken from Blogpost Four Hundred:

The following article is the fourth and final one in a series on Science and Religion by journalist Peter McKnight:

The tension between science and religion
Must they compete, or can they complete each other?

Peter McKnight
Vancouver Sun columnist
Thursday, October 30, 2008

Science and religion together can weave a rich tapestry of new meaning for our age.
- Philip Hefner

Let us end how we began. At the beginning of Part I, I noted Albert Einstein's famous quote "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." These words, which Einstein may or may not have believed, suggest that science and religion enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship.

And as we saw in Part I, there did exist a complementary relationship between science and religion throughout much of the history of Islam and Christianity. But as we discovered in Parts II and III, science and religion now appear locked in a battle to death.

So where does this leave us? Must science and religion compete with each other, or can they complete each other?

If one believes that Genesis 1 provides a literal account of the natural history of the universe, then the answer is clear: Science must always be at odds with religion, because the results science produces conflict with the Genesis account of creation.

But as we have seen, this practice of reading Genesis 1 literally is a cultural and temporal anomaly. While creationism and the Christian fundamentalism that spawned it currently enjoy considerable influence, they are artifacts of 20th-century America, responses to what adherents believe is the threat of modernity.

On the other side of things, those who subscribe to metaphysical materialism, to the belief that physical reality is the only reality, also view science and religion as necessarily in conflict since a materialist metaphysics denies the existence of anything non-physical.

But as we have also seen, science, while requiring that scientists limit themselves to material causes in explaining the world, does not suggest that material causes are the only causes that exist. Indeed, since science limits itself, a priori, to consideration of natural causes, it must remain silent about the existence or non-existence of a reality outside nature.

Two separate worlds

The conflict thesis is therefore sustainable only if one views religion as capable of making existential claims about the physical world, and science as capable of making existential claims about the spiritual world. If, on the other hand, one maintains that science and religion are concerned with two separate worlds, one can eliminate the conflict in short order.

This is precisely what the late Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould sought to do with his theory of science and religion as two "non-overlapping magisteria" (NOMA). In Rock of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life, Gould argues that, "the magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap . . . ."

And since there is no overlap, there can be no conflict. Needless to say, this theory has proven highly attractive to people, from both scientific and religious communities, who seek peaceful coexistence.

So the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, in its 1999 publication Science and Creationism, states that "Scientists, like many others, are touched with awe at the order and complexity of nature. Indeed, many scientists are deeply religious. But science and religion occupy two separate realms of human experience. Demanding that they be combined detracts from the glory of each."

Similarly Gould's NOMA theory seems in keeping with the "two books hypothesis" of Christianity - the idea, which we saw in Part I, that God created two books, the Book of Scriptures and the Book of Nature. And as the old nugget has it, the first tells us how to go to heaven, and the second, how the heavens go.

This theory is also attractive because Gould has identified a deep truth here: Despite some scientists' misuse of evolution to support their favourite social, political and moral programs, science remains a descriptive discipline - one that describes how things are - while religion is often prescriptive, as it tells us how things ought to be.

Yet there is also much wrong with this theory. First, it simply doesn't provide an accurate picture of the historical relationship between science and religion. While we have seen that there has long been considerable interplay between these two magisteria, Gould would have it that there is no overlap, that they are or should be safely enveloped in their own protective cocoons.

Further, whether Gould likes it or not, religions do make many existential (descriptive) claims, not the least of which is that God exists. One can argue that religions shouldn't make such claims, but they do, and we have to take religions as we find them, not as we wish them to be.

That religions make factual claims should be obvious, but which claims count as factual is another matter. As we saw, Gould describes factual claims as those that concern "what the universe is made of," in contradistinction to claims concerning "ultimate meaning and moral value." Hence for Gould, there is a sharp separation between facts and values, which dictates the separation between science and religion.

On this reading, factual matters are clearly objective - they pick out something real in the world - while values are subjective - they concern how people feel about something. This view of a sharp fact/value dichotomy, one of the last vestiges of logical positivism, is a view that is still held by many people.

Yet consider what it means. If value statements are not in any way factual, but are merely statements about how people feel, then ethics is necessarily subjective, relative to the person making the statement. Hence the statement "wanton cruelty is wrong" is really just an expression of one's feelings toward the matter. And if someone else feels differently - that wanton cruelty is A-OK - there is simply no way to adjudicate between these two views. At its extreme, this means that we have no grounds for decrying Naziism, other than because we don't like it.

This is the moral relativism that many Christians (and others) rightly fear, and that fundamentalist Christians wrongly believe is a natural consequence of science. (It isn't - it's a natural consequence of logical positivism and of a metaphysics that doesn't allow for the existence of non-material phenomena.)

If we instead accept that descriptions of the physical world are not complete descriptions of reality - that there is more to reality than matter - then we can accept that at least some ethical statements describe the real world, if not the physical one. So when we say wanton cruelty is wrong, we are saying something true about the world - we are making a factual statement - rather than just relating how we feel.

If this is the case, then ethics can provide factual statements, descriptions of the non-physical aspect of the real world, just as science describes the physical aspect of reality. And given religion's preoccupation with values, meaning and purpose, religious descriptions - descriptions that concern the meanings and purposes of our lives and how we should live them - should complement scientific descriptions.

Yet some scientists still eschew religious or ethical descriptions of the world because they're not amenable to scientific investigation. For example, as Ken Miller recounts, biologist Douglas Futuyama tells us that the message of evolution is that the human species "has no purpose." But of course there is no meaning of life according to science, because the meaning of life is not a scientific concept - science doesn't deal with that aspect of reality.

Indeed, for Futuyama, evolutionary biology tells us, not that humans have no purpose, but rather that biology is not the right place to look for purpose. Instead, when searching for meaning, which is something everyone does, we must turn elsewhere - not necessarily toward religion since, contrary to what many religious people proclaim, ethics isn't necessarily dependent on belief in God - but certainly away from science, to disciplines that concern themselves with non-material matters.

And religion, given its centuries-long concern with meaning and morals, is certainly a good place to start, if not the only place. The fact is, religion, and its cognate disciplines, such as normative ethics, add colour to the world - quite literally in fact, since colour as we perceive it doesn't exist in the world of science.

Religion and ethics might not be very good at investigating the physical world, but they do concern themselves with the real world, and they enrich that world immeasurably by giving us purpose, by describing, and prescribing, the human condition.

So much suffering

There is also a sense in which science can enrich our understanding of religion. As Georgetown University theologian John Haught has argued, science can actually help people of faith to understand the single most difficult theological problem: The problem of evil, of how an all-powerful, all-loving God could create a world with so much suffering.

This problem, which has vexed people of faith throughout history, and has led more than a few to lose their faith, was first explicitly described by the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus around 300 BC.

Epicurus states the problem in somewhat syllogistic form: "If God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able to, then He is not omnipotent. If He is able, but not willing, then He is malevolent. If He is both able and willing then whence cometh evil? If He is neither able nor willing then why call Him God?"

Most discussions of the problem of evil begin with St. Augustine, who outlined two specific types of evil: Moral evil - that caused by humans, such as war, terrorism and murder - and natural evil - the pain of natural processes, such as disease and natural disasters. And it is the task of the discipline known as theodicy - a word coined by the great 17th century mathematician/philosopher Gott-fried Wilhelm Leibniz - to explain the existence of both of these types of evil.

The traditional argument for moral evil is known as the "free will" defence. In effect, the argument suggests that since humans have free will - we are condemned to be free, remember - some will likely behave in ways that cause other people to suffer. An all powerful God could prevent this by ensuring that human beings only engaged in virtuous behaviour, but in so doing, God would be eliminating free will, making us little more than robots.

The defence of natural evil is much more difficult. Some people, including Augustine, argue that natural evil is the consequence of sinful behaviour, as God visits calamities upon the world to repay humans for their disobedience. This is something we hear frequently from fundamentalist Christians today, with some claiming that God sent Hurricane Katrina to destroy a wicked city (New Orleans) and that HIV-AIDS is the divine penalty for living in an unnatural and immoral way.

This argument runs into serious trouble, though, when one considers that the victims of natural evil often seem all but blameless. Children suffer immeasurably as a result of hurricanes and earthquakes, and there is always the spectre of babies born with genetic defects that cause them to suffer and die. This seems an almost insurmountable problem for believers in an all-powerful, all-loving God, and perhaps it is insurmountable.

But perhaps modern science, and in particular, the theory of evolution, can provide an answer. To begin with, we know that natural selection is an enormously cruel process in that those organisms unfortunate enough to possess maladaptive mutations will suffer and die.

Hence if one accepts this evolutionary framework, one can readily see that it is not God who is responsible for the suffering associated with evolution (and we can use evolution in the broad sense here to include, not just natural selection, but the evolution of the universe.)

But this seems a dodge: After all, if God is all-powerful, then He must be responsible for putting into place this process known as evolution, and so we must ask why an all-loving being would sanction such a cruel process of development.

And here we arrive at a parallel with the defence of moral evil: By putting into place evolution, God gave His creation freedom to become itself. Of course God could have created everything in its present form, but that would mean denying creation the opportunity to become itself. Or as French Jesuit theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin put it: "God does not make things: He makes things make themselves."

And when you think about it, this is exactly what we would expect an all-loving God to do. After all, if we really love someone, we give them freedom even if we know that they will use that freedom in ways that will cause them suffering. Or, as Haught puts it, "It is in the nature of self-giving love to refrain from the coercive manipulation of others."

Freedom of life

Of course, by engaging in coercive manipulation, God could prevent suffering, including the suffering of babies with genetic deficiencies. But to do so, God would have to eliminate natural selection, and hence the freedom of life.

Modern biology therefore does provide something of a defence to the problem of natural evil. It is not a perfect defence - "all theodicies inevitably fail," Haught admits - since it remains difficult to accept that innocent infants should be subject to such suffering. But it is certainly a more convincing defence than that offered by traditional, scientifically uninformed theodicies.

Consequently, modern science does help us to understand an intensely difficult theological problem, much as religion helps us to understand the world that science presents to us. And this reveals that science and religion need not be in conflict, locked in a desperate battle to the death.

More than that, it also reveals that science and religion need not be kept separated in their own protective cocoons to prevent the possibility of conflict. On the contrary, by cocooning these two magisteria, we risk seeing only half the world, living only half a life, a life without meaning or purpose.

In contrast, a philosophy that embraces both science and religion is one that experiences life in its fullness, in all its colours, like a chrysalis emerging from its cocoon, dressed in the sartorial splendour of the butterfly.

Video of Part 4:

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)

423)Part 3, Peter McKnight: Hitting a brick wall; Scientists forsake science when they use Darwin for ideological ends

The following article is the third in a series of four articles on Science and Religion by journalist Peter McKnight:

Hitting a brick wall
Scientists forsake science when they use Darwin for ideological ends

Peter McKnight
Vancouver Sun columnist
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason andscience as our guidelines.- Bertrand Russell

In the Creation-Evolution Struggle, historian and philosopher of biology Michael Ruse writes, "in both evolution and creation, we have rival religious responses to a crisis of faith - rival judgments about the meaning of life [and] rival sets of moral dictates . . . ."

This is a startling statement, for several reasons. First, while we often hear creationists equate Darwinism with religion, Ruse, an agnostic, has spent much of his career defending evolutionary theory against creationist attacks.

Second, as we discussed in Part II, science is a method for understanding, explaining and controlling the natural world. Nowhere does this method provide us with the basis for making moral judgments or discerning the meaning of life. In other words, science is a descriptive, rather than prescriptive, enterprise - it concerns itself with what is the case, not what ought to be the case, or how we ought to behave.

For example, the science of evolutionary biology describes the world by telling us that all living things are descended with modification from a common ancestor, and that this produces a branching tree-like pattern of life. This tells us nothing about how to live or about the meaning of life.

Those matters are the province of religion and ethics, which are at least partly prescriptive disciplines. Yet if evolution does concern itself with these matters, then it would seem that it is a religion, just as Ruse and the creationists have charged.

To see how Ruse makes his case, let us consider his presentation of the history of evolution from before publication of On the Origin of Species to the present day.

Evolutionary thinking was quite common prior to the Origin, although evolutionary theories tended to be pseudoscientific rather than scientific, replete with ethical prescriptions about how individuals and societies should conduct themselves. In particular, pre-Darwinian theorists, including Charles's grandfather Erasmus Darwin, having been influenced by the Industrial Revolution in Britain, promoted evolutionary ideas in order to support a theory of progress. "Progress was the backbone of it all," Ruse writes.

Now we should note here that progress is an irreducibly ethical concept, in contrast to change. Change - the transformation of something from one state to another - says nothing about whether the transformation is positive or negative, while progress refers to change that one considers positive. And change is only positive if it accords with one's values.

So while the scientific theory of evolution speaks of how organisms change, it says nothing at all about progress. Yet in promoting evolution as a theory of progress, pre-Darwinian theorists were promulgating an ethical, rather than a scientific theory.

Darwin set out to change all that, to supply scientific evidence for a theory of evolution uninfected with ethical prescriptions. And in that, he was highly successful, as he provided abundant evidence for the reality of evolution.

But he was less successful in establishing evolutionary biology as a "professional" science - while the 19th century saw the development of professional science in Britain, where the sciences became well-funded and people could, for the first time, choose science as a career, evolutionary biology remained an orphan as universities failed to see why they should fund research in the subject.

As with most orphans, evolutionary biology eventually found a home. The X Club, a small group of scientists led by biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, took it upon itself to fill the gap left by universities, and began to promote and popularize Darwin's theory in the late 19th century.

But Huxley wasn't merely a scientist. Widely known as "Darwin's bulldog," Huxley was a committed social reformer, convinced that Britain must continue to progress from a rural culture to an urban, industrialized society.

Naturally, certain groups, such as landowners and military brass, opposed Huxley's notion of progress. And since the Church of England was the strongest supporter of such groups, Huxley knew that he would have to develop a new religion to challenge the authority of the Anglican Church.

As it happened, evolution, used ideologically as a theory of progress, proved to be the perfect vehicle to challenge the church. Indeed, if one reads progress into evolution, one can say that the goal of this multibillion-year-old process was the development of human beings, which puts humans at the centre of the universe, something that the Christian churches had always maintained.

Huxley therefore sought to use a scientific theory for political ends, and for this he turned to Oxford philosopher Herbert Spencer. The only non-scientist member of the X Club and the man who coined the phrase "survival of the fittest," Spencer used evolution to undergird his laissez-faire socioeconomic philosophy.

Evolution as social theory

Specifically, just as competition in nature leads to progress (the Huxley/Spencer idea of progress), Spencer thought it important to create similar conditions in society. He therefore argued in favour of social competition in the hope that it would lead to social progress.

Interestingly, Spencer wasn't the only social theorist who used evolution to buttress his world view. Karl Marx, whose politics couldn't have been more different from Spencer's, but who thought of his theory as "scientific socialism," was also a great admirer of Darwin, and thought that Darwinism supported his theory.

This just goes to show that you can fit evolution into just about any world view you want. But it's important to recognize that these theorists were using evolution to justify their social, political and moral programs rather than engaging in what Ruse calls the "straight science" of evolution.

And into the 20th century, after the demise of the X Club, theorists continued to use the science of evolution ideologically. While many scientists argued against Nazi eugenics in the 1930s, many others did support some form of eugenics - which literally means "good origin" - as a result of their belief in progress.

One of those scientists was R.A. Fisher, the great statistician whose work, along with that of geneticists J.B.S. Haldane and Sewell Wright, provided the foundation for the science of population genetics.

This work proved incalculably important as it led, some three-quarters of a century after publication of the Origin, to the development of a professional science of evolutionary biology in the 1930s and '40s. Yet scientists continued to use evolution to promote their pet political and social theories, and even managed to mix their work in the straight science of evolution with their ideological theories about how human beings and societies ought to behave.

So Julian Huxley, who as his name suggests was the grandson of Thomas Henry, promoted his own secular religion of "evolutionary humanism," while Cold War American scientists used evolution to argue for the supremacy of the American way of life.

Ruse's history confirms that science has been used to advance whatever political, social and moral ideas were in fashion at the time. And since metaphysical materialism - the theory that matter is all there is - and the atheism that follows from it are all the rage today, it should come as no surprise that the science of evolution is now being called on to justify materialist world views and destroy religion.

This brings us to the scientist who has launched the most thorough assault on religion: Harvard entomologist Edward O. Wilson, the founder of sociobiology.

Wilson, who was raised a Southern Baptist in Alabama, has been most diplomatic in his public statements about religion, and has sought to establish an alliance between scientific and religious leaders. But in his written works, especially his On Human Nature, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979, one finds a very different attitude.

Towards the end of On Human Nature, Wilson declares that scientific materialism "presents the human mind with an alternative mythology that until now has always, point for point in zones of conflict, defeated traditional religion." Wilson's use of the term "mythology" to describe materialism is telling, and it's clear from the quote that Wilson wishes to replace traditional religion with a religion of materialism.

The most straightforward way to do so is to show that religious belief is a material phenomenon, a product of our genes. Extending his sociobiological speculations from the insects to humans, Wilson argues that religious belief confers a survival advantage upon those who possess it, since people who hold such beliefs are likely to band together and defend each other (there is abundant evidence of this in the world today.)

Consequently, Wilson argues that nature is likely to select for those genes that produce in their possessors religious belief, and he concludes: "If this interpretation is correct, the final decisive edge enjoyed by scientific naturalism will come from a capacity to explain traditional religion, its chief competitor, as a wholly material phenomenon. Theology is not likely to survive as an independent intellectual discipline."

Given Wilson's last words here, it's interesting to note that Richard Dawkins has described theology as a "non-subject" (though he told me that theologians have a lot to contribute - just not when they're talking about God.) In any case, while there is probably some truth to Wilson's argument, it doesn't prove that religion is a wholly material phenomenon.

In a clever rejoinder, Roman Catholic Brown University biologist Ken Miller argues that the same analysis could apply to Wilson's skepticism. After all, genes that lead one to be skeptical also confer a survival advantage, since animals that are not skeptical in nature are likely to get eaten by a predator. This effectively explains away skepticism, and hence atheism, just as it explains away religious belief.

I'm not sure that Wilson would be particularly bothered by this rejoinder, given his materialist world view. But that's precisely the problem: Wilson's arguments don't prove metaphysical materialism; on the contrary, they depend on an a priori commitment to it. After all, since science is guided by methodological materialism - the rule that says scientists can't invoke supernatural causes in explaining the world - scientists can't then turn around and say science proves such causes don't exist.

Indeed, even if belief in the supernatural can be explained by evolutionary biology, this doesn't mean that the supernatural doesn't exist. Virtually all beliefs can be explained by evolutionary biology, at least in Wilson's view, but that doesn't necessarily render the objects of those beliefs illusory.

Scientific verification limiting

Wilson's commitment to metaphysical materialism is further in evidence in his book Consilience: The Unity of All Knowledge, in which he declares that all knowledge can be transformed into scientific knowledge. But this is only true if the only things that exist are things science can investigate - that is, material things.

There is more than a whiff here of logical positivism, the stridently "scientistic" philosophy promulgated in the early 20th century by the Vienna Circle (der Wiener Kries), a remarkable group of physicists, philosophers and mathematicians.

Under the spell of Anglo-Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's first masterpiece, the Tractatus-Logico Philosophicus, the Vienna Circle argued that the only propositions with "cognitive" meaning - the only ones that concern knowledge - are those that can, in principle, be scientifically verified (the verification principle of meaning.)

Hence all theological, metaphysical and ethical propositions are meaningless because there is no way to verify them. This effectively does away with metaphysics, theology and ethics as forms of knowledge, and makes science the only way to truth.

Although logical positivism dominated the philosophy of science in the early and mid 20th century, it ultimately failed because the core idea of the movement, the verification principle, is itself not scientifically verifiable, which means that it, much like talk of God, must be meaningless.

Even before the Vienna Circle got rolling, Wittgenstein was clever enough to see this, writing at the end of the Tractatus that anyone who understands him will recognize his propositions as nonsensical. But the positivists went with the verification principle anyway, and they did enjoy a good run.

And now we hear many scientists echo the thoughts of the positivists. In Consilience, for example, Wilson asserts his support for positivism and claims it failed only because people didn't know how the brain works. Yet positivism failed because it was self-refuting, and no amount of neuroscience will change that.

In contrast to the thoroughgoing positivism of Wilson, Richard Dawkins is a veritable moderate. Indeed, when I met with him earlier this year, he was quick to acknowledge that there are other ways of knowing aside from science - specifically, while saying that "science tells us nothing about ethics," he noted that there are ethical ways of knowing.

Furthermore, in contrast to the X Club, Dawkins has always dismissed attempts to draw ethical prescriptions from the theory of evolution, and he has written more than once that he is a "passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to politics and how we should conduct our human affairs."

Given these comments, one would assume that Dawkins eschews metaphysical materialism. And he certainly seems to at certain points: For example, in the last chapter of The God Delusion he grapples with evidence from modern physics, and quotes artificial intelligence expert Steve Grand, who says "Matter flows from place to place and momentarily comes together to be you. Whatever you are, therefore, you are not the stuff of which you are made."

This seems an anti-materialist statement, and Dawkins quotes it without argument. Yet when I asked him about the notion that the supernatural, if it exists, lies outside nature and is therefore not amenable to scientific investigation, he labelled such thinking "a semantic trick." So it's not entirely clear where he stands.

What is clear is his opinion of religion. Religion is a virus of the mind, "comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate," he informs us, and the religious instruction of children amounts to mental child abuse.

It is these comments, together with Dawkins' compelling writing, that have propelled him to superstardom. But since Dawkins is a scientist, these comments have also led many religious people to view science, and in particular, evolutionary biology, as the enemy.

Similarly, scientists who embrace metaphysical materialism send the message that science precludes belief in God. And scientists who draw ethical prescriptions from science have provided fodder for those who argue that evolution is a religion.

Indeed, as we saw in Part II, creationists' primary objection to evolution concerns what they believe to be the consequences of the theory. And if those consequences are that matter is all that exists and hence there is no God, and that religion is not merely illusory but an enormous source of evil, and that we must therefore follow an alternative mythology with an alternative ethical program, then it is little wonder religious people are motivated to reject the theory.

But of course those are not the consequences of evolutionary biology or any scientific theory. They are, rather, the result of a specific metaphysical theory, and various moral theories. And these theories simply don't follow from a theory that describes how life changes over time.
But people wish to know more than that - specifically, they want to know what life means and how they ought to behave. And it is to religion and ethics that they, and we, must turn, to see how religion can complement the work of science.

Video of Part 3:

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)

422)Part 2, Peter McKnight: Religion in Disguise; Intelligent design stumbles by revealing itself as religious theory.

The following article is the second in a series of four articles on Science and Religion by journalist Peter McKnight:

Religion in disguise
Intelligent design stumbles by revealing itself as religious theory

Peter McKnight
Vancouver Sun columnist
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The religion that is afraid of science dishonors God and commits suicide.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Given the often amicable relationship between science and religion throughout the history of Islam and Christianity, the current hostilities, centred around creationism and evolution, seem something of a historical anomaly. And many commentators suggest that they are also a geographical anomaly, in that the promotion of creationism and intelligent design is restricted to Islamic countries and the United States.

But the latter suggestion is not quite true. While creationism and ID enjoy more "official" support in Islamic countries than anywhere else, and while the U.S. has been the epicentre of the creationism-evolution wars, battles have also been fought in many European countries, Australia and Canada.

Witness the 2007 Ontario provincial election, when Progressive Conservative candidate John Tory, in an effort to bring parochial schools within the purview of public education, echoed the American sentiment that evolution is just a theory, and hence advised that schools should teach "that there are other theories that people have out there that are part of some Christian beliefs."
Or witness the 2006 controversy in Quebec, after the Ministry of Education, knowing some independent schools were teaching creationism, ordered the schools to teach the theory of evolution or close their doors.

Suffice it to say, then, that the creationist movement has been highly successful in its efforts to influence education in Canada. And this is all the more astonishing given that the creationist movement was itself created only about a century ago.

Many people believe that young Earth creationism - the dominant form of creationism, which maintains that God created the world, in roughly its present form, in six literal days some 6,000 years ago - was widely accepted until the advent of modern science. Yet the young Earth creationist movement is of a much more recent vintage.

Most early Christian theologians accepted that parts of the Bible, including the creation story in Genesis I, were meant to be read allegorically, rather than literally. For example, in the fifth century, St. Augustine argued against a literal six-day creation in The Literal Meaning of Genesis. Augustine also displayed a wonderfully scientific mindset, remarking that we should be willing to change our minds in light of new information, and should be wary of reflexively interpreting the Bible literally, for it could discredit the faith.

Nevertheless, the Protestant Reformation, beginning in 1517, began to emphasize Biblical literalism. The core belief of young Earth creationism was established in 1650, when Anglican Archbishop James Ussher recorded Biblical genealogies and concluded that the world was created in 4004 BC, a date accepted by many fundamentalist Christians today.

However, the increasing development of geology in the 19th century cast doubt on Ussher's chronology, and by the mid-19th century, few evangelical Christians accepted a young Earth.
That began to change in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the rise of Christian fundamentalism. For 20 years between 1878 and 1897, American Presbyterians held an annual Niagara Bible Conference, and in 1910, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church presented the "five fundamentals," one of which was Biblical inerrancy.

While not all "fundamentalist" Christians at the time accepted a young Earth, many Christians grew concerned about the impact of teaching the theory of evolution, which was blamed for, among other things, atrocities committed during the First - and later, the Second - World War. Consequently, Christians successfully lobbied for statutes prohibiting the teaching of evolution, such as Tennessee's Butler Act, which was the focus of the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925.

It's important to note that, at this time, most opponents of evolution didn't even pretend that their objections were based in science. Rather, their concerns were explicitly moral and religious in nature, as they were concerned that science, and particularly the theory of evolution, led to the loss of Biblically-based morality. And this remains the primary concern of Christian creationists today.

One of the few people who attempted to provide a scientific basis for young Earth creationism in the early 20th century was George McCready-Price, a New Brunswick-born member of the Seventh Day Adventist church. Despite minimal scientific training, McCready-Price wrote a series of books in the early 20th century in which he argued that all fossils were produced by the Great Flood ("flood geology").

McCready-Price's work was savagely attacked by geologists at the time, and while his arguments were used in the Scopes Trial, they didn't become influential among creationists at the time.

New texts taught evolution

But fearing that it was losing the space race to the Soviets in the late 1950s, the American government began developing new science textbooks that emphasized, among other things, the theory of evolution. That led to an equal and opposite reaction from creationists, and in 1961, hydraulic engineer Henry Morris and theologian John Whitcomb published The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications, which revived McCready-Price's already discredited work.

Morris is often considered the father of creation science, which reveals just how young the movement is. And although, unlike McCready-Price, Morris was scientifically educated, he was similarly attacked for his lack of knowledge of geology, as well as for misquoting sources.
The attempt to provide a scientific basis for a Biblical belief already discredited by science placed Morris and other creationists directly in conflict with most of modern science - not merely with evolutionary biology, but with cosmology, geology, paleontology and so forth. Consequently, instead of marshalling evidence for a young Earth, creationists spent - and continue to spend - most of their time attacking the sciences.

Hence geochronological methods used to date rocks, fossils and sediments must be fundamentally flawed because they suggest the Earth is much older than 6,000 years. Similarly, cosmologists must be mistaken in maintaining that we see light coming from stars and galaxies millions and billions of light-years away.

Further, following Morris's and McCready-Price's discussions of fossils, many creationists suggest that any gaps in the fossil record, and any gaps in our knowledge, reveal not just the incompleteness of the theory of theory of evolution, but also open the door to discussion of divine action. For if we lack evidence as to how a given species originated, then we can always assume that the hand of God was at work in bringing that species into being.

This "God in the gaps" theorizing is, however, extremely dangerous for believers, since new discoveries frequently fill in the gaps in our knowledge, and thereby leave less and less for God to do.

Interestingly, it is this very theorizing that led Richard Dawkins to declare that "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist," since, according to Dawkins, Darwin finally provided a non-theistic explanation for complex biological design - that is, Darwin filled a gap in our knowledge which rendered appeals to God superfluous. Suffice it to say then, that as science progresses, God in the gaps theories, far from proving the existence of the divine, may squeeze God out of the picture.

Nevertheless, creationists continue to attack the perceived weakness of the theory of evolution by emphasizing that evolution is a theory, not a fact. And if this is so, we ought to give equal time in science classes to alternative theories of origins, including creationism. Creationists don't follow this reasoning through, however, since they rarely advocate for inclusion of the creation stories of other religions.

Further, when creationists attempt to discredit evolution by saying it's "just a theory," they reveal their ignorance of what we mean by a scientific theory. While, colloquially, we might use the term "theory" to describe something that is less than certain - less than a fact - in science, a theory is "bigger" than fact: It is a framework of ideas that allows us to interpret and explain the facts and to make predictions that we can test. To say evolution is a theory is not to reduce its stature, whatever creationists might think.

Despite these problems, creation science remains popular. But it died, in name at least, in 1987, after the United States Supreme Court issued its judgment in Edwards v. Aguillard.

At issue was a Louisiana law that required that creation science be taught alongside evolution - the result of creationists successfully lobbying for equal time. The court, however, declared the law unconstitutional, thereby forbidding the teaching of creation science.

But creationism lives on, as proponents merely changed the name of the theory, from creation science to intelligent design. Indeed, after the court's judgment, the words "creation science" were literally replaced with "intelligent design" in the creationist textbook, Of Pandas and People.

ID theory deeply problematic

To be sure, ID has taken on a life of its own since Edwards v. Aguillard. In contrast to young Earth creationists, ID theorists make no claim about the age of the Earth. Instead, they suggest that the supposed design in nature reveals the existence of a designer, much as the discovery of a watch suggests the existence of a watchmaker.

This is not a new argument - it is a form of what is known as the "teleological argument for the existence of God" or "the argument from design," which has existed for millennia, received much attention among the medieval Scholastic philosophers, and was popularized in Christian apologist William Paley's 1802 work, Natural Theology (a book that influenced a young Charles Darwin.)
Yet the theory is deeply problematic. Although ID theorists believe that the designer is the personal God of Christianity, they resist saying so officially for fear that their theory will appear religious. So they admit that the designer could be an advanced alien race. This means that ID doesn't necessarily get us to God.

Design theory also doesn't get us to science: A scientific theory must yield testable hypotheses, and to do so, it must possess predictive power. Yet since we don't know what the designer is or how it operates, there is no way of predicting what it will do next. We therefore have no hypotheses to test - no way of knowing whether the evidence supports or refutes the theory - and hence nothing for scientists to do. This explains why ID has produced no research program and published no empirical studies in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Despite these problems - or perhaps because of them - ID theorists, much like their creationist forebears, have focused on attacking modern science. The attack began in 1991, when University of California, Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson published Darwin on Trial, which became the template of the ID movement.

Then in 1996, the Seattle-based Discovery Institute opened its Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (now the Center for Science and Culture) with the express purpose of promoting ID. The centre has proven highly successful in this regard, convincing many politicians to consider laws favouring at least the mention of ID in biology classes.

Although the institute claims that ID is not at odds with science, an institute paper known as the Wedge document makes the anti-scientific nature of the movement explicit. According to the document, the two governing goals of ID are: "To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies," and "To replace materialistic explanations with a theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God."

This document therefore makes two things clear: First, similar to young Earth creationists, the ID theorists primary concern is with what they believe to be the ethical consequences of modern science, or what they call "scientific materialism." And second, for the foregoing reason, they desire to overthrow modern science, or scientific materialism.

At issue here is a normative rule of science called methodological materialism (or methodological naturalism), which states that when explaining the world, scientists must limit themselves to natural causes - to matter, energy and the interaction of matter of energy. Consequently, scientists must avoid recourse to supernatural causes, such as God, karma and so on.

This resistance to relying on supernatural causes dates all the way back to the earliest pre-Socratic philosophers and for good reason. First, since science concerns itself with the study of the natural world - and leaves the supernatural to theology - it stands to reason that it would avoid positing supernatural causation.

But more important, we know that methodological naturalism works: By eschewing reliance on supernatural causes, science has been tremendously successful at explaining - and controlling - the natural world. If we were to permit consideration of the supernatural, this success would likely come to a crashing halt because once we posit a supernatural cause for some phenomenon, we have our answer, and there is no reason to seek further explanation.

Now that said, methodological materialism is, as the name suggests, a methodological rule, not a metaphysical theory. By following the rule, scientists are not saying that nothing supernatural exists - indeed, there are many scientists who do believe in the supernatural but who recognize that they must avoid relying on it when doing science. On the other hand, metaphysical materialism, as a theory of reality rather than a scientific rule, suggests that natural causes are all that exist. And while there are some scientists who subscribe to this theory, commitment to methodological materialism does not in any way commit one to metaphysical materialism.

Nevertheless, some other ID theorists suggest that methodological materialism leads quite naturally to metaphysical materialism. And since metaphysical materialism leaves no room for God, both forms of materialism must be overthrown.

Thus, in its desire to overthrow methodological materialism - to overthrow scientific method - ID reveals itself as a religious theory, fundamentally in conflict with science.

Despite this, ID did score some victories, most notably in Dover, Penn., when in 2004 the Dover school board approved the mention of ID in high school biology classes. That victory was short-lived however, as the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, after an extensive discussion of methodological materialism, declared in 2005 that ID is a religious theory and hence laws promoting its inclusion in the curriculum are unconstitutional.

But creationism will no doubt be back in some form. And while the movement regroups, it's worth considering whether there is any legitimacy to creationists' primary concern with modern science, and in particular, with the theory of evolution: That it leads, or has led, to a materialist metaphysics and to destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.

Video of Part 2:

Easy Nash

The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)