Science ends here

Nadeem F. Paracha in Dawn:

Ever since the late French physician, Maurice Bucaille — on a hefty payroll of the Saudi royal family in Riyadh — wrote Islam, Bible & Science (1976), many believe that ‘proving’ scientific truths from holy books has been the exclusive domain of Muslims. However, in spite of being impressed by the holy book’s ‘scientific wonders’, Bucaille remained a committed Christian.

Very few of my wide-eyed brethren know that long before Muslims, certain Hindu and Christian theologians had already laid claim to the practice of defining their respective holy books as metaphoric prophecies of scientifically proven phenomenon. They began doing so between the 18th and 19th centuries, whereas Muslims got into the act only in the 20th century.

Johannes Heinrich’s Scientific vindication of Christianity (1887) is one example, while Mohan Roy’s Vedic Physics: Scientific Origin of Hinduism (1999) is a good way of observing how this thought has evolved among followers of other faiths. It is interesting to note how a number of Muslim ‘scientists’ have laboured hard to come up with convoluted interpretations of certain scriptures. Ironically, their ancient counterparts, especially between the 8th and 13th centuries in Baghdad and Persia, had put all effort in trying to understand natural phenomena and the human body and mind through hardcore science and philosophy.

Those great men of Islamic antiquity weren’t over-reading into divine texts for scientific answers; instead, to them God’s command to reflect on nature and the world around them was enough to inspire them to become dedicated rational scientists and philosophers. They were celebrated not only by Muslims, but humanity at large for their scientific prowess.

But, alas, beginning around the early 1970s, with the collapse of a secular nationalist mindset in the Muslim world, and the rise in influence of totalitarian oil-rich puritanical monarchies, Muslim polities and mindset began to suspect science as a tool of western and communist social engineering and imperialism.

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