Thursday, August 02, 2007

Storm Track Disinformation: An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam

We constantly hear how if it weren’t for Islam, the West would still be in the Dark Ages and how Islam advanced the cause of knowledge – science included - during their Golden Age.

A new book by Physicist Taner Edis has an interrsting take on the ‘scientific approach’ of Islam. In his book “An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam” Edis examines the range of Muslim thinking about science and Islam, from blatantly pseudoscientific fantasies to comparatively sophisticated efforts to "Islamize science."

From the world’s strongest creationist movements to bizarre science-in-the-Quran apologetics, popular Muslim approaches promote a view of natural science as a mere fact-collecting activity that coexists in near-perfect harmony with literal-minded faith. Since Muslims are keenly aware that science and technology have been the keys to Western success, they are eager to harness technology to achieve a Muslim version of modernity. Yet at the same time, they are reluctant to allow science to become independent of religion and are suspicious of Western secularization. Edis examines all of these conflicting trends, revealing the difficulties facing Muslim societies trying to adapt to the modern technological world.

And there, according to Edis, is the Muslim problem of adapting to a 21st century world.

From one book reviewer.

Contrary to what some Muslims think, Islam is not a "scientific religion" and is not inherently friendly to science or scientific research. A chief problem lies in the book some Muslims keep claiming foreshadows modern science: the Qur'an.

For too many Muslims, the Qur'an contains all the truth a human being will ever need. With that attitude, what reason could there be for scientific institutions dedicated to learning more about how the world works or how to manipulate the world in order to improve the lot of humanity? Science and the scientific method are essentially founded on the belief that humans can learn more and improve, ideas which traditionalist Muslim clerics may reject as heresy.


Here’s a defensible intellectual foundation for the backward thinking of Muslims and their resistance to change. To change. To improve. To adapt - is heresy.

Muslims have tried to take advantage of modern developments while Islamicizing them, hoping to benefit from science without giving up what Islam provides. According to Tanis, this only creates an illusion of harmony.

And they’ve Islamicized not just science but also finance. When Imams try to adapt Islam into a modern world they come up with silly and illogical fatwas – like the recent fatwa for breastfeeding a man alone in an office with a Muslim working woman so the woman can remain ‘pure’. Many Muslims are constantly trying to force the square peg of Islam into a round 21st Century hole.

Even in relatively secular Turkey, Edis' native country, the situation is deplorable. Turkey is the home for the largest creationist movement outside of America — it's an anti-religion movement that draws from Christian creationists and reworks the material to suit a Muslim audience.

The state of science in the Muslim world today is not an esoteric question that makes little difference in the lives of average Americans. It is arguable that some of the most important religious developments in the West can be traced, at least in part, to science: the growth of secularization and the decline of religious certitude. These changes have seriously weakened the power of religious institutions and leaders, preventing them from dominating society, politics, government, and culture.


Science as practiced in the West is a direct threat to fundamentalist Islam.

Muslim hostility to science has helped prevent the same developments in the Muslim world. There is enthusiasm for technology, but not for basic science itself. The Muslim Brotherhood even went so far as to call for an end to science education in 1981. A thousand years ago science barely existed in Europe while cutting-edge scientific research was occurring in centers of Islamic learning; today, the situation is reversed. The consequences of little secularization coupled with extreme religious certitude are something everyone in the world must bear: religious terrorism.

Religious terrorism brought on by a rigid, irrational, unscientific approach to understanding the world.

And this review at Amazon.

After setting the stage, he then asks how leading Muslim thinkers have conceived of science and its relation to the restrictions of the Koran. Of course, at this point, Edis might have stopped. Once restrictions are imposed, science slows down or stops. Though Edis, unlike some other commentators, speaks respectfully about Islam, this requires a certain indifference to the elephant in the room -- Islam has not contributed anything to modern science.

It contributed to medieval science, but that was a different animal. Edis writes, "When European science began to take off, education and intellectual life in Muslim lands was completely dominated by orthodox scholars and sufi saints, neither of whom encouraged attention to knowledge that did not have any explicit religious purpose."

The political collapse of Islam in front of expanding Europe (and even expanding but not very modern Russia) forced a reassessment. Edis traces the different approaches various Muslims have taken in trying to tap the obvious advantages of modern thought without abandoning the social harmony on which Islam prides itself. A number of Islamic schools of thought have thought that it could be done.

Edis, correctly, considers these all to have been failures -- illusions of harmony.

"An Illusion of Harmony" is probably as fair and respectful a hearing of the options facing Islamic pr-modernism as Muslims are ever likely to get.

Get a FREE TRIAL COPY of the The Gathering Storm eBook which includes the Forward by Walid Shoebat, Introduction, and first 50 pages of The Gathering Storm eBook. And sign up for my free WEEKLY STORM REPORT and receive a synopsis of the most important weekly news revealing the intimidation, infiltration and disinformation tactics used to soften-up the non-Muslim world for domination.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home