Last year, I read a brilliant article called “Science Ends Here,” by Nadeem F. Paracha, and I remember having a “debate” on it, where the other person totally bashed the article, and further called Mr. Paracha, and I quote, a “pseudo-intellectual.” Of course, as amusing as I found that referral to be, I couldn’t help telling him that he clearly hasn’t read the article, nor attempted to understand what the author was trying to explicate.
I mean, really, there was NO need for him to call Mr. Paracha a “pseudo-intellectual,” without first UNDERSTANDING what it is that he was actually arguing about. Paracha’s argument wasn’t about scientific theories (or miracles, for that matter) in the Qur’an per se, but rather his main argument focused on the notion that some Muslims would much rather PREFER to believe that all that they ever need to know about science (despite it being a “product” of the West), is already mentioned in their holy scriptures; and, so, they do not NEED to do any more, or any, scientific research, nor read scientific books in order to study and discover new information.
Hence, his problem wasn’t with science, nor with religion (or what it is for), but with the fact that Muslims are taught to believe that they SHOULD rather live with the belief that they don’t need to study science, because it’s already mentioned in the Qur’an. And to bother studying science (and here I am referring to the science that is taught in the ever-advancing Western world), it would be inconsequential. And he says it wonderfully in this quote:
“Muslims through such literature are actually encouraged to drop out of any field or lab work required for genuine scientific research. Many are persuaded to follow the belief that all they need to know about science is already in the holy book.”
It’s a shame, really, considering how much Muslims have the potential to advance if they let go of this silly conviction that science = western liberalism/imperialism. After all, wasn’t it the easterners who’d initially introduced science to the western world between the 8th and 16th centuries as what is known as the “Islamic Golden Age”? (Though, it is VERY important to note that not ALL of these scientists were Muslim or Arab for that matter; as there were quite a number of non-Muslim scientists who contributed significantly to the scientific process in the Islamic world.) But, regardless, they (Muslims) need to realize that nothing is absolute, especially when it comes to science. (And when I refer to Muslims, I don’t mean ALL, of course.)
Science comprises a myriad of theories, which have and will become facts as time progresses; and that too, with substantial amounts of research and evidence. Some people don’t even realize how IMPORTANT science is to our intellectual and global advancement. If we didn’t have science, we might as well live in antiquated times.
But, anyway, as for the topic of science vs. religion, I think it’s safe to say that, depending on one’s *personal* interpretation of religious texts, some would either completely reject science (and when I say science I am referring to evolution) and claim that Darwin’s theory is completely flawed; or accept science (evolution), BUT, at the same time, also accept that it is mentioned in the Qur’an, i.e.: the big bang, and that science and religion CAN indeed co-exist together. There are a plethora of texts written on this topic, both by Muslims and non-Muslims alike (and these include atheists/agnostics).
Personally, I am all for science because, as I said earlier, science unlike religion is not absolute. Scientists only deem something a fact when they have evidence to back it up. Without concrete evidence, they admit that their research is only a theory. Thus, the beauty of science is that it admits flaws and tries to find ways and methods to rectify them. However, to each her/his own, of course. Without having to impose, it’s best that people believe that which makes sense to them. But, I, being a skeptic by nature, do not like to believe each and everything I read, without first understanding what it is I am permitting myself to believe. To me, beliefs are not stagnant, as they change with time (advancement).
Suddenly, during the midst of the so-called debate, I was asked whether I believed in the existence of God. I couldn’t help smiling like a chesire cat at the question, for every single *typical* Muslim I’ve had these so-called debates with have asked me the exact same question, in the exact same sequence. But, anyway, I decided to give this dimwit the benefit of the doubt by answering his question anyway. I simply stated that the existence of a divine deity is very debatable for, albeit, brilliant scientists like Newton have attempted to prove god’s non-existence through the Cause-and-Effect theory, not everyone will necessarily agree with that notion. God, for some people, encompasses different meanings, depending on how religious or spiritual they are. Some people take the existence of god literally, while others consider god to be a celestial ideology; a state of mind, an essence that is a part of their embodiment, not only limited to the external. Others find god in nature (i.e.: Pantheism). Hence, god and religion are two very personal phenomenons that vary from person to person, or in some cases, sects or groups of people.
So, yeah, I *strongly* disagree that individuals like Mr. Paracha represent normative mentalities that relate to the ills that exist in Pakistan and the Muslim world, in general. I don’t find anything misleading about his writings, because his blunt approach gives those who are already MISLEAD, a depiction of what is actually happening in the real world, and that too right under their very noses. And in this particular article, the topic is not even remotely irrelevant, but rather very crucial, in fact; it is an issue among Muslims, and especially those Muslims who are CONVINCED that studying science is unimportant because it is already in the Qur’an. That is a problem, because it discourages bright Muslims from pursuing intellectual scientific research, which hence pushes them further into an abyss of ignorance and obscurity.