Friction between Science and Faith
Its Impact on Society
(March 20, 2022)

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Dr Hoodbhoy, a renowned academic and activist, delivered a highly thought-provoking lecture on the role of religion and science from a historical perspective. Religion in the history of mankind is the product of the human mind. Man needed answers to many questions, like the purpose of life and what happens after life ends. Science also tries to find answers to many questions. But when science presents a hypothesis and makes predictions, it has to prove them, he remarked. It is important that retrogressive forces should be resisted by the progressive forces.

 

Giving examples of conflict between Orthodox Christianity and Science, he mentioned Andrew Dixon White’s book ”A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology“, published in two volumes in 1896. Andrew D. White later became the President of Cornell University. Dr Hoodbhoy said Science was suppressed by Orthodox Christianity for centuries. Galileo was sentenced to death by the Church for saying that the Earth is round and revolves around the Sun. He was pardoned only after repudiating his theory. The Church propagated long that diseases were inflicted on human beings as punishment for their sins. And calamities like an earthquake are the wrath of God. The Church had claimed possession of absolute truth and totality of knowledge. Science, on the other hand, is based on objectivity, Dr Hoodbhoy remarked. The personality of the scientist becomes secondary. Science and technology have helped to develop many appliances for the comfort of humankind. But it has also negative aspects when it develops bombs, he observed. 

Dr Hoodbhoy said Science and Philosophy flourished in the Muslim World for about four centuries from the 9th to the 13th century. During this period Islam was expanding and it had reached Iraq and other areas, where it came in contact with treasures of Greek learning. In Baghdad, the enlightened Caliphs like Harun and Mamun encouraged translation work from Greek and other languages. The Rationalist Movement (Mu`tazillah) led by thinkers like Al Kindi, Al Farabi, Ibne Haitham and Ibne Sina, were the product of this period.  Due to the Rationalist thinkers (Mu`tazilla) and their scientific activities, Muslim civilization flourished.

Report by: Masud Mirza, he volunteers his time and competence to OPP