Faith’ and ‘Science’ have had an adversarial symbiosis over the last more than fifty to hundred thousand years: it were not ‘Faith’ and ‘’Science’ then – more like ‘Early Man’ coming to grips with ‘Divine Signs/Natural Phenomena’ through the median interpretation of prophets and visitations by Angels. Particularly in the Eurasia landmass, more so in the ‘fulcrum’ or ‘crucible’ of ‘religious insight’: what is known as the ‘Middle East’ today.
Muslim and Greek Thinkers, Philosophers and Men of Letters, held sway over a wide swathe of potent knowledge-discovery. It was the age of experimentation, demonstrable actualization of physical phenomena and enlightened understanding. They conjectured on the vast arrays of hypotheses and theorizing bred of this enlightenment – and clashed with the ‘divine’. Unfortunately, Man dared to suppose the descent of the supreme ability of ‘creation’ – and stumbled!
It was the beginning of ‘fantasizing’ and ‘presumptive’ illusion. ‘Faith’ was consumed in the inferno let loose by imperious advances and gains in aspects of knowledge from ‘physical’ and ‘natural’ realms. Truly, the last one hundred years – more so the latter half of the 20th Century – have seen the diminishing of ‘mind’ and ascendancy of ‘provenance’; the conjectural hypothesizing, demonstrable experimentation and creative intellect. Man dared to assume this ‘creativity’ as possibly ‘creation’-ability! Man’s inherent ‘firouniat’ presumed to be able to ascend to the heavens through this power, and challenge the ultimate of ‘Faith’ – GOD! There is, after all, the truth that:
Hum ney jaa kar dekh liya hai. hudd-e nazzar sey aagey bhi,
Ra’ah-e guzzar hi ra’ah-e guzzar hain, ra’ah-e guzzar sey aagey bhi
The Essence of Faith
Faith, regardless of any particular religion, is basically the collection of religious experiences, understanding and acceptance. Whether Islam, Jewish or Christianity, Faith is the fundamental foundation of our reality. Faith being that there is an Omnipotent Being i.e. Allah, the Creator of this universe and the natural laws which make it to work and function.
Our religion, Islam, is based on the following five fundamentals: these set the entire direction and basis for the faith by which we live, and thus by which we are given a certain idea of our life’s destiny and direction. These are:
· Tawheed – (Oneness of God)
· ‘Adl – (Justice)
· Khatam-e-Nabuwwat – (Finality of Prophet Mohammad [PBUH])
· Imamat – (Guidance)
· Qiyamat – (Day of Resurrection)
With Faith being founded on these five fundamentals, understanding the rest of the world, its different systems and functions, then become somewhat clarified. It gives us an insight as to where we humans come from: where this World, or for that matter, the entire Universe came from. It gives us the knowledge and comfort that one Almighty Allah, Creator of all, does exist and it is to Him we have to answer one day. The quintessence of this is in the fact that humans were not supposed to delve deep into the mystery of creation of life. It is our purpose to discover and prosper in the world we live in right now. Having complete faith upon the above five fundamentals then gives us comfort in this essence.
The existence of Allah has proof all around us. The world we live in, the animals and the plants that exist on this planet, the solar system, the universe: everything is undeniable proof of a Supreme Being, a Supreme Creator. That Creator can only be ONE, Who is ALLAH. It is there in the systems that are apparent and seen; and also there in those which are invisible to us. Take for example the habitat of any animal. We can see and observe its way of life, the way it satisfies its very basic needs like hunger and thirst. But can we truly observe its brain work? Given that animals do not have the power of rational thought. Then where does the ultimate knowledge of what all they have to do to eat, drink and basically survive comes from? The only answer is Allah. This is also true for humans. Where does our power of rational thinking come from? The following Quranic Verse also gives credibility to this argument:
“Behold! In the creation of heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed Signs for men of understanding.” [Aal-e Imran 3:190]
This verse clearly tells us that the system of this world, the entire universe, and the way there is day and there is night, in the creations that exist in front of our very eyes, these are all signs which point towards an Omnipotent Being i.e. Allah.
Faith gives the start to all science; but it certainly does not intend for it to in any way question itself, or the Creator, or take its place.
The Advent of Science
Science exists because humans have a natural curiosity and an ability to organize and record things. Curiosity is a characteristic shown by many other animals, but organizing and recording knowledge is a skill demonstrated by humans alone.
The earliest writers were the people of Mesopotamia, who lived in a part of present-day Iraq. Their writings show that when writing first appeared, the Mesopotamians already had a basic knowledge of mathematics, astronomy and chemistry; and that they used symptoms to identify common diseases. During the following 2,000 years, as Mesopotamian culture became increasingly sophisticated, mathematics, in particular, became a flourishing science. Knowledge accumulated rapidly, and by 1000 bc the earliest private libraries had appeared. [Our belief of the existence of the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls – the Tabernacle’ or ‘The Tablets of Deuteronomy’, lying at the bottom of the Dead Sea, are an indication of ‘writing’ and ‘language’ as early as nearly 5,000 – 10,000 years BC]
As said before, science exists because humans have a natural tendency to find out, to know. In short, humans have an undying thirst for knowledge. This, with the passage of time, collectively fell into two main areas of science, ‘inductive sciences’ and the more recently developed and looked into, ‘matter sciences’.
In the beginning when the world was not as yet developed, made human thinking concentrate more on the working of the world and the environment we live in. The branches of science at that period which evolved were physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, astronomy and so on. With the march of time, and onset of modernization, many more fields of discovery and areas of scientific study evolved.
In the 1800’s the thirst of knowledge flourished on a different plane. A highly controversial issue has since then been opened i.e. the creation and the origin of species. In hindsight, it appeared to be questioning the existence of God. This was not the first time that science pointed a finger at the altars of religion. In the 17th century too, the Church went against science, the matter then not being a dispute on the existence of God so much, as a fundamental power struggle to establish credibility of ‘belief’ against scientific theories based on study. The particular example of Galileo stands out. He questioned the ‘belief’ of a flat world, based on religious dogma, against the apparent spherical shape of the Earth, based upon scientific calculations, which cost him his life.
In more recent times, the cloning controversy has played up. Science constantly trying to prove or disprove the existence of God and attempting to gain complete knowledge of creation. Perhaps no event in science/bio-technology, has caused more uproar and discussion on ‘faith’, ‘belief’ and ‘ethics’, than the cloning of Dolly the sheep by Scottish scientists. In today’s world, once again that side of ‘science’ which tries to equal itself with God has come about. People tend to give more credibility to science than they do to their ‘faith’ and ‘spirit’, forgetting that Faith is how they got to science in the first place!
However, since its advent ‘science’ has truly helped to develop our existence in this world, much as religion(s) intended for it to. Or, rather, how Allah intended for it to. Allah does not help those who do not help themselves. Science allows us humans to help ourselves live a better life every day. It goes against our faith when it tries to equal God.
Conclusion / Recommendations
In order to conclude we must go back to the topic of the thesis, ‘Faith and Science’, which started out as ‘Faith versus Science’. That is only a notion that has been played up by those who presume that science has all the answers and re3medies of life. There is no ‘Faith versus Science’. There is FAITH, and then there is SCIENCE. The two are not contradictory to each other, but rather are complementary. Faith comes, and then comes the advent of science, bringing with it a better and more fundamental understanding of many of the laws of nature and life, as created by the Omnipotent Being.
In his book, ‘A Brief History of Time’, Stephen Hawking has mentioned that he is trying to formulate an all-encompassing theory which could explain everything in the universe; and hence could prove that God does not exist. He was however forced to confess that God does exist because otherwise he could not explain who made the laws. He however concluded that God made the laws and since then the universe is running on the laws; in short God does not have much to do with the day to day working of the universe. The point that I am trying to make here is that we are just a ‘bug’ living in this mighty universe trying to figure out ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘by whom’.
Science realizes that only because you do not see or feel something, does not mean that it does not exist. The only limitation is that it is subject to its own ego, a self-constructed hypothetical state of being all knowledgeable. The important thing is that the quest for truth should not cease. Allah has given us enough signs of His Existence.
To end I would just like to make the following observations.
1. Belief in God is based on Faith. Science is based on empiricism and logic: after some point in its cycle, Faith provides the base.
2. Faith is belief in the mysteries that are unseen and unheard. That is what Faith is supposed to be. It is there in religion, on God and it is there in science, when there are scientific assumptions made.
3. Faith and Science are not working against each other; they are supposed to be working one after the other on the same plane.