With the splitting of the atom, all of man’s conceptions of matter have been drastically altered. In fact, the advance of science in the past century has culminated in a knowledge explosion, the like of which has never before been experienced in human history, and in the wake of which all ancient ideas about God and religion have had to be reexamined. This, as Julian Huxley puts it, is the challenge of modern knowledge.
In the following series of notes which will discuss this issue, I propose to answer this challenge, for I am convinced that, far from having a damaging effect on religion, modern knowledge has served to clarify and consolidate its truths. Many modern discoveries support Islamic claims made 1400 years ago that what is laid down in the Quran is the ultimate truth, and that this will be borne out by all future knowledge.
“Soon We will show them Our signs in all the regions of the earth and in their own souls, until they clearly see that this is the truth.”
Modern atheistic thinkers dismiss religion as being unfounded in fact. They maintain that it springs from man’s desire to find meaning in the universe.
While the urge to find an explanation is not in itself wrong, they hold that the inadequacy of our predecessors’ knowledge led them to wrong conclusions, namely, the existence of a God or gods, the notions that creation and destruction were a function of the godhead, that man’s fate was of concern to God, that there was a life after death in heaven or hell, as warranted by the morality of man’s life on earth, and that all thinking on these matters must necessarily be regulated by religion. They feel that, in the light of advanced learning, man is now in a position to make a re-appraisal of traditional ways of thinking and to rectify errors of interpretation, just as in secular matters he has already exploded myths and overturned false hypotheses whenever facts and experience have forced the truth upon him.
According to Auguste Comte, a well-known French philosopher of the first half of the nineteenth century, the history of man’s intellectual development can be divided into three stages—the theological stage, when events of the universe are explained in terms of divine powers, the metaphysical stage, in which we find no mention of specific gods (although external factors are still referred to in order to explain events) and the stage of positivism, where events are explained in terms of common laws deduced from observation and calculation without having recourse to spirit, God or absolute power. We are now passing through the third intellectual stage which, in philosophical terms, is known as Logical Positivism.
To be continued, Insha Allah…