Sunday, December 23, 2012

Islam and Physical Law

Muslims deny that God is bound by truth. God, being master, has every right to deceive, even if this applies to his followers. The Fatherhood of God is also denied; Muslims claim that his position of master places him above that of a father figure. I recall the former Protestant and Catholic convert Scott Hahn explain that the insistence of Muslims that God is the master actually makes God's majesty or authority dependent on his creation. To Muslims, even believers are not children of God, but slaves. I have long felt that this attitude is a major factor in how Muslims treat others, including common people and family members but especially non-Muslims. If every believer is simply a slave, then it follows that each slave would in turn be able to rule those under him as slaves.

To believe that God governs the world by laws, be they spiritual or physical, is blasphemy to Muslims. They accuse Christians and Jews of saying that God is fettered by believing that natural physical laws exist.

This must be understood before engaging a Muslim in conversation if you want to avoid running around in circles:

"..........Allah is also absolute will, with hand absolutely unfettered: Allah’s unfettered hand is a vivid image of divine freedom. Such a God can be bound by no laws. Muslim theologians argued during the long controversy with the heretical Islamic Mu‘tazilite sect, which exalted human reason beyond the point that the eventual victors were willing to tolerate, that Allah was free to act as he pleased, even to the extent that he was not bound to govern the universe according to consistent and observable laws. “He cannot be questioned concerning what He does” (Qur’an 21:23).

Accordingly, there was no point to observing the workings of the physical world; there was no reason to expect that any pattern to its workings would be consistent, or even discernible. If Allah could not be counted on to be consistent, why waste time observing the order of things? It could change tomorrow. Stanley Jaki, a Catholic priest and physicist, explains that it was the renowned Sufi thinker al-Ghazali who “denounced natural laws, the very objective of science, as a blasphemous constraint upon the free will of Allah.”

The great twelfth-century Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides explained orthodox Islamic cosmology in similar terms, noting that Islamic thinkers of his day assumed “the possibility that an existing being should be larger or smaller than it really is, or that it should be different in form and position from what it really is; e.g., a man might have the height of a mountain, might have several heads, and fly in the air; or an elephant might be as small as an insect, or an insect as huge as an elephant. This method of admitting possibilities is applied to the whole Universe.”

Relatively early in its history, therefore, science was deprived in the Islamic world of the philosophical foundation it needed in order to flourish. It found that philosophical foundation only in Christian Europe, where it was assumed that God was good and had constructed the universe according to consistent and observable laws. Such an idea would have been for pious Muslims tantamount to saying, “Allah’s hand is fettered.”.........."

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