Islam and Science: response to Pervez Hoodbhoy

 Dear Professor Hoodbhoy,

This refers to your article on “Islam’s arrested development” (Guardian, UK, 25 Nov 2009:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/nov/25/islam-science-muslims-religion).

I reproduce below my response posted at

http://uk.buzz.yahoo.com/article/1:the_guardian665:47e5bc0f59fdfabb8fd85093cdd0f553/Islams-arrested-development–Pervez-Hoodbhoy

I agree that “Science demands a mindset that incessantly questions and challenges assumptions”.

However, I would like to question and challenge the assumption you set out in your previous sentence “To do science, it is first necessary to accept the key premises underlying science – causality and the absence of divine intervention in physical processes, and a belief in the existence of physical law.”

These are not key premises underlying science, but rather key premises underlying post-Crusade Christian theology. In my article “Benedict’s Maledicts” (Indian Journal of Secularism, 10(3) (2006) pp. 79-90, also Zmag.: http://zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/3109) I outlined the political compulsions which drove Christian priests to just these theological positions after the Crusades. How come you didn’t notice this remarkable overlap between the premises of Christian theology and what you call the premises of science? This entanglement with Christian theology is the hallmark of Western science.

What would physics be like without causality? Please check out the (mixed-type functional differential) equations in my book Time: Towards a Consistent Theory (Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 1994, Fundamental Theories of Physics, vol. 65), or the popular account in The Eleven Pictures of Time (Sage, 2003). In a recent talk in France I addressed exactly these theological notions of “law” and “causality” and explained why both should be abandoned in physics. You can find an extended abstract of the talk in French and English at http://ckraju.net/papers/Le-Temps-la-Physique-et-le-Histoire.pdf.

As a physicist, you can easily follow my paper on “Time travel and the Reality of Spontaneity”, Found. Phys., 36(7) 2006, pp. 1099-1113 (arxiv:0804.0830v1). Al Ghazali was not as unreasonable as you seem to think, and as he is made out to be by Western theologians. If you proceed from a position of immanence (rather than transcendence that Christian priests put into post-Nicene theology to enhance their personal power), you will see that the mundane human/divine ability to intervene in the world is absolutely essential to the scientific method. Of what value would be scientific theory if one were not free to conceive various experiments to test it? And how could one perform any experiment without the ability to create (at least a tiny part of) the world at the next instant? That is exactly the commonsense belief on which we live our mundane lives.

Not to forget that mathematics, the basis of science, becomes very clean and easy, once it is freed from those Western theological beliefs, as I have demonstrated (http://ckraju.net/papers/calculus-without-limits-background-paper.pdf).

With regards,

Yours sincerely,

C. K. Raju

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