Nidhal Guessoum, Professor of Physics, American University of Sharjah, gives a talk for the Ian Ramsay Seminar series on 18th November 2010.
Science, or at least Knowledge, has always had a special status in the Islamic culture and civilization. As Abdus Salam often said, some 750 verses of the Qur'an speak about knowledge, scholarship, and the natural world, compared to less than 250 verses directing the Muslim's life and actions. Modern Science, however, imposed new principles (methodological naturalism, in particular) and brought about new theories (biological and human evolution, especially), which the Muslim culture has found difficult to accommodate and integrate into its traditional worldview. In attempting to find 'good' relationships with Modern Science, Muslims of the twentieth century produced a number of propositions, from I'jaz (the scientific 'miraculousness' of the Qur'an) to 'Sacred Science' (where physics and metaphysics, including spirits, are unified), but most if not all of those propositions turn out to be fatally flawed when examined objectively. In this talk, he will briefly review the contemporary relations between Islam and Science, at both the popular and the elite levels. And highlighting the ideas that he develops in his new book (Islam's Quantum Question: reconciling Muslim tradition and modern science), he will offer a proposal that can help move the present prevailing attitudes of Muslims from schizophrenia to coherent harmony.