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Can You Be a Scientist and Be Religious?

Autor:   •  December 26, 2017  •  1,775 Words (8 Pages)  •  235 Views

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while other parts of the world suffered from poverty ignorance and plagues. Muslim scientists made many discoveries that continue to assist in influencing and shaping the 21st century world as we know it.

Take for instance, the ‘father’ of modern science, Ibn-Al-Haytham. Ibn-Al-Haytham, began a legacy of experiments to back up his hypotheses 250 years before on the other side of the world Roger Bacon was the first Western scientist to do so. Ibn-Al-Haytham was the first to produce documentation of experiments to back up his ideas, giving birth to modern science as we know it.

At the time the most popular theory on sight was the ‘emission theory’, adamantly employed by ‘scientists’. This entailed that when we opened our eyes, light shone out of them like flashlights and allowed us to see whatever was in front of us. However, Ibn-Al-Haytham did not accept this theory after musing about why looking at the sun hurt, if we ourselves were emitting the light.

When Ibn-Al-Haytham was placed under house arrest in his home in Cairo following a political fallout with a powerful Caliph, he took the initiative to spend the next ten years researching the previously unexplored field of optics in a groundbreaking scientific method of experimentation and documentation that eventually lead to the theory we employ today, a thousand years later, in his life’s work Book of Optics which included detailed instructions for the reader to recreate Ibn-Al-Haytham’s experiments.

In doing this and giving a verifiable truth to the reader rather than a truth based on the personal conviction of the individual putting a theory forward. This aberration from the scientific traditions at the time is why Ibn-Al-Haytham is known to be the father of modern science as we know it.

Through the emergence of Ibn-Al-Haytham and others such as Abbas Ibn Firnas who made the first flying theories centuries before the Wright Brothers and Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi who invented many surgical tools still used in important surgeries today Islam since the middle ages had encouraged scientific progress is in stark contrast to the hostility of the Catholic Church to Galileo’s innovative ideas, where he was placed under house arrest for his radical ideas that challenged the church’s unfounded claims.

The Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy used its political and religious power to protect its authority and that involved controlling the distribution of knowledge among the common man for fear of uprisings or questioning of the church supremacy and wealth of the clergy. In contrast, however the Orthodox Christian communities in the East were producing great thinkers and scientists since the middle ages right alongside their Muslim counterparts.

The Muslim world recognised and embraced the legacies left for them by the ancient texts collected in Persian libraries such as Aristotle. Plato and Socrates; which shows that the lack of centralized religious authority in combination with the of coming into contact with the philosophies and legacies of ancient civilisation as well as the significance of knowledge and seeking knowledge in Islam, all of these things contributed to a thriving golden age between the #

9th and 13th centuries in the Muslim world.

Many scientists have emerged in recent decades who fit a modern scientific mindset into a religious life. For example, celebrated female scientist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell has stated many times that she is a devout Quaker Christian; this did not stop her however from making the Nobel-winning discovery of pulsars during her post-graduate studies.

“I find that Quakerism and research science fit together very, very well. In Quakerism you’re expected to develop your own understanding of god from your experience in the world. There isn’t a creed, there isn’t a dogma.”

This quote illustrates her success at finding a relationship between her religion and her scientific outlook.

To conclude, therefore, in my opinion I think a person can be a scientist and be religious, however they cannot be utterly one hundred percent dedicated to either extreme. As long as they are not extremist in their religion, and use it as a framework rather than a rulebook, then the morals and ethics religion can provide should even be beneficial to any individual aiming to combine a scientific view and a religious one


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