Anthropocentrism and Divine Objectivity. Some Observations on the Logic Behind the “Scientific Miracle of the Qur’an”, Josep Lluís Mateo Dieste

SERRC —  October 6, 2015 — 8 Comments

Author Information:Josep Lluís Mateo Dieste, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, joseplluis.mateo@uab.cat

Mateo Dieste, Josep Lluís. “Anthropocentrism and Divine Objectivity. Some Observations on the Logic Behind the ‘Scientific Miracle of the Qur’an’.” [1]Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 10 (2015): 8-9.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-2ly

Editor’s Note:

    Please find below the footnotes articles in the exchange on Islam and science appearing on the SERRC. [a]

islamic_art

Image credit: Michael Foley, via flickr

The “scientific miracle of the Qur’an” acquired its present-day form and gained momentum after Maurice Bucaille’s success in 1976, when authors like the Yemenite Zindani or Khalifa set out for ambitious goals such as the scientific demonstration of Qur’anic “miracles.” [2] In the context of the Seventh Saudi Medical Conference (1982) Zindani set up a committee to investigate the scientific signs in the Qur’an and the Hadith. Since then world congresses and local ones have been frequent, including the publication of books and materials that new information technology decisively helped to spread. 

The “scientific miracle” is a trend of popular culture that is shaped and nourished by the new media and by new dynamics in the creation of Muslim authoritativeness involving Muslim scientists and institutions at university level. For instance, in Tétouan (Morocco), an association affiliated with the organization of congresses on the scientific miracles of the Qur’an organizes, in the faculty of sciences, conferences in which the scientific character of the Qur’an is discussed.[3]

In the words of an interviewee, professor of science, and organizer of the local conference in Tétouan: “We [the human beings] are mathematics.”[4] In the course of the interview he sketched plenty of graphs in order to demonstrate his point: for instance, a comparative scheme in which the universe, the Milky Way, the atom, the cell, and the Muslims revolve around the Ka‘aba, sharing the same traits, the same maths, and the same design with an axis of rotation that he represented as anti-clock wise in the direction followed by the pilgrims in their circumambulation. According to him, all physical phenomena share the same structure and that means that there can have only been one Creator.

During the interview I could also detect the usual criticism of Darwinism employed by most of the authors who produce this kind of literature, characterized by a remarkable pedagogical effort at synthetizing and popularizing, with the same argumentations repeated over and over again in self-produced booklets and brochures provided with illustrations and frequent caricatures of Darwin with an ape’s body. However, some aspects emerged in the interview that are not always easy to identify in the materials and written documents examined: for example, the idea that the world has been designed by God for the humans. There emerges in this discourse, in my opinion, an unsuspected anthropocentrism although formulated in terms of “divine objectivity.”

Humanity is a goal created by God, and the whole universe tends to, or is ordered for it. My interviewee used the example of how the earth is protected: How can one explain that the solar rays that approach our planet change their temperature from 500 to 14°C when they enter in contact with the atmosphere? It is a physical process that protects human life and hence renders it possible. He defined such processes “the preparation of the earth for the humans.” All this, in his opinion, cannot have been invented by a human being. The Prophet communicated the truth of the cosmos, its maths, as well as absolute truth. However it is not a matter of faith, but a “scientific truth” as my interviewee expressed it. I‘jāz ‘ilmī (a “scientific miracle”) is proof that the Qur’an anticipated modern science in indicating the facts of the cosmos and the explanation of natural phenomena.[5]

References

Khalifa, R. Mu‘jizah al-Qur’an al-Karim. Tucson: Masjid Tucson, 1980.

Naggar, Z. Min ayat al-‘Ijaz al-‘Ilmi-Al-Samaa al-Quran al-Karim. Beirut, 2007.

Zindani, A. Al-Mu‘jizah al-‘ilmiyah al-Quran wa-al-Sunnah. Cairo, 1980.

[1] Adapted and translated under the author’s supervision by Stefano Bigliardi from: Josep Lluís Mateo Dieste. 2014. “La fórmula del genio de la lámpara: milagros científicos en el Corán en el último cuarto de siglo XX” ‘Ilu. Revista de Ciencias de las Religiones; 19, 127-146.

[2] Zindani 1980; Khalifa 1980.

[3] “3rd Conference on the Scientific Miracles of the Qur’an and the Sunna,” Faculty of Sciences, University Abdelmalek Essaadi, Tétouan, September 17-19 2010 (the first conference took place in 2005).

[4] Interview in Tétouan, April 19 2013.

[5] Naggar 2007, 72.

[a] Articles in the exchange on Islam and science on the SERRC:

8 responses to Anthropocentrism and Divine Objectivity. Some Observations on the Logic Behind the “Scientific Miracle of the Qur’an”, Josep Lluís Mateo Dieste

  1. 
    Mahdi Movahed-Abtahi November 12, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I agree with Josep Lluís in some and disagree in other. He mentioned that ‘it is not easy to identify the idea that the world has been designed by God for the humans. There emerges in this discourse, an unsuspected anthropocentrism although formulated in terms of “divine objectivity.” I discuss on it from another view point: divine objectivity has risen from positivistic and objectivistic not from communicative perspective. I resist reducing truth because we (as creatures) cannot empty existence from communication; we may ignore it but exactly are living in a transcended communication. So, we may misunderstand divine objectivity through our objectivistic glasses!
    The God (sender), human (receiver), prophets (medium), scriptures (written revealed messages), and signs –Ayayt in Islamic literature- (semiotic non linguistic messages) are key elements of such communication. I explain my opinion more with two examples: 1) we cannot see radio-frequent waves: are we blind? Are not they beings? We need a TV and its equipments to receive sent TV waves from TV station. TV mediates our reception and perception pathways, reducing them as sensory or light waves; looked pictures and movies, and heard sounds are sent messages but reduced in the level of our sensation. For this example, wave’s theory is necessary for advanced epistemology: from objectivistic toward communistic perspectives. 2) Darkness has no light to be seen and things within it make no sensory experience for us. Why? Infrared camera captures pictures within dark space! Are these pictures only our mental things? It has different sensors receiving less objective infrared waves from things (messages) and changing them to more objective sensation. It does not create waves but through objective instruments, augments our reduced sensation and perception to create pictures. Does sensory augmentation limited to sensation? Are we obliged to be instrumentalism? Can rationality, spirituality, and transcendent augment our perception?
    The term e`jaz (miracle) is a human`s interpretation in an specific sensory experiment, specific time and place, and specific knowledge and science, while it may tagged by another term in our period with more advanced knowledge and science. Miracles guide people toward message sender, a semiotic instrument of prophecy. More advancement in man`s knowledge and science may reduce sensory validation of our experiments but does not reduce its semiotic value. We need more advanced communicative and semiotic theories to explain discourse between God and human.

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