FAITH OVERRULES SCIENCE, WHY NOT? *)
Fuad Amsyari, Ph. D
I was struck when reading an article in Time magazine October 3, 2011 entitled “HOW SCIENCE CAN LEAD THE WAY, What we lose when we put faith over logic” by Lisa Randall, one of selected figures of ‘100 Time’. At front page ‘Time Features’, it was promoted as ‘THE LOSS OF LOGIC, What happens when faith overrules science’. In my opinion the article represents the classical thinking of politicians who believe that the idea of secular method, a method based solely on ‘scientific findings’ to manage a nation(s), is completely quite appropriate. Such an approach is certainly neglecting ‘faith’ (i.e. basic principles of religion, in particular Holy Book verses related to social-political aspect). They think that only science, including social-political science, no need of religious messages, will be able to answer correctly challenges in development process. I certainly disagree with such a premise. It is even quite misleading.
I hope this article can be published in Time Magazine as well, soon, to make a balance idea about systematic way of thinking on human development for the benefit of mankind.
I. BASIC MEANING OF SCIENCE
Science can be defined as a well-documented ‘PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL PHENOMENA’ (for a religious person they are considered as God’s rules for creatures/creation) found by man through his systematic thinking and works. Science will develop following the progress in human quality of thinking and activities. The growth of science looks similar to a snow balling process, i.e. as science grows, man knows more about his universe by which subsequently improve his quality of thinking and works and then makes science is even growing faster.
Even without guidance from God (via Prophet as verses of Holy Book) man will be able to improve his understanding on his universe through science. After God has equipped man with profound biological means, such as intellectual and physical structure, man enables to develop science and technology to comprehend his universe. However, science will certainly develop within the limitation of man himself. Not every components of universe is eligible to be observed accurately by science. Man may easily with high accuracy observe physical and chemical properties of universe. Biological properties of organism are relatively harder to be studied and understood. Social processes are even more difficult to comprehend. At last, the non-empirical components of universe are certainly untouchable to human observation. Therefore, the progress of science has also been following this phenomenon. Physic, chemistry, and astronomy for instance are growing relatively very fast. Biology and medicine are less progressing compared to physical and chemical studies. Social-political science full with pit-holes. And finally no scientific observation yet has been successfully done for non-empirical world.
Meanwhile, man has to live in universe with all of those components, i.e. physical, chemical, biological, social, and non-empirical component of universe. Man will live successfully and satisfactorily only if he understand the world at its overall dimension. Man needs to know the accurate principles within his non-empirical world as well as his social dimension of empirical world in addition to the understanding of physical, chemical, and biological components of the universe. This is probably the reason why God descends His guidance for man how to live in this world. As man is weak in understanding on principles of social and non-empirical components of universe then God mostly provides guidance via a Prophet on those matters that man has weaknesses. In Islamic believe these guidance of God are documented as “Qur’an” and “Sunnah” (the record of conduct and saying of Prophet Muhammad other than Qur’anic verses).
Science will not be possible to uncover information on non-empirical matters and phenomena, and very weak on understanding of correct social-political principles. God’s guidance is supposed containing information related to those items. Using such rational the content of Holy Book is supposed dominated by information on non-empirical world and social-political principles. Holy Book hypothetically contains less information on principles of biological system and lesser information on physical and chemical properties of universe. The following scheme will clarify the substance:
II. SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS AND HOLY BOOK VERSES
When science touches non-empirical world it means science becomes speculative as non-empirical world is not the area of scientific exploration. It is certainly wasting if someone push on such an effort and the ‘scientific findings’ of that area seems a fake and therefore they must be neglected. People must look at religious teachings on principles related to non-empirical matters.
In addition, when science touches social-political matters it must be aware upon as well for they could lead to misleading conclusion as the objects of the study is very dynamic and complex. Quite numbers of social-political studies are done with weak methods. Some are even done haphazardly or and by order from an interest group that make the findings bias. There are factual that findings of many studies on economic, political, and culture area often controversial and negating one to the others although the problem statement of the studies are the same. Furthermore, no social-political studies has yet been done thoroughly in the area, for example, comparing what is more beneficial to mankind whether man and woman are equal or not, interest or non-interest oriented in bank lending, leader by majority votes or leader by quality of man, using US$ or Gold for business transaction, legal or illegal for prostitution, alcoholic or non alcoholic drink, gambling or fair business, death sentences or not. There are probably studies on such topics but the findings need to be reviewed carefully, honestly, objectively, related to research methodology applied including the sampling. It is even more harmful if the scientific findings becomes a kind of frame as the researchers doing the research by order of an ‘interest group’.
What should be done to solve such a complicated matters? For those who believe on religion (Faithful Persons) they must look at the verses in the holy book if there are any guidance on such manner. In Islamic religion for example, Qur’anic verses (Holy Book of Islam) contain certainly a lot of principles on social-politics.
III. HOLY BOOK VERSES TO OVERRULE SCIENCE
Holy Book and science are full of principles beneficial to human being. How to make use maximally of both sources is a matter of continuous intellectual exercise of man themselves. Based on such understandings and the meanings of science and Holy Books as previously described then we may conclude that those who live without Holy Book will only be capable in understanding material matters, and very weak in understanding social-political and spiritual matters. On the other hand, for those who live with Holy Book but neglect science will live only with understanding spiritual and some of social principles but very weak in understanding on physical-biological system. Therefore, a good Scientist and Religious Person must comprehend universe through both Holy Book and scientific findings and live with them to make his life runs correctly and successfully. A case of Qur’an (Holy Book of Moslem) for example, the verses also cover instruction to people to study science in addition to verses that guide man in his various dimension of life. Moslems must follow Qur’anic messages when they involve in development process together with serious regards that social-political science full of ‘pit-holes’ and lead to erroneous decision on development policies to be made. Politicians and Social Scientists are suggested to look at Holy Book verses when they touch the area of social-political decision in order not to make improper national or international policies that make people suffers. This might be called as management of mankind with FAITH and SCIENCE as an alternative against secular method.
*) For description on Islamic angle please refer to article “When Scientific Findings are in Disagreement with….” & “Epistemology of Islam ……”.
Surabaya,INDONESIA, OCTOBER 11, 2011