This was a very interesting discussion.
In brief, Mehdi Hasan explains that “in trying to disparage faith, Dawkins and his allies constantly confuse evidence with proof; those of us who believe in God do so without proof but not without evidence.” (Emphasis added – mine.)
This is an important point. The Qur’an constantly asks us to ‘reflect’, to use our ‘reason’, to look at nature, for instance, and see or recognise the clear ‘signs’ or ‘evidences’ for God. Why the sense of mystery? Or the sense of ‘seeking God’? Well that’s precisely because of a certain conception of life that this religion, Islam, takes – as opposed to an Atheist’s conception. Islam sees life as a sojourn, journey and a test, whereas Atheism doesn’t, necessarily. This conception will undoubtedly steer one’s perspective prior to any ‘debate’ to very different directions. That’s the first thing to mention.
I wanted to make another point which is to say that often Atheists, such as Professor Dawkins, have a specific idea of what science means to them, which is to say that they qualify ‘evidence’ differently to Muslim rationalists – as being purely empirical and grounded in the senses. This is a positivist notion of science, dubbed as ‘scientism’. I wanted to highlight the distinction between ‘scientism’ and ‘science’. Dawkins, no doubt, would not see the distinction. For him the former is ‘science’ and the latter is not. That is to say, for him there is, presumably, no scientism – just science. Muslims, on the other hand, would regard the latter as science and the former – ‘scientism’ – as a restricted scope of science. This is an important difference. I have noticed much miscommunication between Muslim advocates of reason and Atheist advocates of science, which stem from this point. A reasonable question that might be asked of the Atheist is: ‘Why must science be conceived in the way they postulate?’ That is, what is the justification for their definition of science and its grounding? The basis for the Muslim’s is the locus between the Qur’an-the Self-the World, with the Quran being the keystone or the ‘Criterion’ (Al-Furqaan) ‘whereof there is no doubt’ (Qur’an 2:2). An Atheist could question whether the Qur’an has any validity in attempting to ‘ground reality’ – but that topic is for another article.
In Richard Khuri’s book, ‘Freedom, Modernity and Islam’, he explains how reason has been delimited by scientism. For a brief summary of this book, read: ‘Why Richard Khuri’s book is a great starting point’.
In the rest of Mehdi Hasan’s article, he goes on to talk about how there are some things we believe to be ‘true’ but [which] cannot be empirically proven. He moves on to briefly explaining the rationalist theory of Kalam (originally postulated by Al Ghazali in the late 11th Century CE) and then moves onto finally outlining Muslim responses to Evolution, noting how Charles Darwin’s contemporary (the scientist, John William Draper) referred to Darwin’s views as “the Muhammadan theory of evolution.”
Evolution is not the theme of this article, so I’ll not discuss it here, but it will be a theme in a later article, inshallah.
Read Mehdi Hassan’s full article here:
Unlike Christianity that has to rely solely on the fact that you have to ‘believe’ in the truth of Jesus as God, Islam has – using Yusuf Estes’ words, ‘faith and evidence’ as justifications of its truth-claims. And though Atheists claim to be evidence-based, they too justify themselves via faith, though they will strongly deny this is the case.
For further proofs for God:
Check out IERA’s ‘3 Reasons for God’;
Or read Dr Laurence Brown’s ‘Reality of God‘ articles;
Or read ‘The Man in the Red Underpants’;
Or watch ‘Proof of God’ by Adam Deen;
Or watch ‘God, Fairytale or Truth’ – a discussion with Hamza Tzortzis and Dr Lars Gule;
Or to understand the significance of Revelation (and how the Qur’an was revealed) by Hamza Yusuf, watch this.