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Reason, faith and ignorance

Reason, faith and ignorance

Author: Prafull Goradia
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: February 4, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/154209/Reason-faith-and-ignorance.html

Pluralism and freedom help individuals acquire knowledge and embrace that which is logical. Theocratic Islam denies both pluralism and freedom of choice

Apropos Mr Irfan Husain's article "Imran Khan vs Darwin", published by The Pioneer on January 21, 2009, Darwin's theory of evolution, the views expressed by Mr Imran Khan, and the comments by Mr Husain can be looked at from a third, more accurate angle. The article focusses on the lack of scientific temper in Muslim societies. In the course of his argument, Mr Husain admits that "many evangelical Christians reject Darwinian theory as well, and push creationism as the explanation for the development of life on the Earth".

At the same time "China, Japan and Korea have made tremendous progress by accepting reason as the basis of their education and public discourse." Yet Mr Imran Khan appears to have asserted that the East sticks to religion and implicitly rejects Darwin. While Mr Khan has confused Islam with all Eastern religions, Mr Husain first finds Muslims wrong in damning Darwin and his praising the West and later catches evangelical Christians with backward thinking.

Christianity, Islam, Marxism as well as Judaism have a common descent whereas Hindu view and Buddhism are based on entirely different assumptions. The former are based on 'Deductive Logic', which begins by unquestioningly accepting a premise and then concluding in sequence what flows from its contention. All corollaries would be consistent and without deviation from the premise. The Old Testament contains the 'Ten Commandments', a central premise of which is "you shall have no other gods before me". Islam continually asserts with every prayer that there is no god but allah. Marxism condemned religion as an opium of the masses; the existence of god is denied. These are fundamental premises.

The assertion that there is god but only 'one' or there is 'none' (Marxism) are magical assertions and deductive corollaries flowing there to make life straight and simple for the billions of followers. Anyone who does not follow the 'magic' is either a gentile or an infidel or a kafir or bourgeois; all deserving conversion or warranting elimination, or at best suppression. These disciplines demand acceptance and disapprove of all questioning, so typical of deductive reasoning.

Hindu and Buddhist approach is based on 'Inductive Logic', the other face of formal logic, a contrast to 'Deductive reasoning'.

Before we illustrate the difference, an explanation is necessary as to how most of Christianity escaped the confines of 'one god', 'no god' dicta. Although it took birth in Jerusalem, the Christian ethos blossomed in Europe. During its first three centuries it was the faith espoused by the plebeian or the underdog. For burying the dead, early Christians had to surreptitiously go to the catacombs of Rome. The patricians or the ruling classes in civilised Europe of the time were pagan. Christianity suffered this adverse equation until the fourth century when emperor Constantine himself became a Christian.

In other words, religion and state were separate. In contrast, Islam was given birth by Prophet Mohammed who was himself a ruler and certainly no plebeian. He wove religion and state together as one fabric. The Quran and the Sunnah are the all-embracing fountains of rule whether spiritual or temporal. Inroads, such as made by Darwin's research which contradicted the canonical theory of creation, could not be allowed by an Islamic state. On the other hand, a Christian state would be comparatively lenient.

The reason is that European civilisation began with Greece and it continually carries with it a hallow of Hellenism. The essence of its spirit was best described by philosopher Protagorus: "Man is the measure of all things, of things… However orthodox Christians might be, few of them can easily escape this liberal, rational influence so friendly to science."

Coming to 'Inductive Logic', four Hindus from different corners of India once happened to meet and exchange views on the various colours of rose. They all expressed surprise and disagreed that roses could have so many colours. Yet they agreed to disagree; their ethos was 'inductive'.

The 'inductive' approach has many pluses in its favour - intellectual growth, cultural variety, spiritual scope, scientific development et al. But it also has its disadvantages. Christianity has, over the centuries, scattered into scores of denominations and has long ceased to support any socio-political ideology.

The price of 'deductive' insistence is backwardness such as Mr Husain has described of Muslims. The backwardness of Marxism was largely economic and cultural; it could not keep pace with time and expired within eight decades of the Russian revolution.

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