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    Science in Islam A history (OP)


    Salaam

    Another informative video from CaspianReport.



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    Re: Science in Islam A history

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    Quote Originally Posted by fschmidt View Post
    I had a very long talk with the teacher at the local mosque today. He has a classical Islamic background. He is from Egypt and spends most of his free time studying Islam. What is amazing is that even though I am not Muslim, we agree on almost everything. He completely rejects Sufism. He agrees that both God and other things are cause. He agrees that philosophy ranges from useless to harmful. He agrees that direct religious experience is an invalid source of knowledge. So there is actually very little that we don't agree on. Now I have to wonder why you (Zafran) and this teacher have such different views. Maybe Islam just varies more than I thought.
    It depends if he is salafi or orthodox ashari. His rejection of Sufism and against any philosophy might indicate that he is a salafi Muslim possibly influenced by Ibn Taymiya(ra).


    Quote Originally Posted by fschmidt View Post
    I admit to making a mistake in emphasizing the idea of assumption. This reflects my Old Testament view, but not the Islamic view which is based on absolute truth. The Islamic equivalent of assumptions would be intuitive conclusions about how to interpret something. So while you can call these things contingent on belief in God, they cannot be directly concluded using any form of reason, so some kind of a jump is needed here.
    You can make rational argument for the existence of God - the famous being Cosmological/ argument from Contingency, Ontological/ teleological/ pascals wagers/ argument from Morality - see Thomas aquines/al ghazli/Ibn sina/ Ibn rushd/ Mulla Sadra/Kant/Leibniz/Descartes etc etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by fschmidt View Post
    As I said, I haven't read much of Western philosophy (except Voltaire's novels because at least he is amusing). But basically the philosophers you mentioned are the Mu'tazila of Christianity. The issue isn't so much skepticism as it is the ever harmful influence of Plato. The Reformation itself greatly increased religious conviction and morality in Europe. I mean read Chaucer for a flavor of European degeneracy under the Catholic Church.
    The people I named are the fathers of the scientific revolution (Newton Descartes, Leibniz etc) and the enlightenment (Locke, Kant, Adam smith etc) - you cant say the enlightenment is Good if you see them as bad. Without them science and technology and yes even morality/society would not be the same. IMO some of there ideas were positive whilst others were detrimental.

    Just because the catholic church had some corrupt elements does not make the Protestants any better. The violence that the protestants came up with was bad or possibly even worse. The reformation made religion much weaker in Europe - its the reason why the philosophers won because they divided Europe.

    The Mutazlite died out because they had bad ideas and also persecuted other Muslims that disagreed with them (the Mihna) - like the reformation and the wars of religion.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by fschmidt View Post
    Islam survived by rejecting the Mu'tazila and the philosophers. I don't think the post-Christian West will be so lucky. It seems clear to me that it is degenerate beyond repair and will die just as Rome died. I literally can no longer find any signs of human intelligence in Western culture. So I am very much committed to supporting Islam.
    You never know - history always surprises us - lets hope it surprises us in a good way and not bad.
    Last edited by Zafran; 01-01-2018 at 12:34 AM.
    Science in Islam A history

    The teachings of Islam can fail under no circumstances. With all our systems of culture and civilization, we can not go beyond Islam and, as a matter of fact, no human mind can go beyond the Qur'an.

    (Letter of Goethe to Eckermann, Sir Henry Elliott's collection, 1865)

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by fschmidt View Post
    I assume you are asking about Al-Ashari and Al-Ghazali, not the Mu'tazila.

    Al-Ashari attacked cause and effect and inductive reasoning by making God appear inconsistent. This undermines scientific thinking which is based on these ideas.
    I haven't read the whole thread. It seems interesting. I do wish to point out, however, that one of the best theories of science, that of quantum mechanics, wreaks complete havoc on the conventional idea of causality. Quantum mechanics tells us that some things happen completely at random. For instance, particles come into existence out of a perfectly empty space, in most cases to disappear again but not always... "Spooky actions at a distance" happen in the subatomic world and human logic breaks down.

    Edit: You do mention this in one of your later posts, but you still say that "causality" is one of the better methods of understanding the world. Perhaps I misunderstood but I see a slight contradiction. (?)

    Quote Originally Posted by fschmidt View Post
    The 2 core assumptions of Western philosophy is that external/absolute truth exists and that it can found through deductive reason. I reject both of those assumption. I start with the assumption of inductive reason and go from there. Islam starts with the assumption that the Quran is accurate.
    Well, there is the philosophy of Nihilism which does not have the above-mentioned assumptions but is still a Western philosophy. It's quite defeatist, though, and doesn't lend itself too well to discoveries. Even though Western philosophy is flawed and makes assumptions which are questionable, it has led to plenty of scientific findings in physics, chemistry, medicine, and so forth. I would argue that ideally, you need both inductive and deductive reasoning to get the best results. Some inductive reasoning is often necessary to come up with a theory in the first place (unless you want to take a complete shot at the dark, which rarely works), but then, once you have observed something and come up with a theory, to be truly convinced and to convince others, you need deductive reasoning to test it out.

    Isn't this how many physics theories came about? Some wacky scientist was sitting with his pen and paper and wrote some equations that he thought might explain the phenomena he witnessed (inductive part). Later, experiments were carried out which showed that the theories could make accurate predictions (the deductive part).

    Bah... my philosophical background is very limited.
    Last edited by fromelsewhere; 01-01-2018 at 01:36 AM.

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by fromelsewhere View Post
    I haven't read the whole thread. It seems interesting. I do wish to point out, however, that one of the best theories of science, that of quantum mechanics, wreaks complete havoc on the conventional idea of causality. Quantum mechanics tells us that some things happen completely at random. For instance, particles come into existence out of a perfectly empty space, in most cases to disappear again but not always... "Spooky actions at a distance" happen in the subatomic world and human logic breaks down.
    Quote Originally Posted by fschmidt View Post
    The concept of cause in no way limits God's ability to violate cause. Cause is a general statement, that X usually results in Y. Physics itself support this because quantum mechanics is fundamentally probabilistic which actually means that God can do anything without violating physics.
    4 chars for the forum software

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by fschmidt View Post
    4 chars for the forum software
    Yes, I was still working on my comment. But you still argue nevertheless that "causality" is one of the better methods of understanding the world even though quantum mechanics completely destroys the concept. It doesn't just allow God to violate causality but rather tells us that causality violation is the norm in the subatomic world.

    My other point is that I don't understand why you are so against deductive reasoning. I would argue that you need both inductive and deductive reasoning to get the best results. Some inductive reasoning is often necessary to come up with a theory in the first place (unless you want to take a complete shot at the dark, which rarely works), but then, once you have observed something and come up with a theory, to be truly convinced and to convince others, you need deductive reasoning to test it out.

    Isn't this how many physics theories came about? Some wacky scientist was sitting with his pen and paper in a humble office or coffee-shop and wrote some equations that he thought might explain some phenomena he witnessed (inductive part). Later, experiments were carried out which showed that the theories could make accurate predictions (the deductive part).
    Last edited by fromelsewhere; 01-01-2018 at 01:48 AM.

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by fromelsewhere View Post
    But you still argue nevertheless that "causality" is one of the better methods of understanding the world even though quantum mechanics completely destroys the concept. It doesn't just allow God to violate causality but rather tells us that causality violation is the norm in the subatomic world.
    If you define cause to mean that X always results in Y, then yes. But if you define cause to mean that X usually results in Y, then no, there is no problem with quantum mechanics.

    My other point is that I don't understand why you are so against deductive reasoning. I would argue that you need both inductive and deductive reasoning to get the best results. Some inductive reasoning is often necessary to come up with a theory in the first place (unless you want to take a complete shot at the dark, which rarely works), but then, once you have observed something and come up with a theory, to be truly convinced and to convince others, you need deductive reasoning to test it out.
    I think you confusing inductive and deductive reasoning. Deductive reason is logical reason. Inductive reason is reasoning by means of consistent observations. Experimental results confirm by induction. As Isaac Newton said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Isaac Newton
    In experimental philosophy we are to look upon propositions collected by general induction from phaenomena as accurately or very nearly true, notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses that may be imagined, till such time as other phaenomena occur, by which they may either be made more accurate, or liable to exceptions.

    This rule we must follow, that the argument of induction may not be evaded by hypotheses.
    https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_M.../BookIII-Rules

    In other words, deduction can only produce a hypothesis, not a truth. The Old Testament makes the same point in Psalm 119:43 "A word of truth is not delivered from my mouth because I wait for God's/reality's judgements."

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by fschmidt View Post
    If you define cause to mean that X always results in Y, then yes. But if you define cause to mean that X usually results in Y, then no, there is no problem with quantum mechanics.
    Right, there is no problem with quantum mechanics, but "causality," in the standard sense, does not apply to the subatomic world. The subatomic world is a world of hazards and probabilities. So I guess that you are arguing that the best way to view the world is as a world of probabilities where X is very likely to result in Y? OK, fine, that makes sense (that's not "causality" though).

    Quote Originally Posted by fschmidt View Post
    I think you confusing inductive and deductive reasoning. Deductive reason is logical reason. Inductive reason is reasoning by means of consistent observations. Experimental results confirm by induction.

    In other words, deduction can only produce a hypothesis, not a truth. The Old Testament makes the same point in Psalm 119:43 "A word of truth is not delivered from my mouth because I wait for God's/reality's judgements."
    Maybe I am confusing inductive reasoning with deductive reasoning (philosophy is not my forte), but either way, I think scientists tend to use both to come up with a theory and then confirm it. Both are good tools to use. Like all tools, they have some flaws, so why not use all the tools at one's disposition to come with a conclusion that is as truthful as possible?

    After all, many of our nice scientific theories are based on the language of logic by excellence: math!

    Addendum:
    here is a good way of summarizing how inductive and deductive reasoning work hand-in-hand (from https://www.math.toronto.edu/mathnet...ductive.html):

    In summary, then: inductive reasoning is part of the discovery process whereby the observation of special cases leads one to suspect very strongly (though not know with absolute logical certainty) that some general principle is true. Deductive reasoning, on the other hand, is the method you would use to demonstrate with logical certainty that the principle is true.
    Last edited by fromelsewhere; 01-01-2018 at 03:27 AM.

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Great videos, and very interesting discussion.

    I think it's very easy to get induction and deduction tangled up, because in practice the lines are very fuzzy. Some examples will help.

    A clear cut example of deduction would be applying a mathematical formula from physics to an actual situation. Eg., Newton's Laws of Motion imply that a falling object will accelerate its speed at a certain rate due to gravity. Therefore, if we drop an rock off the Empire State Building, 5 seconds later it will be moving at such and such a speed. Principle --> Practice. Generalization --> Specific Instance. This is deduciton.

    A clear cut example of induction would be taking a poll of how citizens will vote in a political election, then generalizing the result. Eg., we take a poll of 1,000 individuals living in London, asking them who they vote for mayor in the next election. 602 individuals said they will vote for Mr. Smith. Therefore, about 60% of the total population of London will vote for Mr. Smith. Specific instances --> Generalization.

    Problem is, most of the time induction and deduciton are both used simultaneously. The lines are fuzzy. Consider Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity. Einstein studied experiments in which the speed of light through the ether was tested (Michelson-Morley experiements). These exhaustive experiments were unable to measure the existence of the "ether," or a medium through which light travels. Einstein generalized these experiments, essentially saying therefore, there is no absolute ether (i.e., no absolute space and time), rather space and time are relative. Specific instance --> Generalization. Or is it?

    Another way of looking at it is: Eistein assumes there is no ether, that space and time are relative, and that the speed of light is absolutely as fast as you can go. If all this stuff is true, then what happens? Well, for one thing this means that length of objects in space are diffenet depending on how fast you're going with respect to that object. If you and I measure the same object, but we're going at different speeds, then our measurements will be different. If we assume there's no absolute space, then this is no problem -- we're both right about our measurement, and that's OK. We pretend all this is true without ever actually measuring it. It's just a thought experiment. Generalization --> Specific Instance.

    So is Einstein's discovery of Relativity an inductive or deductive process? Well, both at the same time, interchangably, even when considering the same process. Fuzzy.

    Thanks all for your contributions to this interesting discussion.

    --Dan Edge
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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    The reason why people think that induction and deduction cannot be compatible is because the whole empiricism vs rationalism debate during the enlightenment. Kant and Quine tried to solve the problem - Kant with a priori Knowledge (before experience) and a posterior Knowledge (after experience). In reality both are used to understand the phenomenal world.
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    Science in Islam A history

    The teachings of Islam can fail under no circumstances. With all our systems of culture and civilization, we can not go beyond Islam and, as a matter of fact, no human mind can go beyond the Qur'an.

    (Letter of Goethe to Eckermann, Sir Henry Elliott's collection, 1865)

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by Zafran View Post
    The reason why people think that induction and deduction cannot be compatible is because the whole empiricism vs rationalism debate during the enlightenment. Kant and Quine tried to solve the problem - Kant with a priori Knowledge (before experience) and a posterior Knowledge (after experience). In reality both are used to understand the phenomenal world.
    Exactly right, I agree 100%. I used to be very frustrated with the problem of universals because I couldn't see a way out of Kant's identification of the problem and Hume's skepticism. I'm partial to Karl Popper's work on the subject, but I'm not well-read enough to really evaluate it, and he doesn't seem to have solved the problem anyway. 25 years later, I still can't get around Hume, I just learned not to care It's funny, we human beings have acheived so much in the past few centuries in science and technology -- cleary we're doing something right -- but we still can't prove that we know what we're talking about. We'll just have to keep using induction and deduction in pursuit of knowledge without ever fully understanding how it works or being able to justify it.

    --Dan Edge
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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by DanEdge View Post
    Problem is, most of the time induction and deduciton are both used simultaneously.
    Yes, that!

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by DanEdge View Post
    Exactly right, I agree 100%. I used to be very frustrated with the problem of universals because I couldn't see a way out of Kant's identification of the problem and Hume's skepticism. I'm partial to Karl Popper's work on the subject, but I'm not well-read enough to really evaluate it, and he doesn't seem to have solved the problem anyway. 25 years later, I still can't get around Hume, I just learned not to care It's funny, we human beings have acheived so much in the past few centuries in science and technology -- cleary we're doing something right -- but we still can't prove that we know what we're talking about. We'll just have to keep using induction and deduction in pursuit of knowledge without ever fully understanding how it works or being able to justify it.

    --Dan Edge
    I agree with you - Popper tried to get around the problem of Induction by introducing Falsifiability . Thomas Kuhn disagreed with him and argued that science was based on paradigm shifts. IMO Thomas Kuhn is right.
    Science in Islam A history

    The teachings of Islam can fail under no circumstances. With all our systems of culture and civilization, we can not go beyond Islam and, as a matter of fact, no human mind can go beyond the Qur'an.

    (Letter of Goethe to Eckermann, Sir Henry Elliott's collection, 1865)

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by Zafran View Post
    I agree with you - Popper tried to get around the problem of Induction by introducing Falsifiability.
    As I keep saying, there is no problem of induction. It is those who believe that there is a problem of induction who are themselves the problem, and are largely the cause of the decline of Western culture. And Popper exemplifies all that is wrong with Western philosophy. (I have read several of his books. All are wrong and harmful.)

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by fschmidt View Post
    As I keep saying, there is no problem of induction. It is those who believe that there is a problem of induction who are themselves the problem, and are largely the cause of the decline of Western culture. And Popper exemplifies all that is wrong with Western philosophy. (I have read several of his books. All are wrong and harmful.)
    I suppose, then, that I'm part of the probem

    My degree is in Philosophy and I've never been able to get past the problem of induction. As I say, it's not a problem for me anymore because I chose to just let it go. As far as I'm concerned, Hume may as well be unanswerable. But life goes on!

    --Dan Edge

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by DanEdge View Post
    I suppose, then, that I'm part of the probem

    My degree is in Philosophy and I've never been able to get past the problem of induction. As I say, it's not a problem for me anymore because I chose to just let it go. As far as I'm concerned, Hume may as well be unanswerable. But life goes on!

    --Dan Edge
    If you let it go, then you aren't part of the problem. But for someone with a degree in philosophy, that seems like a cop out. Did you read comments here:

    Science in Islam A history

    Since you are an agnostic, my example of belief in God doesn't work. But I could just as well use belief in deduction. Can you use deduction to prove that deduction works? I think not. One needs to start somewhere, to have some axioms of reasoning. Western philosophers (in the tradition of Plato) take as axioms that deductive reasoning works and that it can be used to find absolute truths. I reject these assumptions. My axiom is inductive reasoning itself, so I have no need to prove it based on anything else. From this axiom, I find the Old Testament to be generally true, but using inductive reasoning I cannot judge the Quran. From inductive reasoning, I find Plato and Western philosophy to be wrong.

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by Zafran View Post
    I agree with you - Popper tried to get around the problem of Induction by introducing Falsifiability . Thomas Kuhn disagreed with him and argued that science was based on paradigm shifts. IMO Thomas Kuhn is right.
    I actually think that both Popper and Kuhn are right to some extent (if I understood their concepts correctly) and that science works with both "falsifiability" on a smaller scale and "paradigm shifts" on a big-picture scale.

    I don't want to reinvent the wheel, but I think that this article nicely summarizes Popper's and Kuhn's perspective on science, and it nicely demonstrates how both perspectives are accurate to some extent but not fully comprehensive of what science is about: https://euroepinomics.wordpress.com/...ic-revolution/

    I think that most of the time, science works with the principle of "falsifiability," but from time to time, there is a significant "paradigm shift" that changes our way of thinking. It is like how our understanding of gravity changed with time. Newton defined gravity as a force between objects that have mass. But then, there were cases where his formulas on gravity could not explain observable phenomena (that is, it was "falsified" in some cases). Einstein then came up with his General Theory of Relativity, a major paradigm shift where gravity was now viewed as a field or a curvature of space-time caused by an object that has mass. Many people have since tried to "falsify" Einstein's theory by trying to look for a situation where Einstein's formulas would not predict a given phenomena, and thus far, his formulas have not been proven wrong. That being said, there have been several puzzling astronomical observations that seem to suggest that our universe has more mass than it should have. Scientists think of this invisible undetectable mass as "dark matter," but it hasn't been found yet. What if it doesn't exist? If it doesn't exist, then this implies that Einstein's formulas are incomplete and that there is another even more fundamental way of understanding gravity... another possible paradigm shift. (Note that you cannot prove 100% that dark matter doesn't exist, but as the search for dark matter continues and there are less and less places where it can hide, new theories will start emerging... and if someone were to devise a new theory of gravity that explains everything that Einstein's theory explains plus the currently puzzling astronomical observations, then the new theory will be seen as more accurate, and it will eventually be the one that's adopted. People will try to prove it wrong, but if it is not shown to be wrong, then it will quickly become the new working paradigm).

    As I tried to illustrate above, to get "paradigm shifts," you need to find inconsistencies. To get inconsistencies, you often use the concept of "falsifiability." Again, just like induction and deduction are not mutually exclusive, I think that Popper's and Kuhn's ideas are also not mutually exclusive neither.
    Last edited by fromelsewhere; 01-02-2018 at 05:10 AM.
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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    I haven't read Kuhn but I know about his writing. I know enough to see that Popper and Kuhn were working on completely different levels. Kuhn was interested in the practical question of how science works. Popper was strictly focused philosophy. He hated induction because it doesn't fit into his philosophical model, so he tried to remove it from science. His "falsifiability" is his attempt to do this, and doesn't conflict with Kuhn as far as I can tell. Popper also attacked the study of history in his "The Poverty of Historicism". In "The Open Society and Its Enemies" Popper defends liberalism and globalism. I assume this is where George Soros got the phrase "the open society" from. For me, Popper is pure evil.

    I am not surprised that 2 agnostics would support Popper, but that doesn't bother me because I know that their culture is doomed anyway. It is more upsetting to me that a Muslim would support Popper since I consider Islam to be the best hope for the future.

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    Re: Science in Islam A history

    Quote Originally Posted by fschmidt View Post
    I am not surprised that 2 agnostics would support Popper, but that doesn't bother me because I know that their culture is doomed anyway. It is more upsetting to me that a Muslim would support Popper since I consider Islam to be the best hope for the future.
    Its not about supporting Popper (there are plenty of things I disagree with him on other stuff) - its specifically Popper trying to solve the problem of Induction that Hume created. falsifiability was his response to Hume to put empirical science on more stronger grounds. Its debatable if he did that.
    Science in Islam A history

    The teachings of Islam can fail under no circumstances. With all our systems of culture and civilization, we can not go beyond Islam and, as a matter of fact, no human mind can go beyond the Qur'an.

    (Letter of Goethe to Eckermann, Sir Henry Elliott's collection, 1865)

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