Sunday 18 July 2010

Revising god

Dr Zakir Naik is a very dangerous man. He knows the Koran by heart and spends his days quoting it to prove that (a) Allah is all-knowing and (b) Islam is the best religion.

Now, I hold that all religions are bad for us. So Islam being the best of the lot, assuming it is, doesn’t help or hurt matters much.

But the proofs of Allah being omniscient  worries me, because they go unchallenged. 

Well, there are two obvious problems with his proofs. First, it does seem rather strange of Allah to know everything but to tell us so little. I mean, if he knew the cure of, say, cancer, why did he not tell Muhammad that? One may say, “If he did that, cancer would no longer be a punishment.”

(I assume that we get inflicted by cancer and other nasties because that’s Allah’s will, because everything is his will, isn’t it?)

But men, including Muslim men, have discovered cures for other diseases and presumably taken away these diseases’ power to punish.  So why did he give them the power to heal? And what about the poor guys who popped of before scientists came out with the cures? How were their sins different from ours?

The second problem also deals with the progress of science. In one lecture – or tirade – Naik imagines a dialogue between a scientist and a true Muslim (His idea of a true Muslim, not my). The latter asks the former questions about the solar system, then shows that all that we have learnt in the last five centuries or so (for instance, the earth is spherical; the moon has no light of its own) was in the Koran 1400 years ago.

This, according to him, is proof of that Allah created everything because the designer knows from the beginning what others may discover later.

It does seem however that the Koran doesn’t say much explicitly. It doesn’t say, “The moon reflects the sun’s light.” It’s not an astronomy textbook. It says something that can be interpreted as meaning that the moon reflects the sun’s light, or at least does not contradict that. (I may be wrong about this particular thing, but that’s more or less how Niak goes.)

In other words, the Muslim is sure to find something in the Koran that matches current knowledge.

Which puts us in a fix. We know that current knowledge is limited. We will know tomorrow more than we know today, including, in many instances, that we were wrong. Science will have to be revised accordingly. Does that mean the Muslim will reinterpret the Koran too?

If we were to discover that, say, the moon has its own light, will Naik & Co find some verse in the Koran supporting that?

It’s all very strange. But then it’s religion. And “God moves in a mysterious way.”

The most mysterious question is why doesn’t someone expose Naik and get him to shut up?

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