Oh dear. One of ours—a University of Chicago cardiologist named Jalees Rehman, has written an article for HuffPo called “The parallel realities of modern science and Islam“. Rehman, a German Muslim, once spent a lot of time trying to “unify” science and Islamic spirituality, but eventually realized it was a mug’s game:
It was only when I became a scientist that I realized the challenge of actually unifying two bodies of knowledge that at their very core are completely distinct. Modern scientific knowledge consists of theories and models that are based on results of experiments which empirically test specific hypotheses. Spiritual knowledge is based on the study of sacred scriptures and metaphysical experiences. This fundamental disparity between modern science and spirituality results in a very different view of reality, as has been eloquently shown in Taner Edis’ excellent book An Illusion of Harmony, and unifying modern science and spirituality seems like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
That’s a promising start, but then Rehman goes off the rails:
These practical considerations have not deterred many contemporary Muslim scientists and philosophers and they are still actively trying to develop practical approaches to a modern day “Islamic Science”. However, there are also other voices that see modern science and religion as two distinct bodies of knowledge that allow us to view different but complementary aspects of reality. We do not advocate a unification of knowledge, but a form of mutual respect and dialogue so that each body of knowledge can draw from their partner’s strengths and wisdom.
That’s straight NOMA talk, but let’s reiterate what each magisterium can gain from “dialogue” with the other:
1. Religion. Religion gains but one thing from science: an increasing knowledge about the universe that makes mockery of religious doctrine, forcing the faithful to revise their dogma while claiming that it was consistent with science all along.
2. Science. Science has nothing to gain from religion, which is simply an annoyance that distracts us from our job.
If I’ve missed something, let me know.
As for science and religion being “complementary aspects of reality,” they’re no more complementary than astronomy and astrology, modern medicine and Christian Science, and evolution and creationism.