• Date: 2014 Sep 22

Religion, Science and Philosophy


Religion, Science and Philosophy

Here we are also confronted with a fundamental problem whose solution would require extensive and time consuming analysis. The question is this: what sort of concepts are religious concepts Are they in the same category as scientific concepts Or do they belong to the category of philosophical concepts Or is it that they belong to a third group of concepts In other words, we want to know whether religious conceptions are in a special category of their own, or that they are shared by science and philosophy also Is it possible for a problem to arise in science and religion together Is it possible for philosophy and religion to share problems between them These are the questions that we are faced with.

Suppose that there are actually problems that are found both in the realm of philosophy and the domain of religion; what characteristics would make it a problem of philosophy or a problem of religion Perhaps we can answer that if a problem is solved solely through the exercise of reason, and conviction in that solution is also based upon logical reasoning and analysis, then that problem is a philosophical one. If on the contrary, a problem is solved solely on the basis of the Revelation, and conviction in such a solution is also based upon the Revelation, then we could say that such a problem is a religious problem. Such an answer, however, is inadequate, and does not solve all the problems involved. For example, we have rational inference used in the Quran to prove the oneness of God. Also logic is used to prove that there is a day of resurrection. What are we to conclude, then, about such problems Are they philosophical, or religious issues We read in the Quran:

If there had been in them (heavens and earth) any gods except Allah, they would both have certainly been in a state of disorder. (21:22)

The kind of reasoning used in this verse is termed "exceptional syllogism." Those who are familiar with logic know that the exception in this syllogism is "suppressed". This is similar to many other syllogisms in which one of the two premises is suppressed. In logic we have a topic which deals with "suppressed argument," in which one of the premises of the syllogism is stated while the other one is left unsaid because it is assumed to be obvious. Sometimes the exception of an exceptional syllogism is not stated because of its obviousness. The purport of the Quranic verse just quoted is that if there were any other god ruling over the heavens and the earth beside the One God, the heavens and the earth would have been corrupted and thrown into chaos. But we see that they have not fallen into chaos. The conclusion is that there is only one almighty God. Now, one may ask: Is the matter raised here a philosophical or a religious one It is also said in the Quran:

Shall We treat those who believe and do good like the mischief makers in the earth Or shall We make those who guard (against evil) like the wicked (38:28)

This is the reasoning which the Quran uses to prove that there must be a day in which everyone must reap what he has sown; the good shall be rewarded and the bad shall be punished.

Now what are we to think of such a problem, when it is backed by such reasoning Is it a religious or a philosophical problem In order to answer this question it is necessary to first explain what is religion. Does religion consist of a series of laws which have been given to us by the Almighty, be they related to individual or social affairs Does religion consist of beliefs, morals and commands in their totality If we accept the notion that belief is a part of religion, then, the question arises as to whether belief as such is to be considered as a part of religion, or the reason, or reasons, for professing those beliefs should also be considered as belonging to religion.

The conclusion that can be drawn from the aforementioned discussion is that if religion is taken to mean all the things that we are given in the Quran and the sunnah (tradition), then, we must conclude that there are some issues that are commonly shared by religion and philosophy. At the same time, each of these realms of human thought and experience includes areas outside the jurisdiction of the other. In religion, a number of problems are raised and dealt with that are not discussed or proved in philosophy. For example, the laws of Islamic jurisprudence, or obligatory practices such as the five daily prayers and fasting are not related to philosophy. On the other hand, there are problems and issues in the realm of philosophical speculation that have nothing to do with religion. For example, the question whether objects are made up of matter and form, is a philosopical problem which has no connection with religion. There are, however, some problems which are of importance both in philosophy and religion (e.g. questions regarding the existence of God, Resurrection, etc.).

In any case, such problems as these require an extensive discussion for which this is not the proper time and place. In fact a whole book must be devoted to such a discussion.


By: Ayatullah Muhammad Taqi Misbah Yazdi

Ref: imamreza.net

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