The Islamic ummah is currently unique amongst the Abrahamic peoples in the depth of its deference to science and technology. (There might be a postcolonial reason for this or, perhaps, the deference has a more indigenous lineage, back to a rationalist subjectivity the Muslims themselves invented centuries before Europe took and ran with it so successfully. That’s not our concern today.)
Running from the East to the West of the body of Islam, in homes, mosques and discussion circles, we find the “proof” of Islam’s veracity is often couched in reference to scientific theories. Popular authors such as Bucaille, Yahya, Deedat and Naik will often claim the Qu’ran’s eternal Truth by arguments that it “predicts” scientific facts that could not have been known at the time of the Prophet Muhammed. Bucaille, for example, claims the Qur’an predicts the movement of the solar system in orbit around the centre of the Milky Way. Yahya claims Einstein’s theory of relativity and the communication system of the honey bee were shown to Muhammed by Gabriel. Passages that might have been mysterious in the past are now clear in their prediction of scientific facts: and for this reason, we know that the Qur’an is Truth.
We could contrast this with modern day Christians (from ecstatic American Pentecostals to more sedate Anglicans and Catholics) who tend to emphasize a personal, emotional, experiential, supernatural aspect of their faith (being touched in some way by the Holy Spirit/Jesus, miracles of saints, visions of Mary etc). And this difference is often utilized by Muslim apologists to illustrate a key division between the religions: Islam is scientific, Christianity is superstition. The fact that this argument works so well illustrates how respected the scientific perspective is within the Islamic ummah. (We see the same argument employed by the same group of Muslims against Sufis, with their claims to astral travel and so on.)
There are deep problems with this perspective. Science and spirituality are “compatible”. As a Sufi, I could elaborate on the numerous spiritual problems (or stumbling blocks) that arise from the currently predominant Muslim position on science and religion. I’ve spoken about such things elsewhere within this blog. But, speaking as a Muslim and a scientist, I am concerned with an orthogonal issue: in deferring to these dubious authors and apologists, the Muslims believe themselves to be deferring to science, but are in fact utilizing pure pseudoscience. They are deferring to cranks. They are basing their “proof” of the Qur’an’s Truth upon pure inauthenticity: there is nothing more inauthentic than claiming to think scientifically when there is no science thought. Inauthenticity is the nature of hypocrisy. And basing the proof of your religion on hypocrisy can’t be good for anyone.
A few points of criticism, regarding Bucaille and Yahya, but with applicability to the rest of the bunch also in mind.