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Review article

https://doi.org/10.31820/ejap.18.2.9

How Much Should or Can Science Impact Theological Formulations? An Ashʿarī Perspective on Theology of Nature

Shoaib Ahmed Malik ; Zayed University, Dubai, UAE
Nazif Muhtaroglu ; Istinye University, Istanbul, Türkiye


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Abstract

There have been many developments in the field of science and religion over the past few decades. One such development is referred to as ‘theology of nature’ (ToN), which is the activity of building or revising theological frameworks in light of contemporary scientific developments, e.g., evolution, chaos theory, and quantum mechanics. Ian Barbour, John Polkinghorne, and Arthur Peacocke, all of whom are Christian thinkers, are the most well-known advocates of this kind of thinking. However, this discourse has not been examined from an Islamic perspective. Given this gap, in this article, we view this strand of thinking from the Ashʿarī school of thought that is part of the Sunnī Islamic kalām tradition. We first review how ToN manifests in the works of the thinkers mentioned earlier. Following this, we highlight the essential principles in Ashʿarism relevant to God, His interaction with the created world, and science. These are then compared with the ideas of the said thinkers. Two conclusions are reached. First, we demonstrate that atomism, which is generally understood as a long-held position in the Ashʿarī tradition, should not be held as a theological position but rather a philosophical or a scientific one. Second, an important distinction is made between science-informed theology (SIT) and contingency-informed theology (CIT). For Ashʿarīs, a CIT is sufficient for understanding God, but they would find the SIT displayed in ToN problematic. The motivation and methodology of localising or modifying God’s nature or attributes to fit the science of the day would be seen as theologically very costly and a form of scientism.

Keywords

science and religion, theology of nature, natural theology, divine action project, Ashʿarism, occasionalism, contingency

Hrčak ID:

287332

URI

https://hrcak.srce.hr/287332

Article data in other languages: croatian

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