Philosopher ar-Razi
Posted: 29 September 2008 03:02 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Do any of you know about this man? I just read of him in my Islamic Philosophy class. He was a Persian philosopher, doctor, and scientist who criticized religion of his time (late 9th - early 10th century), particularly Islam.

A quote of his:

You claim that the evidentiary miracle is present and available, namely, the Koran. You say: “Whoever denies it, let him produce a similar one.” Indeed, we shall produce a thousand similar, from the works of rhetoricians, eloquent speakers and valiant poets, which are more appropriately phrased and state the issues more succinctly. They convey the meaning better and their rhymed prose is in better meter. ... By God what you say astonishes us! You are talking about a work which recounts ancient myths, and which at the same time is full of contradictions and does not contain any useful information or explanation. Then you say: “Produce something like it”?!

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Posted: 02 October 2008 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Coincidentally he was mentioned this morning on a BBC Radio 4 discussion about medieval Islamic science which you can download here.

Great quote by the way, and one to prod at the Islamic apologists on this board.

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Posted: 03 October 2008 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Joseph Trau - 29 September 2008 07:02 PM

Do any of you know about this man? I just read of him in my Islamic Philosophy class. He was a Persian philosopher, doctor, and scientist who criticized religion of his time (late 9th - early 10th century), particularly Islam.

A quote of his:

You claim that the evidentiary miracle is present and available, namely, the Koran. You say: “Whoever denies it, let him produce a similar one.” Indeed, we shall produce a thousand similar, from the works of rhetoricians, eloquent speakers and valiant poets, which are more appropriately phrased and state the issues more succinctly. They convey the meaning better and their rhymed prose is in better meter. ... By God what you say astonishes us! You are talking about a work which recounts ancient myths, and which at the same time is full of contradictions and does not contain any useful information or explanation. Then you say: “Produce something like it”?!

Ibn Warraq has, if I remember correctly, a very nice introduction to the thoughts of ar-Razi in “Why I am not a Muslim”

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Posted: 04 October 2008 04:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Very interesting, thanks guys. My class has thus far resembled an embassy for Islam. Our first text was written by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one which contains very little philosophy but plenty of empty rebuttals to perceived unfair treatment of Islam in the West and explanations of Islamic doctrine.

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Posted: 04 October 2008 12:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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I went to a lecture by SHN at Imperial College in London not so long ago. He appeared to be saying basically that there must be a ‘sacred science’, and ‘Islamic’ science would fit the bill. He said Islamic countries are taking on western technology because they don’t want to be dominated by the west, but they are not real Muslims because you can’t adopt western scientism and still keep hold of Islamic ethics.

He could not quite seem to make up his mind whether modern western materialism is at fault for contaminating Islam, or whether Muslims are at fault for rushing so eagerly to grab western technology. I certainly couldn’t work out who he was addressing his remarks to! And of course he makes use of western technology all the time, flying everywhere, using refrigerators and computers etc. Would he give all that up for ‘sacred science’? I doubt it somehow.

It goes without saying that science is science, it has no inherent sacredness or profanity. Use of science is a very different matter, but I don’t think science is very safe left in the hands of religious believers. I don’t trust their morality at all. Some of them may be nice enough, but some of them would go to any lengths because it’s God’s will, including trying to blow up the world.

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Posted: 04 October 2008 01:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Back in 1972 - 73 I carried out a running debate with a student of Nasr in the letter column of the Tehran Journal.  Nasr may have changed since then, but at the time, via his student, his view seemed to be that no kind of spirituality could exist in a Western secular society because they had been too corrupted, what was required was a return to traditional values and a traditional culture.

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