Science, Scepticism and FaithThis following is inspired by a post on Burning Blue Soul entitled Reflection: The Vanity of the Self. In it, Basil says, "I am a vicious sceptic... [a] side-effect of this skepticism is that I have developed an unhealthy contempt of teachers & imams that I am desperately working to overcome." Personally, I think a degree of scepticism is essential in a faith so rampant with dogged authoritarianism.
Scepticism was bred into me. Both my elder brothers were enthralled by science at school: one attended a Technical High, the other was born dismantling things. In part they were inspired by my father, himself a technician and a scientific atheist in the tradition of T H Huxley. The result was a mindset not uncommon in 21st century Britain: liberal, rational-empiricist and sceptical.
As a result, I don't 'believe' in science. Some people do, some don't. I was taught to mistrust both attitudes and, instead, study science. The science most people swallow is one propounded by the media, and it is extremely distorted version of the real thing. For example, science correspondents often headline single research studies as if they are statements of fact, which they are not.
The science people reject is one that they think promised certainty, but never did. Or they 'believe' in something else supposedly incompatible with science. In both stances of belief and disbelief, there is rarely a serious attempt to test assertions against observation or un-emotive debate. The status of science is sufficient to ensure it has plenty of unthinking evangelists and detractors.
Rational thought and observation continue to inform how I make sense of the world, although both these tools have been tempered and developed by the insights of post-structural thinking. Yet I remain a Mu'min. My faith is one which intuits a living path to truth within the Muslim fold not dependent on blindly accepting authoritarian pronouncements on Islamic orthopraxy or orthodoxy.
This is not to deride the faith of those who accept the word of the Imam as final in matters of belief and practice. For example, neither of my two daughters have shown much interest in science. As a result, they have no informed understanding of cross-infection. In teaching them to cook with raw meat, therefore, sharp words - rather than reason - were generally required!
The important thing, if one embarks on a path of reasoned exploration, is to remember what al-Qur'an has to say about those who chuck it in, and instead use their knowledge to assume a position opposing religion (4:137). There aint no way out of that dark hole. Doubt and scepticism aint the same as atheism. Sadly, poor old T H Huxley and my old dad never figured that one out.