But does religion, as the atheists claim, really conflict with science? We can tackle the question in the context of biology. Out of all sciences biology would appear to have the nearest contact with religion because it concerns ‘life’.
Man is, of all living creatures, the most complex and perfect organism. It is man who discovered science and knowledge and it is he who advances it. The first thing that even the earliest man must have been curious about is his own existence as a living creature. There is a something - which we do not know the nature of which distinguishes all living creatures from other existing entities like minerals, rocks, water etc. But all living creatures - men, animals, plants - have this something in common.
It seems reasonable to believe that all living beings are therefore subject to the same law. The Ruler who enforces this law, manifests His power among the living creatures distinctively through His different attributes or names. He who has introduced Himself to us by His personal name, Allah, also reveals His many other names. Among these, Hayy probably has a certain priority; it means the ‘life-giver’. Then, names like Rezzaq - the provider of needs - Musavvir who depicts, shapes and forms - Hafiz the protector, keeper - Mucemmil who creates perfectly and designs beautifully, and so on.
Many non-believers have tried to offer a rational, ‘scientific’ explanation for the original transition form inorganic matter to organic life form. But science is also subject to relativity. Philosophers, scientists - from ancient Greece to today’s biology theorists - have written hundreds of books and contrived many theories about how life began, but that is all they have ever been able to do - offer theories and speculations. They have taken a roundabout route because, up to now no-one has come up with an explanation contrary to the reality of the Qur’an.
The act of creation and giving life belongs only to God. It has not been and will not be explained otherwise. Qur’an, the last holy book, unlike the other holy books, has preserved and protected its originality. One evidence of its superiority to all philosophies and theories is that not one of the accepted hypotheses conflicts with the realities of the Qur’an.
It is encouraging that today many scientists believe that religion has the main role in explaining creation. The biology theorists in particular are trying to build new explanations for the origin of life in accordance with religion.
Despite the great developments in fields like genetic engineering, molecular biology, DNA and immunology, scientists have still not been able to close the immense gap between organic and inorganic matter. ‘Life’ remains the biggest miracle in the universe. False theories like Darwinism and other evolution theories that refuse to accept the miracle of creation are collapsing one after another.
Heinsberg’s theory of ‘indeterminism’ in quantum mechanics, smashed materialism completely, in particular the stubborn notion of ‘cause’ and ‘result’. Later the American philosopher Thomas S. Kuhn, put forward the argument that there are not, and cannot be, any final scientific theories. This is true as, throughout history, we have witnessed that almost all theories have lost their ‘truth’ and been replaced by new theories.
A paradigm, as Kuhn calls it, or a way of seeing, dominates every branch of science for a certain period and then gives way to a new one. According to Kuhn, there is no perfect paradigm in any branch of science. For example a group of researchers begin to work in a certain field within their own paradigm, using their own special methods. In time, an explanation in this field becomes accepted by most or all scientists. Then, the researchers who believe strongly in this paradigm try to develop it as far as they can. Then begins a period of solving problems and riddles, in which the researchers proceed to new discoveries within the boundaries of the paradigm. Kuhn says that this is a stage in which scientific progress is made without cuts. After a while, however, the researchers come face to face with new data which conflict with their paradigm, precisely because all paradigms have certain boundaries. For this reason, there is no paradigm into which you can fit the whole of scientific knowledge at any one time. Arguments amongst the scientists about the data that do not fit the paradigm continue until someone comes up with a new paradigm that can cope with the new data.
So far, all theories, put forward as paradigms, have only explained part of the reality or facts. These paradigms have not all been completely wrong, but they have never been completely right either. For example, certain natural phenomena can still be explained with the physics of Aristotle, while most of the time we use Newton’s laws or, in some situations, Einstein’s theory of relativity. And as regards biology, there are some cases where even Darwin was right.
However, man cannot close his eyes to the reality of creation, as a whole and like an ostrich bury his head in the sand.
The famous philosopher of science, Karl Popper, has a different view on the matter. He measures the health of a theory by checking whether it has too many gaps or missing links, or not. On this ground he states emphatically that ‘Darwinism is not a scientific theory’.
What we can derive from Popper’s ideas or Kuhn’s theory of paradigms is that reality cannot be fully explained by scientific knowledge. Science can only shine a light on some few of the hidden facts of the universe.
Nicholas Maxwell thinks that science will not advance only by increasing the number of experiments for each theory. To explain the purity and the beauty of nature, scientists have to offer theories as pure and as perfect as nature itself. Is it possible to come up with a theory like this? Does man have to push the reality of creation aside - which brings an explanation of everything - to get lost in the mazes of the theories?
The Qur’an explains the origin of life, the ecological balance in nature, the development of the embryo and many other facts so perfectly, that any biologist who reads it must place his head on the ground to worship God.
We expect all scientists to read and respect the Qur’an, because, up to now, no one has proved the knowledge it contains to be wrong. The Qur’an is the word of God and cannot he wrong.