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Belief In The Unseen: Part VIII

How far we can trust the conclusions drawn from such comparisons between scriptural observations and known scientific facts, is the question which must be addressed here. Time continues to refine the conceptual faculties of man, forever widening the horizon of his awareness. Hence man's understanding of things is subject to constant change. How then can one rely on the verdict of any given scientific era and accept it as final? Take for instance the case of the natural laws which are unanimously accepted as universal and unchanging. Yet it cannot be said that they were understood alike by the philosophers and scientists of all ages. In view of this, will not the scientific testimony of the contemporary age in favour of Quranic revelation lose some of its dependability? Can one rely with absolute certainty on the finality of this verdict? Will it not be justified to suggest that the universally accepted concepts of today may be put to question by the advanced intellectual enlightenment of tomorrow?

To raise such questions is justified indeed but only partially so. All the concepts of the past have not necessarily changed in subsequent ages. There are countless cases of human understanding of things which, after undergoing some change for a period of time, became stabilized ultimately. There is many a law of nature which having been once accepted as universal truth, always remained so without further debate. There may occur some minor adjustments but in general their understanding remains unaltered. No intricate philosophical or scientific discussion is required any more to prove their validity. At the elementary level of water, fire, air and earth, their properties are better understood with the passage of time of course, but no change has ever occurred in the understanding of their fundamental nature. Fire still burns as it always did, water still extinguishes as it has done in the past. They have become fundamental truths belonging to all times, hence no one in his senses can ever predict that water will one day begin to burn and will feed the flames of fire. Yet in the domain of Divine prophecies some predictions are made which are no less startling by virtue of their being so different from the well-established human knowledge. For instance, in the past ages it would take only a prophet to make a prediction so bizarre as to prophesy that a day would dawn when water would also be observed to burn in addition to its extinguishing properties. That would be some prophecy indeed! If later on the existence and the properties of sodium are discovered to exactly correspond to the prophecy, no one has a right to dismiss such a prophecy as a soothsayer's vain babble. Once discovered, however, this unusual behaviour of sodium will be counted among the unchangeable universal laws. No one can suspect that a day may dawn when water would cease to ignite sodium. Yet if man looks around with awareness he will be amazed to find how much of his knowledge has already come to stay as unchangeable realities.

The same is true of human sensory perceptions. Their scope may widen but their recognition of the sweet, the bitter, the savoury, the unsavoury, heat and cold, noise and silence, comfort and discomfort, pain and pleasure and a myriad of other similar sensory stimulators will not undergo any change. Stability of concepts such as these can be classified as the primary stage of certainty. A comparatively higher stage of certainty belongs to the area of scientific enquiry. There too, we can find examples of complete agreement among scientists on many a concept which has come to stay and as such is accepted as universal. For instance, about the chemical composition of water there are no two opinions. One cannot suggest that with the passage of time its formula will change and a new formula may be discovered to replace it, such as H3O5 instead of H2O.

This article is excerpted with permission from Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth

Link to Belief In The Unseen: Part I here

Link to Belief In The Unseen: Part II here

Link to Belief In The Unseen: Part III here

Link to Belief In The Unseen: Part IV here

Link to Belief In The Unseen: Part V here

Link to Belief In The Unseen: Part VI here

Link to Belief In The Unseen: Part VII here


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