Modern Trends in World Religions

By A. Eustace Haydon | Go to book overview
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I
ISLAM AND MODERN SCIENTIFIC THINKING

By MARTIN SPRENGLING

WHAT is the position of Islam when we compare, contrast, or seek some relation of world-religions to modern scientific thinking?

It is difficult, indeed quite impossible, to answer this question in a manner wholly satisfactory to every Moslem and to every Western observer. Most modern Moslems, despite the admitted backwardness of the Moslem world in the scientific advance of this "Century of Progress," would claim a high degree of compatibility between Islam and scientific thinking. Indeed, a fair number of intellectual leaders of the modern world of Islam, both reactionary and progressive, especially in India and in Egypt, have in various ways and in varying degrees given expression to such an estimate.

On the other hand many, indeed, until recent years most Western observers have pretty clearly considered Islam nearly or quite incapable of modernization, and not a few of them have given fairly definite expression to this judgment. Being myself a Westerner, it seems to me fairest to inquire first into the reasons for this unfavorable judgment of the West.

It is obvious, though the point need and should not be overstressed, that there is in this judgment some residue of a hostile past. In their origins both Christianity and Islam are medieval Mediterranean monotheisms, claiming to be revealed--chiefly through an inspired book--for the salvation of all men; both thus had to claim universal authority,

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