The “Sokal Affair” (1996) was an expose pulled off by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University when he submitted for publication, a grand-sounding spoof article “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.” He claimed in the article that postmodern science based on theories by Jacques Lacan and Iris Irigaray demonstrates that quantum gravity within the framework of reality as a social and linguistic construct and its multidimensional manifolds topological space, transgresses the concept of objective truth and thus provides “powerful intellectual support for the progressive project, understood in its broadest sense: transgressing of boundaries, the breaking down of barriers. the radical democratization of all aspects of social, economic, political, and cultural life.”* The article was accepted and published by the postmodern cultural studies journal Social Text (Duke University Press) in 1996. The publication of a spoof article laced spurious physics by an established journal became a scandal. It also confirmed that much of postmodern theories is just academic nonsense or in the words of Sokal, “intellectual impostures.” Continue reading “Exposing Academic Nonsense and Intellectual Impostures”
In this post, I shall focus only on historical facts and will not be making any definitive moral judgment on the current war between Hamas & Israel.
Without a doubt, the name Palestine was used before the founding of the state of modern Israel in 1948. There are maps from the 19th century which have the name Palestine printed over the region of the Holy Land. However, the name Palestine was used to describe a geographical area rather than an independent state or a region defined as a specific administrative region.
The word Palestine was derived from the Philistines, an Aegean people who migrated to the Mediterranean coastal plain between Tel Aviv-Yafo and the Gaza Strip in the 12th century BC. These Aegean people have no genealogical connection recent Palestinian people. The Philistines disappeared from history after they were destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylonia 2600 years ago. The Jews who were exiled to Babylon resettled in the land under the Persian Empire and reestablished Jerusalem as their capital. The Romans who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD and crushed the last Jewish revolt (the Bar Kokhba revolt, 132-136 AD) applied the term Palaestina to Judea in order to erase any Jewish legitimate claim to the land of Israel. The Arabic word Filastin is derived from this Latin name. Continue reading “Was there a Palestinian State in History? The Historical Facts”
Conventional wisdom would like us to believe that science has triumphed over Christianity because science relies on objective knowledge while Christianity relies on blind faith based on ecclesiastical authority. In solving the recalcitrant problems of life, educated people should rely on the cool and dispassionate judgment of the scientist based on careful research in the laboratory instead of the authoritative pontification of the priest from the pulpit. As Bertrand Russell wrote, “The triumphs of science are due to the substitution of observance and inference for authority. Every attempt to revive authority in intellectual matters is a retrograde step.”
According to critics, Christianity relies on myths without factual foundations to impress emotionally vulnerable believers who accept myths according to the shifting impulses of the heart. In contrast, science relies on rigorous and detached analysis to offer reliable and objective knowledge of reality. The proponents of “strong scientism” argue that something is true, rationally justified, or known if and only if it is a scientific claim that has been successfully tested with a proper application of scientific methodology. To be sure, the confidence of scientism has recently become more tempered as a result of scientists themselves failing to gain consensus on the fundamental theories of physics and cosmology. What has emerged is a more modest “weak scientism” which acknowledges that there could be truths known through other means. Nevertheless, “weak scientism” continues to insist that knowledge gained outside of science is certainly less robust and that science remains the ultimate authority in the quest for knowledge. Continue reading “Michael Polanyi on Science as Personal Knowledge”
On 17 April 2021, Uthaya Sankar criticized Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) for restricting the word “Tuhan” to Islamic usage. He observes that for DBP, “Tuhan” seems to refer exclusively to Allah, whereas “tuhan” refers to “something worshipped by people whose religion or belief is not based on the One God” (“sesuatu yang dipuja oleh golongan manusia yang agama atau kepercayaan mereka tidak berasaskan kepercayaan kepada Tuhan Yang Esa”). [Re: Apart from Allah, why is the word “Tuhan” exclusive for Muslims too?]
Author: Ungaran Rashid Publisher: IIUM Press, 2021. ISBN 9789674910945 No. of pages: 128 Price: RM 45.00
[This book is a revised version a thesis in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Heritage (Uṣūl al-Dīn and Comparative Religion) at International Islamic University Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur].
Muslim scholars’ critique of the Christian teaching of the deity of Christ would be more credible if it engages with the origin of divine Christology in its historical context rather than relies on dogmatic assertions of Islamic doctrine. As such, this book is a commendable attempt by a Muslim scholar to engage with Christian scholarship based on historical criticism of primary sources and critical analysis of concepts of Christology.
For Christians, “Son of God” describes the filial relationship between Jesus Christ and God the Father. However, Muslims reject the Christian understanding and assert that “He (Allah) begot no one nor was He begotten” (Sura 112 – Abdel Haleem translation). Dr. Ungaran Rashid, assistant professor at International Islamic University, Malaysia, argues that the way to resolve this conflict of interpretation is to examine the term “Son of God” from the main source, which is Jewish Scriptures (Ungaran’s term for the Old Testament). Continue reading “The Meaning of “Son of God”: A Muslim Critique – Christology Part 1″
While reading Meredah Kabus (2021), an anthology of Bahasa Malaysia short stories published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), Uthaya Sankar notices that “every time a non-Malay (non-Muslim) mentions “Tuhan” (God), it is printed as “tuhan” (god).”
Keadaan dunia ini selalu berubah. Pada hal yang sebenarnya, yang tiada berubah barang sedikit, iaitu Firman Allah yang Maha Mulia itu. Dari zaman ke zaman Allah ta’ala telah menyatakan sifat-sifat-Nya dan kehendak-Nya kepada manusia dengan perantaraan nabi-nabi-Nya itu. Tambahan pula, Firman Allah itu bukannya satu khabar yang sayup atau tak tentu bunyinya, melainkan Firman Allah sudah tersurat dengan tepat and nyata di dalam Al-Kitab yang suci. Di dalam sebahagian Al-Kitab yang digelarkan Kitab Injil itu, ada kenyataan yang lebih ajaib lagi, iaitu Firman Allah telah mengambil bentuk kemanusiaan dan masuk ke dalam dunia dalam peribadi Yesus Kristus yang tersebut namanya Firman Allah. Penjelmaan Firman Allah itu ialah suatu hakikat yang menghairankan. Perkara ini suatu rahsia yang diuraikan di dalam beberapa ayat Kitab Injil. Demikianlah maksudnya:
In this sermon given at the SS Gospel Centre, Petaling Jaya, on 21 March 2021, I discussed whether the baptism in the Holy Spirit is an event that (1) is simultaneous with conversion or new birth (John Stott and Richard Gaffin), or (2) is distinct and subsequent to the new birth, accompanied by the initial physical sign of speaking in tongues (Pentecostals and Charismatics), or (3 ) follows a fixed pattern that is universal and normative for all believers?
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
1 Cor. 12:13
And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2 Cor. 1:21-22)
Open theism is the view that God lacks foreknowledge of undetermined future events, such as knowledge of how humans will or would use their libertarian freedom. This has the corollary that God’s providence is risky rather than risk-free. William Hasker, one of the most prominent and philosophically sophisticated proponents of open theism, defines what it would mean for God to take risks: “God takes risks if he makes decisions that depend for their outcomes on the responses of free creatures in which the decisions themselves are not informed by knowledge of the outcomes.” God’s risk-taking just is God’s providential decision-making in the absence of such knowledge…
[In Open Theism, God’s deliberate non-intervention rather than human free will has the final say]
Although open theists reject the view that any particular evil is necessary in God’s providential scheme (as a greater-good enabler or as a worse-evil blocker), it seems they must accept a parallel view: with respect to any particular actual evil, God’s following his general policy of nonintervention in this case was necessary to maximize opportunities for great goods that could only be obtained by God’s following such a non-interventionist policy. That is, given the policy and the essential role it plays in maximizing opportunities for great goods, God’s hands are tied. He must permit the evil, or risk undermining the great goods the policy aims at. Given the policy, which is itself grounded in God’s goodness and is therefore necessarily the best policy God could take toward creation, God had to permit the evil. (Why else wouldn’t he intervene when he is fully able to do so, except for a judgment of this sort on God’s part?) Continue reading “Open Theism Risky Providence is More Blameworthy than Classical Theism Risk-Free Providence”
Some philosophers [Open Theists] have held that a satisfactory free-will theodicy cannot be developed if we claim God is timeless. Rather, they maintain, God has to be seen as a typical temporal agent, who strives to achieve his objectives within a framework of opportunities defined by the actions of other agents who, like him, are free. He is, of course, immensely powerful and wise, but like us he must await the actions of free beings other than himself in order to know with certainty what they will be, and adjust his own behavior in response. And much that those agents do, most especially their sinful decisions and willings, will not be what God would choose. Not that he is completely in the dark: with experience he may be able to develop probabilistic knowledge of how his creatures will act, and contrive to place them in circumstances designed to elicit if possible whatever behavior will achieve the most good. Moreover, God still has the power to motivate and punish, so his creatures may be guided toward right paths. But on this scenario God’s aims as creator can only be achieved – assuming they will be achieved at all – by taking risks. Inevitably, creaturely free will makes for a setting of uncertainty, and only within that setting can God attempt to bring creation to a happy outcome. Yet he proceeds, and his doing so is a measure of his love for us. [c.f. William Hasker]Continue reading “Critique of Open Theism “Risky Providence.””