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Post by Lausten » Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:40 pm

I learned about this guy Al-Ghazali from this little speech fragment by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

There is a complete documentary about him here. It is about a believer tracing his life and seeking his conclusions, but it contains scholars too and although it does not challenge the faith of the Sufis, it doesn’t spend much time praising them either.

I find his story interesting because he is like Alfred Plantiga, William Lane Craig and Fred Phelps all rolled into one and he lived in a time when science was making progress. He accomplished what those three only dream of. He reversed 300 years of progress toward a more rational approach to government, health and human relations. Of course he didn’t do that single handedly, but that’s beside the point.

Since he isn’t here to be interrogated, we can’t determine if he would have been resistant to the more sophisticated arguments of today. We can’t say how he would have reacted to evolution or string theory. We have to accept his sincerity. According to his story, he was teaching theology when he had a spiritual crisis. He realized he was talking about Allah, but he had not made the spiritual connection to Allah. He felt he was a fraud.

Of course he was, but he didn’t have the Center for Inquiry to turn to for help, so he gave away everything he had and started wandering. If we take him at his word, he was applying a method of reasoning and experimentation to the idea of a spiritual pilgrimage. According to him, he succeeded in making his connection to God, so he it took as proof of his method.

Some of the things he says actually are rational. He even speaks against fundamentalism. He calls it zealotry, but he’s talking about the same thing. In that sense he is closer to the liberal theologians of today than those I mentioned above. He says, when arguing about God, or in any attempt to seek truth, the two sides should put aside their egos. The goal should not be to defeat your opponent or demonstrate you are better at arguing, but to find the truth. I would have to see him in a debate with Matt Dillahunty before I could trust his sincerity about that.

If you look at his followers, you might conclude he was insincere. His arguments are just another version of claiming to seek the truth but only accepting one conclusion. No matter what evidence is presented or what logic is followed during the debate, if the forgone conclusion is not reached in the end, then truth was not found. You can see this in the statements of the filmmaker in the end. He says he’s found more about the path toward truth, but he doesn’t think he was made it there yet.
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