Written Assignments

Islam and Science


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Selections from the Qur'an

Islam and Science   The purpose of this assignment is to interpret another culture in order to explain history. As you know, history is not so much about what people do, but what people think. For what people think produces what they do. This is what historians really do: they interpret events in the light of intentions and cultural world views.   Here's the historical enigma or historical fact that you need to explain. At the close of the classical period, the scientific tradition in the Greek and Roman worlds moved east where it eventually became the scientific tradition of Islam. The Greek and Roman scientific tradition pretty much died out in the Western world. It was only reintroduced into Europe in the later middle ages via Islam.
   The Greek and Roman scientific traditions were based on many of the same principles as the modern scientific tradition: empiricism, explaining phenomena on their its own terms rather than resorting to explanations beyond the phenomena, extrapolating laws for predictions, and so on. If you want a fairly good discussion of what science is, read the learning module, What is Science? Now, we can explain why science died out in Europe: the Christian world view, which was essentially non-materialist and other worldly, distrusted knowledge of the material world and did not allow for explanations that were entirely materialistic. So why did Islam adopt Western science and continue it so fruitfully? Both Islam and Christianity are very similar and Islam specifically identifies itself as in the same tradition as Christianity? So why did the scientific tradition take root in Islam in a way that it didn't in the Christian west?
   In order to answer this question, you're going to have to explain one aspect of the Islamic world view and show that this aspect is related to some aspect of the scientific tradition.
   You will explain some aspect of the Islamic world view by basing your entire discussion on a passage from the Qur'an. You will then apply that explanation to your own definition of what science is.


Structure   This is the structure of your paper:
You will have a thesis that clearly identifies how you're going to relate some aspect of the Islamic world view to the nature of science.

You will have at least one paragraph where you define what science is; to do so, you should rely on the learning module, What is Science?

You will have at least one paragraph where you provide a quote from the Qur'an and in several sentences explain what that quote means.

You will have at least one paragraph where you apply your explanation of the Qur'an to your definition of science. Your argument in this paragraph must prove that Islam as a religion contains much the same world view as the scientific world view.

You should submit your assignment
using WebUniversity
at http://webu.wsu.edu.



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