Many advocates (and critics) of religion often present it as largely (if not exclusively) a matter of “faith” or “the heart” in which intellect, reason and the mind play little-to-no role. Similarly, many advocates (and critics) of science often paint it as largely (if not exclusively) a matter of “reason” or “the head” in which emotion, intuition and the imagination play little-to-no role. At the very best when one side does recognize the validity of the other, it is always on the condition of predetermined subservience to its own pre-established conclusions. When we look at these widely accepted descriptions of religion and science we find a “mindless religion” contrasted (and often pitted) against “heartless (or soulless) science.” This Manichean distinction between religion and science plays a central role in the self-understanding and self-definition of both secular modernity and religious fundamentalism. The consequences of these definitions manifest themselves in the form of a shrill confrontation and conflict in culture at large pitting “rational, progressive science” against the “timeless wisdom of revealed religion.”
As a result of this conflictual atmosphere, discussions about the place and role of religion and science in contemporary society do not go beyond self-serving monologues when the ‘ulema are addressing students in the madrassahs and the professors are addressing students in the university. This type of discussion often devolves into a shouting match when the two parties have to talk to each other. A careful examination shows that these self-serving monologues and shouting matches are embedded in a whole set of ideologically charged, unexamined presuppositions. These presuppositions cannot but fan the flames of conflictual confrontation while at the same time pre-empting fruitful dialogue (to say nothing of possible integration). It is an urgent need of the day to step back from the ideologically charged atmosphere that prevails in both the university and the madrassah and lay bare the unexamined presuppositions that shape the dominant definitions of both “religion” and “science.” This will set the stage for identifying the preconditions of moving from a conflict-independence to a dialogue-reconciliation conception of the relationship between religion and science. This workshop will seek to meet this very need of the day.
Dr. Basit Bilal Koshul
Dr. Basit Bilal Koshul complete his bachelors in Political Science from Rutgers University (1989). He did his first Masters from William Peterson College in Social Sciences (1994) and his second Masters in Islamic Studies and Christian Muslim Relations (1999) from Hartford Seminary. His first PhD, from Drew University, was in Religion and Society specializing in the Sociology of Religion (2003) and his second PhD was from University of Virginia in Religious Studies specializing in Theology, Ethics and Culture (2011). He joined Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) in 2006 as Assistant Professor after teaching at Concordia College in Minnesota, USA for four years. Currently, he is an Associate Professor at LUMS.