Thursday, January 7, 2010

Suffah Study Circle 2

Suffah Study Circle 2

Dated on the 27.12.2009

Studying text pg 5 to 12, Islam and Secularism,

Prof Naquib Al-Attas

Prepared by Samir Syirazi Bin Mustafa Kamal

Brief Summary

During our 2nd Suffah study meeting, we have discussed how the Christians are pushing for a de-Hellenization of Christianity. This basically means that they are pushing for Christianity to stop adopting Greek ideas or customs, and in this case, to stop believing in Aristotelian thought. They believe that Hellenization has resulted in problems such as conceiving God as a suprarational Person, which means that God cannot be comprehended by reason alone, and the Trinity. They are also pushing for the demythologization of Christian scriptures, which means they are planning to remove the mythical aspects of it (i.e miracles, Revelations)

so that they can relay the message again, but this time in more rational (i.e logical, scientific) terms.

The Christians also have a problem dubbed the “problem of God”, as they have made a distinction between essence and existence. Since God’s Being is identical with His Existence, and His Essence cannot be proven, that also means that His existence cannot be proven as well, which throws His Existence in doubt. Therefore, a person has to have faith in order to believe that God exists, and because of this problematic nature of their concept of God, they are

comtemplating discarding the name “God” altogether and coining a new name (i.e Nature, Intelligent Being).

Christianity also allows for future change(s) in line with historical “development” demands and needs, as long as the change(s) fit into the doctrine of the Trinity.

Aristotelian thought and Parmenidean thought

Aristotelian thought basically regards God’s existence as necessary, while everything else (i.e creatures) is contingent (i.e up to the Will of God whether He wants them

to exist or not), both in mind and reality.

The uncomfortable fusion of Parmenidean and Aristotelian thought basically regards God’s existence as necessary, and while it regards creatures contingent as to their being, their existence is necessary in thought. This means that whether anything exists outside of the mind, are up to the Will of God, but everything always exist in the mind.

The Christians adopted Aristotelian thought and also continued to adopt the Parmenidean thought at the same time, therefore the resulting conclusion is that the essence of the creature in thought is necessary, but is contingent when it is outside of thought. A simple example

discussed during our Suffah study meeting to explain this conclusion would be a pink unicorn. We can describe the pink unicorn as “pink in colour”, “who has a horn on its head” etc. These are its essence(s), and we can visualize it in our minds (i.e thought). Whether the pink unicorn exists outside of thought (i.e in the real world) however, is a different thing altogether.

Concept of Trinity

The concept of Trinity in Christianity basically teaches the unity of the Father (God), the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Ghost (Spirit) as three persons in one Godhead. However, the term “person” here does not match the same understanding of the meaning of “person” in the modern English Language, where it means “an individual, self-actualized center of free will and conscious activity.”

The Council of Nicaea declared that the Son and the Father is “of the same substance”. This was further developed into the formula “three persons, one same substance” with the addition of the Holy Ghost. Whenever the question “What is God?” was posed to them, the concept of one-ness (one substance) was given as the answer, and whenever the question “Who is God?” was posed, the concept of three persons (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) simultaneously existing in one essence was given as the answer. In this way, the Council of Nicaea managed to keep the doctrine of Trinity without any accusations of worshipping pagan gods (since there are more than one god that the Christians are worshipping i.e the Father AND the Son AND the Holy Ghost) due to the one essence in nature, which to the Christians, means One True God.

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