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The Seeker’s Pick 19 March 2008

Posted by mecca in ABUSHARIF, Culture, Science, Spirituality.
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This quote is from one of America’s most distinctive literary voices, Annie Dillard. I’ve read it many times and not sure exactly what makes it so appealing, but I think it has something to do with the off-road slant she boldly considers when reflecting on nature. In the “Koran,” from which she quotes, we are invited, challenged to ponder God’s creation, as if pondering is the seeker’s pick, the instrument through which we mine gems and insights. Secrets never give themselves up easily. So we look, think, and pray that we are moved in ways that bare empiricism is inept in achieving.

In the Koran, Allah asks, “The heaven and the earth and all in between, thinkest thou I made them in jest?” It’s a good question. What do we think of the created universe, spanning an unthinkable void with an unthinkable profusion of forms? Or what do we think of nothingness, those sickening reaches of time in either direction? If the giant water bug was not made in jest, was it then made in earnest? Pascal uses a nice term to describe the notion of the creator’s, once having called forth the universe, turn his back to it: Deus Absconditus. Is this what we think happened? Was the sense of it there, and God absconded with it? . . . “God is subtle,” Einstein said, “but not malicious.” Again, Einstein said that “nature conceals her mystery by means of her essential grandeur, not by her cunning.” It could be that God has not absconded but spread, as our vision and understanding of the universe have spread, to a fabric of spirit and sense so grand and subtle, so powerful in a new way, that we can only feel blindly of its helm.

Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, winner of the Pulitzer Prize 1974.

poached| Ottoman Recycling 17 December 2007

Posted by EDITOR in Culture, History, Science.

Looking at the domed ceiling of the Suleimaniya mosque I marvel at the ingenuity of Ottoman architecture: In the past the interior of the mosque was lit by huge braziers and wicker lamps. The damp, oily black smoke would rise to the ceiling, to be collected as it cooled into hidden ducts that were built within the dome itself. Slowly the liquid smoke would filter down and was collected in tiny pots, to be sifted, mixed with oil and gum, to be made into ink. That ink would then be used to write the Qur’ans that were read by the Ottomans themselves. An economy of resources at work: light to smoke, smoke to ink, ink to books, books that were read in the same light that would produce the ink. Truly, the hermetically sealed world of the Ottomans was a riddle that kept its answer to itself.

Farish Noor, Wonders of Islamic Civilization

retread| Reasons Being 20 May 2006

Posted by EDITOR in Arts, GUESTS, Philosophy, Science, Spirituality.
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Retreads are quality posts from yesterweeks tha are given a second run on Saturdays. This piece was originally posted by guest contributor Imran Javaid on 5 February 2005.

What persuades? “Be reasonable,” a loved one says. There’s something oppressive about reason, isn’t there? “Be reasonable!”

How does the Qur’an persuade? It prods us with questions and observations begging logic we supply with its Behold!’s and Do They Not Consider!’s. It offers in God’s voice stories of men and women who talked to God. It invites recitation, and the recitation invites. It rhymes.


The Glowing Green Pig Revolution 21 March 2006

Posted by VARANGALI in Humor, Science, VARANGALI.


pity this busy monster, manunkind
(e.e. cummings)

One hears arguments every day that progress has progressed too far, that in the name of science we have crossed moral boundaries, and that the high priests of today wear white coats and minister from sanitized laboratories. Yet scientists claim that the pendulum has swung back: the conservative, knee-jerk reactions of politicians and the American people hold back necessary research in stem cells, cloning, etc. Sometimes I think that we are victims to neither progress nor regress, just some species of weird. (more…)

Evolution of the Species of Inquiry 20 March 2006

Posted by MOZAFFAR in MOZAFFAR, Philosophy, Politics, Science.
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To all who have evolved from primates, and (heh,heh) all from whom primates have evolved:

The problem with the Evolution discussion is that somehow, people need to invoke theology. I don’t see why. We don’t do that when we’re talking about medicine/pharmacology; though perhaps we used to (and in some parts of the world we still do). (more…)