An interesting read

I can’t say whether he’s right or not, but Joshua Guilder has an NRO post about Robert Reilly’s book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind, which makes the argument that truly moderate Islam is so rare because of the Ninth Century victory of the anti-rationalist Ash’arites over the Mu’tazilites. It was under the Mu’tazilites that there occurred the high achievements in science and philosophy of the “golden age of Islam.”
Until I read this article, I was unfamiliar with the term “voluntarism,” which Reilly states was a core belief of Ash’arism. Specifically,

To quote Reilly, it “holds that God is the primary cause of everything and there are no secondary causes. There is no causal mediation. Therefore, what may seem to be ‘natural laws,’ such as the laws of gravity, physics, etc. are really nothing more than God’s customs or habits, which He is at complete liberty to break or change at any moment.”

While Christianity recognizes the possibility of miracles, when God intervenes to supersede natural law, in Islam every nanosecond is the functional equivalent of a miracle, the result of God’s divine act. Thus there is no law of gravity, only God’s will, determining moment by moment that the apple will fall from the tree. Neither is there any morality, no objective good and evil as we in the West would see it, only the arbitrary decrees of an all-powerful God. There is no “truth that is written in our hearts,” only the truths that are written in the Koran, which could just as well be otherwise if such were the whim of God. As Ibn Hazm pronounced in the 11th century, “He judges as He pleases, and whatever He judges is just. . . . If God the Exalted had informed us that He would punish us for the acts of others . . . all that would have been right and just.”

I was, of course, immediately reminded of intelligent falling

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