A Critical Rationalist approach to Religion

On Thursday 28th April,  Al-Mahdi Institute held a Research seminar on the topic of; A Critical Rationalist approach to Religion” conducted by Professor Ali Paya from Westminster University, London. The seminar was attended by AMI students, faculty and interested members of the public.

Professor Paya is a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Westminster. He is also a Professor at the Islamic College (London) and at the National Research Institute for Science Policy in Iran. He has conducted research in various fields including: future studies; cultural, social and ethical impact of modern sciences and technologies; indigenous knowledge; methodologies of social and human sciences; and legacy of Muslim intellectuals. Some of his publications include, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Critical Rationalism (2013), and Analytic Philosophy: Problems, Prospects, and Applications (2012). Professor Paya’s theme for the seminar was ‘Critical Rationalism’.

An example of Prof. Paya’s  analysis from the seminar looked at the similarities and differences between the well known views of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens about religion, in comparison to thinkers such as Lars Albinus. He note the latter as attempting to find a way to defend religious belief against the onslaught of anti-religious thinkers. He analysed many scholars approaches and summarised the main aspects of a critical rationalist way of life in three points;

•The quest for knowledge and truth, for “emancipation through knowledge,” and “spiritual freedom”;
•The critical attitude recognising that any particular expression of the truth is fallible, limited, and not final- seeks un-dogmatically to subject all attitudes, ideas, institutions, traditions, so-called knowledge and so-called freedom, to critical examination and appraisal:
“Rationalists are those people who are ready to challenge and to criticize everything, including their own tradition.”
•Willingness to learn from others: “We must recognize everybody with whom we communicate as a potential source of argument and of reasonable information and take the attitude that I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth.
To view an abstract click here 
To request an audio of the seminar email here 


Professor Ali Paya (University of Westminster)