AYHAN ÇITIL | ARE ACADEMIA’S QUESTIONS OUR OWN?
SEMESTER-CLOSING LECTURE “ARE ACADEMIA’S QUESTIONS OUR OWN?” WAS GIVEN BY PROF. AYHAN ÇİTİL
During the fall semester of IDE Academy Higher Specialization Program, Professor Ayhan Çitil gave lectures on Islamic Thought and Philosophy of Science for 13 weeks and the last session was lectured as a semester-closing lecture on January 12, 2023.
Professor Çitil started his speech by pointing out what we are facing as Muslims in the modern era and what “questions” we need to face. Prof. Çitil first touched on artificial intelligence and the problems it brings. He said that the possibility of producing a language was thought to be unique to human beings with a program is worthy of consideration in terms of theology. He pointed out that the possibility of advancing artificial intelligence (AI) technology may overshadow human beings and take away its feature of being the noblest of all creatures (ashraf al-makhluqat). He stated that with the AI technologies some new theological problems will arise.
Çitil also stated the issue that if the functions of human consciousness are reduced to the material/mental/neuroscientific spheres, it will also cause some metaphysical problems. The question as to how consciousness exists in a physical universe is a though question, because even if this question is answered, it is very difficult to verify the answer. He stated that to say and prove that everything happens within the physical universe is to try to show that the transcendental is not needed. From this aspect, this problem has significant importance concerning to theology. Another important problem that is dealt with in the theology circles and that concerns Muslims is the issue of the existence of the universe, based on Kant’s claim that the proper science of the cosmos cannot be made. According to Prof. Çitil, trying to explain the existence of the universe based on a single theory is not enough and we need quantum physics but, we cannot visualize what kind of reality quantum physics envisions. Professor said that the scientific discussions after the 60s, unlike Kant, showed that the science of the cosmos can be made, but this should be carefully evaluated in terms of theologians. Therefore, the existence of the universe stands before us as tough question we need to deal with.
Professor Çitil mentioned that there are moral and legal problems caused by scientific studies that are in vitro production of embryos, pig-to-human organ xenotransplantation and stem cell studies.
According to Prof. Çitil, the question of “Can things that happened in the past be known to reveal their effects?” is another important question we need to face.
Professor Çitil said that the details that are ignored, pushed into the background will give us important information if examined and actually exist in historical data and it is important to write their history (microhistory).
Beside these questions, “Is it possible to establish political orders that eliminate democratic backsliding/autocratization?”, “What kind of vehicles should be made for interstellar travels?” and “How can the human body endure interstellar travels?” are such questions that need to be faced by the academy of theology and pointed out that these questions also have ideological backgrounds and one need to be careful in this respect. Professor stated that evaluating these questions from our own perspective and seeking answers stands before us as a very important issue in building the future.
According to Çitil, it is important to deal with theology in order to answer these questions, but not enough on its own and emphasized the importance of facing and overcoming these questions for every Muslim scientist, whether theologian or not. With the following question the Professor ended his lecture: “How can we develop an understanding of universal knowledge that encompasses all knowledge of existence in accordance with the principle of tawhid?”