Zoss: I've long argued that God has given us snapshots of the creation account, but it was never described in full detail. That is to say, there is room for conjectures and theories; them being philosophical or linguistic, or -indeed- in the realm of natural sciences. However, this insatiable curiosity comes with the ultimate humility in the recognition that they're all, after all, conjectures. God says in surat elkahf (18:51), what could be loosely translated as: (I have not made them witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor themselves ...); the operative word here being "witness" (ashhaddtohom), which could also be interpreted as "shown them" as in (maybe) with signs or teachings. To that effect, these efforts might always remain as conjectures, but even then I don't think they should be abandoned nor silenced.
Mohamed:So can I argue that the snapshots are to help us believe (get closer), yet if the snapshots become complete pictures we don't really become believers anymore (because the evidence is right there).
Zoss: Even though we might claim -with the utmost diligence- some form of congruence between our knowledge of the seen world and its reality, we shall try to avoid the pitfalls of assuming knowledge of the intended wisdom, except for maybe that which is made explicit by the divine. I feel this needs to be stressed always; if we are careful one fold with interpretation of the signs, we should be a hundred fold with extrapolating for the cause or the reason.
That being said, Mohamed; yes, maybe you have an argument; maybe in this instance you can invoke this more general argument about the essence of faith: the logic chain seems to be intentionally linked at some point via a belief in the unseen, the non-manifest -- guided by the verse (26:4), which would be loosely translated like (if We will, We would send down from the sky a sign, to which their necks would remain (stooped) in compliance). Again, is this the reason why we are only give snapshots? I highly doubt we can make any verifiable argument to that. We can also think of some other things that might be parallel conjectures to yours. For instance, and very breifly, maybe the essence of the creation is in the snapshots we are given; that is to say, the parts that have not been explicitly mentioned are somewhat less relevant. Or, maybe the idea is that some of these bits are being revealed on daily basis; verse (41:53) (We shall show them Our portents on the horizon and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth); remember 'show'? it has come up before. But, will some ultimately remain partially hidden?
This brings me to the heart of my argument, and I believe, to the heart of the philosophy of science in islam. It should come as no surprise to you that the motivation for science (natural science in particular) varies with the varying principles of the scientist, overlapping as they maybe. For example, Einstein is famously quoted as saying: "I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details." This might overlap quite a bit with what the average muslim philosopher of science would consider as the driving force behind science. Knowing God's creation; Knowing God. From this starting point, spew out all your wonderment and curiosity; these are tools to help you know. Are you going to be stopped by somebody telling you that there are limits to what you could know? even if you know that God, the All-Knowing, (provides whom he wills with no measure) (2:212)? Ah.. at this point, I cannot make any intelligible comments about the philosophy of science in islam that has not been dissected by scholars (like Seyyed Hossein Nasr in the past thirty-some years; e.g. here), but isa maybe soon.
Mohamed:Regarding knowing God, and if we should search into everything. There is a good example about how there are things about the qualities of God that cannot be questioned (and some argue must not be questioned since it adds no value, while might 'shake' the faith). The example is when God says "yabseto kaffayh" or "estawa 3ala el3arsh", people might start to imagine how God's "kaff" looks like, or how He can "yabsetoha" or how he can "yastawy 3ala el3arsh" or how His "3arsh" looks like, but these are all characteristics to be left mysterious and not to be looked further into, no?
I second you in always searching for the reasons, but never really being sure of them, or of the signs themselves for that matter. Isn't the Quran itself one of the great signs. Interesting that I was looking for the tafseer of the two of the aya's (26:4 and 41:53) you provided, and alTabary in both ayas says "ekhtalafa ahl elta'aweel", deliberately unclear by God I believe.
Zoss:I have to disagree about the "example about how there are things about the qualities of God that cannot be questioned".
I feel you are using 'imagine' and 'question' interchangeably. I beg to differ; and, while this might be a marginal disagreement, I had to point it out to make the rest of this comment more sensible.
The meat of it is: I believe this matter is not mysterious at all; it has been affirmatively resolved with the utmost clarity in the quran: ليس كمثله شيء (Naught is as His likeness 42:11); i interpret: in essence, in attributes, and in actions. Naught is as His likeness. Whatever you can imagine, is naught. So, i say, if you believe this verse, then imagine away if you will, for there's plenty of room for your imagination. I could be wrong. what do you think?
On to a general comment: there is a subtle (nontheless, crucial) difference between the 'how' and the 'why' type questioning that might skip some. That was one of the things I tried to squeeze in my previous comment, but maybe not in so many words. If it was missed, I would suggest re-reading the previous comment; to highlight the difference, notice which of the two was used by Einstein.
Mohamed:I think you're right Zoss. If I get you right, I totally agree, and that's my point. Some people try to imagine how God can "yastawy 3ala el3arsh" for example, but they can imagine all they want, it is naught. What some argue, is that we shouldn't imagine such things in the first place, as when one starts to imagine, then He becomes "kamethlehee sahy'a", that shay'a is your imagination, eh.
I think I might be using imagine and question interchangeably indeed. Sometimes I find them to be the same thing when it comes to this stuff.
The "how" vs. "why" did indeed skip me, and it is a very crucial difference indeed. Good to point it out.