Religion and Science, Four Models, an Iranian Approach


  • Mahdi Esfahani



Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic discourses, new science, the Qur'an, Thechnocrats, selectivists, purists, historicists


Iran’s revolution was understood by its past Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, as a revitalization of religion in the modern world. Based on this religious foundation, Iranian Governments over the last thirty years have had a special science policy, which has withstood political shifts. In this essay, I explore the consequences of Iran’s religiously motivated science policy in the era of communication and accelerative globalization, in which everything affects everything else! I have studied Industrial engineering in Tehran, and then I changed to Islamic philosophy in order to pursue questions about the authority and truth of scientific knowledge. Having completed my PhD in western Philosophy in the Iranian Institute of Philosophy, I am now affiliated with the Free University of Berlin. As a Muslim, I have always engaged with the question about the relation between Islam’s claim on truth and other sources of knowledge. This study focuses on Iranian Twelver Shiism and begins by surveying related concepts of knowledge from different historical periods, up to the Iranian revolution. Against this background, I proceed to define four distinct, pervasive Islamic discourses on new sciences: Technocrats, Historicists, Selectivists, and Purists. These discourses have their adherents in Iranian religious society and offer potential religious and philosophical support for Iran’s science policies. I also give some examples of their practical implications.

This paper is one of a collection that originated in the IAHR Special Conference “Religions, Science and Technology in Cultural Contexts:  Dynamics of Change”, held at The Norwegian University of Science and Technology on March 1–2, 2012. For an overall introduction see the article by Ulrika Mårtensson, also published here.




How to Cite

Esfahani, M. (2020). Religion and Science, Four Models, an Iranian Approach. Marburg Journal of Religion, 22(2).