With reference to Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi's letter on secular values , I would like to remind the writer that attacking secularism doesn't constitute a defence for Islam per se, or vice versa, or if it is necessary at all.
For all purpose and intent, the Quran is indeed written down by the hands of man. The Quran, as a document, did not come from the sky in the form of a book. The science of the Quran and Hadith is sufficient in demonstrating the historical fact that the Prophet recited the Quran and the verses which were in turn recorded by different scribes.
Other than the Companions who also recorded a copy for their own use, there were about several hundred others who memorised them by heart. After Yamamah, there was an urge to preserve and compile the Quran - a need that would have been be unnecessary if perfect copies were around without competing variants.
The first authenticated copy of the Quran, accomplished by Zayed Ibn Thabit under Abu Bakr, was soon to be mass produced during Uthman's time.
Hence, the Quran is a written copy of the oral verses recited by the Prophet obtained through divine revelation. We can accept that the preservation is made without error, particularly the Quran, but this point is irrelevant to many as the first premise of faith lies is belief in God and the Prophet as His Messenger.
Therefore, Elfie's invitation to examine the Quran for contradictions is a severe error as it demonstrates a failure of recognising the Quran for what it is - the word of God to be accepted in faith beyond the simple comprehension, logic and reasoning of man.
Elfie's invitation only invites further disparaging remarks on the religion as the topic of contradictions in the Quran (or the Bible for that matter) is all too readily peddled by various parties with vested interests.
To then suggest that the need for Quranic revelation is in part due to faulty and unreliable human reasoning is somewhat tenacious. The Holy Quran told man to submit to the greatness of God, not to surrender his mental faculties. The truth is distinct and discernible, right can be separated from wrong.
The errors of human thought and science are addressed in the strive to perfect our knowledge, to be able to make a distinction between the truth and the false, and to get closer and verify the evidence of the great unknown.
Science and religion are not antagonistic entities.
However, that should not blind us to the respective faults in either. The fracture and splits in religion (inter or intra) have served to fuel the appetite for discord among men. Many lesser men, in their zealous and righteous intentions, seek to further widen rather than bridge the human divide.
The claim to absolute truth does not arise among the secularists. And contrary to Elfie's exasperation that the conclusions of accountants, physicists, geographers, mathematicians, computer programmers etc. are not acceptable if there are no absolute truths, I would like to point out that these persons do not claim to have found the meaning of life in their line of work.
The earth rotating around the sun is a fact, not an absolute truth. I would hesitate to declare the annual financial figures by accountants as an absolute truth, It is, I think more of as an approximation of reliable estimates.
Order, in my humble opinion, is not dependent on the static or absolute nature of truth. One of the most common assaults on the idea of relationism and relativism is to announce the destruction of human foundation when we are without the presence of absolute truth.
As any reader of Hungarian-born sociologist Mannheim would learn, negating relativism doesn't lend credence to absolutist positions. The sociology of knowledge dwells heavily on the issues of objectivity, and Mannheim credibly steered the search of truth away from the abyss of relativism into a different epistemology of relationism.
While it can be demanding to expect familiarity with the various bodies of philosophical and sociological work on this matter, I feel unfamiliarity is no defence or excuse for the cavalier fashion in which secularism is treated.
Unlike some extreme factions of religionists, we do not bar others from speaking on the subject (without first having read Ideology and Utopia!).
It is with regret that secularity has become a convenient punching bag for many. Denying social contexts, particularly on matters of the social world (mathematical equations do not fall into this category), is an attempt to severe and uproot the human subject from any geo-socio-historical points of reference.
In the context of apostasy in Islam, it would be more relevant to discuss whether the Quran specified a worldly penalty for those who believe and then disbelieve. This rather than direct the arsenal onto
To simply label Muslims for recognising the compatibility of Islam and some ideals of humanism is an easy way out to dismiss the opinions of others.
God knows best, but the question is who claims to know what He knows.