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MA Thesis Defense: Dean Bruce

March 4, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Dean Bruce (Cal State Long Beach)
‘Occasionalism, natural science, and miracles: al-Ġhazālī’s affirmation of divine omnipotence and liberty’
Wednesday 04 Mar 2020  •  4:00pm–5:30pm  •  AS–125

Abstract: This thesis is a study of al-Ġhazālī’s views on occasionalism. Although al-Ġhazālī’s views on occasionalism are indeterminate, it is evident that his theological work aimed to affirm the omnipotence and liberty of God in exerting influence upon created order. One polemical challenge against divine omnipotence and the integrity of religious revelation from the Islamic tradition comes from the Aristotelian-inspired philosophers who argue that the order operates through natures that are intrinsic to certain objects. This view on natural philosophy undermines the orthodox commitment to miracles as depicted in the Qur’an and hadith literature. al-Ġhazālī used a variety of arguments to affirm miracles and God’s agency in the created order, not only assailing the natural philosophy that the world operates according to the natures intrinsic to created objects, but also arguing that God can operate through mysterious and previously unknown phenomena in the natural order. Thus, according to al-Ġhazālī, since God can manifest his power through mysterious, unknown phenomenon, there is no epistemological means to distinguish between natural and supernatural events. That is unproblematic for al-Ġhazālī if God’s power is so pervasive that it encompasses everything. However, it undermines miracles as being a theological proof of the validity of revelation and prophecy.

Oral defenses are open to the public. For a draft copy of the thesis, please contact Dean Bruce directly.


March 4, 2020
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Larry Nolan