The Description of Knowledge in the Quran and by the Prophet (saas)
There are plenty of references to knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge in the Quran. The general feeling they leave the reader with is that the possessor of knowledge or wisdom has been given a very powerful gift, and that the pursuit of knowledge is something which should be done actively by everyone. Here are a few verses on the subject:
[96:1-5] Read! In the name of your Lord who created - Created the human from something which clings. Read! And your Lord is Most Bountiful - He who taught (the use of) the Pen, Taught the human that which he knew not.
These five verses make up the first passage revealed from the Quran to mankind through the Prophet Muhammad (saas). It is interesting that of all the things which Allah chose to begin His revelation with is related to the actions of reading and writing, especially the latter. The ability to write and store information is described by Professor Carl Sagan in his book COSMOS: "Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic." 
[2:269] He [Allah] grants wisdom to whom He pleases; and he to whom wisdom is granted indeed receives a benefit overflowing. But none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.
[20:114] High above all is Allah, the King, the Truth. Do not be in haste with the Quran before its revelation to you is completed, but say, "O my Sustainer! Increase my knowledge."
[3:190-191] Verily in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day - there are indeed signs for men of understanding; Men who remember Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the creation of the heavens and the earth (with the thought) "Our Lord! Not for nothing have You created (all) this. Glory to You! Give us salvation from the suffering of the Fire."
These verses are a clear demonstration that 'science' and 'religion' were NOT meant to be fundamentally incompatible with each other by Allah. In fact, verses [3:190-191] strongly imply that "contemplating" the world around us is an integral part of faith.
[29:20] Say: Travel through the earth and see how Allah originated creation; so will Allah produce the second creation (of the Afterlife): for Allah has power over all things.
There are also references in the Quran describing the value (in the sight of Allah) of a knowledgeable person as opposed to an ignorant person. They are not equal:
[39:9] ...Say: Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know? It is those who are endued with understanding that remember (Allah's Message).
[58:11] ...Allah will raise up to (suitable) ranks (and degrees) those of you who believe and who have been granted knowledge.
The first source of Islam is the Quran - and we have seen some verses above on the subject of knowledge. The second source is the life of Prophet Muhammad (saas). Here are a few of the Prophet's sayings on the subject of knowledge:
"Upon a person whom Allah desires good, He bestows the knowledge of faith." - from the hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim
"A person who follows a path for acquiring knowledge, Allah will make easy the passage to Paradise for him." - from the collection of Muslim
"A Muslim is never satiated in his quest for good (knowledge) till it ends in Paradise." - from the collection of Tirmizi
The Relationship Between the Quran and Modern Science
Modern scientific theory today finds itself quite close to the Quran. There are at least two reasons behind this observation. The first is the lack of inconsistencies between the Quran and observable natural phenomena. Science has not been able to produce theories or experiments that fundamentally contradict the Quran. Had our science done so, either our understanding of the Quran or of the world would have been to blame: the Quran itself is true for all times. The second reason for the remarkable harmony between the Quran and science is the presence in the Quran itself of very clear and positive encouragement to contemplate and investigate the world around us. As the verses quoted above indicate, Allah has not forbidden man to question, and in fact, it seems He wants us to do so.
[41:53] Soon will We show them Our Signs in the (farthest) horizons, and within themselves, until it becomes manifest to them that it is the Truth...
The historical event which this verse alludes to is the conquest of Makkah. However, almost every verse in the Quran carries a historical and a universal meaning, and therefore one possible interpretation of this verse is that it refers to the gradual discovery of greater and greater natural "evidence" of the Creator's involvement in our world. Two of the most important and most fascinating goals of modern science are to peer farther and farther out to the edge of the universe, and to look deeper and deeper into the structure of the human body. It is in these two areas that we find the "signature" of Allah's creative power at its strongest.
A Selection of Quranic Verses which Comment on the Natural World
A. - On the ongoing process of creation
[16:8] ...and He creates other things beyond your knowledge...
[24:45] ...Allah creates what He wills...
These two verses, among others, indicate that Allah has not 'finished' creation; rather, it is an ongoing process. This is very significant from a scientific point of view because we are gradually beginning to observe and understand certain natural phenomena which are still in a process of formation. One prime example is our observation of still- emerging galaxies from huge clouds of nebulae. Another is the evolution of species, with its associated evidence of strange and exotic "intermediate" life forms turned into fossils. These two examples are just the tip of the iceberg; the following excerpt from the physicist Paul Davies' book The Cosmic Blueprint underscores the growing awareness of continuous creation:
"An increasing number of scientists and writers have come to realize that the ability of the physical world to organize itself constitutes a fundamental, and deeply mysterious, property of the universe. The fact that nature has creative power, and is able to produce a progressively richer variety of complex forms and structures, challenges the very foundation of contemporary science. 'The greatest riddle of cosmology,' writes Karl Popper, the well-known philosopher, 'may well be...that the universe is, in a sense, creative.'" 
B. - On pollution and the wasting of natural resources
[30:41] Rottenness (decay/corruption) has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned, that (Allah) may give them a taste of some of their deeds, in order that they may turn back (from evil).
[7:31] O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer; eat and drink, but waste not by excess, for Allah does not love those who waste.
The importance of understanding the ecological consequences of our actions as individuals or as a society was not fully appreciated until this century. We now understand that we cannot alter the face of the earth indiscriminately without paying some penalty, which may be disastrous. We also understand that caution ought to be applied globally, not just locally but truly "on land and sea". Ecological awareness does not imply asceticism however. According to the Quran, we are not forbidden to take pleasure in this life, however we are forbidden from wasting resources needlessly.
C. - On the dual nature of iron
[57:25] ...And We sent down iron in which is mighty harm, as well as many benefits for mankind...
Iron is one of two metals found abundantly on the earth (aluminum being the other). It was known to many ancient civilizations, and is the most important metal we use today. The general description of it in the Quran was accurate in the time of the ancients, and it is even more so today: iron is the basis for most weapons of war and most of the everyday tools which we work with.
D. - On the origin of life in water
[21:30] ...And We made every living thing from water...
[24:45] And Allah has created every animal from water...
Modern scientific theory on the origin of life was not firmly established up until the last two or three centuries. Prior to that, the predominant theory on the origin of life was based on a concept called "spontaneous generation" where living creatures literally popped out of inanimate matter spontaneously and continuously. This view was discredited with the work of many Renaissance scientists including Harvey and Redi, and in the 1850's, Louis Pasteur's research on bacteriology sealed the coffin on this theory. Starting with the work of Huxley up to the present day, an alternative theory has been proposed where life is understood to have emerged from a long, increasingly complex chain of chemical reactions. These reactions are believed to have begun in the depths of the oceans because the atmosphere was not sufficiently developed to protect living organisms from ultraviolet radiation:
"...it is believed that early forms of life developed in oceans or pools...It has been suggested that the colonization of land, about 425,000,000 years ago, was possible only because enough ozone was then produced to shield the surface from ultraviolet light for the first time." 
This idea of life originating in the oceans is strongly supported by the two Quranic verses quoted above.
It is important to note however that the Quran does NOT contain an exclusive endorsement for evolution. While the verses quoted above indicate beyond any doubt that Allah created all living things from water, there are many other verses that emphasize His Absolute power over everything.
[41:39] "...For He (Allah) has power over all things."
[3:47] "...when He has decreed a matter, He only says to it, 'Be', and it is."
E. - On the diversity of mankind
[30:22] And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors; verily in that are Signs for those who know.
[49:13] O mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him...
The racial and linguistic differences between humans are not meant as reasons to discriminate. Allah simply describes this diversity as a part of His creative power, and He does not single out any race as being inherently superior to the others. The emphasis in [49:13], in fact, is to learn to communicate with one another.
F. - On the Water Cycle
Most of us are familiar with the water cycle from our classes in middle school, where we learned how a drop of seawater evaporates, then becomes a drop of rainwater, and then finally returns to the sea via rivers or underground channels. The first person in modern times to understand this process was Bernard Palissy who described it correctly in 1580 . Prior to him, most of the ancient Greek and Roman scholars had various incomplete or incorrect theories on the water cycle (Plato, for example, believed that precipitation eventually descended into the abyss called Tartarus and from there it fed into the oceans ).
The Quran does not give a complete description of the water cycle from start to end, however there are a few precise references to specific stages. Perhaps the most fascinating of these references are the following two verses on rain clouds:
[30:48] It is Allah Who sends the winds, and then they raise clouds: then He spreads them in the sky as He wills and makes them dark, then you see the drops issue from the midst of them...
[24:43] Don't you see how Allah drives clouds with force, then joins them together, then makes them into a heap? - then you see the drops issue from the midst of them. And He sends down from the sky mountains (of clouds) wherein is hail: He strikes therewith whom He pleases and He turns it away from whom He pleases. The flash of His lightning well-nigh snatches away the sight.
The two verses are describing the stages in the formation of rain clouds, which is in turn a stage in the water cycle. A close examination of these two verses suggests that they make reference to two different phenomena, one of "spreading" the clouds and the other of "joining" them together, two different processes by which rain clouds might be formed.
Modern meteorology has come to this very conclusion within the last two centuries. [17,18,19]
There are two types of clouds which can yield precipitation, and they are classified by their shape: stratus (layer-type) and cumulus (heap- type). The precipitative layer clouds are further subdivided into stratus and nimbostratus (nimbo meaning rain). The first verse above on rain clouds ([30:48]) precisely sums up the formation of layer rain clouds. It is known today that these types of clouds are started under conditions of gradual, rising winds:
"...and then they [winds] raise clouds..." [30:48]
Next, the cloud takes on its distinctive shape, that of a layer:
"...then He spreads them..." [30:48]
If the conditions are right (i.e. low enough temperature, high enough humidity, etc.), the cloud droplets further condense into (larger) rain droplets, and we observe this effect from the ground as a darkening of the cloud layer:
"...and makes them dark..." [30:48]
Finally, drops of rain fall from the cloud.
"...then you see the drops issue from the midst of them..." [30:48]