Oftentimes, when I’m not being bombarded with debate from non-Muslims, I debate with atheists. The confrontation ordinarily starts with the notion that science is superior in logic than religion. I often laugh at the irony of the whole notion, primarily due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of secular ideas about science were pioneered by men of religion. Not to toot the horn of Islam, but I kind of hinted at this subject in my “Clash of the Civilizations” thread. Muslims pioneered mathematics, medicine, astronomy, etc. pretty much science in the “western” world as we know it, yet those who stick to these scientific beliefs, often mock those who believe in God. I find that amusing…maybe its just me.
Either way, this is an important discussion and dialogue, because often you find on the net in the various forums and chat-rooms many “religious” types buckling in debate against proclaimed atheists, because they say we can’t reason outside of our religious texts.
I’m not convinced this is completely true. While it may be for some religions, ideologies, and/or doctrines, in my humble opinion it cannot be said about Islam and Muslims in general.
In my “early” days of Islam I was taught that Islam = Science and Science = Islam. To expound on that equation, Islam in principle as it is presented in the Koran uses that scientific method to introduce concepts about the religion and God in general. In Islam, the concept of Ilm(knowledge) is prevalent throughout the Koran. Ilm, is the principle that states that reason outweighs blind faith. In other words, Muslims don’t “tend” to just believe, they know.
In the Koran, Allah questions the reader as to why they should do this or do that. For instance, Allah doesn’t just say believe, He says believe because… So in other words, in theory, if the reasoning doesn’t suit you, then don’t believe. This is why Muslims are taught to reason out their faith and beliefs and if others don’t accept the logic, just leave it alone.
2:164 Verily, in the creation of the heavens and of the earth, and the succession of night and day: and in the ships that speed through the sea with what is useful to man: and in the waters which God sends down from the sky, giving life thereby to the earth after it had, been lifeless, and causing all manner of living creatures to multiply thereon: and in the change of the winds, and the clouds that run their appointed courses between sky and earth: in all this there are messages indeed for people who use their reason.
إِنَّ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَاخْتِلاَفِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَالْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِمَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ مِنَ السَّمَاء مِن مَّاء فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الأرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَآبَّةٍ وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ وَالسَّحَابِ الْمُسَخِّرِ بَيْنَ السَّمَاء وَالأَرْضِ لآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ
My point in all this? I’m trying to give “some” background reasoning as to how or why I believe in God.
God is a very loaded word. “God” is an English word first of all, and can apply to many things or beliefs. I have been taught that God means Force/Power. In other words “God” is a Force and Power. “God” can be anything that exercises force and power over you. For instance, in the Bible, in Genesis it says that man was created in the image and likeness of God. Then in Psalms David(pbuh) says “ye are ALL gods, children of the most high God”. Jesus(pbuh) in the NT further exclaims that he is one with the Father(God) and the disciples are one with him. So if one was to understand these statements as literal, one could say that every man is God, Jesus is God, the Disciples are God, etc. How is that possible? Lets not forget the Bible also says that Satan is the God of this world.
So what is God? Like I was taught “God” is the name or title ascribed to that force and power that exercises or has will above that which submits to that force and power. Now this can be even more broadened, because addictions are also “God” as well, because that which the addict submits to is his/her/their “God”, because it exercises force and power over them.
That is why in Islam God is called Allah. “Allah” when broken down in the original Arabic is Al-Illah. AL meaning THE as a definitive verb meaning the greatest manifestation, perfect, specific. For instance in America if I said “A White House” you would ask me which one? Where? But if I said “The White House” you would automatically know which White House I was talking about. The one in Washington DC where the President lives. Illah in Arabic means God. So if God equals force and power which could be any force/power, Al – Illah would mean The Force and Power. Not just any old force/power or God, but The God.
So, by now, some may say Im dancing in circles and havent proved anything yet, but just give me a couple of lines or paragraphs 🙂
As we already know, everything and everyone in this universe has to submit to what we call the laws of nature. The laws of nature are various forces and powers that when broken down in the various scientific lexicons, pretty bluntly articulate that there are certain “rules” or forces and powers we just have to submit to. Like birds fly, men walk, fish swim, etc. The law of Gravity, Theory of Relativity, etc. Granted, through experimentation and study, we find exceptions to many of these rules, like there are mammals that live in water, fish that can “walk” etc. However, one could definitely see that even in these “exceptions” the exempt still have to adhere to laws as well.
The God would be the Source of these rules, laws, forces, powers. Im not going to go on an Intelligent Design speech, because I don’t quite adhere to that philosophy, however those that do are close in my humble opinion. The God would be the Source or Origin of all that is. The Author behind the Big Bang, The Matter and Anti-Matter, etc. etc. Some might relegate these scientific principles to matter or energy. But I would counter that, matter and energy is constant. It takes many forms is present in all things, and just is. Kinda like in Biblical Exodus, God says I am that I am.
You can’t escape the fact that energy is not created or un-created but transferred and takes various forms and defined many ways like Kinetic energy for instance. So, that Force and Power that is present in our definition of matter and energy, for the believer is God.
At this point, many atheists are probably raising the proverbial “bs” flag, because I still haven’t answered some key things about “God”.
So far, my argument is that we are caught in a discussion of semantics. Much like Jews, Christians, and Muslims who can’t agree if they even believe in the same God. For the atheist Energy is Energy or Force is Force, etc. But “energy” “force” etc. are just words to label a principle or idea. Just like God. Your Energy I call God. Your Force I call God. But not just God, but to be specific Allah, The God. The same principles behind the scientific identification and labels describe God for the believer.
Now the exception…
Even if we can agree on the Semantic argument, is this Force/Power intelligent? Does it have a will? Well, what is intelligence? What is Will? Is a human intelligent as opposed to an ant? How do we measure the complexity involved with the movement of a finger to that of an amoeba? What about the atom as opposed to the cell? Are these things “intelligent” do they have “will”? I would argue that intelligence is immeasurable and exists only in the subjective or relative to the observer. I would argue that will is the definition of anything that has aim and purpose, outside or even within our understanding of that aim and purpose. In other words, we can explain how rain exists, but can we truly explain why it exists? Let me clarify, what purpose do we have rain? Why is it that our existence relies on rain, why not sulfur? Granted we can break down the scientific reasons for this, but can we explain the “big” why? Why life on Earth and not Venus? Is it just pure chance and coincidence? Maybe, but can we explain that outside the surface scientific explanation? Can we explain why there was a big bang? Or are we merely reduced to just knowing that it is? My point is that this “God” if we were to break it down to hypothesis, would be that force behind all these things that we observe or explain. God would be the “big” why? We can’t articulate the aim and purpose, but we can speculate and observe. Much like the Ant. We can observe, explain, etc. the Ant, but we can possibly know what goes on in the mind of the Ant, if it even has such a measurable thing.
So God is semantic. You believe in your Force, Power, Matter, Law, etc. I call it God. It is Supreme and Superior to us, because we know it exists and has effects over us, that we cant get around. We must submit to these laws. We can have oxygen tanks in space to help us breath, but if the tanks ran out…
The true problem doesn’t come in because we agree or disagree about the “theory” of “God”, the problem comes in with religion. The Dogmatic expressions and ideas that are often expressed in religion are what oft go against scientific thought and this causes the rift between the Atheist and the Believer.
It is my belief, that if we threw religion out all together in theory, we could all agree that God exists in one form or definition or another. What the Atheist doesn’t take into consideration and the believer in many instances, is that Science and Religion are the same exact thing for the most part. Both recognize that there is “something” greater than us all and this “something” is at times understandable and at others unexplainable. But both agree that no matter what, “It” this “Something” exists. Scientists and Religions just attempt at explaining this “Something” or “It”.
Most scientists would not call another scientists theory or explanation “stupid” “backward” “fairytale” etc. True scholars and scientists would just try to disprove or modify that theory to come at acceptable truth. Which goes into epistemology, but that’s for another day. 🙂 Either way, we should review religion in general the same. You either agree with the “theory” or “explanation” or don’t. This can be based off a myriad of things, ideas, experiences, findings, etc. But that doesn’t automatically disqualify the other’s idea does it?
We could dance in circles with this one, for hours, and if you want to debate specific questions or ideas Im game. My attempt is just to give an argument in the case of the “theory” of God. Now religion….
Many of my Muslim brethren are probably wondering when I’m going to get to Islam.
Well, Islam is the Arabic for the English “Submission”. From the Arabic “Islam” one also gets SLM or Salaam, which means “Peace” in English. So Islam is better interpreted to mean that Peace can only be derived through Submission. Submission to what? The Koran explains that we should show reverence and submit to the Source and Origin of All that Is. Primarily, due to the fact that it is greater. The Koran also says that this reverence should extend to all origins like the womb i.e. the mother, elderly, etc. because those are your direct beginnings. So the Islamic submission says that in principle you should submit or reverence your beginning. However, you should be just that much more submissive to the Origin of all things. So instead of submitting to a tree, the weather, men, ancestors, etc. things that other religions and ideologies do, one should give even greater reverence to the Source of all that. The Source of the Atom, the Source of the Sperm, etc. This is Islam in principle. The religion itself, like religion in general, gives guidelines as to how to maximize this submission to keep the mizan or balance. Think Yin and Yang.
In summary, Muslims believe in God, because as the Koran explains, its perfectly reasonable to Submit yourself to that which has will over you that you cannot escape. I can not make the sun rise in the West, the Earth rotate on a different axis, determine when my hair will grey etc. In the latter, I could dye it, but it still is truly grey isn’t it? This is why Science has always been an integral part of Islam and Muslims pioneered the sciences and mathematics. Allah in the Koran tells Muslims to look and study Creation and all that exists, not because these discoveries will disprove anything or God to be specific, but quite the opposite, science glorifies how Supreme the Supreme is. Science shows that no matter how far your break down the atom, it all comes from Something.
So Atheists, I can understand your disbelief in Theism or religion, but if you carefully analyze your theorems and beliefs you will see that you and those like myself are closer in ideology than what appears on the surface.