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Reason and the Creator
The Divine Ordinance
Absurdity of Atheism
Reason and the Creator
Excerpt from 'Tawheed Al Muffadhel':
Imam Ja'far Al Sadiq (pbuh) said:
"And according to this too, we say: reason perceives the Creator in a way that necessitates man to acknowledge His existence, and it does not perceive Him in a way that necessitates man to know His qualities. If they ask: how is a weak man charged with knowing the Creator without knowing His qualities? It is said to them: people have been charged with what they can do and within their abilities, that is to believe in the Creator and to follow His orders and prohibitions, and they have not been charged with knowing His attributes. A king does not ask his subjects to know whether he is tall or short, white or brown; rather, he asks them to submit to his rule and follow his orders. Do you not think that if someone were to come to a king and say “present yourself to me so that I can know you fully; otherwise, I will not follow your orders”, he would expose himself to punishment? In the same way, he who refuses to believe in the Creator until he knows His essence will receive His wrath. And if they say: do we not describe Him when we say that He is the Mighty, the Wise, and the Generous? It is said to them: these are attributes of acknowledgment and not of description. We know that He is wise but we do not know the essence of His wisdom, and the same can be said about His other attributes. We see the heaven but we do not know its essence, and we look at the sea but we do not know where it ends. The examples of this cannot be counted, though they fail in comparison, but they lead the reason to know the Creator. If they ask: then why do people disagree over Him? It is said: because minds fail to recognize the extent of His greatness and exceed their capacities in searching to know Him, and they want to know everything about Him while they are unable to do that or even the least of it.
One of these examples is the sun that shines all over the world and yet no one knows its reality. There are too many sayings about it, and philosophers have disagreed over how to describe it. Some of them say that it is a hollow star full of fire with a mouth agitating with flames. Some others say it is a cloud. Some say it is a glass mass that concentrates heat and then sends rays. Some say it is a fine, clear mass of congealed seawater. Others say it is many parts of fires gathered together. Some others say it is a fifth element separate from the four elements. Then they have disagreed over its shape. Some of them say it is like a flat page. Others say it is like a ball. They have also disagreed on its size. Some say it is as big as the earth. Some others say it is less, and some say it is much greater than a great island. People of geometry say it is one hundred and seventy times bigger than the earth.
The disagreement in the sayings about the sun shows that people cannot realize its reality. Minds are unable to realize the reality of the sun, which eyes clearly see and senses easily feel, then how about what is beyond the senses and hidden from the minds? If they say: why is He hidden? It is said to them: He is not hidden with a means, as one who hides from people behind doors and walls. The meaning of our saying “He is hidden” is that He is invisible to the eyes and minds because He is beyond the extent of the faculties of eyes and minds, like the case with the sun which is a creation created by Him and cannot be realized by eyes and minds. If they say: why is He so greatly beyond that? This is a wrong saying because it does not befit One Who is the Creator of everything except to be different from everything and exalted over everything. Glory be to Him the Almighty.
If they say: how is it possible that He is different from everything and exalted over everything? It should be said to them that the truth about things can be known in four ways: first, to see whether that thing is existent or not; second, to know what it is in its essence; third, to know how it is and what its description is; and fourth, to know why and for what cause it is. There is nothing in this existence that man can know in the Creator as it is except that he knows that He exists. If we say: how and what is He? Knowing His essence and all things about Him is beyond the bounds of possibility. Or we say: for what is He? It is not valid in the description of the Creator because He, glory be to Him, is the cause of everything, and nothing is a cause for Him. The knowledge of man that He (the Creator) is existent does not necessitate that he know what and how He is, just as his knowledge that the soul is existent does not necessitate that he know what and how it is. The same can be said about other spiritual matters. If they say: now you describe Him due to the shortage of knowledge about Him as if He is unknown. It is said to them: it is so, on the one hand, if minds want to know His essence and description; and on the other hand, He is closer than every close one when His existence is proved by satisfactory evidences. From one side, He is clear to everyone, and from another side, He is so mysterious that no one can realize Him. So is reason. It is clear through its evidences whereas it is hidden in its essence.
The naturalists say that nature does nothing meaningless nor does it leave anything incomplete and claim that wisdom proves that. It is said to them: who has given nature this wisdom then, and how does it not exceed the limits of anything, which is something that minds fail to learn even after long experiments? If they prove wisdom and power to be of nature in doing such things, they will acknowledge what they have denied because these are the attributes of the Creator. But if they deny this to be of nature, then this is the creation calling out that it is the Wise Creator’s.
From the ancient nations, there were some people who denied the divine will and management in things and claimed that things came into existence by accident and by chance. They took some signs which were unlike the usual, such as when one was born with a finger less or more or when one was born disfigured, as evidence showing that things were not under will and management but by accidents as they happened.
Aristotle refuted that by saying: that which comes into being by accident and chance is something that comes one time due to certain factors in nature making something unusual and not like the natural matters that happen in one form continually and successively.
Oh Mufaddal, you see the different species of animals following a regular pattern and having identical shapes. For instance, a human infant when born has two hands, two legs with five fingers or toes in each limb. But sometimes, as for one who is born unlike the usual, it is because of some reason in the womb or in the substance from which the infant grows, as it happens in some crafts when a skillful craftsman wants to be accurate in his craft but some defect in the raw material or tools affects his production. Such a thing may happen to the children of animals for the reasons we have mentioned that a child may be born with less or more or disfigured limbs, but most of them are born sound with no defect.
The defects that happen in some things because of some shortage do not mean that all the things have come by accident with no maker. So are things in nature. The saying that things have come into existence by accident and chance is totally wrong and nonsensical.
If they say: why does such a thing happen? It is said to them: to know that things are not created inevitably by nature nor by something else, as some people say, but are created with will and management by a Wise Creator Who has made nature run most of the time in certain routines and sometimes in variation because of some temporary causes, so it is concluded that nature is managed by the Creator and it needs His power to attain its purposes and complete its acts. Blessed be Allah, the Best of creators.
Oh Mufaddal! Take what (the knowledge) I have given you, and keep what I have presented you, and be to your Lord grateful, and to His blessings a praiser, and to His guardians an obeyer.
I have explained to you a part from the whole and a little from plenty of evidences of creation and proofs of the right management and ordinance. Think of them deeply and take a lesson.’"
CRITICIZING THE DIVINE ORDINANCE
Excerpt from 'Tawheed Al Muffadhel':
Imam Ja'far Al Sadiq (pbuh) said:
"A criticizer may criticize the divine ordinance from another point of view and say: is there ordinance in this world while we see that powerful persons oppress, transgress and rape, the weak are wronged and humiliated, good people are poor and afflicted with distresses, bad people are sound and wealthy, sinners and criminals are not punished immediately? If there is in fact planned ordinance in the world, affairs should happen according to analogy: good people should be blessed, bad people should be deprived, powerful people should be unable to wrong the weak, and sinners should be punished immediately. It is said in answering this: if it were so, doing good, with which man has been preferred over other creatures, would disappear. People would not do good or benevolence expecting to be rewarded and trusting in what Allah has promised in return. People would be like animals that are led by whip and fodder. No one would act due to the certainty of being rewarded or punished until people would emerge from humanity into animality. What is not seen (the unseen) would not be known and no one would act except for the present pleasures of the worldly life. Even good people would act to earn livelihood and wealth in this worldly life only and those who refrain from oppression and sins would do that just for fear of immediate punishment until all people’s deeds would be done only for the present and with no certainty of what is with Allah, and they would not deserve the reward of the hereafter or the eternal bliss in it; nevertheless, these things that the criticizer has mentioned – wealth and poverty, good health and affliction – are not contrary to his analogy, but they may happen according to that sometimes.
You may find many good persons who are granted with wealth for certain wisdom and lest people think that it is the atheists who are provided with the means of subsistence while the pious are underprivileged and thence prefer debauchery to piety. And you find that many transgressors are punished when their transgressions and harms increase against people and against themselves, as with Pharaoh when he was punished with drowning and Nebuchadnezzar was punished with getting lost and Belbis with killing. Allah may delay the punishment of some evildoers and postpone the reward of some good doers till the afterlife for some reasons unknown to people. This does not refute the planned ordinance. Many rulers in the earth do this without annulling their ordinances. In fact, their delaying of what they delay and hastening of what they hasten are considered within their right of statesmanship and farsightedness. Since all evidences and their analogy necessitate that things have a wise creator then what prevents this Creator from managing His creation? According to their analogy, a maker does not neglect his craft except for one of three reasons: inability, ignorance or evilness; but all of these are impossible in the creation of Allah the Almighty for an unable one cannot make such great, wonderful creatures, an ignorant one does not know what is right and wise, and an evil one does not try to create and establish such things. If it is so, then definitely the creator of these creatures manages them, although much of this management cannot be understood by people. The public does not understand much of the management of rulers nor do they know its reasons because they do not know the secrets of the rulers nor what is there in their minds. If the reason behind a certain management becomes known, it will be found as right and correct. If you have a doubt regarding some drug or food, and then it becomes clear to you in two ways or three that it is cold or hot, will you not judge that it is as you have found and then remove the doubt from your mind? So what about these ignorants? Why do they not judge that this world has been created and managed by a Wise Creator, and deny that it has been created in spite of all the evidences before them that cannot be counted? If half of the world and what it contained were somehow ambiguous, whether correct or not, it would not be a good thinking or courtesy to judge that all the world had been established out of indifference and by chance because the other half would have accurate and perfect things that would refute such hasty, untrue opinions. How is it then that whenever one searches, he finds the utmost correctness and perfection so that nothing may come to one’s mind unless it is found most right and perfect?
O Mufaddal, know that the name of the universe in Greek is “cosmos” which means embellishment. It has been called so by philosophers and wise people too. They called it so when they saw its perfect order and organization. They did not call it “order” or “organization” but called it “embellishment” to show that, besides its exactness and perfection, it was the utmost in beauty and splendor.
O Mufaddal! I wonder at those people who do not judge medicine to be faulty though they see doctors commit mistakes, but they judge the world to be neglected (with no manager) though they do not see anything neglected in it. I really wonder at the morals of those who claim to be wise but ignore morals among people and set their tongues free to abuse the Exalted Creator, glory be to Him! The wonder is at the wretched (Mani) when he pretends to have the knowledge of secrets while he is blind to the evidences of wisdom in the creation and claims that the creation is full of mistakes and the Creator is ignorant!
The oddest of all are the atheists who wanted to perceive by the senses what could not be perceived by reason, and when they failed, they denied the existence of the Creator and said: why is He not perceived by reason? It is said: He is above the position of reason, as sight when does not see that which is above its position. When you see a stone rising in the air, you know that someone has thrown it. This knowledge comes not from the sight but out of reason, because it is reason that distinguishes and knows that a stone does not rise by itself. Do you not see how the eyesight stops at a point and does not exceed it? So does reason. It stops at a point in the cognizance of the Creator and does not exceed it, but it realizes His existence through reasoning. It is the same reason by which man realizes that there is a soul inside him
though he does not see or feel it by any of the senses."
Absurdity of Atheism
Excerpt from 'Tawheed Al Muffadhel':
Imam Ja'far Al Sadiq (pbuh) said:
"If abiogenesis (spontaneous creation without specific design) can be admitted under such conditions of regularity, then purposeful generation and definitely balanced creation can be the result of error and perplexity, since these two are opposed to abiogenesis. It is absurd to say that order and integrity come about without a Creator, and disorder and impropriety of design and fate comes about with a Creator. He who says this is ignorant, because anything produced without design will never be exact and proportioned, while disorder and contradiction cannot be found within orderly design. Allah (swt) is far above what the heretics say.
If an infant were born with full intellect, then he would have been overwhelmed by the world around him. He would have felt lost in a strange world surrounded constantly by various different forms and animals.
It would be similar to a man who migrates to another country after being in prison for a time. If he has full intellect, then you will find him to be overwhelmed and lost for he will be unable to learn the new language and local customs quickly. Likewise if a person is taken prisoner to a foreign land at a young age, then you will see that he easily and quickly learns the local language and adapts more readily to the local customs.
Also if a child were born with a mature intellect, then he would feel shame and disgust at having to be cared for the way a mother cares for her child, feeding, clothing, and cleaning him.
If a child were born with mature intellect, it would also cause the adults in charge of their care to not have the same feelings of fondness and concern for the child as they do a child born without a mature intellect. This is why a child is born into this world while being completely unaware of the world and what lies therein. He sees the world through his limited understanding and therefore does not become overwhelmed by it.
His intellect and understanding increases little by little so as to gradually introduce him to his surroundings and accustomed his brain without enticing his curiosity and causing him to be overwhelmed and confused. This enables him to receive his sustenance with content and allows him to learn life’s lessons of obedience and disobedience through trial and error.
There are other aspects as well which are the reason behind an infant being born with inferior intellect. The main reason being the love and affection which is felt by the parents for their offspring would not exist especially considering the difficulties parents face when raising and caring for their children. A child born with mature intellect would also not be in need of its parents care and the bond which develops between child and parent would not exist. In such circumstances, even a mother or a sister would have become like strangers to him and as such within wedlock limits.
Don't you see that everything big or small has been created on a flawless plan without fault or error?"
The Theory of Evolution
A question sent to Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan pbuh, and his response.
Question: Is there any truth to the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin? It is very confusing because there is so much evidence in its support from the genetics all the way up to the archaeological evidences such as the fossils of creatures of one cell. I ask you to please resolve this confusing matter.
Answer: In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Intensely Merciful.
And praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon Muhammad and his progeny, the Imams and the Mahdis.
I ask Allah to support all of you and straighten your footsteps.
The matter of evolution, in general, cannot be rejected except by a person ignorant of what it means, for as long as we have differentiation and selection and heredity, then certainly there must be evolution; and this is an issue which is almost self-evident, and almost does not need fossils or comparative anatomy to prove it.
And the genetic differentiation among individuals of one species was and is still existent. And the nature which surrounds the individuals and suits some individuals of one species, those who carry the favored genes, more than it suits other individuals [of the same species] is usually existent. And heredity definitely exists whenever there is reproduction. And if these three, which the earth was never free of ever since life began, are found then there is evolution.
And what some men of religion do, if not due to ignorance regarding the meaning and details of evolution, then mere stubbornness because they believe evolution conflicts with the religious text. And the truth is that they do not even know the meaning of creation and progression, yet you find them responding falsely or denying with utter shamelessness.
For instance, some of them think that evolution means progression from one species to another, whereas current biologists do not say, not even Darwin, that evolution occurs directly from one species to an entirely different species.
Thus there is no one who says that a fish evolved directly into an amphibian. Moreover, even at the level of fish that walk on the mud with their fins; nobody says that the fish directly transfer from an aquatic fish to an amphibious fish (mudskipper).
And some of them say there is a problem with evolution because habits do not transfer, and he does not know the basics of evolution, and that the intended differentiation is a genetic differentiation and not a differentiation of habits or behavior. So for instance, walking on two feet ,which distinguishes human beings, did not happen as a result of habit, as habit alone has no value because it is not inherited. Rather, what happens is a process of natural selection for the individuals holding the favored genes.
So in general, denying evolution today has become like denying the rotation of the earth previously.
And the rational evidences that the Quran mentioned do not conflict with the theory of evolution. So an evidence that something cannot be produced from nothing is the verse, (Or were they created from nothing, or were they the creators?) Surat At-Tur (Mount Sinai) 52:35. And this evidence does not conflict with the theory of evolution. And no one can imagine its conflict with it except an ignorant one. Yes, he can fancy that it conflicts with the Big Bang theory, considering that along with the Quantum theory and the M-theory it can explain the appearance of the universe from nothing. And the Big Bang theory is, in general, a cosmic theory larger than the limits of this earth.
And the other evidence is that the character of the effect indicates the character of the one effecting. (And from this is the evidence of the laws, and the evidence of the organization, and the evidence of the aim, and the evidence of the wisdom…) And regarding this evidence, perhaps a misperception occurs that this evidence conflicts with the theory of evolution, but this evidence is also not in conflict with it because the existence of the law of genes is enough to prove it, meaning that we need only to prove that the genetic map follows a law and this is an established issue.
As for the religious Quranic text and the narrations, they do not conflict with evolution; rather, they support it very clearly. And these are examples from the texts: (While He has created you in stages? Do you not consider how Allah has created seven skies in layers. And made the moon therein a light and made the sun a burning lamp? And Allah has caused you to grow as a growth from the earth.) Surat Nuh (Noah) 71:14-17.
And the apparent [meaning] of the text is clear, “He has created you in stages.”
And an example of these stages is the seven skies. And the seven skies are gradual in evolution and complexity.
Then He clarified the matter more clearly, (And Allah has caused you to grow as a growth from the earth), meaning that you are the result of a seed that Allah has planted in the earth, or let us call that seed the genetic map of Allah which was planted in the earth. And the aim was to eventually reach a body qualified to receive the humane soul created from the mud, the mud lifted to the first sky, and qualified to have the spirit breathed into it.
And Imam Muhammad bin Ali Al-Baqir pbuh said, "Allah (m) created in the earth, since He created it, seven peoples. They are not from the sons of Adam. Allah created them from the surface of the earth and He made them live in it one after the other, each with his own people. Allah (m) then created the father of this mankind and created his descendants from him.” [Al-Khisal by Al-Sadooq page 359]
Anyway, Allah make you successful. If Allah wills I will write a book in response to your question and I will clarify in it the theory of creation and the theory of progression and the theory of the Big Bang, and what is true from them and what is not true. And I will clarify in it the misperception of atheism and the proofs of monotheism from the same theories, which some ignorant ones who do not know the truth assumed that they conflict with the religion and conflict with the existence of a god. And if Allah wills, it will be published soon. And I hope that you do not forget me in your dua.
And peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.
Ahmad Al Hassan
Jamadi AlThani 1433 A.H