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    Ansar Al-'Adl's Avatar
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    Re: The existence of God

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    I'd like to start of this discussion with my point of view on the existence of God.

    First of all, while I do believe that the existence of God is something that can be recognized by all human beings, I don't believe someone can 'prove' the existence of God and guide an atheist to theism. Atheists ask for proof of the existence of God, and they ask that, if God truly exists, why doesn't He simply demonstrate His existence to the world by sending some sign down from heaven etc. Such a mentality is described in the Qur'an by God, revealed over 1400 years ago:

    26:1-8. Ta. Sin. Mim.
    These are verses of the Book that makes (things) clear.
    It may be thou frettest thy soul with grief, that they do not become Believers.
    If (such) were Our Will, We could send down to them from the sky a Sign, to which they would bend their necks in humility.
    But there comes not to them a newly-revealed Message from ((Allah)) Most Gracious, but they turn away therefrom.
    They have indeed rejected (the Message): so they will know soon (enough) the truth of what they mocked at!
    Do they not look at the earth,- how many noble things of all kinds We have produced therein?
    Verily, in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe.


    Read the complete chapter here

    Thus, God mentions that He could easily send a sign that would cause them all to have faith, yet that would eliminate the test in life. We are being tested to see if we will turn to our own hearts and realize the signs of God.

    It is perfectly acceptable to conclude the existence of God from His signs. Consider an analogy.

    Members reading this post have concluded that the I, the author of this post, am a real person based on the signs of my existence. Yet, you have no proof that I am a real person and not merely an automated response, nor a figment of your imagination, nor that you are hallucinating as you read my post, nor that your computer has been infected with a virus that randomly displays characters on your screen in a forum post, forming the body of my message.

    Yet, you know that there is a human being that has typed this post, and you know this based on various signs of my existence. The fact that I interact, the fact that I respond, the fact that I create posts and make a visible impact on the forum, the fact that I display human considerations and thoughts etc.

    Simialrly, thesists conclude the existence of God.

    I want to make it clear that I am not going to set out to prove the existence of God to our atheists. I can't give them faith, only God can, as He mentions in the Qur'an:

    28:56 Thou wilt not be able to guide whom thou lovest; but Allah guides those whom He will and He knows best those who receive guidance.

    And who are those who God guides?

    42:13 The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah - the which We have sent by inspiration to thee - and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah, difficult is the (way) to which thou callest them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases, and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him).

    So God guides those who turn to Him. The problem is that human beings, in their arrogance never thank God for the blessings He bestowed upon them. The only time they turn to God is when they suffer from a tragedy, the death of a loved one, then they realize that they are vulnerable and in need of God's protection. So many people only come to religion when they face massive problems and have to turn back to the same Creator the denied. They beg for the love with earlier they had rejected.
    Many many people only convert when they realize they are in trouble. It is unfortunate that people foolishly wait for tragedy to turn them to God.

    But why would God guide someone who does not turn to Him for guidance?

    Coming back to the existence of God, the way I see it, there are many signs of the existence of God. Theists offer several proofs which I shall point out later on. However, the atheist seems to think that it is satisfactory to simply reject the proofs of God's existence, without any need for proofs of God's absence. Such a view is illogical, since believing that God does not exist is a belief like any other, and it must be supported with evidence. Yet an atheist can bring absoloutely no strong arguments to prove that God does not exist, so they operate within a vaccuum of evidence. Atheism is consequently a very weak position because it advocates a possibility like advocating that one's friend does not exist but is merely a robot created by extraterrestrial life forms. Sure, its possible, but its not likely to be taken seriously by anyone.

    When I brought up this point in a previous debate with an atheist, he thought he could refute my point by challenging me to prove that an invisible pink unicorn does not exist, which he felt is analogous to asking an atheist to prove that God does not exist. I answered that I really did not need to prove the non-existence of an invisible pink unicorn since it has no affect on me. Thus, I would entertain the possibility if it was supported by some arguments the way theists support the existence of God, but I wouldn't reject the existence of an invisible pink unicorn if I cannot argue against its existence by providing proof of its absence.

    But even if I accept the presence of an invisible pink unicorn, it makes no difference because I would switch then to religious arguments and analyse a belief in an invisible pink unicorn just as I would examine any other religion. The concept itself is contradictory because as soon as something is invisible, it cannot be considered pink since colours are the result of visible light energy released from electrons dropping in energy levels. And we would have to get into a discussion on the attributes of this creature as well. Consequently, it may prove similar to the Christian belief in a triune God, which I reject as self-contradictory.

    So the problem still remains for atheists to prove the non-existence of God.

    The other point I'd like to make is that atheists claim to reject the metaphysical world and all concepts beyond matter. Yet, they themselves have found that such a method is inadequate in explaining the universe, thus they have had to invent abstract concepts to cover up for their use of metaphysical factors in the universe. For example, we often hear the terms force, energy, and power in physics, but can anyone explain what these terms really are? Are they not concepts beyond the physical world? What is the source of all energy?

    I'll leave it at that for now.
    Last edited by Ansar Al-'Adl; 08-05-2005 at 09:10 PM.
    The existence of God

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


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    czgibson's Avatar
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    Re: The existence of God

    Greetings to all.
    I'm very new on the board, but I'd like to make a contribution here from the atheist position. I'm interested to see how Muslims make the case for the existence of god (if, of course, it is seen as necessary to do this at all). I am aware that there are different uses of the word "god", so I should make it clear that when I use it, I mean to exclude any differences between the Muslim, Christian, Jewish (or any other) interpretations of "god", and focus on what these interpretations all affirm, namely the existence of a supernatural, omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving, eternal Creator. I hope we can agree on these attributes as being shared by the vast majority of people in their understanding of the word "god".

    Clearly there are some very learned Muslims on the forum whom I hope will provide some interesting ideas in this discussion. If we exchange ideas in this way, understanding can surely only be increased. With that said, I'd like to start by answering some of the points raised by Ansar in his last post:

    The first point he mentions is one I agree with. Arguments for or against the existence of God have a history of not being convincing if you are on the other side, so to speak. People are usually reluctant to change their mind on this issue on the strength of an argument or a series of arguments. And rightly so. Belief in god is a matter of faith, which is not reached by arguments but by personal conviction (I'm assuming here. I clearly do not understand how faith in god is reached).

    Members reading this post have concluded that the I, the author of this post, am a real person based on the signs of my existence. Yet, you have no proof that I am a real person and not merely an automated response, nor a figment of your imagination, nor that you are hallucinating as you read my post, nor that your computer has been infected with a virus that randomly displays characters on your screen in a forum post, forming the body of my message.
    - tiny point: I know you are not an automated response due to the Turing test, which you may have heard of - it involves a human judge conversing with a computer and a human, without being told which is which. No computer has yet been built that can fool someone into thinking it is a human. But on with your argument:

    Yet, you know that there is a human being that has typed this post, and you know this based on various signs of my existence. The fact that I interact, the fact that I respond, the fact that I create posts and make a visible impact on the forum, the fact that I display human considerations and thoughts etc.

    Simialrly, thesists conclude the existence of God.
    OK. A reasonable argument, but there are objections that could be made here, such as the fact that it is not massively unlikely that there is a person at the other end writing, messages, posting to forums etc. People do this all the time! What is more, it can be observed. On the other hand, I believe that a being with the attributes of god mentioned above is unlikely (to say the least), and also that any such being has never been observed by anyone.

    I want to make it clear that I am not going to set out to prove the existence of God to our atheists. I can't give them faith, only God can, as He mentions in the Qur'an:
    This is certainly the correct view, although I think it contradicts something you say later on. I would like to discuss faith in relation to this question, perhaps in a later post.

    Many many people only convert when they realize they are in trouble. It is unfortunate that people foolishly wait for tragedy to turn them to God.

    But why would God guide someone who does not turn to Him for guidance?
    Tragedy can also turn people away from God, too, no?

    Coming back to the existence of God, the way I see it, there are many signs of the existence of God. Theists offer several proofs which I shall point out later on. However, the atheist seems to think that it is satisfactory to simply reject the proofs of God's existence, without any need for proofs of God's absence. Such a view is illogical, since believing that God does not exist is a belief like any other, and it must be supported with evidence. Yet an atheist can bring absoloutely no strong arguments to prove that God does not exist, so they operate within a vaccuum of evidence.
    "No strong arguments"? Surely even a strong argument wouldn't convince you, since you have faith. I thought we agreed that arguments can't change someone's view from atheism to theism or vice versa, that it was a matter of faith? Or perhaps you believe arguments can take someone from atheism to theism? This is the point I mentioned earlier.

    Atheism is consequently a very weak position because it advocates a possibility like advocating that one's friend does not exist but is merely a robot created by extraterrestrial life forms. Sure, its possible, but its not likely to be taken seriously by anyone.
    I don't think this is a good analogy, for reasons connected with the Turing test mentioned above. In fact I can barely see the connection between atheism and the absurd argument you mention here.

    Re: the invisible pink unicorn argument, the question here is about the burden of proof. Who has to prove their belief, the person who affirms something or the person who denies it? In my view, the theist must take most of the burden of proof, because the assertion "god exists" is prior to the assertion "god does not exist"; it happened first. The concept of god with all his attributes came about at the same time as the idea of his existence. Before the first person ever to say "god exists" said it, it was not possible to think "god does not exist" since the concept hadn't been created yet.

    So the problem still remains for atheists to prove the non-existence of God.
    Again: are these proofs necessary? If you discovered an extremely convincing atheist argument, would that have any effect on your faith? I'm fairly sure it wouldn't.

    The other point I'd like to make is that atheists claim to reject the metaphysical world and all concepts beyond matter. Yet, they themselves have found that such a method is inadequate in explaining the universe,
    I think science has a huge amount of explanatory power. Think of how much more we understand about the universe than people from say 2000 years ago.

    thus they have had to invent abstract concepts to cover up for their use of metaphysical factors in the universe. For example, we often hear the terms force, energy, and power in physics, but can anyone explain what these terms really are? Are they not concepts beyond the physical world?
    There are abstract concepts, and there are metaphysical concepts. They should not be confused. Metaphysical concepts are beyond all possible physical experience. The objects or ideas they refer to cannot be observed. Abstract scientific concepts are simply labels for processes which can be repeatedly tested, observed and measured.

    What is the source of all energy?
    Good question!

    Right, apologies for another ridiculously long post. I'm trying to be brief but when you're looking at the biggest question of all it's difficult to cover it succinctly!
    Any comments or questions about what I've written are most welcome.
    Last edited by czgibson; 08-06-2005 at 01:17 AM.

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    Re: The existence of God

    Hey there, czgibson. About science having a huge amount of explanatory power. People don't realise that the reason it does, is because science is explaining what Allah (swt) has created. Some religious people think science completely strays away from religious teachings. Allah (swt) has created the world is such a perfect order, that he created science, so to speak.
    The existence of God



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    Ansar Al-'Adl's Avatar
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    Re: The existence of God

    Hi Callum,
    Quote Originally Posted by czgibson
    I hope we can agree on these attributes as being shared by the vast majority of people in their understanding of the word "god".
    For info on the Islamic view of God's attributes, there is a list of 99 that Muslims commonly use. They are discussed here.

    The first point he mentions is one I agree with. Arguments for or against the existence of God have a history of not being convincing if you are on the other side, so to speak.
    I don't recall ever making such a statement. You misconstrued my words. I stated that only GOD has the capability to guide someone, and no matter how many signs we point out to someone, it may have no affect. I made no statement on the history of atheist-theist debates and proofs associated with such. Many people have been convinced, and many are continually being convinced as we speak. But ultimately, it is one's desire to seek God that will lead to one's guidance, as the verses of the Qur'an demonstrate.

    This misinterpretation of my words led you to think there was a contradiction in my post when I first stated that I had no capacity to convince anyone, and later began discussing arguments. While it is certainly true that I cannot give them the guidance that God gives those who turn to Him, I may be able to reason with them and lead them to turn to God. In Islam, the scholars have mentioned two types of Hidayah (gudance):
    1. Hidayah Irshad - Showing someone to the true path
    2. Hidayah Tawfiq - Actually guiding someone to that path and on it

    As for the former, any human being can give it to anyone. As for the latter, only God can give that form of guidance to people.

    So the purpose of the arguments is to reason with you and present my view and direct you towards that which I deem truth, but I cannot convince you to accept it as truth. In short, my job is to convey, not convince. How convincing an argument is depends entirely on the person recieving it. Therefore, we can make no claims that one argument is unconvincing etc. it is all relative.

    Belief in god is a matter of faith, which is not reached by arguments but by personal conviction (I'm assuming here. I clearly do not understand how faith in god is reached).
    Think of that which you have faith in, and you might find your faith completely reasonable. Faith is commonly built upon reason. If I only believe in God because my parents told me so, then that's faith in my parents, not faith in God.

    - tiny point: I know you are not an automated response due to the Turing test, which you may have heard of - it involves a human judge conversing with a computer and a human, without being told which is which. No computer has yet been built that can fool someone into thinking it is a human.
    Improbable, but not impossible!

    OK. A reasonable argument, but there are objections that could be made here, such as the fact that it is not massively unlikely that there is a person at the other end writing, messages, posting to forums etc. People do this all the time! What is more, it can be observed. On the other hand, I believe that a being with the attributes of god mentioned above is unlikely (to say the least),
    I'm interested in the above comment since that would make a useful argument for atheism. What makes you believe that a God of such attributes is unlikely?

    and also that any such being has never been observed by anyone.
    This is a flawed analogy. Your stating that you conclude I exist because you have seen other people doing a similar activites, but you've never observed a God. However, the fact that you haven't observed God is analogous to the fact that you haven't observed me, but the fact that you have observed other people posting on a forum is analogous to the fact that you have observed every machine designed and created by an intelligent designer. So these are two different ideas here.

    If I use your analogy, then just as you conclude I exist because you observe people posting on forums, so does a theist conclude that there is an Almighty Creator because he observes the careful planning and design of the creators behind the inventions of technology.

    Tragedy can also turn people away from God, too, no?
    Absolotely, and both aspects are discussed in the Qur'an:
    41:49 Man does not weary of asking for good (things), but if ill touches him, he gives up all hope (and) is lost in despair.
    The above verse explains that tragedy can be a test of faith.

    At the same time, the Qur'an says:
    39:49 Now, when trouble touches man, he cries to Us: But when We bestow a favour upon him as from Ourselves, he says, "This has been given to me because of a certain knowledge (I have)!" Nay, but this is but a trial, but most of them understand not!
    This verse states that many people only remember God in times of need. When things in their lives are pleasant they forget about their Creator, but when tragedy befalls them they plead to God to help them.

    And there is no contradiction between the two. Both are aspects of human mentality.

    What I find to be the most miraculous aspect of the Qur'an is that it contains guidance on every single aspect of our lives and any question a human being raises, they shall find the answer in the Qur'an if they search for it. As God says in the Qur'an:
    6:38...We have neglected nothing in the Book. In the end, they shall all be gathered unto their Lord

    "No strong arguments"? Surely even a strong argument wouldn't convince you, since you have faith. I thought we agreed that arguments can't change someone's view from atheism to theism or vice versa, that it was a matter of faith? Or perhaps you believe arguments can take someone from atheism to theism? This is the point I mentioned earlier.
    I repeat that I have yet, in all my discussions with atheists, to see them make a strong argument against God's existence. If they did, it would call my faith into question unless I could answer their argument. And I believe that all arguments have been answered from the Qur'an.

    Let me be clear that as Muslims we do not subscribe to blind faith. The Qur'an encourages us to use our senses and our reason to discover and comprehend the truth. When one is liberated from their material desires and turns towards God, they become aware of the truth. We are not Muslims because our parents were Muslims, but rather because we have discivered the truth and chosen this path for ourselves. I fully embraced Islam when I had examined alternative paths of life and found that none of them can compare to the comprehensive system which our Creator has revealed to us. We also have sevral Muslims converts on the forum and they have left their previous ways of life (some were former atheists like _salam_ and steve) and they have accepted Islam.

    I don't think this is a good analogy, for reasons connected with the Turing test mentioned above. In fact I can barely see the connection between atheism and the absurd argument you mention here.
    The point is that there are no supporting arguments for atheism. Atheists seem to feel it is sufficient to simply argue the proofs brought by theists without bringing their own proofs. Which brings us to your next point:

    Re: the invisible pink unicorn argument, the question here is about the burden of proof. Who has to prove their belief, the person who affirms something or the person who denies it? In my view, the theist must take most of the burden of proof, because the assertion "god exists" is prior to the assertion "god does not exist"; it happened first. The concept of god with all his attributes came about at the same time as the idea of his existence. Before the first person ever to say "god exists" said it, it was not possible to think "god does not exist" since the concept hadn't been created yet.
    I agree that the position that God exists preceded the position that He doesn't. However, there is a difference between not believing in God and rejecting His existence. I don't agree with your opinion on the burden of proof because if someone came to you and stated that your relatives did not exist anymore, and you argued against them all the reasons why you felt that your relatives did exist, you would probably demand that they provide proof for their assertion. They have made the assertion that your relatives do not exist, hence they must substantiate their claim. There is no neutral position here. One Christian author words the idea very concisely:
    The statement “I lack belief in a god” is becoming a common position of atheists. In discussions with them, they tell me they lack belief in God the way they lack belief in invisible, pink unicorns. In other words, they have no position, take no intellectual action, have no “belief or unbelief” on the matter concerning God. To them it is a non-issue. Though this may sound sensible to some, the problem is that once you are introduced to an idea you cannot stay neutral about it. You invariably make a judgment about an idea once it has been introduced to you. You can brush it off as ridiculous, ponder its possibility, accept it, reject it, or do something in between. But, you cannot return to a “lack of belief” position if “lack of belief” is defined as a non-intellectual commitment or non-action concerning it. Though I admit that an atheist can claim he lacks belief even after being exposed to an idea and contemplating its rationality, I still assert that a position of some sort is required.
    Let’s pick a baby that has no awareness of the concept of invisible, pink unicorns. Later in life, when the baby is mature and is introduced to the concept, he either accepts the existence of invisible pink unicorns, rejects them as a ridiculous notion, chuckles about it and dismisses it, becomes unsure about them, holds off judgment until later, etc. Either way, he develops a position on the concept of invisible pink unicorns. He has to do something with the concept once he’s been exposed to it. He doesn’t continue in a lack-of-belief or a lack-of-awareness state of mind because the fact is, some sort of intellectual action occurs in regard to it. He cannot become unaffected by the concept. He has been made aware of it and he, by default, does something with it.
    Nevertheless, some might say that to hold off judgment until later is to be "atheistic" concerning pink unicorns and therefore support the atheist position of "lack of belief." But, as I said earlier, after being exposed to a concept a decision is made about that concept even if it is to withhold judgment. In other words, an assessment has been made and a position taken. This is not the same as going back to a state of unawareness. To suspend belief on a subject is to hold off judgment until more information is acquired. This is agnosticism, not atheism. It is an admission that not all information is acquired thus logically requiring the possibility of the existence of the thing being considered. This is something atheists do not do by definition, but agnostics do. Agnosticism is the position, in part, that "suspension of belief" is maintained until further information is acquired.
    If I said that there was an ice cream factory on Jupiter, what would you think? Would you entertain the idea as a serious possibility? Would you quickly dismiss it as an outlandish absurdity? Would you request evidence for it? Or, did you suddenly have a desire to go to Jupiter for some Jupiterian Swirl? Of course, an ice-cream factory on Jupiter is ridiculous and we automatically know this so we naturally make a judgment on it. Thus, we cannot remain in a state of “lack of belief” concerning the concept once we’ve been introduced to it. We assign it to the “that is ridiculous” category.
    This is why the lack of belief defense of atheists is not logical. It ignores the reality that people categorize concepts anywhere in the range of total acceptance to total rejection. It is our nature and it is the nature of the human mind.

    Again: are these proofs necessary? If you discovered an extremely convincing atheist argument, would that have any effect on your faith? I'm fairly sure it wouldn't.
    I've answered this before, but I'd also like to mention that the affect of the argument on me is irrelevant. We are having a discussion here, therefore we should bring forward arguments to support our stance in the discussion.

    I think science has a huge amount of explanatory power. Think of how much more we understand about the universe than people from say 2000 years ago.
    I never claimed otherwise. But undoubtedly, science is very limited. It always explains what but never why. Allow me to demonstrate with an example used by Maulana Wahiddudin Khan:
    'Why is blood red in colour?' If you were to ask a doctor the reason, he would answer, 'Because your blood contains millions of little red discs (5 million to each cubic centimeter), each some seven thousandth of an inch in diameter, called the red corpuscles.'
    'Yes, but why are the discs red?'
    'Because they contain a substance called haemoglobin, which, when it absorbs oxygen from the lungs, becomes bright red. That is why the blood in the arteries is scarlet. As it flows through the body, the blood gives up its oxygen to the organs of the body and the haemoglobin becoms brownish-this is the dark blood of the veins.'
    'Yes. But where do the red corpuscles with their haemoglobin come from?'
    'They are made in the spleen.'
    'That's marvellous, Doctor. But tell me, how is it that the blood, the red corpuscles, the spleen, and the thousand other things are so organized into one coherent whole, work together so perfectly that I can breathe, run, speak, live?'
    'Ah! That is nature.'
    'Nature!'
    'When I say "nature", I mean the interplay of blind physical and chemical forces.'
    'But Doctor, why do these blind forces always act as if they were pursuing a definite end? How do they manage to coordinate their activites so as to produce a bird which flies, a fish which swims, and me...who asks questions?'
    My dear friend, I a scientist, can tell you how these things happen. Do not ask me why they are like that.'

    While their is no gainsaying the fact that science has set up for us a vast storehouse of knowledge, this dialogue clearly shows that it has its limits. There is a point beyond which it can offer no further explanations.
    Although some of the doctor's responses in the above quote may be outdated, in terms of accuracy, I think the quote still demonstrates my point.

    There are abstract concepts, and there are metaphysical concepts. They should not be confused. Metaphysical concepts are beyond all possible physical experience. The objects or ideas they refer to cannot be observed. Abstract scientific concepts are simply labels for processes which can be repeatedly tested, observed and measured.
    According to the Oxford American Dictionary of English, 'abstract concepts' is synonymous with 'metaphysical concepts'. Now if you wish to utilise an alternative definition thats up to you. The point still remains that we use abstract labels for the same concepts we claim to be beyond science. And my last point....

    Good question!
    Then I'm looking for a good answer!

    Peace be with you!
    Last edited by Ansar Al-'Adl; 08-06-2005 at 04:29 PM.
    The existence of God

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

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    Re: The existence of God

    Greetings and peace czgibsonl,

    czgibsonl.
    I'm very new on the board, but I'd like to make a contribution here from the atheist position.
    Here are my thoughts, not so much as a Catholic, rather as a theist.

    There is at least one God the creator of the universe,

    or

    There is no God at all and the universe created itself somehow.

    One of those statements is true and the other totally false, irrespective of what anyone believes we cannot change the truth because the universe already came into existance somehow.

    If and only if God exists fully and totally then there is the need to do something because God the creator must be the most important thing in the whole universe

    In the spirit of searching for a greatest truth

    Eric

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    Re: The existence of God

    Greetings once again,
    I have just written a very long post answering your points and then lost it due to my computer incompetence. A sign from god, perhaps?

    I will try to rewrite it, but this time I will have to be brief. I therefore apologise if any of what I say below appears brusque or rude - it is not intended that way at all; it is a consequence of brevity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ansar Al-'Adl
    I don't recall ever making such a statement. You misconstrued my words.
    How else can you interpret this sentence?
    First of all, while I do believe that the existence of God is something that can be recognized by all human beings, I don't believe someone can 'prove' the existence of God and guide an atheist to theism.
    I think I see how the problem has arisen. By referring to god, you are making an unfounded assertion about the way that you believe he guides people. On the other hand, you might say that this statement of mine is an unfounded assertion!
    How convincing an argument is depends entirely on the person recieving it. Therefore, we can make no claims that one argument is unconvincing etc. it is all relative.
    There are precise ways of ascertaining whether an argument is valid or not, as you will know if you have studied logic.
    Think of that which you have faith in, and you might find your faith completely reasonable. Faith is commonly built upon reason. If I only believe in God because my parents told me so, then that's faith in my parents, not faith in God.
    I don't think faith can ever be "completely reasonable". If it were then it would cease to be faith! Faith may be founded on reason, but there is always an element of doubt involved. If you had absolute proof that god exists, you would have no need for faith.
    Improbable, but not impossible!
    This is a very deep philosophical question that deserves a whole forum to itself, let alone another thread!
    I'm interested in the above comment since that would make a useful argument for atheism. What makes you believe that a God of such attributes is unlikely?
    Simply the fact that nobody has ever seen or experienced anything else that is omnipotent, omniscient etc. Also, because I believe such concepts are actually logically inconsistent and therefore impossible. Consider the following paradox: If god is all-powerful, and can do absolutely anything, can he build a stone which is too heavy for him to lift? If he can build such a stone, he can't lift it. If he can't build such a stone, then his omnipotence is in serious doubt. Either way, there is something god cannot do. Of course, the stone example is very physical, and we don't normally imagine god lifting stones and so on. I just use it for simplicity's sake. Another example could be: could god create a universe that is so large he was unable to be present throughout all of it simultaneously? Whatever example you use, the paradox remains. Therefore the concept "omnipotent" is logically impossible.

    EDIT: Having looked through your Creed Article "Where is Allah?" I now see that you do not believe Allah is omnipresent. I trust you are still aware of the paradox I refer to, however.

    This is a flawed analogy. Your stating that you conclude I exist because you have seen other people doing a similar activites, but you've never observed a God. However, the fact that you haven't observed God is analogous to the fact that you haven't observed me, but the fact that you have observed other people posting on a forum is analogous to the fact that you have observed every machine designed and created by an intelligent designer. So these are two different ideas here.
    I'm afraid I don't understand what you are getting at here. Perhaps you could go over this point again?
    If I use your analogy, then just as you conclude I exist because you observe people posting on forums, so does a theist conclude that there is an Almighty Creator because he observes the careful planning and design of the creators behind the inventions of technology.
    I believe the creation of new inventions and technology attest to the ability of human ingenuity and nothing more. As to how the people creating such things were designed, that is a mystery which can be (only partly) explained by evolution.
    And there is no contradiction between the two. Both are aspects of human mentality.
    I fully accept this point.
    What I find to be the most miraculous aspect of the Qur'an is that it contains guidance on every single aspect of our lives and any question a human being raises, they shall find the answer in the Qur'an if they search for it. As God says in the Qur'an:
    6:38...We have neglected nothing in the Book. In the end, they shall all be gathered unto their Lord
    Any question? How about these:

    1. What is George W. Bush's middle name?
    2. What bitrate should I use when downloading tunes to my iPod?
    3. How many humans have existed since the beginning of time?

    OK, you can see what I'm doing here - but you did say any question!
    I repeat that I have yet, in all my discussions with atheists, to see them make a strong argument against God's existence. If they did, it would call my faith into question unless I could answer their argument. And I believe that all arguments have been answered from the Qur'an.
    Atheists believe that the standard proofs for the existence of god (ontological, cosmological, teleological, experiential, whatever) are unsatisfactory. They often also believe that any proof of the non-existence of god would also be unsatisfactory, because it is impossible to prove or disprove something that is outside any possible human experience.
    Let me be clear that as Muslims we do not subscribe to blind faith. The Qur'an encourages us to use our senses and our reason to discover and comprehend the truth.
    This is admirable, since many religious people seem to be hostile to reason. However, I still believe that until you see god with your own eyes, your faith is blind.
    We are not Muslims because our parents were Muslims, but rather because we have discivered the truth and chosen this path for ourselves.
    OK, but would you agree that if you were born into a Muslim family, in a Muslim society it is very likely that you would become a Muslim?
    I fully embraced Islam when I had examined alternative paths of life and found that none of them can compare to the comprehensive system which our Creator has revealed to us.
    I would love to know more about this. I'm fascinated by the journey that takes people from non-faith to faith. How is it possible? I ask myself. I am aware that it is a very personal journey, which may be difficult to explain to an outsider.
    We also have sevral Muslims converts on the forum and they have left their previous ways of life (some were former atheists like _salam_ and steve) and they have accepted Islam.
    This is extremely interesting - I hope they have found peace and happiness with their new belief-system.
    The point is that there are no supporting arguments for atheism. Atheists seem to feel it is sufficient to simply argue the proofs brought by theists without bringing their own proofs.
    I have answered this above.
    I agree that the position that God exists preceded the position that He doesn't. However, there is a difference between not believing in God and rejecting His existence.
    Can you explain the difference to me? I don't see it.
    I don't agree with your opinion on the burden of proof because if someone came to you and stated that your relatives did not exist anymore, and you argued against them all the reasons why you felt that your relatives did exist, you would probably demand that they provide proof for their assertion. They have made the assertion that your relatives do not exist, hence they must substantiate their claim. There is no neutral position here.
    Let me clarify where I stand on the question of the burden of proof. In some cases it is the asserter who has the burden, in some cases the denier, and in some cases both have work to do. The proposition "your relatives do not exist" can be verified as being true or false quite easily. Therefore, in this case, the person who denies my relatives' existence has the burden of proof, but it is easy to ascertain the truth (or otherwise) of his statement. (That is of course unless we accept the ultra-sceptical arguments of someone like Sextus Empriricus, who argued along the lines of "how can we be sure anything exists?" Such arguments may be valid in terms of pure logic, but anyone who tried to live his life with such ontological uncertainty would very quickly run into practical difficulties). However, if someone affirms the existence of god (and all that that logically entails), then that is a truly vast hypothesis, one which needs suitably vast evidence if it is to be believed. Therefore, in this case, most of the burden of proof lies with the theist, since the denial of this vast hypothesis is not a statement of comparable magnitude.

    The Christian author you quote confuses atheism with agnosticism. The atheist does not take "no position" on the god question, as I think should be clear by now.
    I've answered this before, but I'd also like to mention that the affect of the argument on me is irrelevant. We are having a discussion here, therefore we should bring forward arguments to support our stance in the discussion.
    OK, a fair point. We are not trying to convert each other here (well I'm not anyway), merely to air the issues in the hope that we will understand them better.
    I never claimed otherwise. But undoubtedly, science is very limited. It always explains what but never why.
    This is absolutely true with regard to questions of existence. Science can tell tell us what exists but not why it exists in the first place. The example you use demonstrates this point clearly.
    While their is no gainsaying the fact that science has set up for us a vast storehouse of knowledge, this dialogue clearly shows that it has its limits. There is a point beyond which it can offer no further explanations.[/color][/indent]
    Very true. But I believe that the god hypothesis does not explain anything at all. In fact, the concept of god is one that requires explanation itself. Judicious use of Ockham's razor shows that this extra explanation to account for god does not help us understand the universe more clearly in any way whatsoever.
    According to the Oxford American Dictionary of English, 'abstract concepts' is synonymous with 'metaphysical concepts'. Now if you wish to utilise an alternative definition thats up to you. The point still remains that we use abstract labels for the same concepts we claim to be beyond science.
    I use the word "metaphysical" in relation to metaphysics, a clearly demarcated philosophical discipline, one which has been almost unanimously rejected by modern philosophers. The dictionary is imprecise if it does indeed say what you say it does. It should give "highly abstract concepts" as a synonym, not just "abstract concepts". There is a subtle difference. A first order abstract concept, such as energy, wealth or intelligence, cannot be observed directly, but its effects can be measured using agreed systems with varying levels of precision, depending on the concept in question. A second order abstract concept, (i.e. a metaphysical concept) such as truth, good or value, cannot be measured by any agreed system at all.
    Then I'm looking for a good answer!
    Yes, the great unanswerable question! I'll have a go. Some people say that god is the mysterious source of life and energy. If this was the one and only definition of the word "god", then I would be a believer, since I do believe it is a mystery. Not a very satisfactory answer, I know, but the best that can be given by me!
    Peace be with you!
    And also with you!
    Last edited by czgibson; 08-06-2005 at 06:19 PM.

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    Ansar Al-'Adl's Avatar
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    Re: The existence of God

    Hi Callum,
    I'll answer your main points in order to keep the discussion focused and concise.

    Quote Originally Posted by czgibson
    I think I see how the problem has arisen. By referring to god, you are making an unfounded assertion about the way that you believe he guides people.
    I'm not discussing the way God guides people, I'm just pointing out that it is ultimately He who decides who will find the truth and have faith and who won't. At the same time, we can reason about the truth but we can't compel someone to accept it. I can provide my reasons for why I believe in the existence of God, but I can't convince everyone based on logic and reason. It takes a personal experience to discover one's Creator.

    I hope that makes it a little more clear.

    Simply the fact that nobody has ever seen or experienced anything else that is omnipotent, omniscient etc.
    Actually, scientists have already begun to theorize a being with such attributes based on our knowledge of quantum mechanics. For example, in the Many Worlds Interpretation, there is the concept of the Massless Lightcone Being. which you may he=ave heard of. In fact, the concept approaches a classical understanding of a deity.

    And since if there was a God, no one esle would share such attributes, your argument borders on the logical fallacy, petitio principii.
    Also, because I believe such concepts are actually logically inconsistent and therefore impossible. Consider the following paradox: If god is all-powerful, and can do absolutely anything, can he build a stone which is too heavy for him to lift? If he can build such a stone, he can't lift it. If he can't build such a stone, then his omnipotence is in serious doubt. Either way, there is something god cannot do. Of course, the stone example is very physical, and we don't normally imagine god lifting stones and so on. I just use it for simplicity's sake.
    This is an old example, for sure. In fact, I believe I have commented on it before elsewhere on the forum.

    Basically, such a stone could not exist, as the concept of the stone is purely imaginative and not based on actual measures. When you ask if God could create a stone, you would normally identify the properties of such a stone. But you haven't given absoloute properties, but instead given properties of the stone relative to God's properties. You have identified the potential stone as something so big that God couldn't lift, so even though we already know that there is nothing God cannot lift, you have used that as an attribute for the stone. Automatically, the concept of such a stone is nullfied. Now, when you ask could God create such a stone, the answer is no, but that doesn't imply a lack of potential on the part of God. Instead, it reflects the fact that the concept of such a stone is illogical, unreal, inadmissable. That's like asking if God can die. Well, death isn't an ability, its the inability to live. The immortal cannot die because that defies His attribute of immortality. Similarly, the omnipotent cannot create a task that He can't complete because such a task is merely a figment of one's imagination and could not exist.

    You're basically asking, if God can do anything, can He make it impossible for himself to do something? The question is illogical and self-contradictory because the argument contradicts the premise. Once you have already established that God can do anything, then that's a set attribute and part of His nature. Therefore, He can do anything that is consistent with His nature, anything that is absolute.

    Can God make 1=2? Well if 1=2, then it wouldn't be 1! So the idea is self-contradictory, not God.

    Its related to some of the points I raised about Trinity in the following post (see the part where I quoted myself):
    http://www.islamicboard.com/showpost...70&postcount=7

    The question also reminds me of the idea of what happens when an immovable rock meets an unstoppable force? The two things cannot exist in the same universe. Likewise, if God exists then all things which contradict His attributes are imaginary, non-existant and impossible. They are forever bound to the realm of imagination and cannot be brought into existence.

    Shaykh Ibn Abil-'Izz (d. 1389CE) also answered this question in Sharhul Aqeedatit Tahaawiyyah (p.137), in his discussion of the following verse:
    And Allah, over each thing, is omnipotent; all-powerful [al-Baqarah 2:284]

    This includes all that is possible. As for what is in intrinsically impossible - such as there being a thing that exists and does not exist at one and the same time - then, this has no reality, nor is its existence conceivable, nor is it termed 'a thing' by agreement of the intelligent ones. Included in this category is: [Allah] creating the likes of Himself, making Himself non-existent, and other impossibilites.

    This also serves as a reply to the question posed by some: 'Can Allah create a stone that He is unable to lift?' The argument being that if Allah cannot create such a stone, He is not all-powerful; but if He can, then likewise He is not all-powerful. The fallacy of this argument lies in the fact that such an affair is, in itself, impossible and exists only in the minds of certain people. And not all that the mind conjures-up has an existence that is possible, nor is it always termed 'a thing.'
    Hopefully that makes the issue clear.

    Another example could be: could god create a universe that is so large he was unable to be present throughout all of it simultaneously? Whatever example you use, the paradox remains.
    Although the previous explanation should work for this as well, I'd just like to point out that we don't believe God is omnipresent in His essence.

    I'm afraid I don't understand what you are getting at here. Perhaps you could go over this point again?
    Okay, you were making the following comparison

    you observe many people posting: you've never observed God

    I pointed out that those two aren't analogous. The following two pairs are analogous:
    you observe many people posting: you observe many people creating

    you've never observed me: you've never observed God

    Any question? How about these:

    1. What is George W. Bush's middle name?
    2. What bitrate should I use when downloading tunes to my iPod?
    3. How many humans have existed since the beginning of time?

    OK, you can see what I'm doing here - but you did say any question!
    The Qur'an does indeed respond to your questioning. You may feel that it doesn't answer your questions specifically, but it certainly covers the subject of asking about trivial matters.
    23:3 [The believers are those] who avoid vain talk

    The Qur'an responds to everything in life. It contains guidance for humanity in all aspects of their lives. Have you read the Qur'an? If not, I would encourage you to read it, and I can recommend several good translations for you.

    I would love to know more about this. I'm fascinated by the journey that takes people from non-faith to faith. How is it possible? I ask myself. I am aware that it is a very personal journey, which may be difficult to explain to an outsider.
    I think you might enjoy reading some of their stories. We have a thread on this subject here:
    http://www.islamicboard.com/showthread.php?t=1833

    A vast collection of stories are found here:
    http://thetruereligion.org/modules/xfsection/
    They have several stories from former atheists and christians.

    Can you explain the difference to me? I don't see it.
    Basically one is a neutral position, and the second is a negative position. The negative position requires support.
    Let me clarify where I stand on the question of the burden of proof. In some cases it is the asserter who has the burden, in some cases the denier, and in some cases both have work to do. The proposition "your relatives do not exist" can be verified as being true or false quite easily. Therefore, in this case, the person who denies my relatives' existence has the burden of proof, but it is easy to ascertain the truth (or otherwise) of his statement. (That is of course unless we accept the ultra-sceptical arguments of someone like Sextus Empriricus, who argued along the lines of "how can we be sure anything exists?" Such arguments may be valid in terms of pure logic, but anyone who tried to live his life with such ontological uncertainty would very quickly run into practical difficulties). However, if someone affirms the existence of god (and all that that logically entails), then that is a truly vast hypothesis, one which needs suitably vast evidence if it is to be believed. Therefore, in this case, most of the burden of proof lies with the theist, since the denial of this vast hypothesis is not a statement of comparable magnitude.
    Although I agree with most of what you've said in this paragraph, I'm still disagree about the theist having the burden of proof instead of the atheist. Affirming the existence of your relatives is also very significant for you, and it is equally significant to deny their existence. Now you said that its easily verifiable and by that I assume you would just pay a visit to these relatives. well, the same as true for God. God's existence is easily verifiable once we die and return to Him. But at the moment, proving the existence of one's relatives and proving the existence of God - both are comparable.

    I think that's it for now. I'm in agreement with a lot of what you've said.

    Regards
    The existence of God

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

  10. #8
    czgibson's Avatar
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    Re: The existence of God

    Hello again,
    I think we're beginning to understand each other's point of view much more clearly now, agreeing to disagree, perhaps. I'm certainly learning a lot, though. I think our two ways of viewing the world are simply that, two ways of looking at the same thing. Discussions about religion of this nature always remind me of a Gestalt picture, such as the famous one where some people see a rabbit and others see a duck. Of course, both are present or implied in the picture. As regards the existence of God question it is not, of course, possible to hold both of our views on the subject simultaneously, but both views are clearly established in the world. It should be possible though, to understand the reasoning of each side, whichever one we accept.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ansar
    I'm not discussing the way God guides people, I'm just pointing out that it is ultimately He who decides who will find the truth and have faith and who won't.
    So god has decided that I will not have faith, for example? Has he chosen not to reveal himself to me?

    Actually, scientists have already begun to theorize a being with such attributes based on our knowledge of quantum mechanics. For example, in the Many Worlds Interpretation, there is the concept of the Massless Lightcone Being. which you may he=ave heard of. In fact, the concept approaches a classical understanding of a deity.
    Very interesting - I have not heard of this. I'm familiar with Everett's "many-worlds" interpretation but this is a new one for me. Thank you.

    And since if there was a God, no one esle would share such attributes, your argument borders on the logical fallacy, petitio principii.
    If there was one god, yes. Or, if there was another creature that shared just one of his attributes.

    This is an old example, for sure. In fact, I believe I have commented on it before elsewhere on the forum.
    You're basically asking, if God can do anything, can He make it impossible for himself to do something? The question is illogical and self-contradictory because the argument contradicts the premise. Once you have already established that God can do anything, then that's a set attribute and part of His nature. Therefore, He can do anything that is consistent with His nature, anything that is absolute.
    But can god withhold some of his powers from himself if he so chooses? I admit the stone paradox is a logical oddity, but I still think it points to an inconsistency in the concept of omnipotence. Your refutation of it is the best I've read, though!

    Shaykh Ibn Abil-'Izz (d. 1389CE) also answered this question in Sharhul Aqeedatit Tahaawiyyah (p.137)
    Hopefully that makes the issue clear.
    An excellent quotation, and yes it does.

    Although the previous explanation should work for this as well, I'd just like to point out that we don't believe God is omnipresent in His essence.
    I noticed this too late, when I was reading your excellent Creed Article "Where is Allah?".


    Okay, you were making the following comparison

    you observe many people posting: you've never observed God

    I pointed out that those two aren't analogous. The following two pairs are analogous:
    you observe many people posting: you observe many people creating

    you've never observed me: you've never observed God
    I think we might have to agree to disagree on this one; I believe I have excellent reasons for believing you are a human, even though I cannot see you face to face. I can observe the effect of your existence in the posts you write etc. I do not need to have faith that you are there, because I know you are. The same is not true of god, for me, anyway.


    The Qur'an does indeed respond to your questioning. You may feel that it doesn't answer your questions specifically, but it certainly covers the subject of asking about trivial matters.
    23:3 [The believers are those] who avoid vain talk
    A witty response, Ansar, but does this not mean that the vast majority of factual questions are trivial?

    The Qur'an responds to everything in life. It contains guidance for humanity in all aspects of their lives. Have you read the Qur'an? If not, I would encourage you to read it, and I can recommend several good translations for you.
    I have read many parts of the Qur'an, but never all the way through. I have intended to, of course, but I find much of it very repetitive, and thus difficult to read. Some of the violent imagery is quite upsetting too. I understand the basic historical circumstances surrounding the text of the Qur'an (I believe), but having such extreme violence in a holy book (as in the Bible, and others) has always seemed repugnant to me. I have a copy of the Abdullah Yusuf-Ali translation with full Arabic text and a commentary. I don't know Arabic, but some Muslim friends have shown me how to read certain passages in the past. I'm going to attempt a more thorough reading, due to your prompting, so can you recommend a good thread for asking questions about the interpretation of it? That would be very helpful.

    Although I agree with most of what you've said in this paragraph, I'm still disagree about the theist having the burden of proof instead of the atheist. Affirming the existence of your relatives is also very significant for you, and it is equally significant to deny their existence. Now you said that its easily verifiable and by that I assume you would just pay a visit to these relatives. well, the same as true for God. God's existence is easily verifiable once we die and return to Him. But at the moment, proving the existence of one's relatives and proving the existence of God - both are comparable.
    God's existence is only verifiable after we die - assuming there is an afterlife. If there is no afterlife, then his existence is not verifiable at all. Also, which is verification is easier, the one where you have to die first, or the one where you don't?

    I think that's it for now. I'm in agreement with a lot of what you've said.
    Me too. I think perhaps we're nearing the end of the usefulness of this discussion. Maybe we could take a break on this and I could have a more thorough look at the Qur'an?

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    Abdul Fattah's Avatar
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    Re: The existence of God

    I'm not discussing the way God guides people, I'm just pointing out that it is ultimately He who decides who will find the truth and have faith and who won't.
    So god has decided that I will not have faith, for example? Has he chosen not to reveal himself to me?
    God has chosen to only make people believe when they make an effort to it, or by his mercy. It's not about seeing, it's about wanting to see. In the end of the day it's a "believe" a preference for one possibility over another one. By God's mercy one can be shown a context, an image basacly anythings that helps this person decide wich one of the 2 possability's are wright.
    Secondly there's causality to concider. From an atheistic p.o.v. one could state people have no freedom since al our decisions and thoughts are concluded by chemical processes in our head following nature's law. From a religious p.o.v. however, it is only by following the soul (=something un-materialistic) one take's up his freedom of choice. So the one who walks the earth simply to furfill materialistic needs is indeed blindfolded.

    (more on science vs. soul in this topic http://www.islamicboard.com/showthread.php?t=3128)

    You're basically asking, if God can do anything, can He make it impossible for himself to do something? The question is illogical and self-contradictory because the argument contradicts the premise. Once you have already established that God can do anything, then that's a set attribute and part of His nature. Therefore, He can do anything that is consistent with His nature, anything that is absolute.

    But can god withhold some of his powers from himself if he so chooses? I admit the stone paradox is a logical oddity, but I still think it points to an inconsistency in the concept of omnipotence. Your refutation of it is the best I've read, though!
    Just look at this this way. If I offer you an apple, I create a freedom where you have the choice to either refuse, accept or keep the offer open. When you decide to accept the apple you loose the freedom to refuse it; or when you refuse it, you loose the freedom to accept. This does not mean that your freedom relies on me (the person who offers the apple) but is simply something that comes hand in hand with choice. Because the one creating the choice and the one aplying it are two different characters here it is obvious that only taking a choice limits your choices, and no limitation is made by offering choice or having the power to create a choice. In analogy, the posibility to limit oneself can not be concidered as a natural flaw in omnipotence. Yes if someone is omnipotent he has the power to limitate himself, this however doesn't mean that the being is not all powerfull by nature simply because the paradox exists. The reason the being is limited when he chooses so is by his own choice and could not be concidered as a flaw in its all-powerfull-nature.

    I think we might have to agree to disagree on this one; I believe I have excellent reasons for believing you are a human, even though I cannot see you face to face. I can observe the effect of your existence in the posts you write etc. I do not need to have faith that you are there, because I know you are. The same is not true of god, for me, anyway.
    This is exactly what I meant with: In the end of the day it's a "believe" a preference for one possibility over another one.

    This post insinuates there is a person existing in this world called steve but it doesn't proof it, maybe my real name is actually steven, and i just use steve 'cause everybody calls me by that name. Likewise there are many events in, and features of this world that suggest a creator but doesn't prove it. The question is, do you want to believe?

    A witty response, Ansar, but does this not mean that the vast majority of factual questions are trivial?
    I think not. Not all factual questions are vain.
    If I were to ask you if you know the defenition of "vain". It could be my intention to mock you or to entertain other readers by your expence, the question could therefor be concidered a vain one. I could however also meant to trigger your curiousity, lure you to think it trough, in wich case (wether or not this can be concidered an effective method) it could be concidered an attempt to constuctivly talk about it. What I'm trying to say is, that a question should only be judged as vain due to the intention of the person asking it, and not due to the structure, words or form of the question itself.


    I can sense that you'r genuily interested in these matters. I was raised a cristian, and turned to atheism for a long time. I'm no expert on science but I do know my share and I reverted to islam. This being said, if you have any questions, (even trivial ones ) don' be afraid to ask. And good luck with that qur'an study, inshallah you shall be guided to the truth.
    Last edited by Ansar Al-'Adl; 10-23-2005 at 05:02 AM.
    The existence of God

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    Re: The existence of God

    Greetings, steve.

    You raise some interesting points, giving an insight into how faith is acquired. This is the most interesting question for me; not because I intend to convert to theism or Islam (that is extremely unlikely), but because I wish to understand as much as I can about how believers become faithful. I know that the best way to find out is to have the experience oneself, but since I am a convinced atheist that path is not open to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by steve
    God has chosen to only make people believe when they make an effort to it, or by his mercy. It's not about seeing, it's about wanting to see.
    Yes, a point raised fairly often by religious believers. My problem with this is that I prefer to believe things that are either possible, self-evidently true, likely or very likely. For me, the existence of god is none of these things. I would like to believe that all is right with the world; I would like to believe that no more wars will ever happen, but these beliefs have no foundations. Similarly, even if I wanted to believe in god, that in itself would give me no good reason for doing so.

    From an atheistic p.o.v. one could state people have no freedom since al our decisions and thoughts are concluded by chemical processes in our head following nature's law.
    Yes, an atheist could say that, but only if he/she believed in absolute determinism, which is a contentious belief to say the least. I believe that in human affairs, some things are determined, and in other things we have the freedom to choose. I do not, however, see that it is necessary to involve god in any explanation of how it is possible for us to be free.

    From a religious p.o.v. however, it is only by following the soul (=something un-materialistic) one take's up his freedom of choice. So the one who walks the earth simply to furfill materialistic needs is indeed blindfolded.
    This is a very reductive description of what atheists do. (If that is indeed your implication). As an atheist, my life is made up of much more than this: I enjoy meeting friends, I enjoy art, music, literature, linguistics, philosophy, science, history, cinema, religious studies and teaching, which is my job. Acquiring material possessions is very low on my list of priorities.

    Just look at this this way. If I offer you an apple, I create a freedom where you have the choice to either refuse, accept or keep the offer open. When you decide to accept the apple you loose the freedom to refuse it; or when you refuse it, you loose the freedom to accept. This does not mean that your freedom relies on me (the person who offers the apple) but is simply something that comes hand in hand with choice. Because the one creating the choice and the one aplying it are two different characters here it is obvious that only taking a choice limits your choices, and no limitation is made by offering choice or having the power to create a choice. In analogy, the posibility to limit oneself can not be concidered as a natural flaw in omnipotence. Yes if someone is omnipotent he has the power to limitate himself, this however doesn't mean that the being is not all powerfull by nature simply because the paradox exists. The reason the being is limited when he chooses so is by his own choice and could not be concidered as a flaw in its all-powerfull-nature.
    A good point, well expressed. I concede this position, but I still think there is something wrong with the notion of omnipotence. I just cannot believe that it is possible.

    This post insinuates there is a person existing in this world called steve but it doesn't proof it, maybe my real name is actually steven, and i just use steve 'cause everybody calls me by that name.
    It certainly doesn't prove what your real name is, that I accept. However, I believe I have excellent reasons to believe that you are a human being and not a machine. Perhaps you are many people pretending to be one, that could be a possibility, but you are definitely not an automated response. The Turing test proves this for me.

    Likewise there are many events in, and features of this world that suggest a creator but doesn't prove it. The question is, do you want to believe?
    Impossible to say yes or no. If something should happen to give me very good reasons for believing, then I will believe. Until then I will hold to my current position.

    I think not. Not all factual questions are vain.
    If I were to ask you if you know the defenition of "vain". It could be my intention to mock you or to entertain other readers by your expence, the question could therefor be concidered a vain one. I could however also meant to trigger your curiousity, lure you to think it trough, in wich case (wether or not this can be concidered an effective method) it could be concidered an attempt to constuctivly talk about it. What I'm trying to say is, that a question should only be judged as vain due to the intention of the person asking it, and not due to the structure, words or form of the question itself.
    Interesting use of the word "lure" there - it suggests you may have devious intentions, which I'm sure you don't! But this point arose because Ansar told me that the Qur'an contains the answer to any question a human could raise. Obviously this is not true, unless you accept the particular interpretation he gives to those words. I admit that the questions I chose were deliberately facetious, as I knew their answers could not be in the Qur'an. So my intention was vain (if I understand you correctly), but the questions themselves are not. The fact remains that the vast majority of factual questions are not answered in the Qur'an, as is to be expected. This is the point I was trying to make.

    I can sense that you'r genuily interested in these matters. I was raised a cristian, and turned to atheism for a long time. I'm no expert on science but I do know my share and I reverted to islam. This being said, if you have any questions, (even trivial ones ) don' be afraid to ask. And good luck with that qur'an study, inshallah you shall be guided to the truth.
    Yes, one small question: I notice you say you "reverted" not "converted". Is this because you believe you were actually a Muslim all along, without knowing it, or is there a special interpretation of this word?

    I've started reading the Qur'an again, and I've been looking for a thread where I can ask questions of interpretation. I'm surprised not to have found one, since it is obviously a major area of study for Muslims. I'm reluctant to start a new thread because I'm sure there must already be one. I must have missed it - can you point me in the right direction?

  14. #11
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    Re: The existence of God

    Peace.

    Allah in the Holy Qur’an speaks of the fitrah of man in these words:

    *{Then set your face upright for religion in the right state—the nature made by Allah in which He has made men; there is no altering of Allah's creation; that is the right religion, but most people do not know.}* (Ar-Rum 30:30)

    We can see that “the pattern on which Allah has made mankind” refers to the basic nature of man, and “setting the face steadily and truly to the Faith” is called “the standard religion.” “The standard religion” is the same as The Religion or the Primordial Religion of mankind, which is mentioned in another verse that means:

    *{And when your Lord brought forth from the children of Adam, from their backs, their descendants, and made them bear witness against their own souls: Am I not your Lord? They said: Yes! we bear witness. Lest you should say on the day of resurrection: Surely we were heedless of this.}* (Al-A’raf 7:172)

    Commentators say that the above verse refers to a covenant taken by God from the whole of humanity, without any limit of time. In other words, man in his essential and original purity of soul has acknowledged his Creator. But later after his birth when he has grown up, he is in a state of “forgetfulness” as it were. And when he is reminded of his duty to God, he ought to know the truth of that in the heart of his hearts, unless he “covers up” this innermost truth.

    Thus Allah in the Qur’an makes it clear to us that the basic nature of man in his purity must acknowledge Him as the One and Only Creator and Sustainer. Studies of cultural anthropology and social history also bear out man’s yearning for a Spiritual Unity. What is more, the latest findings in ecological studies stress the essential unity and uniformity in nature and the universe, which implies a Single Ruler of the universe.

    Add to this the following facts:

    * All the religions worth the name teach belief in One God. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are, in fact, Semitic religions sharing the same background, and essentially speaking of One God. But consider even Hinduism that speaks of many gods. You find that Hinduism in its highest form speaks only of One God. There is the Sanskrit verse in the Rig Veda: “Ekam Sat vipra bahuda vadanti”: The Truth is One, but scholars call it by many names.

    * Thus we see that it is belief in the One God that validates a religion. And nature and history, too, speak up for the Truth of the One God, Allah Most High.

    * The Book of God (Qur’an) informs us of certain truths, which we have no other means of knowing. If we feel the need to investigate their veracity, then the only course is to study nature and history. In fact, a new learner of the Qur’an finds it quite surprising that it urges him to observe natural phenomena and contemplate them as a way of arriving at the One Creator. Also, the Qur’an repeatedly exhorts its readers to study history, even to travel to different parts of the earth and learn what the past generations did and how they disappeared from the face of earth.

    All these studies reveal to us the basic nature of man, his life in the world, and his spiritual quests. They inevitably lead us to the inescapable fact of the existence of Allah, the Lord of all the worlds, as testified by the pure essence of man.

    And Allah knows best.

    source: http://www.islamonline.net/askabouti...uestionID=8416

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    Re: The existence of God

    The existence of god is a Hypothosis, it can't even be brought into a theory.

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    Re: The existence of God

    I know that the best way to find out is to have the experience oneself, but since I am a convinced atheist that path is not open to me.
    Out of curiousity.... by what cause are you "convinced"?

    Yes, a point raised fairly often by religious believers. My problem with this is that I prefer to believe things that are either possible, self-evidently true, likely or very likely. For me, the existence of god is none of these things. I would like to believe that all is right with the world; I would like to believe that no more wars will ever happen, but these beliefs have no foundations. Similarly, even if I wanted to believe in god, that in itself would give me no good reason for doing so.
    Yes, I understand your point. But it's not completely like that, once you'll start looking at things from a theistic point of vieuw, you'll see that it's more self-evident as asumed. Like it or not, people will always heve a tendency to judge things from their own perspective. So when you don't believe in omnipotence for example, it would seem unlikely that there are also other beings (djin) walking this earth in another dimension that is hidden to us; mainly because of the prejudgement that an omnipotence being could not exist to create these even though science has already showed us that there are at least 11 dimentions, of wich we only notice 4. And you don't have to believe that all is wright. War doesn't contradict religion. We believe that this life is a test, so of course there will be hard times for everyone. We were given freedom of choice, this means we also have the freedom to harm others, and thats why there are so many problems in this life.

    This is a very reductive description of what atheists do. (If that is indeed your implication). As an atheist, my life is made up of much more than this: I enjoy meeting friends, I enjoy art, music, literature, linguistics, philosophy, science, history, cinema, religious studies and teaching, which is my job. Acquiring material possessions is very low on my list of priorities.
    Well, you'll have to agrea that a lack of something imaterial, would mean all proceses in your brain to follow natural laws. This doesn't mean that you can't enjoy them, or that hey do not have a purpose to you. But that simply means that "you" do not make those choice, but let them be choisen by chemistry. You also need to look further then basic materialistic possesions. There are many materialistic needs a person can have going from food, sex, entertainment, ... They are materialistic because they follow from physical stimuli. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that one should try to contradict them just pro forma. I'm just saying that when you choice only to follow these stimuli, that your life becomes no more then another link in the chain of causalistic events.

    A good point, well expressed. I concede this position, but I still think there is something wrong with the notion of omnipotence. I just cannot believe that it is possible.
    Just a wild guess here, but could that splinter that is buging you come from a wrong image of God? Science explains us how stuff works but not why. Till today we are still unaware of why gravity atracts objects. Einstein reformed the question to: "why does matter create bends in time-space?". And as we speak people are looking to find gravitons in cern. But why would the existence of the messenger-particul: graviton create a diffrence in dirrection with other objects. The questions remains.... When I pierce holes in a 2dimensional piece of paper, a fictional inhabitant of that paper could find those hole's, study them, find a pattern in it, make a law out of it, and even predict the next hole, but al that knowledge still does not tell him anything about a 3dimensional person piercing with a needle, simply due to his lack of dimensional insight. Likewise we are unable to fulle comprehend the underlying cause of science due to the 11 dimensions it happens in. We believ that when you hold an apple above the ground and let go, it falls because of Gods will. From that point of vieuw, all events are miracles, and that what western world would see as a miracle diffrences only because it's an "unusual" act of God. So God is beyond the laws of his creation, and even beyond the dimensions in wich he created it. This Image of God shows a much better understanding of omnipotence.

    Impossible to say yes or no. If something should happen to give me very good reasons for believing, then I will believe. Until then I will hold to my current position.
    Fair enoughf. In fact to believe something against your will would be concidered a lie to yourself. in fact one can not "choose" to believe. Believing is something you either do, or don't. One can only "hoose" to ignor or to listen to whatever he believes.

    Obviously this is not true, unless you accept the particular interpretation he gives to those words.
    It's not so much a matter of formulating an answer that answers the question. But the qur'an does offer an furfilment of any need a person can have that would give rise to questions. So when Anser said that it answers any question, I think he meant that it works as remedy to any lack of insight a person could have and that the qur'an is enoughf as a guide for human kind.

    Yes, one small question: I notice you say you "reverted" not "converted". Is this because you believe you were actually a Muslim all along, without knowing it, or is there a special interpretation of this word?
    We believe everybody is born a muslim, but some are raised diffrently. So we tend to say revert in stead of convert. And I do believe I was a muslim without knowing it to some extend yes, this is because everything I've learned about islam sounds so "wright" in my hearth and mind, it almost seems like something that was in me all along.

    I've started reading the Qur'an again, and I've been looking for a thread where I can ask questions of interpretation. I'm surprised not to have found one, since it is obviously a major area of study for Muslims. I'm reluctant to start a new thread because I'm sure there must already be one. I must have missed it - can you point me in the right direction?
    Just start a new one, i'm sure the moderaters won't mind (to much :P ).
    Last edited by Abdul Fattah; 08-07-2005 at 05:49 PM.
    The existence of God

    Check out my website for my conversion story.
    Check out my free e-book if you like reading drama-novels.

  17. #14
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    Re: The existence of God

    Greetings, Aqib, and thank you for your statements of Islamic belief.
    As an atheist, with considerably less knowledge than you about Islam, I feel I cannot usefully comment on the assertions you have made specifically about Islam. However, I would like to look at some of the more general points you mention.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aqib
    Studies of cultural anthropology and social history also bear out man’s yearning for a Spiritual Unity.
    This is broadly true. However, many anthropologists give a different explanation for the origin of this belief than you do. Many think that the god-belief is a result of fear, particularly fear as a result of being unable to explain natural phenomena. Primitive people living thousands of years ago would not understand why their citizens or crops would suddenly die, as they had little or no understanding of disease and infection; they would not understand why the seasons occur, since they had no understanding of planetary motions or climatology. These and many other inexplicable, unpredictable events might well have caused them to think that they were at the mercy of some higher power, rather than the forces of nature, and, what is more, that this higher power was to be feared, supplicated, worshipped. This belief would have been beneficial for the community, since it would encourage a strong group bond. It would also be useful for the leaders of the community, as a highly effective method of social control. (Incidentally, some anthropologists believe that the cycle of the seasons explains the prevalence of another common belief in primitive religions: that of the death and resurrection of the god. This belief is well known in certain contemporary religions too, though not Islam).

    What I'm saying here is the gist of a particular (fairly widespread) anthropological view. It is the one I subscribe to - what do you think?

    Add to this the following facts:
    I have to say that only one of the points you mention below may be a fact.

    * All the religions worth the name teach belief in One God.
    This is clearly a biased opinion. Buddhism is a major world religion which believes in no god at all.

    * Thus we see that it is belief in the One God that validates a religion.
    This is a conclusion from a false premise, with no actual argument in between.

    * The Book of God (Qur’an) informs us of certain truths, which we have no other means of knowing.
    This may be a fact, but it depends which truths you are talking about.

    All these studies reveal to us the basic nature of man, his life in the world, and his spiritual quests. They inevitably lead us to the inescapable fact of the existence of Allah, the Lord of all the worlds, as testified by the pure essence of man.

    And Allah knows best.
    OK, a strong conclusion, but what you have done here is make a list of assertions. Many Muslims say that it is important to use your mind and to decide for yourself what is true, but by making a list of assertions instead of argument, you reveal that you actually subscribe to the authoritarian approach to truth (i.e. This book was written by someone very wise, therefore we must believe it.)

    Please tell me if what I have written is complete nonsense.
    Peace be with you.

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    Ansar Al-'Adl's Avatar
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    Re: The existence of God

    Hello,
    Quote Originally Posted by czgibson
    So god has decided that I will not have faith, for example? Has he chosen not to reveal himself to me?
    God will guide you if you turn to Him for guidance. If you pray to Him with sincerity.

    But can god withhold some of his powers from himself if he so chooses? I admit the stone paradox is a logical oddity, but I still think it points to an inconsistency in the concept of omnipotence.
    The understanding of God's omnipotence in Islam is that God can do anything consistent with his nature. There are different notions of omnipotence but Muslims do not subscribe to the view that God can do anything that can even contradict His attributes.

    I noticed this too late, when I was reading your excellent Creed Article "Where is Allah?".
    Maybe you already know this, but just to make sure, I want to let you know that those articles in the sectarian section were not written by me, only posted by me. :brother:



    A witty response, Ansar, but does this not mean that the vast majority of factual questions are trivial?
    You are right in pointing out that the Qur'an does not contain every single piece of factual information, because the Qur'an is a book of guidance. Hence, when I say it has the answers for everything, what I should have written was that it has the answers for questions of life. Major questions of guidance.

    I have read many parts of the Qur'an, but never all the way through. I have intended to, of course, but I find much of it very repetitive, and thus difficult to read. Some of the violent imagery is quite upsetting too. I understand the basic historical circumstances surrounding the text of the Qur'an (I believe), but having such extreme violence in a holy book (as in the Bible, and others) has always seemed repugnant to me.
    I'm glad you mentioned this because I always prefer for people to ask about their doubts rather than keep them inside. Therwe are some verses which people misquote to portray Islam as a violent faith. I have written the following detailed article which explains all such verses:
    http://www.load-islam.com/C/rebuttals/Misquoted/

    I have a copy of the Abdullah Yusuf-Ali translation with full Arabic text and a commentary. I don't know Arabic, but some Muslim friends have shown me how to read certain passages in the past. I'm going to attempt a more thorough reading, due to your prompting, so can you recommend a good thread for asking questions about the interpretation of it? That would be very helpful.
    In reality, the entire 'Basics of Islam' section is used for interpretation of the Qur'an. Feel free to make a thread to ask you questions.


    God's existence is only verifiable after we die - assuming there is an afterlife. If there is no afterlife, then his existence is not verifiable at all. Also, which is verification is easier, the one where you have to die first, or the one where you don't?
    My point was that you can only verify the existence of your relatives by visiting them after your argument with the person who denies their existence. The same is true for God, except we must visit Him after death.

    peace
    The existence of God

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


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  20. #16
    Abdul Fattah's Avatar
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    Re: The existence of God

    This is broadly true. However, many anthropologists give a different explanation for the origin of this belief than you do. Many think that the god-belief is a result of fear, particularly fear as a result of being unable to explain natural phenomena.
    Well if one assumes the qur'an to be human made, that would be a logic explanation for it. But to claim it's false simply because people worshipped things like fire and the sun in history isn't very logic. It' not because some worship were uncalled for that all are. By insinuating fear lays at the origin of the qur'an you immediatly claim it to be false. It's not because fear can make people believe in false things that all believes are false.

    OK, a strong conclusion, but what you have done here is make a list of assertions. Many Muslims say that it is important to use your mind and to decide for yourself what is true, but by making a list of assertions instead of argument, you reveal that you actually subscribe to the authoritarian approach to truth (i.e. This book was written by someone very wise, therefore we must believe it.)
    Its a form of recognition. I earlyer said that the diffrence between atheisme and theism is a matter of believing one certain possability is more likely then another. When I read the qur'an I did not see the work of an entertainer, but I recognise it as something devine that by logical reasoning must have been created by a higher meaning, therefor I believe in it's authenticy. Once I was convinced of it's authenticity, it's devine nature, then I submited to it's autority. It would be a loss of time to try to validate this basis every time I make a conclusion in religious matters. I hope you see how thats a whole diffrent thing then just believing because we'r told to believe.
    The existence of God

    Check out my website for my conversion story.
    Check out my free e-book if you like reading drama-novels.

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    Re: The existence of God

    Maybe you already know this, but just to make sure, I want to let you know that those articles in the sectarian section were not written by me, only posted by me.
    Oh, my mistake!

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    Re: The existence of God

    I'd like to come back to one point that was dropped:
    Some people say that god is the mysterious source of life and energy. If this was the one and only definition of the word "god", then I would be a believer, since I do believe it is a mystery.
    Suppose we label the 'mysterious source of life and energy' as A. We know that A must have existed prior to the creation of the universe and A, being the source of the universe's energy, effectively created the universe since the expansion of the gravitational singularity required this energy.

    Am I wrong?
    The existence of God

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    Re: The existence of God

    No, I don't think so. If "A" is the ultimate (yet mysterious) source of life and energy, then yes, "A" must have created the universe. I think "A" or by-products of "A" must sustain the universe too, logically. However, nobody knows what this source of life and energy is.

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    Re: The existence of God

    Quote Originally Posted by czgibson
    No, I don't think so. If "A" is the ultimate (yet mysterious) source of life and energy, then yes, "A" must have created the universe. I think "A" or by-products of "A" must sustain the universe too, logically. However, nobody knows what this source of life and energy is.
    Okay, fair enough. Now I only asked about the source of energy, but you brought in the 'source of life' into the question as well, so I'm curious as to what you meant by that exactly.

    Also, we have agreed now that A is the mysterious creator and sustainer of the universe, right?

    Now, logically, would A not also have to be eternal?
    The existence of God

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
    "Surely I was sent to perfect the qualities of righteous character" [Musnad Ahmad, Muwatta Mâlik]


    Visit Ansâr Al-'Adl's personal page HERE.
    Excellent resources on Islam listed HERE.

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