Is faith logically contradictory? What are the theistic arguments for God? Can the cause of the universe be explained? We live in an ideologically shifting world where questioning is important. Atheism, seen as the new cool, is interrogative. Even though belief is internal and personal, if critically questioned, Islam as a religion has its own answers.
In this fast moving world driven by logic, science and technology, one’s beliefs in a ‘supernatural‘ God might be questioned. In the twenty-first century of prevailing secular and naturalistic considerations, religion might seem absurd. The world is seeing a rise in atheism unlike before, many of those who identify as belonging to a religion only do so due to socio-cultural reasons- they do not believe in religious doctrines.
Atheism involves the criticism and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God, spiritual beings and religious beliefs in general. An atheist can be characterized as positive atheists, who explicitly assert that it is false that any deities exist and negative atheists, who do not believe that any deities exist but don’t assert the same. Although, the burden of proof for any claim is as much on an atheist as on a person of belief. It is also important to mention about agnosticism here- which leaves open the question of the existence of God to be unanswered or unanswerable.
Belief in the existence of at least one deity is theism, to put it too concisely. Islam can be apt for the pending discussion for it is the fastest growing religion in the world and has unique theological principles. One viable characteristic feature of Islam, amongst other Abrahamic faiths, is it’s clarity on who God is. The 112th Surah (chapter) of the Quran, the central religious text of Islam, translates to:
Say: He is Allah the One and Only;
Allah the Eternal Absolute;
He begetteth not nor is He begotten;
And there is none like unto Him.
The Quran is a persuasive and powerful text that seeks to engage its reader and presents, along with the attributes of God and rules of law, rational intellectual arguments to believe in one God. The text provides signs to look into for the people of understanding. Most of the thoughts of the Muslim scholars were shaped by the understanding of the Quran.
Theists often use the cosmological argument to comment on the existence of God. This idea is based on the concept of the prime-mover or the first uncaused cause of things, introduced by Aristotle. The idea entered early Christianity and was later adopted into medieval Islamic tradition during the Islamic Golden Age, where it received a critical reception and reached its fullest articulation at the hands of Muslim philosophers and theologians, such as Al-Ghazali. The argument can be summarised as:
“Whatever begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause.”
Other possibilities are rendered unreliable as the universe cannot have been created or popped into existence by or from nothing, just like zeros cannot be added to become one. The universe cannot be self-created as then it would need to be and not be at the same time which is a paradox. The universe cannot have been infinitely there because an actual physical infinite, made up of discrete parts, do not exist. The universe cannot have been created by something else that was created and so on because then we will have what is called the infinite regress, an unlimited series going back forever with no beginning, which again isn’t possible. For example if this article was edited by an editor, then by another and so on infinitely, it would never be published.The fact that the universe exists brings to the only possibility of it being created by something uncreated. God in Islam is Al-Khaaliq, the Creator; As-Samad, the Eternal and Al-Awwal, the First.
Many questions can be raised on what has been detailed, like the generic “who created God then?” which has already been answered. Another famous question or claim to discredit the existence of God is the problem of evil. Apparently, if God is all good, all powerful and all knowing why isn’t pain and suffering non-existent and why does evil and badness prevail? Although most atheists cannot make such claims at the first instance as they cannot prove the existence of evil or morality in general from a naturalist worldview- a discussion beyond the scope of this piece. It can be basically pointed out that to enjoy the good there has to be the opposite of it. The Islamic view of the world is that it’s a test where a person should have faith in God and do good deeds. God in Islam is not only the Good, the Knowing, the All-Powerful but also the Wise, the Judge, the Just and the Bringer of Judgment. The Islamic understanding entails that all suffering of this world will be compensated for and the good that a person does will be taken into consideration and awarded accordingly in this world and/or in the afterlife.
Moreover, most of the Quranic discourse is compatible with modern science. It is true that the metaphysical cannot be proven through the scientific method but it cannot be disproved either. Religion, therefore, if known academically, answers more questions than the trending ideas of atheism.
Farzan Ghani is a student pursuing English Literature from Jamia Millia Islamia.
Edited by: Malaika M Khan