Were they created by nothing, or were they their own Creators?
Atheism Series Introduction -By Fadel Soliman
One of the most wonderful books I have ever read is a book called “There is a God”, by Anthony Flew, who was a professor of philosophy at Oxford University. Anthony Flew was perhaps the most notorious atheist throughout the world. Through his work related to the philosophy and religion, he must have been responsible for converting tens or even hundreds of thousands to Atheism. However, in 2004, he turned the tables and astonished everyone when he wrote a book called “There is a God”, in which he declared that he now believes in the existence of God.
Where did we come from?
When you ask an atheist: ‘where did we come from?’ They merely answer: ‘We came into being by chance’. The word chance here is quite amusing really, because, not only did we not come by chance, but there is not a single thing in the world that came by chance. Everything occurs through God’s providence. God Almighty says: ‘Indeed, all things have we created in proportion and measure.’- Quran 54:49 To those who say that everything in the world came by chance, I say: ‘Why has it never happened that a mango seed grew into a fig tree, by chance? Not once. Never did a grape plant produce marrows or watermelons, by chance. Not once. nothing in this world comes to be by chance.’
The word chance here is quite amusing really, because, not only did we not come by chance, but there is not a single thing in the world that came by chance.
I would like to respond to those who claim that there is no creator by using the words of a great French philosopher, who also happened to be an engineer, called René Descartes. René Descartes says: “I doubt God’s existence. I doubt, therefore I think. I think, therefore I am. (je pense donc j’existe) I exist, therefore I was created. Since I did not create myself, then Someone else must have created me, and that Someone is God, the Creator.’ So his doubt led him to belief. His doubt in God led him to believe in God. Actually something similar to his reasoning is summarized in a very short yet beautiful verse of the Holy Quran. The impact of this verse is described by a man called Jubayr ibn Mutaam ibn Ady who had been caught by the Muslims during the Battle of Badr. He recounts that as he was entering Madinah as a prisoner of war, he heard the Prophet (PBUH) praying and reciting the following verse from the Quran: ‘were they created by nothing, or were they their own creators?’ Quran 52:35 He recounts that when he heard this verse, he felt suddenly spellbound. He felt himself soaring because the magnificent concept, similar to the one later expressed by Descartes, had been so eloquently expressed in this short verse.
I doubt God’s existence.
I doubt, therefore I think.
I think, therefore I am.
I exist, therefore I was created.
Since I did not create myself, then Someone else must have created me, and that Someone is God, the Creator.
What is the probability that there is no Creator?
Mathematicians often challenge atheists who work in the fields of biology and physics. Because mathematicians deal with invariable facts. 1+1=2 – This will never change. They deal with what is called the theory of probabilities. What is the probability that there is no Creator? Well, let us look at a simpler example. Supposing I get 12 marbles, and number them from one to twelve, then put them in a bag, close my eyes, shake the bag and blindly choose one. What is the probability that I will pull out marble No. 1. The probability is 1 in 12. If I return the marble back to the bag, shake it again and blindly choose a marble once more, what are the odds that I will pull out marble No. 2? Still 1 in 12. Ok, so what is the probability that I will get marble No.1 the first time, followed by No. 2 the next time? It is 1 in 144. In other words, I would have to repeat this experiment 144 times in order get marble No. 1, followed by marble No.2. Do you know what the probability is of getting all of the marbles in sequence from 1 to 12. I would have to try 379 million times for that to happen once. So, if picking out 12 marbles in sequence seems so impossible, then what are the odds that this universe, with all its variations, numerations and synchronizations would come into existence by chance. All this enormity, diversity and complexity, what are the odds that it could all have come to be without a creator – by chance? The chances are zero. It is practically impossible. That is why many mathematicians often challenge those who say there is no creator of this universe.
Therefore, nothing in this world came by chance, and we came to be through the Creator who created us. Everything in the world has a source. There is nothing without a source. One day I was approached by a man who said: ‘I don’t believe in the presence of God.’ So I asked him what he did for a living. He said he was a financial analyst. So I told him, ‘When you are performing financial analysis of a company, would you accept a single dollar in the balance sheet, without a source?’ He said, ‘Of course not.’ I said, ‘Very well, so how is it that you cannot accept the presence of one dollar with no source, yet accept that this whole universe came to be, without a source?!’
Regardless of circumstances, humanity as a whole has always concluded that there is indeed a God
One of the most beautiful stories on this topic is the story of Hayy ibn Yaqthan, which is attributed to a philosopher named Ibn Al Tafeel. This story is about a newborn that was only one day old when he was left alone on an island uninhabited by humans. So from the very first day of his life, he never saw any humans, nor was he instructed by anyone. He was taken by a Doe who breastfed him and raised him with its own offspring as a feral child; so he lived with animals and grew up among them. He learned the language of animals and that of birds. Then one day, the doe that had raised him, and who was, in effect, his mother, died. He was shocked by this and did not understand what had happened. He tried turning her left and right and she moved limply in his arms. So he got a sharp stone and slit her chest open. He took out her heart and examined it, but it looked normal. He could not comprehend why she wasn’t moving anymore. He couldn’t comprehend her death. The first thing he realized, then, was the presence of something called a soul, and that the exterior he saw of any animal or human was merely a machine, and that this machine was operated by an important worker, namely the soul. Next, he started observing the animals and birds around him, and realized that the common factor among them all was the presence of material bodies. He concluded that anything with a body must have a beginning and an end. He concluded that everything must have come from a certain source, and that this source of everything must itself be something that has no beginning and no end. In this way the author was able to illustrate that the human mind can discover God Almighty, as well as God’s basic characteristics such as perfection, that he is the First and the Last, and so on. Hayy ibn Yaqthan on the island actually represents the intelligent mind on this earth. In Arabic, the word “Hayy” means alive, and “Yaqthan” means alert. So he represents the intelligent mind on this earth, and the story proves that the mind can, on its own, can come to the conclusion that there is a God and deduce God’s main characteristics such as perfection and wisdom, or the fact that this God is the First and Last, that He is the Manifest and the Hidden, and that he is the All-knowing.
Although this story is a hypothetical one, it is a philosophy worth reflecting on and I recommend that the viewer read the entire story, as I have only touched on it’s main points. However, it is a fact that throughout recorded history, mankind, regardless of time, place, culture, etc, has always come to the conclusion that there is indeed a God. Since the beginning of time, even peoples who have lived in secluded places, cut off from the influences of other societies and cultures, have of their own intellect and reasoning deduced that there must be a creator and sustainer of the world that they live in.
Supposing I believe in God, how can you prove that there is a Day of Judgment?
One common challenge is when someone says: ‘Ok, supposing I believe in God, how can you prove that there is a Day of Judgment, resurrection and reward and punishment?’ Actually, the answer to this makes perfect sense to anyone who believes in God. There is one important question to ask any believer, whether Muslim, Christian or Jew. That question is simply: Is your God perfect? The normal answer would be ‘Yes, of course, he is perfect.’ So if he is indeed perfect, then he must be just. Ok, if he is just, then would it be fair for people who committed atrocious crimes – killed hundreds of thousands or even millions – would it be fair for such people to get away scot-free with no punishment, and not be punished – ever? Would it be fair for people who are consistently righteous, and patient and who perform good deeds throughout their lives, then die without being acknowledged or rewarded – would it be fair for those people to never be rewarded – ever? Needless-to-say, that is far from fair. So if God Almighty is described as being perfect, then he must be just, and there must be resurrection and a Day of Judgment, so that these people who killed and committed heinous crimes can be brought back and punished. And the other type of people, who were good and patient must be brought back in order to be honored and rewarded. So, to believers, it makes perfect sense that there must be a Day of Judgment as described in their scriptures, but for those who do not believe in God in the first place, there is really no point in convincing them that there is, indeed, a Day of Judgment.
Suppose there is a God, what is the purpose of my life?
The next question is: ‘ok, suppose there is a God, what is the purpose of my life… is it merely to earn money, eat and drink, and reproduce?’ God says in the Holy Quran that he created us solely to worship Him. That may seem impossible or unbelievable to anyone who is not familiar with the concept of worship in Islam. You may ask yourself ‘how can a human being spend their whole life worshiping God; we all need time to eat, sleep and earn a living?’ And you may also ask ‘isn’t that a rather narcissistic reason to create people?’ Well, lets address both of theses questions in turn. Firstly, in Islam, “worship” does not equate to “praying and fasting” like in other religions. Praying and fasting are rituals which, although important in Islam, are only a small part of worship. Rather, worship in Islam is to do anything lawful, with good intentions. That means that eating can be worship, sleeping can be worship, even having intimate relations with ones’ spouse can become an act of worship if done with good intentions. The prophet, peace be upon him, said ‘A believer gets rewarded when he has sexual intercourse with his wife, as if he had spent in charity’ at this, his companions were stunned and one asked ‘What! How can a man satisfy himself with his wife and get rewarded for it’ The prophet asked ‘Don’t you think that if he had done it unlawfully (by cheating on his wife) that he would be punished for it?’ The man said ‘of course’, so the prophet asked ‘then why are you surprised that he would be rewarded for doing it lawfully?’ meaning to have the good intentions of satisfying himself and his wife, and staying away from illegal relationships. So Muslims are able to transform all of their otherwise ordinary or mundane daily tasks into acts of worship for which they will be rewarded.
Who benefits from this worship?
Next, we need to consider who benefits from such acts of worship? As God said: ‘If all of you were as good as the best man among you, it would be of no benefit at all to me. And if all of you were as bad as the worst man among you, it would be of no harm whatsoever to me’. The point that this makes is that God has all knowledge and power, and everything belongs to Him. So there is nothing we can do that will benefit Him. Likewise, we have no power to hurt Him or deprive Him of anything. This means that the only one to benefit from our acts of worship, are ourselves; by the rewards that we earn, and the improvements that we make to ourselves thereby. So if God does not even benefit from the worship that He wants us to participate in, then how can it possibly be a narcissistic reason for creating us? Actually, the consequence of continuous worship should be that the individual is in a continuous state of self-improvement. This happens because even though we may do a good deed; for instance we may give money to a beggar, we still cannot be certain that our good deed will be accepted by Allah, because our intentions may not be 100% pure for one reason or another; perhaps we gave money to the beggar partly to have others see that we are such a good, kind person. Therefore, a Muslim endeavors to constantly strive towards self-betterment by doing more, and giving more; tomorrow must be better than today, and today must be better than yesterday. Otherwise, we are not progressing. This means that worship, according to Islam, is to be in a constant state of self-improvement and development.
To sum it up, God has created us on this earth in order to develop and enhance it and ourselves, in order to worship Him, to help people worship him if they are willing to do so, and to concurrently uphold justice and support all which is right and good on this earth.
The topic of Atheism is a very complex one, which cannot be dealt with in only one episode. We have only touched on this topic here, but we will discuss it in much further detail in the episodes to follow in Islamophobia, Season two, God willing.
Source of this world | Atheism series introduction | Quran 52:35