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wordVision Student

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  1. How would we judge whether the Quran is more eloquent? And, to be frank, I fear that someone may very well need to call upon their courage to make such a claim, if not from the intimidating eloquence of the Quran, than at least from the intimidating zealotry of some who would seek to defend the honor of the Quran.

     

    I understand the idea behind your theory, but wasn't height of Christendom and its influence long after the corruption? This would seem to mitigate against such a theory. The corruption, as far as I can tell, would have had to have occurred fairly early in Christian history, since there is fairly good documentation later on for the continuity of the script.

     

    But who would arbitrate this contest? The problem of such a challenge is that I doubt either of you would be able to agree upon an arbitrator, and even if you did manage this, the losing party would certainly not accept the verdict (well, actually, I doubt there is any real compulsion felt by the non-religious to be right on this matter, but I think it would be difficult to impossible for a Muslim to admit error here, since it is an article of belief in the Islamic faith).

     

    Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000167 EndHTML:0000003089 StartFragment:0000000451 EndFragment:0000003073 As I have discussed in earlier posts, the challenge was made by the Quran 1400 years ago. The challenge was to produce even a single sura 'the like of it'. Though Wattle disputes it, the early Arabs were unable to do so. They did try - Musaylima the Liar was a notable person who tried to produce a verse which he claimed was also from Allah. But the Arabs were skilled in rhetoric and eloquence and could easily show, using objective criteria, that Musaylima's verse had nothing of the quality of the Quran's verses.

     

    Today, scholars of Arabic rhetoric can use objective criteria to judge the relative quality of various prose. Non-Muslim scholars of Arabic unanimously agree that the Quran is the best Arabic prose in existence. These same scholars could judge the relative quality of any new contenders.

     

    The challenge remains open. If any writing could be produced that is better than or even equal to the Quran in terms of eloquence, the Quran could be defeated.

     

    You see, no human writer in their right mind would make the claim that their work was, ever and anon, unbeatable. By doing so they open themselves up to ridicule should someone, one day, beat their work. But the Quran's author is not a man, but Allah. Only Allah could make such a claim without fear of being discredited.

     

    Again, those who dispute the claim that the Quran is unmatchable, have the onus of proving it. To paraphrase from the Quran, 'bring the like of it, if what you say is true'. The arguments here can be stated as follows.

     

    1. The Quran is of extraordinary and superior eloquence.

     

    2. This eloquence is beyond human ability to match.

     

    Conclusion: The Quran is not the word of man.

     

    You say that the non-religious and non-Muslims have no requirement, or perhaps no impetus, to show that the Quran's eloquence can be matched. But it seems disingenuous make such a claim. Whereas the means for attempting to disprove Premise 2 is freely available, you claim there is no need to avail oneself of it. So by default, you lose the argument.


  2. Sorry guys, disregard my last post, I have mis-formatted it.

     

    I've done some very cursory looking-into this, and it seems that the idea that mountains are pegs is pretty common in various cultures. I suggest that Mohammed mentioned this not because he was teaching his audience something new, but because he was using something theyalready believed to bolster his claims.[using large font size is not allowed]

     

    Works by Airy and Dutton [using large font size is not allowed]support the view that mountains have pegs like characteristics. More recent works by Van Anglin, Press and Seiver, Cailleux, Tarbuck, Lutgens and James all support the view that mountains also have a stabilising effect due to their peg like characteristics. This is not to say that they stop earthquakes altogether, but rather, that they significantly mitigate their effects. The idea is fairly new and is specialist knowledge within earth sciences. Scientific understanding of this phenomenon is still developing, but the basic idea is established. You can choose to reject the idea on your own say so, or on the basis of outdated knowledge, but will look pretty foolish in the process. [using large font size is not allowed]

     

    Another intersting fact - there are only 5 known inscriptions in Arabic which pre-date the Koran. Whereas there are thousands in the various other languages which were used in the area. I don't know, but I surmize that Arabic was a very local language which, with the Koran and the rise of Islam, became dominant. If it was so local and so little written it is not surprising that the first great work in it should create an immense sensation. Compare with Beowulf, Chaucer and Joyce for landmark works in the various stages of the development of English.

     

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    What is far more relevant is that there have been millions of books written in Arabic since the Quran. None of these comes close to matching the eloquence of the Quran. It is telling that one of the earliest books in a given language should remain the best for 1400 years. There are many non-Muslim Arabs and plenty of these are skilled in rhetoric and prose. The challenge remains open today: Match the Quran and prove that Islam is false. Who on Earth would have the courage to make such a claim? [using large font size is not allowed]

     

    Come on friends! This claim is insulting to any non-Muslim specialist in Arabic. Indeed, to any writer in any language. For 1400 years this challenge has stood. Surely someone's up to it! Surely someone can make a mockery of this audacious claim! If not today, then surely in the next 1400 years! Let's wait together...

     

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    I can easily think of a dozen writers who can better the English translations I've read. Unfortunately I cannot read Arabic so I can offer no opinion on its qualities in the original.[using large font size is not allowed]

     

    The English translations are not the Quran, but none the less, aspects of its stunning, matchless eloquence are amply apparent to scholars of prose and rhetoric. The fact that you can not see this is irrelevant. My dad reads and enjoys English newspapers, but not being a native English speaker, nor a connisseour of prose, would struggle to appreciate Shakespeare. Does this in any way devalue the work of Shakespeare?[using large font size is not allowed]

     

    The Bible, I suspect, has had more influence and for rather longer (especially if you count the Jewish OT). However Mein Kampf and Das Kapital also had a lot of influence in the 20th century - the amount of influence is not an indication of truth.
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    The Bible's influence was based on the fact that in its original form, it was in fact Divine Revelation. But corruption in the church resulted in its adulteration. This adulteration continues today and has resulted in the steady decline in the influence of the Bible. The number of Christians is declining. The number of practising Christians has plummeted. With Islam and the Quran on the other hand, its influence is increasing and its adherents are growing. Within decades, Muslims will outnumber Christians. Huntington expresses this concern in his Clash of Civilisations.[using large font size is not allowed]

     

    How should this concern be addressed? Simple. Show the Quran to be false by producing 'the like of it' - that is, produce something which is the equal of it. If you can. [using large font size is not allowed]


  3. *Some* mountains are vaguelly like pegs in that they have a below ground part and an above ground part. However, just being vaguelly like a peg is not what the Koran claims. It claims that mountains prevent tectonic plates moving. They don't. These mountains are *caused* by the movement of tectonic plates.

     

    I've done some very cursory looking-into this, and it seems that the idea that mountains are pegs is pretty common in various cultures. I suggest that Mohammed mentioned this not because he was teaching his audience something new, but because he was using something they already believed to bolster his claims.

     

    The Bible's influence was based on the fact that in its original form, it was Divine Revelation. But corruption in the church resulted (with Allah's permission), in its adulteration. This adulteration continues today and has resulted in the steady decline in the influence of the Bible. The number of Christians is declining. The number of practising Christians has plummeted. In the case of the Quran on the other hand, its influence is increasing and its adherents are growing in number. Within decades, Muslims will outnumber Christians. Huntington expresses this concern in his Clash of Civilisations. How could this concern be addressed? Simple. Show the Quran to be false by producing 'the like of it' - that is, produce something which is the equal of it. If you can. But you can not, and never will, because it is the Word of Allah.


  4. See my replies to them.

     

    I have seen your replies and they are quite feeble. As Josh has shown you quite clearly, mountains do have peg like characteristics. This is established in science and denying it is futile. For your argument to succeed, you would need to demonstrate that no mountains have any peg like characteristics at all. You have not done this.

     

    "Unlettered" is irrelevant in a mainly oral culture. It does not, as it does in our literate culture, imply learning difficulties or unsophistication. And yet again, the history of Mohammed was written by people with an extremely strong motive to present Islam in the best possible light.

     

    Many non-Muslim historians (such as K. Armstrong) have written about early Muslim history. Their version of early Muslim history does not differ from the Muslim version. Your proposals are not supported by any reliable version of history.

     

    'Unlettered' refers to an inability to read. What evidence is there that Muhammad (pbuh) could read and write in Arabic, let alone in Greek? There is none. Refer to non-Muslim historians if you like. If you wish to pursue this line of argumentation, I invite you to provide some evidence of it. Let's see if you can demonstrate that Muhammad the Trustworthy (pbuh) was actually a liar of the highest order. Which reliable historian proffers such a view?

     

    Except that there is no evidence whatsoever that anything supernatural happens in the universe.

     

    Except for the Quran of course, which is of such elevated eloquence that it is beyond human ability to match.

     

    Clutching at straws, there. Are you seriously arguing that if the best writer of a period claims that his/her works were dictated by a god, they must therefore be believed?

     

    This is not a clutching at straws, as I am not arguing that Muhammad was the best writer of his time. You have proposed this, not me. I am arguing that he did not write it and that no person wrote it.

     

    The Quran's unmatchable eloquence is a most powerful evidence that it is the word of Allah. And the Quran in turn is a convincing proof of the Prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh). The Quran is not merely the best writing of its time or kind. Its eloquence is beyond human ability. If you disagree, then find someone who can match it.

     

    The challenge for persons (past, present or future) to match the Quran, is to be found in the Quran itself: "And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Sura like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true." (Quran, 2:23). A bold challenge indeed.

     

    Why would someone make such a bold claim at the risk being proven wrong? Only if they knew they could never be proven wrong. Only Allah could make such a claim. And indeed, He has yet to be proven wrong.

     

     

    You are invoking a democratic model of deciding which religion is correct? At one time the pantheism of hunter-gatherer societies must have complised 100% of religion in the world - does that mean it was correct?

     

    I'm doing nothing of the sort. Where do you get this from? You say that other books, such as the Ramayana, have also had 'influence'. I am pointing out to you that no book has anything even resembling the influence of the Quran.

     

    No, you have reached a false conclusion. A vastly more likely explanation is that they could not do so because they were not as good at literature as Mohammed was. And they had no incentive whatsoever to try to be. It was entirely possible for (say) Victorian Britons to claim that Victoria was not a great ruler, but history records none that I know of. Power breeds syncophancy.

     

    This is nonsense. The Arabs had every reason to attempt to match the Quran. Foremost their power, but also their religion, wealth and pride were all at stake. In fact, there was an attempt to match it. Musaylimah ibn Habib, a powerful member of the Banu Hanifa tribe, claimed prophethood and offered up a 'verse' in support of his claim. Obviously, his attempt failed miserably.

     

    If you have any real evidence that Muhammad (pbuh) had any literary skills whatsoever, I again invite you to produce it.


  5. Actually, I have. Mountains do not hold the ground in place; many mountains (eg volcanic mountains and mountains produced by erosion) do not even have the "peg-like" attributes. If the Koran had said "Lo, have I not allowed the Plates of the Earth to run together, producing beautiful mountains for your viewing pleasure", I might have been impressed.

     

    This issue has been dealt with effectively by Redeem and Josh and requires no further explanation.

     

    Why "ridiculous"? Mohammed went on trading trips. He was obviously familiar with the bible, he was a very clever, inquisitive man. I consider that *any* explanation, no matter how unlikely is more likely than resorting to the supernatural.

     

    And he was also unlettered and was renowned for his honesty and trustworthiness by friend and foe alike. To give weight to this allegation, you would need to show that Muhammad the Trustworthy (pbuh) was in fact a liar of the highest order. You would need to show that he was such a liar, that he pretended to be illiterate, despite being a skilled Arabic and Greek linguist. But no historian, Muslim or non-Muslim, has made such suggestions.

     

    The fact that you consider "any explanation, no matter how unlikely" more plausible than a 'supernatural' one demonstrates that you have an a priori prejudice against the existence of Allah. As was shown in the threads preceeding this one, there is nothing in the universe that precludes the existence of something 'supernatural' outside of the universe. So there is no reason why you should maintain this a priori prejudice.

     

    The history you quote was written by Muslims, putting Islam in the best possible light. Understandable but not reliable.

     

    When did I say that the Koran was not better than any contemporary literature? No-one could out-write Shakespeare but no-one claims that a god wrote his plays.

     

    *Something* has to be "the finest work of Arabic prose". And many books exerxise influence "through all ages".

     

    No, but so what? The same could be said for the Bible or the Ramayana.

     

    While it is true that Shakespeare is a fine literary figure, he never claimed that his work was unmatchable. He never claimed it was from God. But the Quran does just this. It claims that it is unmatchable, and that it is the Word of Allah. So the two are not comparable, and your analogy is therefore invalid.

     

    While other books may also exercise influence, none have had the influence of the Quran. None have spawned a religion that will shortly have more adherents than any other religion in the world, past or present. The Bible is also an influential book, but this is no surprise as it too was a holy book. The problem with the Bible is that it has been corrupted by the hand of man and is therefore steadily losing influence. The Ramayana has a special place in the cultural identity of the Hindu Indians, but is far from having the world wide influence of the Quran.

     

    Actually, the Koran did not "convince an entire nation". It convinced sufficient people in one small area to give them military power, after which it was irrelevant whether or not the Koran was good lit or not - saying otherwise would get you killed.

     

    What version of history is this? No authority on early Islamic history has ever suggested that the first Muslims killed people who disputed the quality of the Quran's prose. In fact, in was not the early Muslims who challenged people to match the Quran, but the Quran itself. It asks its detractors to produce even a single sura that can match its quality. No one was able to do so (and this challenge remains open today). So why should they have killed anyone over it?

     

    Furthermore, never in the history of Islamic conquests have Muslims forced people to accept their religion. When the early Muslims, together with the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) entered Mecca from Medina, they did so bloodlessly. Those in Mecca who subsequently accepted Islam did so without compulsion. Non-Muslim historians agree that Muslims have never forced persons to convert, or to accept the validity of the Quran. The challenge has always remained open for persons to match the Quran. Had the Quran's earliest detractors been able to do so, they would have retained power by discrediting Muhammad (pbuh) and the Quran. They could not do so, because the Quran is Allah's word (Kalam).


  6. Apologies for the delayed reply - I've had a week doing things which a Muslim or a fundamentalist Christian would claim are sinful. I'm afraid that I just cannot believe that a loving god would really decide that giving and receiving pleasure is sinful.

     

    Your science argument comes down to "One embryologist thinks the Koran says something about embryology that was not generally known".

     

    Unfortunately for you, *everything* in the Koran has to be correct or the whole divine origin things falls over. If just *one* thing is the Koran is wrong, it is not of divine origin. The "mountains are pegs" nonsense does it for me.

     

    You have failed to demonstrate that the verses in the Quran mentioning 'mountains as pegs' are incorrect. Even if some mountains (in your view) do not bear 'peg' like characteristics, the fact remains that many others do. You are still unable to account for how the Quran's author should have known this fact.

     

    In relation to the embryologist Moore, he is far from alone in his view. Goeringer, Johnson, Persuad and J.L. Simpson are just a few who agree. All these men are professors of either anatomy, embrology or obstetrics. All are leaders in their fields and all are in agreement with Moore. It is futile to suggest that the verses are scientifically inaccurate. All one might attempt to do is posit that the scientific knowledge in question is not as new as imagined. Some have thrown in the suggestion that perhaps Muhammad (pbuh), or others working in concert with him, plagiarised some of the work of the ancient Greeks. But they can not say how Muhammad managed to achieve this; they merely throw it in as a red herring. They make the ridiculous suggestion that maybe Muhammad (pbuh), or his helpers, somehow uncovered and brought together all the ancient works of Aristotle and others, translated these and plagiarised the ideas for the Quran, before hiding the works again. While this frivolous claim might attempt to account for some verses, the scientific accuracy of many others is still inexplicable.

     

    The 'impossibly good literature' argument cannot, for me, depend on events at the time the Koran was written, as the history of those times was written by people who had an extremely strong motive to make Islam look good.

     

    This is arguable. The Quraysh had extremely strong motives to deny Islam. Their wealth, pride, family ties, polytheistic religion - Islam was a threat to all of these. Yet still they came to accept Islam. They were a people of eloquence, but were unable to match the eloquence of the Quran. They justifiably believed that the Quran could not be the word of man and therefore they became Muslims. It would have been far easier to defeat Islam by producing literature that could match it. If they were capable of this, they would have done it. Its detractors would not have chosen the more onerous option of war.

     

    So your position is a dogmatic one. You see present day Muslim authorities on Arabic as being unreliable. And you see the early Muslims as also being unreliable, because you feel that they had ulterior motives for supporting the Quran. But you are unable to answer this question: Why didn't the Quran's detractors, among them men of letters and eloquence, simply produce a short work of superior quality to the Quran. Why did they choose the very onerous option of war?

     

    I should add that it is not just Muslim authorities who espouse the superiority of the Quran's eloquence. “It is by far the finest work of Arabic prose in existence," said the Oxford academic Alan Jones. Another non-Muslim authority, Goethe, saw its 'style' as being, "ever and anon, truly sublime." He then adds, "Thus this book will go on exercising through all ages, a most potent influence."

     

    Goethe makes an interesting point. Indeed, the influence of the Quran was, and continues to be, extremely potent. In order to match the Quran, one would need to produce a work of such lofty eloquence, that it has an effect at least as potent as the Quran's. To prove its superiority, it would need to be of such eloquence as to convince an entire nation of its miraculousness, just as the Quran did. And its superiority would need to be as enduring as the Quran's. Do you know of such a work?


  7. Yes, I was thinking of opening a thread myself. I decided not to because if the Koran is not miraculous (a position I would take) it therefore follows that Mohammed was either deluded, duped, deceitful or misrepresented. Arguing for that would get me banned.

     

    Further, there's an insurmountable problem. Based on other discussions, the only argument which could have weight (all the "science" arguments I've seen are so vague as to be laughable, or just plain false, such as the 'mountains are pegs' nonsense) is the 'impossibly good literature' one. I don't read Arabic so I would have to rely on authorities. However no Muslim academic could possibly say that the Koran was not impossibly good literature or they would be being blaphemous; on the other hand no non-Muslim academic could say that it was without immediately converting. So there's a lack of authorities to consult.

     

    Please see the new thread "The Quran is Not the Word of Man" for a response to this post.


  8. This thread aims to answer a previous post on the 'Why Must an Uncaused Cause be a God' thread. The post in question, by Wattle, is reproduced below:

     

     

    Yes, I was thinking of opening a thread myself. I decided not to because if the Koran is not miraculous (a position I would take) it therefore follows that Mohammed was either deluded, duped, deceitful or misrepresented. Arguing for that would get me banned.

     

    Further, there's an insurmountable problem. Based on other discussions, the only argument which could have weight (all the "science" arguments I've seen are so vague as to be laughable, or just plain false, such as the 'mountains are pegs' nonsense) is the 'impossibly good literature' one. I don't read Arabic so I would have to rely on authorities. However no Muslim academic could possibly say that the Koran was not impossibly good literature or they would be being blasphemous; on the other hand no non-Muslim academic could say that it was without immediately converting. So there's a lack of authorities to consult.

     

    I'll address the issue of the 'scientific arguments' first, though I place greater importance on the issue of the Quran's miraculous eloquence.

     

    Arguments from Scientific Accordance

     

    The Quran does not purport to be a book of science, but rather, a book of guidance. None the less, Allah mentions certain phenomena in the Quran which many commentators have felt represent a miraculous accordance with what we have recently learnt in science about those phenomena.

     

    Like yourself, I am not an Arabic speaker and therefore rely on renditions of the meaning of the Quran. I say 'renditions of the meaning' because the Quran is such that a perfectly accurate translation is not possible. A certain word in Arabic may have various meanings depending on the context in which it is used. Notwithstanding this, it is possible for a skilled Arabic linguist to determine what particular translation of a word is most accurate in a given circumstance. So when we wish to assess the validity of any of the 'scientific accordance' arguments made by Muslims, we ought to be careful to refer to proper authorities in deciding what a given word in the Quran means.

     

    But persons wishing to attack the Quran often maliciously apply inappropriate translations of words in an attempt to refute 'scientific accordance' arguments. I have seen a few blatantly anti-Islamic websites where they do just this. A person unfamiliar with Arabic could be easily misled here.

     

    Given the above, I believe arguments of 'scientific accordance' deserve investigation. Notable scientists, including Bucaille, Persaud, Marshall Johnson, Goeringer, Kroner, Armstrong, Husam, Rao, and Tejasen to name but a few, have accepted that the Quran does contain verses which accord with science, in remarkable fashion. Some have gone further and said publicly that they can not see how the Quran could be the word of 14th Century man. But does this mean all scientists in the fields in question will accept the Quran? Not necessarily. A person could accept that a given verse accords with what we know in science, but may choose on other grounds to believe that the Quran might still be the concoction of man.

     

    An example which is often referred to is the description of embryonic development in the Quran. The famous embryologist Keith Moore was convinced enough about the scientific validity of these verses to declare the fact publicly and to rewrite an edition of his popular textbook, 'The Developing Human' with what he called 'Islamic Additions'. This, notwithstanding the fact that he did not immediately become a Muslim. (I'm not sure whether or not he accepted Islam later.) Of particular note is the Quran's mention of an embryo's bones forming first, and being subsequently clothed with flesh. When science earlier believed that it was muscle that was formed before bones, commentators pounced on the Quran's 'inaccuracy'. But later, science found that bones actually do form before their surrounding flesh. So the Quran was vindicated on this point, but we didn't see mass conversions on the part of embryologists world wide. It is easy, if a person so desires, to put such things down to chance. Or to muse that perhaps such knowledge was not as new as originally thought. Where this seems implausible, detractors tend to resort to re-translating the offensive words. On what authority? Usually none.

     

    So the dilemma for the Quran's detractors remains. How did the Quran's author come to describe these phenomena correctly. Even if we disregard the verses which prima facie seem too vague to be relied upon on for scientific accordance arguments, there are still many more which are not vague. Even one such accuracy ought to be cause for consternation for the Quran's detractors. It is not valid to arbitrarily claim, "I don't read it that way. This is being misinterpreted." Rather than embarrass themselves with this type of poor argumentation, its detractors would be better served looking to authorities who might offer some other, non-miraculous explanation. This would be more credible, if it could be done.

     

    So we come now to an interesting point made by Wattle. If an authority agreed that a verse in the Quran was miraculous, they would probably already be a Muslim. This implies that Wattle considers the word of any Muslim authority on the matter as being subject to clear bias and therefore invalid. So he sets up a quandary for himself. He will only take the word of a non-Muslim authority. But since most authorities on Arabic are in fact Muslims, there is a lack of what he views as credible authorities. But this is a salient point. Why are most Arabic authorities Muslims in the first place? We need to look to the history of Islam for an answer.

     

    The Miraculousness of the Quran's Eloquence

     

    Even prior to his Prophethood, friend and foe alike knew Muhammad the Arabian, a.k.a Muhammad the Trustworthy (pbuh), to be an illiterate person. Renowned for his honesty in all dealings, he came to the people of Quraysh with a remarkable claim: That Allah, Creator of all the Worlds, had communicated to him via the angel Gabriel. He was able to recall the words communicated to him verbatim. These words formed what we call the Quran. But the words were not just any old words. The Quran's word order was so excellent in terms of eloquence that the people of Quraysh were dumbfounded by it.

     

    Why is this so remarkable? It is because the people of the Arabian Peninsula were a people who valued eloquence above all. Their heroes were their most eloquent poets. This is evidenced by the fact that their most holy site (even in pre-Islamic times), the Kaaba, was decorated with inscriptions of the Qasidas of their seven most famous poets. Even though many Arabs could not read or write, they had a highly developed appreciation for the spoken word. It is fair to say that the Arabs were world leaders in the art of eloquence. Then came the Quran.

     

    The Quran was viewed as being so superior to anything that they had ever heard or read, that it could not be the word of the illiterate Muhammad (pbuh). Nor could it even be the word of a group of skilled poets. The poets themselves were dumbfounded at its elevated literary style. It was inimitable, unmatchable - and the Arabs were most qualified to make this assessment. Therefore, the overwhelming majority accepted Islam.

     

    So the Quran came to a people of eloquence, with matchless eloquence. This was necessary to win the hearts of the people who would become the first Muslims. If it were inferior, Islam would not be alive today. It would have been discarded years ago. The Quran challenged all people, foremost the eloquent people of Arabia, to beat its eloquence. Eloquence was such an artform in Arabia, that it was quite possible to objectively judge the relative quality of various writings. There was definite criteria within the science of rhetoric, upon which the experts could base their assessment. But of course, all challengers failed miserably. Knowing that they could not beat the Quran, its detractors chose the more costly option of war. This too they lost. And so, the Arabs became a Muslim nation and later a world power.

     

    A salient point that I should mention here is that despite the Quran's marvellousness, not every listener accepted it as being the word of Allah. There were numerous reasons for this, beyond the scope of this discussion. Suffice to say that humans do not always behave rationally. They have the ability to choose the wrong option despite it being obviously wrong. A person might steal or kill, knowing it to be wrong. A person may lie for personal gain, despite knowing the truth. Similarly, a person might see a miracle and for various reasons, call it sorcery, or whatever else. For this reason, not all the Quraysh became Muslims. But certainly the vast majority, including their most eloquent poets, did.

     

    It is for the foregoing reason that there is a lack of non-Muslim authorities on the issue of the inimitable eloquence of the Quran. But if one is sceptical of the testimony of present day Muslim authorities, they need only look to the combined testimony of the very first Muslims. These first Muslims were prepared to give up centuries of belief in polytheism, to offend their forefathers and all their sensibilities and to give up the most heinous of cultural habits, on the evidence of the inimitable eloquence of the Quran.

     

    Yes, as Said Nursi puts it, it takes massive human and financial resources to encourage a community to give up the simplest of bad habits. How long have governments struggled for their people to quit smoking? Yet the Quran, relying on its miraculous eloquence, caused a then savage people to give up customs as heinous as female infanticide, or as addictive as alcoholism, in a few short years.

     

    For the foregoing reasons, I say that the Quran is not the word of man. Muhammad (pbuh) was not deluded and did not lie. Indeed, the Quran is the Word of Allah.


  9. There's no need for the second step. If it can be proven that the Koran is the result of a supernatural being, then a belief in supernatural being must follow. And it would not be a matter of 'belief' but a matter of fact. However I have seen nothing to prove that the Koran is the result of a supernatural being. (By the way, the "unchanged" business is not an argument at all - plenty of book are unchanged.)

     

    Fair statement of the current position in this thread.

     

    Arguably fair statement of the position

     

     

    Again, there's no need for the preliminary stuff. Either the Koran is provabley the result of a supernatural being (in which case it would be illogical to not be a Muslim) or it isn't. I have discussed this many times and I have not yet seen any proof. To be honest, I haven't even seen anything which is even remotely close to proof.

     

    I do not accept that I am dogmatic, merely sceptical.

     

    If you say that you are not dogmatic, then I welcome this and I am happy to take your word on it.

     

    I think we come to a pivotal point in our discussion. It would seem that the matter now rests on the validity of the Quran, on whether or not it can be shown that the Quran is the word of Allah. Perhaps it is time for a new thread: "Is the Quran the Word of Allah?" I would be happy to participate in such a discussion, and I hope some of our friends on these forums will join us.

     

    But for now, I wish to say the following. While I agree that there is more than enough in the Quran to justify belief, it is not the case that any person who reads it will be forced to believe. This would be tantamount to Allah fully manifesting Himself and as I have discussed previously, Allah does not intend that we should be forced to believe.

     

    Notwithstanding this, there are numerous reasons why an unbiased and properly informed reader should find very strong grounds to say that the Quran was not the work of man. I have alluded to some of these already. They include; the Quran's inimitability, the miraculousness in its conciseness, its superior rhetorical and literary style, its foretelling of future events and its description of phenomena that could not have been known at the time of its revelation. But not every reader will perceive or understand these signs of miraculousness. The Quran is not something that a novice reader can expect to read and understand in full. It is ideally read in conjunction with an exegesis, or under the guidance persons learned in it. It should be noted that the inability of a misinformed reader to see that the Quran could not be the word of man, in no way detracts from its miraculousness.

     

    You say that you have discussed these matters with people, but have not seen any proof of miraculousness in the Quran. I'm not sure how those discussions proceeded, but I am prepared to revisit the issue if you like. I would base my argument largely on the work of Said Nursi in 'The Sixteenth Word' and 'Twenty Fifth Word' of 'The Words' treatise, as well as his famous 'Signs of Miraculousness'. English translations of these may be referred to on the internet for those who may be interested.

     

    Selam.


  10. Believing in the validity of the Koran depends on believing that a sentient uncaused cause exists. If one does not believe that a entient uncaused cause exists, one cannot believe that the Koran is the product of a sentient uncaused cause. You've set up a circular argument.

     

    If you'll oblige me, I'll restate my point using the following hypothetical (wherein I'll replace 'skepticism' with 'dogmatism'):

     

    Let's say you have a person who does not believe in Allah, or a sentient 'uncaused cause' of any description. But the person is only an implicit atheist, not a 'strong' one. The person lives their life without giving any real thought to the matter of God's existence. They have no real bias either way. And it's not that this person doesn't care about the matter, it's just that they lead quite a busy life and have never really had the time to consider the matter at length. Let's further assume that the person holds no cultural, political or social biases or prejudice. Quite a Utopian scenario, I know! None the less, let's say this person now decides, for whatever reason, to investigate both Theism and Atheism. The person might approach the matter via the following two options.

     

    Approach 1.

     

    The person commences a properly informed investigation of the phenomenon known as the Holy Quran, in an unbiased, non-dogmatic fashion. They see that the Quran they read today has not changed at all from the oldest existing copy, that it is inimitable and unique in several ways, and that scholars of Arabic, Muslim and non-Muslims alike, have declared it superior in terms of rhetoric and literary composition to any Arabic book ever written. The person concludes that this book could not be the work of man, and finds a satisfactory basis for belief. The person then follows this up with a thorough investigation of science and philosophy, and sees that nothing in these fields precludes the possibility of Allah's existence, and strengthens and confirms their belief.

     

    Approach 2.

     

    Alternatively, the person may commence their investigation into the existence of God not from the perspective of the Quran, but from an unbiased, non-dogmatic study of what science and philosophy say about the matter. The person finds that while these fields can't indubitably prove that there must be a God, they certainly leave the door open for it. The fields together demonstrate to the person that the universe must have an uncaused cause, existing outside of time, space and matter. The person then muses,

     

    "Is it more likely that this universe was willed by a sentient cause, or that it was caused by some unconscious thing?"

     

    He asks atheism what the characteristics of the 'uncaused cause' may be and atheism says,

     

    "I have no idea, but I'm just telling you that's there's no such thing as God. I can not describe the 'uncaused cause' to you in anyway, nor can I explain how or why it should have caused the universe in the first place. But I want to live my life free of any of the restrictions imposed by religion, so I'll take my chances and assume I am not accountable to any God. And I encourage you to do the same, otherwise you will fail to maximise your utility during your life."

     

    The unbiased person, not really satisfied with the atheist's basis for disbelief, then looks to the Quran. The person seeks the advice of learned persons who have previously studied it (as you would with any unfamiliar topic) and sees that the Quran is totally unlike any other book in several respects, that it is in fact inimitable. The person further sees that numerous matters discussed in it completely accord with what science has only recently discovered. He even sees that some modern day scientists have accepted its validity purely on this basis, and have become Muslims. He thus concludes that the Quran is highly unlikely to be the conjured up words of an unlettered Prophet, and hence finds a satisfactory basis for belief.

     

     

    So regardless of where one commences their investigation, whether it's the Quran or science and philosophy, the essential thing to bear in mind is that dogmatism will diminish the validity of any results obtained. An a priori conviction either way will cloud the mind - will blind a person to any truth that might otherwise be found. Limiting one's investigation to only certain avenues of enquiry clearly points to such dogmatism.

     

    The question is, do you have the courage or humbleness to abandon dogmatism? I believe your presence on these forums shows that quite possibly, you do.


  11. I dont think it's precluded, I think that it it so unlikely that it would be silly to live as though it were the case, on the basis of zero evidence.

     

    "QUOTEYou make the unsustainable assertion that it's impossible for the uncaused cause to possess life. This claim is without basis, and ought to be discarded. But if you persist in claiming that the idea is impossible, the onus is on you to show how."

     

    Again, I did not say that. I started this thread with the question "Why assume that the uncaused cause is sentient?" You so far have not provided any argument that it is.

     

    Okay, we're on the same page now. If you say that you don't rule out the possibility, then we can move on.

     

    When you commenced this thread, you put in place certain caveats, certain limitations on what you would consider as valid evidence. I put it to you that these limitations are too restrictive, for reasons which I will discuss shortly.

     

    Let's assume for a moment that the uncaused cause is sentient and see where it leads us. If it is sentient, I believe a number of things can be assumed about it. Firstly, I can't see how a sentient thing could exist without possessing life. But not life of the sort we understand. Biology attempts to define life largely on the basis of self-replication, but I believe we needn't apply such a restrictive definition to something that might be alive outside of the universe. To my mind, if a thing is sentient, it is also conscious. If it is sentient and conscious, then ontologically speaking, it exists. If it exists, is sentient and is conscious, it can be said to be alive, as opposed to dead. And if it exists outside of our time, I would assume that not only was it alive at the outset of the universe's creation, but that it is also alive now. If it is alive and created the universe at a given point (14 billion years ago in our time), it can be said to possess will. If it possesses will and freely created the universe, it is probable that it created the universe for particular reasons.

     

    If all of the above is true, I believe it is reasonable to suggest that whatever exists in the universe was meant to exist, was willed to exist, and has a purpose. This would mean that the emergence of living, conscious, sentient beings in the universe was something that was willed. If this is also true, it is not unreasonable that the 'uncaused cause' would somehow communicate the purpose in the creation of the universe and conscious beings, to those conscious beings. This then opens the door to considering the validity of Prophethood, revelation and religion.

     

    For the foregoing reasons, I believe that if it is at least possible that the 'uncaused caused' possesses any one of the attributes of will, sentience, consciousness or life, religion should be considered. And given the fact that of all the religious books that claim to be the word of this uncaused cause, only the Quran can be shown to be unchanged or uncorrupted, then the information provided in this book about the uncaused caused should be considered with an open mind.

     

    However, you say that you will not consider the validity of this book. It seems to me then, that we reach an impasse. As has been stated often in this thread and others, nothing in the universe will force you to believe. I can not prove to you indubitably that the uncaused cause must be sentient. But I can confidently say that if you consider the validity of the Quran with an open mind, you will find a very satisfactory basis for the belief that it is sentient.

     

    I encourage you to have another look at Craig's discussion of why the uncaused cause should possess will. (If I recall correctly, it appears in the conclusion to his article.) But try to do so without any a priori scepticism. I believe it provides a good starting point for forming the belief that the uncaused cause should possess will. You say require evidence of likelihood rather than mere possibility - I believe Craig, in a reformulation of an ancient argument, demonstrates this likelihood.


  12. Even if this was true (I disagree), it doesn't help you at all, as a large part of your argument is that the uncaused cause is free from some aspects of this universe, such as determinism and time. You have arbitrarily decided that a certain rare attribute in the universe (the result of deterministic processes) is likely to be an attribute of the cause of the universe. I dont see that as logical at all.

     

    Of course, my personal view is that the 'uncaused cause' does possess the said attributes. But for our present purposes, I don't expect you to embrace this. I am simply demonstrating that there is nothing to preclude the idea.

     

    You, on the other hand, are of the view that the possibility is precluded. But on what basis? After all, you have maintained quite vehemently that life, consciousness and intelligence are nothing special - that they 'just things that happen'. If this is really so, why the aversion to the idea of a living, conscious 'uncaused cause'? Obviously, it is the theistic implications that worry you.

     

    Indeed, if you had no particular prejudice toward the notion of a deity, you would not be forced to make unsustainable assertions. But the fact is, you can not defeat the argument. Worse still, you weaken your own argument by saying, "Life is nothing special, consciousness is nothing special," while maintaining that the 'uncaused cause' must not possess life!

     

    I repeat my question: Is there anything you know of, either in science or logic, that precludes the notion that the 'uncaused cause' could possess life?

     

    Why do I 'arbitrarily decide' that the uncaused cause could have life? Why do speak of life in the universe when discussing this uncaused cause? Simply to demonstrate that there is nothing to preclude it. Had there been no such thing as intelligence within the universe, a person might have stronger grounds for suggesting that there was no intelligence outside of it.

     

    It's true that we say that Allah is totally free of space, time and matter. But we don't say there are not certain attributes within the universe which are also applicable to Him. Just because He is free of space and time, doesn't mean He must also be free of Life.

     

    A human builds an atomic bomb which is able to reach temperature X. The bomb reaches temperature X. It is possible, indeed likely, that the human also posseses the ability to reach temperature X. Certainly it is not precluded.

     

    This is completely invalid. But I'll humour you a moment... The situation above is not analogous to my assertion. I'll restate it for ease of reference:

     

    P1. A human builds a computer and programs it to perform mathematical calculations.

    P2. The computer then performs a mathematical calculation.

    Conclusion. It is possible, indeed likely, that the human also possesses the ability to perform mathematical calculations.

     

    Nowhere here do I make the assertion that, "A cause of a thing will always possess all the characteristics of the caused thing". But your joke implies that I have said this. I have not. Of course, Allah is exempt from all the limitations of the universe. But this is not to say that He doesn't possess certain attributes that we do see in the universe.

     

    Anyway, we digress. The purpose of my argument is simply to show that nothing in science or logic precludes the idea that the uncaused cause might possess life, consciousness and intelligence. You might say I gain little ground by saying this, but I view it as being a very important step. Once you accept that the notion is not precluded, you can look at the matter without prejudice, without unwarranted scepticism. For at present, you rule out the idea a priori. You make the unsustainable assertion that it's impossible for the uncaused cause to possess life. This claim is without basis, and ought to be discarded. But if you persist in claiming that the idea is impossible, the onus is on you to show how.


  13. "But anyway, the specialness of these things is not relevant to my argument. I'm simply saying that if the universe has these things, so too might the uncaused cause of the universe. Funnily, if you say that these characteristics are not special, that they are quite ordinary, then you make it all the harder to say that the 'uncaused cause' of the universe should not have them"

    You're flip-flopping between allowing analogies between things in the universe and things outside it, and not allowing it

     

    Furthermore, my argument about the 'uncaused cause' possibly possessing consciousness and intelligence is not an analogy. It's not designed to be a comparative tool. It's a proposition. I'll restate it as simply as I can:

     

    P1. A given thing causes something to come into existence.

    P2. That thing possesses certain attributes.

    Conclusion. It is possible that the cause also possesses those attributes. Perhaps even likely.

     

    Any 'in universe' analogy you use to discuss this argument needs to be such that the elements of the analogy are comparable to the elements of the argument. Comparing apples with apples, as they say. Perhaps only an abstract analogy will be successful, in the case of our argument here. Anyway, that's a matter for you.

     

    But here's an analogy in support of my argument.

     

    P1. A human builds a computer and programs it to perform mathematical calculations.

    P2. The computer then performs a mathematical calculation.

    Conclusion. It is possible, indeed likely, that the human also possesses the ability to perform mathematical calculations.

     

    Transposing this to the actual argument:

     

    P1. An 'uncaused cause' causes a universe to come into existence.

    P2. That universe comes to possess things with life, consciousness and intelligence.

    Conclusion. It is at the very least possible that the uncaused cause also possesses these attributes. Certainly, it is not precluded.

     

    This is surely a very simple argument. I have not put too forcefully. I have left out religion, revelation and everything else. For my argument to fail, you would need to show that the 'uncaused cause', for whatever philosophical or logical reason, is precluded from having life, consciousness or intelligence.


  14. You could have said that regarding the acorn and oak analogy, after which you changed "greater" to "more capacity". Now I gather that you don't accept any in-universe examples. Which demolishes your "look around you" argument.

     

    No, I'm not saying this at all. I'll accept an analogy if it's valid. As you would know, various factors could diminish the validity of any given analogy. Your sperm and ovum / Shakespeare analogy is invalid as a comparative tool when discussing the uncaused cause of the universe / universe. I'll restate my reasons for this.

     

    In our previous thread we resolved that the universe ought to have an 'uncaused cause'. Given that this uncaused cause must also be the 'first and only cause' so as to prevent further regression, it can not be compared to simple 'apparent causes' within the universe. Because the cause of any given thing within the universe can never be regarded as the one and only cause of somethings existence. This is self evident. Countless other things participate in the process. What good is a sperm and ovum in the absence of a male and female engaging in a reproductive act? So the situation of a sperm and ovum producing Shakepeare is fundamentally different to the situation of an 'uncaused cause' producing a universe.

     

    Only a tiny proportion of all matter is a methane (or whatever) storm on Jupiter, too. Everything in the universe is "special" in that it is where and what it is and not somewhere /something else.

     

    This is also invalid, on two grounds. Firstly, I would confidently suggest that the amout of all matter in the universe that has changed from its initial state into Methane, or any gas for that matter, would be massively greater than the amount of all matter that has become biological.

     

    Secondly, things like Methane ect, regardless of their preponderence, can not be regarded as 'special' in the same way as biological life with consciousness and intelligence. Biological life is massively more complex than anything else in the universe. It is therefore special.

     

    You're flip-flopping between allowing analogies between things in the universe and things outside it, and not allowing it.

     

    Again, I will entertain the validity of any given analogy on its individual merits.

     

     

    As you have no idea (and can have no idea) of the processes outside the universe which lead to this universe coming into being, that isn't much of an argument. Perhaps the proceses are creating universes continually. I'm sure, though, that Craig et al have an answer for that, and that other philosphers have counter-arguments. I'm not qualified to judge them.

     

    But we are not talking about processes here. We are talking about the initial and uncaused cause. This, by definition, can not be a 'series of causes' or a 'number of causes'. Even if the universe was created in a number of steps, our discussion in this thread relates to the first step. The processes don't concern us here, we're interested in what it was that caused any process to commence. We're investigating the attributes of that.


  15. What do you mean by "capacity"? I don't see that this gets you much further. The sperm and ovum that created Shakespeare might or might not have had greater "capacity" than Shakepeare (I wouldn't have thought so, but you seem to regard the cause as being more important than the caused) but they certainly weren't sentient.

     

    Also, and this is a slight side-track but it's about something that seems inherent in most of the god-believers' arguments: there is nothing special about humans. There is nothing special about consciousness. There is nothing special about human intelligence. They are just things that happened.

     

    I don't see the Shakespeare example as being analogous to what I'm proposing. I see the cause of the universe as being something that has caused the universe without recourse to other things. The sperm and ovum that were partly responsible for Shakespeare can not make such a lofty claim. Countless other things were also required for Shakespeare's birth, not least the male and female humans that carried the sperm and ovum, the countless inputs that sustained the mother and father, the existence of space, time and the Earth and so on and so on. Dependent causes can not be compared to an independent cause.

     

    I'm afraid I don't agree that intelligence and consciousness should not be considered special. They are quite special, if for no other reason than the fact that only a tiny proportion of all matter in the known universe has come to possess them. If they were such ordinary characteristics, we ought to have seen a far greater preponderence of them. Instead, we see that most matter is lifeless, that most life is unconscious, and that most conscious life has limited intelligence. So of course consciousness and human intelligence are 'special'. But anyway, the specialness of these things is not relevant to my argument. I'm simply saying that if the universe has these things, so too might the uncaused cause of the universe. Funnily, if you say that these characteristics are not special, that they are quite ordinary, then you make it all the harder to say that the 'uncaused cause' of the universe should not have them.

     

    As an aside, here's a further argument in favour of the 'uncaused cause' being sentient:

     

    1. The universe must be caused by an 'uncaused cause', exisiting outside of the time and space of the universe.

     

    2. This 'uncaused cause' either willed the universe to begin to exist, or possessing no will, was simply the necessary and sufficient reason for the universe to come into existence.

     

    3. But if it was simply the 'necessary and sufficient' reason for the universe coming into existence, there is no reason why the universe should not have existed sooner.

     

    4. Therefore, the uncaused cause must possess will.

     

    Elements of this argument were proferred by the likes of Said Nursi and William Craig. Maybe have a look at Craig's, 'The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe' for a better elucidation of this point. I'm sorry, I'm unable to post links on these forums yet.


  16. So your question "Is it more reasonable to expect the 'uncaused cause' to be greater than what it has caused, or lesser than it?" doesn't actually apply, as you have already decided that any cause is "greater than" any effect. I'm afraid that I cannot agree with that, and "greater than" is such a misleading phrase with which to describe such a relationship that I think you should use different words,

     

    What I am seeking to highlight is this.

     

    1. It is self evident that the universe contains things with life, consciousness, will, and intelligence.

     

    2. It is also accepted that something outside of the universe has caused the universe.

     

    3. If the universe contains life, consciousness and sentience, whatever has caused it could conceivably also possess these attributes.

     

    Bearing this in mind, I'm happy to rephrase my question as follows: Is it more reasonable to expect the ‘uncaused cause’ to have greater capacity than what it has caused, or less capacity than it?

     

    Or, should the cause not have greater inherent ability than what is has caused? For one, the 'uncaused cause' had the ability to cause an entire universe. But that universe can not cause other universes. So you see, it is hard to find greater inherent value in the caused thing than the cause.

     

    This being the case, I again ask: Is it not reasonable to say that if there is sentience in a caused universe, the cause could, even should, possess a sentience at least equal to that found in the universe?

     

    Selam.


  17. Bingo on Craig.

    Prior to reading anything, I see a problem with that argument. Agreed we can never reach infinity, so they cannot be there an infinite time (except potentially). However nor are they there a finite time. So what word describes it?

     

    It's actually defined simply as a 'potentially infinite' period. It's denoted by the symbol ¥.


  18. world vision student wrote:

    Neither. Is a bacteria which kills an elephant "greater than" the elephant? Are the few ounces of plutonium which cause an atomic explosion "greater than" the explosion? Is an acorn "greater than" an oak tree?

     

    But you're misdefining greatness here. Greatness is not in terms of size. I mean it in terms of capacity. What is has, what it do etc. So I would regard the builder greater than the house, the writer greater than the book, the driver greater than the vehicle.


  19. Salaams,

     

     

     

    Considering before our long extra-cosmological sidetrack you did not know how to define infinity nor entertained the necessity of the uncaused cause, I'd say we've made progress. :sl:

     

    But you are right, they can not be proven or disproven via any emperical data.

     

    Peace

     

    Just on that note, I remember a previous enquiry from Wattle about infinitude in Paradise. I neglected to reply then, so I'll address it now.

     

    We need to make a distinction between the concepts of an actual infinite and a potential infinite. As has previously been shown, an actual infinite can not exist in a temporal, determinative world. This contrasts with the notion of a potential infinite. A person could enter Paradise tomorrow for example, and remain there for a potentially infinite period of time. For a recent articulation of this fact, look up William Lane Craig.


  20. If the universe did have an 'uncaused cause' (argue about that elsewhere) why must it have been a god?

     

    Please, for the moment hold off on the 'signs within the universe' answers. I'm mainly interested in what you think about the attributes of an uncaused cause (or causes?) per se.

     

    If you accept that the universe had an uncaused cause, it follows that you would then consider what the attributes of this ‘cause’ might be. After all, humans have a number of faculties that appear just to this task. Curiosity, reason, intelligence, imagination, ambition, the ability to read and communicate with words…

     

     

     

    Therefore, Wattle’s question is entirely valid and is something that all people should think about. In Islam, this type of contemplation is known as ‘tefekkur’ and is considered among the most elevated forms of worship. In fact, it is an integral part of the purpose of our creation.

     

     

     

    As was discussed in the Refutation of Atheism thread, nothing in science can tell us anything about the ‘essence’ of what theists call Allah or God. Nothing can allude to Allah’s appearance. More still, even the imagination is unable to describe Him.

     

     

     

    In addition, nothing in science will prove indubitably that the uncaused cause must be Allah. This would remove the need for faith, whereas faith is inextricably tied to free-will.

     

     

     

    In order to facilitate faith, Allah has sent Messengers with Holy Books such as the Quran and the Bible, or simply with Divine Revelation. Those who refuse to consider the validity of these Revelations with an open mind, writing them off on the basis of upbringing, culture or simply personal incredulity, do themselves a great disservice.

     

    Certainly, they have no grounds for complaint against Allah, for the lack of seeing Him in the sky.

     

     

     

    But this aside, I feel the question of Allah’s attributes, as opposed to His Essence, deserves attention. Let’s consider what our previous thread has resolved so far… The universe can be seen to be determinate, in that its present state can be attributed to a long series of causes. In order to terminate an infinite regress, which has been shown to be an absurd impossibility, an uncaused cause is required. That ‘uncaused cause’ must exist outside of the time, space and matter of the universe it has caused. Religion says this cause is Allah or God, while atheism suggests it could be an unconscious, non-sentient thing that it can not further describe. Religion relies on Revelation in support of its position, while atheism relies on guesswork.

     

     

     

    Consider what we see in the universe. Certainly, it seems mind bogglingly large, it contains various types of matter / energy, has laws with certain relative values and contains systems that produce particular results. Some of these results include complex life that possesses intelligence, consciousness and will. Remarkably, the values of the physical constants are exactly as they need to be to enable carbon based life.

     

     

     

    Granted, none of this forces us to believe that the uncaused cause must be the Allah of theism. But if the uncaused cause somehow has the inherent ability to cause a universe containing life, consciousness, intelligence and will, the notion that it too could possess these attributes is not precluded. Is it more reasonable to expect the ‘uncaused cause’ to be greater than what it has caused, or lesser than it?

     

     

     

    I stress again, nothing is science or philosophy will force us to believe this. Yet nothing in science or philosophy closes the door on this belief. I would strongly advise all human observers of the universe to approach Islam and the Quran with an open mind and without a priori scepticism, without cultural or personal bias. You too may then obtain belief, Allah willing.


  21. OK, good argument that a temporal sequence without a beginning cannot exist.. I'll see if I can think of a mathetician to ask about it,

     

    However, you are postualting the possibility of something existing outside time (if not, your uncaused cause cannot have existed). Why cannot the infinite chain of causes not be outside time? Also, if something (your god) can exist outside time, why not an alternative thing, without to unnecessary baggage of consciousnes, will, etc?

     

    Now for the rest of my questions.

     

    It would seem to me that the concepts of an ‘infinite chain of causes’ and ‘timelessness’ are mutually exclusive. If something is a ‘chain of causes’, this assumes the existence of some type of time continuum. As josh0335 has demonstrated, an infinite or beginningless chain of causes is an impossibility.

     

     

     

    So you can not attribute infinitude to this imaginary ‘chain of causes’. The best you can do in this vain, is to posit that our universe was caused by a ‘finite chain of causes’, existing in a different space / time. But then you engage in question begging / infinite regress.


  22. Seeing that this thread is concerned with refuting atheism, I believe I have shown that claiming there is no God is irrational and has nothing to support it. It has been refuted.

     

    Indeed it has. My aim, in responding to oooo's original post in favour of atheism was to show to the existence of Allah/God can not be disproven. Science does not disprove Him, nor does philosophy. As has been borne out in this thread, and elucidated by josh0335, the best atheism can do is say 'we can not know what the first cause of the universe was'. It can not say, 'the first cause of the universe was not God'.

     

    In other words, 'strong atheism' fails unless it can show that there must be no God. Clearly, it can not do this.


  23. You are being a bit tricksy by emphasising that "many" scientists believe in a god. As a percentage of all scientists I bet that it's considerably lower than among the general population. And the percentage of scientists who believe in Crationism would be extremely small.

     

     

    I'm not being tricksy here at all. I'm saying there are many scientists who believe in Allah / God /Theism / Deism, as opposed to 'few'. I think this is a fair assertion to make. Do you have the stats to support your claim, or are you relying on your intuition?

     

    You are confusing two concepts. Asking what caused the Big Bang is not asking "why", it's asking "how". You used "why" in the sense of "what is the purpose of the universe?" That is not a question that science asks.

     

    You are in the habit of drawing invalid conclusions from my assertions. I am not suggesting that science looks for answers to philosophical or religious questions. 'Why', in the sense that I'm using it, relates to the initial cause. Asking what happens afterwards may be described as asking 'how'. So far science has only described 'how' the universe has evolved subsequent to the Big Bag. It has not answered 'why' the Big Bang ought to have occurred, nor 'why' the constants have the values they do.

     

     

    I submit that this is absolutely something that science asks. Anyway, you may choose to preface these important questions with 'how' if you prefer. It matters little - the fact is, they remain unanswered.

     

    I don't accept 'wisdom', as it implies an intelligence - a chemical reaction cannot be 'wise'. I also dispute that the universe has or displays any other anthropomorphised qualities. Given the situation a few microseconds after the Big Bang, things have proceeded according to the way they had to.

     

     

    It is noteworthy that you claim there is no wisdom and no intelligence, to be seen in the universe. This is a classic mark of atheism. Are you prepared to at least accept the use of these terms metaphorically? Do you deny that there is complexity or intricacy in the workings of the universe? Use whatever expression you like, the reality of complexity in the universe can not be denied. While 'evolution by natural selection' (arguably) explains how life may have evolved once it ‘got going’, there’s nothing to explain why the universe itself has the staggering complexity that it does. You might say, ‘it’s due to necessity – arising from the laws of physics’. But this fails to explain why the laws of physics emerged, with the exact values they do, to enable such complexity.

     

     

     

    So whether you choose to call it ‘wisdom’ or ‘complexity’, you can not deny that the universe does work to produce staggeringly complex things, including human life – the most complex thing we know of. You may choose to say that there is no apparent wisdom in these complex things, but they are still complex things! As an aside, Paul Davies sees an important component of complexity as being ‘information’. A metaphor perhaps?

     

     

     

    Now, science has no answer for what started all this ‘complexity’ off. That is, we don’t know what caused the Big Bang. I simply ask you, is more reasonable to assume it got started off on its own, or that some type of external agent deliberately started it? You can not try to explain things away by dreaming up a ‘multiverse’, or an ‘infinite series of universes’ or other ad hoc ideas. By doing so, you simply push the problem to another place.

     

     

     

    I don't think that any scientists are troubled by that question (the argument has a name, which i've forgotten, and it is not regarded as having any weight) as they know that for us to be here asking that question the universe had to be a certain way. We got lucky. And what does this have to do with multiverses? Whether the universe is a once-off or part of an infinite series, the universe would have "exact mathematical values" of some sort or another and with luck some form or other of intelligent life might evolve. It just so happens that it's us.

     

     

     

    Wattle, the argument does have a name, as does the counter-argument, as does the response to the counter-argument. The particular counter-argument you use has been used before, and has been responded to quite famously John Leslie – I’ll get into it shortly.

     

     

     

    The ‘Argument from Design’ is a type of ‘Teleological Argument’ and is very valid indeed. Its counter-arguments are purely philosophical – not scientific – and do not constitute ‘scientific proof’ that defeats the argument. The debate, as it relates to our discussion here, goes a little like this:

     

     

     

    The universe (once it got going), could have been any number of ways. It could have had any number of physical laws or constants, which could have had any number of different values, relative strengths, properties etc. The fact that have exactly the values they do, to enable ‘complexity’ culminating in biological life, points strongly to the universe having been designed with complexity and complex life in mind.

     

     

     

    The counter argument is quite facetious. It says: The universe had to have been some way. It just happened, accidentally to be the way it is. After all, all possibilities are improbable. If the universe wasn’t right for life, we wouldn’t be here to observe the fact.

     

     

     

    John Leslie responded to this nicely, using his famous Firing Squad analogy: A man is convicted of a crime and is to be executed by firing squad. The firing squad consists of 100 trained marksmen, shooting from a short distance. The man hears the marksmen shoot, only to find that he is still alive, looking back at the marksmen. So the marksmen all missed!

     

     

     

    Now, can you say that the man should not be surprised that he is still alive? That if the marksmen had not missed, he wouldn’t be here make the observation, so that therefore, it’s unremarkable that he has made the observation? Of course not, because it highly remarkable that all 100 marksmen misses the target. This is an outcome that is against all odds.

     

     

     

    In the case of our universe, and the existence of complex life, it’s true that we wouldn’t be here to observe it if the universe wasn’t fit for life. However, as with the Marksmen analogy above, the odds are stacked enormously against the universe having all the necessary constants, at exactly the right level, to enable complex, intelligent life. In other words, the universe having these exact properties is ‘remarkable’, in addition to being unlikely.

     

     

     

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure all this out. So atheists have had to come up with ad hoc ideas to do away with the problem. The most common of these is the Multiverse idea – ‘There may be an infinite number of parallel universes, therefore it’s no longer ‘remarkable’ that ours should have the properties that enable intelligent life. Or alternatively, there may be an ‘infinite series of universes’, appearing one after the other. Again, this would do away with the problem.

     

     

     

    Conveniently for atheists, science can not prove any of these ideas. They are patently ‘untestable’, just as Allah is ‘untestable’. So how then, is atheism any less a faith than religion?

     

     

     

    May I suggest something Wattle? You seem to have a penchant for quote mining people’s posts, trying to poke a little hole here, a little hole there. But can you offer any tangible evidence of your own in favour of atheism? I look forward to the opportunity to respond, Allah willing.


  24. I read what you posted and I must say it has given me more faith in God. But I am still trapped in only partially believing in him. Can you please message me henry_aldrete[at]yahoo(contact admin if its a beneficial link) and tell me more brother. I want to have more faith in Allah and you use logic and science I think that can help

     

    Check your email brother...

     

    May Allah guide you.


  25. You're proposing a democratic model for choosing a god? You'd best convert to Christianity, then.

     

    Not at all. You say yourself that there is room for a God before the Big Bang. So the question then is, who is more likely to be that God. While not offering absolute proof here, I'm only pointing out that the Spaghetti Monster is far less likely to be it. After all, many billions of people, including Nobel Laureates, scientists and thinkers of all persuasion believe in the God / Allah that I'm referring to. While few would invoke the Spaghetti Monster. A couple of scientists, stepping outside of science and delving into philosophy or metaphysics propose ideas like the multiverse and you're more than happy to use that as evidence for the lack of a Creator. But billions, including many scientists, propose that there is God, but you refuse to hear it. This is all I'm saying.

     

    If they worked against humans we wouldn't be here. Different intelligent beings might be, though. We are a historical accident. "Why" is not really a valid question to ask of the universe. It just is.

     

    Again, the notion that under a different set of physical law, a different form of biological life might appear, is one than is not proven. It is yet another red herring thrown in by atheistic scientist for want of something that can be supported by evidence. Science can not even show, in the lab, how the presently existing biological life cam about, let alone show how different, non-carbon based life could come about.

     

    The question 'why' is absolutely valid to ask. And indeed, scientists are asking it all the time. That is why they continue to search for an answer to the question, 'What caused the Big Bang'. Unable to answer this, unable to show why things should have come into existence from non-existence, atheists have had to resort to non-scientific ideas. This, despite the fact that they claim scientific answers to be the only answers!

     

    That doesn't follow. just because there are many things that humans cannot do is not an argument for a supernatural being doing them. It's a non sequiteur.

     

    I don't offer this as proof. As I have repeatedly said throughout this thread, you will find nothing in science that forces you believe in Allah. I offer this idea only as an indication to His existence, and as an examply of the beauty in his wisdom. Had humans been able to make things that far exceeded, in terms of wisdom, what we find in the universe, they might have suggested that there was no higher intelligence than humanity. Since this is clearly not the case, it points to the existence of a higher intelligence.

     

     

    Nonsense. But even if it were true, so what? Beauty is a human construct and means different things in different cultures. If there were no humans (or their intellectual equivalents) there would be no such thing as 'beauty".

     

    Is it really nonsense? Or do you simply refuse to accept it? Remember, I don't confine beauty here merely to aesthetic beauty. I refer to the beauty to be seen in the wisdom of how things work. There is beauty in wisdom, beauty in aesthetics, beauty in delicious foods... If a thing contains beautiful wisdom, it remains beautiful regardless of the existence of human observers. But of course, I don't expect you to agree as beauty can not be seen by all. If I give a 5 year old a chocolate, he can experience the beauty in its delicious taste. But if I take him to the National Gallery, he will probably not appreciate the beauty in the works of Da Vinci. Does this mean the works of Da Vinci are not beautiful? So in order to appreciate the true beauty of things, one requires a certain maturity, a certain level of knowledge and understanding. And especially requires belief. In the absence of belief, all things, including life, are reduced to mere chance or accident. So I am not surprised you do not see this beauty, but I'm certain that my fellow believers can.

     

     

     

    My rational mind, and the rational minds of most scientists, are quite happy to ascribe the universe to the laws of physics and chemistry as they pertain to this particular universe. Also, you assume that it all works perfectly. It doesn't. Animals beome extinct, stars explode, asteroids destroy planets, I dropped my cup of coffe this morning, etc.

     

    You misunderstand what perfection is. The universe is perfect, in that it is an intricate, purposive work of art, that operates exactly as its Creator intended. To understand this, you require an understanding of Allah, and of the wisdom in why he created this universe. Animals are meant to become extinct, things are meant to die, entropy in meant to increase. There is very subtle and elevated wisdom in all of this. You dropping your coffee cup in no way diminishing the perfection, the wondrousness, in the creation of forces such as gravity. But again, without belief you may be unable to see this.

     

    As you do not know of any other universes you cannot compare this one and decide that this one works perfectly. What is 'perfection' in a universe? I suspect that all you are saying is that things are as they are. Also, from a few microseconds after the Big Bang we KNOW how things got to be as they are. Nothing that has happened since a few microseconds after the Big Bang requires a supernatural being to explain it.

     

    I do not know of any other universes and nor do you. If science is said to be the basis for atheism, why do atheists continue to resort to non-scientific notions in support of their claims? The Multiverse idea is merely a cop out that is used to try to explain the very troubling question that atheists are faced with: Why do the phenomena in the universe have the exact mathematical values that they do, which if any different, would not have allowed the existence of carbon based life. This is a very troubling matter indeed, that forces atheists to resort to untestable fantasies such as the Multiverse idea.

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