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A Refutation Of Atheism

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Selam all,

 

I thought I'd add this thread here, due to its relevance. It is a response to a post by a proponent of atheism on these forums. The original thread may be accessed here: A Case For Atheism, Warning: a physics equation lurks within.

 

Browsing the net on an unrelated matter, I recently stumbled upon this thread. As this is an Islamic forum, comprised presumably of many Muslim readers, I felt compelled (for the benefit mainly of my fellow Muslims) to join specifically to respond to oooo's original post. I therefore apologise for the lack of timeliness of this response.

 

I don't expect that I will convert oooo from atheism to theism - this is in Allah's hands only. But hopefully I can demonstrate to other Muslim readers the weakness of oooo's basis for denying Allah's existence. I should acknowledge that my post relies heavily upon the work of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, author of the Treatise of Light (or Risale-i Nur). My Islamic and philosophical assertions are paraphrased from his words. I will try to remain brief, referring readers instead to the Risale-i Nur itself, particularly the '11th Word' and the '4th Ray', for a more comprehensive argument in favor of Allah's existence. Risale-i Nur

 

Implicitly, it would appear to me that oooo is basing her atheism on the following chain of reasoning:

 

Premise 1. If Allah exists, He would surely offer incontrovertible proof of His existence within the physical universe (without having recourse to metaphysical phenomena such as miracles, Divine revelation or prophethood).

Premise 2. There is no incontrovertible proof of Allah's existence in the physical universe, in that we can not demonstrate His existence through testable, scientific means.

Premise 3. Furthermore, there appear to be 'natural' explanations for the existence of phenomena within the universe, if not for the universe itself.

Conclusion: Therefore, Allah does not exist.

 

With respect, I submit that this reasoning is fundamentally flawed. oooo attempts to disprove the existence of Allah without a proper understanding of the nature or attributes of Allah, or of the universe for that matter. Such an understanding is essential. How can one disprove that which one does not understand? Understanding Allah through a properly informed knowledge of His attributes, and His wisdom in the creation the universe, will in turn provide the basis for our belief in His existence.

 

Returing to oooo's reasoning, Premise 1 is incorrect. Allah, being an infinitely beautiful and loving being, created the universe and everything in it for the purpose of displaying the beauty and perfection of His attributes. This in turn required the existence of conscious beings to appreciate the multifarious types, levels, degrees of that beauty. Allah created humans to be the most equipped of all conscious beings to appreciate His beauty, and to reflect His beauty and attributes through their own actions, character and behaviour. This requires free-will and indeed, humans have been given a limited free-will. If Allah were to fully manifest Himself in the universe, through incontrovertible physical proof that forced every human to believe, humans would be robbed of their free will. In other words, Allah will not create a situation where we are forced to believe, as this would operate contrary to His purpose in creating the universe and humans in the first place. Instead, Allah will provide strong indications of His existence in the universe, and will employ messengers to herald these indications. Attempting to establish faith in Allah's existence by relying on physics alone will, in most cases, lead to an impasse. One may use their free will to ignore Allah's Messegers and books, but can not then complain that there lacks incontrovertible physical evidence to justify belief.

 

Premise 2, as is evident from the discussion above, is correct and is actually necessitated by Divine wisdom. Indeed, Allah is not 'testable' or 'falsifiable' in the scientific sense. Does this mean belief in Allah is invalid? Absolutely not! The fact that we can not 'falsify' something does not always diminish its value as an explanatory tool for phenomena in the universe (consider String Theory, for example). To reiterate, Allah's 'unfalsifiability' in the physical universe does not prove His non-existence. This is particularly so, given that Allah is the creator of space, time, matter and the physical laws, and is not bound, nor able to be described in terms of them.

 

Premise 3 is arguable, and even if true, does not disprove Allah's existence. Demonstrating how a thing works does not necessarily do away with its maker, if it has one. I don't wish to get into a lengthy refutation of each of oooo's points. I only wish to point out the following:

 

1. Evolution is not a useful explanatory tool for abiogenesis.

 

Relying on the pre-existence of a living, self-replicating organism, the theory the invokes 'random' mutations and natural selction to explain biodiversity. It does not explain, or even seek to explain, how life actually came about in the first place. No doubt, attempts have been made to explain abiogenesis via other chance or 'necessity' based mechanisms, but to date, these have failed to prove how life first came about. Therefore, the theory can not be relied upon to show that Allah is not required to create life, and certainly can not be used to disprove Him altogether.

 

In fact, Islam provides us with significant assistance in relation to the matter of abiogenesis or Life. It informs us that there are certain matters which are 'not veiled'. That is, certain phenomena do not have any 'apparent causes' attached to them to veil the hand of His Power. (For example, the apparent 'cause' for light on the earth is the photons emitted by sun - the sun being merely a veil to Allah's power.) So what are the things that are unveiled? Well, sure enough, one is said to be Life. It is no surprise then, that nothing in science can adequetely explain how Life first came about. Of course, this does not force us to believe. We still have the choice to invoke what can be described as the 'Argument from Hope' - that one day science will, once and for all, show us how life first came about (hopefully!?!) Or perhaps the idea that life on Earth actually originated from Mars (see Paul Davies - The Fifth Miracle)!

 

2. Quantum Fluctuations and guesses about the origin of the universe such as the Multiverse idea, do not disprove Allah's existence.

 

The notion of quantum fluctuations of virtual particles, that appear to pop up in oppositely charged pairs without apparent cause, and briefly violate the first law of thermodynamics before annihilating one another, in no way contradicts what we know in Islam. And in no way disproves Allah. More on this shortly. But first, are the appearance of these virual particles actually an appearance out of nothing? Not at all. 'Something(s)' are still required to enable their appearance, namely a space/time field. These are not 'nothing'. (As an aside, I wonder whether further work on Dark Energy may shed some more light on this matter down the track?)

 

Secondly, the use of the concept of quantum fluctuations to explain the creation of the universe is an extrapolation that is hitherto unproven. Sure, some eminent physicists have proposed the idea in peer-reviewed journals. But conclusive proof of how the universe came about still evades us. I feel it is invalid to rely on this notion then, as evidence for the lack of Allah's existence.

 

Notwithstanding the above point, Islam (unlike some other faiths) has no issue with any scientific theory that may someday prove how the universe was created through so called 'natural processes'. Ours is not a God of the Gaps, but a God who is The Necessary Existent (Vacibul Vucud), who is the Causer of Causes (Yusebbibul Esbab). Personally I would find such a theory much more intellectually satisfying than the current best guesses like the Multiverse idea, that only push the problem of explaining the origin of the universe to another place. If I were an atheist, holding 'falsifiability' as the sole determinant of an idea's value, I would be loathe to rely on something like the 'Multiverse' idea to prove or disprove anything.

 

From Non-Existence to Existence.

 

Ultimately, regardless of how far science may progress, it is bound to reach an impasse. This is at the point where something goes from non-existence to existence. Again, Islam guides us on this and tells us about another matter which is 'unveiled' (recall the discussion above under Evolution). This is Existence. The coming of a thing into existence, from non-existence, after all the causes have been peeled away, is 'unveiled'. That is, Allah has not put in place an apparent 'cause' as a veil to His Power in relation to his bringing physical existence about. I apologise if I have not illustrated this point clearly, but let me put it like this. If science could uncover every possible working of the universe, it would eventually reach a point where it could not find a 'cause' for how the very first 'thing' in our physical universe came about. At this point, atheists might point and say, 'See, it created itself!' But of course, the reason does not accept this, as may be seen below.

 

 

Allah's Name of Samed (the Eternal Absolute by one translation).

 

Things can not create themselves. If something is in a state of pure non-existence, it can not bring about its own existence. It requires something else to cause its existence. If nothing exists at all, that thing that we define as a God, or Allah, The One who is Samed and Necessarily Existent, is required to bring things into existence. I submit that this does represent an Argument from Incredulity. Consider this. There is pure and absolute 'nothing' in terms of a physical universe. Then, something, whether its a 'quantum fluctuation of a field' or a 'singularity of infinite density' suddenly comes into existence with no discernible cause (after all, there are not even causes in our story here). Then this initial thing, so packed is it with beauty, wisdom, power, functionality, co-ordination and meaningfulness, morphs into the universe we know and love today. We can not deny we exist, nor can we deny that we perceive myriad pleasures through the beauty of the universe and its constituent parts (and especially through our children, families and fellow humans). And we admit that we love to exist, that we would hate not to exist. And we see that while beautiful things come and go, beauty itself endures. Under all these circumstances, are we not justified in refusing to accept that all this could not have created itself? Consider also that we have been endowed with the faculty of reason. Do you think it is an accident that using this very sense of reason, the majority of all humans, past and present, refuse to accept the non-existence of a Creator?

 

How did Allah come into existence?

 

"If things can not create themselves, how did Allah come into existence?" asks the atheist. The second part of this sentence contains an oxymoron. By definition, Allah can not 'come into' existence, for He has the attributes of having always existed and not requiring anything for His eternal existence.

 

To claim that the existence of a such a God, who bears these attributes, is not possible given the known laws of physics, is to express what I feel to be the Argument from Incredulity - of which theists are so often accused. Or else it is to express an Argument from Ignorance. In Islam, we know Allah to have infinite power. The mind boggling majesty of the universe is just a single indication of this. We also know Allah to have brought time and the universe, including all its laws, matter and mechanisms into existence from non-existence. We know He is not bound by any of these. We also know a little about the nature of Allah, through the manifestations of his attributes visible in the universe. And that is where our knowledge ends for now. We can not see or in any way perceive, or conceive of, Allah's actual Essence. His Essence is absolutely Unique (Ferd) and outside of the human experience. We can not, therefore, properly understand, much less deny, Allah's infinitude and Eternal Pre-Existence with the limited human intelligence and imagination Allah has gifted us in this life. We are merely on the commencement of an infinite journey of discovery.

 

 

Thanks for your time in reading this post, and I apologise again for its length. For further reading and discussion of the Risale-i Nur, by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, please go wordvision(contact admin if its a beneficial link).au or just google Risale-i Nur.

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If nothing exists at all, that thing that we define as a God, or Allah, The One who is Samed and Necessarily Existent, is required to bring things into existence. I submit that this does represent an Argument from Incredulity. Consider this. There is pure and absolute 'nothing' in terms of a physical universe.

 

This should read, "...I submit that this does not represent an Argument from Incredulity..."

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"If things can not create themselves, how did Allah come into existence?" asks the atheist. The second part of this sentence contains an oxymoron. By definition, Allah can not 'come into' existence, for He has the attributes of having always existed and not requiring anything for His eternal existence.

 

You are presupposing a god with certain attributes. Thus your argument fails. If you can presuppose a certain god then anyone else can presuppose another god/s or no god/s at all.

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You are presupposing a god with certain attributes. Thus your argument fails. If you can presuppose a certain god then anyone else can presuppose another god/s or no god/s at all.

 

Thanks for your contribution Wattle.

 

The word God has become somewhat of loaded, hasn't it? You may call It what you will. If you don't like the religious connotations associated with God, Allah or similar words, you may substitute, 'That Which Created the Universe' (In Islam, we use Al Khaliq - The Creator. Or even 'That Which Brought Things into Existence'.

 

My point here is that, you may choose, for now, to disagree on the identity of the Creator. But you may not deny that there is a Creator. The fact that there is a physical universe in existence, and things can not create themselves out of nothing, necessitates a External Agent, not bound by physicality, to bring it into existence.

 

So Allah can not be denied on the basis of the same argument. We are not comparing apples with apples. If you bear in mind how theists are defining Allah, you will see that He is totally other than the physical universe and laws that we understand.

 

The difficulty atheists, and particularly materialists, face is that they will not accept the existence of anything that is not bound by some type of physicality, or some set of physical laws. That is the sticking point, the impasse.

 

As for the idea of 'many gods' - that it different matter altogether. In order to discuss this, we need to again understand how Islam is describing Allah. We are talking here about a Being who enjoys absolute power, therefore absolute rulership. Absolute Power (Qadir) requires no assistants, Absolute Rulership (Rububiyet) tolerates no partner in Its rulership.

 

To conclude, I should stress that the primary problem with atheist's attempt to refute the existence of Allah, is that they rely on an incongruent definition of Allah. We are the ones who are telling you Allah exists - it is unhelpful to try to deny Him on the basis of a different definition to what we are proposing.

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If you don't like the religious connotations associated with God, Allah or similar words, you may substitute, 'That Which Created the Universe' (In Islam, we use Al Khaliq - The Creator. Or even 'That Which Brought Things into Existence'.

 

My point here is that, you may choose, for now, to disagree on the identity of the Creator. But you may not deny that there is a Creator. The fact that there is a physical universe in existence, and things can not create themselves out of nothing, necessitates a External Agent, not bound by physicality, to bring it into existence.

 

You are confounding two arguments. The argument that something caused the universe to come into existence (which no-one denies), and the argument that if something caused the universe to come into existence, that thing must have been a supernatural being (which is easily deniable).

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You are presupposing a god with certain attributes. Thus your argument fails. If you can presuppose a certain god then anyone else can presuppose another god/s or no god/s at all.

 

I am not talking only about the creation of the universe. I am talking about the bringing of all things into existence. Whatever you may propose as the initial 'natural cause' of the universe, still requires a Causer of the Cause.

 

Something within, subject to, bound by, or even able to be described in terms of the phsical universe we know, can not also be its creator, can not be seen as responsible for bringing it into existence from total non existence.

 

'Nothingness' in terms of the physical universe, means just that. Pure nothingness. Natural physical causes, can not come into existence out of pure nothing. They require, exactly as you propose, a supernatural Agent. A God not bound by the physicality we are familiar with.

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It's possible that a state of 'nothiness' never existed. No evidence is available either way.

 

I did not propose, BTW, 'a supernatural agent' in the sense of a being with self-consciousness etc.

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Wattle,

Until very recently, most thought that this grand universe was always in existence and shall infinitely exist (i.e no beginning and no end). This is however proven to be wrong by the big bang theory, which is pretty much accepted as a fact by science today.

As far as big bang theory goes, consider this dot ‘.’, something trillions times smaller than that is the origin of this grand universe that we have today..that's is pretty much 'nothing'.

 

So I find your statement “It's possible that a state of 'nothiness' never existed. No evidence is available either way.†a little confusing. Plenty of evidence for the big bang theory, and it started from ‘nothing’. Care to take your point further? Perhaps your have your own theory or idea of how everything, this universe and life on earth came about. Let’s hear them..

 

ard

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We have a pretty good idea of what happened a few microseconds after the big bang, but we don't (yet) know what happened at the big bang, nor what was before it. It's possible that we cannot know what happned before it.

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By the way, the Big Bang theory does NOT say that the universe "started from nothing" - it says that it started from an extremely dense, extremely hot singularity.

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Indeed, our laws of physics break down prior to Planck time. And we still don't know what caused the Big Bang. I look forward to a advancements in our knowledge that will fill these gaps.

 

But let's look at what we do know. There was a point, a singularity, of massive density. It exploded and time, space and matter as we know it today evolved from there. Amazingly, a set of laws emerged in conjunction with this explosion. Together, these produced the sterling beauty, majesty and complexity we see today. Not only this, but it produced humans who could in turn gaze at it, uncover its mysteries and appreciate its wonders. This beauty is undeniable and has left our finest physicists, cosmologists - in fact all who are passionate about science - in wonder. The home page of NASA a few days ago bore the heading, "Beauty in the Universe", above a picture of Saturn fully encircled by its rings.

 

Okay, so science can not incontrovertibly prove, nor disprove Allah. And so it is meant to be. And maybe you have a problem with all the major religions. But none the less, the reason tells us that this beautiful, amazing, working contraption called the universe could not have made itself out of a singularity. Nor could the 'singularity' have brought itself into existence from non-existence.

 

The fact that atheists need to rely on unproven notions such as the Multiverse idea, or the idea that some part of the universe "might" have always existed, to try to deny the universe's Creator, is telling. It amuses me that atheists rely on faith to deny belief!

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Okay, so science can not incontrovertibly prove, nor disprove Allah. And so it is meant to be. And maybe you have a problem with all the major religions.

 

Of course I do. And the minor ones. Well, it isn't me who has the problems, it's the religions which state definitely something for which there is no evidence.

 

But none the less, the reason tells us that this beautiful, amazing, working contraption called the universe could not have made itself out of a singularity. Nor could the 'singularity' have brought itself into existence from non-existence.

 

Reason tells us nothing of the sort. Reason tells us that things are as they are, and we can look for evidence about how they got that way. Beauty is a human construct. And who said anything about something being brought into existence from nothingness. This whole sidetrack is because I said that there isn't any evidence that there ever was 'nothingness'.

 

The fact that atheists need to rely on unproven notions such as the Multiverse idea, or the idea that some part of the universe "might" have always existed, to try to deny the universe's Creator, is telling. It amuses me that atheists rely on faith to deny belief!

 

No, I require evidence before I will say anything other than "We don't know". What we DO know is that since this universe has existed, nothing has happened which requires the existence of a supernatural being to explain it.

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Missed one -

 

reason tells us that this ... could not have made itself out of a singularity

 

On the contrary, reason tells us (and shows us) that everything that has happened over the 13-odd billion years since a few microseconds after singularity is explicable without recourse to the supernatural, and those few microseconds keep being pushed back as more research is done.

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Wattle,

 

<What we DO know is that since this universe has existed, nothing has happened which requires the existence of a supernatural being to explain it.>

 

Really? Could you explain to me what DNA is..Then we take it from there IA..

 

ard

 

[using large font size is not allowed]

Edited by RAHIMI

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What if I tell you that it is (for the ratonal mind that is)?

 

ard

Edited by RAHIMI

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You can tell me, but if you don't have any evidence i won't believe you.

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OK, IA..

 

Every living creature has a DNA, be it human, lady bug, cat, dog, pig..everything, right? The DNA is unique for each individual; no set of DNA is the same even in twins. Agree?. In essence, whenever a 'creature', a living being arrives on this earth, a unique DNA comes in existence for that particular being.

 

Lets' look at a few definitions of how DNA is described:

Wiki used the following key words to describe DNA: Genetic instructions, information, blueprint, recipe, code or something similar to that line. Other places describe DNA as a complex set of books that can fill the biggest library etc.

Here's the link:

(you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_en.wikipedia(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/wiki/DNA"]you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_en.wikipedia(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/wiki/DNA[/url] We can also think of DNA as a highly complex map or detailed specifications. DNA is now widely accepted as evidence in the court of law. Anybody disagree with the definitions?

 

Here are the terms they used again,: "instruction, information, blueprint, recipe, code, map, evidence, language, complex set books etc"

 

Now using a rational mind and your entire life experience, can you come up with anything, the terms that science uses to describe DNA above, without a 'mind' behind it? Perhaps a map, a set of code, a language etc. Key word: without a 'MIND' behind it.

 

 

 

ard

Edited by RAHIMI

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You need to understand the difference between analogy or metaphor and literality. No scientist thinks that DNA is an actual blueprint. You also need to understand that when talking about complex subjects to laypeople, scientists will be even more likely to use analogies and metaphors.

 

And yes, I can imagine that DNA exists without a mind having created it. Almost all scientists working in relevant fields are studying natural ways in which DNA emerged. There's no consensus yet but there are plenty of hypotheses under consideration. AFAIK, none of those hypotheses involve the supernatural.

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Wattle,

<And yes, I can imagine that DNA exists without a mind having created it>

 

I am asking a simple question, the terms that sceince uses to describe DNA, do you have any problem with them?. DNA is quite rightly a 'buelprint', your DNA is your 'blueprint', that is how your cells replicate themselves to make a complete you, with all the genetic information and stuff (acoording to science).

 

If not, then show me a code, a book, a language WITHOUT a mind behind it. Yes one can imagine a lot of things, but does that correspond to the actual reality?..I mean I can also imagine a book just 'appears' from nowhere..

 

Now show me, a code, a language, a map, a book without a mind behind it, that is simple enough request, can you deal with that please?

 

ard

Edited by RAHIMI

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As I said, you need to understand the difference between analogy or metaphor, and literalness.

 

If, as you appear to be arguing, scientists really believe that a supernatural being created DNA because when explaining DNA to laypeople they use anthropomorphised concepts (which is pretty common when explaining a technical matter to laypeople, in any field), why on earth are scientists wasting their time looking for natural processes which lead to the existence of DNA?

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No that is not what I'm saying at all, science and scientists are not the same thing.

Scientists are people, they have they own minds and beliefs.

 

Science is about proving things with testifyable evidence. Science uses those terms that I quoted above, are you saying those terms are misleading or inaccurate? Are you saying that DNA is just a bunch of incoherence letters and codes? No, that is not what science tells us.

 

How is it that you see a comic book and attribute a 'mind' behind it and yet when you SEE a whole library of complex set of books, you choose to apply or take a completely irrational stand?

So, again, using commonsense, your own lifetime experience, or the entire humanity lifetime experience, do we ever, find codes, maps, languages, blueprints and other things that I mentioned above without a 'mind' behind it? This is simple enough question, can you deal with that?

 

ard

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If you're distinguishing between science and scientists, then science does not use any terms at all. Scientists write the paqpers, not science.

 

For the 3rd time, you need to distinguish between metaphor and analogy, and literality. When someone says "the water is trying to escape through this hole", do you understand that they don't actually mean that the water has a will and it is not attemping to do anything? I assume that English is not your first language. English is rife with anthropmorphised expressions. native speakers know how to distinguish betwen these analogies and the literal fact, but they can lead to confusion, I agree,

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OK, let me get this straight..

DNA is DNA, agree?

Scientists/Science use the following terms to describe DNA, so that people can comprehend what DNA is: "Genetic instructions, information, blueprint, recipe, code ,map, evidence, language, complex set of books etc"

 

Are we in agreement up to this point? do you agree with the above terms that science uses to describe DNA?

 

ard

Edited by RAHIMI

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Some scientists (or, more often, newspaper science journalists) may have used those terms, yes. They are analogies and metaphors. I do not agree that`"science" uses those terms, as you have made a distinction between 'science' and 'scientists'.

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