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Atheism and Faith by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi

I am a believer in one God. But I am always fascinated by atheist because it seems fantastic that they could reject the idea of God despite the inadequacy of science to explain physical world around us with certainty. To understand their argument I am always eager to meet an atheist with a hope that some new information will be revealed to shake foundation of my faith. But most of the time I hear the same arguments again and again. Religion has always argued that faith has certain element of irrationality to it although Quran has presented the idea that science will eventually find God.

I heard about Richard Dawkins and his book The God Delusion as a much quoted text on atheism. I was hoping he will use the power of his rationality to prove non-existence of God rather than criticizing the irrationality of believers. He has adopted the process of elimination which is to prove that a concept is not true to deduct that the opposite could be true. I understand he is disappointed that God does not react to human impulses and in a world of instant gratification does not discharge punishments for sins and errors on the fly.

The smart Alec examples quoted by Mr. Dawkins to prove Godless world, like a hypothesis that a person could believe there is a flying kettle in the cosmos, are actually proof that science has limitations to confirm a hypothesis. These examples show that language as a human enterprise has both rational and irrational expressions intrinsic in it. Because if language was absolutely rational then it would be impossible to express irrational thought through it. It is interesting that whenever he quotes a scientific example, it is almost always followed by a suggestion that more progress must have been made by the time reader is reading those lines. In a way confessing that science is still inadequate to explain everything with a certainty. I feel sorry for Mr. Charles Darwin, whose 130 years old theory of evolution is quite leisurely quoted in the book.  It is important to note that Mr. Darwin never rejected the idea of a Creator that set evolution into motion.

Science is hinged upon predictability of recurring phenomena without fail for example sun rising/setting everyday or an electron revolving tireless around a nucleus. A phenomenon that is unique with unpredictable outcomes and behavior is beyond the comprehension of science. Since God is beyond predictability it is difficult for scientist to measure God and hence their disbelief in Him. Quran has made it clear that the mankind will find God through scientific explanation of the universe but until then they have to rely on their irrational self to have faith while keep the quest alive. In a way science is a commentary on physical world around us rather than a creative force that has developed any new laws that were not already present in nature. Using a commentator to reject a creative force is an unbridgeable paradox. It’s like an art critic telling Picasso how he should have painted his masterpiece.

Acting in the similar fashion as Mr. Dawkins let me throw three scientific challenges at him. I would like him to gather all the scientists to achieve one of the following three feats i.e. create a living thing even a mono-cell from nothing or maintain a living thing such that it never dies or create a product that does not age. What has these challenges got to do with the question of existence of God? Well if an imaginary kettle flying in the space could be used by Mr. Dawkins to prove there is no God then at least these challenges can be tried in a lab on earth. His book mentions survey results whereby majority of scientists overwhelmingly confess to be atheist. Well no wonder as there is an occupational hazard to believe in an entity that can not be proved in a lab and subject a person to ridicule among his peers. He has equated believing in dogma as equivalent to believing in God when in realty these are two independent actions and mutually exclusive.

Reading Mr. Dawkins book makes me feel that he is looking for a humanoid God i.e. a God that exhibits human like characteristics having sense perceptions and judgments. Although he does confess that science has not worked out all the mysteries of universe but that does not dissuade him from rejecting God altogether or at least delay the verdict until science progress some more. Referring to theory of natural selection he confesses that scientists do not know why birds or some other species engage in a particular act but he is sure the most intellectual of all species humans are wasteful by believing in God. He thinks all other species are economizing in their acts but it is the silly human that is wasting time and resources (prayers, sacrifices, fasting, and charity etc.etc.) by pursuing a faith. So in a way he is suggesting humans are not as intelligent as they think of themselves since they are not as good an economizer in nature as other species.

Mr Dawkins selectively assume that people of faith do not believe in evolution. It is noteworthy that to explain origin of life he allowed himself to have an element of statistical luck while from there on rational explanation of natural selection could be scientifically justified. For his information Quran has validated the evolutionary nature of life. Using the examples quoted by him let’s suppose an ant has achieved the highest level of evolution and does not need any further progress so it keeps doing same thing again and again without questioning who created and why? If that is the destiny Mr. Dawkins is interested in where everything has a logic, rationality and predictability of behavior than I guess humans have comparatively regressed as they still have superstition, emotions and mysticism that can not be explained by science. It is this superstitious nature that produces music and art. If this superstition produced dogma as well it can not be attributed to God.

Humans are not completely rational in their intrinsic nature or they would not have emotions. Emotions like love, hate etc are not rational but irrational side of human consciousness. It is not possible to separate rational from irrational as it co-exist in a human consciousness. I do not know any scientist that is devoid of emotions. The day they achieve complete rationality of self will be a big leap forward to settle the question of God. Superstition is a heightened state of irrational part of human psyche which is blamed by atheist for believing in existence of God. The picture of heaven presented in Quran is such that there will be no feelings of envy, jealousy or longing as these emotions will have no utility. In that state God will be an unquestioned phenomenon.

God conveys to us that it is not possible for an intellectual or rational self alone to recognize Him. To help men God revealed books (it is unfortunate all those texts are lost except Quran) and designated Prophets to convey it. Islam wanted to reduce the reliance on irrational and appealed to the rational side of men to believe in God. It was for this reason God has challenged mankind to ponder over the physical world and it was probably for this reason that no miracle was granted to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). The challenge is to recognize God using a balance approach between rational and irrational consciousness. The combination of these two is unique to each person. Those that rely too much on rational side has a chance to make a wrong judgment similarly those that rely heavily on irrational side also has a chance to over play their hand and commit excesses displeasing the very God they want to please. I agree with Mr. Dawkins that the followers of a faith have a tendency to commit excesses but he should know that God has warned these people in Quran not to associate lies with His message.

Majority of atheist that I have met have an emotional argument against God. In their view somehow they can not reconcile existence of a God and the wars, illnesses and injustices of life. In their view existence of God should have guaranteed elimination of these trial and tribulations. But God never promised that this life would be easy. In all scriptures God informed us that the life on this earth is a trial and a challenge. Those that go through this challenge with an upright character are offered a reward. My understanding of Mr. Dawkins argument is that he has a utilitarian view of God. In his view since the universe can function on auto pilot hence it proves non-existence of God.

He has spent considerable ink and paper to talk about abuses committed by people of faith. What I fail to: understand is how these actions can be attributed to God while the subject of the book is to reject existence of God rather than highlight acts of people in the name of God. Mr. Dawkins feel that religion has failed the society by instigating wars and conflicts. If China can be considered as an atheist majority country then the evidence does not suggest they are any different. Similarly in the West we do have a political equivalent in the form of a secular government. The evidence suggests that secular governments are as deadly as a theocracy. We can look at wars in Libya, Iraq, and Vietnam just to give few examples.

I am surprised he allowed his book to be published in his lifetime because he has stated that he is willing to change his position if compelling evidence is presented. I hope that he is still learning and growing intellectually so the question of God should remain open to him rather than being final. Since Mr. Dawkins is a well-known evolutionary scientist, I would like him to inform us why one species i.e. humans have evolved to such high intellect and creativity while there is no other species that comes even close to us on Earth. I am quite disappointed at the process of natural selection not to allow any other species to at least acquire 10% of human intellect, diversity in language and ability to produce art. My advice to him would be to focus on this question that is within his reach rather than try to understand the mind of God which is beyond his capability.

Disclaimer: I am not a preacher so I am not proposing anything to people. I am just a lowly politician trying to improve lives of people in Pakistan. But if Mr. Dawkins has time I am willing to have a public debate with him on the question of God. Since Mr. Dawkins is intimidated by large number of believers in the world, I am willing to engage him in a debate at a place where I am the only believer present. I dedicate this writing to my guide and mentor Mr. Irfan Hussain.

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