Friday, June 8, 2012

Better Safe than Sorry: on the existence of God

You are to assume the possibility that God exists. If you assume otherwise, you will be eternally doomed. Once you assume that God may exist, you are to start seeking Him all of your life until you find Him. If you fail to find Him, you will be eternally doomed – no question about it.

Indeed, He guides whom He wills, the Sacred Scriptures tell you. But if you end up concluding yourself that He does not exist after all, it is entirely your fault—even though you were simply not one of the fortunate ones whom God willed to guide—and you will be doomed eternally without a doubt and without a question.
But ... what a coincidence that I was born into the right religion! What a coincidence!

This reminds me of the quote I constantly read on certain Muslims' FB profiles that read something like:

“I’d rather live my life believing in God’s existence and die to find out that He does not exist than to live my life denying His existence only to die and learn that He does exist.”

What? This is what all it comes down to, a mere probability that He does or does not exist, a chance you take by believing in Him?
This should contradict the basic belief that the Quran attempts to promote, which is (as many Muslims will tell us over and over) to reason, reason, and reason. The belief promoted by the above quote, however, suggests that it's better to be safe than sorry. So you're just gonna go with the flow today that JUST IN CASE God exists, you're on the safe side ... just in case.

That's what I understand from comments that suggest that one should believe in God in order to avoid feeling guilty. How does this work?

If you can't prove it, never talk about proof: Simply say, "It's all about faith; I have FAITH that God exists, but I can't prove it." That's what an honest person who hasn't discovered any reasons for God's existence should/would say. Why argue over it? If God exists, He exists; if God doesn't exist, God doesn't exist. Don't bother "proving" to anyone that God exists because there's absolutely NO proof, unless you have some individual experiences and visions that have proven His existence to you -- in which case, you should not expect everyone else to believe in God just because you've experienced such miraculous things. Even the greatest of scholars, intellectuals, thinkers, philosophers have failed to provide any evidence of God's existence.

However, as logic teaches us, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This is to say that just because the existence of God cannot be proven does NOT mean that there is indeed no evidence for God's existence and that He therefore does not exist. I find it rather silly and ignorant of people to think that just because there's no evidence that God exists, He does not exist.

As for me, my belief in God is based about 75% on faith and 25% on some individual experiences I have had that have proven to me that God exists. Those experiences, I never discuss with anyone and feel no need to. Nonetheless, I simply cannot imagine not believing in Him. This isn't to say that, hey, I believe in God so you should, too. No, not at all. On the contrary, I believe everyone should explore for themselves what/who God is (for many people, God isn't an individual deity/entity; God is, for them, a concept) and whether or not they should or need to believe in Him -- or Her.
 
Reminder: Think. Question. Discover. Believe.   


For those interested in exploring questions of religion and philosophy, I recommend the following books (I will post more later on, promise; feel free to recommend your favorites as well).

9 comments:

  1. har barg-e-darkhtan-e-sabz, dar nazar-e-hoshiyar har waraqy daftaryst,kardegare purdigar.

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  2. Nicely written account on the subject! It would be more appreciated had you also included some arguments from Quran and learned people thought as well on the subject matter. We have been reading them since our school days and is a much familiar topic. I however would like to share a short story of Imam Shafi, which is much convincing. I have shared it with a then non believer, who is now a Muslim, and who also had similar questions.
    It is said that a non believer came to Imam Shafi and said that he will convert to Islam if his three questions are answered.
    1. Can I see God?, if I have to believe in Him, I must see Him.
    2. If God is the cause of every act/thing, then why am I held responsible for my wrong doings?
    3. God will punish Iblis in hell fire; Iblis is made of fire as well. Will hell fire harm Iblis?
    Imam Shafi used a very convincing method. He picked a stone and threw it at him that caused him to bleed(some say he hit him on face). The man complained that why have you done this.
    Imam Shafi in reply said this is the answer to your three questions.
    1. If you can't believe in God without seeing Him. How can you complain about pain without seeing it.
    2. God is the cause of all acts so why am I be held responsible for throwing stone at you.
    3. Man is made of clay and so is the stone! Then how is it possible for clay to harm clay.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment and for visiting the blog, Unutered!
      And thank you also for sharing the anecdote.

      You're right that this is a highly discussed topic, among all sorts of people, including scholars, intellectuals, philosophers, even us "lay" people. And I respect Al-Shafi very much.

      However, you must understand that those responses have rebuttals as well. Pick up any textbook on Philosophy of Religion to see what I mean. You'll see an article/chapter/discussion PRO something (e.g., argument FOR the existence of God) and the next one will be against that same thing (e.g., against the existence of God), in which the author responds to the arguments made in the previous discussion. I'm sure the points above are very convincing to many, but they're not convincing to me at all. Like I said, for me, God's existence is only a matter of faith -- and I also believe that I believe in Him solely because I was born a Muslim. It's especially the "pain" one that I find not convincing at all. It's not unique to Al-Shafi--many scholars, theologians, philosophers have said the same thing. But we actually have scientific evidence for the existence of pain, physiological evidence that cannot be denied. [Feel free to google up something like "how does pain occur?" or "how does science explain pain?" or "why do we experience/feel pain?" or a similar query for further information.] Of course, that depends on whether the pain is physical or emotional or psychological that we're talking about ... and I assume we're talking about physical pain since the person was hit and showed a response.

      But I understand that many theists also "feel" that God exists in the same way that they may "feel" physical pain. But we cannot prove this kind of pain while we can prove physical pain by studying and surveying the body and its responses to pain.

      I also wonder how many people would be interested to know whether or not Satan is gonna go to hell and how he would be burnt/punished in hellfire if he's made of fire. However, it is definitely smart to show HOW someone made of substance X could suffer in substance X.

      As for the issue of God and the existence of evil in this world ... there's a LOT of material on it. You've people leaving religion altogether because there's evil in the world, and you've people who come to it because they experience the evil and believe that God/religion is their only outlet, their only source of comfort. (I'd be happy to recommend some readings on the subject if you would like.)

      Thanks again for your insight!

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  3. Reading this just made my day! :)

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  4. True the better safe than sorry argument is a shallow approach. In fact believing in heaven and hell as literally as they are described is also shallow (Rabia Basri), believing in anthropomorphic definitions of God is also misguided.

    The way I see it is that the universe we know exists, we know this because we exist, or at least we perceive it to exist, there must have been something that set things in motion (regardless of whether you think the coincidence of evolution is miraculous or not) there is and was a FIRST CAUSE whether you are an atheist or a theist. To the Theist the First Cause is simply renamed God (A God that humans will never understand) and to the atheist it is something unknown, usually their refusal to call it God lies in their rejection of mainstream religion since otherwise both parties agree that the first cause is unknown and unknowable to man.

    My own belief in God is based completely on personal experiences I have no faith because faith is to believe in something that is uncertain. In fact as a teenager I rejected religion but as much as I rejected it I couldn't reject God because of certain personal experiences and thus I ended up returning to it (with a more discerning eye).

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    1. Personal experiences have led me to a stronger belief in God, too :) I totally hear ya!

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    2. Totally agree with Pillar of Autumn... I was very anxious when I first converted because people were telling me how to argue about Islam and I feel awkward doing that. I was in a political cult as a teenager and anything that sniffs of cultish behaviour makes me run a mile. I can't produce something out of a hat and say 'This proves God's existence and you are on the side of Satan if you don't agree". In my personal experience I get a way better response when I merely tell the truth; I can't prove it but The Quran speaks to my heart and how do I prove my heart? I tell you most people respect that more than a 'hard sell'. Love this post and the comments.

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Dare to opine :)

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