God is that being without whom the world and human presence in it cannot be explained to any satisfaction. Belief in God is deeply ingrained in the human soul, and studies reveal that it had always existed among the most ancient of peoples. Many who call themselves atheists do so merely as a fashion. When they have a personal problem, most of them turn to God for help, albeit secretly. It is said that an atheist was asked whether God exists. He answered, “By God, he does not.” This might have been meant as a joke, but it expresses a reality.
Despite the adoption of atheism as a standard religion in the West propagated through state machinery, media and education, as well as a fifty year stint with Communism which disallowed any religion and in fact did everything to blot out the word God from people’s minds belief in God survived and indeed is thriving. It is only church attendance that has greatly declined, not the belief in a Supreme Being responsible for this world.
Muslim scholars have an answer which appeals to reason. Belief in God is not due to external demand; it is due entirely to internal inclination. According to the Qur’an, belief in Him is implanted in the human soul. It was decreed before the creation of the first man, when Adam and his progeny were still spirits in the heavens:
“And [mention] when Your Lord took from the loins of Adam’s children their descendants and made them testify concerning themselves, ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They replied, ‘Yes, we testify,’ lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection, ‘Indeed, we were unaware of this.’ Or [lest] you say, ‘It was only that our forefathers associated [others in worship] with God before, and we were but descendants after them [following in their footsteps]. Would You then destroy us for what the followers of falsehood have done?’ And thus do We [explain in] detail the signs, and perhaps they will return [to their true Lord].” (17:172-174)
Thus, those who say God does not exist are challenging a truth that resides at the subconscious level of people’s minds. They have to struggle against that truth for quite a while before succumbing to the current of atheism. Significantly, once the external pressure is removed, they return to belief in God.
On the other hand, those who deny God are saying that since His existence cannot be proven conclusively, He does not exist. They demand demonstrable proofs of His existence, and of course, this demand cannot be met. But to assume God does not exist creates additional difficulties. Without faith in His existence disturbing questions arise; questions that humans have been asking since the dawn of their history, such as: What is life? Where did we come from? Is there any meaning to life? What is death? Do we have a soul? If we have, what happens to it at death? They have never been answered satisfactorily outside the framework of religion, and this makes people restless.
We shall not answer the questions at this point. For the moment we are concerned with God, who is the key to their answers. But we would like to mention in passing that whenever the right answers are supplied, invariably people express satisfaction and put an end to further investigation.
It should also be pointed out that the question concerning God’s existence is a philosophical one and cannot ordinarily be answered in material, physical or demonstrable terms. We say “ordinarily” because Islam actually does offer physical, material and testable evidence. However, we shall first present in summary the evidences of God’s existence that have been offered by Muslims and non-Muslims alike throughout the ages and which those who deny His existence have not been able to adequately refute despite centuries of effort.
These evidences can broadly be summed up as concerning the origin of matter, the laws of nature, life, morality, consciousness, and the presence of order and design in creation. There are a few other arguments, for example, the ontological (Relating to ontology, the branch of metaphysics concerned with the essence of things) line of reasoning, but we will not deal with them in this simple booklet; nor will we deal with arguments put forward by people of faiths other than Islam, such as “religious experience,” which is completely subjective and hence irrelevant.
Author : Syed Iqbal Zaheer
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