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Existence of God

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Chapter-2: Existence of God

The main issue which have remained the center of attention of believers of the God has been; How to prove the existence of God rationally? God is infinite, incomprehensible; His essence is beyond the perception through the human senses and intellect. Infinite can not be comprehended by finite human cognizance. What ever theories about existence of God are evolved, they remain with in the ambit of human intellect for understanding in the parables and allegories which remain far from the reality as “there is none comparable to Him”. God is not a ‘being’ like any creatures or thing known to human. Hence the man has reached the conclusion that the God can be comprehended through ‘His works’ or ‘signs’. The God of Abrahamic faiths is Supreme, Creator and Sustainer who created the universe and all creatures. According to the Hebrew traditions the God of their forefathers had been known mostly as El ‘Elyon (God Most High) or El Shaddai (God of the Mountain or Almighty God), but He identified Himself to Moses as Yahweh (Jehovah) (Exodus;6:3).  As the causative form of the verb “to be,” Yahweh means; ‘He Who Creates’ (Brings Into Being). This revelation enabled Moses to understand the God of the Hebrews as the sovereign Lord over nature and the nations of the world. After the Exile (6th century BC), and especially from the 3rd century BC on, Jews ceased to use the name Yahweh for two reasons. As Judaism became a universal religion through its influence in the Greco-Roman world, the more common noun ‘elohiym,(el-o-heem) is plural of gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God tended to replace Yahweh to demonstrate the universal sovereignty of Israel’s God over all others. At the same time, the divine name was increasingly regarded as too sacred to be uttered; it was thus replaced vocally in the synagogue ritual by the Hebrew word Adonai (“My Lord”), which was translated as Kyrios (“Lord”) in the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament. In Arabic the unique name of God is ‘Allah’; which is pure, does not conjure up any mental picture nor can it be played around with unlike the English word ‘God’. Allah can also be called with other beautiful names suitable to His attributes: “He is Allah! There is no deity worthy of worship except Him! To Him belong the most beautiful Names.”(Qur’an;20:8). Islamic traditions mention ninety nine (number not fixed) names of Allah  like;  Ar-Rahman (The Merciful), Al- Hayy (The Ever Living), Al-Qayum (The Self-Subsistent): The  knowledge about God available with the followers of Abraham (peace be upon him) is not based upon speculation or guess work but what God has Himself revealed about Himself in the Revealed Scriptures (i.e. Torah, Palms, Injeel and Qur’an). God has kept the allowance for limitation of human perceptions hence His description about Himself should not always be taken literally but  allegorically. For example He Sees and Hears,  it is not to be understood literally, the way human sees through eyes or hears through ears. How God sees or hears, human intellect can not perceive, because He is Unique and there in none like Him.(Qur’an;112:4, Exodus;9:14; Deutronomy;33:26; 2Sameul;7:22; Isaiah;46:5,9). He has not abandoned the world after creation but, remains actively involved in its affairs. He desires the humanity to live according to His Commandments, by their free choice, He  will reward them accordingly on the Day of Judgement. Among the followers of the Revealed religions there had not been doubt about the existence of God because the messengers and prophets of God had made the believers to believe in the God through the power of ‘signs’ and Revelations. However with the passage of time there has been deterioration and the people frail in faith started to raise questions. The theologians made efforts to satisfy them through the interpretation of scriptures and other rational arguments.

The God of Greek philosophers was very different from the God of Revelations. Socrates (469-399 BC) found it easy to combine his own strong belief in God as ruler of the world with the view that, in practice, one could worship God in the way prescribed by “the usage of the city.” God’s existence is shown, he held, not only by the providential order of nature and the universality of the belief in him but also by warnings and revelations given in dreams, signs, and oracles. Plato (427-346 BC) believed in the existence of a divine, unchanging reality beyond the world of the senses, that the soul was a fallen divinity, out of its element, imprisoned in the body but capable of regaining its divine status by the purification of the reasoning powers of the mind. The Supreme Deity of Aristotle or Plotinus was timeless and impassible; He took no notice of mundane events, did not reveal Himself in history, had not created the world and would not judge it at the end of time.

Zoroastrianism influenced the Judaism during Babylonian exile, the Babylonians were Zoroastrians. Zoroastrianism is based on the teachings of Zoroaster, the Iranian prophet. Founded in the 6th century BCE, they rejects polytheism, accepting only one supreme God, Ahura Mazdā who created the universe and maintains the cosmic order, and that the history of the world consists of the battle between two spirits he created—the beneficent Spenta Mainyu and the destructive Angra Mainyu. The Avesta (the sacred book of Zoroastrianism.) identifies Ahura Mazda himself with the beneficent spirit and represents him as bountiful, all-knowing, and the creator of everything good. In late sources (from the 3rd century), Zurvan (“Time”) is the father of the twins Ormazd (Ahura Mazda) and Ahriman (Angra Mainyu), who in orthodox Mazdaism (Zoroastrianism and Parsiism) reign alternately over the world until Ormazd’s ultimate victory. Zoroastrians are often referred as fire worshipers, but they claim not to worship fire but honor it and in so doing honoring their God, Ahura Mazda.

Hinduism denotes the Indian civilization of approximately the last 2,000 years, which evolved from Vedism, the religion of the Indo-European peoples who settled in India in the last centuries of the 2nd millennium BC. Hinduism also have monotheistic doctrines buried under the dust of polytheistic, idolatrous, mystic and other practices. The sacred Hindu scriptures, urge: “O friends, do not worship anybody but Him, the Divine One. Praise Him alone.”(Rigveda;8:1:1). The Upanishads, (each of a series of Hindu sacred treatises based on the Vedas) mentions ‘Brahman’, the eternal, infinite, and omnipresent spiritual source of the finite and changing universe. Generally speaking, Vedic gods share many characteristics: several of them (Indra, Varuna, Vishnu) are said to have created the universe, set the Sun in the sky, and propped apart heaven and earth. All of them are bright and shining, and all are susceptible to human praise. Some major gods were clearly personifications of natural phenomena, and for these deities no clearly delineated divine personalities were perceived. The three most frequently invoked gods are Indra, Agni, and Soma. Indra, the foremost god of the Vedic pantheon, is a god of war and rain. Agni (a cognate of the Latin ignis) is the ‘holy fire’, particularly the fire of sacrifice, and Soma is the intoxicating or hallucinogenic drink of the sacrifice, or the plant from which it is pressed; neither is greatly personified. The concept of transmigration of soul and incarnation also exists. Buddhism, is considered non committal on God, historical criticism has proved that the original teachings of Buddha can never be known, because his teachings and doctrines were written down 400 years, after his death. Moreover little attention was paid to its authenticity, genuineness and purity. However prophesies of advent of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Buddhist scriptures points towards some missing links.

Rational Arguments for the Existence of God:

The arguments generally adduced by theologians in proof of the being of God are: Firstly the ‘Priori Argument’, which is the testimony afforded by reason. Secondly, the ‘Posteriori Argument’, by which one proceed logically from the facts of experience to causes. These arguments include (a) The ‘Cosmological’, by which it is proved that there must be a First Cause of all things, for every effect must have a cause. (b) The ‘Teleological’, or the argument from Design seen all around the operations of an intelligent Cause in nature. (c) ‘Ontological Arguments’, that proceeds from the idea of God to the reality of God (d) Morality and Probability Arguments. The  other stream of arguments for God’s existence, recently proposed in contemporary western philosophy are the proofs from ‘Religious Experience’.  The cosmological argument was first introduced by Aristotle (384-322. B.C) and later refined in western Europe by the celebrated Christian theologian, Thomas Aquinas  (1225-1274 CE). The basic first-cause argument states: ‘Every event must have a cause, and each cause must in turn have its own cause, and so forth.  Hence, there must either be an infinite regress of causes or there must be a starting point or first cause. The conclusion thus follows that there must be an initial prime-mover, a mover that could cause motion without any other mover; the God.’ Teleology is the use of ultimate purpose or design as a means of explaining natural phenomena. St. Paul, with many others in the Greco-Roman world, believed that the existence of God is evident from the appearances of nature: “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made”(Romans;1:20). The extraordinary design is evident from planets and galaxies at the cosmic level to human cells and atoms at the quantum level.  Therefore this world must have an intelligent supreme creator. Most Muslim philosophers recognized the Qur’anic emphasis on the uniformity and logical order of nature, accepting it as such.

Allah draws the attention of mankind towards His signs: “Verily in the heavens and the earth are Signs for those who believe.”(Qur’an;45:3); “And in the creation of yourselves and the fact that animals are scattered (through the earth) are Signs for those of assured Faith. And in the alternation of Night and Day and the fact that Allah sends down Sustenance from the sky and revives therewith the earth after its death and the change of the winds are Signs for those that are wise.”(Qur’an;45:4-5). It is pertinent to note that according to Qur’an the ‘reason’ properly used must lead man to cognition of God’s existence and, thus of the fact that a definite plan underlines all His creation; reward for pious believers and punishment for rebellious non believers and sinners: “And they (disbelievers) will add: “Had we but listened (to those warnings). Or (at least) used our own reason, we would not (now) be among those who are destined for the blazing flame!” (Qur’an;67:10). Because Allah says: “Not for (idle) sport did We create the heavens and the earth and all that is between!”  (Qur’an;21:16).

Ontological Argument is developed on the basis that; God is a being, than which nothing greater can be conceived to exist in thought. Either a being than which nothing greater can be conceived exists in thought alone and not in reality or a being than which nothing greater can be conceived exists both in thought and in reality. If the greatest conceivable being existed in thought alone we could think of another being existing in both thought and reality. Existing in thought and reality is greater than existing in thought alone. Therefore: A being than which nothing greater can be conceived (God) exists in thought and in reality. Allah says: “For verily it is thy Lord Who is the Master-Creator knowing all things”(Qur’an;15:86), “Allah is Creator of all things, and He is Guardian over all things.”(Qur’an;39:62).The Moral Argument also called the ‘Anthropological Argument’ is based on the moral consciousness and the history of mankind, which exhibits a moral order and purpose which can only be explained on the supposition of the existence of God. Conscience and human history testify that: “Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judges in the earth.”(Psalms;58:11). “.. Maintaining His creation in justice, there is no God save Him, the Almighty, the Wise.”(Qur’an;3:18), “On that Day, Allah will give them the full reward they deserve, then they will realize that Allah is the One Who manifests the Truth.”(Qur’an;24:25).

Religious experience as proof for existence of God must be understood against the background of a general theory of experience, the reports of the world received through the senses. Experience, as an issue of sensible content, was set in contrast to reason, understood as the domain of logic and mathematics. Specifically religious experience has been variously identified in different ways: (1) The awareness of the holy, which evokes awe and reverence; (2) The feeling of absolute dependence that reveals man’s status as a creature; (3) The sense of being at one with the divine; (4) The perception of an unseen order or of a quality of permanent rightness in the cosmic scheme; (5) The direct perception of God; (6) The encounter with a reality “wholly other”; (7) The sense of a transforming power as a presence. Sometimes, as in the striking case of the Old Testament prophets, the experience of God has been seen as a critical judgment on man and as the disclosure of his separation from the holy. All interpreters are agreed that religious experience involves what is final in value for man and concerns belief in what is ultimate in reality. Religious experience may be distinguished from the aesthetic aspect of experience in that the former involves commitment and devotion to the divine, while the latter is focused on the appreciation and enjoyment of qualities, forms, and patterns in themselves, whether as natural objects or works of art. Generally the mystics, lay their claim of having experienced presence of God each in own way. The Islamic traditions support the prophets having such an experience, which make their faith very strong due to firm vision (ain-ul-yaqeen). The night journey of mair’aj by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a unique experience, Allah says: “Glorified be He Who took His servant (Muhammad) one night from Inviolable Place of Worship (Masjid-al-Haram in Makka) to the Far Distant Place of Worship (Masjid-al-Aqsa in Jerusalem), whose vicinity We have blessed, so that We may show him some of Our signs: surely He is the One Who is the Hearer, the Observer.”(Qur’an;17:1): In the Book of Enoch, (I Enoch), the first treatise (chapters 1-36) also describes Enoch’s celestial journeys, in which divine secrets were revealed to him. Yet another example is when Abraham said: “My Lord! Show me how you give life to the dead.” He replied: “Have you no faith in this?” Abraham humbly submitted: “Yes! But I ask this to reassure my heart.” Allah said: “Take four birds; train them to follow your direction, cut their bodies into pieces and scatter those pieces on hilltops then call them back; Allah will bring them back to life and they will come to you right away. Thus you will know that Allah is All-powerful and Wise.”(Qur’an;2:260).

Other Arguments:

There are certain things which exist in reality where as their opposite do not exist, but they have been just named due to perception. The ‘Light exists, the main sources being sun, moon, fire, electricity etc. Its intensity could be very high, moderate or low. The power of light varies, it is measurable through instruments. There is some thing called as ‘Darkness’: Does the Darkness exist?  If it does, is there less or more darkness, which could be measured. In fact the darkness does not exist; we can not get a source of darkness like the source of Light. If there is no light there is darkness. It is the absence of light which is called ‘darkness’. The ‘darkness’ is just a perception, a name given to the absence of light. Similarly the ‘sound’ exists, it could be low, medium, and high sound. There are different sources which generating sound, it is measurable, decibel is the unit of its measure. There is some thing called ‘Silence’, it can not be measured, but we call more or less silence. Actually it is the more or less sound which creates more or less silence. We can not have a source of silence, it can not be said that bring so much silence. Silence is just a perception. Analogous is the case of ‘heat’ which exists. There are various sources of heat like, sun, fire, electricity etc. Heat is measurable, through BTU, Kelvin or Celsius units. There could be more, high heat, or less heat. What about ‘Cold’? does it exist? The cold does not exist beyond  -273 Co, after this temperature there will not be more cold. Absence of ‘heat’ is ‘cold’, just a perception. The God exists, a reality also evident from preceding arguments, the non existence of God is just a perception!

Existence of God: http://wp.me/PCgrB-44

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