My friend is a man who likes to argue and delights in talking. He thinks that we, naïve believers as we are, feed on illusions and miss the pleasures and attractions of this world beguiling ourselves with paradise and houris. He studied in france where he got a ph.D. Degree, consorted with hippies, and came to disbelieve in everything.
He addressed me sarcastically:
- You say that god exists. The chief among your proofs is the law of causation which stipulates that every artefact, creature, or existent must have been brought into being by a maker, creator, or efficient cause: a piece of fabric points to the weaver, a painting to the painter, an engraving to the engraver. The universe, according to this logic, is the most cogent proof of puissant God who created it.
Granted that we believe in this creator, aren't we entitled, according to the same logic, to ask, "Who created the creator; who created that God you talk about?" Doesn't your own reasoning and in keeping with the same law of causation lead you to this question? Now, what have you to say about this dilemma?
I replied to him by making clear that his question was meaningless.
There is no dilemma or anything of that sort. You grant that god is a creator and then you ask about who created him making him both creator and created in the same sentence, which is a contradiction.
The other side of your question's meaninglessness is that you imagine the creator as being subject to the laws which govern his creatures. Causation is a law for us who live in space and time. God, who created space and time, is necessarily transcendent in relation to both and it is an error on our part to think that he is bound either by them or by their laws. It is God who created the law of causation and we cannot consider him as subject to the law he created.
In this sophistry of yours you are like those dolls that, seeing they move by springs, imagine that the human who made them must also derive his motion from the action of springs. If they were told that he is self-moved, they would retort that it is impossible for anything to move spontaneously since everything in their world is moved by a spring. Just like them, you cannot imagine that God exists in his own Essence with no need of an efficient cause; and this is because you see everything around you in need of such a cause. It is as if you thought that God needs a parachute to descend among men or a fast car to reach his prophets; God is infinitely exalted above such conception.
The German philosopher, Immanuel Kant realized, in his Critique of Pure Reason, that the mind cannot comprehend infinite realities and that it is by nature fitted only to apprehend particulars. It is incapable of apprehending such a universal or total existence as that of the divinity. God was known by conscience not by reason. Just as our thirst for water is a proof that it exists, our yearning for justice is proof to us that a just being exists.
Aristotle followed the chain of causality tracing the chair from wood, wood from the tree, the tree from a seed, and the seed from the planter. He had to conclude that this chain which regresses into infinite time must have begun with an 'uncaused' cause, a primum mobile in no need of a mover, a creator who has not been created. This is the same thing we assert of God.
From another quarter, Ibn Arabi, the Muslim mystic, replied to the question as to who made the creator by saying that it can only occur to a disordered mind. According to him, it is God that substantiates existence and it would be erroneous to point to existence or the universe as a proof of God. This is the same as saying that light indicates day and it would be lopsided argument to claim that day proves the existence of light.
God says in a Divine Utterance (Hadith Qudsi): "It is I who aids in proving and finding, there is no proof leading to me"
God is the proof which is in no need of another proof. He is the self-evident truth; He is manifest in order, precision, beauty, and regularity; in tree leaves, in the feathers of a fawn, in the wings of the butterfly, in the fragrance of flowers, in the chanting of the nightingale. In the harmony of planets and stars which makes up that symphonic poem we call the universe, if we allege that all this came into being by chance, we would be like a person who believes that blowing-up the types of a press into space can result in their spontaneous assembly into an authorless Shakespearean sonnet.
The Quran spares us all these arguments with a few, expressive words. It says without sophistry and in a decisive clarity:
"Say that God is one, the eternal.
He begot none nor was he begotten.
None is equal to him"
My friend continued to question me in his sarcastic tone:
"Why do you say that God is one? Why shouldn't there be many gods sharing the 'work' among themselves?"
I chose to reply to him not with the aid of the Quran but with the logic he accepts: that of science. My answer was that God is one because the entire universe is built out of one material and according to a unified plan. The ninety two elements in the Mendelev table are built from hydrogen and in the same manner in which stars and sun flame-up in space; namely, by fusion and the emission of atomic energy.
All forms of life are built of carbon composites- they are all charred when burned-according to one anatomical plan. An anatomy of a frog, a rabbit, a pigeon, a crocodile, a giraffe, and a whale reveals the same anatomical structure in all. The same arteries, veins, cardiac chambers, and bones correspond in all of them. The wing of the pigeon is the fore-leg in the frog: the same bones with only slight transformation. The long neck of the giraffe contains seven vertebrae; we find the same number in the hedgehog's neck. The nervous system in all consists of the brain, the spinal cord, and the motor and sensory nerves. Their digestive apparatus contains the stomach, the duodenum, and the small and large intestines, the genital apparatus has the same components: the ovary, the uterus, the testicles and their ducts: while the urinary system in all consists of the kidney, the uriter, and the bladder. The anatomical unit in each of these creatures is the cell. Whether we are dealing with plants, animals, or humans, we meet with the same features; they all breathe, breed, die, and are born in the same way.
What is so strange, then, in asserting that the creator is one? Does he suffer from a deficiency to need completion? It is the imperfect only who multiply. If there were more than one god, they would fall among themselves, each taking his own creation to his side and the world would be ruined. To God is sublimity and compelling-attributes which brook no associates.
My friend mocked the concept of divinity (Robobyya) that we entertain. He wondered at that God who interfered in every-thing big or small mastering all creatures and "intimating to the bees to abide in mountains". No leaf falls but he knows of it and no fruit grows out of its bud He takes count of it. No female conceives and gives birth without his knowledge. It is he who causes the foot to stumble over a hole and the fly to fall in a plate of food. Even if the phone is dead or the rain doesn't fall or, conversely, if it pours down, He is behind all these events. "Don't you keep your god busy", asked my friend, "with too many trivial things under such conception of him as that?"
I don’t really understand my friend. Would god, in his opinion, be more of a divinity if He relieved himself of all responsibility and, turning his back to the world he created, left it unattended to destroy itself in conflicts? Is the true divinity in his estimation that idle, unconscious being who does not hear, see, or respond to his creatures and look after them? It is to be further asked: from what quarter did he know that certain affairs are important and serious enough to so deserve such attention?
The fly, which appeared to the enquirer so insignificant that it doesn't matter whether it falls in a plate of food or not, can change history with such an unimportant fall. It could thus infect an army with cholera giving victory to the other side and, consequently, totally altering the course of history. Wasn't Alexander the great killed by a mosquito? The most trivial premises can lead to the most serious consequences, whereas the most important beginnings can issue in nothing. The knower of the unseen alone realizes the value of everything.
It remains to be asked whether my friend has set himself up as a trustee over God defining his prerogatives for Him; our Lord is most holy and high above such a naïve conception.
The god worthy of divinity is he whose knowledge comprehends all; who misses not one atom either in earth or sky.
He is God, the All-Hearing, and the Responder, the mindful of his creatures.