Another rebuttal. This time to statements made by Zakir Naik.
“An atheist on the other hand, even though he may belong to a religious family, uses his intellect to deny the existence of God; whatever concept of qualities of god he may have learnt in his religion may not seem to be logical to him.”
- Atheists don’t deny the existence of a deity, we reject the claim that a deity exists, and several on different basis. Myself, on the basis of being a lack of evidence indicative of a deity and poor definitions which don’t support the case.
- To point out the difference between denying something and rejecting something, allow me to draw the distinction
- In order to deny something, it must first be proven. For example, when somebody is proven guilty of a crime, such as murder, close family will usually deny it, whatever their basis may be, sometimes justified, sometimes not justified.
- In order to reject a claim, it can either be proven or unproven, although, generally, it is unproven.
- So, maybe we’ll see why Naik thinks atheists deny the existence of a deity.
- Not all atheists. I’ll point out the distinction between the two types of atheists
- Weak atheists, who lack a belief in any deities
- Strong atheists, who believe that no deities exist
- So to say that all believe that there is no god is a misrepresentation or misunderstanding on his part.
- There is another qualifier that you’ll see with the words theist and atheist, and those are gnostic and agnostic. On that subject: Atheist vs Agnostic
- And the question can also be directed at theists, and on the same basis. “What are the traits, characteristics, and qualifiers for an entity to be considered a deity?” After all, if you make the claim that a deity exists, you’ll need to qualify what a deity is, and what you have which indicates the existence of what you regard as a deity. It is for this reason that the term ignostic was developed.
- Now, by this point, you might be wondering why I use the word deity instead of god. Its because the word god can be used capitalized, or in lower case, and when speaking, it is impossible to make that distinction. I’ve seen apologists define their “god” to be more along the lines of the deistic god to make a case for their deity, and then upon proving their deity to their audience, will go on to say that it is their deity, playing on the inability for people to tell which one they mean. I use deity because it can’t be used in such a manner. Should somebody read this, I don’t intend to have them able to misrepresent the meaning by using whatever meaning they wish to employ.
- In the case that somebody decides to ask me what I regard as a deity, I’m not that picky. I generally define it as any supernatural entity which is not given another title (ex: ghost, jinn, demon, angel, etc).
- Just about every deity, including the one in the Koran, have human traits and exaggerations of human traits. Some, such as Zeus, posses exaggerated behavior traits of people. Some, such as Allah, possess the characteristics that are like the exaggeration of a dictator (one can torture for a finite amount of time, while the other can torture for an infinite amount of time).
- The human qualities and features a deity may posses do not change if it exists or not. So to say that it is because of the human features that atheists don’t believe in such a deity is likely a misrepresentation or misunderstanding on Naik.
- Personally, I don’t really give a crap about the details about a religion. If a significant aspect of a religion is valid (ex: existence of an afterlife, practice of chanting a mantra), and the rest isn’t (ex: other beliefs and practices), the details that aren’t can be changed to become better. But, lets look at one of the details for a second.
- “A religion which contradicts science” How religions such as Islam and how science come to their conclusions contradict. Science requires a few things, such as evidence, verification through repeated experiments from multiple scientists (referred to as peer review), a means of testing and falsifying a claim, and always subject to ongoing revision pending new evidence. Whereas religion depends on arguments from authority (ex: its true because <insert name of deity/spirit> said its true), make claims that can’t be tested or falsified (ex: the existence of a spiritual realm) which are fundamental to the religion, require the use of logical fallacies (ex: most religious people use the appeal to fear/argument from force to convince people that their religion is right in the form of Pascal’s Wager), and are rarely, if ever, subject to revision as a result of new evidence.
“Even I reject such a false picture of Islam, but at the same time, it becomes my duty as a Muslim to present the correct picture of Islam to that non-Muslim i.e. Islam is a merciful religion, it gives equal rights to the women, it is not incompatible with logic, reason and science; if I present the correct facts about Islam, that non-Muslim may Inshallah accept Islam.
Similarly the atheist rejects the false gods and the duty of every Muslim is to present the correct concept of God which he shall Insha Allah not refuse.”
- I sincerely doubt the “merciful religion” statement, or any statement about it being peaceful for matter, on account of things such as this. A merciful or peaceful religion would not in any segment, condone activities like those described at the end.
- “it is not incompatible with logic, reason, and science” Notice how he didn’t say skepticism? There is a position that skepticism has for unproven claims such as the existence of the Abrahamic deity, and the various interpretations of that deity: disbelief.
- “if I present the correct facts about Islam, that non-Muslim may ishallah accept Islam.” “he shall Isha Allah not refuse.” There goes the freewill defense as a response to the problem of evil, and also makes the deity look malevolent with or without the problem of evil. I’ve been going over the freewill defense as a response to the problem of evil and plan on having a post on the subject sometime in the near future, so I’ll address why it is that it makes the deity look malevolent without the problem of evil through the use of an argument.
- A deity exists
- The deity set rules which govern behavior
- The deity makes decisions for people to carry out (if they will believe or not, break his rules or not, etc) (as indicated by isha allah. If not, it is questionable why such a phrase would have ever developed) which people cannot defy
- Hell exists
- Hell consists of eternal torment.
- Entering Hell is dependent upon not believing in the deity (premise 1) or breaking the rules that deity set (as mentioned in premise 2)
- Conclusion: If premises 1-2 are valid, then the deity in question governs morality. No commentary based on the Euthyphro dilemma will be presented. If premise 3 is valid, free will does not exist as people cannot defy the decisions made by the deity for them to commit. If premise 4 is valid, then hell is something to be avoided. If premise six is valid, there is a way to avoid going to Hell. If all premises are valid, then people have no say in if they are eternally tormented or not. If the deity of another religion were to proposed which did something similar or exactly the same as the deity in Islam, then I doubt any Muslim would view that deity as being benevolent.
“The methods of proving the existence of God with usage of the material provided in the ‘Concept of God in Islam’ to an atheist may satisfy some but not all.
Many atheists demand a scientific proof for the existence of God. I agree that today is the age of science and technology. Let us use scientific knowledge to kill two birds with one stone, i.e. to prove the existence of God and simultaneously prove that the Qur’an is a revelation of God.”
- Good to see that you’re playing my game.
“If a new object or a machine, which no one in the world has ever seen or heard of before, is shown to an atheist or any person and then a question is asked, Who is the first person who will be able to provide details of the mechanism of this unknown object? After little bit of thinking, he will reply, ‘the creator of that object.’ Some may say ‘the producer’ while others may say ‘the manufacturer.’ What ever answer the person gives, keep it in your mind, the answer will always be either the creator, the producer, the manufacturer or some what of the same meaning, i.e. the person who has made it or created it. Don’t grapple with words, whatever answer he gives, the meaning will be same, therefore accept it.
- The problem with it is that what is being discussed is an object or machine. We know that machines are generally designed with an intended purpose (some are just contraptions meant to see if something is plausible), and if functional towards that purpose, will demonstrate something that can be used to determine what it is (for example, a means of lift and propulsion would suggest a vehicle for flight).
- In the case of a new object, if it is the product of a naturalistic process which nobody was involved in (say the formation of coal prior to its discovery and use as a fuel source), in which case nobody would know anything about it other than what can be determined by looking at it (such as colour)
- And in either case, on account of “which no one in the world has ever seen or heard of before,” there is another acceptable answer to the question “Who is the first person who will be able to provide details of the mechanism of this unknown object?” is to say that nobody knows anything about it yet, so the first person who would be able to provide details about it would likely be among the first people to study it, depending on how much can be learned about it at the time it is discovered. I now ask anybody reading this to elaborate upon “Don’t grapple with words, whatever answer he gives, the meaning will be same, therefore accept it.” because as I’ve just shown, I can provide an answer without resorting to the use of “creator, the producer, the manufacturer or some what of the same meaning.” which defies what Naik has said (“What ever answer the person gives, keep it in your mind, the answer will always be either the creator, the producer, the manufacturer or some what of the same meaning, i.e. the person who has made it or created it. Don’t grapple with words, whatever answer he gives, the meaning will be same, therefore accept it.”).
- There is one point which is dependent upon that question, so I’ll break from the order and address that one before getting around to the rest of it. The portion which is skipped is more or less irrelevant to the next point that I’ll make, as it is dependent upon the belief that there was foreknowledge in the Quran.
- Or the first people to have studied it. Using that consideration, it is possible that through the use of the Quran, that the existence of extraterrestrials or people having made similar conclusions prior to that time which were available in the region during the seventh century through some means or another, can be proven.
- Just playing on the theme of extraterrestrials being a potential explanation, I just want to show a few things that can be used. As much as I hate their cult, Scientologists might love me for this next part, and as much as I regard their ideas as an appeal to ignorance, ancient astronaut theorists might enjoy it.
- It is possible that through the use of some sort of technology, the knowledge could’ve been communicated to Mohammad, such as shown in Battlefield Earth, therefore, avoiding the common “But he was illiterate” defense used to discount statements which discredit the claims of foreknowledge found in the Quran by attributing the statements found in other places which might have influenced what was known in the area.
- Should anybody ask “If that happened, why didn’t he write about it?” it could be that he was put into a hypnotic state in which his memories were suppressed or altered.
- It would explain why similar ideas (such as the association of the sky and high places with deities in many current and former religions) are found all over the world, with similar claims of knowledge prior to their discovery found in other religions, such as Hinduism.
- The advantage to the alien explanation is that it is falsifiable (if we don’t find any evidence of an intelligent species travelling to Earth, or at the very least, evidence of the existence of another intelligent species having existed somewhere in the universe after looking extensively) it can be said that the aliens might not have existed. Many of the definitions of god aren’t falsifiable.
- With those criteria, L. Ron Hubbard was a prophet because he predicted the existence of machines which force knowledge upon people, and the existence of aliens with that type of technology. Now, go down to your local church of scientology and get an audit today. Where can I get the sarcastica font again?
- Okay, onto the segment I skipped.
“At the time when the Qur’an was revealed, people thought the world was flat, there are several other options for the shape of the earth. It could be triangular, it could be quadrangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, heptagonal, octagonal, spherical, etc. Lets assume there are about 30 different options for the shape of the earth. The Qur’an rightly says it is spherical, if it was a guess the chances of the guess being correct is 1/30.”
The light of the moon can be its own light or a reflected light. The Qur’an rightly says it is a reflected light. If it is a guess, the chances that it will be correct is 1/2 and the probability that both the guesses i.e the earth is spherical and the light of the moon is reflected light is 1/30 x 1/2 = 1/60.
Further, the Qur’an also mentions every living thing is made of water. Every living thing can be made up of either wood, stone, copper, aluminum, steel, silver, gold, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, oil, water, cement, concrete, etc. The options are say about 10,000. The Qur’an rightly says that everything is made up of water. If it is a guess, the chances that it will be correct is 1/10,000 and the probability of all the three guesses i.e. the earth is spherical, light of moon is reflected light and everything is created from water being correct is 1/30 x 1/2 x 1/10,000 = 1/60,000 which is equal to about .0017%.
- Even though that looks like a small number, keep in mind, .0017% does not equal impossibility.
- But you see, this is why the the section I skipped is irrelevant: Now, even if I presented how somebody at that time could’ve known those things, and you can argue against the idea of people knowing or thinking things prior to the time that the Koran was written, you still have a more plausible, testable, and falsifiable claim that can be justified through the same basis used to conclude that it must be a deity. If you can’t provide a method for testing the existence of and falsifying the claim that a deity exists, or go one step further to provide a method for testing and falsifying the claim that a deity with all of the characteristics of Allah exists, the claim of aliens having given Mohammad his information has being testable and falsifiable in its favor.
“Let me remind you that the Qur’an is not a book of Science, ‘S-C-I-E-N-C-E’ but a book of Signs ‘S-I-G-N-S’ i.e. a book of ayaats.”
- Given the implications of the book, my standards just went up. By saying that its a book of signs, I’m more inclined to be skeptical of it, especially with things like eternal torment on the line.
The Qur’an contains more than 6,000 ayaats, i.e. ‘signs’, out of which more than a thousand speak about Science.
- So 1/6 of the signs are related to science. If that really were the case, then it would be sufficient to say that it is a book of science and signs, in which case, the degree to which I am skeptical of the Koran when investigating claims regarding it has gone up.
I am not trying to prove that the Qur’an is the word of God using scientific knowledge as a yard stick because any yardstick is supposed to be more superior than what is being checked or verified. For us Muslims the Qur’an is the Furqan i.e. criteria to judge right from wrong and the ultimate yardstick which is more superior to scientific knowledge.
- So the criteria to judge right from wrong. I find it remarkable then that the search “Zakir Naik Quran Science” gets 1.38 million results, whereas “Zakir Naik Quran Morality” gets about 841,000 results, and “Zakir Naik Quran right wrong” gets 58,000 results, while, finally, “Zakir Naik Quran Furqan” gets just over 60,000 results. It seems to me that Zakir Naik is saying one thing, and doing another, through focusing on the science and neglecting the part which he regards as “more superior” to scientific knowledge.
“But for an educated man who is an atheist, scientific knowledge is the ultimate test which he believes in. We do know that science many a times takes ‘U’ turns,”
- On the basis of new evidence which requires that we reevaluate our current understanding and ideas.
“therefore I have restricted the examples only to scientific facts which have sufficient proof and evidence and not scientific theories based on assumptions.”
- I take it he doesn’t know what a scientific theory is. It means something very different from the standard use.
“Using the ultimate yardstick of the atheist, I am trying to prove to him that the Qur’an is the word of God and it contains the scientific knowledge which is his yardstick which was discovered recently, while the Qur’an was revealed 1400 year ago.”
- And you proved to me that the Quran is the word of aliens. I’d praise Xenu if I had the money to do it, so I’ll praise Spock.
“At the end of the discussion, we both come to the same conclusion that God though superior to science, is not incompatible with it.”
- Remember what I said about science depending on claims being testable and falsifiable? Demonstrate that the claim that Allah exists is falsifiable, and you would have a deity that is compatible with science. Pending that, you don’t. With the metaphysical claims regarding the existence of the deity, it would be incompatible with a significant aspect of science known as methodological naturalism.
Francis Bacon, the famous philosopher, has rightly said that a little knowledge of science makes man an atheist, but an in-depth study of science makes him a believer in God. Scientists today are eliminating models of God, but they are not eliminating God. If you translate this into Arabic, it is La illaha illal la, There is no god, (god with a small ‘g’ that is fake god) but God (with a capital ‘G’).
- Neil DeGrasse Tyson, take it away.
- “are eliminating models of god, but they are not eliminating god.” I just have to ask, how would scientists be able to test to see if a deity exists so that they can falsify the claims?
“Soon We will show them our signs in the (farthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that thy Lord doth witness all things?”
- Do a better job of it next time