Featured The Existence of God

Existence of God

Existence of God (Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad) Of all the doctrines and beliefs, that have been subjected to in this age of materialism, the greatest is the belief in the existence of God. The idolater sets up other gods with God, but he believes at least in the existence of God. The atheist, however, denies the very existence of the Supreme Being. As in the present day science everything is based on observation, hence the demand of the Atheist is: If there is a God, show Him to us. How can we believe in Him without seeing Him? As Western influences have gone a long way towards effacing from the hearts of many young men the imprint of the Divine Being and hundreds of college students, barristers, etc., have begun to deny the existence of God, and there are thousands of persons, who, through refraining from an open declaration of their views through fear of the community, have really no faith in Him, therefore I made up my mind to write a small article on the subject that haply some lucky soul may be benefited by it. The first demand which an atheist makes is that if you show God to us, we will believe in Him. I have heard this demand many times and I have always heard it with astonishment. Man knows different things by means of different senses. Some things we know by means of seeing, some by touching, some by smelling, some by hearing and some by tasting. A colour is known by seeing, not by smelling, touching or tasting. If anybody says that he will acknowledge a colour only if he is made to hear the sound of it, will not such a man be regarded as a fool? Similarly, fragrance, is known by means of smelling. Now, if anybody says that he will take a rose to be fragrant only if he is made to taste its fragrance, will such a person be regarded as wise? On the other hand, if anybody seeks to know by smelling things which can be known by tasting such as sourness, sweetness, bitterness and saltiness, he will never be able to do so. So it is not right that we should accept those things only which we can behold with our eyes and disbelieve those things which are not cognizable by the eye. If it be right to do so, then we shall have to deny the fragrance of the rose, the sourness of the lemon, the sweetness of honey, the bitterness of gall, the hardness of iron and the melodiousness of sound, for these are things which we cannot perceive with the aid of the eye. How absurd is then the demand EXISTENCE OF GOD 7 that God must be shown to us before we believe in Him? Do those who make such a demand believe in the fragrance of the rose or sweetness of honey because they have seen it? Why do they then, in the case of the Supreme Being, propose the seeing of God as a necessary condition of their accepting Him? Moreover, there are certain things in man himself the existence of which he recognises without having seen them. Does man believe in his heart, liver, brain, bowels, lungs and spleen after having seen them? If these things be taken out of his body to be shown him he will die before he has time to look on them. I have given these illustrations in order to show that we do not know all things merely by seeing but that they are known by means of five different senses. Now I will show that there are many things which are not knowable even by the five senses, there being another way of knowing them. For instance reason, memory and intelligence are things which are not denied by anybody in the world but nobody has ever seen, heard, tasted, smelt or touched them. How did we then seem to know that there is such a thing as reason, or memory or intelligence? Or take energy for instance, which is possessed more or less, by every person whether weak or strong. But has anybody ever seen, smelt, touched, or tasted energy? Even the simplest man can see that we have not known these things by means of five senses, but that there are other evidences that have led us to a knowledge of their existence. For instance, we see that when man is confronted with a difficulty he thinks for a while and then devises a plan by which he is able to solve his difficulty. When saw difficulties being removed in this way, we concluded that there was something in man which was of service to him on such occasions and we called it reason. Thus we did not become aware of the existence of reason directly through the five senses, but we obtained a knowledge of it by means of its wonderful manifestations. Similarly, when we saw that man was able to carry heavy loads, and that some men could carry heavier weights than others, we inferred that there was a capacity in man which enabled him to bear these burdens and which some persons possessed more than others. This capacity was called strength, but we have seen the deeds that are done by strength, and from these we have concluded that there is in man something by which he can carry burdens and exercise a control over weaker objects. This something is called power or strength. Thus we find that the more subtle a thing is, the more hidden it is from the human eye and it is by their actions and not by the senses of seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, or touching that we perceive the existence of such things. But God is subtlest of all things. How unjust is it then to say that we cannot believe in the existence of God unless He is shown to us. Has anybody ever seen electricity? But can we then deny the transmission of messages and signals to long distances, lighting and the working of machinery by means of electricity? The discovery of either has brought about a revolution in the O REVIEW OF RELIGIONS domain of physical science, but has any scientist been able to find it by means of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling or touching? But if we deny its existence, we find ourselves unable to explain how the rays of the sun reach the Earth. How unjust is then the demand that in order to believe in God must be visible to the eye, while there are so many things which are believed in but they are not visible to the eye or perceptible by any other of the five senses. God is visible but only to the eyes that are capable of seeing Him. But if anybody is desirous of seeing Him, He is before the whole world through His powers and in spite of His being hidden, He is the most apparent of all. This fact has been briefly but very exquisitely mentioned in the Holy Quran in the following words; “Eyes cannot reach Him but He reaches the eyes. And He is the Incomprehensible, the All-Aware.” (Ch. 6:104). In this verse, God draws the attention of man to the fact that this eye is not capable of seeing Him, for He is subtle and subtle things cannot be perceived by the eyes. What then is the way of knowing God? He answers this question by saying; “but He reaches the eyes”, i.e., though the eye of man is not capable of seeing Him, yet He reveals Himself to man by a display of His powers and by a manifestation of His attributes. Manifold are the ways in which He reveals Himself to man. He displays His unlimited power sometimes by terror-striking signs, sometimes through prophets, sometimes by signs of mercy and sometimes by accepting prayer. Having shown that if God is to be believed in only if He be perceptible by the eye, the we shall have to deny the existence of all things if we accept as true the view of certain philosophers that nobody can see the substance of anything in the world and that it is only the form that we see. I now turn to the evidences which establish the existence of God and show that man has a Creator and is not his own Creator. Believing as we do that the Holy Quran has pointed out all the ways of attaining to spiritual perfection, I will draw all my arguments from the Holy Qur’an. As the first knowledge of which a man obtains after he comes into the world is obtained through the ear, therefore, I too will begin with an argument which relates to the ear. The Holy Quran says; “Verily, he, indeed, will prosper who purifies himself, And remembers the name of his Lord and offers Prayers. But you prefer the life of this world, Whereas the Hereafter is better and more lasting. This, indeed, is (what is taught) in the former Scripture of Abraham and Moses.” Ch. 87:15-20. In these verses felicity and prosperity is promised to those who become pure and who not only make a verbal admission of the existence of God but give a proof of their belief in Him by worshipping Him, but men give a preference to the life of the present world while the final welfare is a real and EXISTENCE OF GOD 9 enduring one. The verses further add that this truth is found not only in the Holy Quran but also in all the previous Scriptures, e.g., in the Books of Abraham and Moses. In these verses we are told that true felicity is enjoyed by those who purify themselves and not only believe in God but also obey Him, and in proof of this statement attention is drawn to the fact that this teaching is common to all the religions of the world. The chief people with whom the Holy Prophet had to deal were the Jews, the Christians and the people of Mecca. The former two peoples both believe in Moses, while all the three believed in Abraham and therefore to bring the truth home to them they were told that the same teaching was given by Moses and Abraham and therefore they were bound to accept it as true. Thus we see that one of the chief arguments of the existence of God given by the Holy Quran is this that all the religions of the world concur in holding that there is a BEING Who created the whole universe. Changes do occur in the beliefs and doctrines of a people owing to changed circumstances and conditions, yet notwithstanding this, all historical religions of the world agree in believing in the existence of God, though there may be some difference of opinion to His attributes. The religions that are extant, such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism, all believe in God Who is known as Allah, Elohim, Parmeshwar, Parmatma, Sat Guru or Yazdan, and as regards to the religions that have now become extinct whether they appeared in the isolated land of America, or in Rome, or the deserts of Africa, or England, Java, Sumatra, Japan, China, Siberia, or Manchuria, the traces that we still find of these religions all point to a belief in the SUPREME BEING. How did this agreement of religions come about and who it was who informed the natives of China of the belief of the negroes of the Sahara of Africa, and the natives of America of the beliefs of the Indian people? In ancient times the people of the world did not possess these means of communication which they possess now, and the intercourse that the inhabitants of distant lands now have with one another was non-existent in days gone by. There were large tracts of land that were unexplored and large continents that were yet undiscovered. Then how did it come to pass that people that were so wide apart from one another, and were so different in their habits, customs and tastes, all agreed on this belief? It is difficult even for two men to agree on a self-invented fiction. Is not then the occurrence of so many different peoples who had no means of communicating their thoughts to one another on the belief in the SUPREME BEING a conclusive evidence of the existence of God being a FACT? All historians agree in holding that a question on which all the historians of different nations occur must be taken as a fact. Now when thousands of people are of one mind as to the EXISTENCE OF GOD, why should we not conclude that the existence of God is a fact? The second argument of the existence of God given by the Holy Quran is contained in the following verse:— 10 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS “And that is Our argument We gave to Abraham against his people, We exalt in degree of rank whomso We please. Thy Lord is indeed Wise, All-Knowing. And We gave him Isaac and Jacob, each did We guide aright, and Noah did We guide aright aforetime, and of his progeny, David and Solomon and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron. Thus do We reward those who do good. And We (guided) Zachariah and John and Jesus and Elias; each of them was of the righteous. And We also guided Ishmael and Elisha and Jonah and Lot, and each one of them did We exalt above the people. And We exalted some of their fathers and their children and their brethren, and We chose them and We guided them in the straight path. . . . These it is whom Allah guided aright, so follow thou their guidance.” (6:84-91). In these verses God requires us to consider whether we should follow that which so many good and pious persons bear witness or that which is said by other ignorant persons whose character can not stand comparison with that of the personages named. It is clear that weight must be attached to the witness of those persons who proved their virtue, purity, abstinence from sin, and truthfulness by their conduct and practice. So it is the duty of every person to follow them in preference to others. And we see all those who propagate virtue and morals and whose righteousness was universally acknowledged on account of their good deeds, bear witness to the existence of a Being who has been called Zoroaster in ancient Persia, Moses in Egypt, Jesus at Nazareth, Nanak in the Punjab and the chief of the righteous, the Holy Prophet of Arabia, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who when still young won the title of Al-Amin (the Truthful) and whose adversaries failed to cast a slur on his conduct when he referred them to his unsullied character by saying, “I dwelt among you for a long time before this, will you not then understand?” (10:17), these and thousands of other righteous men who have lived on this Earth all declare with one voice that there is a God, nay, they even claim to have seen Him and to have talked with Him. The greatest philosopher that has ever lived on this earth cannot claim to have accomplished even a thousandth part of the work done by the least of this holy band. On comparing the lives of the holy Messengers of God with those of the philosophers, it is more words than deeds that we come across in the lives of the latter. How can the philosophers show that truthfulness and sincerity which has been shown by the prophets? The former preach truth but do not practise it. On the other hand, the holy personages whose names I have mentioned above suffered thousands of hardships merely for their loyalty to truth but they were never thrown off their balance. Plots were made to murder them, they were turned out of their homes, and were scoffed at in the streets and bazaars, and the whole world severed its connection with them, yet they stuck fast to their purpose and never sought refuge in dissimulating EXISTENCE OF GOD 11 from the tyranny of their persecutors. Their conduct, their abhorrence of worldliness and their aversion to display establish their disinterestedness and show that they never did anything from selfish motives. Now such sincere and trustworthy personages all declare with one voice that they have seen God, have listened to His voice, and have witnessed His glory. What reason have we then to reject their unanimous testimony? When a number of men whom we daily hear speaking falsely agree in making a statement, we have no choice but to accept it as true. When men, of whose characters we are quite ignorant, publish their investigation in the columns of newspapers, we readily believe in them. But alas; when men of established integrity and admitted sincerity such as the prophets are, unanimously testify in the existence of God, we disbelieve them. People say, London is a city, and we believe it. The geographers say, America is a continent and we believe it. The travellers say, Siberia is a vast, barren land and we do not deny it. Why, because many people have testified of these things, and this notwithstanding the fact we are ignorant of the character of our informants and do not know whether they are liars or truthful persons. But those who testify of the existence of God on the basis of their personal knowledge are men whose truthfulness and honesty are clear as the mid-day sun. They establish truth at the cost of their property, their homes, their honour, and even their lives. How can it be fair to believe these travellers and geographers and disbelieve these truthful of a number of persons, and sincere men. If the existence of a city can be proved on the testimony why can not the existence of God be said to be established on the testimony of thousands of truthful and sincere persons. In short, we can by no means reject the testimony of thousands of upright and righteous persons who claim to be eye-witnesses to the existence of the Divine Being. It is strange that those who have devoted themselves to the acquisition of knowledge of things spiritual declare that there is a God while those who are quite strangers to spirituality say, “Do not believe the prophets, but believe us”. Even if there are two equally trustworthy witnesses, preference will of course be given to the testimony of him who says he has seen such and such a thing and not to that of the other who says he has not seen it, for it is possible that the eye of the latter may have not fallen on the object in question, but it is inconceivable that one may have not seen a thing and may have fancied he was seeing it. Thus we are bound to give preference to the testimony of those who claim to have seen God. The third argument of the existence of God to which the Holy Qur’an points is that the very nature of the man is an evidence of God’s existence. For, there are certain sins at which the very nature of man recoils. For instance, even the most irreverent atheists will abstain from incest and falsehood and will have nothing to do with excrement, urine and other filths. Why is this so? If there is no God, why does he distinguish between his mother, sister, daughter, and other women? Why does he hate lying? What 12 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS are the reasons for which the foregoing deeds appear loathsome in his eyes? If he does not stand in awe of some Higher Power, why does he shun these deeds? Lying and truthfulness, justice and injustice should be the same to him. Everything should depend on his pleasure and he should be at liberty to do whatever his heart desires. What law is there that is controlling his passion? It is God that is governing him. His throne lies on the heart. An atheist may pretend to have outstepped the bounds of the kingdom of God, but it is impossible for him to out-leap the bounds of the God-made nature. His abstinence from sin or his reluctance to disclose his sin shows that heart is possessed of the fear of being called to account by a King, though he pretends to deny His sovereignty. God says in the Holy Quran, “Nay, I swear by the Day of Ressurrection. Nay, I swear by the serf-accusing soul, that the Day of Judgment is a certainty.” (75:2, 3.) In this verse two things are adduced of the existence of God and of the great Day of Judgment. The first evidence is to be found in the fact that for everything there is appointed a judgment day when rewards or punishments are meted out accordingly as the deeds are good or evil. If there is no God, why are punishments and rewards dealt out in this very life? This portioning out of punishment and rewards is also an object-lesson for those who deny the Last Judgment Day, for it shows that the judgment begins from this world. Illicit intercourse gives rise to syphilis and gonorrhoea, while intercourse with one’s wife does not give rise to these infernal diseases, though the action in both cases is the same. The second evidence is the admonishing soul or conscience which upraids a person for his evil deeds. Even an atheist regards adultery and lying as evil and will not approve of vanity and envy. But why? The atheists have no law. They disapprove of these things instinctively, and they do so because they have a fear of being called to account by a Supreme Ruler, although they are unable to express it in words, to the same effect, God says, “And He revealed to it (soul) the ways of evil and the ways of righteousness.” (91:9.) i.e. God has inspired every soul with what is evil and what is virtuous. Thus the very sensibility of good and evil is a very strong evidence of the existence of God. If there is no God, there is no reason why one thing should be held as evil and another thing as good. On the other hand people should be at liberty to do what they please. The fourth argument of the existence of God adducable from the Holy Qur’an is this; “And that with they Lord is the final judgment (i.e. the whole system of cause and effect ends with God). And that it is He who makes people laugh and makes them weep; And that it is He who causes death and gives life; And that He creates the pairs male and female, From a sperm-drop when it is emitted.” (53:43-47.) In these verses God draws the attention of man to the fact that every action must have an agent and therefore if we ponder over the whole universe, we shall be led to the conclusion that God is the end of all things and that it is He Who is directing the universe. Directing our EXISTENCE OF GOD 13 attention to our initial condition, He reminds that it is from seed that we are created and that the more backward we go, we find ourselves more and more insignificant. How can we then under these circumstances be our own creators? There can be no creation without a creator and man cannot be his own creator, for, when we consider his condition, we find that it is from a very humble and lowly state that he rises upwards. When he is unable to create in his advanced state, how could he create when he was a very insiginificant thing? Thus we are forced to the conclusion that he has been created by someone else whose powers are unlimited and unbounded. The further we go back tracing the gradual development become more and more subtle and at last a stage is reached when human knowledge fails and science declines to go further. It is there that the hand of God is working. Every scientist had to admit that the end of all things is a Being Who is incomprehensible by reason and that Being is God. This is such a clear evidence of the existence of God that the dullest man can easily understand it. It is said that some one asked a Beduin “How do you know that there is a God?” He replied, “When I see the dung of a camel lying on the ground, I conclude that a camel has been there. When I see this big universe, how can I not know that it must have a creator?” In fact this answer is very true and consistent with the nature of man. If a person thinks over this huge creation, he has no choice but to accept the existence of a Being Who brought this universe into being. Like Two Friends Two friends can continue their friendship only if at times each of them does what the other says and at times each of them agrees to what the other does. If one of them always insists on the other doing whatever he says, the friendship will not last long. This is the case with God and man. At times God listens to what the man says and blesses him with His Grace and at other times man accepts patiently whatever God has destined for him. (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad — the Promised Messiah)