The Origins of the Universe

Cosmology and the Quran

COSMOLOGY AND THE QURAN (Sayyed Mahmood Ahmad) Lord, bestow upon me an increase of knowledge. (Quran 20:115) Are you in doubt concerning Allah, Maker of the heavens and the earth? (Quran 14:11) JN SEARCH OF ANSWERS It is a clear, still night. Stone Age man lies on the ground beside the orange glowing embers of a primitive fire which has long since burned out. He looks up from the fireglow to the boundless canopy above. He sees infinite darkness. His glance becomes a gaze and as it does, tiny specks of light appear. There seems to be a particularly bright one at the edge of his vision. His eyes move to focus on it, but it is gone and in its stead appears a whole new multitude of white points of light on the periphery of his vision. He looks elsewhere at this perfect covering above and yet more lights appear, until he realizes that the heavens which had been pitch dark only a moment ago, are now littered all over with dots of light. His heart fills with wonder and curiosity. Twentieth Century man sits in his garden on a warm, cloudless night. His gaze, also, is a prisoner of the enchanting panorama above. He too feels the wonder and admiration of his ancestors, only the curiosity is replaced by its satisfaction, and a new curiosity. The progress of science and technology has informed him that the beauty of the night sky is due to the existence of stars, millions of them in the Milky Way galaxy, emitting light in all directions, some of which reaches the earth after having travelled through space for many years. He knows that it is this light which, on reaching the eye from all the stars strewn across the galaxy, produces this seemingly unrelated but wonderful feeling of awe and admiration inside him. This then, is the satisfaction of his ancestors’ curiosity but it has only given way to another question. How did it all come into being? Is there a purpose to its existence? SCIENCE VERSUS RELIGION Throughout the ages, science and religion have ever been at loggerheads with each other on this issue. There have been times when 4 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS religious thought has been .dominant, then some new scientific discovery has challenged old established ideas and after encountering some opposition, has itself been taken up at the cost of the religious ideas. After a time, science has failed to answer a certain question, and religion has once again been reverted to and re-recognised as the Ultimate Solution. Thus we see in history, a cycle of beliefs about the universe, shifting between scientific and religious reasoning. Because of this, a certain hostility has arisen between science and religion which has raised its head’from time to time. Right up to the Middle Ages, belief in Aristotle and Ptolemy was the bedrock of social stability. They had both taught that the earth, was the centre of the universe; that all the planets and the sun moved eternally around the earth. The Church supported this view strongly, as it placed man at the centre of creation. On 1st May 1514, a priest called Nicklaus Kopernig better known today as Copernicus, had studied astronomy and questioned the entire Aristotelian system and suggested a sun-centred system with a moving earth. The scheme met the requirements of philosophical and theological beliefs in circular motion prevalent then, but in every other respect however, struck at the heart of Aristotelian and religious belief. He removed the earth from the centre of the universe and so from the focus of God’s purpose. In the new scheme, man was no longer the creature for whose use and elucidation the cosmos had been created. The earliest attacks came from the Protestant Church. The general public soon followed but it was not long before Copernicus’s views were confirmed by observation and established. This then was the constant’state of affairs throughout history, science and religion locked in an apparent mortal conflict with each other. SCIENCE VERSUS RELIGION TODAY In the last century, however, the world has witnessed great change, dramatic upheavals in man’s way of thinking, in his moral and scientific values, and in his outlook on life. The world today presents an ironic spectacle of the highest progress in science and technology beyond man’s wildest dreams of even half a century ago. The pace of technological advancement and scientific discovery has been unbelieva- bly dynamic and overwhelming which working with immense accuracy and precision, scientists seek above all, to find flaws in their theories, an REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 5 attitude which necessitates progress. Scientific research is now intimately concerned with every aspect of life, from the. outer reaches of the cosmos, to the depths of the ocean. It is almost as if we have crossed the threshold into a new era – a scientific era. Men have been put on the moon and probes have been sent into deep space, ideas which would have been considered ridiculous fifty years ago. In the face of such scientific and social upheavals in the world, it would perhaps seem that religion has suffered. Atheism is widespread, agnosticism even more so. One could say that the rift between science and religion seems wider than ever. The conflict seems by no means to have disappeared. Indeed science seems to tell us that we are alone in the universe and that our beautiful world is a freak occurrence. The denigrators of the Genesis story are to be pitied for their taking an allegory on its superficial merit. The detractors of science are to be no less pitied for their having closed upon themselves major avenues of knowledge and truth. The whole thing is, at first sight, a very disappointing situation. The rift seems to be widening continually. New discoveries are made in science and people assume them to be challenges to religious teaching. A NEW PERSPECTIVE The truth of the matter is that there is no conflict between science and true religion. By true religion is meant the teachings and beliefs which have been revealed by God Himself and which are still available in their original and pure version, untampered by human desires and hands through the ages. This is a very Mportant point. I do not, at this point, wish to point to any particular faith prevalent in the world today. It must be emphasized however, that the passage of time brings about a general decline and corruption in things: people grow old, food rots, machinery rusts, bridges develop faults etc. The same is the case with religion. Unless provision is made for the preservation of the beliefs and teachings of a divinely revealed religion right from its birth, it will be subject to the same law of decay and in a few centuries will not be the same religion, it may have the same name and external characteristics but its scriptures may have become corrupted or the interpretations thereof may have become vastly different to those which were adhered to initially. Thus, the religion is no longer the same religion revealed by God; it is not true religion and therefore there. will be discrepancies between science and that religion. Perhaps this is what we are seeing 6 REVIEW OP REUGIONS today, a conflict between science and a corrupted form of religion. There can be no contradiction between the work of God and the Word of God. I am very conscious of the fact that I have suddenly begun to assume that the reader is a theist but it was necessary in order to show a very important point that which people today think of as being religion may not be of Divine origin at all, hence the conflict with science. It may once have been of Divine origin, but the interpolations and changes which may have crept in over the centuries may have made it a completely different religion altogether, making it no longer worthy of being attributed to God. That which is of Divine origin can easily be discerned by the most pleasing aura of consistency and compatibility which emerges when it is confronted by science. True religion will support and even complement science and the resonance resulting from their meeting will be so strong and so marked that science in turn will complement it, and all of its fresh discoveries and all of its new findings will be in complete concordance with the teachings of such a religion. Many people may laugh at this but it is only because they have not seen the beautiful harmony and the most pleasant rapport which emerges when science meets true religion. Figuratively speaking, one can almost perceive by the sweet fragrance which emerges on their meeting that this indeed is the true confrontation between science and religion. Once one experiences and witnesses this, then religion takes on a completely different meaning and one emerges from the flood of ignorance, as it were, to a newfound wisdom. A brief introduction to the Qur’an is necessary at this point. The Quran, the Muslim scripture, was revealed in the seventh century A.D. by God, to the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). It claims to be the Word of God a collection of the words which God spoke to Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The seventh century stood in a period which is now known as the Dark Ages, so called because it was a time of fighting and confusion. In these conditions the learning and the civilized ways of Rome, the Torchbearer of culture-and knowledge, were often lost. It was against such a background that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon hint) claimed that he had been sent as a Messenger from God. THE BIG BANG THEORY REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 7 Do not the disbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were a closed up mass, then We opened them out? And We made from water, every living thing. Will they not then believe? (Quran 21:13) It is universally accepted that about 15 billion years ago, none of the currently observed structures existed: no galaxies, no stars or planets, no atoms, not even nuclei. This remarkable conclusion rests upon major advances in astronomy this century. The first is the discovery by Edmin Hubble in the 1920’s that the entire universe is expanding in a systematic fashion, growing steadily in volume every day. The record discovery was made, accidentally in 1965 by two telecommunications engineers, Arno Peazias and Robert Wilson, that all space is filled with heat in the form of very low temperature thermal radiation. These two strands of evidence have been woven together to produce a persuasive argument that the Universe was born from- a titanic explosion. If the Universe is expanding today, it must have been shrunken in the past. Moreover the force of gravity between the galaxies is forever acting to restrain the expansion, causing it to slow down continually. It follows that long ago, the shrunken Universe was expanding faster than it is today. Extrapolating these trends backwards in time, one computes an epoch, between ten and twenty billion years ago, when the entire Universe that we now observe was exploding violently from an extremely dense condition. The heat generated from this so called Big Bang remains with us today, bathing the Universe. This fading glow of the primeval fire is the mystery radiation discovered by Penzias and Wilson. The present temperature of the cosmic radiation is about three degrees above absolute zero (—2 70 c). Assuming that the Universe exploded from a state of unlimited compression, a singularity, it follows that the temperature must have fallen from an infinite value at the instant of creation, to the meagre value it has at present. The fall in temperature hasn’t proceeded at a uniform rate, however, because the expansion during the primeval phase was explosively rapid it took only one second for the temperature to drop from infinity to ten billion degrees, a further one hundred seconds to drop to one billion degrees, three years before it dropped to one million degrees and a full hundred thousand years before the temperature was low enough for the 8 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS cosmic gases to stop glowing. This then is the Big Bang Theory put forward in the twentieth century. It is astonishing to think that mankind has had this knowledge for over a thousand years, albeit in a nutshell, recorded in a Book which claims Divine origin. What a wonderful coincidence that that which was revealed to Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) thirteen centuries ago has only in recent times been discovered by scientific reasoning. This is the true confrontation between science and religion and how wonderful is the beauty that is thereby produced. How can the Word of God conflict with His Work? In order to understand the Word of God we should study His Work and in order to understand the significance of His Work, we should study His Word. There is yet more wisdom in store. The verse ends with the question, Will they not then believe? Thus, the opening out of the heavens and the earth is being cited as evidence for the existence of a Creator. How does this fact constitute evidence for His existence? The answer once again has been provided by modern science. Scientists are fairly sure of what happened in the Big Bang but they are still at a loss as to what triggered it off. Where did the initial matter and energy come from? What caused the explosion? The idea that matter or energy can simply come into being from nothingness as a freak occurrence is very unconvincing and difficult to explain. The source from which the matter originated has been a stumbling block for many astronomers and scientists. Patrick Moore has said: When we come to consider how the Universe itself was created we run up against a blank wall. Hoyle has also stated: Matter simply appears — it is created. At one time the various atoms composing matter do not exist, and at a later time they do. It is difficult to envisage that science will ever be able to furnish a satisfactory answer to this burning question. The Qur’an teaches that God is the Creator of the Universe and that He is Omnipotent: He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a thing, He only says to it, ‘Be’, and it is. (2:118) REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 9 Allah has the power to do all that He wills.(2:107) And We have built the heavens with Our own Power, and verily We go on expanding(51:48) KINDS OF HEAVENLY BODIES: What is the matter with you that you expect not wisdom and greatness from Allah? And He has created you in different forms and different conditions. Have you not seen how Allah has created seven heavens in perfect harmony, and has placed the moon as a light and made the sun as a lamp? (Al-Quran 71:14-17) The ancients distinguished two kinds of heavenly bodies. The first were the stars which seemed to form fixed patterns in the sky, the constellations. The second kind were the seven wandering bodies comprising the sun, the moon and five bright planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The ancients noted that whereas the fixed stars did not change their relative positions the wandering bodies moved slowly from one constellation to another. Most early concepts of the Universe held the earth to be stationary. As early as the 6th century B.C. Greek scholars regarded the earth as a globe standing motionless in the centre of the Universe. They regarded the boundary of the Universe as a hollow sphere studded with stars on its inner surface. To account for the daily rising and setting of the stars they imagined that this celestial sphere completed one rotation daily about an inclined axis through the earth. The wandering bodies were presumed to move in the space between the celestial sphere and the earth. This was the generally accepted view of the Universe at the time the Qur’an was revealed. Then the Qur’an began to encourage its followers to study the movements of the heavenly bodies and to develop mathematics.: Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that you can see (Quran 13:3) He it is who made the sun radiate a brilliant light and the moon reflect a lustre, and ordained for it stages, that you might know the number of years and mathematics. Allah has not created this system but in accordance with the requirements of truth. He details the Signs for the people who have knowledge: Verily in the alternation of the night and the day, and in all that Allah has created in the heavens and the earth, there are Signs for a God fearing people (Quran 10:6,7) The sun is a globe of intensely hot gas, 864,000 miles in diameter and 10 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS about three hundred times as massive as the earth. Some stars are larger than the sun and some much smaller. The stars emit light of different wavelengths due to differing surface temperatures and relative velocities, hence they appear to be of different colours. Our galaxy contains about a hundred billion stars. It is a vast stellar system consisting of a spheroidal central region surrounded by a flat disc of stars about a hundred thousand light years in diameter. Our sun was regarded as the centre of the Universe until the early years of the twentieth century. We now know that the sun is situated at a distance of about 30,000 light years from the centre of the galaxy and makes one revolution around it every two hundred million years. The Quran says: And the sun is moving on the course prescribed for it. That is the decree of the Almighty the All-Knowing God. (Quran 36:39) The stars in the galaxy, and the planets in the solar system all move according to the same law of gravitaion. Newton had discovered that the motion of the moon around the earth is governed by the same force due to gravity which operates on the surface of the earth. The views about gravity may have changed from Newtonian concepts to Einstein’s theory of curved spacetime now, but still a glorious harmony and a wise, intelligent plan is discernible throughout the Universe. Attention is drawn to the excellent design and order in the Universe as follows: It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day. AR of them float smoothly, in an orbit. (Qur’an 36:41) The use of the word ‘float’ to describe the movement of the heavenly bodies is a beautifully apt allusion to the tenuous nature of the medium in which they move. Such wisdom could not possibly be the product of seventh century Arabia, steeped then in ignorance and darkness. Perhaps it is no wonder that the Arabs took to learning and education soon after the advent of Islam, so much so that they were at one time the torch bearers of scientific knowledge and culture when Europe was struggling in its Dark Ages. It is known that everything in the Universe, not just the sun and the planets, is spinning or revolving around a control point in the Universe. Such knowledge has been discovered only in the last century.: All of them float smoothly, in an orbit (34:61) THE MACROCOSM AND THE MICROCOSM REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 11 We move now somewhat into the realms of philosophy looking at the infinite boundlessness of the Universe and the philosophical implications of asserting that the Universe, in all its unfathomable eternity, is a manifestation of God’s power and how man, in his perfection, is the Universe in microcosm. The Universe exists in an ocean of space. As we gaze into the night sky, the infiniteness of the Universe is only too apparent. The Quran and science both tell us that the Universe is expanding which implies that there is an ‘edge’ to the Universe, a limit to its dimensions. ‘It must come to an end somewhere but what would there be at the end? If there is energy, matter, then it must be occupying space so it cannot be the end of the Universe. If on the other hand, there is nothing, then still the end of the Universe has hot been reached since most of the Universe is nothingness, a vacuum. The domain and function of the Universe is beyond the comprehension of-the human mind to fathom. Somewhere in the depths of space exists the most distant of all the stars but its location is beyond the range of the most delicate scientific instruments used for probing into the universe. The distance of the stars from us and from themselves are so great that they cannot be measured in miles, but in light years, the distance light travels in one year. The speed of light is 186000 miles per second and the nearest star is four and a quarter light years away, approximately twenty five million million miles. In trying to comprehend such a distance, the brain becomes severely taxed yet this distance is negligible compared to the greater astronomical distances which separate us from the stars in the remote regions of the heavens. The best light telescope of today can see and phtograph star clusters four thousand million light years away, and radio telescopes six thousand million light years away. Those overwhelming distances bewilder and stagger our finite human minds. (LIFE SUPREME by E.A. Orchard). Islam teaches that all this is but a manifestation of the power of God. The Light of Allah pervades the entire Universe. His Being, His Attributes are reflected and discernible in His creation. This is not to say, as some religions teach, that the Universe itselt is God, but rather that it is nothing more than a manifestation of His Power through which His eternal attributes are ever-visible. If the mind boggling expanse of the whole Universe is nothing more than a manifestation of God’s Power, then how unimaginably overwhelming must be the Being of God 12 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Himself? The possibilities which arise in the mind when one ponders over this point are truly staggering and awe-inspiring. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him and He is the Mighty, the Wise. (59:25). For this reason among others we are constantly and emphatically exhorted in the Quran to study the sciences and nature as a means of starting to understand the Divine Being. The stamp of the creation is impressed upon His creation: In the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the day there are indeed Signs for men of understanding; those who remember Allah while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides,’ and ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth, Our Lord, Thou hast’ not created this in vain; nay, Holy art Thou…. (3:191,192). The Universe is so infinitely vast, and in the spiritual Universe the being of God is ever more infinite and incomprehensible. In our solar system, the sun radiates light all the time but at night it is invisible because our side of the globe is hidden from it. Yet we are made aware of the fact that the sun is still there because we see its reflected, albeit inferior light in the moon and the planets. .Similarly in the spiritual system, when the world is in darkness, God is manifested through His chosen servants—human beings who reflect divine light in the same way that the moon and planets reflect the sun’s light. History furnishes us with many such examples. Islam teaches that all the founders of the major world religions were such chosen people who, in times of moral and intellectual turpitude were sources of divine light and wisdom. The reflected light of the moon and the planets cannot possibly be compared with the supreme light of the sun, nor should the moon be mistaken for the sun itself. Similarly the divine light which the Prophets reflect, is absolutely nothing compared to the original, great source of light, nor should the Prophets be mistaken for God Himself. The planets never deviate from their orbital path, neither do the Prophets from the path of nature. The sun is the master of the solar system. Life on earth depends among other things on solar radiation. Were there no sun, there would not exist a vestige of life on this planet. The earth would be a frozen ball hurtling through the immensity of space, and so would the other planets. The sun can function without its family of attendant orbs but they cannot function without the sun. The sun is the master of the solar REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 13 system. Likewise God is Master of the Universe. Lord of all the worlds(l:2). As the planets are dependent on the sun so everyone and everything is dependent on God; and as the sun is not dependent on the planets so God is not dependent on anyone or anything. The solar system reflects this great truth which has been emphasized in the Quran: Independent and Besought of aU(112:3). The sun is different in structure to the planets which are continually revolving around it. The latter are great spheres of solid matter, of rock and mineral while the sun is a sphere of burning gas. The fact reflects another Divine attribute, that God also is different from His creation,. And there is none Tike unto Him. (112:5). ‘The sun is the only object in the solar system which generates its own light. The other would merely reflect it. Similarly all divine light emanates from God and is reflected through His creation.’ (LIFE SUPREME by B.A. Orchard) Allah is the Light of the heaven and the earth… He guides to His Light whomsoever He wills’ (24:36). Strange phenomena start to occur when the speed of light is approached, according to Einstein. The dimensions of space – length, breadth and height shorten, Time slows down, clocks tick slower, objects increase in mass and who knows what other effects occur that we have not yet discovered. The old established Newtonian known laws of nature break down they simply do not work and laws of nature come into operation, strange, mystifying laws which man is only now observing. But even this apparent change of laws of nature is only a part of the over—all existing laws of nature — its just that man obviously does not fully know all the laws of nature. What we see as strange and mysterious is only due to obedience of laws we are as yet unaware of. Similarly, we are told that God is the light of the heaven and the earth. When an individual sets out on this journey towards this light and when he eventually approaches close to God, when he arrives at a nearness which the rest of the world has had no experience of then witnesses strange and wonderful manifestations of God’s power but even 14 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS these occurrences are within the laws of nature only man is unaware of them because he has never approached so close to the divine light. Once again when light in the spiritual Universe has been approached, new unknown laws of nature have taken over. Then when the individual tries to narrate his experiences to others, they laugh at him and the world mocks at him and dismisses his narratives as cock and bull stories, Islam teaches that the Prophets, the founders of the major world religions were such individuals who were guided to approach close to the divine Light, and consequently, higher laws of nature came into operation which they witnessed and which served to transport them to the tower of one hundred percent certainty regarding God’s existence. Perhaps all this root behind the extra-ordinary happenings which are sometimes called miracles. LIFE AMONGST THE STARS ? All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him and He is The Mighty, Wise. C59:25) The observation of modern astronomy has taken us to bewildering distance. We know now that our milky way galaxy with its approximate one hundred billion stars is only one of the many billions of galaxies that comprise the observable Universe. We are now able to look into regions of space that are billions of light years away from us. Thus with the progress of astronomy, man’s mind is being stretched in an effort to comprehend the immensity of the Universe. One wonders how many of the stars populating the innumerable galaxies have planetasy system like our own and how many planets support life. Our scientific knowledge is extremely scant, but these are indications that other stars in our own galaxy have planets. The Quran is ahead of science in telling us that there are living beings beyond our earth. Commenting on the verse quoted at the beginning of this section, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam wrote in 1896 as follows, The dwellers of the heavens and the dwellers of the earth glorify Him. This is an indication that the heavenly bodies are also populated and their dweUers follow Divine Guidance. (Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam). The very first couple of verses of the Quran are as follows: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful All types of REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 15 Perfect Praise belong to Allah, the Creator, the Sustainer and the Nourisher stage by stage ‘unto perfection, of all the worlds. (1:1-2). In the first verse of the Book, it is made clear that we are not alone in the Universe, incidentally Allah is also called above as One who ‘Nourishes His creation stage by stage until they reach their perfection — a confirmation by religion, of a theory of evolution which is widely held today, in some form or another. And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of whatever living creatures He has spread forth in both. And has the power togather them together when He pleases. (42:30) It was not possible for any human being, least of all for an illiterate son of the desert as was the Prophet of Islam, to say, as far back as 1400 years ago, when the science of astronomy was still in its infancy, that apart from our planet, life in some form or another, existed in the heavenly bodies. It was the Quran which in the seventh century A.D. disclosed this great and marvellous scientific truth. I agree it has by no means been confirmed yet by scientific observation, but then neither was the Big Bang Theory until recent times. The reference in the words, ‘He has the power to gather them together,’ may be the possibility of the creatures living on earth and in the heavenly bodies becoming united in some future time. Of Him do beg all that are in the beavens and the earth. Every day He reveals Himself in a different state. (55:30) God says: In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful Blessed is He in Whose hand is the Kingdom, and He has power over all things; Who has created death and life that He might try you – which of you is best in deeds; and He is Mighty, the Most Forgiving; Who has created seven heavens in harmony. No incongruity canst thou see in the creation of the Gracious God. Then again. Seest thou any flaw? Aye, look again and yet again, thy sight will only return unto thee confused and fatigued. (67:1—5) Wonderful indeed is the creation of the universe. Our planet earth is part of the solar system, a member of a group of nine planets orbiting the 16 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS sun. The sun is an ordinary star, a member of a multitude of stars which form one galaxy, the Milky Way. Such was the energy given out in the initial moments ,of creation that everything was spinning. The law of conservation of angular momentum holds beautifully true to this day, in the fact that the sun is revolving round the centre of the galaxy. But the beautiful order does not end there; the demands of conservation of angular momentum have not been fully met. The galaxy in twin rotates around the centre of its cluster (galaxies exist in clusters) and the cluster rotates around the centre of gravity of its super-cluster. Everything falls into perfect place with such mathematical elegance that the magnifici- ent revolving spectacle doesn’t even stop here. To express perfect obedience to law of conservation of angular momentum, the super clusters in twin revolve around the centre of gravity of the universe. Such beauty and precision of mathematical order pervades every aspect, every point in the universe. The whole design of the universe is graced with elaborate smoothness, and graceful harmony and such flawless fineness that just thinking about it enchants the mind. Are we then to believe having such splendid order and wisdom, that the universe is a freak occurrence with no Intelligence having directed its formation? Such a view I find very hard to accept. However, I hasten to add that the material universe cannot lead us to an irrefutable conclusion — to absolute certainty regarding the existence of its Author. The consummate wisdom and order and perfect arrangement which the eye discovers in the universe comprising countless heavenly bodies, and the numerous wonders in nature which are disclosed to a thinking mind have never led and can never lead, to the firm conviction, to the perfect certainty that there truly exists a God, the creator and the Lord of the universe, whose Power and Knowledge extend over every atom of it. The greatest astronomers and philosophers who have applied their minds and energies solely to those sciences, have been involved in doubts and scepticism about God’s existence. All their knowledge, if it did lead them to any conclusion, could go no further than set it down among probabilties. ‘The creation of the sun and the moon and the stars, the order and design witnessed in those orbs, the consummate laws of nature that regulate the universe, the development of man’s body and mind, the marvellous power and wisdom discernible in the government of the universe, no doubt all lead to the conclusion of the same probability REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 17 of the existence of a Creator, but probability does not prove actual existence. There’s a vast difference between a probability and a certainty, Unless there is a firm persuasion and strong conviction that God actually exists, the darkness of doubt cannot be dispelled, from there and true light cannot enter therein. The rational persuasion, following from observing a plan in the universe doesn’t amount to certainty and cant lead to peace and contentment of mind. It doesn’t have the power to wash away every doubt and quench the thirst which man naturally feels for a true perfect knowledge of God’s existence. The imperfect knowledge which comes from studying nature alone, is fraught with danger because in it, is more argument than substantial reality. In short, unless God reveals Himself by His Word spoken to His chosen servants, as He reveals Himself by His works as witnessed in nature, a rational persuasion of His existence, which is the outcome of an observation ot His work, is never satisfactory. If, for instance, the doors of a room are latched from the inside, the natural inference is that there is someone inside who has locked the doors. But if years pass and no sound is heard frorn within, if no voice responds to the repeated cries of the outsiders, year after year, then he would have to change his opinion as to the presence of someone within, and would be compelled to dismiss it as an incomprehensible circumstance such is the belief in God’s existence which is based merely on a study of nature. The whole inquiry brings us simply to the extremely disappointing conclusion that chances are in favour of a God who created, the universe, no further. The fact is that an inquiry relating to the existence of God cannot be long as we consider only one side of the question ie. the Word of God. That effort is misdirected which sets before itself the objective of discovering the creator simply from under heaps of matter, it is as if in the midst of all His creation, the glorious and living God is being likened to a dead body which can only be discovered by digging it out from under heaps of rubbish. That God, with all His infinite wisdom and Almighty power should depend upon human effort to be revealed to the world, is an extremely misguided and erroneous idea. God veiwed in this light, cannot be God, the centre of our hopes and curiosity. Does God Himself reveal His face to His creatures or are they to seek a clue to His existence for themselves? Does He show us His presence or are we to search for Him? The eternal and invisible God has eternally made Himself 18 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS known by His Own dear and blessed voice proclaiming, ‘I am’ and has ever thus invited His frail creatures towards Himself that they may seek their support in Him.'(PHILOSOPHY OF THE TEACHINGS of Islam by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad). This is where science and religion begin. I close with a verse from the Holy Quran: Have they not looked at the sky above them, how We have made it and adorned it, and there are no flaws in it? And the earth — We have spread it out, and placed therein firm mountains; and We made to grow therein every kind of beautiful species — as a means of enlightenment and as a reminder to every one who turns to Us. (50:7-9) (from page 2) Whatever religion one follows or even if one follows no religion ‘peace and good will towards our fellow—beings’ is a message which all can appreciate and make an effort to act upon. It is, indeed, the message of Islam which has been condensed into the memorable words of Hazrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, third successor of the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam — Love for all. Hatred for none. If we heed this message it would go a long way in establishing •harmony among people and nations of the world. It is a message which should be high-lighted and observed not only at Christmas but at all times. (from page 45) the proceeding stages, that the state of the souls in the latter may be regarded as a state of death compared with their condition in the former.