Dreams, Visions and Revelation The Origins of the Universe

Is there a God?

I quote an interesting incident about a 25-year-old gentleman of India. This was in the year 1866 and after having achieved his Diploma of Education from the Normal School in Rawalpindi, this young man had been appointed as Head Teacher of a school in a town called Pind Dadan Khan. He was four years into this job when one day an Inspector of Schools arrived for inspection. The young man describes the incidence himself: ‘On one occasion, the Inspector of Schools arrived while I was at my meal. I invited him to join me. Instead of accepting my invitation, he retorted, “I am afraid that you have not recognised me. My name is Khuda Bukhsh and I am the Inspector of Schools.”’ “‘Oh! Indeed. That is well. You are a man of integrity. You do not partake of food offered by a teacher. How good that is!”’ ‘I continued my meal, and, while holding his horse, he waited for me to tell some student to go and hold his horse. When he saw that I made no move, he asked me, “Kindly tell a student to hold my horse.’” ‘I answered: “Sir you are so punctilious that you do not partake of food offered by a teacher deeming it to be a bribe. Then how can I ask a student to hold your horse.They come to school to study and not to serve as stable boys. Besides, you might ask for it to be tethered and fed: but how could the horse be fed when you yourself are not willing to accept the hospitality of a teacher?”’ ‘The horse was getting impatient. 42 The Review of Religions – December 2004 Is There a God? Based on an address at the Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Ireland Dr. Tariq Anwar Bajwa – UK In the meantime the Inspector’s staff arrived and began to look after everything. Then he signified that he would proceed with the examination of the students, whereupon I put the students in order and myself withdrew and sat apart. The Inspector held the examination and then said to me: “I have heard that you are very capable, and hold a distinguished Diploma from the Normal School. Perhaps that explains your imperious attitude.” ‘I replied: “Sir, I do not regard a few square inches of paper as God.” Then I sent for the diploma and tore it into pieces before his eyes and demonstrated that I did not associate anything with God.’ His name was Hadhrat Hakeem Maulvi Nooruddin( r a ) and he became the first successor of the Promised Messiah(as). Such was his firm faith in God that nothing could ever shake it. But ‘is there a God?’ is a question whose response varies considerably when asked to d i fferent people. There are people, who would say, ‘No I do not believe in God.’ There are others who would say, ‘there may be a God, but I am not interested.’ There are many others who would say, ‘yes, there is a God.’ In both these groups of people answering in affirmative or in negative, the degree of certainty with which they say so varies quite c o n s i d e r a b l y. There are those who believe in God because they acquired that belief in Him. In a similar way there are people who were born in a society which was drifting away from God and hence were told to go away from the concept of God. Of these people there is also a group of people who say God has not created us. Perhaps we have created god through our imagi- nation. There are also scholars and philosophers who have thought deeply and concluded that there should be a God. Of course the certainty with which they say so comes through inference and because their belief in a God is weak, they are unable 43 Is There a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 to convince somebody with surety about the existence of a God. The Holy Qur’an, which according to Islam is the Word of God Himself, divides knowledge into three types: knowledge by way of certainty of inference, knowledge by way of certainty of sight and knowledge by way of certainty of experience. The knowledge by certainty of inference is that a thing is known not directly, but through something else through which its existence can be inferred: an example being that of inference of the existence of fire by observing smoke from a distance. We do not see the fire, but we see the smoke and we believe in the existence of fire. Then when we can see the fire, this would give us certainty by sight. Now if we were to enter this fire, our knowledge would have the quality of certainty by experience. The variation in the certainty while answering to the question about the existence of God is thus explained. There are people who have inferred that there has to be a God. There are others who have experienced God themselves and then there are people who have seen these holy men and seen God through them and they say it that certainly there is a God. Nobody can change their minds because of the degree of certainty they have in this belief. The source of the first type of knowledge, that is to say knowledge by the certainty of inference, is reason and information. God Almighty does not require human beings to accept anything beyond their intellectual c a p a b i l i t y, and only sets forth such doctrines as are com- prehensible by men, so that his directives should not impose upon man that which he is unable to bear. (Ch.2:V.287) The certainty of knowledge by inference can be obtained by various faculties given to human beings, one of them being ears. For instance, many of us have 44 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 not visited Tokyo or Sydney, but we have heard of them from those who have visited these places. We do not doubt the existence of these cities because we do not believe all these people might have told a lie. In fact all the religions on this earth claim to be from God. Muhammad(sa), Moses(as), Jesus(as), K r i s h n a( a s ), Buddha( a s ), Baba Nanak and every religious leader taught people to believe and worship God. Although all the religions have slight differences in the attributes they ascribe to God, yet all the religions hold the common view that there is a God Who created this universe. In fact, the creation of man goes hand in hand with religion and it is not the work of philosophers or sociologists whether or not the concept of God exists. It is a universal concept that existed independent of any knowledge of what people believed in other parts of the world. It was this universal presence of belief in the whole world that convinced many an atheist, at least to a degree, that this is a very strong and potent reason why we must respect the possibility of the existence of God. History tells us that even those ancient religions that no longer exist in the world, also held the view of God, whether they were in ancient America, or in the jungles of Africa or Australia. So the books of history are also a source of knowledge provided they do not contradict themselves. Even the books of the prophets lose their reliability if there is contradiction in them about a certain point. However, the point at which they agree is likely to be believed and is certainly a source of knowledge by inference. The Holy Qur’an is not confined merely to knowledge gained through continuity of hearing; it contains well-reasoned arg u – ments that carry strong conviction. Not one of the doc- trines and principles and commandments that the Holy Q u r’an sets forth is imposed merely by authority. How can the word of God impose belief in Himself without giving rea- sonable arguments? 45 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 Let us look at the evidence God has given Himself about His existence in the Holy Qur’an. The Holy Qur’an has adopted two methods for an understanding of God. First, there is the method whereby human reason is strengthened and illumined for the purpose of setting forth reasons in support of the existence of God. Through this, one may reach the first degree of certainty about the existence of God i.e., there should be a God or there has to be a God. The second method is the spiritual method through which you achieve the second and third degree of certainty through sight and through experience. As regards the first method, one of the foremost arguments God gives is to study nature, how He has created this universe? In the Holy Qur’an, God says: Do you doubt in the existence of Allah, Who has created the heavens and the earth (from nothingness). (Ch.14:V.11) The second argument given by the Holy Qur’an is that every- thing that has been created has been given appropriate faculties as it says: Our Lord is He Who has bestowed upon everything its appropriate faculties, and has then guided it to (the achievement of) its appro – priate purpose. (Ch. 20:V.51) The third argument of the Holy Qur’an is the order that you see in this universe. No incongruity canst thou see in the creation of the Gracious God. Then look again: Seest thou any flaw? Aye, look again, and yet again, thy sight will only return to thee frustrated and fatigued. (Ch.67:Vs.4-5) And then Allah says : It is not for the sun to overtake the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day. All 46 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 of them float in an orbit. (Ch.36:V.41) The fourth argument given by the Holy Qur’an is that God says He is the ultimate cause of all causes: And that to thy Lord do all things ultimately go. (Ch.53: V.43) And in another verse reminds us: All that is on earth will perish and only the Person of thy Lord, Master of Glory and Honour, will survive. (Ch.55:V.27-28) The fifth logical arg u m e n t presented by the Holy Qur’an is that God says that He has put in the inherent nature of a human being that he believes in God. As Allah says that when the souls of human beings are asked by Him: Am I not your Lord? And they answer: Indeed, we do bear witness. (Ch.7:V.173) There are many other verses giving the logic of the existence of God but let us stop here and look at these claims in some more detail. There is a host of evidence available to us if we look around ourselves. If one keeps in mind and then reflects upon the shape and form of man and all the animals on land and in the sea, and the birds, one is impressed with the power of God Who has created them and then bestowed its appropriate form on every thing. The Holy Founder of Ahmadiyyat, the Promised Messiah(as), has well said: ‘O my Beloved! How wonderful is Thy creative power manifested every- where: Whichever way I look, I find every road leading to Thy Presence. In the fountain of the sun, the tides of Thy Power are witnessed: 47 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 Every star is twinkling with Thy Glory The mellow intoxicating eyes of all, who are endowed with beauty Remind one of Thee every moment To Thy direction is turned, the pointing finger of every curly lock.’ Just imagine what an infinite Universe has been created for the satisfaction of our physical needs. There is a sky with innumerable stars and planets, including a sun and a moon, which give us light and warmth – so essential for our well-being. Think of the vast expanse of atmosphere around us, full of air to make us breathe and space to allow us to build, rise and fly wherever we please. Take the earth itself and, look at the series of rivers, mines and mountains so wonderfully distributed over its surface. Just see the different strata suited for the production of various vegetable growths. Think of the animal and vegetable kingdoms, what a wonderful and exquisite scale of creation we notice in this universe, how b e a u t i f u l l y, efficiently and mysteriously it works to a common end! There is a magnificent system of org a n – isation. There are only two options available to us – either there is a God Who created human beings and the universe around us or there is no God and it is human beings who have created their so- called creator. The issue of Creation can be examined from this perspective, beginning with the origins of life, ending our journey with the consummation of life into human beings. Each step that was advanced in the direction of the evolvement of human beings was an organised step. Life is not eternal – the possibility of life began with the ‘Big Bang’ that occurred around twenty billion years ago and ever since then life has emerged out of nothing. Even the firmest believers in blind evolution have to admit that for this to happen they cannot find an answer. 48 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 Upon contemplation of the wonders of evolution created or packed in a small space of one billion years, even those atheists begin to calculate through mathematics of large numbers the time it should have required for evolution to take place and to reach its consummation, by blind chance. The figure they have reached is ten raised to the power of 249 which means that one needs to place 249 zeros to the right of number one. That is how many years would be needed, not for the completion of the whole evolution, but just for the creation of the first brick of life, the proteins that are needed for building DNA’s. The rest is still to be calculated. Based on this evidence, one can always question the scientists as to how man could have been created, how could the very first o rganism of life have been created without the existence of a preceding Conscious Being, an All-Knowledgeable Being Who was Eternal. For those who do not believe in God, there are a few terms that are commonly used to try to explain the creation, organisation and evolution. These terms are ‘Chance’, ‘Evolution by natural selection or Survival of the Fittest’, or ‘Evolution by change bit by bit’. For a moment, just visualise the drama of life and death as staged, act-by-act, from the beginning of evolution to the present time. As the curtain lifts, does it lift from the vision of a mindless universe endlessly engaged in the casting of a dice, or does it lift from a completely d i fferent scenario? The drama remains the same, as also the actors who play their part. The vision alters only in relation to the viewer. If the viewer sees it through the coloured glasses of deep seated, pre-conceived atheistic prejudices, then of course he would view nothing but chaos wedded to chaos, giving birth to a brood of meticulously-shaped and well- disciplined offspring. This hap- pens generation after generation after generation. Each generation invariably recedes yet again into a world of chaos, continuously 49 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 giving birth to order and discipline, without exception and without fail. So the drama of evolution moves on from chaos to order without an orderly disciplined mind to command it. Despite this, order always e m e rges out of disorder, until man the masterpiece of evolution is created – the ultimate child of compound chaos and confusion. If on the other hand the viewer is an unbiased observer of what he sees and permits his vision to be led to whichever direction the scheme of creation leads him, then of course the same drama will take on a completely d i fferent complexion. At each replication of life into more complex and more org a n i s e d entities of a higher order and at each step forward on the evolutionary journey, he would perceive the guiding hand of the Supreme Creator. Many a competent scientist has had to confess that the only solution to the problem of creation lies in the admission that there does exist a Supreme Creator. Frank Allan, Professor of Biophysics, University of Manitoba, Canada, recipient of the Tory Gold Medal, Royal Society of Canada writes: ‘The adjustments of the earth for life are far too numerous to be accounted for by chance.’ What he evidently means is that in the long journey of evolution we find design, order and h a r m o n y, which cannot be ascribed to chance. Commenting on the complexity of proteins and the manner in which they play the essential role of building, supporting and advancing life, Allan categorically rejects the idea of attributing it to chance. For a single protein molecule to be formed out of chance would require 10 raised to the power 98 years. To accommodate this figure in the span of evolution is impossible because it only took 4.5 billion years for all the amazing steps of creation. To be very simple, if I claim that 50 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 all the things have been organised after an earthquake or a blast, you would have doubts about my mental health and some of my colleagues may be kind enough to refer me to a psychiatrist. Strange it is, though, that people have sympathy with those who think this universe has originated out of chance or accident, without design and without a Creator. The proba- bility of life originating from an accident is comparable to the probability of an unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in a print factory. Sir Fred Hoyle, author of the Black Cloud says: ‘the spontaneous formation by “chance” of a working enzyme is like a hurricane blowing through a junkyard and spontaneously putting together a Boeing 747.’ The theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ is easily rejected by a simple example. In a famine or drought, when water can be found very deep, only the trees with very deep roots should be able to survive whereas all the shrubbery with small roots should vanish. Similarly animals with long necks like giraffes and camels, which can reach these trees to graze on, should be able to survive such a drought. However, if we look at the facts, they are very different and after years of famine, the small shrubbery and small animals survive these droughts in a better way. This rejects the survival of the fittest or blind natural selection theory. Now looking at the appropriate faculties given to the creation, we can look at a few examples, which reject either the ‘bit-by- bit’ change theory or the ‘blind evolution’ theory. In the world of birds, if we look at the woodpecker, the force with which it hits the trees to make the insects come out is such that if it did not have a protective cushion between its beak and its brain, it could not have survived at all. It could not have developed over a long period because it has to be part of its creation right from the beginning. There are so many 51 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 similar examples, like spiders, electric fish etc. The complex system of making honey in a honeybee is still astonishment to the human being. Special senses in the animal world are a discrete example, which reject evolution by a ‘bit-by-bit’ change because they cannot be functional if any part of them is removed. For example consider the functioning of the eye. Even in the most rudimentary form, which was in a deep-sea fish, eyes have been found to be fully functional. They have to have been made with a purpose and design. We know that for an eye to function, it has a cornea with a defined curvature, an iris to control the light and the ciliary muscles to control curvature of the lens. Then there is the aqueous h u m o u r, the lens vitreous humour and the Retina with its 10 layers of cells. From the retina, the image has to reach the occipital cortex where it is interpreted. Then there is a complex system of lachrymal fluid to keep cleaning the eye. The protection for the eye has been provided by eyelids, orbit and the eyebrows. Thousands of books have been written about the beauty as well as the functioning of the eye. The fact is that it only points towards its Creator and no theory of evolution can explain it. In 1859, in his great work, The Origin of Species during his discussion on the intricacies of an ‘eye’ as an organ, Darwin confessed. ‘To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to differe n t distances, for admitting d i f f e rent amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chro m a t i c aberration could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, a b s u rd in the highest possible degree’. Having said that he carves a path of retreat by building his ‘bit-by- bit’ theory, which has now become the mainstay of Prof. Dawkin’s arguments in favour of 52 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 natural selection being the only creator. However this ‘bit-by-bit’ theory is rejected by the fact that the most ancient specimens of eyes as found in the earliest species of marine life are fascinatingly purpose-built masterpieces of such visionary systems as perplex the most modern manufacturer of optical instru- ments. The Holy Qur’an says: And He it is Who has created for you ears, and eyes, and hearts, but little thanks do you give. (Ch.23:V.79) There are many examples which have been given in detail in the book R a t i o n a l i t y, Revelation, Knowledge and Truth by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmed(ru) the fourth successor of the Promised M e s s i a h( a s ) to which one can refer. Then we observe that the entire universe is bound together in a system of cause and effect. This system is at the root of all knowledge. No part of creation is outside this system. It is not possible that in this finite world this pattern of cause and effect should have no limit. We are compelled to acknowledge that it must terminate with some ultimate cause. The ultimate cause is God. Up to now we have spoken of logic, which only makes us reach a conclusion that there should be a God. However, a human being does not get contented just with this type of certainty and wants to reach the surest degree, which is the certainty by sight and experience. All the prophets of God have provided this certainty by their own example. They were weak people who had no apparent powers with them. At the very time they claimed that God had appointed them, their contemporaries stood against them and tried their level best to destroy them. However it never happened that a representative of Allah was not able to achieve his goal. They were all successful 53 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 proving that there is a Living God Who has appointed them. The same thing happened with N o a h( a s ), and Abraham( a s ), Moses( a s ) and Jesus( a s ) and the Holy Prophet of Islam, Hadhrat Muhammad( s a ). The same thing is being repeated in this age in the person of the Promised Messiah( a s), who was from a small village of India and was not known in his own area, when he claimed that God had told him that his message would reach the corners of the earth. Today his message is reaching the corners of the earth, proving that there is a God Who supports and brings victory to His appointed ones against all odds. Not only do these representatives of Allah prove His existence by their own success but also invite everybody towards God so that people are able to achieve the certainty of the existence of God by their own experience. The truth is that when one achieves the goal of having communication with God, one becomes a manifest sign of the Living God in one’s own person. People see God through him as if he is a walking proof of the existence of God. Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih I Hakim Maulvi Nooruddin was one such example whom I quoted in the very beginning. The Holy Founder of Ahmadiyyat, the Promised Messiah(as) says: ‘With regard to the hereafter our knowledge arrives at the degree of certainty by sight when we receive direct revelation and hear the voice of God through our ears, and behold the true and clear visions of God with our eyes. Without a doubt we are in need of direct revelation for the purpose of achieving such perfect understanding for which our hearts hunger and thirst in our beings. If God Almighty has not provided the means of such comprehension for us in advance then why has He created this hunger and thirst in our hearts? Can we be content that in this life, 54 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 which is our only measure for the hereafter, we should believe in the true and perfect and mighty and living God only on the basis of tales and stories, or should depend upon under- standing or reason alone, which understanding is still defective and incomplete? Do not the hearts of true lovers of God desire that they should enjoy the delight of converse with the Beloved, and should those who have given up everything in the world for the sake of God and have devoted their hearts and lives to Him, be content with the repining in a dim light without beholding the countenance of that Sun of Truth? Is it not true that an a ffirmation by the Living God: I am present, bestows such a degree of under- standing compared with which the self conceived books of all the philosophers amount to nothing at all? What can those philosophers who are themselves blind teach us? In short, if God Almighty designs to bestow perfect understanding upon His seekers, then He certainly has kept open the way of converse with them.’ (The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam) The Promised Messiah(as) has not only told us that God communicates with human beings but also has shown us the pathway to find Him. He has mentioned eight steps to find God. In short they are: 1. To believe in the True God, for if the very first step is not right, for instance, if a person believes in a bird or an animal, or in the elements or in the issue of a human being, as god there can be no hope of progressing towards God. The True God helps His seekers to reach Him. 2. The second means is to be informed of His beauty, for the heart is naturally drawn to the beauty the observation of which generates love in 55 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 the heart. God’s beauty is His Unity and His Greatness and His Majesty and His other attributes. 3. The third means of approach to God is knowledge of His Beneficence, which is an incentive to His love. 4. The Fourth means of reaching Him is supplication, as He says ‘Call on Me, I shall respond to you’. 5. The fifth means to reach Him is to strive in His cause, that is to say we should seek God by spending our wealth in His cause and by employing all our faculties in furthering this cause and laying down our lives in His cause and by employing our reason in His cause. 6. The sixth means is stead- fastness, not to get tired or disheartened when one encounters trials. 7. The seventh means is to keep company with the righteous, and to observe their perfect example. 8. The eighth means of reaching Him, are visions and true dreams and reve- lation. As the path to reach Him is not an easy one, the mercy of God keeps com- forting them and these visions and dreams keep him going. The fact is that the purpose of human life and the highest reach of man’s faculties is to meet God the Exalted. The importance of achieving this goal in life, has been described by the Promised Messiah (as): ‘ Our paradise is in our God. Our highest delight is in our God for we have seen Him and have found every beauty in Him. This wealth is worth procuring though one may have to lay down one’s life to procure it. O ye, who are bereft, run to this fountain and it will save you. What may I do, and how may I 56 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 instil this good news in their hearts, and by what drum shall I make the announce- ment that this is your God, so that people might hear? What remedy may I apply to their ears so that they should listen? If you belong to Allah, rest assured that Allah will indeed belong to you.’ (Kashti –e- Nuh) REFERENCES: 1. The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam b y Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as). 2. Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Tru t h b y Hadhrat Mirza Khalifatul Masih IV(ru). 57 Is there a God? The Review of Religions – December 2004 The staff and editorial team at The Review of Religions wishes all its readers a very healthy, peaceful and blessed New Year ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr Tariq Anwar Bajwa resigned from the Pakistan army, did his FRCS, served in Tanzania for 3 years and has been in the UK since 1996 where he is a GP. He is the Chairman of the Ahmadiyya Medical Association UK, Secretary Tahrik Jadid and newsreader on MTA.