Agnosticism and Atheism

Letters to the Editor

Response to Jonathan Miller’s claims that ‘Belief in God is an intellectual nonsense’ that appeared in a British newspaper article.

60 The Review of Religions – January 2005 GOD REALLY EXISTS: We Believe in a Living God S i r, M r. Jonathan Miller, avowed atheist, and ‘fifth brainiest person in Britain’ according to P ro s p e c t magazine, claims in T2 of The Ti m e s of October 11th 2004 that there is no God, no afterlife and no paradise. ‘Belief in God is an intellectual nonsense.’ Whatever human consciousness is, he says: ‘It exists only inside our brains.’ In other words, it is grounded in matter. Take away that matter (as when we die) there can be no consciousness. Therefore, there is no afterlife, no paradise, no paranormal or supernatural. All that too is literally in the mind. He says that the idea of a mind that continues to exist after the brain has dissolved, is inconceivable. It seems that P ro s p e c t magazine and Richard Morrison of The Ti m e s have accepted shallow statements and incorrect analyses of Mr. Miller. In fact, Mr. Miller fails to address the testimony of numerous individuals of every age and from every people, who have claimed that they have had contact and conversation with the Supreme Being. Moses( a s ) met God on Mount Sinai. God appeared to Jesus( a s ) o n Mount Seir. God shone forth to M u h a m m a d( s a ) on Mount Paran. The Reformer of the Age, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad( a s ) of Qadian, India s t a t e d : ‘The same Mighty and Holy God has manifested Himself to me. He has talked to me and said that He is the High Being, to establish Whose worship all the Prophets were sent.’ (Government Angrezi aur Jihad, Zamima Risala Jihad, Roohani Khazain Vol.17 p.29) Despite all his research abilities and intellect, Mr. Miller ignores the testimony of large numbers of persons throughout the history of mankind. He also ignores the evidence that they gave – the same message of a single Creator. S u r e l y, they were not all liars. M o r e o v e r, nowhere in his statements does Mr. Miller consider the five proofs of the existence of God found in the Muslim Holy Book, the Qur’ a n . Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad( a s ) h a s explained these in his famous book, T h e Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam (English translation published by the London Mosque 1979) from which the following has been reproduced: 1 .Our Lord is He Who has bestowed upon everything its appro p r i a t e TO THE EDITORLetters 61The Review of Religions – January 2005 faculties, and then guided it to the achievement of its appro p r i a t e p u r p o s e s . ( C h . 2 0 : V. 5 1 ) If we “reflect upon the shape and form of all creatures that inhabit this universe, we are impressed by the wisdom of God Almighty.” (p.57) All animals, including man, who live on land and in the seas and birds that soar in the skies, are created in the form best suited to their particular requirements and needs. If they make use of them properly, they can attain their fullest potential. 2 . Thy Lord is the final cause of all c a u s e s . ( C h . 5 3 : V. 4 3 ) “If we observe carefully, we find 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. Some things are the roots of others and some are branches. A cause may be primary or may be the effect of another cause and that, in its turn, may be the effect of still another cause and so on. Now, it is not possible that in this finite world this pattern of cause and effect should have no limit and should be infinite. We are compelled to acknowledge that it must terminate with some ultimate cause. That ultimate cause is God. This verse sets forth the argument very concisely and affirms that the system of cause and effect terminates with God.” (ibid. p.58) 3. The sun cannot catch up with the moon, and the night which is a manifestation of the moon, cannot p revail over the day which is a manifestation of the sun. Neither of them can move outside its orbit.” ( C h . 3 6 : V. 4 1 ) “ Were there not a Regulator of the whole of this system behind the scenes, the system would fall into chaos. This proof is very striking in the estimation of astronomers. There are so many grand heavenly bodies gliding through space that the slightest disorder in their movements would bring about the ruin of the whole world. It is a great manifestation of Divine Power that these bodies neither collide nor change their speeds, nor alter their courses in the slightest degree. Nor has their circulation during such a long period of time worn them out, nor has their machinery suffered any d i s o r d e r. If they are not under the supervision of a Guardian, how is it that such a grand org a n i s a t i o n continues to carry on through numberless years entirely on its own?” (ibid, pp.58-59) 4 . Can there be any doubt in the existence of God, Who has originated the Heavens and the E a rth? ( C h . 1 4 : V. 11 ) LETTER: GOD REALLY EXISTS: WE BELIEVE IN A LIVING GOD 62 The Review of Religions – January 2005 We also know from history that the presence of perfect symmetry and the existence of perfect harmony in the laws of nature have convinced many scientists to believe in God. Even the great scientist, Einstein, had to declare that there is a Creator of this well- o rganised universe, Who has created with perfect wisdom. God has set forth another proof of His existence: All that is on the earth will perish and only the countenance of the Lord , Master of Glory and Honour, will s u rv i v e . ( C h . 5 5 : V s . 2 7 – 2 8 ) “If we assume that ultimately the earth might be reduced to particles and the heavenly bodies might be broken down and everything overtaken by a blast which would wipe out every sign of their existence. Yet reason acknowledges and right conscience deems it necessary that after such destruction there should survive one, who is not subject to destruction and can undergo no change and should continue in its pristine state. That One is God, Who has created everything mortal and is Himself immune from mortality. ” (ibid, p.59) 5. We also observe that belief in God is a universal phenomenon. History tells us that such beliefs were common to all ages. Even among the Aborigines of Australia, the ancient Maya of Mexico and Central America there existed a belief in an Omnipotent and Ultimate Supreme Being, whom they regarded as the Creator of the U n i v e r s e . Even though the vision of God varies from people to people, we find the belief in God is common to people of all the ages. The Holy Qur’an states: God inquired from the souls, ‘Am I not your Lord ?’ and they answere d : ‘I n d e e d . ’ ( C h . 7 : V. 1 7 3 ) “In this verse, God has set forth the characteristic with which He has invested the souls, that is, that by its very nature, no soul can deny the existence of God. Those who do so, do so because they can find no proof of His existence according to their own fanciful imagination. Yet they acknowledge that for every other created thing there must be a creator. There is no one in the world so stupid that if he falls ill he insists there is no cause for his illness. If the universal system of cause and effect had not been made up it would have been impossible to predict the time of a tornado, or of the eclipses of the sun or moon, or that a patient would die at a certain time, or that a disease would be reinforced by another disease at a certain stage. Thus a research scholar who does not acknowledge the existence of God, in effect does so LETTER: GOD REALLY EXISTS: WE BELIEVE IN A LIVING GOD 63The Review of Religions – January 2005 indirectly for he too, like us, searches for the causes of effects. This is an acknowledgement of a sort, though it is not perfect. Besides, if through some device, a person who denies the existence of God could be made unconscious in such manner that he should pass under the complete control of God, discarding all fancies, emotions and impulses of his earthly life, he would, in such a state, acknowledge the existence of God and would not deny it. This is testified to by eminent experts. The verse that we have cited also indicates that a denial of the existence of God is only a manifestation of this earthly exis- tence, for the true nature of man fully confesses His existence.” (ibid. pp.59-60) S u r e l y, a research scholar like Mr. Miller who does not acknowledge the existence of God, in effect, does so indirectly for he too searches for the cause of effects. As explained by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad( a s ) above, this is a kind of acknowl- edgement in the existence of God, Who is the final cause of all cause. In truth, no ‘brainy’ person can deny the existence of God. Once the existence of God is established then, the concepts of paradise and afterlife have to be accepted as well. M r. Jonathan Miller admits that several billion intelligent people in the world continue to believe in a ‘supernatural agency’ but he says that our religious impulses are the last vestiges of primitive man’s defense mechanism. He says that in order to guard against predators the primitive man had invented a supernatural force, which was on his side. Mr. Miller’s notions certainly cannot explain the claims which millions of people in all ages, especially the followers of true Islam have made that they enjoy communion with that Supernatural Agency. They have declared that God speaks to them and tells them not to be afraid of calamities or of enemies. He reassures them that He is with them and He will help them through His inspiration, revelation and heavenly signs. He often tells them of future events which come to pass exactly as they were told. Surely, to such people God or a Supernatural Agency is not an imagination but a r e a l i t y. This closeness to God Almighty can be attained by anyone through prayers and only through prayers. We are hopeful that if Mr. Miller and people like him leave their fanciful imaginations and tread on this path they will experience God in their daily lives. Rashid Ahmad Chaudhry A H M A D I Y YA INTERNATIONAL PRESS O F F I C E . LETTER: GOD REALLY EXISTS: WE BELIEVE IN A LIVING GOD We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of the magazine. The Review of Religions will continue to provide discussion on a wide range of subjects and welcomes any comments or suggestions from its readers. To ensure that you regularly receive this monthly publication, please fill in your details below and we will put you on our mailing list. The cost of one year’s subscription is £15 Sterling or US $30 for overseas readers (Please do not send cash). Payments by US residents should be by check payable to “AMI” (US dollars 30) and sent direct to ‘The Review of Religions’, Baitul Zafar, 86-71 PALO ALTO ST, HOLLISWOOD. NY 11423-1203 (USA). 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