What about good atheists?

Does our discussion (in Part 5) mean that all theists are moral and all atheists are immoral?

No, that is not what we are saying. Morality is actually a crossover from one world (the non-material) to another (the material)…

Dr Abd-Allah Al-Ujiri, (عبد_الله_بن_صالح_العجيري https://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/) a Saudi author, believes that you can be moral while not believing in God, but you cannot be moral if God does not exist. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1topY-wlPY)

To adopt a non-material value, such as morality, you need to  suspend your belief that nothing but matter exists.

That’s why atheists cannot label anything as “evil” if they want to remain true to their materialistic philosophy. Terms such as: good, evil, morality, truth, human rights, etc. are philosophical constructs that do not belong in a solely materialistic world. That is why we hear some famous atheists utter the most shocking statements when asked about evil acts:

This is according to Herbert Spencer, an English sociologist and philosopher, an early advocate of the theory of evolution. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327872065_Natural_Law_Herbert_Spencer_Donald_Trump_and_American_Values)

The reason for such shocking utterances is because these leading atheists know that matter and bio-chemical reactions cannot be labeled as good or bad: They are neutral. Matter has no moral values. To admit something is evil or good would be to admit the gap in their materialistic assumptions and the need for a non-materialistic source.

Similarly, a believer suspends his faith when he/she commits an immoral act.  He is turning his back on his belief.  Prophet Muhammad tells us that while performing immoral acts a Muslim suspends his faith.

“The adulterer is not a believer at the moment when he is committing adultery; the wine-drinker is not a believer at the moment when he is drinking wine; the thief is not a believer at the moment when he is stealing; the robber is not a believer at the moment when he is robbing and the people are looking on.” (Narrated by Abu Hurayra in aî Al-Bukhârî 2475; aî Muslim 57)

In light of the above, it is amazing how people who deny any objective source for morality can claim a higher moral ground and resort to attacks on the morality of prophets and believers, to justify their denial of God.

We have a binary choice…  We can either live in accordance with the morality and ethics derived from the attributes of our Perfect Creator or we can live in the fluid sphere of godlessness where there is no objective right or wrong.

Thus far, man’s reliance on subjective morality has not led to much justice, morality or happiness in this world. Humanity seems to have lost its way: rising crime and corruption, widespread nationalism and racism, senseless mass killings, rising sexual harassment and rape statistics, family unit disintegration, etc. The rejection of divine moral guidance has come at a high price!

So why don’t we try God’s way for a change? It can only be an improvement over the sad state of morality in the world today.

Isn’t science enough?

The problem with putting our complete faith in science is that much of it is in a constant state of flux. Scientific “discoveries” are made every day which invalidate or modify our understanding of previous discoveries. For example, look at the non-stop food/diet research. One day we hear something is very good for us. The next, they tell us it is bad for us. It has reached the point where we do not know what to eat anymore.

The Newtonian model for physics assumed that time and space were independent and absolute; Einstein later discovered that they are relative. The steady-state eternal universe theory has been upended by the Big Bang theory.  A hundred or so years ago, we believed all cells were just protoplasm, now we know there is a complex DNA programming system in our cells.

In biology, Darwin’s theory of biological evolution underwent modification upon modification as new discoveries invalidated many of its original assumptions. Soon, the only thing recognizable from Darwin’s original theory may be its name.

Similarly, countless other scientific “facts” have been debunked with new data, new discoveries, and new tools and methods.

The highest level science can reach is the theory stage. A scientific “fact” or scientific law such as “the law of gravity” cannot be regarded as absolute truth because it does not encompass all possibilities. Moreover, there are also a lot of background philosophical constructs behind what we consider as “scientific truths” which render the science subjective —or, at least, not completely objective.

Albert Einstein once gave the exact same exam paper he had given his graduating class the previous year. His teaching assistant…alerted Einstein: “I’m not sure if you realize it, but this is the same test you gave out last year. In fact, it’s identical”…Einstein then said: “Yes, it is the same test but the answers have changed.”

(https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/9628422-the-answers-have-changed-albert-einstein-was-once-giving-an)

Even if we assume that all current science is proven, fixed and 100% accurate, it would still be an incomplete and limited source of knowledge. Why?

  • Science focuses on the physical world and can address only natural processes and phenomena, using the observations at hand.

New data, new methods of observation and/or other tools or sources of information —such as trusted testimony, instinct, innate knowledge, deductive argument, logic, math, etc.— can negate previously established scientific discoveries.

Let’s take testimony as an example. Most of our knowledge comes from the testimony of trusted scientists and is based on cumulative knowledge. We cannot repeat every experiment ourselves before accepting its results. It is ironic that, while science accepts testimony when it builds upon previous research, as evidenced by citations and references, some reject the authenticated testimony in the most authenticated text of all time: the Quran.

Another example is innate knowledge. This includes the universal truths, shared across humanity throughout the ages, which do not require prior experience or observation, e.g. the concept of causality, law of non-contradiction, a part is smaller than a whole, etc.

  • Science gives all glory to the discoverer and none to the Creator.

Consider this comparison: Adam walks into a room and finds a beautiful painting, very precisely executed, with unbelievable symmetry and a brilliant color scheme.  When he walks out to tell people about his discovery, everybody is so impressed with Adam for discovering the painting that nobody asks the most important question: Who painted it?

Likewise, we are so fascinated with science for discovering the universal laws, which govern this universe and our existence, that we forget to ask who put down these laws. All science can do is to discover the laws and describe their operation; scientists didn’t formulate the laws; nor did they create the matter upon which these laws operate; nor did they oblige the Universe to adhere to these laws.

The Creator did.

Why does all the credit go to the discoverer instead of the originator?

John Carson Lennox (born 1943) is an Irish mathematician, bioethicist, and author. He has written many books on religion and ethics and has had numerous public debates with atheists including Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.  This Oxford Emeritis Professor of Mathematics and Emeritis Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science says:

“When Sir Isaac Newton discovered the universal law of gravitation he did not say, ‘I have discovered a mechanism that accounts for planetary motion, therefore there is no agent God who designed it.’ Quite the opposite: precisely because he understood how it worked, he was moved to increased admiration for the God who had designed it that way.” (https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/7377568-when-sir-isaac-newton-discovered-the-universal-law-of-gravitation)

We marvel at Einstein’s brilliance for discovering that the speed of light is constant, when we should tremble in awe and reverence of the One who created light!

  • Science and religion are not mutually exclusive.

Science, is sometimes presented as an alternative to religion. John Lennox likens this “either/or” fallacy to the choice between Henry Ford and the car. They are not independent of one another.  Does the discovery of an old book not indicate with certainty the existence of its author?

According to Lennox: “There is a real conflict, but it is not science versus religion. It is theism versus atheism, and there are scientists on both sides.” (Lennox, John, God and Stephen Hawking, Whose Design Is It Anyway?, Lion Hudson, 2011, p. 12, para. 1)

Einstein famously said:

“Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”

While modern science is promoted as a substitute for religion—a reason to abandon faith— true religion promotes science, elevates knowledge and praises people of knowledge. The first word revealed of the Quran was “Read.” Many verses in the Quran exalt knowledge and encourage the pursuit of knowledge.

Read: In the name of thy Lord Who created. (Quran 96:1)

God will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge. (Quran 58:11)

But those who have in-depth knowledge among them are believers in what is revealed unto you and what was revealed before you. (Quran 4:162)

Travel through the earth and observe how He began creation. (Quran 29:20)

How can those who know be equal to those who know not? It is only men of understanding who will remember. (Quran 39:9)

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.”  (Sunan Al-Tirmidhi 74)

He also said:

“Whoever follows a path seeking knowledge, God will make his path to paradise easy.” (aî Muslim, Book 42, Hadith 7058)

However, true religion doesn’t view science as a collection of dry abstract theories for academic debate and/or industrial application, but links it with the greater basic truths about existence and stresses the impact of the beauty and design in creation on the human heart and mind and on the relationship with the Creator.

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and Earth, and in the alternation of the night and the day, and in the [great] ships which sail through the sea with that which benefits people, and in what God has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every [kind of] moving creature, and in [His] directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heavens and the earth, there are signs for a people who use reason. (Quran 2:164)

If science removes the need for God, then why are many scientists, including Nobel Prize winners, believers? (https://www.catholiceducation.org/en/science/faith-and-science/25-famous-scientists-on-god.html)

Science did not turn them away from God. Instead, it solidified their faith. Sir Francis Bacon, known as one of the founders of empiricism and the scientific method, said:

” A little philosophy inclinest Man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringest men’s minds about to religion.”

As an interesting aside, some 250 years before Roger Bacon, an Arab Muslim scientist named Ibn Al-Haytham was the first to introduce the scientific method. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6074172/)

Nobody is denying the benefits of science, but we need to realize that the applications of modern science only serve in material aspects to increase the material possessions of man, to improve his life expectancy and to make his life easier. They do not serve humanity, morality, values, social life or family life. On the contrary, they may have had an adverse effect on these aspects. The purely material progression in modern science has caused an imbalance at best and destruction and annihilation at its worst: atomic bombs, wars, mass surveillance, loss of jobs to technology, etc. In addition, much of scientific research nowadays serves the monetary, military and/or political agendas of governments and big business at the expense of human welfare and happiness.

When Einstein heard that President Truman had ordered bombs to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki —which would cause the deaths of over 210,000 people— he is purported to have said, “If I had known they were going to do this, I would have become a shoemaker.” (https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/183907-if-i-had-known-they-were-going-to-do-this)

We’ve gone through 2 years of misery for the human race, with millions dead, as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, which may have started with a leak from a laboratory engaged in gain-of-function scientific research, i.e. genetically altering viruses that infect animals to enable them to infect humans. This is an example of scientific activity “dedicated to preventing the next pandemic found itself suspected of helping start one.”( https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/03/the-virus-hunting-nonprofit-at-the-center-of-the-lab-leak-controversy)

…To be continued in Part 7

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Dr. Raida Jarrar

Dr. Raida Jarrar is a Palestinian American who holds a Doctorate of Engineering from Cleveland State University. Following a career of over twenty-five years in the fields of engineering and aviation IT, she worked as a volunteer at one of the largest Islamic centers in the Middle East, where she interacted with visitors of different religious backgrounds and diverse cultures. The series she writes for Al-Jumuah analyzes and encapsulates her discussions with the atheist visitors, presented in a question and answer format for clarity and ease of reference. The answers are sourced from research, discussions with colleagues and mentors, and personal thoughts. Dr. Jarrar also volunteers as a translator for Islamic content and hosts the Aslamt youtube channel, which is dedicated to answering common questions about faith. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiUK0Tcqdb2GNeoqnxIcXtw

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