Sheeza Ali and Abdalrahman Abulmajd discuss God is not a Delusion.
We have a fresh opportunity to reflect on God is not a Delusion. At this point Dr Sheeza Ali isn’t going to speak only about God is not a Delusion, but she also speaks about how A Muslim Doctor Presents Evidence for Belief.
Q: First of all, I know you are an ophthalmologist. I wonder what made you focus on atheism?
Sheeza: That’s a question that would have puzzled me too under normal circumstances. I was living with my family in New Zealand when I joined an online discussion forum called “uthink.” It was a small online community but there I came across a lot of educated atheists.
They were very vocal and advocated strongly for what they believed. At first I just observed and carefully read their arguments. I was quite amazed at how strongly they believed in what they did. Slowly and slowly I presented my arguments to counter and refute their arguments. To do this, I read a lot and even did research, both online and also in the Wellington City Library. Often times this work was very intellectually stimulating and I loved doing it. That was how I got my full focus turned on countering atheism at that time.
Q:Well, you slowly presented your arguments to counter and refute their arguments what about the result?
Sheeza: I believe that the theists on “uthink” did make a difference in the way the atheists of the forum behaved online. Some stopped making atheist arguments and became silent. Some atheists who were brutally antagonistic to our arguments initially, changed their attitude and were seen toned down and soft after a few months. But the hardliners mostly remained true to themselves with one approach. They reiterate that the burden of proof is on believers and not on atheists and constantly ask us to show them “evidence.” They never agreed to the evidence we presented and most didn’t show much change and carried on with their zeitgeist despite our counter arguments.
Q: Could you elaborate on the “New Atheism” or “militant atheism” that you have described to have “spread like a plague, crossing oceans, carrying its ubiquitous and loud propaganda?”
Sheeza: Criticism of religion was mostly taboo and atheism was not commonly discussed in many cultures until recently. Openly criticizing religion does not date too far back, may be only a couple of centuries. What could be called “new atheism” or “militant atheism” sprung up during the very early years of the twenty first century. This movement, created by well-known and well educated atheists– some of them are professors of universities – had spread across the globe very quickly.
The “new atheists” publish books, deliver public lectures and talks, are on internet and engages young minds in their craze. Their arguments are glorified using science, often times in a misleading manner, and their rhetoric is perceived by many as a militancy against theism and religion.
It possibly caught wind first in Europe but has now crossed all oceans and followers of “new atheism” can be seen in all continents. These atheists are vocal, loud and openly spread their atheist belief, almost like an anti-religion propaganda.
Q: Could you elaborate on astronomy as it points to the Way to Belief? You speak about it in chapter 8,The Intelligent Universe.
Sheeza: Astronomy is a fascinating subject of science. The sheer number of celestial bodies and the distances between these are mindboggling. Human beings, with our lives physically restricted on one planet, out of the trillions of celestial bodies that form the universe, have acquired knowledge only up to a certain level. Our capacities are limited and our boundaries are drawn. Despite these, if one delve into the depths of our knowledge, one can understand, the universe with all its galaxies, stars, planets, moons and other celestial bodies, simply cannot exist if there was no creator.
Astronomy is one body of knowledge that could satisfy the thinking mind. For me, the measurements we calculate, the formulae that describe the motion of celestial objects and the explanations of physics all point to a creator in every way we look at them. The intelligence with which the universe is designed, reeks of a creator and no realm of human knowledge can tell us of this better than astronomy.
Q: I ask how you prove God is not a Delusion.
Sheeza: For me the Qur’an is the biggest testimony to Allah. Reading and understanding what is revealed by Allah in the Qur’an will make it obvious that the Qur’an is a book from Allah. If read with an open mind and understood properly, the book will cure all atheism.
Next is the universe itself. As stated many times in the Qur’an, the universe bears the signs of the Creator and for me they are there everywhere we look at. These signs are simple to understand and very obvious for some while others argue they are not so clear. One has to reflect upon the creation and contemplate if one wants to understand these signs.
For example, something very simple such as pi (mathematically represented as 22/7) that we use in our calculations is also a testament to the universe having been created. Pi is a sign of intelligence implanted in the creation. It required no humans for its existence. It has been there ever since the beginning of time. Humans did not invent it. Humans only discovered it.
Pi enabled us to learn a lot more about the universe. Such signs are plenty and it is up to an individual to appreciate them as such. Allah wanted us to learn of such signs and reminds us in several places in the Qur’an that there are signs for people who are understanding. Understanding what is revealed in the Qur’an and reflecting upon Allah’s creation will prove God is not a delusion.
Q : Well, there are many ayats such as “We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth.” 41:53But I want to know how you prove evolution isn’t true, Could you explain?
Sheeza: Evolution, described as a process of change in heritable characteristics of an animal could be true. But not without the guidance from a higher being. I believe natural forces can induce random mutations, but natural forces cannot steer evolution. There has to be a higher being that is in control of the direction of evolution. Every type of an animal is molded into a particular design. I do not believe blind natural forces such as random mutations and natural selection could be capable of making these designs.
Take the stick insect as an example. If the driving forces of evolution are natural forces this means it is driven by blind forces. What blind forces can produce something like a living replica of a dead twig from a tree? If these forces are not aware of camouflaging, how can they lead to camouflage? Camouflaging occurs because evolution of these insects is steered to exhibit camouflage.
Life is said to have originated in a very primitive form. All living creatures are believed to have arisen out of unicellular forms. Logic defies to believe that without a plan and without a drive, billions of species can be produced from this simple form of life. The apple tree grows and bears leaves, branches, flowers and fruits with seeds, from a single Appleseed because the behaviour of the apple seed when germinated is written in its DNA. Likewise, organisms that form the tree of life are produced because the bearings of the tree of life is also written in Allah’s plan.
As for human evolution, a lot remains unknown and new findings of science change what was previously believed. Again I do not believe blind forces can create beings intelligent enough to explore the universe and marvel at Allah’s creation. We were created. We may never know how, but there is enough reason to believe consciousness and human intelligence cannot be anything other than deliberate acts of Allah.
Q :No doubt you have read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and your work is an Islamic response to prove that God isn’t a delusion. There are 36results of Dawkins in your work, could you elaborate on that, please?
Sheeza: Yes, I have read The God Delusion and few other works by Richard Dawkins. The reference list of my book, God is not a Delusion will easily cross 400 different pieces of work; 36 out of this does not seem a big number to me. However, the messages against theism given by Dawkins in his works, especially in his book The God Delusion, was an inspiration as well as a motivation for me to write my book.
A well-known critic of creationism and religion, Dawkins’ works have influenced many young minds. He believes existence of God should also be treated as a matter of science. He uses scientific findings to support his arguments for atheism and believes science has almost certainly disproved the existence of God. But the use of science in his arguments is, I believe, misleading at times.
My view is the exact opposite of Dawkins’. I believe science is a realm of human knowledge that can be used to demonstrate the universe is a deliberate creation.
Q : In chapter 4 you nicely explained Absence of Evidence in Science is not Evidence of non-existence. That's right and you have used thoughts similar to Islamic thinkers such as FakhralDinalRazi, Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Rushed and Ibn Sina. I agree with you as I see that FakhralDinalRazi is one of the greatest thinkers as my professor Salheen advised me to study his thoughts hard. Could you elaborate on some of his views?
Sheeza: Very difficult to say anything on the views of any of those great Islamic thinkers for I have not really read their works.
What I have tried to explain in that chapter is how little knowledge we have as compared to all the information that is there in the universe. We simply cannot say absence of evidence in science, in the way many atheists demand, is evidence of non-existence of Allah. Human knowledge is too little to say this.
People are not totally wrong when they say science can prove a lot of things. But when this statement is extended to say Allah’s existence should also be provable using science, should He exist, I believe they are wrong.
That we have so far not been able to prove Allah’s existence the way we prove existence of oxygen or water, is considered by some as non-existence of Allah. This is wrong for many reasons. One being, we do not know whether Allah’s existence is something that can even be proved using science. Another being, our knowledge of the universe is a very thin slice of the information out there. And if anything, this slice has all the signs of a creator’s work.
For example, there are billions of stars with many more planets orbiting them. We are on one of these planets and we know nothing about the vast majority of the others, not even their existence. Our knowledge base is so minute. So how can we say should Allah exist, science should be able to prove His existence? If anything, science tells us the universe is designed, because the laws of the universe are complex manifestations that requires intelligence for their existence.
Abdalrahman: Thank you very much, Dr. Sheeza.
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