The Search for a Rational and Coherent Worldview
Theism and Guidance
By V.A. Mohamad Ashrof
Activist and Writer – India
This series delves into the basics of various worldviews. It explores the philosophical problems inherent in them and paves the way to find an intellectually satisfying worldview. The articles aim at helping the reader have a critical and introspective evaluation of long-held beliefs, their implications and meanings.
Theists believe that laws of nature are a set of rules imposed by God which nature is constrained to obey. Picture © Microsoft.comTo understand the part, we must understand the whole. Hence, to know the nature and destiny of the human individual, we must know the nature and destiny of the whole universe of which the human individual is a part.Neither science nor philosophy can ever be capable of giving accurate answers to our ultimate questions about the destiny of the universe on the basis of valid knowledge.
It is not logical that Divine Providence, Who has provided everything for the physical growth of mankind, would disregard making the necessary provision for their spiritual uplift.It is the revelation of God that is transmitted through successive prophets to show mankind the path of rectitude. God chose from every nation one or more prophets to convey His message to people.
The message of Prophet Muhammad was a reaffirmation of what earlier prophets had been instructed to convey to various peoples. In a very special sense, it was a restoration of the religion of Abraham. The message of Muhammad exists upon the foundations of all the previous messages to guide humanity to perfection and to open the way to human progress, both materially and spiritually.
The divine revelation comes not to replace reason, but to supplement and correct it. It does not abrogate reason; but it shows the direction which it should follow.
Again and again, it has been proved by the course of events that human intelligence is always clouded by the mists of desire and passion, and that people are unable to see beforehand the wider consequences of their own actions.
Human beings are in trial in this life. Justice is an essential attribute of God. Because He is just, He cannot remain indifferent towards good and evil. It would be a very unjust God who treated all His creatures alike, irrespective of their attitude towards Him. Though all human beings are His creatures, and He sustains, nourishes and provides for them all equally, His favors are reserved, in the hereafter, only for those who show themselves obedient to Him.
Human beings are in trial in this life, they may choose to be honest or dishonest, they may choose to spend their wealth in self-indulgence and luxurious living or use it to help the needy. Their freedom in all these aspects is unrestrained.
The consequences of their actions have been put off to another realm. Thus, the belief in the Day of Judgment is the strongest motivation for man to seek perfection and progress in this world. Heaven is the permanent abode of the successful servants of God, and Hell is a place for punishment and a purgatory for the unsuccessful rebels.
The Qur’an answers the problem of evil, why God allows the various types of evil to exist (theodicy), in an intellectually satisfying way. Humans inspired by Satan, are responsible for much of evil deeds.
Theists believe that nature is orderly rather than chaotic as a result of a purposeful design by a rational God. Man has been endowed with powers of reasoning and discrimination, he can exercise freewill and choose between things, and he had been made master over the rest of creation as a test. A law-governed universe is necessary in order to make human free choice meaningful. Much of what we call natural evils (hurricane, earthquakes, plagues, and famines) are direct results of the operation of the laws of nature.
It was evident for the theists that nature is orderly rather than chaotic as a result of a purposeful design by a rational God. Theists believe that laws of nature are a set of rules imposed by God which nature is constrained to obey.
The early Muslim scientists’ belief in an intelligent and rational Creator gave them a firm metaphysical foundation to build their science upon. That is, they had an a priori basis for assuming that nature is orderly and susceptible to rational interpretation. The concept that nature is comprehensible and orderly is not necessarily self-evident from observation.
A theistic God, unlike a deistic God, is not indifferent to the world affairs. Natural laws, as now understood, are probability statements which give the expected behavior for large number of events, but which say little about individual occurrences.
Scientist and philosopher William Pollard explains God’s providence as being His control of the individual events of which real history consists. ( Pollard)
Miracles are direct involvement of God; they cannot simply be explained as the adjustment of the probabilities within the scope of natural laws.
Miracles occur when the fundamental natural “laws” are broken. For a theist, miracles are indeed part of reality. Everything is not absolutely predetermined. God must be in dynamic, day-to-day control of the world in order to carry out His declared and undeclared purposes.
The Qur’an tells that the modes of recreation of the universe will be similar to the one adopted by God in its first creation, and that it will be quite easy to re-create human beings.
Allah says what means in the Qur’an:
[From it We created you and into it We shall send you back and from it will We raise you a second time] (Ta-Ha 20:55)
[What! Do they not consider how God originates the creation, then reproduces it? Surely that is easy to God] (Al-`Ankabut 29:19)
[Does man think that he is to be left to wander without an aim? Was he not a small seed in the seminal elements? Then he was a leech-like form, so He created (him) then made (him) perfect. Then He made of him two kinds, the male and the female. Is not He able to give life to the dead?] (Al-Qiyamah 75:36-40)
Pollard, G. William. Chance and Providence, Scribner: NY, 1958.