[Cafer S. Yaran] Islamic Thought on the Existence (Bookos.org)

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of GOD Contributions and contrasts with Contemporary Western Philosophy of Religion


CafeI' S. Yaran



George F. McLean



THE EXISTENCE of GOD With Contributions from Contemporary Western Philosophy of Religion


Cofer S. Yara n


Copyright (:) 2003 by The Council for Research i.n Values and Philosophy Box261 Card inal Station Washington, D.C. 20064 All rights reserved Printed in the United Stales of America Li braTy or Congress C IIfaloging-i n-Publicli lion Yaran, Carer S. Is lamic tho ught on the exi stence of God : with cont ributions from contem porary Western philosophy of religion / by Cafcr S. Yaran. p. cm. - (Cultural heritage and contemporary c hange. Scries IIA, Is lam ; v. 16) Inel udes bibliographical refere nces and index.

J. God (Islam) 2. Islamic cosmology. 3. Philosophy, Islamic. 4. Philosophy, Comparative. 5. Philosophy and rel igion . I. Title. II . Series. B745.G63Y372003 1 2003015390 212 ' . 1--dc22

ISBN 1·56518·192·1 (pa",,)




v ij

a. Beliefi" God in Islamic Thought b. The Role of Argu mentation in Be li ef in God

1 4



Chapler I.The Argument from Reli gi ous Experience PART TWO. THE TI:'I./:'Ol DCICAI ARGl lMENTS

Chapler II . The Argume nt from Wi sdom (flikmah )


Chapter Ill . The Argument from Providence (' fnayeh)


Chapter IV The Argumen t from Creation (Ikhlira)



Chapter V The Ka/am Cosmological Argu ment


Chapter VI. The Falsa/a Cosmological Argument


Chapler VII. The Di sputed Position of the Ontological Argument





20 1


22 3



FOREWORD Until recently, not only atheistic philosophers, but many contemporary religious thinkers have been willing to accept that , si nce the critici sms of Hume and Kant and Darwin's theory of evolution , the traditional arguments for the existence of God have

no force. Of late, however, there has been considerably morc interest in the arguments for the existence of God. Together with the argument from religious experience, particularly the teleological and cosmological arguments have had a revival. This may be due in

part to the scientific support coming form the tine tuning of the universe, the Anthrop ic Principle, and the Big Bang theory. Moreover, there has been also a more theistic and traditionalist turn in the philosophy of religion. As Kai Nielson expresses regretfull y, '"The philosophy of religion in Anglo-American context has taken a curious tum in the past decade . ... What has come to th e forefront ... is a group of Christian philosophers ofa philosophically analytical persuasion, but hostile 10 even the resid ues oflogical empiricism or Wittgensteinianism, who return to the old topics and the old theses of traditional Chri st ian ph ilosoph y and natural theology" (1989, 78) . Throughout hi story, the natural theology of the major theistic religions such as Judais m, Christianity and Islam has advanced and use d more or less the sa me arguments for the existence of essentially the same God. Correspondin gly, with similar counterarguments, the atheists in each theistic tradition have objected and rejected the existence of th is God . In theistic reli gions, the teleological and cosmological arguments accompanied by religious experience and commitment to revelation often have been the major arguments used for proving or s upporting the ex istence of God: while the problem of evil has been the main objection againslthe existence of God . It has been recognized recently, particularly thank s to the works of William Lane Craig, that most of the arguments used in the Chri stian tradition for the existence of God have a medi eval origin in Islamic theology and ph ilosophy. On the other hand , modern arguments for the existence of God, inc ludin g the Ka/am cosmologica l argument, have recent ly been reformulated and skilfully defended by Chri stian theologians and philosophers. Ironically, contemporary Mu slim scholars have not shown much interest in developing these argumenl5, and have rarely produced

Foreword philosophical books dealing independently with them for the Muslim or non-Muslim intellectual world. It is the intent of this philosophi cal exploration of the major Islamic arguments for the existence of God, worked out in relation to contemporary Western philosophy of religion, to provide an overall vision of th e arguments of the theistic traditions. Hopefu lly, thi s may contribute to a stron ger cumulative case for beli ef in the existence of God, which is the most common ground among the three Abrahami c traditions. I could not manage to write this work without hel p from others. [am especially grateful to Professor Paul Bad ham of the Uni versity of Wa les , Lampeter, fo r hi s g uidan ce on earli e r draft s of a manuscript on the argument from des ign. I wi s h to thank Professor George F. McLean for hi s reading th e manuscript and makin g very valuabl e suggestion s to improve it. I wo urd li ke to thank Dr. Burhanettin Tatar, Dr. Mawil Izzi Dien, Dr. Gary Bunt, Dr. Wendy Dos sel!, Dr. James Robin son, Dr. Muh s!n Ak bas, Dr. Ismail Hac inebioglu, Dr. Metin Vasa and Mr Hasan Atsiz for their various helps. My final thanks go to my wife, Mine, and my chi ldren , Feyza and Cuneyt, for thei r cons tant moral support.

Cllier S. Yllran

PREFACE This work on the islamic approaches to the existence of God by Professor Carer S. Yaran is of special moment for our times. This is so in part because it studies in detail the recent developments in the sciences and draws upon the philosophy of religion in Western thought. It codifies the great advances which have been made in recent decades in the life sc iences and especially in physical sc iences both at the macro, even galactic, level and at the micro level. It brings all this to bear on the Islamic arguments for the existence of God, especially its teleological argument. The result is a true revival and renewal orthe Islamic sc iences ofreiigion - to paraphrase al*Ghazali 's famous work. This in itselfis a major accomplishment. Yet , while enriching the Islamic teleological proofs by the ever in creasing data from the physical science. the author does not reduce the force of the arguments thereto. The classical Islamic thinkers were most adroit in metaphysics as an intellectual endeavor. The loss of confi dence in arguments for the e xi stence of God and the renewal ofatlention thereto corresponds to the closure of modern rationalism to metaphysics and the more recent reopening of the mind as it moves beyond modernity. As metaphysical the issue is not quantitative; any instance ofte1eology no matter how slight directs the mind to the fundamental source of order and of ordering. While the intricacies of the universe which Professor Yaran marshals overwhelm the mind with the beauty and splender of their order. everything that is good. includ ing the movement ofa little finger or the smi le on a chi ld 's face, reflects divine power and love. This has been the tran s forming in sight ofall the great religions. God is not an hypothesis, but the apodictic basis for hope, mean ing and commitment of over one billion Moslems with

a tradition of well over a millennium . It inspires a great civilization with deep concern for social equality and the poor; it transforms giving a cup of water into a trul y reli gious act. But in our times thi s work takes on very special significance. When Thomas Aquinas began his great sum mary of theo logy hi s first step, after examining the nature of theology as a science, was 10 articulate his classical five ways or arguments to th e existence of God. They were not responses to a question about a God who might or might not exist- that would be no God at aiL Thomas ' purpose was to open pathways for the human mind from man to God: to


7he COUI/cii fur Research in Values and Philm"ophy

"bind back" (the etymology of the term " religion " as re-ligatio) man to God. Similarly, the Hindu Vedanta Sllfras begins by describin g the Brahman as that from which, in which, and into which all is. For our day thi s has become the central issue. The Enlightenment attempted to separate relig ion from daily life, the sac red from the profane , and Church from state. [t proposed a secu lar fundam entali sm of man-without-God , which [slam has always rejected . A contrasting religious fundamentalism would focus on God-without-man. The tragic drama of our days con sists in the conflict of these two fundamentalisms. The importance of this work by Cafer Yaran lies precisely here . For it bridges the vast and perilous gulf between these two fundamentalisms reopening the path from man to God and from God to man ; it refounds religion as this search forGod - the infinite, the compassionatc and the merciful . This is the contribution - desperatel y needed today - of this work on Islamic thought on the cxistence of God, namely, to bridge between man and God - and thereby between man and man in these times of great confusion and deep peri l.

George F M,·Lean


BELIEF IN GOD IN ISLAMIC THOUGHT Belief, or rather faith , in God is the fir st, most essential a nd central conviction in Islam , as it is in most orlhe other great world faith s. Thi s is so also in the other theistic and originally Middle

Eastern reli gions, Judaism and Christiani ty. The first thin g a Muslim is required to believe is the existence and unity of God. Mu slim th eologians us ually CQunt the essential principl es of faith as six; which they recognize can be reduced 10 three, namely. fai th in God, in th e prophethood, and in the Day of Judgement. They acknowledge thai , with a second reduction , the last three, 10 0 , can be reduced to faith in the existence orGod , whi ch compri ses all other princ iples (see , Golc uk 199 1, 20; Hamidul lah 1980, c h. IV). One can look at the description of God first in th e Qur' an , and then in Islamic thought. The Sc riptures revealed to earlier prophet s, espec iall y those of th e Chri stian s and th e Jews, are regarded by the Mu s lim s as holy. Yet the Book , al-Qur'an, revealed to the Prophe t Muhammad , is the Musl im s ' ch ief sac red Book. Natu rally, there are many verses in the Qur' an about the existence and attributes of God ; and it is not easy to se lect from the m without ri sk of caus ing some mi sc onception s or particularization . Nevertheless, it may be useful to make some direct quotes from the main source - a short chapter from the very beginning of the Qur'an, a few verses from the middle, a nd a very short chapte r from close to the en d. In the first chapter, one can see those verses describing some attributes of God and some aspects of the relationship between God and th e human beings succ inctly: " Praise be to Al1ah , the Cheri sher and Sustainerofthe Worlds: Most Gracious, Most Merciful ; Maste r of the Day of J udge men t. Thee do we worsh ip, an d Th ine aid we seek. Show us the straight way, the way of those on whom Thou has bestowed Thy Grace, those whose (portion) is not wrath. And who go not astray" (The Holy Qur' an , I : 2-4). A verse in the middle of the Qur'an uses similitudes from our experience "in order that we may apprehend what we cannot compreh end" (Sharif 1963 , 137). Accordin g to thi s verse, "Alla h is the ligtll of the heavens an d th e earth. The parable of His Light is as if the re were a Niche an d withi n it a Lamp: The Lamp enclosed in Glass : The glass as it were a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree , an O live, neith er of the East nor of the West, Whose Oil is wel l-n igh luminous, though fire scarce


Islamic 71IOUghl Of/the Existence of God

touched it: Ught upon Light! Allah dOlh guide whom He will 10 His Light. Allah doth set fo nh Parables fo r men: and Allah doth know

all th ings" (24:35). Allah is not only "Light" but also Love as those verses imply: " It is He Who Creates from the very beginning, and He can restore (life). And He is the Oft-Forgi ving. Full of lovi ngkindness" (85: 13-14). Towards the end of th e Book, there is 3 we ll-known short chapter giving a summary of the basic attributes and strictly monotheistic features of the Islamic concept of God: " Say: He is Allah, the One; Al lah, the Eternal, Absol ute; He begcttcth not, nor is He begotten; And there is nonc like unto Him" ( 11 2 : 1-4). God, as described by the Qur' an for t he understand ing of human beings, is the sole self-subs isting, all-pervading, eternal, and Absolute Reality, He is the first a nd the last , the seen and the unseen . He is transcendent in the sense that in His fu ll glory He cannot be known or e xperienced by us fi nite beings. He is tran scende nt also becau se He is bcyond the lim itation s of tim e, space, and se nsecontent. He was before time, space, and the world of sense came into ex istence. He is also immanent both in human souls (anf u.\') and in the spatia-temporal orde r (aja(/ ). The attribute s of God arc man y and can be d is covered in Hi s nam es, but they ca n be sum mari zed for the purpose of study under a few essent ial head s: Life, Eternity, Uni ty, Power, Truth, Beauty, Justice, Love, and Goodness. "God is, thu s, a living, self-s ub s is ting, eternal , a nd absolutely free creative reality which is one, a ll-powerful , allknowi ng, all-beauty, most just , most loving, and a ll good" (S harif 1963 , 137-38; cr. , Hamidullah 1980, 54, 63 ), In the eyes of a non-Muslim scholar, three great themes concerning God in the Qu r' an seem to predominate, provided they arc t ak e n as a w ho le . I . God of f.· realion. )/ldgemenl and relribution. He is ·crealor of al t things'. He is the absolute originator. He is the bestowcr of atl good, the s uprcme jud ge and ' the justest judgc· , 2 . God, Unique and One in Him self The particular a ttribute of His godhead, in wh ich the faith of Islam was to have its focus , is firs t slated as an answer to man 's e rrors and im pieties : God the One. 3, God omnipolelll and merciful. The twofold aspect of the mystery of God in relation to His creation : Lord of the worlds in His unquestion ed om nipotence a nd His forgiving benevolence, is found in all parts of the Qur' an (Gardet 1960,407). The trad itional Islam ic sc ience which deal s with d ivi ne matters is the ilm al-kalam, roughly theology, One commonly held view in Kalam presents the followin g list concerning the attribu tes of God : eternity, permanence, di ssimilarity to the created , self-



subsistencc, oneness, powcr, will, knowlcdgc, I ife , creation , speech, hearing, and sight (Gardet 1960, 4 I I; Golcuk 199 1, 196-2 1I). In a fo rm of prayer, al-Ghazal i (d . 1111), a th eolog ian , mystic and philosopher, describes God briefly as follows: Praise be to God, the Creator, the First, the Last, th e Doer of whatever He wills, who gu ides His servants towards the true path , who makes Himself known to men that He exists by Himself without any partne r, He is single without any associate, the Eternal wit hout any before Him and without any beginning, the Everlasting without any end . He is the fi rst , the Last , the External and the Internal , the all-knowin g ( 1982 , 11 9, see for the details 118-141 ). To put it in contemporary Western philosophicaltermillology, one can say that "The major thei stic religions (J udaism, Chri sti anity, and Islam) basically share" the view of God known as rhei.I"ffl. Theists accept and arg ue that " there exi sts a supre me spiritual Being, transcendent from th e world, who is omnipotent, omniscicnt, and perfectly good" (Peterson 1991 , xii). In the dcfini tion of Ri chard Swinburne, "The God whom theists (C hristian, Jewi sh, and Islamic among others) claim to exist" is a being who is "everl astin gly omnipotcnt, omniscient , and perfectly free , ' .. he is everlastingly bodiless, omnipresent, creator and sustainer of the un iverse, perfectly good, and a source of moral obligation" ( 1996, 18- 19; see for details on the concepts of God in lsl~m and Chri stianity, Ullah 1984, Raschid 198 1, Zwemcr 1987, Owen 197 1, Ward 1974and 1993 ). It seems that, apart fro m the verses, one of the best definitions or descriptions of the Qur' anic , Islamic, and also th ei stic concept of God, which will be dealt with in the fo ll owing pages, is the one made by M.M. Sharif. already ment ioned : "God is. th us, a livin g. se lf-subsisting, eternal, and absolutely free creative reality wh ich is one, al1 -powerful, all-knowing, all-beauty, most j ust. most loving, and all good " (S harif 1963 , 137-38), Th is definition is neither anthropomorphic nor agnostic; it gives a limited but also a sufficient id ea about God . For Muslims, thc Qur' an shows expli citly or implicitly the ways of arriving at a strong be li ef concerning God' s existence as well as His altributes mentioned above. Through the prophets, God is co ntinually revealing to human beings th e unexpre ssed mystery o f His ineffability, in which a person is asked to believe , His explic it sover


Islamic Thought


the Existence o/God

cignty over all crealion, and the transcendental perfections by which it is made known . In the first place, human beings mus t be able to recognize the "signs of the universe", which are "signs of God". So wonderful indeed are the "unfailing" order and harmony oflhc world, that people are in danger of worshipping them. But they must rccognize that there is nothing imperi shable in thi s order and harmony. As happened to the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham); man 's reason , gui ded by God, must grasp, in the perishable and the mutable. the incontrovertible evidence for the necessary and transcendent ex ist-

ence of the Creator. "To reflect", " to reason about the signs of the universe", is therefore a religious duty for man 's reason , imposed on it by the Qur ' an (see ii , 118, 164; iii, 190; vi, 99; xiii , 2-3; xxiv, 4354 , etc .) (Gardet \960, 407-408; see al so Ibn Ru shd 1961 , 44-45). Reflecting upon the signs of the universe is one of the ways the Qur ' an shows or sheds light. In one sense, the main body of th e presen t work will be conce rned with this way of s igns, evidences and arguments for the existence of God.

THE ROLE OF ARGUMENTATION IN BELIEF IN GOO The systematic examination of the arguments for the existence of God should be preceded by a legitimate enquiry: Is the demonstration of God 's existence possible and desirable at all? (Fakhry 1957, 133). In other words, what role (jfany) should reason, knowledge , or arguments play in the validation (or invalidation) of religious belief-systems? Is it true that having faith de pends (or should depend) at all on having good reasons to believe that one ' s faith is true? (Peterson 1991 , 33). O...,es one need to be able to provide arguments to be intellectually respectable in believing that God exists? ( Meeker 2002, 7) There are three main positions and answers to the question s above which result from a contemporary analysi s of the iss ue in the philosophy of rel igion . The first answer is that of.,·rrong ralionalism, which holds that in order for a religious belief system to be properly and rationally accepted, it must be possible to prove that the belief system is true . The word prove here means to show that a belief is true in a way that should be convincing to any reasonable person. Th e second answer is that of fideism . It can be defined as the view that religious belief systems are not subject to rational evaluation . To say, for instance, that we have faith that God exists and that he loves us is to say that we accept this in a way thai does not depend on any evidence or reasoning, and that we refu se to have anything



to do with trying to prove or disprove God 's love for us. The third answer is Ihal of crilical rationalism, which is defined as tbe view that religious belief systems can and must be rationally criticized and evaluated, although co nclu sive proof of such a system is impossib le (Peterson 199 1, pp.34,37 ,41 ; Cf. Abraham 1985, chs. 710 ). Su ppo sing that th ese three main position s could be considered as representative ways of religious epistemology for any great rel igious tradition , one can speak within these categorizations and can say that th e position of mainstream Islamic though t and of major school s oflslami c theology is that of critical or soft rational ism accompanied and surpassed by religiou s experience and com mitment to the revelat ion. Indeed. according to Islam ic theology, faith (iman) is simpl y defined as ta.\·diq. " ]asdiq is to recognize a truth, to appropriate it, to affirm it, to confirm it, to actualize it . And the truth, in each case, is personali st, and si ncere" (Sm ith 1979 , 106). Faith in its typicall y Islamic form has a di stin ct ively close relation ship with knowledge. Fo r Musli ms, " faith is on the other side of knowledge, not on the side of it" (lhid. , 108). This does not mean , however, that faith is considered as just knowl edge. Faith "is not merely know ledge ; it include s knowledge, but is something else as well. That someth ing add itional, the men of kalam came to agree, is /asdh/, (Ibid., 109). Faith is Imdiq based on knowledge, not on the ' the leap of faith '. "The difference, then , between knowledge and /as diq lies in the sinceri ty and in the operationali st addenda denoted by the latter tenn . Knowledge is the perception ora truth outside onese lf; /asdiq is the personal appropriation of th at perception . [t is th e inner reorderin g of onesel f so as to act in terms of it; the interiorization and implementation of the truth in dynamic sincerity. Tmdiq mean s not sim ply °to believe ' a proposition, but rathe r to recognize a truth and to existen ti alize it" (Ibid .• (1 0). Having said thi s in general, we can al so men tion very briefl y so me schools or approaches in the hi story of Islamic thought that could be considered to represent each of these three positions. One of the basi c questions di sc ussed in Islamic theology concerned by what does a man know God . Th e answer th e Mu ' tazilites gave was quite simple: by Reason Caq/). They had their own peculiar conception offaith (iman) as essentiall y identi fied with ' knowledge,' here they proved to be perfect rationalists. 'K nowledge by Reason' meant knowledge acquired by reasoning and deduction (isridlal) , knowledge based on logical argument (Izutsu


Islamic Thoughl otllhe

Ex i.~len ce


\980, 109). So the position of the Mutazilites was a kind of strong religious rationalism . The philosophies of such Islamic thinkers as al-Farabi . Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averrocs) may be con sidered as the examples of strong rationali s m. For them "reason could be of great assi stance in this effort to discover the religious meaning of life and to order all life in that light Indeed. their great works illustrate this point so well that no external certification of their significance need be added to that which shines from within" (McLean 200 I, 52 ). The early juri sts and th eologians, such as Malik h. Anas and hi s follow ers were content with a theological knowledge rooted in Scripture . Like the Su fis, who believed that God could be apprehended directly, these trad itionali sts soug ht the ground of their beliefin God in a non-rational sphere: that ofrevelation or authority. Thus neither for Traditionali sm nor for Sufi sm was a proof of the exi sten ce of God necessary at all , since the existence of God was given directly ei ther in Scripture , accordin g to the former, or in the mystical process of direct apprehension , according to the latter (Fahkry 1957, 135). Thus, it mi ght be said thai the position ofeaTly traditionalists was somewhat similar to fid eism. even ifnot exactl y the same as defined above. Th e two main Islami c sc hool s of theology, the Ash ' aTites and the Maturidites, may be considered to adopt the soft. rationalistic middle way. According to al-Ghazali , a leadin g As h' arite, even the I~'l.ith based on authority becomes perfect gradually with rational and experiential evidences. He writes as follow s: What has been said about belief is applicabl e 10 a boy in hi s early years in order that he may commit them to memory. It s meanin g will be graduall y unfolded to him . Th e fir st duty ora boy is to commit th em to memory, then to understand them and then to beli eve them and then to know them as certain and sure. It comes to hi s mind as a matter of course without proof. The root of faith oflhe ordinary people is Jaq/id or bli nd belief on authority. Tru e it is Ihat the belief whi ch is based on authority is nol free from some weakness, but when it is certain and sure, it becomes perfect ( 19 82. 123). A far more consis tent rationalistic theory of faith (iman ) was elaborated by the Maturidites. The rcal question considered is



whether knowledge of God becomes incumbent upon man as soon as he acquires a mature capaci ty for reasoning; or whether it becomes incumbent upon him on ly after an Apostle has been sent to hi s community to inform it of all tllat is necessary for man to know. The Matu ridites in general choose the fi rst alternative, and the Ash ' arites th e second. According to the Maturidites, the ob ligatory nature of knowledge of God is based on Reason . That is to say, man must know God with his Reason even when there has been no Revelation . Evidently, Reason ('aqt) is the most important keyword here. The emphasis put by the Maturidites on Reason , however, should not be taken to mean Ihal. in Ihe view of the Maturidiles, Ihe Divin e Law is of no use on ce we have Reason. Reason is capable of comprehend ing its objects only in a broad and general way. The Apostles are sent 10 make concrete and parti cul ar what Reason has already grasped in a general way ; they di sclose the special detail s of il (see for the details, llutsu 1980, 109 ~ 11 5). For T. lzutsu It is reall y remarkable that even in the Hanafi te school of theology which . .. emphasizes so much the importance of ' knowled ge' , no less a theo logian than Maturidi himself takes the position that iman should be understood in term s of ' assen t' , no t ' knowledge' (Izutsu, Ibid. , 135). Thi s does not mean , however, that ' knowledge ' has nothin g at all to do with iman. The two are intimately connected with each other, and the relation between them is causal. In brief, accordi ng to Maturid i, iman may actually be caused by ' knowledge' , but the lattcr is fa r from constituting the essence of iman ; iman is rather an 'assent ' which is of such a nature that the man who has it fee ls in him self u profound cont e ntment (1l1ma 'n i na!! ) a ri s ing from the un s hakeable conviction (Izutsu, Ibid. , 136).

The most importanl ofa11 dut ies is in Maturidism the dUly of reflection and reasoning for obtai ning ' knowledge ' of God . The first and absolute duty is to reflect upon created thin gs, heaven and eanh, human beings and living beings, and to infer from them the exi stence of the One who has crealed them. But e)(ercising reflection (nazar) and reasoning (is/idla!) does not necessarily require passing through a process of reason ing in which logical syllogi sms must be employed


Islamic Thought on the Existe nce olGOl/

in their technical forms . The person is just expected to ren eet upon the creation s, the ' signs ' (ayof) of God in the worl d, and infer from them , by exercising hi s Reason, the existence of God. (Cf. Izuts u, Ibid. , 116- 17). As a res ult, one can say wi th Is mail Raj i al-Faruqi , a contemporary Musl im tbinker, that " rationalism is consti tutive of Islam ie civi l ization . It consists of three rules or laws: first, rejection of all that does not correspond with reality; second, denial of ultimate contradictories; third , openness to new andlor contrary evidence ." However, "Rationalism does not mean the priority of reason over reve lation but the rejection of any ultimate contrad iction between them" ( 1986,77 , 79). In other words, Islamic rationalism is a so ft Of critical rationalism in the sense of being between strong rat ionali sm and radi cal fidei sm. It may also be ca lled reasonableness (see Doan 200 1, 3). For "the triumphs of rat ionali sm in thc 20 th century have been characterized by an oppressive totalitarianism and a deadening consumerism. These deficiencies of rationalism call fo r al-Ghazal i' s clear proclamation of the d ist in cti ve character of the spirit, and of the Way which leads thereto" (McLean 2001,55). In s um , faith in Islam is more than rational and experi ential evidences; nevertheless it should be based on re liabl e and reasonable grounds, whether it be some so rt of rational arguments suc h as th e teleological or cosmologi cal argu ment or an argu ment from reli gious experience, which we shall begin with . Thus thi s work proceeds in three steps or pans . The fi rst is preliminary but of emerging experi ence, namely. religious experience. The ot her two parts are concern the more classical anugmen ts, namely, teo log ical as Part II and cos moml ogica l as Part III. Reference to the ontological argument is a section of thi s last part.




TH E A RG UM ENT FROM RE LIGIO US EXPERI E NCE Although the essence of the conception of God is more or

less the same in Islam or in any oth er reli gion in itself, the detail of "the conception of God differs according to individuals: a philosopher does not envisage it in the same manner as a man in th e street. The Prophet Muhammad admired the fe rvo ur of the faith of simple folk , and often gave the example of 'the faith of old women ,' that is, unshakable and full of sincere conviction (Hamidullah 1980, 64). The same situation is valid for the arguments for the existence of God as we ll. The essential theistic arguments in philoso phy or theology books arc nol more than four or five basic categories such as the ontological argument, cosmolog ical argument, teleological argument, argument from religio us experience, etc. But the valid ity and value of any argument differ accord ing to ind ividual s: some people find all of them valuable, some people need none of them , and some other people give great value to some of them while rejecting the others completely_ For example one can enjoy the argument from religious ex perience but di slike the ontological argument, or vice versa. Th is is quite normal and also quite good when the different human personalit ies and the ir various intellectual capacities are taken into consideration. Sometimes the philosophical and scientific developments can al so affect the popularity of any argument in a positive or negative direction as in the case of th e teleological argument in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and in the case of the argument from religiou s experience recent ly. For these reason s, th ere is not a standard order in which to take up the arguments in the re lated book s. In this case, we prefer to start from bottom upward, from near to far, from practical to theoretical , from concrete to abstract, from physical 10 metaphysical , from experiential to conceptual , that is to say, from the religious experience, through the teleological and cosm ological arguments, to the ontological argument. As Mohammad Iqbal points out "th e treatment of religious experience, as a source of Divine knowledge, is hi storically prior to th e treatm ent of other regions of human experience for the same purpose" (1988, 15). Nevertheless, althou gh there has always been religious and mystical experience in all the great religions of the


ll'lamic Thoughf ollfhe Existence o/God

world, the history of ' the argument from religious experience ' IS relatively new even in the Western thought In the course of the e igh teenth century the morc rationalistic arguments received fonnidable criticisms from Hume and Kant. At the e nd , Kant himself turned to " inner" experience, to our awareness of the mOTal law, and argued that the moral life is intell igible only if we postulate God and immortality. Many other writers, while accepting the s hift from oute r 10 inner, based their inference on a di stinctive class ofreligious experience. If we describe thi s shift, in general lenns, as a move from objective to subjective, from surveyi ng the world at large for evidences of God to focusing .mention on the personal and existential , it clearly was a shift of the greatest mome nt and one that still helps to determine our contemporary cl im ate of theological thought. The most important figure here is Friedrich Sch leiermacher (d. 1834), with his bold insistence on the primacy of reli gious feel ing (He pburn 1967 , 164; see al so, Badham 1998, 126). The term " religious experience" , however, was made popular in the West by William James in his Varielies of Reli!!i() u.~ Experience of 1902, where he defines religion as "the feel ings, acts and experiences of i ndi vidu al me n in their solitude, so far a s they apprehe nd them selves to stand

in relation 10 whatever they may consi der the divine" ( 1902, 31 ). The key to the dis ti ncti veness of reli gious experience lies for James in the ph rase "to stand in relation to ... the divine" (Martin 1987, 247). Thi s whole approach to theology from reli giou s experi ence was fiercely attacked by the ri se of dominance of Barthian Neoorthodoxy in the mid-twentieth-century. Now, however, religious ex periencin g has come very much back to the ce ntre of the theological scene, in particular, of contemporary philosophy of religion (Badham \ 998, 127-28). We now have fairl y convincing evidence that it is widespread and that, in a word , it is normal (Hay 1990, i, 10). EVIDENCE: EXPJ.:RIENC: E OF THE PRESENCE AND ACTIVITY OF GOD Before coming to the Islamic prese ntation of the topic, one mu st also explore what , more exactly, reli gious experience is, or, to put it in a nother way, the sort of experience to wh ich thi s term refers as ev iden ce . "An expe rience is a n event that one live s through (either as a participant or an observer) and about which one is conscio us or aware .... Religio us experiem:es are held to differ from ordinary experiences in that what is experienced is taken

The A rgume/lf fro m Religious f:xperience


by the person to be some supe rnatural being or presence (God , either in him self or as manifest in some action), a being related to God (a manifestation of God or personage such as the Virgin Mary), or some indescribable. Ultimate Reality (s uch as the non-dual Absolu te [Brahman) or Nirvana)" (Peterson 1991 , 14; Cf. Goring 1992,436). Religious experiences are diverse. Richard Sw inburn e suggests five types of rel igious experience, classi fi ed according to how the experiences come about. Experience of God or Ultimate Reality mediated through (I) a common, publ ic, sensory object, or (2) an unusual , public , sensory object, or (3) a private obj ect that can be described in normal sensory language, or (4) a pri vate object that cannot be de scribed in norma l sensory language , or (5) experience of God or Ultimate Reality that is not mediated by any sensory object (Swinburn e 1979, 249-52; cr. Dayis 1989, Ch. II ; Hay 1990, Ch. 4). Three possibit ities hayc been suggested about the nature of a religiou s expericn ce. Acc ording to Friedrich Schleiermacher, Rudolf Otto, and Wi ll iam James, religious experience is "a feelin g, or beller, a comp lex of feelin gs" such as that of dependen ce, or of religiou s dread (awe ), or of longin g for the tran scendent bein g thaI fasci nates us. For Will iam Alston , religious experience is a type of perce ption. It has the same structure as sense perception. And, according to defenders of a third view, a reli gious experi ence is "an experience th e person who has it fakes as religiou s. To take an ex per ience as re li giou s means that experiencers believe that a naturali sti c explanation of the experience is insufficient, and that it can be explained only in terms of religious doctrines" (Pe terso n 1991 , 16-21 ). R. Swinburne uses the term " in the sense of experiences apparently of God - experi ences which seem to the subject to be experiences or God" ( 1996, 130). Arguments from religiou s experience show remarkable di versity, (0) in the sort s of experience tak en as data for the argument, (b) in the structure of the inrerence itself, and (c) in the alleged conc lusion. The following exemplify just three versions of the argument: ( 1) "A I very different limes and places great numbers c f men have claimed 10 experience God; it would be unreasonable to suppose that they must a ll have been deluded. " (2) "The real argument to God is the individual believer's sense of God 's presenCe, the awareness of God 's wi ll in tensio n and con fli ct with his own will , the peace that follows the acceptance of God 's command. " (3) " Experiences of meeting God are self·authenticat ing: they involve


Islamic Thought on the /!'x ;stence o/God

no precarious chain of inferen ce, no shifting of rival of hypotheses. They make unbelief logically absurd" (Hepburn 1967, 164). In the face of thi s di versity, G. Mavrodes warns and recommends that the argument for the exi s tence of God from reli gious experience can be con sidered in two different ways. First, thi s can be considered a special version oflhe teleological argument, claiming that the widespread occurrence of religious experience, with a common ph enomenological core and giving ri se to a common core of interpretation , requires explanation . And it is argued by some philosophers th at the most plau sible explanation involve s the existence and act ivity of God . Alternately, religiou s experience can be cons trued as a non-inferenti al mode of cognition , analogous to se nse, wh ich grounds a knowledge of God in a more direct way than argumentation. " It is especially important not to treat thi s sort of appeal to religiou s experience as ifit were an appeal to argument , sin ce th at would invite inappropriate sorts of critici sm and defence" (Mavrodes 1995, 767-68). In th is case, we wilt examine the argument fr om religious experience in tenns of the fir st alternative, but not as a special version of the teleological argument. Rath er we see it as a soft , morc rel igi ous, more s ubj ecti ve and e xistential , and less pretentious preliminary version to the more rational and objective arguments. It seem s that it is possible and useful to divide the content of the concept of religious experience into two simply distingui shable types according to the experi encer. One is the propheti c and mystical re li g iou s experi ence ; thi s is absolutely deep and den se; it is experienced by a relative minority of human beings. The other is ordinary and popular relig iou s ex peri ence, whi ch is relati vel y superficial and weaker, but is experienced by a majority of human bei ngs. When the term is used in general by philosophers of religion , il seem s that they usc it often in it s first meaning, namely, as deep and dense experience. But one can al so consider importan t the seco nd type of re li giou s ex perience which is that of average uneducated person s, or educated student s or scholars who have nothing to do with any real mystical tradition in their li ves. Indeed, "the Muslims designate the spiritual journey by the tenn mi 'raJ, which means a ladder, an ascen sion , which varies according to indi vidual s and the ir capacitie s. " For a Mu slim , "th e high est imaginable level a human being can attain is the one that has been reached by the holy Prophet Muhammad; and thi s experience of his is al so called mira). So, in a state of consciousness and wakefulness, th e Prophet had the vision (rll ya) of bein g transported to heaven

The Argument/rom Religious Fxperience


and graced with the honour of the Divine Presence .... The Prophet himself employed the term mi 'raj in connect ion with the common faithful , when he indicated that ' The service of worship is the mi 'raj of the believer.' Evidently to each according to hi s capacity and his merit" (Hamidullah 1980, 105-06). So we could start our examination of the argum ents from religious experience with this second general and weaker type. GENE RAL CONSENT

Some Muslim theologians talk about an argument for the ex istence of God called ' the argument from general consent'. According to this argument, temples or other signs ofa supernatural belief are found everywhere human beings have lived and in al l periods of history. Such an almost universal consent or consensus in very different types of human societies about accepting the existence of a supernat ural being, which does not seem to accord with their basic desires or i nsti ncts , can not be ignored, or treated as just an unfoundational and unimportant fact. It cannot be explained by such personal and changeable causes as ignorance, fear, polit ical pressu res, educat ion, in heritance, and so on. Therefore, this general consensus 10 which hi story testifies can best be explained by the existence and unity of God (Go lcuk 199 1, 150-51). Thi s argument has not been taken very se riou sly as an independent speculative or rational argument . It is not easy to fi nd it in recent books written particularly on the argumen ts or more generally on the philosophy of religion. Thi s altitude is perhaps fair enough when it is considered as a pretentious inferential argument. It seems, however, that this argument, or rather, thi s sort of reasoning, may have a better place wit hin t he family of the arguments from religious experience. Although it cannot have a conclusive force, it has some other merits. It gives a simple, sensible and inclusive insight;

and thi s may be regarded to be as useful and important as a complicated, strictly logical and exclusively philosophical argument . [t does not for produce a logical proof and , thus, defen d the necessary truth of its conclusion, but it is as clear and distinct as possible. One can simply sche matize th is argument as follows: 1. Unexpectedly great consensuses need a sufficient or satisfactory explanation .. 2. Almost all human beings have a great consensus on a supernatu ral reali ty.

Islamic Thoughl on the Exislence o/God


3. The explanation of this consen sus cannot be a totally natural one.

4. Therefore, the sufficient explanation must include a supernatural factor, as well. One need not defend this argument premise by premi se. They cannot be necessarily true statements; but they have some probable or at least plausible truth . The most important step here is the second one; it "has at least the force of indicating that the burden of proof lies on th e denycr of a universally held belief' (Matson 1965, 5).

Suppos in g fir st three steps ha ve been pre se nted brie fl y but sufficiently, how do some Muslims explain its fourth step. Thi s is the most important one for seeing the relation ship between thi s classical

or, for many, out-of-date argument and the argument from religious expe ri ence. When someone look s at thi s con sensu s from the perspective of (perhaps, religiously inclined) common sen se, he or she will argue that the best explanation must include either a genuine human response to th e transcendent based on rel igious experience (see, Hick 1989) or a di vine implantation of a seed of be li ef in, and love of, God as innate to human nature (without violating their freedom of belief or di sbeli ef). There may not be a big difference between these two types of expressions concerning the explanation of the same phenome na. But it is obvious that emphasis on the former seems to be on the human side of reli gious experience, whereas emphasis on the latter lean s to divi ne efficiency on the innate nature of human beings. Traditionall y Muslims prefer the latter idea and rhetoric. IN NATE AND DISPOSITIONAL

According to al-Ghazali , the conception of the existence and unity of God is innate or inborn in human bein gs ' minds sin ce they were first created and continuous with th em in the prime of their youth. "[ndeed , human nature itself seems to testify that it la wellordered system of the world] is subjected to the Creator's directi on, and directed according to Hi s management Hence God most hi gh said : ' Is there any doubt regard ing God, the Originator of the heavens and the eanh .. . ?' [xiv : 101. , .. The most hi gh also said : 'So set thy face 10 the rel igion, a man of pure faith - God 's original upon which He originated mankind. There is no changing ofGod'screation. Th at is the right reli gion'" (1965,34 ; Cf 1982, 126). Some Muslim s take the divine basis of the innate nat ure of religious experience and

The Argumem fro m Religious E-.:periellce


belief furth er back and present a different Qur ' anic verse as a reli gious evidence for thcir view (see 7: 173). For this view, the vital seed of God 's love and avowal of His existence is planted in human nature. But it mu st be added immediately here that this divine seed does not violate human free dom of belief or di sbelief, because it isj ust a seed, to speak metaphori cal ly. And "The seed need s lifegiving sustcnance to flourish and flower, and unless denied this sustenance by a polluted environment , it remains a constant and continuous gu ide to the Lord .... " (U llah 1984,3, see also p. 23). This classical Islamic view on the innate nature ofbclief in God reminds us of A. Plantinga's views on properl y basic belief, as a more or less comparable and profitable idea in contemporary philosophy of religion . Accordi ng to Plantinga, or to Calvini st epi stemology, belief in God is a ' properly basic belie f. "Taking some bel ief we think to be reasonable and j ustified , we shou ld ask ourselves whether we hold thi s beli ef because it is evidentiall y supported by other beliefs of ours, or whether it is one that is or cou ld be reasonably held even if it were not supported by any other beliefs as evidence. If the latter is the case, we put this beli efdown as a basic belief. and indeed as a properly ha~k belier' (Peterson 199 1, 122). Properly basic beliefs are the foundation s of our structure of belief and do not need to be supported by ot her arguments. Thus, ' God exists ' is seen as a belief that can be rationally held eve n when it is unsupported by any argument or evidence. "Cal vini st epistemology regards beli efin God as on par with such beliefs as ' I + I = 2 ' or ' Snow is white ' or ' I feel thirsty'" (Parsons 1989,45). If God 's existence, however, can be ration ally accepted even though it is not supported by any argument o r evid ence, what are the criteria or circumstances that make belief in God an obviously properl y basic, whereas th ey do not make properly basic bel ief in some superstitious beings. Plant inga does not ment ion strict criteria but gives some examples of di spositional and ex periential condition s for having a properly basic belief in God: There is in us a di sposition to believe propositions of the sort thi s flower was created by God or thi s vast and intricate universe was created by God when we contemplate the fiow er or behold the starry hcavcns or think about the vast reaches of the unlversc .... Upon reading the Bible, one may be impressed with a deep sen se that God is speaking to him . Upon having done what 1 know is cheap, or


Is/omie 7110ughl on the Existence o/God

wrong, or wicked, I may feel guilty in God ' s sight and form the belief God disapproves ofwhal J have done . Upon confession and repentance I may feel forgiven , formin g the belief God forgives me for what I have done. When life is sweet and satisfying, a spontaneous sense orgratitude may well up within the soul ; someone in thi s cond ition may thank and prai se the Lord for His goodness, and will of course have the accompanying belief that indeed the Lord is to be thanked and prai sed. (Plantinga 1983, 80)

The position of Plantinga looks quite similar to the position ofal·Ghazall in some of his books. For Al-Ghazali, faith (iman) is not of such a nature that il could be obtained by the activities of Reason , like es tab li s hing abs tract proofs, making sys tematic classifications, hair-splitting argumen tat ion , etc. Nay, iman is a kind of illumi nati ng ' li ght' nur which Cod Himse lf throws into the heDrts of His servants

as a free and gracious gift . Sometimes it comes in the form of a finn and irresistible convict ion welling up from the innennost soul, which is completely ineffable. Sometime s, it occurs as the resu lt of one's observing a certain trait in a pious man ; one feel s, whil e one si ts and talks with the man, a flash of li ght s uddenly coming from him and striking one. Sometimes, again , it is caused by so me personal c ircumstanc e. Once a Bedouin who had been offering resi stance to the Prophet with bitter enmity came to him . When hi s eyes fell upon the brilfiant face of the Prophet and saw a sci nt illating light of Prop het hood coming forth from it. he sai d, ' By God, thi s is nol the face of a liar !' And he asked the Prophet to tell him about Islam , an d became a Muslim (Fay.wl al-lafrigah, p. 262 , cited in lzutsu 1980, 123) Thus, it seems that the best plau sible way of ex plaining the innate and dispositional religious experience and feeling either of the general human beings or ofa particular individual is to suppose that there is a most loving and all good God who created conscious

71, e Argllmelll f rom Neligiuu.Y Erpe rience


beings with a nature that can find His ex istence and can feel His love in a condition of considerable freedom . Al-Ghazali tel ls in hi s autobiographi ca l book, Deliverance f rom Error, that, when he was teaching in Baghdad to many students, in one of the most distinguished positions in the academic world of hi s day, he had caught th e disease of scepticism. "The disease was barning," he says, ·'and lasted almost (wo month s, during which J was a sceptic in fact though not in theory nor in outward ex pression" (1953 , 76). At length God cured h im of the malady. But what is important in this autobiographical narration is the way of cure al-Ghazali mentions. " This did not come about by systematic demon stration or marshalled argument," he declares, ··but by a light which God most hi gh cast into my breast.'" And immediately after reporting hi s own personal religious experience, he remind s hi s readers that "Whoever th inks that the understanding of things Di vine rests upon strict proofs has in hi s th ought narrowed down the wideness of God 's mercy" ( 1953,25). We come across quite si milar experie nces and ideas in the writings of Alvin Plantinga today. He explain s these as follows: " I ce rtainly do believe in the ex istence of God, but I don ' t believe by way of conc lusion from arguments or because I think the probabilities point in Ihat direction . It seems to me that I experience God. J experience God in a variety of ways, ju s I as lOIs and lOIs of people do: in church, in reading the Bibl e, in nature, in human relationship, in a thou sand different ways. [t is not a conclusion from an argument. It is something more immediate, someth ing much more ex istential and experiential ("998 , 12 0). According to al-Ghazal i, if someone is already a believer in God and really sincerely wants to have more direct and deep reli gious experience, he or she has more chance to have it. For him , [fsomeone wants to be included within th e travellers of the hereafter with God ' s grace as his friend , the doors o f g uidance are opened for him or her whi le he or she rem ain s engaged in actions attached to the fear of God and restrain s him- or herse lf from passions and lu sts, making effons at d iscipline and self-mortification . ··Owing to these efforts, a light from God fa[l s in his heart as God say s: ' Whoso strives for Us. We shall gu ide them in our path s, for God is assuredly with those who do right ' (29: 69)" (al-Ghazali 1982, 124). The very personal experience of Al-Ghazali mentioned above and his addit ional statements explicitly show. on Ihe one hand , that the way of natural or philoso phical theology is not the only way to understand di vine or metaphysical matters; and on the other hand

Islamic Tho ught on the Existence of God

that some experiences of an indi vidual person , whether he or she be a sceptic or an average believer, can be explained onl y through God' s presence and personal provi dence, at least for the person who experienced it. The furth er dimension of reli gious experience is the mystical type of it. All the great world faiths have a mystical tradition . And it is interesting that most of the mystics of different reli gions are in ge neral agreement on some fo undational views. At least fo ur insights seem to comprise the principal points of agreement found in mystics of differen t cultures. First, myst ics p reny generall y agree that their experiences reveallhe reality of an ord er of being distinct from , and in some sense higher than , the world perceived through the senses. Second, reality is revealed to be one ; at all events, il is more accurately described as one than as many, though no description is qu ite right. Third , reality is perfect. All thai is ultimately valuabh! is somehow embedded in it; all thai is evil is some hO\ . . . excl ud ed. Finally, the human soul is identical with , or at least aki n to, the supersensible reality. Whatever may be the stat us of t he material world , the so ul , or at least some part or aspect of it, is of the same stu ff as ultimate reality (Matson 1965, 21-22) Musl im mystics are generally a nd simply call ed Su fi s. Abu Bak r al- Kalabadh i' s Ta 'arruJ, The Doc/ rine o/lhe .s'llfis, is accepted as an authoritative lext book on S ufi doctrine. As alKalabadhi puts it, among the com munity of Muhammad . God has placed men chose n and elect, exce ll ent and pious. T hey had understanding of God, and journ eyed unto God. and turned away from what is other than God . "They were spiritual bodies, being upon earth celestial , and with creation di vi ne: sil ent and meditative, abse nt (from men) but present (with God), kings in rags, outcasts from every tribe, possessors of all virtues and li ghts of all guidance; their ears att entive, their hearts pure, their q ualit ies con cealed; chosen, Sufis, ill uminated, pure" ( 19 79, 2). The Suji epistemology and faith have direct relationship with religious experience. When the Sufis speak of the ' trut h', they refer to the knowledge whose real content is truth of the highest degree of certainty. because it is gained by direct experience. This direct experience alludes to a trans-empirical states of awareness in which they 'see ' the reality of the Multiplicity of phenomena in the Unity of the One Real Being, and the Unity of the One Real Being in the Multiplicity of phenomena (al-Altas 1985, 215 ). Moham mad Iqbal offers five general observation s on the ma in characteristics of the Sufi or mystic experience : " I. The first

The Argllmemjrom Religious Experience


point to note is the immediacy of this ex perience, . .. 2. The second point is the un analysable wholeness of myst ic experience . . . 3. The third po int to nOle is that to the mystic, the mystic s tate is a mom en t o f intimate association with a uniqu e Othe r Self, transcendi ng, encompassing, and momentarily suppressing the private personality of the subject of ex peri ence . ... 4 . Since the quality of mystic experience is to be directly experienccd , it is obvious that it cannot be communicated .... 5. The mystic'S int imate association with th e eternal wh ich gives him a sense of the unreali ty of serial time does not mean a complete break with serial time. The mystic state in respect of its uniq ueness remains in some way related to common experience" ( 1988, 18-229. In this case, as W. Matson put s it, that many myst ics, probably a majority, are in substantial agreement on the four or five po ints that we have sketched , seems to be a fact ; at any rate we shall assume that it is. "This is a fact, then , to be explained" ( 1965, 22f). And th is fact has a direct relationship with the arguments for the existence of God. For " on the basis of her religious experience, the mystic makes claims about the objective fac t of God 's existence, claims about which s he fee ls abso lutely con fiden t. But what ri ght does the myst ic have to be sure that her experience is veridical?" (Suckiel 2002, 18 1) Therefore, we should now consider how th is ' fact' should be explained or how thi s evidence should be evaluated? Do the mystical experi ences have an evidential value for the mystic t hemselves and especially for the oth ers in the matter of God ' s existence? EVALUATION: ILL US ION OR REALITY? Woul d it be a sufficient rational ground of belief for an individual 10 have these sorts of more general innate based experience or more spec!;!1 personal religious experience? It is not difficuh to guess that a typical Medieval mystic, a suji for instance, and a typical Medieval theologian, a mutakallim if you like, would answer more or less differently. For a typical sufi, personal religiou s experience is nOI, for example , one oflhc seco ndary and s uppo rti ve grounds of fai th , but the most strong, d irect, reliable and desirab le ground ofil. For Mawlana Jalal ai-Din Rumi , love is the essence of all religion and religious experience. Not only is faith generated by love, but, what is more, faith generated by any other moti ve is almost worthless (see Iqbal 1983, 259-61). He writes as follows ( Rumi 1950, 43):


1~' lamic

Thought on the Exis/enc:e o/God

Reason, explaining Love, can naught but flounder Like ass in mire: Love is Love' s own expounder. Does not the sun himselfthc sun declare? Behold him ! AlIlhc proof thou seek' sl is there. For a typical theologian , personal religious experience does not mean very much in a properly based faith. AI-Malufidi, for example, "refutes the idea of those who think that the individual mind is the basis afknowledge and criterion of truth. He also does not regard inspiration Ofham) as a SOUTce afknowledge . Inspiration , he argues, creates chaos and conflicts in the domain afknowledge, makes true knowledge impossible, and is ultimately liable to lead humanity to disintegration and destruction for want of a common standard ofjudgement and universal basis for agree ment" (Ali 1963, 264). But for a scholar like Al-Ghazali , who is both mystic and theologian 1 at the same time, both religious experiences and theistic argu ments are sufficient and valuable grounds for a person 's religious belief The difference between them is not in essence, bUI in degree. Con sidering the genuine and strong religious experience, al-Ghazali compares the way of immediate experience with the way of rational argumentation in this way: " What a difference between being acquainted with the definition of drunkenness ... and being drunk . Indeed, the drunken man while in that condition does not know the definition of drunkenness nor the scientific account of it: he h·as not the very least scientific knowledge of it. The sober man, on the othe r hand , knows the definition of drunkenness and its basi s, yet he is nOi drunk in the very least" ( 1953 , 55). Th us for a moderate evaluation from an Islamic perspective, one can say that religious experience seems to be a s ufficient ground for a person ' s belief in God, particularly ifil is in harmony with the essence of revelation and reason . Its contemporary philosophical evaluation brin gs us 10 R. Swi nburne ' s principle of credulity. According to Swinburne, th ere is a basic principle of rationality, which he call s the principl e of credulity, that"we ought to believe that things are as they seem to be (in the epistemic sense) unless and until we have evidence that we are mistaken ." He explains it with some examples. " If it seems to me thai I am seei ng a table or hearin g my friend 's voice, J ought to believe this until eviden ce appears Ihat I have been decei ved " ( \996, 131-32). W.K. C lifford objected to Swinburne arguing thai " It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufticient evidence"( 1970,

The Argumem fro m Religious E.xperience


159). But in th is case, for Swinburne, one will never be able to believe anything. "If you say the contrary - never tru st appearances until it is proved that they arc reliable - yo u will never have any beliefs at all .... Just as you must tru st your fi ve ordinary senses, so it is equally rational to trust your religious se nse" ( 1996, 132). The religiou s experiences of millions of human beings who have been aware of God's presence and gu idance, of being cured of sceptical di sease as in the case of al-Ghazali , of Hi s help and providence, of being cured of physi cal di sea ses and the like, are more likely to be real and genuine experiences in the sense of having a real object or source of the subject's experience. It is much less likely that the great majority of human beings, including very great intelligences and figures, have been deluded by various imaginations or proj ections. One hypothesis 10 explain the mystical agreement is that the mystics happen to be right. In any case, many mystics agree that the experience reveal s the ex istence of God , in a more or less orthodo x sensc of the proposition (Ibid ., 23). Anot her hypothesis is thai the mystic is crazy. The claim to possess a profound but inexpressible insight is characteristic of many psychotic states (Ibid. , 24). Which hypothesis seems to be more probably lrue? Let us look at the second on e first. Thi s hypothesi s could be true; it is not too difficult to find some hi stori cal or living examples to verify il. Some mystic type persons are really crazy or mentall y ill. But the important point here is whether the sceptic leap of induction in this hypothesis is really verified or nol. Can one reasonably arrive at an inductive conclusion from the presence of some mystic type of crazy people to the generalization that all mystics are crazy. Although there can always be a poss ibility, neither thi s simple naturali st ic hypothesis of craziness or hallucination , nor more deve loped psyc hoanal ytic proj ecti on theories seem to ex plain the experience of great mystics. Indeed, after a detailed exploration concerning the four types of ' pathological ' reductionist challenge to religious experience, Caroline F. Davi s concludes that " Pathological personality variables tend to be prescnt in clusters (people arc often anxious, in secure, and hypersuggestiblc, for instance), and many subjects of religious experience escape all ofthcm ; and it is clear that the other types of pathological fa ctors (e.g. hallucinogens), whose presence is much easier to detect, are abscnt from the vast majority of cases of religious experi ence" ( 1989, 223). David Hay al so defend s si milar

Islamic Thought on Ihe Exislence of God

ideas based on similar researches: "The data that have been assembled on the psychological well-being of populations reporting rei igio us ex perience contradict the view that religious experience is associated wi th poor mental health . The stati stical signi ficances are in the opposite direction . People reporting such experience are more li kely than other people to be in a good state of psychol ogical wellbeing ( 1990, 89). Therefore, we agree with Paul Badham in his argument and conclusion that "the primary reli gious figu res were manifestly in touch with reality. What is impressive about the prophets is the soundness of their political and soc ial judgements. On any reckoning, Jes us of Nazaret h was at the very least a wise and perceptive tcacher, and Muhammad was a brilliant general , statesman and lawgiver. Likewise, contemporary religious experience is associated with a high level of mental alertness and psychological stability. Hence, to identify eith er prophetic or contemporary re ligious experie nce wit h mental di sorder wou ld seem wholly unjustified" ( 1998, 13 1; Cf. Smart 197 1, 497). In ad di tion to Ih is, as Mohammad Iqbal says, "The revealed and mystic IiteralU re of mankind bears ample testi mony to the faci that religious experience has been too enduring and dominant in the hi story of mankind 10 be rejected as mere illusion. There seems to be no reason ," accordi ng to him, "to accept the normal level of human experience as fa ct and reject its other levels as mystical and emotional. The fact s of religious experience are facts among other fact of hu man experience and, in the capacity of yieldin g knowledge by interpretation , one fact is as good as anoth er ( 1988, 16). Having accepted that mystical experien ce of God 's existence is a real and authentic experience, co uld it have an evidential value for nonmysli cs as well? Con cerning this question , there are different views in t he philosophy of religion. As exampl es of the three different ideas, one can mention that the answer of Malson is "negative" ( 1965 , 25), the answer of Hick is neither negative nor positive, that is, "The agnostic position must be accepted ... " ( 1970, li S), and the an swer of Swinburne is pos itive. Accord in g to Swinburne, there is a basic principle of rationality, which he call s the principle of testimony, that "those who do nOI have an experience of a certain type ought to bel ieve any others when they say that Ih ey do - again , in t he ab se nc e of ev id e nce of dece it or delusion"( 1996, 133). The answer of Mohammad Iqbal seems to be completely posi tive prov ided that " we are in possess ion of tests which do not differ from those appli cable to other form s of

The A rgllmenl from Religious t'xperience


knowledge. " He calls these tests as "the intellectual test and the pragmatic tes\. By the intellectual test ," he means, "critical interpretat ion , without any presuppositions of human experience, generally wi th a view 10 discover whether OUT interpretation leads us ultimately to a reality of the same character as is revealed by religious experience." And , according to him , "The pragmatic test judges it by its fruits " (1988,27). One can conclude th at the argument from various types of religious experience for the existence of God should be considered as a sufficient evidential ground for persons who do have that experience, provided that he or she has no obvious doubt of being dece ived or deluded in it, and the experience had is in harmony at least in its essence with his or her more objectively sound background knowledge based on reason andlor revelation. The case of those who have not got experience themselves is similar in general but different in the degree of evidential value. The evidential value of mystical religious experience for non mysti cs should be much less than the mystics themselves. Nevertheless, for non mystics, too, the extraordinary ex per iences of the mystics , accompanied and supponed by their exceptionally high moral quality, excellent intellectual ability and sometimes unusual miraculous powers, needs a satisfactory explanation . And the more likely satisfacto ry explanat ion seems to be the presence and provident ial activity of God. Ibn Rush d states that there are different approaches to understanding God and various appropriate methods of assent which a person ' s temperament and nature require. " For the natures of men are on different levels with respect to [their paths to] assent. One of them comes through demon stration: another comes to assent through dialectical arguments, just as firmly as the demonstrative man through demonstration , si nce hi s nature does not contain any greater capacity; while another comes to assent th rough rhetorical

arguments, again just as firml y as the demonstrative man through demonstrative arguments" (196 1, 49 ; see also, Leaman 1988, 146149). Fo ll owing the way of Ibn Rushd, we can say that one must not expect everybody to have a logical demonstration for all of his or her beliefs, includ ing the belief in God. Because of some personal features , such as personal character, ability, education, and so on, different people find different evidence or arguments reasonably suffi cient for themselves. Thus, for some people, including some mystics and some philosophers like Mohammad Iqbal or Alvin


Islamic Thought on lhe Existence o/God

Plantinga, some sort of religious experience, insigh t, or pers uasive argument we have mentioned so far is enough for a rational person to have a strong belief in God. Some other people, however, prefer to look at the lopi c from more holi stic and more rationali stic perspecti ve considerin g and constructing a cumulati ve case of various arguments. If someone prefers to con sider and also possi bly construct a cumulative case of th e various arguments, then he or she mu st go on to consider the oth er, and possibly more rat ional , arguments, for example, the teleological argument. NOTE

l. Although I mentioned M.e. Rumi and al-Malufidi as represental ive of two opposite perspective, it s hould be known that neither Rumi rejects rational bel ief nor al·Maturidi denies experience and in spiration . As A. Iqbal says " Rumi admits th e utility of the in tellect and does not reject it altogether. Hi s e mphasis on intuit ion as again st intellect is ex plained by the fac t that some of hi s outstandin g predecessors had placed an incredible premium on reason. Rumi gives an important place to kn owledge". (pp. 26 1-63) On th e other hand, as Ayyub Ali says, AI· Malu ridi has never been a hard rationalist and "always tried to adopt a middle co ur se be t ween th e ex tre me Ratio nali s ts an d th e Trad it ioni sts."(Ayyub Al i, mm serif 264).


THE TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS The teleological argument or the argument from design is a very ancient argument for the existence of God . Its fi rsl appearance of this argument is usuall y ascribed to a certain period in ancient philosophy, but this is open to question. Rather it seems to us that "The roots of the a rg ume nt stretch 50 far back into antiquity that it is no longer possible to establish thei r origin " (Schlesinger 1988, 122). Kant pointed out in his Critiqlle oj Pure Hea,WJn (A 623, B 651 - 1990, 520) thai this argument is "the oldest , clearest , and the most accordant with the common reason of mankind". One may interpret hi s expression "old est" as "virtuall y as old as humanity" (Matson 1965 , 87), and his expressions "clearest'" and "the most accordant with the common reason of mankind " as the reasons why the argument is the oldest Indeed, thi s argument does not seem so sophi sticated as the onto logical or even th e cosmo logical argument. By contrast, its factual roots or observable illustration s seem to be as close to human beings as themse lves; and, its mode of reasoning seems, at least at first sight , quite simple and accord wi th common sense (Schlesinger 1988, 122). In the Old Testamen t, for example. the Psalmist, besides complaining that " The foo l says in hi s heart , "There is no God"" (p.~alm s 14:1 ; also 53 :1 ), also assures us, most sign ifi cantly, that "the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (P,wlm.~' 19: I). The Prophet Jeremiah also argued from the order of the world that God was powerful and reliabl e. He argued to the power of the creator from th e extent of the creation : " . .. as coun tless as the stars of the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore" (Jeremiah 33 :22). And he argued that its regu lar behaviour s howed the reliability and tru stworthiness of God , by speaking of the "covenant with the day and ni ght" whereby they fo llow each other regularly, and "the fixed laws of heaven and earth" (Jere miah 33:20f. and 25t). After these si mple design arguments, more advanced and more systemati c design argument s were developed by the anc ient philosoph ers. Socrates (d. 399 Be) pointed to some astronomical phenomena in the world s urrounding human beings wh ich contribute to their well-being like sun, moon , stars, seasons, day and night; and also poi nted out the f unctionatity or diverse aspects of Iiving beings' physiological and psychological endowments (see Xenophon 1923,

Islamic Though t on the Existence of GDd

299-305 ). Plato (d. 347 BC) argued that the physical order of the universe is unintelligible apart from Mind, which moves, orders and sustains it. In The Laws, when asked on what grounds one may speak the truth in saying that gods exist, Plato 's character Clcinias replies with one of the explicit earl y design arguments: "To begin with, think of the earth , and sun, and planets, and everything! And the wonderful and beautiful order of the season s with its distinctions of years and month !" ( 1934, 275). The Stoics "developed the design argument in terms afany and every analogy, including machines, ships, houses, waterclocks, etc." (Hurlbutt 1985, 129). Greek learning, including teleological consideration s, " was first perpetuated by the Arabic school s which tran slated many of the early texts. Thi s Eastern influence reached its zenith during the tenth century and through it Aristotelian ideas slowly diffused into the European cultu re to be moulded into a Chri stian ronn by Aquinas as easily as it was fitted into the Mu sli m perspecti ve of the early Arabic ph ilosophers" (Barrow and Tipler 1986, 45). Mu slim thinkers wrote some separate books exclusively dealing with thi s argument, like the book attributed to al-Jahi z (d. 868) and entitled The Book of Proofs and l?ejlC(.;tiOIl regarding Creation and Divine Governance (Kirab al-Dala'il wa-I-I ~i ·har 'ala al- Khalq wa-I-Tadbir) (for the tran slation ofa version of th is work, see Gibb 1948, 150-62), and another book attributed to alGhazali (d. 1111 ) and entitl ed The 1Vi.~do m in God :\· Crea( lIre.~ (alHikmafi Mahlllgat Allah) ( 198 7). Thus, Muslim thinkers used the teleological argument and exten ded its natural ground with more original data drawn fro m the functionality, orderliness, and beauty "of numerous details of nature" (Davidson 1987, 23 5·236). Moreover, unlike the ancient understanding of the Designer of the universe, like Socrates' gods or Demiurge, Plato 's Idea of Good, or the Stoics' panthei st God immanent in all things (see Gil son 1941 , 24-37), early Muslim philosophers evoked thi s argument to establi sh that the one God of Abrahamic religion , or in more philosophical tenns, the God of traditional theism ex ists and possesses the theistic attributes of unity. wisdom, power, and providence. The view of extern al teleology imposed on nature by a supernatural Being " found approval in Christianity, as in Islam," and was "expounded in a specifically thei stic form by the philosophers of the Middle Ages, notably $ 1. Thomas Aquinas" (G undry 195 1, , 84). Aq uinas (d. 1274) uses th e teleological argum ent as the fifth way of hi s famous 'five ways' to prove the existence of God.

HIe Teleological Argllll1enls


Hi storically, the 'golden age' or 'greatest flouri shin g' of the argument from design was the two centuries following the rise of science in the seventeenth century. A gradual transition occurred in the nature of the design argument from the Scholastics to Ne"10n and hi s followers. In sum, "Newton argued for a "designer" both from the systematic order exh ibited in the sc ienti fi cally established mechanical view of the world and from the purposive means-ends relations exhibited by organisms and objects in nature" (Hurlbutt 1985 , 89). The natural theology of Ne wton crowned the argument from des ign, and during the eighteenth cen tury numerou s scien ti sts, philosophers, and theologians repealed and enforced it. Howeve r, it was lik ewise in the later years of the eighteent h ce ntury that the argument met its most formidable philosop hi ca l critic, David Hume (d . 1776). In the Dialoglle.~ Concerning Na fllrai Religion, ( 1779 ), Hume tried to ex plore especially the Newtonian design argumen t, voiced through C leanthes ; and developed a number of counterargu ments, voiced through Phi lo, agai nst the inference from the apparently designed character of the world to a divine designer. There are many object ions in thi s book , and their number chan ges amon g Hume 's comme ntato rs. [t seems, ho weve r, that Hum e concerned himself principally with trying to show that the analogy on which th e argument rests is weak . Nearly all objections in Dialoglles might be reduced or seen to be relevant to the weakness of the analogy. [n spite of Hume's criticisms and Kant 's (d. I 804) refutation of the argument in the Crifiquf! (~( Pu re Rem·on [17811 , of which it has been said that "he did not add any significant new arguments to those which he had encountered in Humc's ' Dialogues'" (Hick 1970, 14 ), th e arg ument from design went on being reformulated and rev ived . O ne of the most widel y used versions and widely read works concerning thc argumcnt , William Paley 's (d. 1804) Nfl/ural Tfwology, published in 1802. The most outstanding feature of Paley 's argument is its excessively ana logic al character. Th e seco nd important feature of Paley's argument is hi s use ofa narrower design argument. [n fact, Paley seems to regard the ex istence of a single organi sed part of the works of nature such as the eye or the ear s ufficient by itse lf to support th e conclusion that God exists. He claims that "The eye proves it without the ear ; the ear without the eye. The proof in cach exampl e is co mplctc" ( 1963, 33). Paley's work maintained the popularity of the the eighteenth centu ry design argument for another hundred years, even though


Islamic Though' onlhe Exislence o/God

he did not engage with Hum e's and Kant' s severe metaphysical objections. However, nearly a cen tury later, 1he argument had to face another type of objection, which challenged directly the first premi se of the argument. For onc of the crucial elements in the argument presented by Paley and others was the observation of functional adaptation in organisms and individual organs. According to Charles Darwin 's (d . 1882) evolutionary theory, however, they were not the product of conscious activity, but the result of natural selection operating on modification s produced by random mutations. Thi s theory "probably did more to undermine the design argument than any other si ngle forc e" (Hurlbut III 1985 , 180), even more than Hume 's attacks (Dawkin s 199 1, 56f). Though, it did not die with Darwinian blow, yet it had to change in a number of aspects. In the twentieth century, the argument has been restated and revived by such theologians and philosophers as r. R. Tennant and. R. G. Swinburn e. In hi s influential book Philosophical Theology ( 1930), Tennant developed one of the most comprehe nsive an d serious modern restatements of the design argument. He defended th e concept of " cosmic" or " wider" teleology, and argued that "The forc ibleness of Nature's suggestion that she is the outcome of intelligent design lies not in particular cases of adaptedness in the world , nor even in the multiplicity of them [itl consists rather in the con spiration of innumerable causes to produce, by ei ther united and reciprocal action , and to maintain , a general order of Nature" (79). With thi s formulat ion, Tennant sought to form an argumen t from des ign which is immu ne both from Humean attacks and from Darwin ian criticisms. To do thi s, he shifted hi s way of reasoning from the principle of analogy to a principle of probability, and his gro un d from special des ign in the living beings to the directivity in the process of evo lution and fin ally to the cosmic order and purpo se in the world . However, the revival of interest in the argument from design in the contemporary philosophy of religion may be considered to begin with Richard Swinburne 's anicle "The Argument from Design", publi shed in 1968. He has been defen ding and developing the argument from des ign in hi s various works ever since . Many other writers have of course contributed 10 thi s development. And it is possible now to say that "in the last thirty years, the argument from the fine-tuning of the cosmos has steadily gained in popularity, often bei ng considered the strongest sin gle argumen t for the exi stence of God" (Collin s 2002, 130).

71le Teleological Argumems


The last important person in the history of the teleological argument in Islamic theology and phi losophy was Ibn Rushd or Averroes (d. 1198). After criticising some classical arguments, he passionately emphasized , advised , and tried to develop two different versions of the teleological argument, describin g them as the ways "to which the Gracious Book [the Qur ' an] has call ed attention and invited everybody" (1968 , 65). Ibn Rushd ' s arguments were not advanced in greater delaillater on in the history oflslamic thought; but it seems that they have been started to be studied again recently (see , Kukkonen 2002). In our view, however, Ibn Ru s hd was absolutel y righ t in hi s emphasis on the teleologica l argument as the way which is s uitab le fo r everybody who has a different nature and character, and as the way on which the Qur ' an has call ed for ren ection . We wi ll explore the teleological argument in Islam ic thought in three versions, one is mainl y based on al-Ghazali ' s works and takes its key term , "wisdom " (al- Hikma), from one of hi s books; the other two versions are based mainly on Ibn Rushd 's works with hi s own term inology.


THE ARG UMENT FROM WISDOM (HlKMA) Some Muslim scholars wrote independent books exc lusively dealing with the teleological argument as the proof of God ' s existence an d attributes. One is attribu ted 10 al · Ghazali and entitled The Wisdom in God's Creatllres (1987). In t his book , al-Ghazali explores the wisdom in the creation of the heavens, ean h, and living beings. In his analogical interpretation, the world is li ke a house and the human be in gs arc like its owners ( 1987.84). Everything in the world has been created in its best form and in conform ity with human needs_ All the wisdom in creatures is evidence of the existence of an all -knowing, all-powerful God , who created them with a unique wisdom , who is free from all sorls of imperfection, and has all anributes of perfection ( Ibid. , 85). This book may hnve been ascribed to al-Ghaznli in error; but in any case, al-Ghazal i uses the teleological nrgument in other of his books, as welL Herbert Davidson note that, whi le al-Ghazali presents the teleological argument side by side with t he proof from c reation , he indicates a preference for the teleological arg ument. He describes it as " inborn" in humanity a nd as so evident that " setting up a demonstration" is, in reality, superfl uous (see, Davidson 1987, 227). In his ar-Risalah al-Qlldsiyyah or in his Ihy a 'Ullim-al-lJin, al Ghazali begins to the topic of the knowledge of God 's existence by quot ing s uch passages from the Qur ' an as verse 2:164: Surely in the crcation of t he heavens and the earth and the alternation of nigh t and day and the sh ip that runs in the sea with profit to men and the water God send s down from heaven therewith reviving the earth arter it is dead and His scattering abroad in it all manner of craw ling things, and the turning about of the winds and the clouds com pe lled between heaven and earth - sure ly these a re signs for a people hnving understanding. Arter quoting several such passages, al-G hazal i declares: [ t should be apparent to anyone with the minimum of intell igence ifhe reflects a link upon the



11lOUght on the Existence of God

impl ication of these verses, and if he looks at the wonders in God 's creation on earth and in the skies and at the wonders in animals and plants, that th is

malVcl1ous, weU-ordered system cannot exist without a maker who conducts it, and a creator who plans and perfects it ( 1965,33; Cr. 1982, 126). AI-G hazari ' s reaso ning here may be put in simple form as a

te leo logi ca l argument as follow s: 1. The world d isplays a we ll-ordered (or fin e-tuned) system. 2. This marvell ous system cannOI (ex pect to) exi st without a maker and creator. 3. There fore, th ere mu st be a maker and creato r of this system . We can now explore the premises or sleps in delai l, in the light of modem scientific developments, as well as of some exemplary classical views from Is la mi c theo logy or philo sophy_ EvmENCE: THE FI NE-T UNI NG OF TH E UNIVERSE AND

ITS SC IENTIFIC LAWS So me versions of the teleological argument used by Muslim schol ars see m to fil the modern developments and reformulations of the argument pe rfectly quite well. Harith a l-Muhasibi (d. 857) has a teleological argument for the unity of the cause of the un iverse whi ch might serve equal ly well as an argument for the existence of such a cause. Throu ghout th e universe, in inanimate nature, plant life, animal life, and human life. al-Muhasibi di scovers that "eac h part fits together with the othe rs". The interconnect ions reveal that th e universe, from its lowest to its hi ghest leve l, forms "one whole," and the unity of "governance" evidenced by the universe leads alMuhasibi to infer the unity of th e cause o f the universe (see Davidson 1987, 224). Maturi di (d. 944) offers a brief argum e nt whe rein he drives the existence o f a "creator" ( mllhdifh ) from w hat he call s the "principle" that everythin g in the universe exhibit s "wondrous wi sdom ." The un ity of the creator is subseq ue ntly inferred from the fact that each process in natu re · the seasons of the year, the path s of the heavenly bodies, the life cyc les of plants a nd an imalsobserves ils own unvarying and uninterrupted cou rse. Maluridi does

The Argumentfrom Wi.wlom (Hikma)


not state, but perhaps he meant, that these several processes of nature are interdependent and mesh, and hence stan d in need of a single, all-envisaging architect (see Ibid., 224). The Ikhwan al-Safa ', the " Brothers of Purity," offer a teleological argument for the existence of God in which the heavens supply the evidence of design and wisdom (Ibid., 224). A more circumstantial teleological argument for the existence of God is advanced by Ibn Hazm . He uncovers the requisite evidence of design atlwo levels, on a cosmic scale, in th e arrangement of the celestial region, and on a lesser scale, in mi scellaneous details of biology. With the characteristics of eccentric spheres in mind, he marvel s al the circumstance that the celestial spheres "have different centres" around wh ich they rotate, yet dispute thei r having dilTerent cen tres, they "fit together tightly" and arc able to "maintain their circ ular motion" and unvarying velocities. The operations of the spheres thus lead " us . . necessarily" to recogn ize the hand of a "mover" (Ib;d.,225-26). These Muslim scholars use such concept s as wi sdom , design, interconnection , wholeness, and fitting together tightly as the evidential facts to prove the well-orderedness of the whole world . Their argumen ts are not similar to the narrow teleological argument of Paley, which was mainly based on the functionality in the living beings, especially in some organs of the body, like the eye or ear. Their argumen ts arc more akin to Tennant 's wider teleological argument. Nowadays , modern sc ientifi c data concerning these universal facts are usually referred to as fine-tuning of the un iverse; and a new version of the teleological argument based on these fact s is called argument from the fine -tuning of the universe. The Fine-Tuning of the Un ive rse The argument f rom fine-tuni ng o f the uni verse has rece ntly

been used by many people, including philosophers such as John Leslie ( 1989), William Lane Craig ( 1988), and Richard Swinburne ( 1990), sc ientists such as Freeman Dyson (1979), and Paul Davies ( 1992), and theologians like Hugh Montefiore ( 1985) in connection with the design argument. What is actually meant by the concept of ' fine-tuning ' , a brief definition or description ? By the statement " It looks as if our universe is spectacu larly ' fine tuned for Life ' ," Joh n Leslie means "on Iy that it looks as if small changes in this uni verse's basic feature s would have made life's evolution imposs ibl e" (1989,3). Small


!:slamic..' Though t 011 the Existence of God

changes in the strength s of its main forces , in the masses of its

particles, in its degree of turbulence. in ils early expansion speed, or s hortly, in its initial conditions and laws would seemingly have rendered it hostile to livi ng beings of any plausible kind. So fine-

tun ing appears to mean that our universe is, and has bee n si nce the very beginning, remarkably well-balanced for the ex istence and

evolution of Jiving organism s. Nevertheless, we may have a more detailed definition. After complaining that Swinburne does not offer a precise definition of fine- lun ing, Quenti n Smith gives a definition , wh ich , according to him , is both serviceable and consistent with the spirit of Swinburne' s article called "Argument from the Fine-Tun in g of the Universe" ( 1990). This definition looks to be consistent with the spirit of most arguments of the same kind together with Swinburne ' s, and also seems to be serviceable to our purpose of giving a definition of fi ne-tuning. Accordi ng to Sm ith' s defi nition or descri pl ion (1992 , 347), " A certain set of values of initial conditions and physical constants of a un iverse are fine-tu ned for intell igent life if and on ly if(a) each of the values of the init ial conditions and physical constants in this set is a physica lly necessary cond itio n for the evolution of intelligen t life. , . (b) the values in Ih is set are jointly sufficient for ... the evo lulion of intelligent life, and (c) there is only an extremely small range of all physical ly possible values of the initial cond itions (a) and (b). Ifany value meets these conditions, it is an an lhropic coi ncidence" or a fine- lun ing for life. With th is description in mind, it seems useful here to say something about the relationship between fine -tunings or cosmic coincidences and the anthro pic princ iple in the contex t o f the argument from design. For these two somet imes seem to be treated in 100 complex or confused a structure, either one within the other or both more or less treated as meaning the same. Whereas, they seem to refer to different facts and interpretations, and become su bject to different evaluations and crit icisms, even though they have, of course, some factual and histori cal connections. J. Zycinsky. fo r example, presen ts the important regularities of cosmic evolut ion such as "the existence of close links between the appearances of carbon-based life and the cosmologica l stru cture of the universe, between the laws of cosm ic evolution and val ues of physical constants" (1987, 317) as alm ost the same as the weak anthropic principle (see, 317-32 1). But he a lso says that " Many authors q uestion the philosophical sign ifi cance of the Anthropic Principle, whi ch they regard as the product ofaIbitrary speculations"

The Argllmellljrom Wisdom (Hikma)


(3\7). If almost nobody considers the cosmological coincidences summarised in Zycinsky' s first statement above as the product of arbitrary s pec ulation s, then , should not these cosmological or anthropic coincidences be distinguished from the question able anthropic principle? So it seems necessary to draw a distinction between the fine -tuning of the universe and the anthropic principle. Likewise, the relation ofthc anthropic principle with the argu ment from design should be made clear as well. In the view of Barrow and Tipler, for in stance , " The Anthropic Principles are but a modem manifestation oflhe traditional tendency to frame design arguments around successful mathematical models of Nature" ( 1986, 109). In other words, "The Anthropic Principle is just the latest mani festat ion of a style of argument l from designl that can be traced back to ancient times" (27f). After defining the anthropic principle very succinctly, for the present, as it is "to relate basic world feat ures to our own existence as observers" (Davies 1982, viii), it might be said that Barrow and Tipler' s views about th e relation ship between the anthropic principle and the design argument are quite ambiguous in fact and should not be understood as sayi ng that the anthropic principle is the latest manifestat ion of the design argument in all its aspects including its main conclusion about God 's existence. Tipler, who thought up the final anthropic principle (FAP), for instance, "describes himself as an atheist" (Ti lby 1992 , 209); and, Carter whose anthropic principle first introduced weak and strong anthropic principles (WAP, and SAP), " is in no way religious", according to Lesl ie (1993 , 68). This does not mean to say that there is no positive relationship between the anthropic principle and the design argument. Rather it means that the degree of the relationship, which is quite complex , should be understood clearly and correct ly Working with this view, which will be discussed later in dctail , it might be said brieny for the moment that the very complicatcd relationship betwee n the anthropic principle(.\) and the design argu ment look s to be quite indirect, controversial , and even often negative. But, on the other hand, the relationship between cosmic or anthropic f:oincidenccs or fine tunings, which are not compl etely the same as the anthropie principle but rather "have evolved into the Modern Anthropie Principles" (Barrow and Tipler 1986 , 30), and the design argumen t are much more direct , uncontroversial, and very positive. Paul Davies notes that, "Although some writers have found the philosophical basis of the anthropic principle objectionable, it is difficult not to be struck by some of the


islamic Thought on the /ixistence ojGOO

surpri s in gly fortuitous accidents without wh ich our existence would be impossible" (1982, viii). So with this distinction between anlhTopic coincidences and the anthropic principles in mind, it mi ght be said thaI what is morc important for the argument from des ign is finetun ings or anthropic coincidences, ralher than anthropic principles, even though some interpretations of some vers ions of the latter also have some importance, especially for the purposive version of the argument.

One kind of startin g point for the argument from des ign , which might be regarded as evolving into the anth ropic coincide nces and principles. has been used in this a rgument for a long time; it especially dominated the argument afte r the decline of the trad itional Pal eyan vers ion becau se of the Darwin ian theory of evolution : namely, ' the fit ness of the inorganic to ministe r to life ' . As thi s strand of the wider vers ion of the argument that was not framed around biological phenomena had bee n left untouched by Darwinian crit icisms, it has bee n developed much more in the twentieth century design argument, particularly by F. R. Tenna.n t and hi s followers. Accord ing to Tennant, who "coined the term anthropic" (Craig 19 88, 3 89) first " in thi s context" (Barrow and Tipler 19 86, 181 ), the di scovery of organ ic evolution has served to suggest that the organic realm s upp lies no better basis for the tel eological argument than does inorgani c nature. So the teleologist of today wou ld rather call attention to the continuity of apparent purpos iveness between the two rea lm s, or to the de pe nde nce of adaptation in the one on adapti veness in the oth er (Tennant 1930, 85-86). Tennant call s atte ntion to th e de pende nce of adaptation in th e organic realm upon adaptation in the inorganic realm . The vast complexity of the physicochem ical conditions of life on the earth sugge sts to common sense that th e inorgan ic world may retrospecti vely recei ve a bioce ntric explanation, which becom es a teleo logical explanation. For "The fitn ess of our world to be the hom e of livin g beings depend s upon certain primary conditions, astronomi cal , thermal, chemi cal , etc .. and on the coincidence of qual iti es apparently not causally connected with one another, the numbe r of which wou ld doubtless s urprise an yone who ll y unlea rn ed in th e sciences; and the se primary cond it ion s, in their turn , involve many of secondary order" ( 1930, 86). Quite similarly to the anthropic reasoning, he also poin ts out that the exi stence of intell igent life here depends on the existence of intricate condition s and coincidences in the rest of the universe, which if they had been sli ghtly differen t. in te ll igent life could not have arisen :

The A rgumellf fro m Wisdom (Hikma)


Emcrgent s ' here ' seem to ' take note of' , or be relevant to, causally unconnected emergents ' there' , in both space and time. since an elaborate in terlacing of contingenc ies is requisite to sec ure inorganic Nature ' s adapted ness to be a theatre of life . Any miscarriage in promiscuou s ' naturation ', such as might ruin the whole, as a puff of air may lay low the soaring house of cards, has been avoided in the making of NalU ra Na/llra/a. ( 1930 , 110) Tenn ant 's cosmic teleology and hi s anthropic evidences in it have been echoed by some di stinguished philosophers of rel igion like P. A. Bertocci. He discusses ' the purposive interrelat ion of matter and life' and claims that " the kin d of existence we know and enjoy as human beings is rooted in , ifno l confined to , orderly forces in the inorganic and organi c world" ( 195 1, 344). But both Tennant him se lf and hi s fo ll owers could speak of thi s anthropic argumen t for the most part onl y in generaliti es, and "could furn ish few speci fic examples of ex perim ental fact to illustrate th is" (Craig 1990, 127). During the last twen ty or thirty years, however, the sc ientific commun ity has been stunn ed by its di scovery of how complex and sensitive a nexus of conditions must be given in order for the universe to permit the origin and evolution of intelli gent life on Earth. For as twentieth century physics and cosmology bega n to close in on real ly fundamenta l data, it began to appear that there were certain numerical coi ncidences - apparently ordered relat ion s - between what had heretofore been be lieved to be quite unrelated values . As the list of such coincidences continues to grow lon ger and more precise, physicists have come to be so aroused as to speak of it in tenn s such as "astoni shi ngl y improbable" , " remarkable", and "a monstrous sequence of accidents" (Ga le 1986, 103). Today, the universe appears to have been incredibl y fin e- tun ed from the moment of its inception for the production of intell igent life on Earth at this point in cosmic hi story In the various fi elds of physics and astroph ysics , classica l cosmo lo gy, quantum mechanic s, and biochemistry, various discoveries have repeatedly di sclosed that the existence of intelligent ca rbon-based life on Ea rth at this tim e depends upon a del icate balance of physical and cosmolog ical quantities, such that were any one of these quantiti es to be sli ghtly altered, the balance would be destroyed an d life would not exist (Craig 1990, 128) . In this case, along with some sc ienti sts, some philosophers have developed Tennant 's argument with these newly

Islamic Thoughl nfl Ille ExiSlence olGod

di scovered cosmological data, and have formulated a strong version of the design argument . Among these, particularly Richard Swinburne's formulation in hi s article "Argument from the Fine·Tuning of the Universe" ( 1990) may be regarded as the most represe ntative of the theistic arguments based on these dala. In thi s argumenl , he uses a basic theorem of confinnation theory known as Bayes's theorem , as he used it in the teleological arguments in hi s book, The Existence of God(1979). He argues that thi s is "the structure of all worthwhile arguments for the existence of God; and indeed the kind of structure exemplified by all inductive arguments for anything at all" ( 1990, 155). According to Swinburn e, the best policy for assess ing the worth of the argument from fine-tuning would seem to be initially to suppose as back ground kn owledge (k), that th e Universe began from an initial sin gu larity and that laws have Ihe form of our fourforce laws, "and then consider Ihe force of the further evidence (e) that the initial conditions and constants of laws had ju st those val ues which allowed life to evol ve" ( 1990 , 164). As evidence (e) of hi s argument, Swinburne gives examples from Ih e strengths of forces and from the masses of parti cles which have to be relat ed to each olher within certai n narrow bands if the larger chemical elements, includ in g carbon, are 10 occur at all. He also gives a number of exampl es from the boundary conditions which will have to lie within a narrow ran ge of the prese nt conditions if intelligent life is to evo lve . For instance, '-lf Cfor the actual value of the gravitational and other constants) the initial velocity of expansion were sli ghtl y greater than Ihe actual initial veloc ity, stars and so the heavier elements would not form ; if it were sli ghtl y less, th e Universe would collapse before it was cool enough for the elements to form " ( 1990, 1601) In fact , th e number of the an lhropi c coi ncidences or finetunings, which have been regarded as newl y di scovered examples of the argument from design , const ruct a long li st: "U pwards of thirty factors would appear to have needed tuning" (Leslie 1993, 68 ; see for detail s, Davies 1982, Barrow and Tipler 1986, and Leslie 1989). Some of them are as follow s: • Had the nuclear weak force been appreciably stron ger then the Big Ban g would have burned all hydrogen to helium . There could then be neither water nor longwli ved stable stars. Making it appreciab ly weaker would again have destroyed the hydrogen : the neutrons fonned at early times would nOI have decayed into proton s.

The Argument/rom Wisdom (Hikma)


• For carbon to be created in quantity inside stars the nuclear strong force must be to within perhaps as little as I per cent neither stronger nor weaker than it is. Increasing its strength by maybe 2 per cent would block the fonnation of protons - so that there could be no atoms - or else bind them into diproton s so that stars would bum some billion billion times faster than our sun . On the other hand, decreasing it by roughly 5 per cent would unbind the deuteron , making stellar burning impossible. • With electromagnetism very sligh tl y stronger, ste llar luminescence would fall sharpl y. Main sequen ce stars would then all oflhem be red stars: stars probably too cold 10 encourage Life 's evolu tion and at any rate unable to explode as the supernovae one needs for creatin g clements heavier than iron . Were it very slightly weaker then all main sequence stars would be very hot and shortlived blue st ars. • The need for electromagneti sm to be fine tuned if stars are not to be all of them red, or all of them blue, can be rephrased as a need for fine tuning of gravity because it is the ratio between the two force s which is crucial. Gravity also needs fine tuning for stars and planets to form , and for stars 10 burn in a stable manner over billions of years. It is roughly 10 39 time s weaker than electromagnetism . Had it been only 10 33 times weaker, stars would be a billion times less massive and would burn a million times faster. • Various particle masses had to take appropriate values for life of any plausible kind to stan d a chance of evolving. (i) If the neutron-proton mass difference - about one part in a thousand - had not been almost exactly twice the electron 's mass then all neu trons would have decayed into protons or e lse all protons would have changed irreversibl y into neutrons. Either way, there would not be the couple of hundred stable types of atom on which chemi stry and biology are based ... . (Lesli e 1989,3-6) These cosmological fine-tunings and the evidential considerations based upon them are strengt hened when attention is also paid to the extraordinary concurrence of terrestrial circumstances that favour the sustenance of life on the earth . Because the earth is "a planet of the right size. orbiting a star of the right kind, enveloped by an atmosphere with the right composition , and with a hydrosphere unique among the planets, it harbours elements and compounds with extrao rdinary properties , all propitiou s and mo st of them indi spensable for the propagation and maintenance of life" (Harri s 1991 , 58).


Islamic Thought 011 the Exil /ence o/God

The fi ne· tunin gs of the universe are parti cularly impressive for a number of reason s. Firstly. they have to h e within very narrow ranges. "The delicate balance of conditions upon which life depends is", says Craig, "characterized by the interweaving of conditjons. such that life depends for its existence , not mere ly upon eac h ind ividual condition 's possessin g a val ue within very narrow limits, but also upon ralios or interactions between values and forces which must likewi se lie within narrow parameter s" ( 1990, 134). Fo r instance, "Given th e four fo rces and the kin d of formula which governs their operation (e.g. , approximately an inverse sq uare law of gravitational attraction), the constants which appear in those laws have to lie within very narrow ranges; and given an initial singularity, the initial velocity of recession has to lie within a very narrow range" (Swinbu rne 1990, 163). As Lesl ie sees it, " Important, too, is that force stren gth s and particle masses are distributed across enormous ranges . The nuclear strong fo rce is (roughly) a hundred times stronger than electromagnetism, which is in tum ten thousand times stron ger than the nuc lear weak force , whi c h is it se lf some ten thousand bill ion billion billion times strongerthan gravity" (J 989, 6). Secondly, these extraordinary delicate ranges have a very crucial

or even necessary role for the existence and evolution of intell igent li fe . According to Swinburne, "the crucial point is that any slight variation in these would make li fe impossible" ( 1990, 163). One of the basic debates hinged on the factual side ofthcse providential arrangemen ts comes from the assertion th at fin e-tunings "are not in fact a seri es of separate and unrelated conditions but that they all flow at vario us removes fro m the state of the primal fireball in the first few moments of its 'explosion'" (Hi ck 1989,85 ; sec for similar ideas, Parsons 1989, 93-94). The development of infl ationary models co uld give some fo rce to thi s criticism. Indeed, as Barrow and Tipler say, " If infl ati on does occur during the early stages of the Universe then many apparently disjoint aspects of the Uni verse 's structure can be linked together and the number of free independent parameters that could characterize a long-li ved Big Bang uni verse is considerably reduced" ( 1986,438). However, they also say that "This cannot be done with any confidence yet, because there is still no working model of inflation that produces all the advantageous results simultaneously without a spec ial ad hoc choice of the free parameters involved" (455). They go on to point out that " in flat ion leaves a number of important issues untouched" and "the biggest problem with the inflationary picture is the puzzle of the cosmological constant" (438). So most quantities and constants of

71le Argulllelll from Wisdolll (Hi/ana)


nature seem to be unrelated to each other. But it seems that whether fundamental constants are unrelated or related to each other is not so important from the standpoint of the teleological argument. For it can be suggested together with Craig that "even if it were possible to reduce all the physical and cosmological quantities to a si ngle equation governing the whole of nature, such a complex equation could itself be seen as the supreme instance of teleology and design" (1990,1341). As E. Harris pu ts it clearl y, if, as contemporary developments in unified gauge and superstring theori es portend. there was originally only one force , from which the known four have '"frozen oul" - if there is only one primary equation from which all physical fo rms can be deduced, and only one theory that will eliminate all anomalies and provide all the necessary symmetries - then th e delicate equilibria and the precise concurrence of factors that precondition the emergence of life must have been implicit from the beginnin g ( 1991 , 60). The discoveries of contemporary science in th is regard look so impressive that for some people the argument is almost complete and enables one to speak about the existence of God or at least about a mind playing an essential role in the functioning of the arch itecture of the universe (see, Dyson 1979, 251). It seems that cosmic coincidences or fine-tunin gs of the universe which are necessary cond itions of the exi stence of inlelli gent life on Earth are some of the newest and most impressive illustration s of the fi rst premise oflhe modern argument from design , that is, the universe ex hibits a high degree of order, or in brief, is ordered . They have even shown that the universe is not just ordered, but incredibly and remarkabl y ordered and fine-tuned : and it is so not only at rece nt points in cosmic history or in the area surround ing the earth, but also in all pans of the universe from its very early stages . This is such an evident ial phenomenon for the argume nt from desi gn that it strongly call s for some ex planation. In this case, it is thought by some philosophers recentl y that " th e stronge st argument in support of Design is that life 's prerequisites are so numerous" (Lesl ie 1978 , 79), and that these are "newly discovered indications of Design" (Leslie 1982, 14 1). They illu strate " the sort of wider teleology which Tennan t emphasised, but could only dimly envision " (Craig 1990, 134). As

Islamic Though t 011 Ihe Existence olGod


we have seen in the beginning of the chapter, thi s sort of arguml!nlation has also been used by al-Ghazali and other Muslim scholars. AI-Ghazali 's argume nt from wisdom , starting fro m the heavens and ending up with huma n be ings was a kind of wid er teleological argument; and what he called "marvellous, well-ordered system " is being called today a " fine-tuned" universe, naturally in suppon of almost incomparab le scie ntifi c data. Briefl y, these modern quantitative considerations "contribute strongly to a modem theist 's Design Argumen t" (Leslie 1988a. 248). The ex islence of fine-lunin g provides a new, sound, and scientifically establ ished ground fo r the trut h oflhe statemenl that the uni verse is ordered and s upplies a great deal of strong evidence fo r a bestex planation type of argum ent to work well and efficiently. Even though it is neither as near to the daily experience of huma n beings nor as easy to understand as are some other versions, with these scienti fie and anthropic characteristics the argument from fine-tuning of the universe is s uperior to the other new or traditional version s. It is also " immune" to any oflh e imp lications of evol utionary theory and is " unaffected" or " unscathed" by them (Schles inger 1988, 124; Barrow an d Tip ler 1986 , 30). It has even provided a cosmic backgro und for the versi on s mainly based on living beings which have lost credib ility on th eir own since the rise of Darwinian expl anations. Before passin g on to the way in which the evidence here is explained and interpreted in different directions, we should also see anot he r new version . Thi s version is very similar to the argument from fi ne-tuni ng of th e universe in it s scientific basis; but th e emphasis is on a Sl ight ly differe nt concept , namely, the world ' s conformity to sc ientific laws.


World :~

Confo rm iTY LO Sr.:ienfl{l c Laws

This vers ion or approach is us ually presented in connection with the name of Ri chard Swinburne. He has defended thi s ve rsion in various works since hi s article "The Argument from Design ", pub lished in 1968, and has call ed it "the teleolo gical argume nt from the temporal order of the world" ( 1979, 136). What Swinburne means by temporal order or, in his othe r words, by regularities of succession is " simple patterns of behaviour of objects, such as their be haviour in accordance with the laws of nature - for examp le, Newton ' s laws" ( 1979, 133 ). So it might s imply be defined as nature ' s con formity to scientific or nat ural laws.

The Argumem from Wi.l·dom (Hikma)


We have previously examined a ve rsion based on the finetuning of the universe, and now we are dealing with its conformity to scientific laws. The former version was based mainly on order in the initial conditions of the universe wh ile this one is about the laws of the universe. It will be useful to point out the relationship and difference between them . Stephen Hawking suggests by implying their difference that "this order should apply not only to the laws, but also to the condition s at the boundary of space-time that specify the initial state of the universe" ( 1990, 123). Initial conditions are stateme nts about particu lar systems; and the laws are statements about classes of phenom ena. Paul Davies states this: It is a simple law, for example, that a ball thrown in the air will follow a parabolic path. However, there are many different parabolas. Some are tall and thin , others low and shallow. The particular parabola followed by a panicular ball will depend on the speed and angle of projection . These are referred to as ' initial conditions' The parabola law plus the initi al conditions determine the path o f the ball uniquely

(1992,87). As Swinburne sees it, "A state of affairs or event E is explained if some state of affairs or event C ["known as the initial condition s") together with a law of nature L entail that C physically necessitates (or makes it physically probable that) E. Laws of nature state that states or even ts of a certain kind physically necessi tate or make probabl e events of a certain other kind" ( 1979 , 30). Swinburne has formulated it by taking the previous critici sms of th e design argument raised by Hume and Darwin into consideration and has given it a form apparently immune 10 these sorts of objections. In hi s formulation and assessment of the argument in terms of Bayes's theorem , he takes hypo the sis II to be th e hy pothesis of thei sm. background knowledge k to be the exi stence ofa complex physical universe, and evidence e to be the "confonnilY of the world to order," or in other words. "the existence or order in the world" ( 1979, 144). According 10 him , the evidence e is an overwhelmingly striki ng fact: the all-pervasiveness of a few fundamental scientifi c laws. He expresses this as follows: Regularities of succession are all-pervasive. For simple Jaws govern almost all successions of events. In books

Islamic Thought on the Existence. ojGnd

of physics, chemistry, and biology we can learn how almost everything in the world behaves. The laws of their behaviour can be set out by relatively simple for· mulae which men can understand and by means of whi ch they can successfull y predict the future . The orderliness of the universe to which I draw attention here is its conformity to formula. to si mple, formulable, scientific laws. The orderliness of the universe in thi s respect is a very striking fact about it The universe might so naturall y have been chaotic, but it is not· it is very orderly. ( 1979, 136) Among these natural or scientific laws, Swinburne concentrates especially, but not exclusively, on the operation of "the most general laws of nature, that is, the orderliness of nature in conformin g to very general laws" ( 1989,127 ; 1968, 204). Because, in hi s view, sc ience can explain the operation of some narrow regularity or law in teon s of a wider or more general law; but it cannot explain by its very nature "why there are the most general laws of nature that th ere are ." And examples of these most fundamental laws, to him, would perhaps be "the field equation s of Einste in 's General Theory ofRelalivity, or perhaps there are some yet more fundamental laws," which science may not yel have discovered ( 1989, 127). Pointing out that the orderliness of the universe in this respect is a very strikin g fact, $\',:inbume insists, like Tennant, that "the universe might so naturally have been chaot ic, bU I it is not - it is very orderly" ( 1979, 136). And thi s orderliness is not an ordinary and temporary one. By contrast, ··over centuries long, long ago and over di stances distant in millions of li ght years from o urselves the same universal orderlin ess reigns" (1979, 140). Yet, accordin g to B. Davies 's interpretation , the point that sc ientific laws can be framed and expectations reasonabl y made about the behaviour of things over a very wide area of space and time is nol to say that there is a rigid causal nexus such that the state of the universe at any given time necess itates its state al a later time. Nor is it to say that , given certain cond itions. then such and such effects must follow. It is not even to say Ihat there is temporal order to be discerned everywhere in the universe. " Bul it is to say what we certa inly believe: that, as Swinburn e insists, there arc very many objects makin g up the universe and behaving in a general ly uniform way" ( 1993. 114). Thus, Swi nburne claims to reconstruct the first premise of the argument from design " in a more modern and clearly inductive

Tile Argumentfrom Wisdom (Hikma)


way" (1989, 127). He suggests that thi s form is affected neither by the classical objections of Hume nor by the Darwinian theory of evolution because it has been reconstructed "in a form which does not rely on the premi ses shown to be fal se by Darwin" ( 1979, 135). It is true that the evidence of this version is immune and un affected by the Darwinian crit icism as well as the previous one. However thi s does not mean that it is immune to any objection. Anthony O' Hear, for example, criticizes Swinburne as follows: Swinburne talks confidently of theall-pervasiveness of temporal order, as if this is something we have or could have evi dence for.... Even leav in g these doubts aside there is a certain naivety in thinkin g of the entire universe as a system with the sort of stability Swinburne seems to envisage .... In any case, although we do have to postulate a continuing order in the world in order to theori ze scient ifically about it at all , such a postulation does not in itsel f show thatlhere is order or that, if there is, it is allpervasive. ( 1984, 134) There are two main obj ections here to be considered: one is relevant to the all-pervasiveness of the temporal order or of natural laws, the other is relevant to the degree of stabi lity of order in the world. It seems that these obj ection s have almost no forc e agai nst Swinburne's assertions. Because hi s considerations look much closer to the truth or al least much close r to what is said by many contemporary scientists or cosmologists. For in stance, what Paul Davies says about th e properties of natu ral laws seems to go far beyond Swinburne's talk of their all-pervasiveness. He points out, going completely again st O' Hear 's remarks, Ihat: First and foremost, the laws are universal. ... The laws are taken to apply unfailingly everywhere in the universe and at al l epochs of cosmic hi story. No exceptions are permitted . Second , the laws arc absolute. . . They do not depend on who is observing nature . : They are eternal. The . Th ird and most important. timeless, eternal character of the laws is reflected in Ihe mathematical structures employed to mode llhe physical world . Fourth, the laws arc omnipotent. By thi s I mean that nothing escapes them . . (1992, 82-83).


f.l-Iamic Tho ught on the Existence o/ God

Working with this view, Swinburne' s idea about the allpervasiveness of the temporal order does not seem to be mistaken

or groundless as O' Hear implies. When it comes to the degree of stability of order in the world, it al so does not seem to be a controversial issue, as O' Hear suggests. It is true that our universe has a hi gh degree of stability, and we now know it better. Indeed , as Stephen Hawking says, "The whole hi story of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but they renect a cenain underlying order, which mayor may not be di vinely in spired" ( 1990, 122 ). So the evidence of Swinburne's argum ent from temporal ord er seem s to be establi shed on a very modem, sound, and invulnerable ground which can easi ly be affected nei ther by Darwinian nor any other sort of critici sms. It can be conclud ed for the moment, toge the r with Brian Da vies , that Swinburne ' s argument from temporal order " starts with a premi se whIch few modem people would wi sh to di spute" (1 993, 114). Ismail Raji al-Faruqi has a slightly different approach from classical Is lami c versi on s in hi s te leological argument; and hi s approach is quite similar to Swinburne ' s version . He bases hi s argument from "the orderl y universe" mainl y on "th e immutable laws of nature": and supports hi s views with the Qur ' anic verses, like 17:77, " In Our path, you will find no change of pattern ", (and al so 33 :38; 40: 85 ; 33: 62 ; and 30 :30). To observe God ' s action in nature is to do nalUral science, "For the divine initiative in nature is none other than the immutable laws with whic h God had endowed nature" ( 1992, 51 , see al so, 52, 53) . It seems that, for al-Faruqi , the d iscoveries of natural science are one of the good ways of observing God ' s existence, action, and attributes. Especially the order of the universe based on th e immutabl e laws of nature is one of the evidential facts leading to, or supporting, the bel ief in God 's existence. In fact , M. lia Ullah has al so argued in the same direction . Th e heavenly bodies keep coursing in their appointed orbits in space, with a precision unmatched by the most precise time-keepers made by human beings. "Thi s is made possible by a supreme order, by a system of laws whi ch rules the entire unive rse. But from where came these laws, this order?" (p. 10-11 ) EVALUATION: THE MANY-WORLDS KYPOTRESES AND DIVINE DESIGN Having examined some general ilJustrations drawn from some strik ing features of the phys ical world, we should now examine

The Argument/rom Wisdom (Hikma)


whether they reasonably lead to the conclusion of the argument, that is, the existence of an intelligent Designer or God. ror most people, the crucial premise in the argument fr{)m design is the first one : the existence of design, or teleological order, in the world. When this premi se is presented and understood well e nough, the argument is almost complete. The con clusi on reaches the mind immediately as an intuition or insight based on that empirical evidence of design seen around the world. Nevertheless, serious effort is needed to establish the con nection between the evidences and the conclusion on more objective and rati onal grounds. It seems that there are two ways in which th e first premi se, observational evidences of design, can be conjoin ed to the conclusion of God 's existence as the ir intelligent Designer. These two ways can sim ply be stated as th e way of probability and the way of analogy. In order to arri ve from evidence to the conclusion , some writers prefer the way of considering the best ex planation among the possi ble or alleged alternatives, and some others prefer the way of analogy. Both are available and cou ld be found in historical Islamic presentations. For example, from the evidence of wondrous wisdom in the creatures to arrive at hi s concl usion of God's existence, alGhazali uses different sorts of analogies. We have mentioned one of his analogies between a ho use and the universe. Here is another one, th e analogy of the art of writing: "Anyone who saw regu lar lines of writi ng proceeding in an orderly fash ion fro m a scribe, yet who doubted that the scribe has knowledge of the art writing, wou ld be a fool. " Sure ly, anyone who doubt s that the maker of the world has powcr and kn owledge is no less a fool. AI -Ghazali goes further. He call s th e conclusion that the maker of the world is powerfu l and knowing a --necessary" inference, by wh ich he means an inference requirin g no de monstration because the " intellect confirms it without proof' (see Davidson 1987, 234). But most of the teleological arguments al-Gh:lzuli , Ibn Ru shd and the other scholars use are based on th e probability calculus of different alternatives, particularly the alternative of occurrence by chance as opposite to divine des ign and creati on. The Ikhwan alSafa conclude, for instance, that the ingenious arrangement of the celestial spheres cannot have come about by chance but must have "occurred through the intention of an intending agent ... [who is] wise and powerful " (see Ib id., 225 ). It seems that the epistemic, or simply reasonable, way of probability calculus among the alternati ve explanation s of evidential data is more common and more essential for the teleological argu ment.

Islamic Thought on the Existence olGod

Leaving the matter of analogy and its criticisms by Hume to s ubsequent chapters, we can now deal with the problem of probability. It seems use ful to take up the way of probability as distinct from the way of analogy particularly fro m the point of view of the defender of the argument. There seems to be a qu ite common tendency among the critics of the argument not to see the mode of probability or any other way except thai of ana logy. Even today, after so many contemporary versions of a probabili stic argument for the existence of divine design, th e critic tends to describe the argument as if it were just an analogical argument, and then to criticize it through well -known objections to analogy used in the argument. Th ere might be a num ber of reasons for choosing thi s son of treatmen t. The analogical argument may be found more attractive by th e critic sim ply because it is easy to criti cise, both because of its own relativel y weak logical structure and because such criti cisms have bee n availabl e in Hume 's book s for two centuries. On the ot her hand, the version of probabil ity is seemin gly more forc eful. In the view of A. C. Ewing, for in stance, "The force of the argument from design depends mainly on its being an arg ument from inverse probabi lity and not from analogy" (1965-66 , 39). For although Ihi s version is open to seriou s objectio ns as we will now see, in co mparative tenns it is apparently neither as weak as analogical reasoning by its logical nature, nor subj ect to aJllhe many criticisms raised against analogy for centuries. It seems, the refore , that the probability variant of Ihe argument should be distinguished as clearl y as possible from the analogical variant by proponents oCt he argument, and that it should not al so be q uickly overl ooked by opponents of the argument. It is nol difficult to differenti ate betwee n them. As R. Hambourger puts il clearly, " Arguments oflhi s second sort, notice, are not analogical argu men ts. They do not cla im that the natural phenomena they hold 10 have resu lted Crom design are very much like human an ifacls . Instead, they hope to show on other grounds that the phenomena need explanation, but can be ex plained properly only as resu lts of design" ( 1979, 11 3). II should be pointed out in the beginning thai probability is one of those subjects about which there is littl e agreement in philosophical circles; and the variolls theories about the mean ing of probability, as well as the detail s of the probability calculus. are hi ghly complex. There are different th eories about probability. The ' classical theory ', sometimes called the 'a priori theory of

nle Argument/rom




probability', makes computation s independently of any sensory observation of actual events. The ' relativc frequency theory ' depends on actual observations of the frequ ency with which certain events happen. And the ' subjectivist theory ' interprcts the meaning of probability in tenns of the beliefs of individual people (Hurley 1988, 438-50). There are a lot of critici sms against using probability in this argument; and indeed it is sometimes claimed that the problem raised by Ihe use of probability is "the crucial " problem oflhis argument (Mellor 1969, 224). There are two points to be di scussed here. Firstly, it is argued in this form of the argument that, given that there are various possible explanations of the world 's being as it is, th e world's bein g as it is makes some of these explanation s more probable than others. That is to say, at the ou tset the judgement of probability concerning thi s question is regarded as possible . But some critics say that it is not poss ible at all ; to resort to probability is wron g from the begi nning. So we will discuss thi s question first, namely, the possibility of probability. Secondl y, and as the main part of the argument, it is argued by the proponents of thi s type of design argument that the most or more probable ex planation of the world is in term s of an intelli gent s upreme designer, while othe r explanations are less probable because of such and such reasons.

The Probability in the Evaluation of Alfernalive Metaphysical Views

David Hume is regarded as one of the tirst philosophers who objected to the use of probability in the argument from design in his di scussions of analogical reasoning because there is only one, unique universe. I-Iume argues that "when two species of obj ects have always been observed to be conjoined togeth er, I can infer , by custom, the existence of one wherever I .we the existence of the other: And thi s I call an argument from experience. But how thi s argument can have place, where the obj ects, as in the present case, arc si ngle, individual , without parallel , or specific resemblance, may be difficult to explain " ( 1947 , 149). Even for some non-athe ist think ers, " Hume is right" (Ward 1982, 94), "S ince we are dealing with a unique phenomenon, the category of probabi lity has no proper application to it" (Hi ck 1973 , 28). An tony Flew puts forward the questi on in more pretentiou s style. According to him, the necessary uniqueness of the universe is the cru x of the objections of the design argument. "How docs he [the proponent of the probabilistic design


Islamic 71wught oil/lie Existence of God

argument] know what is probable or improbable about universes?", he asks, and then argues that " No one could acq uire an experience of universes to give him the necessary basis for this sort of judgement of probability or improbabil ity; for the deci sive reason that there could not be universes to have experience of' ( 1966, 74 ). In spite of these criticisms, the proponent of the argument has tried to develop probabilistic versions. For the arguments above do not actually seem so convincing or influential upon the le1eologist's reasoning. First orall , even if the actual universe is one and unique, it is possible for the human mind to be able 10 conjecture a lot of poss ible universes which may be compared with thi s universe as to which one is more probably the product of de sign or of chance. As John Leslie points out, experience allows us to discuss expertly even possible universes which are unl ike ours in very significant respects. He writes, "Take, for example , a uni verse whose phase tran sition s made gravity marginally stron ger so that everything recollapsed after only ten second s_ Thai such a universe would be li/eles.l· is far from being purest speculation" ( 1989, 113 ). Moreover, it might be argued that since the design argument does not argue from the sheer fact ofthe exislence of the uni verse, like some form s of the cosmological argum ent, but argues from thou sands of intriguingly remarkabl e feature s of it, the probability talk of the proponent orthe de sign argument cannot be reduced to a sin gle phenomenon of the uniqueness of the uni verse like a si ngle throw of a di ce and cannot therefore be rejected quickly depending on thi s assumpti on. For even irthe universe is unique, its teleologically impo rtant feature s are numerous. The argument from design argues from these numerous aspects of the universe, apparently unrelated to each other, and balan ced on the razor 's edge to allow life 's evolution , not from the origination or mere ex istence of the universe. As Paul Davies argues, if a pebble picked up on a beach at random had turned out, for example, 10 be exact ly spherical , surpri se would indeed have been justified, even if its spherical nature had not been specified in advance. " Likewi se. a universe that is suitable for human habitat ion has a special significance for us that is absent for the vast majority of other possible universes: those that are uninhabitable" ( 1983 , 170). It is th is spec ial character of the universe as requiring various facto rs to operate ve ry delicately that seem s to allow or even to demand the probabi lity in the argumen t. Furth e rmore it may be s uggested that probabili stic considerations could ri ghtl y be understood as seeking to reach a probable judgement concern ing the truth of more than one alternative

r he Argumelllfro m Wi.nJom (Hikma)


and competing explanation s of the universe, like the probabilistic truth of the theistic or atheistic explanations ofthe uni verse. Thi s is not a probability judgement between a unique universe and nothing at all , or between a unique universe and some other possible states. In thi s sense, probability is perhaps one of the basic ways to decide on the truth . Besides, the type of th e probability used in the desi gn argument does not seem to be a strictl y techn ical probability as in the case of logical or stati stical probabi lities. Tennant , for example , re lies upon th e appli cation of probability as hi s second premi se, and compares the probability of chance process and intelligent design in the sense of considering which one is more probable for the production of the universe. He argues that an y hypothesis claiming that rich suggesti ons of design in the known world yield no evidence of design in the universe, since our ordered fragment may be but u a chance product", is "ove rwh el mi ng ly improbabl e" ( 19 30, 80). "C ommon -sense reasonabl eness, or mother-wit. ., regards the 'probability' that the apparent preparedness of the world to be a theatre of life is due to ' chance ' ... (is) infinitesimally small " ( 1930, 87). He further argues that th e hypothesis claimin g that the universe is th e result of intelli gent design is much more probabl e. "The forcibleness of Nature's suggestion that she is the outcome of i nlell igent design lies . .. in the con spiration of innumerabl e cau ses to produce. by their united and reciprocal action, and to maintai n, a general order of Nature" ( 1930, 79). Finall y he infers that the second hypothesis is therefore more probabl y true. For, " Nature and man, empirically studied , may strongly sugges t that the world is an out come of intelligence and purpose" ( 1930 , 117). Ne verth eless, Tenn ant does not arg ue th at thi s kind of probabili sti c inferen ce suppl ies a coerc ive stati stical or logi cal demon stration in fav our of theism. He appeals to " reasonable, if alogical , probabi lity" to ju stify theism, and says that " if the inference from cumulative adapti veness to des ign be non-logical, as is admitted, it at least is not unreasonable" ( 1930, 111 ). However, D. H. Mellor, one of Tennant's main critics in this context, di stinguishes the three main kinds of probability statements - stati sti cal , subject ive. and indu cti ve probability - and c laims that Tennant relies upon these probabilities, es peciall y th e first and the th ird ones. In each case he concludes that it is mi sleading to use probability in such context at all ( 1969,223). But it is diffi cult to see the relation ship between the probability thai Te nnant has actually tried and the three kinds o f probability that Me llor has examined and ascribed to him . For as

blmnle Thought 0 " the Ex h tE'nce oJGod

we have just seen , Tennant's probability relies mainl y upon being ' reasonable'; and he al so clearly points out that it is ' alogical' , ' nonlogical ', or ' not mathematical '. With respect to Mellor 's probabilities, in hi s own words, " Kinds of probability differ in the ways they are established, subjective probability by psychological enquiry, statistical probability by stati stical experiment, inducti ve probability perhaps by logical enqui ry" ( 1969, 232). Whereas, it appears that Tennant 's probability is establi shed neither by psychological or logical enquiry, nor by stati stical experiment, "as one might s uppose from reading Me llor 's article but not Tennant him selr' (Sturch 1972 , 16). One can say with John Hi ck, anoth er principal critic of Te nnant, that Tennant is full y aware of the fact that any notion of probability properl y in voked by a compreh e nsive teleological argument mu st be other than the usual statisti cal or logical concept, and indeed argues to the same effect (19 70, 29). Tennant is quite clear as to the kind of probabil ity he uses when he considers the objection . " That, if the world be the sole instance of its kind , or be an alogous 10 a si ngle throw, there can be no talk of chances or of antecedent probability in conn exion with OUf question ." He replies to thi s questi on by pointing o ut some characteri stics of his probability

th esis: "Sound as thi s caution is, it docs not a ffect th e tcleologist; for, when he caU s coincidence on the vast scale improbable, he has in mind not mathematical probability, or a log ical relation , but the al ogical probability whi ch is th e guide of life and which has been found to be the ultimate basis of all scientific induction" ( 1930, 88). Thu s, Tennant generally call s hi s concept of probability "alogi cal pr o babilit y" and c haract e ri ses it as " re a sonable" or " not unreaso nabl e" even if it is " al og icat ", " non-logical ", or " not math emati cal ". Hi s position seems 10 be that when the human mind surveys the universe in which it find s itself. it s conviction that thi s inde finitel y complex cosmos could not have come into being in a completely random and unplanned way is a reasonable, even though not a logically compelling, conviction , reOectin g a real implausibility or (alogi cal) improbability in the hypothesis that all is by chance (Hi ck 1970, 28 ; see also, Helm 1973, 99-1 00). Nevertheless, objections have been raised that even this nonmathemati cal and alogical concept of probability is not appli cable to reli gious mailers or, sometimes more specifi cally, to the argument from design. For example, in Hi ck's view, j udgem ents on alternative phenomena of the uni verse adduced by theists and natura li sts are " intuiti ve and personal, and the notion of probability, if it is appl ied, no longer has any objective meanin g". In oth er words, "there is no

ThcArgumelllfrom Wist/om (Hixma)


objective sense in which one consistent and comprehensive worldview can be described as inherently more probable than another" (1970,32-33). Hick presents a peculiar analogical reasoning against use of probability in the design argument. He asks a question first: "Can we however perhaps say that a sim pler universe, devoid of galaxies, would have been a priori more likely than one contai ning galaxies; so that the existence of the actual universe has an initial improbability that increases with every additional complexity? In that case we could judge our universe to be prodigiously improbable and might then invoke an anti-improbability factor (which we coul d call God) to account for it" (1989, 86). It seems to uSthat the question here should be answered affirmativel y. For it is almost a universal knowledge drawn from the daily experience of all human beings, that simple things are easier and more probable to fonn than complex ones. But without discussing this mailer further, let us contin ue our examination of the rest of Hick 's argument. In order to reject the conclusion, Hick seeks to answer thi s question negatively by mentioning an analogical state based on the statistical improbability of someone' s being alive. Aft er giving a detailed stati stical and biological explanation of conception , he says, "The antecedent improbability of an individual being conceived who is precisely me is thus already quite staggering" ( 1989, 89). In other words, the improbability comes from the astronomical number of different poten tial individuals in the million s of sperm cells each carrying a different genetic code. He applies hi s calcu lation to each of his parents, and then to each of their parents and so on back through all the generations of human Ii fe , the wider evol ution of Ii fe on this earth , the formation of galaxies and the whole cosmic evolution of the universe back to the big bang. Then he concludes that "As a result the antecedent improbability that th e unique indi vidual who is me should now exist is inconceivably great" ( 1989, 89). Thus , he comes to Ihe conclud in g remarks of his analogical reason ing: "The virtual infinity of unrealised wo rld-states and unconceived people which seems to surroun d us as a cloud of rejected possibilities does not in fact exist. The only reality is the actual course of the universe, with ourselves as part of il. And there is no objective sense in which thi s is either more or less probable than any other possible uni verse" ( 1989, 90). The basic points in Hick 's argument, particularly worKing with his concl usion, might perhaps be put simply as follow s:


Islamic Thought 0 /1 the Existence (JjGud

( I) The virtual infinity of un realised world states resembles the virtual infinity of un conceived people. (2) The virtual infinity of unconceived people docs not in fact exisl. (3) In that case, the virt ual infin ity of unrealised world-states al so docs not in fact exist. (4) Therefore , the on ly reality is the actual course of the universe.

(5) Therefore, there cannot be an argument about this actual universe in Icnns of the probability ofi ls exis tence. Although this is a very inte resting and impressive argume nt from analogy, it docs not seem 10 be a strong one. There is not e nough re s emb lan ce be twe e n unreali sed world- s tat es and un conce ived people, for while the fo rm er is a logical or spec ulative poss ibi lity, the latter is a real biological pote ntiality. There are some other differences as well . In the case of ' unconceived people', the actualisation of any of the millions of potentialiti es is almost eq ually probable becau se all of th e m have an almo st equa l genetic compleme nt. Wh ereas, in the case of ""unreali sed world-states", the actualisation of any of th e possibiliti es ca n never be equally probable or improbable because almost each of these virlually infin ite possible world-s tates wi ll have their own s pecifi c feature so lon g as there is no log ical or empirical rea s on for t hem 10 have th e s am e charact e ri s t ic s. Th e premi ses of Hick ' s analogy seem to be incapable of lead ing to th e conclu s ion in th e face of the se di ssim ilarities. Then Hick ' s argument does nOI succeed in showing that there cannot be any talk of probab ility concerning our actual universe. In spite of all this, Hick accepts that probabi li stic judgemen ts are a ppli ed by many people concerning their conviction as to the existence or non-e xistence of God. He writes, " It is of cou rse a fact that as men have looked at the world and have been especially struck by th is or that aspect of it they have concl uded that the re is (or that there is not) a God, or have found in the world confirmation of an already formed conviction as to t he exi s te nce (or nonexistence) of God in terms varying in degree from ' it seems on th e whole more likely than not' to ' it is overwhelmingly more probable'" ( 19 70, 30). In that case, Hi ck's objection to probability mi ght be said to be essentially practical , that is to say, the probabi lity judgement seems im possibl e to apply in such a manner. For the resu lts of probabi listic judgements carried OU I are al ways '·intuiti ve" or "purely

'!lIe Argument/rom Wisdom (Hikma)


personal and imponderable ' hunch ' or ' feeling '" and not "objective" (Hick 1970,30-32). The reason why they are so is Ihal the universe is capable of being thou ght and experienced in both religiou s and naturalistic ways. " In this post-Enlightenment age of doubt," Hick writes, "we have reali sed that the universe is religiously ambiguous. It evokes and sustai ns non-religious as well as religious responses" ( 1989, 73). Though one can see the force of Hick ' s points, they do not succeed in showin g that to di sambiguate the universe is impossible or unimportant . Since "the question is important and affects the way we live our lives, it is hard in practice to make no decision " (Lofmark 1990, IOlf). For only one of the widely opposed and strongly competing world-views would really be true. And in thi s case, for an intellectually responsible person, it is worth seek ing the truth . It is always open to a person to seek a disambiguating evidence or argument changing the apparent ambiguilyoflhe world or the equali ty of the probability of the alternative world-views in favour of his or her choice. And it seems quite possible to find an "experience, discovery, or argument that rendered it irrational to hold one worldview rather th an another" (Pcnelhum 1993, 173). Terence Penelhum even gives some examples of poss ibly disambiguatin g arguments from recent discussions in favour of religious or non-religious views. According to him, a negative result would follow if one accepted Richard Dawkins 's case in The Blind Watchmaker agai nst the belief in providential gu idance of the evolutionary processes. On the other hand, potentially disambiguating arguments ofa positive nature are recent design arguments based on alleged fine-tuning in the initial expansion of the cosmos, or Richard Swi nburne 's con tention that biological exp lanations are incapable of rendering intelligible the existence of consciousness in higher organisms ( 1993, 173). In this case, Hick 's objection to use of probability in the design argument because of the ambiguity of the universe wou ld not seem convincing. We can , therefore, say that Hick 's cri ti cisms do not seem strongly negative to Tennant 's probabilistic argument from design . Tennant speaks of the ' reasonableness' of probabilistic concl usion, not the ' objectivity' of it, which seems quite a reasonable middlepath, in contrast, seems to polarise the argument by contrasting terms like ' purely personal feeli ng ' with 'o bjective mean ing ' in metaphysical systems. One can, of cou rse, agree with Hick that there cannot be a stri ctly objective meaning in this kind ofjudgement; but there may be morc than purely personal feeling. To prefer one metaphysical system to another, for example, design to chance or


Islamic Thought on the Existence o/God

vice versa, seems to be al least simi lar to preferring one socia l or econom ic syste ms to anothe r. That is to say, there are some reasonable or rational criteria, even though not everybody accepts them . What Tennant has tried to argue looks sim il ar in being neither purely personal nor purely 100 obj ective a probability judgement. Indeed, Basil Mitchell 's rational, cumulative case for rel igious belief suppli es good examples from criti cal exegesis and history that "theology is not alone in relying on arguments which have force but cannot be rega rd ed as demon strations or as based on stri ct probabilities. (f there are s uch cumu lative arguments, theological reasoning wo uld certainl y seem to make use o f them" ( 1973 , 59). Richard Swinburne is another important advocate of the probabil istic argument from design. First of all , he distingui shes between two different kind s of argument: Fi rstly, valid ded uctive arguments, in whi ch the truth of th e premises makes the truth of the conclusion certain. Secondly, other arguments which are not dedu ctive ly valid , but in which the truth of tile premi ses in some sense ' supports' or ' confirms' or 'gives strengtll to' the conclusion . Arguments of thi s general kind are often characteri sed as ' good ' or ' correct ' or ' s tron g ' indu cti ve arg umen ls. He call s an induc tive

argument in whi ch the premi ses make the conclusion probable a correci P-induct ive argumen t; and an argu ment in which the premi ses add to the probability of th e conclu sion (i.e. make the conclusion more likely or more probabl e than it wou ld otherwise be) a correct C-inductive argumen t. In thi s case, he says that the premi ses ' confi rm ' the conclusion. And he also maintain s that most of th e arguments of scienti sts from their observat ional evidence to conclusions are not deductively val id, but are inductive arguments of one of the above two kinds ( 1979, 5-7). Sw in burne a lso di s ting uis hes betwee n two kind s o f explanation, whic h he call s scien tific and personal. Swinburne develops and uses an emended version of Hempel's accoun t of scientific exp lanation. "The occurren ce of a phenomenon E is explai ned in terms of init ial events or Slates C (t he ' in iti al conditions' including the cause) and natural laws L, when C and L conjointly physically necessitate or make high ly probable the occurrence of E ' ( 1979, 42-43). In personal explanation, however, "The occurrence ofa phenomenon Ii" is explained as brought about by a rational agent P doing some act ion intent ionally" ( 1979, 32). In this kind of exp lanation, "E is full y explained when we have cited the agent P, hi s intention.J that H occur, and hi s basic powers X which include the capac ity to bring about E" ( 1979 , 33 ). Therefore, the crucial

The Argument/rom Wisdom (Hi/alia)


point here, from Swinburne ' s perspective, is whether the personal explanation in terms of a thei stic God ' s intention is the best explanat ion of the existence and nature of Ihe world . The concept of ' argument to the best explanation ' has such different uses as " specifically causal explanation " and " making a state of affairs intelligible". According to the first sort of explanation, God , it is claimed, causally explains th e existence of some phenomenon such as the universe. Richard Swinburn e is the clearest proponent of theistic explanation conceived of first way, namely, causal explanation (Prevost 1990, 4 -5). He defines t heistic explanation causally thus: "All im portant {/ posteriori arguments for the existence of God have a common characteristic. They all purport to be arguments to an exp lanation of the phenomena described in the premises in terms of the action of an agent who intentionally brought about those phenomena. . .. An argument from design argues from the design of the world to a person , God, who intentionally made it thus" ( 1979, 19-20). For Swinburne, the criteria for judgi ng the worth both of proposed theories of personal exp lanation , and proposed theories of scientific explanation are the prior probability and explanatory power of the theory. The prior probabil ity of a theory is "a matter of its fit with background knowledge, its simpli city, and its lack of scope" ( 1979, 63). But, " for large-scale theories the crucial determinant of prior probability is simplicity" (1979, 53). In the case of theories of personal explanati on , simpl icity is "a matter of postu lating constant intentions , con tinuin g capac ities, and si mple ways of acquiring beliefs. " Thus, "the less detail a theory provides about a person ' s intentions, capacities, etc. the more likely it is to be true" ( 1979, 63). In other words, a theory, whether scien tific or personal , is simple " in so fa r as it postulates few entit ies and reaso ns (i.e. laws or intentions) of a simple kind" ( 1979, 77). A theory ' s explanatory power depends on two things: first, its "predictive power", whi ch is a matter of the theory' s "ability to predict the phenomena which we in fact observe;" second, "low prior probabili ty" of evidence, that is, the phenomena which theory predicts '"must be such that but for it they would not otherwise be expected. " Thus, "A theory has high explanatory power in so far as it has high predictive power and the evidence has low prior probability, that is, low probability, unless we suppose ou r theory to be true" ( 1979, 63). In a clearer expression, in terms of Bayes's Theorem , "To be good arguments (that is, to provide evidence for their hypothesis), arguments of this kind must satisfy three criteria. First , the phenomena which they cife as


Islamic Thought onlhe J..x islen ce of God

evidence must not be very likely to occur in the normal course of things. Secondly, the phenomena mllst be much more to be expected if the hypothesis is true .... Thirdly, the hypothesis must be simple" (Swinburne 1991 , 230). One of the main objection s to using Bayes's theorem in this argument is that "a theorem which requires numerical proportion s for its operation is here being used without any exact values" (Hick 1989, 108). In fact , Swinburn e 100 is aware of the impossibility of using numerical values and of reaching a quantitative conclusion. But he in sists that it is possible to apply Bayes 's theorem to the matter orGod without havi ng any numerical values. He makes cl ear

that in so far as for various e, hand k, th e probabilities occurring in it can be given a numerical value, it correctly states the numerical relations hips; but in so far as the various e, h, and k can not be given precise numerical values, his claim that Bayes 's theorem is true is simply the claim that "all statements of comparative probability which are ent itled by the theorem are true ." And, by statements of comparative probability he means "statements about one probability being greater than , or equal to, or less than another probability" ( 1979, 65). It seems that it may really be difficult to reach or establi sh,

and even to assume, an exactly eq ual probabil ity of two alternative theories: but it may not be so in the case of being greater or less than another probability. This kind of probabili stic judgement relating alternative theories may al so be found in scientific literature, for example, as in th e case of the Steady·State Theory and the Big. Bang Theory, or the theory of evolution and the idea of creatio ni sm, where s uperior probabilities may not be stated in term s of exact numerical or quantitative values. Indeed , even Alvin Plantinga, who se ems strongly again st makin g probability statements about the world and God (see, 1979, 30·47), appeals to probability in some cases, which are not easy to differentiate from the other cases in which he critici ses the appeal to probability. In the case of whether to decide the truth of the theory of evol ution or of the doctrine of creation , he says, "We mu st make as careful an estimate as we can of the degrees of warrant of the conflicting doctrin es; we may then make ajudgement as to where the balance of probability lies, or alternativel y, we may suspend judgement" ( 1991 a, 14). It is worth noting that he makes his judgement as to the former, namely, the balance ofprobability. Thus, Swinburne seems to be right when he says, " We might j udge one scientific theory to be more probable than anot her on the same

nle Argumemfrom Wisdom (Hikma)


evidence, while denying that its probability has an exact numerical value; or we may judge a prediction to be more probable than not and so to have a probability of greater than Y: , while again denyin g that that probability has an exact numerical value" (1979, 17 ). He also see ms right, therefore , when he uses qualitative probability statements regarding the arguments for and again st the existence of God. Another objection to Swinburne comes from D. Z. Phillips. He argues by asking, " If religious beliefs arc matters of probability, shou ld we not reformulate religio us beliefs so that the natural expressions of them become less misleading? Should we not say from now on, ' I believe that it is highly probable that there is an almighty God, maker of heaven and earth' ; . .'!" (1985 , 92). One can understand the point Phillips makes, but his suggestion is sti11 open to question . There is a difTerence to be respected between the attitude and language of a religious believer, in the case of pure faith during prayer or at normal times, and hi s or her attitude and language when discussing the biggest problem of mctaphysics, namely, whether or not God ex ists. In the latter case, to talk of a high probability of God 's existcnce seems perfectly reasonable, and would not req uire any reformulation at all. These two cases would not conflict with each other even in one person's religious belief. For what Anthony Kenny says in a simi lar context seems to be expressed here, if we understand or replace the word "argument" with th e wo rd " language" . Kenny says , "There is a difference between the kind of argument which may be used by one religious believer to another religious believer, and the kinds of argument which the believer must use to the unbeliever" ( 1992, 64). So Phillips ' objection to the usc of probability is an in sufficient reason to think that use of probability language about God's existence is wrong. Keith Ward objects to the users of probability methods in general and to Swinburne in particular by asking, " Ifit was probable that God ex ists, why do alt observers not agree?" ( 1982, 95). It seems to be difficult to understand Ward here in relation to the meaning of the words " probable" and "all ". For probabilistic statements or propositions cannot be expected to cover all cases, and perhaps it is because of this characteristic thai they are not necessary, but probable. But thi s question seems more odd when asked by someone who has "defended the view that God is logically necessary bein g" (Ward 1982, 94); in oth e r words, who has defended clearl y that " Its ex isten ce is not probable but necessary" (Ward 1982 , 98). For while Ward 's question above can not

Islamic Thought on the Exislen,'e a/God

be a right question to ask somebody who talks ill probabili stic term s, it may be a fair question (with a change of on ly one concept), to a person defending the necessary exi stence of God: if it wa s necessury that God exist, why do all observers not agree? So Ward 's objection does not seem convinci ng. Keith Ward also objects to Swi nburne because of his " very wide use of the idea of simplicity" ( 1982, 93). He asks, " Is it really simpl er to suppose that a cosmic ' person ' (as Swinburne tenns God) brings the world into bein g than that there are one or two ultimate physical laws and an initial state such as is po sited by the big bang theory, from which all thin gs de vel op by random motion ?" ( 1982, 97). He goes on to argue that "It does not seem to me very plausible 10 say that the necessary and incomprehensibly great creator of all is a very si mple being .. . Nor is it clear to me that it would not be simpl er to eliminate him from the scene altogeth er. Nor can I see how the possession of an unlimited, infinite degree of power is simpler than the possession of some finite degree of it" ( 1982, 97). The essence of these objections seems correct especially when regarded as objection to the very wide use of simplicity, rather than as rejecting th e idea compl etely. Sw inburne really says in his The i:x isfence njGod that simpli ci ty is "a dominant theme of thi s book" ( 1979, 56). Ward is not alone amo ng the theists, leave aside the athei sts, who criticise the arguably excessive use of si mpli city by Swinburne. Some of them complain that Swinburne "puts far too much weight on the very controversial notion of simplicity" (purtill 1985, 523), while others suggest that he "relies upon a stronger form of the principle of si mplicity than is admi ssible" (Wynn 1993, 333). It might be argued that Swinburne's putt ing all th e weight into simpli city may be true for his overall position in hi s The Existence ojGod or for his version of the cosmological argument, but not for hi s version of th e teleological argu ment (see, 1979, 144, 147). Nevertheless , re gard in g the statu s of s impli c ity in Swinburne 's posi tion , one migh t suggest, in agreement with the critics above, that the idea of simplicity should not be regarded as the most crucial pan in Bayesian probability, at least in the design argu ment. The three criteria of arguments of this kind are : that the ph enomena cited as evidence must not be very likel y to occur in the normal course of events, that the phenomena must be much more 10 be expected if the hypothesis is true, and that the hypothesis mu st be simpl e. These should not all be regarded as equally imponant, nor should the last one be regarded as the most imponant. They may rather be said to have relative or different degrees of

The Argumentfrom




importance in the tOlal picture of the argumentation, In order of importance they may be ranged from the first to the last. That is to say, the most important of the three criteria seems to be the first one concernin g th e fact that evidence must not be very likely to occur in the normal course of thin gs, or in other words, that th e phenomena cited or evidence would be highly unlikely unless there is a God. For if, as Swi nbu rne argues, there are only two kinds of explanation, namely, scie ntifi c and personal , and if scientific ex pl anation cannot explain the evidential phe nomena which cannot also be left as une xp lained brute fact , then the second alternative left is almost certainly establ ished. If thi s be t rue, then even if the second and th ird criteria are important supportive part s of the probable truth of the hypothesis, they are not the most crucia l or even more cruci al than the first one. 11 might also be noted that the second criteria, the argument from God 's character, seems so mewhat removed from the empiri cal character of the argument from design . The t hird one, simplicity, does seem more important in the matter of different understandings of God, rath er than God 's existence. It can be a good criterion in deciding whether po lytheism or monotheism are more likely true or whi ch monotheistic God model is more probab ly true. Hence, the firs t criterion seems to be the crucial one, not the last one . Bes ides, when the importance is given to the fi rst, it seems possible and reasonable to bring classical probabilistic versions lik e Tennant ' s nearer to Sw inburne 's Bayes ian vers ion and to evaluate them more or less in the same line of though I. Therefore, we can now say that judgements relying upon qualitati ve probabi lity arc one of the ways in wh ich such metaphysical problems may be solved , at least tentatively and on a personal leve l. As Hugh Montefiore says, " Personal faith in God involves personal choi ce, but decis ions about intellectual belief require thc balancing or probabilities" (1985 , 6). For from the point or view or a fide is! theist or an ordinary believer, belief in God may be a matter ofpure faith , not of probabil ity or anything similar. Perhaps, for some dogmati c athe ists, di sbelief in God may be in a simi lar situation . But the philosophical situation of an open·minded person, at least at the beginning of the decisive process of developin g his or her inherited belief to an investigated level, or when he or she fac es a situation in which to defend personal religious beliefbecause of some intellectual challenges, seems to be a matter of discussion . That is, of taking account of alternative explanations and of evaluating them rat ionall y . even if objectivity, in the strict sense, is


hf/amic Thol/ght on the Existence o/God

impossible - and S0, a mailer of probability : of seeing which of the alternative belief systems or explanations is morc likely to be true, reasonable, adequate, satisfactory and so fonh . In other words. the matter of the existence or God may seem to be a matter of probability

in a philosophical context, although it does not seem so on the higher levels of religious faith. The appeal to probability seems to be possible, reasonable, and even in some cases unavoidable in the

philosophical treatment of religious issues. Thus, it is also completely consistent with both an a po.~feriori fir st premi se and an in ductive conclusion of the argument from design. We have already seen thai the universe has some outstandin g features suggestive of well-orderedness or fine-tuning. We have j ust concluded that it is possible to appeal to probabilistic appraisals ror som e alternative explanation s relating to these reatures or the universe, Now we should ask whether the universe as described makes the theistic explanation in term s or the existence of God more probable than oth er kind s or alternative explanations. In other words, which kind of explanation or world-view is more probably true in relation to some basic features of the uni verse. Many Worlds wi/h Randomi=ed Properties or Divine Design? We have seen our un iverse to be spectacularly fin e-tuned for producing carbon-based intell igent life. S light changes in the strengths of its main force s, in th e ratioins of its particle masses, and in some initial condi tion s would have prevented life 's evolution. As John Lesl ie recall s, "Look agai n at that fi gure of one part in 10 100 , representin g how accuratcly gravity may have to be adjusted 10 th e weak force for the cosmos not to s ufTer swift collapse or explosion. Recall the claim that changin g by one part in 1040 the balance betwee n gravity and electromagnetism cou ld have made stars burn too fast or too slowly for life' s purposes" ( 1988a, 248). Recognisi ng these coi ncidences "as a simpl e acciden t would be 100 naive an explanation " (Zycinsky 1987, 327). G iven that this pattern of discoveri es has compelled many scientists and philosophers to conclude that such a delicate ba lan ce cannot be simply di smi ssed as coi ncidence, how will th ey be explain ed? Or, from the design argument ' s point of view, how will their co nn ecti on with God 's existence be establi shed? In other words, how is the second premi se of the argument from design based on these fine-Iunin gs? There have bee n three developments since the discovery of these coi nci dences. They appear to be related to each other in some

The Argumelllfrom Wisdom (Hikma)


po ints, and alternatives to each other in others points: the anthrop ic principle, many worlds hypotheses, and revival in the theistic design hypothesis of the argument from design. While the second and the third ones seem to be alternatives one to the other, the relationship of the first with the others is more complicated. For some thinkers the real alternatives seem 10 be the design and the many worlds hypotheses (Leslie 1988b, 269; Zycinsky 1987,327), while for others the alternative to the design hypothesis is the anthropic principles (Craig 1990, 135; Hawk ing 1990, 125). This matter seems quite complicated and confusing, even at times in the same paper. For example, John Leslie, one of the most outstanding and prolific writers in this subject, wri tes on the onc page that "Religious thinkers might wish to treat the observed fi ne tuning as evidence of God ' s power and ingenuity. Athe ists wi ll prefer 10 appeal to the anthropic principle" ( 1993 , 68). According to t his statement , the alternative explanations of the fi ne tun ing of the universe arc God ' s des ign and the anthropic princ iple. He writes on the next page, however, that "Our universe 's fine -tuned character truly is a sign either of God 's hand or of the existence of multiple universes with randomized properties" ( 1993, 69). In this statement, the compct ing hypotheses seem to be God ' s design and the hypothesis of wo rld ensemb les. Afte rwa rds he writes : "Our universe's life-permitting character can be though t in special need of ex plana lion because there are two tidy ways in wh ich it migh t be explained. [t might be explained by reference to God , or it might be explained - rendered un mysterious - by reference 10 greatly many, great ly varied universes and to an observational selection effect" ( 1993,69). In these sentences, the alternatives are said to be two, namely, God and many universes, but one more poin! is added , namely, an observational se lection effect, which is in fact an essential part of the weak an thropic principle. In this case, what is the exact re lationsh ip between tine tunings ofthe universe, and the other three concepts, the anthropic principles, many wor ld hypotheses, and the idea of God ' s des ign ? More particularly, what is the real alternative or competing hypothesis to the design hypothesis as an explanation of fine tunings, and which one of them is more likely to be true? One o f the first res u lts of t he discovery of cosmic coincidences is the anthropic principle. After first being proposed by the physicist Brandon Carter in 1974, the anthropic prin ciple has frequently been see n in scientific and cosmological works, either in books or in leading and popular journals written by physicists or cosmologists . T hen, it has attracted the in terest of phi losophers of

Islamic Thought


the Existence ojGod

science, who have written many works on it . "Anthropic reasoning has been see n as holding the promise of a new methodology of scientific explanation that places Man (or perhaps Consc iousness or Observership) at the centre of our understanding of nature" (Earman n 1987,307). It has also driven philosophers of religion assess it from the point of view of belief in God 's existence. The anthropic principle has assumed a number of different forms , generat ing a great deal of confusion concerning what it is precisely that the principle asserts. "Even a casual g lan ce at the rapidly expanding literature reveal s that the AP is not a single, unified principle but rather a complicated network of postulates, techniques, and attitudes. Faced with such a diversity of ideas and connicting claims about their usefulness and validity," (EaTman 1987, 307) it seems best to begin with direct quotati ons from Carter, who fir st proposed the principle, and from Barrow and Tipler, who stated variou s versions of the principle in their recent monumental book, The Anrhropic Co:,·mologicaf Prim.:ipfe. The more important versions of the Principle are the "Weak Anthropic Principle" ("WAP" for short) and the "Strong An thropi c Principle" ("SAP" for short) even if there are oth ers such as the " Participatory Anthropic Principle" and the " Final An thropic Principle", The weak Anthropic Principle (WAP) is stated as follows : we must be prepared to take account of the fact that our location in the universe is necessari ly privileged to the extent of being com patible with our ex istence as observers. (Carter 1990, 127) The observed values of all physical and cosmological qunntili es arc nol equally probable but they take on values restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where carbon-based life can evolve and by th e req uirement that the Universe be old enough ror it to have already done so. (BnTfow and Tipler 1986, 16) St rong Anthrop ic Principle (SAP ) is expressed in ways such as the following: the Uni verse (and hence the fundamental parameters on which it depends) must be such as 10 admit the creation or observers within it at some stage. (Carter 1990, 129)

7he Argum filll from Wisdom (Hikma)


The Universe mu st have those propert ies which allow life to develop withi n it at some stage in its history. (Barrow and Tipler 1986, 21 ) Leaving asi de th e di sc us sions of the phy sicist s and cosmo logists on the anthropic principles, the evaluation s of the philosophers of re ligion seem to find them not as important as anthropic coinc idences. They particularly di sagree with and critic ise some kind of " interpretations" , " far·reaching implication s" , "phi losophical viewpoints", or "extremely speculat ive assumptions" in the Anthropic Principle. Because, as such, the Anthropic Principle is considered to be one of the "two ' ways out '" (Swinburne 1990, 165) to avoid the conclusion that such life provide substantial evidence for the existence of God . Even, "as Barrow and Tipler employ it," Crai g claims, "the Anthropic Principle is essentiall y an attempt to complete the job, begun by Darwinian evolut ion , of d ismantling the teleological argument by show in g that the appearance of design in the physical and cosmo logical quantities of the uni verse is j us! that: an appfiarance due to the se lf·selection factor imposed on our observations by our own existence" (Craig 1990, 389). Indeed, not onl y some cosmo logists. but also so me biologists like Richard Dawkins, have appealed simi lar considerations to the self~selec tion effect of th e weak anthropic principle. Dawkin s argue s that "Obvious ly all the planets that we see orbiting the sun mu st be travellin g at exactly th e ri ght speed to keep th em in th eir orb its, or we wouldn ' t see them there because they wouldn ' t be there~ " ( 199 1,

44) Swinbu rne co nsid e rs the weak anthropic principl e as interpreted by Barrow and Tip ler to be "a trivial truth ." "To be true, a theory must be compatible with evidently true data of observation. However, Barrow and Tipler easil y slide into careless expositions of the principl e, carrying interpretations which would render it obviously fal se"' (Swinburn e 1990 , 165). For example for such interpretation s Swinburne quotes Barrow and Tipler's view that " many observation s of the natural world , although remarkable a p riori, can be seen in this li ght as inevitable consequences of our own ex isten ce" ( 1986, 219). For Swinburne. "this suggestion is nonsense . The laws of nature and boundary conditions cause our exi stence; we do not cause theirs" ( 1990, 165). The most crucial point where the argument from design and the anthropic principles

hlamic Thought



the !:xislem:e l?f God

negalively confront each other is in the implication of the WAP that we ought not to be surpri sed at observing the universe to be as it is, for ifit were not as it is, we could nol observe it. According to thi s implication , "Our own exis tence acts as a selection effect in assessing the various properties of the universe" (Craig 1990, 137). Barrow and Tipler claim in this context that: The basic features of the Universe, includ ing such

properties as its shape, size, age, and laws of change must be observed to be of a type that allows the eva Iution of the observers, for if intell igent 1i fe did not evolve in an otherwi se possi ble universe, it is obvio us that no one would be asking the reason for the observed s hape, size, age, and so forth of the univcrse.( 1986, 1-2) We should emphasise once agai n that the enormous improbability of the evolution of intelligent life in general and Homo sapiens in parti clilar does not mean we should be amazed we exi st at all .( 1986,

138) 11 is thi s philosophical viewpoint , rather than WAP itse lf, which according to Craig, "stands opposed to the teleological argument and constitutes scientific naturalism' s most recent answer 10 that argument. " According to the Anthropic Principl e, an attitude of s urprise at the delicately balanced features of the universe essential to life is inappropriate ; we should expect the un iverse to look thi s way. Whil e this does not explain the origin of those fe atures, it shows that no exp lanat ion is necessary. Hence, to po sit a divine Designer is gratuitou s" ( 1990, 138- 39). However, this apparent an swer to the design argument seem s quite mi staken . This can be clearly seen by means of an illu stration origina lly found in John Lesli e and then developed by some other philosophers. According to Leslie, "the Anthropic Principl e cannot be taken as telling us that our world 's laws and initial conditions .. . ought not to arouse our curiosity al all," because that would be like saying, " If the thousand men of the firin g squad hadn ' t all missed me then I s houldn ' t be here to discuss the fact , so I' ve no reason to find it curio us" (1982 , 150 ). In Swinburne 's version of thi s illustration, there are twelve expert marksmen in the firing squad, and they fire twelve rounds each. However, on thi s occasion all 144 shots miss. The prisoner laughs

1he Argumelllfrum /Vi.f(lom (Hi1cma)


and comments that the event is not someth ing requiring any explanation because if the marksmen had not missed , he would not be here to observe them having done so. " But of course," Swi nburne says, "the prisoner 's com men! is absurd; the marksmen all having missed is indeed something requiring explanation ; and so too is what goes with it - the prisoner being ali ve to observe it " (1990, 165). And, as Craig puts it , " While it is true that . . you should not be surprised that you do not observe that you are dead , nonetheless it is equally true that .. . you should be surprised that you do observe that you are alive" , He concludes that : Similarly, while we should not be surpri sed that we do not observe feature s of the universe which are incompatible with our existence, it is nevertheless true that .We should be surprised that we do ob ser ve features of the universe which are compatible with our existence . . .. Therefore, the attempt of the Anthropic Phil osophy 10 stave off our surpri se at the basic features of the universe fai ls. It does not after all follow from WAP that our surprise at the basic features of the universe is unwarranted or inappropriate and that they do not therefore cry out for explanation. ( 1990, 140-41 ) Fine tunings of the universe reall y are surprising and require a satisfactory explanation. For th ey are very impressive empirical findings to discover that what seem to be widely varied facts really cannot vary widely, indeed, that many of them can hardly vary at all and have the universe develop the matter, life, and mind it has generated . " What we have is a bomb blast (the big bang) that is fin e-tuned to produce a world that produces us , when almost any other imaginable blast would have yie lded nothing. What we have is friend s in (a Friend behind) what would otherwise be a firing squad, a chaotic blast " (R ol ston 1987, 72) . The explanat ion in this illustration will be either that it was an accident (a most unusual chance event) or that it was planned (e.g., all the marksmen had been bribed to miss). So, "Any interpretation of an an th ropic principle which suggests that the evoluti on of observers is something which requires no explanation ... is fa lse" (Swinburne 1990 , 165). Therefore, it seems that the ' WAP self-selection effect ', or, ·the Anthropic Philosophy' has no real force against the design hypothesi s based on the fine luning of the uni verse. For as the widely

Islamic Thoughl on the

Exi.~lIm ce


used firing squad story makes clear, it is not convincing at all. In addition to that analogical story, it might be suggested that such an approach as assuming that we should not be surpri sed at observing fine tun ings of the universe, for if they were not as they are we could not be here to observe them . would also be contrary to the general research mentality. For example, a scientist, especially a biol ogist or a zoologist, cannot reasonably argue that we should not be surprised at , and should not require an explanation of, the di sappearence of dinosau rs 65 million years ago . He cannot argue that if dinosaurs had not di sa ppeared, mammals including us would nol have evolved and spread , and we would not have been here to re search why dinosaurs di sappeared . But the scientists ' search for reasons for the di sappearance of dinosaurs has apparently been useful for the evolution of intelligent life which would not have happened had they not disappeared. In the same way, we should seek an explanation for the case of the fine tuning of the universe which has been necessary for the evolut ion of intelligent life while, withou t it, the universe wo uld have been a chaotic unfruitful mess. We can conclude abou t one of the WAP 's main theses, name ly, the se lf-selection effect , together with E. Harris that " It is not because we are here that the world comes 10 be so disposed. but rather the opposite. So-call ed anthropic explanat ions are misused if they are understood to suggest such a reversal of causal connections. It is because the world is thus orde red , be cause th e terrestrial environm ent is so precisely suited to the emergence ofHfe and the developmenl of a biosphere, that human beings have evolved and we are able to investi gate the condition s of our own being. Our observation and reflection are not the efficient causes of what they reveal to us, although , as will become apparent later, they may well be its fina l cause" ( 1991, 58-59). As for the Strong Anth ropic Principle (SAP), its more specu lati ve structure leads 10 more varied kinds or interpretations, including the ' teleological ' vers ion which supports th e design hypothesis. The terms " must be" and " must have" in the cited formulation s of the stron g anthropic principle are sometimes understood or interpreted teleologically. This is "to continue in the tradition of the classical Design Arguments," according to Barrow and Tipler, and to claim that: " There exists one possible Un ive r.~e 'designe d ' with the g oal of ge n erating and s lIst a i ning ·ob.wrver.~ '" ( 1986. 22). This purposive formulation or the st.rong anthropic principle "explains the efficacy orthc W.A.P. by asserting that the universe evolved propert ies sufficient for the generation of

711e Argument/rom




life in order {() bring about life. It is the presence of the term " in order to" which of course identilies this model as teleological, that is, goa l-directed . In this case. th e goal is the existence of life. Moreover, although several different versions have been broached, ultimately. they all lead back to some sort of supernatural entity, whose intentions and purposes it is that the cosmic teleology expresses" (Gale 1986, 1061). Some scientists, like Harvard chemist Lawrence Henderson and British astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, and some philosophers , like John Leslie, have been regarded as typical examples of supporters of this purposive teleological interpretation of the strong anthropic principle (see, Barrow and Tippler 1986,22; Gale 1986, 106). '·For obvious reasons:' however, as George Gale says, " The purposive vers ion of the anthropic principle is not Who are satisfying to many cOnlemporary cosmologists. committed to naturalism " ( 1986, 107). According to Barrow and Tipler, the purposive interpretation above "does not appear to be open to either proof or 10 disproof' ( 1986, 22). This seems true to some extent. But it cannot mean at all lhat it is wrong. On the other hand , perhaps the other alternative too, namely, the many worlds hypothesis, which wi ll be examined soon, cannot appear to be more open to proof than this interpretation . There are other interpretations of the strong anthropic principle. Most of them are criticised by philosophers of reli gion. While Swinburn e sees Barrow and Tipl er ' s Strong Anthropic Principle as "ambiguously" expressed and "very dubious" ( 1990, 166). John Hick re-expresses Carter 's St ron g An thropi c Principle as " because we are here the universe had to be such as to produce us," and evaluates this as follow s: This proposit ion, I suggest , is either an empty truth or a substantial ral sehood. The empty truth deri ves from the tautology that what is, is. Since the universe is such as to have produced us, then it is such as to have produced us. The ~ub~lant ial fal sehood is the inference that th e universe had to be such as to produce us, so that there cou ld not have been a ditTerent universe which did not include ourselves. But from the fact that a cosmos without observers would not have been ob se rved we cannot legitimately infer that there cou ld nOI have been a different universe, devoid of observers. (1989, 93)


Islamic Thol/ght on the Existence oiGod

It seems that the main alternative interpretation of the Strong Anthropic Princi pl e for the design hypothesis or argument is the one that clai ms that "an ensemb le of other diffe rent universes is necessary for the exi stence of our Uni verse;" and this statement, "receives support from the ' Many Worlds' interpretation of quantum mechan ics" (Barrow and Tipler 1986, 22 ; see al so, Smith 1985, 339). Even " many philosophers noli ce that the Many Universes hypothesis is needed if the Strong Principle is to do any interesting work" (Leslie 1986, 11 5). So, it seems that the dest iny of the de sign hypothesis in the anlhropic context depends considerably on the posi ti on of the hypot hesis of a World Ensemble or of Man y Worlds, that is whether it acts as an interpretation of the Strong An thropic Principle as il is regarded in some approaches or as an independent alternat ive explanatory hypothesis, as it is regarded in some others, It might be said that the anthropic principle in general and both weak and strong forms of it in particu lar secm to be quite ambiguous from the religious or non-reli gious poi nt of view, rather than a clear cut, straightforward posi ti on for the matters in question. In other words, bot h form s of it seem to be open to be interpreted and have actually been interpreted as favourin g both the ism and

atheism. For this reason, whi le on the one hand some say that the anthropic principle supports the design argument, others, on the other hand . can say that the anlhropic prin ciple su pports atheism, as we have seen, The weak anlhropic principle might be said to have two characteri stics. One is its factual, or more scien tific side: it expresses the flu:' that the universe has fine-tuned properties. The second is its more metaphys ical or philosophical si de: it expresses the fact that observed fine- tuned properties of the universe are se(f-selected by the fact that they must be consistent with our own existence. When the fir st side of it is taken into consideration, it certainly supports th e design argument. Indeed, w.L. C raig ri ght ly says that on ce the cen tral fal lacy of the self-se lection effect is removed , Barrow and Tipler 's book, The Amhropic Co:.m%gica/ Principle, "becomes for the design argument in the twentieth century what Pa ley 's Natural Theology was in the nineteenth , viz.. a compen dium of the dala of con temporary science which point to a design in nature inexplicable in natural term s and therefore pointing to the Divine Designer" (1988, 393). Thus, when its second side, the self-selection effect, is considered, the weak anthropic principle rejects [he main idea of the design argument; but it has been seen that th is is not a convincingly true implication .

Th e Argllmem /rom Wisdom (flikma)


The stron g anthropic principle might al so be said to have two mainl y different inte rpretation s. One is the teleolo gical interpretation lead ing back to a supernatural designer, and the other is some non-teleological , natumlisti c interpretation s. Needless to say, th e fir st one supports the design hypothesis. Hence, those saying that the stron g anthropic principl e supports the argument are right in this context. But when its other interpretation s are considered, people are ri ght in consid ering them to go again st the argument. In this case, it can be concluded that th e anthropic principles, being able to be interpreted in various ways, are not proper alternat ives to the design hypothes is. So the real conflict seems to be between the many-world s hypotheses and the idea of divine design. As indicated earl ier, one way of accounting for the flnetuning of the world 's propert ies to suit life' s needs would be to suppose that there exists an ensembl e of num erou s ' Worlds ' or ' uni verses' with vcry vari ed properties . OUTS would be on e of the rare ones in which living beings could evol ve. Postulating many worlds or un iverses is, in Swinburne 's view, "a margi nally more plausible way to avoid th e th eisti c con clu sion " ( 1990, 166). Vario us theories have been offered for generat ing mu ltiple uni ve rses or a World En semble. For Exampl e, J. A. Wheeler proposes a model of the oscill ating uni ve rse: Bi g Bang, Big Squeeze, Bi g Bang, and so on, in wh ich each cycle em erges with a new SCI o f physical laws and con stants. A. D. Linde suggests an infl ationary model accordin g to which our observabl e uni ve rse is but one of many different miniuni verses which inflated from th e ori ginal larger Universe. One of the most widely and seri ously di sc ussed World Ense mble scenarios in the scientific literatu rc is H. Everett ' s Man y.World quantum theory. [t is usuall y understood as giving us a capital- U Uni verse which branches into more and more Worlds that interact hardl y at all. Each World represe nts one choi ce amon g the sets of evcnt s which quantum mechanics views as having been trul y possible (Craig 1990, 142-43; Leslie 1989, 6-8 , see for detail s, 66- 103). However, each of these above scenarios "faces formidable scientific and philosophical objections" (Craig 1990, 143). Considered in general , from a ph ilosophi cal point of view, they represe nt about the most extrem e negation of"Ockham 's razor' ", according to wh ich the most plausible of a set of possible explanation s is that which contain s the simplesl ideas and least number of assumption s. To invoke an infinity of other uni verses j ust to expl ain th e remarkable features of our one observable world is surely carry ing excess


Islam;(' Thought on the Existence of God

baggage to cosmic extremes (Davies 1983, 173; Davis 1987, 14344). From a purely scientific view, the many-worlds hypotheses are neither verifiable nor falsi fiable by any concei vahle ex peri menl. There is simply no experiment that could reveal the existence of these "other worlds" . For "the many-universe theorists concede that the ' other worlds' of their theory can never, even in principle, be inspected. Travel between quantum 'branches ' is forbidden . Moreover, the ordered regions in the infinite or oscillating model universes arc separated by such huge expanses of space or time that no observer can ever verify or refule empiricall y the existence of the many universes" (Davies 1983 , 173). In this case, " To postulate infinitely man y worlds in order 10 save a preferred interpretation ofa formula, which is no way obviously simpl er Ihan the alternative explanation , and to avoid having to postulate a very narrow range of boundary con ditions (which have to lie within a certain range anyway), seems crazy" (Swinburn e 1990, 171 ). For, " 1\ is hard to see how such a purely theoretical construct can ever be used as an explanation, in the sc ientific sense, of a feature of nature . Of course , one might find it easier to believe in an infinite

array o f universes than in an infin ite Deity, but such a belief must rest on faith rather than observation" (Davies 1983, 173 I). Therefore, " Faced with such difficulties , we could judge it altogether better to reject the many-universes approach, putting our trust instead in the God hypothesis" (Leslie 1985, 112). Because, " If the God hypothesis provides us a surer passage, why not avail ourselves of it ?" (Craig 1990, 146). But does the God hypothesis really provide us a surer passage, and so, is it more likely true than the many world-hypotheses that does not seem 10 provide an adeq uate explanation for fineluned properties of the universe? Swinburne concl ud es that ''The existence of God is much more likely on the evidence of our life-producing world than the existence of "many worlds." .. . The existence of our world with its powerto produce intelligent life (and of other such worlds if they exist) is therefore confirming evidence of the existence of God" ( 1990, 172 ). That Swinburne is right secms to be quitc obvious. For if the many world hypotheses, the only competing alternative of divine design, arc not physics but metaphysics, then , as John Polkinghorne says, "A metaphysical suggestion of equal coherence and greater economy would be that there is only one universe, which is the way it is because it is not 'any old world ' but the creation of a Creator who wills it to be capable of fruitful process" (1990, 90).

Th e ArgumelllJmm W,sdom (Hi kma)


Consequently, th is version of the argument from design, which even in the view of Antony Flew is the "most powerful fonn of argument to design" ( 1991 , 143), seems to provide quite sound and reasonable grounds for belief in the existence of God as tbe source of the most satisfactory exp lanation of fine-tun ing of the universe. As such it makes God ' s ex istence highl y probable. Needless to say, it does not "prove" the existence of God. However, it is very consistcnI with th e idea of God ' s existence and design, at least more consistent than the alternative o f many-world hypotheses, and quite suggestive and supportive of the belief in an intelligent Designer, God. As Keith Ward says: There may be no proofs of God in physics. But it is no longer true that physics has rendered God superfluou s. On the contrary, it is the st rongest indicator that our physical world is founded on universal principles so elegant and beautiful , so ordered and interrelated , that it suggests to the mind with almost overwhe lming fo rce thai the basis of th is world is one rational and conscious creator, who has imprinted in the heavens and on the eanh the manifest mark s of hi s handiwork . ( 1986, 57) In s pite of al1 the negative ideas of wel1-k nown theist phil osophers and scienti sts above concerning the many world hypotheses, it should be added finally that the many world hypotheses and the co ncept of div ine design have not necessarily to be understood as mutually exclusive alternatives. Even if the many worlds had bcen true, this did not mean that the other worlds and ours do not need a fine -t uned design and the Designer. How can an at heist know t hat the other worlds are less ordered and much more c haotic and fruit less than ours? By con trast if the only world we know and we can use as a clue for the structure of the olhers is the world we live in, and if thi s is very tine-tuned , then the ana logical reason ing shou ld arrive at a conclusion that the other worlds mu st have been at least as we ll designed as thi s one ; and this requires a much more intelligent and powerful Designer ( Yaran 1999, 136; see also, Coll ins 2002, 135). In addition, Ihe religious. literature, particularly the holy texis are not alie n to the concept of world.\·. For example, the first chapter of the Qur ' an. which every practicing Muslim recite s.everal times a day stans with a few words that combine the concept of worlds with God: " Praise be to Allah the Cherisher and Sustainer


Islamic Thought on the Exi.Hen(:e oJ God

of the Worlds" ( 1/2). It is interpreted as "Allah cares for all the worlds He has created" (see The Holy Qur ' an , 141 0 H. , 3).

Humean Randomness. SlralOnic ian


or Personal

Explanation ? We have also seen that the universe is a more or less intelligible cosmos, and conforms to the most general laws ofnature, whil e it might have been a chaotic mess. It has been argued that for this feature oflhe uni verse which needs an ex planation, non-thei stic phi losophy can assign no good reason , whil e theism can. However, it has been objected that " Whereas Swinburne says that ' the universe might so naturally have been chaotic', it is hard to see how there could be things at all without their having some regular ways of working" (Mackie 1982, 148); " for _ . _ no describable world can fai l to exh ibit some regularity" (Ayer 1991,207). Does th is objection apply? It may be replied that it does not. For, first of all , our universe could actually have been otherwise, much less regul ar or chaotic. And so many world-states can be described which can fail to exhibit som e regularity. If ou r universe wcrc not ordered, it coul d be a universe, for example, in which thin gs changed at random , wit hout rhyme or reason. Flames would be hot one moment, cold another, water would free ze in the fir e and melt there next time, nothi ng wo uld retai n its weight or solidity but vary and flu ctuate . Not hin g could be counted on , there would be one chaotic whirl of change. "Th is;' argues H. D. Lewis, " would not give us a world at all , certainly not the world in which we could li ve and funct ion as we do know" ( 1965, 185 ). As Paul Davi es al so says more technically perhaps, "There are endless ways in which the un iverse might have been totally chaotic. It mi ght have had no laws at all , or merely an incoherent jumble oflaws that caused matter to behave in diso rderly or un stable way s. Alternatively, th e universe could have been extremely simple 10 the point offeaturelessness - for example, devoid of matter, or of motion. One could al so imagine a un iverse in wh ich condition s changed from moment to moment in a complicated or random way, or even in which everything abruptly ceased to exist. There seem to be no logical obstacle to the idea of such unruly uni verses" ( 1992,1 95 , see al so 169-70). Secondly, our real universe is not like any of these. It is very orderly. It does not even display some sort of apparent, ordinary, and temporary orderliness; bu t it s orderliness has very special characteri st ics. According (0 Davies's descript ion of its specialities,

711e A '1!lIl11elll from Wi,\'dom (Hi kma)


for in stance, it is poised intcrestingly between the extremes of si mple regimented orderliness and random complexity, It is undeniably complex, II has a general coherence and unity; so that, the wor ld contains individual objects and systems, but they are structured such that , taken togeth er, they form a unified and consistent whole. tn addition to these, there is the curious uni form ity of nature. Laws of physics discovered in the laboratory apply equal ly well to the atoms of a distant ga laxy. Moreover, there is also unifonnity in the spatial organization of the universe. On a large scale, matter and energy are distributed extreme ly evenl y, and the universe appears to be expanding at the same rate everywhere and in all directions. Furthermore, there is the simplicity of the laws in the sense of their bei ng able to be expressed in terms of simple mathematical function s. Finally, the fact that even slight changes to the way things are might render the universe unobservable is surely a fact of deep significance ( 1992 , 196-200). So, while it is fully possible for a universe to be an unlawful chaos in spite of contrary assertions which are high ly probably wrong, our universe with its initial conditions, natural laws and Iife-producing character is a very special, very complex , intricately balanced , coinciden tal , lawful and fruitful cosmos. As such, it is apparently in need of some sort of special exp lanation . But does the fact that the un iverse is complex, unifonn , and so on really justify the search for explanation? Should every complex, intricately balanced, fruitful thing have an explanation, which , likewise, the universe would have? Thi s question can be answered positivel y for a number of reasons. One reason may be said to have come from scientifi c methodology. As Swinburne puts it, "Th e history of science shows that we judge that the complex , miscellaneous, coincidental , and diverse need explaining" (1991, 232). ror John Leslie too, scie nce su ppli es a good ground for requiring an explanation to the intriguing characteristics of the uni verse. Specially, "The intricacy is something which scientists in general and biologists in particular must view as ' special' if they are to do much science" 1989,118). Anot her reason why a life-produc ing uni vc rse needs ex plain ing comes from some analogies drawn from the ord inary experiences of daily life. For example, "When a die fall s 6 twenty times in a row, this uniformity is striking. When a straight black line runs across white paper, we actually see the vastly many 'messy possibilities' so studiously avoided by the line, the white points which might have been black in the surrounding area; we at once conclude


Islamic Thought on the b"xislence o/God

that the straightness did not come about by chance" (Leslie \989, 117). We "would look for someth ing explaining why it had continued in that way up to date" (Leslie 1989, 11 5). The orderliness of the universe contains a lawful process and constructs a complex system. And complex things usuall y require some sort of explanati on as we often see in cases of scient ifi c enquiry and of dail y experiences. Therefore, an explanation seems to be required for the temporal order of the universe in particular and for all its many so rts of orderliness. We mentioned earl ier that there arc two kinds of explanation in the view ofSwinbume: scientific and personal. As for the scientific explanation of evidence e, this phenomenon " is clearly somethi ng ' too big' to be explain ed by science. If there is an explanal ion of the world ' s order it cannot be a sc ientific one." That the explanation of the world's order cannot be scientific follows from the nature of scientific explanation. In scienti fic explanation we explai n particular phenomena as brought about by prior phenomena in accord with scientific laws; or we explain the operation of scie ntific laws in terms of more gene ral scientific laws. "Sc ience thus explains partic ular phenomena and low-Icvel laws in tcrms partly of high-

level laws. But from the very nature of science , it cannot explain the highest-level laws ofall ; for they arc that by which it explains all other phenom ena" (1979, 138-39). Swinburne reaches his conclusion in thi s context as fo llows: There are ... explanations of only two kinds fo r phenomena - scientifi c exp lanation and personal exp lanation. Yet, although a scien tific exp lanation can be provided of why the more specific powers and liabilities of bodies hold ... in terms of more general powers and liabilities possessed by all bodies (put it Hempel ian term s - why a particular natural law holds in term s of more general natural laws), science can not explain why all bodies do possess the same very general powers and liabiliti es . It is with this fact that scientific explanation stops. So e ith er th e o rderliness of nature is where all explanation SlOps, or we must postulate an agen t of great power and knowledge who brings about thro ugh his continuous action that bodies have the same very general powers and liabilities (that the most general natural laws operate); and, once again ,

71le Argllmt'1II from Wisdom (Hi/una)


the simplest such agent to postulate is one of infinite power, knowledge, and freedom , i.c. God . ( 1979, 140-41) It has been objected to Sw inburne that the fundamental regu lari ties , or, the c hain of exp la nat ions can be cont inu ed indefin itely. For "No reason has ever been oITered why there should be any fundamental laws of nature in thi s [finitel se nse. This is a serious naw in Swinburne's argument ... (if) he is go in g to claim that the explanation fo r the fund amental laws of nature (if there is one) must be given in terms oran intelligent agent. If there are no fundamenta l laws the posi tion obviously collapses" (Priest 1981, 424) This object ion is open 10 question . For, on the one hand, it seems that Swinburne may not rightly be bla.m ed because he has not ofTered any reason why there should be any fundamenta l laws of nature. Th is fact seems almost obvious in the light of generally agreed cosmological views today. As Swi nburne says, "What exactly these laws arc. science may not yet have discovered - perhaps they are the field eq uations of Einstei n 's General Theory of Relativity. or perhaps there are some yet more fundamental laws" 1989, 127; see also 1979, I 38t). No matter what exactly they are, in our day in wh ich scientists like Stephen W. Hawking "would hope to find a complete, consistent, umfied theory" "of every thing in the universe" ( 1990, ISS), t he existence of some fundamental laws does not seem too doubtful or questionable. Moreover, th e vicw that the universe and its fundamenta l laws have a finite past history has in recent years received stron g emp irical support from th e cos mology. Now " the prevaili ng cosmological view among scientists is that the uni verse did have a begin nin g," expanding from a ' big bang ' approximately 15 billion years ago (Craig 1979. 11 0; see also, 1993 , 41 -43). On the other hand , even if there were no fundamenta l laws. the position would not collapse. For, if the assumption is made of an indefini tely con tinu ing chai n of laws, "T here is no explanation of the operation of the whole seri es. That the whole series operates will then be the starting-point for an argument from design " (Swinburne 1979, 139). This would be only a different version of the argument from design, not an obviously collapsed position. Therefore , Swi nburne seems to be ri ght in ruling out any scientific explanation of the highest-level laws of nature in its technical sense. Indeed, even Mackie accepts that Swinburne says


Thought Oil the ExiMence QfGod

" rightly" that allhough science may exp lain some regularities by deriving them from others, it cannot explain the highest-level or most fundamentallaws(1982 , 147). NevenheJess, though not claiming to be scientificexplanution in an entirel y technical sense, there are naturali stic efforts to explain the temporal order orlhe universe, as a better alternative explanation against Swinburne 's personal explanation. Thi s is sometimes called the Epicurean account of order and is mainly based on the in iti al randomness orthe universe. J. L. Mackie argued that Swinburne's position would not be reasonable if "there were a strong presumption that the universe is really compl etely random , thai such order as we seem to find in it is just the sort of local apparent regu/arily that we should expect to occur occasionally by pure chance, as in a seri es of random losses of a coin we will .wmelime.~ get a long run of head s, Of a simp le alte rnation of head s and tail s ov er a considerable num ber of throws" ( 1982, 148). There are a number of points in Mackie's obj ection which are worth ques tioning. Is thi s presumption really as stron g as described? [s the regularity we found in the un iverse really local and apparent? If what we have di scusscd and concluded in thc fir st chapter is true, the regularity in the uni verse is neither local nor apparent. By contrast , it is both all-pervasive and real. How can a really complete randomness accoun! for the evidence cited, that is, the orderliness of the universe in the sense of its confonnity to simple, formulable scientific laws? Randomness, too, seem s to need an explanation for rational peopl e to accept. How did the fundam ental laws occur randomly? Mackie's suggestion is pure chance occurring occasionally. Bul how can someone be so sure that the uni verse and its fundamental laws is something we should expect to occur occasionally? Would not such a claim be subjected in a more correct sen se to some con sideration s reminding one of Hum e's objection s to the design argument ; that is to say, would it not be " requisite that we had experience of the ori gin of worlds" (Hume 1947, 150) to ascertain that our universe 's fundam ental laws occu rred by chance, as in a series of random tosses. Thi s claim seems to require us to have seen the origin of so many universes. some of them confonning to simpl e scient ific laws and producing intclligentlife occasionally, and most of the rest not having such a lucky randomness. But, needless to say, this is impossible. " Universes", as C. S. Pierce remarked, "are not as pl entiful as blackberries" (qtd. in Flew 1966,


The ArglimelllJrom Wisdom ( Hikma)


Moreover, Mackie appeals to analogy to justify hi s account for order as based on randomness. After severely criticising the argument from design simply because of its use of analogy, how can he coherently appeal to the same mode of reasoning, when he alleges that "The initial analogy is indeed pretty remote, and any conclusion to which it points is very vague, so that no new inferences about the world or human life could reasonabl y be drawn from it" (Mackie 1982, 137). Besides, the analogies used by the proponent of the design argument which Hume and Mackie criticize, that is, analogies based on the similarities of houses , watches and so on produced by a human de signer to the world , seem to be much more stronger than Mackie 's analogical reasoning above, based on a series of a random tosses of a coin , for the similarity between compared objects or events in the fonner type of analogy seem 10 be obviously more than the simi larity in the latter. So Macki e's objection seems to have neither sel f-coherence nor any convincing point. While this objection has a relatively small place in Mackie's overall objections to Swinburn e's design argument, however, similar considerations have been constructed in more detail as the centre of the objections in other critics ' works. An thon y 0' Hear offers an " Epicurean objection to Swinburne" ( 1984 , 141 ). Relying on Hume ' s f)ialoglle.~, he writes that "Whal Hume ask s us to envisage is a world in which there is originally total chaos and disorder, in which whatever there was moved around constantly and with no appearance of order. Accordi ng to Hume, any random moving of things must, over a long enough period , produce a semb lance of order, must , in other words, ac hieve whatever stabi lity it can, and having achieved it , contin ue to maintain itself at least for a time in the stable state, for that is the nature of a stable system" (1982 , 136). It may be noted first of all that although O ' Hcar asserts that this Epicu rean explanation " is presented as an alternative to th e the isti c ex p lanat ion of te mporal

order in the world" ( 1982, 136), that is, to Swinburne 's version of the design argument, it does not seem to be a proper alternative to crucial point of Swin burne' s argument. For Swinburne's argument depend s on the scientifically unexplainable position of the fundamental or hi ghest-level laws of all , not on the in credi bleness of the emergence of a degree of stability out of an initially chaotic world over a long time. So it does not seem that O'Hear gives an exact alternative or any directly related objection to Swi nburn e's position . However, this \vould not be considered so important if O' Hear were successful in his alternative explanation in general,


Islamic 11/Uughl Oil Ihe t:xi,f lence oj God

or at least is closer to the truth than is the proponent of the design argument is. But the Epicurean or Humean accounts above do not seem to be correct. [n the time of Epicurus or even of Hume this explanation could have been seen as a plausible alternative, but in the lime ofO' Hear this seems much less plau sible in the light of present cosmo logical knowledge. For we know tod ay that th e universe was not "originally total chaos and disorder" as Epicurus, Hume and O' Hear suggested. By contrast, fine-tunings , lawfulness and regularity are being found up to the first few minutes of the universe which scient ists can access. Some physicists have extrapolated back to the earliest milliseconds of the un iverse's history and concluded that "the laws of physics deduced here on Earth apply back to 10-38 seconds after the beginning" (Rees 1981 , 272). The fact that what might plausibly be argued in the time ofEpicurus and perhaps of Hume cannot be defended in the same degree of rightness and persuasiveness may also well be seen in A. Peacocke 's comparison of classical and contemporary scienti fi c worldviews. Hi s comparison is as follows :

Then, nature was regarded as simp le in structu re, basically substantive an d reducible to a pat1ern of combinat ion of relatively few en tities: now we know it is enormo usly complex , of multitudinous variety, basically relational , consisting of a hierarchy of leve ls of organization, which are not always conceptually reducible and which span from the barning micro-world of the sub-atomic through the macro-world , which includes the biosphere and is within the range of ou r sense perceptions, to the mega-world of int e r-galact ic distance s , of cosmological processes unfolding over billions of years and of the gravitatio nal fields of ' black holes' . ( 1979, 62) Moreover, Hume was supposing that any random moving of things must produce order "over a long enough period" or " in less than infinite transpositions," as O' Hear writes and defends. But when commonly agreed cosmological views of today are considered, neither the age of the world, which is approximately 15 billion years, is as great as to be compared with the "less than injinile time", nor was the order we found in it produced " after a long enough period".

J1leA rRumentjrolll Wisdom (Hikma)


Therefore, the Epi curean alternative which to 0 ' Hear resorts to explain the temporal order of the universe does not seem to be defensible today. O ' Hear also que sti ons " whether the sort s of appeal to cosmic order made by Swinburne are entirely consistent ... with the currently fa shionable ideas of the uni verse eventuall y collapsing totally in a black hole" ( 1982, 138). The essence of the idea that the universe will even tually collapse one day may be said to be perfectly consistent with any theistic appeal to cosmic order. One does not think any th eist find s such an idea in principle new, un expected , surpri sin g or contrary to his or her basic beli efs_ For th e idea that the universe and naturally its order will com e to th e end one day is one of the basic classical ideas of th eism or of major monoth eistic religions; howc an it be inconsistent with it? Needless 10 say, however, that th e current sc ientifi c ideas that the universe had a beginning and will have an end can ca use some probl ems for atheis m, for these were the original , perenn ial or pre-scient ifi c ideas of theism, while athe ism rather defended an infinite universe without beginning or end. Hence, that the universe will eventually collapse is consistent with Swin burne' s ideas in spite ofO' Hear' s conviction. But what is interesting is that it is rather incon siste nt with O ' Hear ' s ideas. Beca use, " If th e universe wi ll event ually col/apse th en the cornerstone of atheism will also coll apse with it. For iflhe IIn iv erse i.)' not el ernal, th en tradit iona l atheism faces an /lif er lad oj rational explanation" (Geisle.- 1984, 138). Co n se quentl y, O ' Hear ' s Epicurean , arg ument or th e Humean alternative to Sw inburne' s explanation of temporal order in the world, docs not seem ei ther to construct a proper alternati ve to Swin burne'S argument, or to be a convin cing or defensible one in ge neral. While obj ections to Swinburne seekin g an alternative ex planation oflhe temporal order of the universe as based on initial rand omness do not seem s uccess ful , Swinburne seems to be rig ht in hi s view that the most fundame ntal laws of nature cannot be ex plain ed sc ientifically. But of course thi s is not eno ugh for the success of his Bayesi an argument. This wasjusl one part of it. And it see ms that to be success ful , as a good argument, it needs to be faced with some other objection or alternative, and to have some more support ive considerat ions for the probabili stic truth of its own hypothesis. Thus, Swinburn e cons iders th e other possibi lity, that is, merely leavin g this all-pervasive temporal order or th e conformity of nature to the most general scienti fic laws as ' uncaused ',


Islamic Thought on lhe Existence o/God

' inexplicable' or ' brule fact ' . This seems to be the more proper alternative of the personal explanation of the temporal order of the world in terms of a divine intelligence. As we have j ust exami ned, in the view of Swinburne, if there is an explanation of the most general natural laws, it cannot be a scientific one. Science cannot exp lain why all bodies do possess the same very general powers and liabilities. It is with th is fact Ihat scientific explanation stops. " So," he suggests, "either the orderliness of nature is where all explanation stops, or we must postulate an agent of great power and knowledge who brings about through his continuous action that bodies have the same very general powers and liabiliti es (that the most general natural laws operate)" (1979, 140f). He says more clearly that he " shaH take as the alternatives - the first , that the tempora l order of the world is where explanation stops, and the second, that the temporal order of the world is due to the agency of God"( 1979, 142). Swinburne argues that the first alternative is an assumpt ion which seems to be not only " strange enough ', but also " passing strange". For him, having considered the remarkable features of the world order throughout infinite time and space, (a topic which has been discussed in the second chapters) to say that there is no cause of this al all "seems incredible". The complexity of the universe is " too striking to occur unexplained". In addition, in this case, the orderliness of the universe would be " the orderliness of a coincidence" , and this would not have " the simpli ci ty of a common un derlying exp lanati on. " Whereas, "it cries out for explanation in terms of some single common source with the power 10 produce it" (1979 , 145). Notwithstandi ng Swinburne's claims that leaving the most fundamental laws of nature as brute fact seems incred ible and strange, some philosophers insist that accepting basic scient ifi c laws as ult imate, or brute fact rather than God as an ultimate agency is preferable. Although apparently unaware of Swinburne's version of th e design argument, Terence Penelhum argues that as the proponent of the design argument shifts his ground by saying that what he considers evidence of design are the fundamental natural laws, " The counterargument here is the simp ler one of saying that there is no evidence in favour of the belief that natural laws of this fundamental character have any explanation wllatever". He suggests conseq uen tly that " The mOSI general laws of physics .. . are j usl ultimate facts" (1971 , 53). Antony Flew finds Penelhum 's arguments remarkable in this point ( 1991 , 151 , and 25-26). He calls this position

TheArg umentfrom Wisdom (Hikma)


"the Stratonician atheism," namely, "that we should take the Universe itselfand whatever our scien tists di scover to be its most fundamental laws as the ultimates in explanation " (1991, 142, and 25 ; see also, 1966, 711). It see ms that even if it were poss ible that th e most fundamental laws of nature might be regarded as brute facts in need of no furth er explanation , thi s wo uld not be an easy and satisfactory acceptance . For thi s is not a case we usually come across in either our everyday life experiences or in sc ientific researches into natural phenomena. What is essential for the human mind is lookin g fo r ex pl anat ions until it has been sat isfi ed. And , as Brian Da vie s says, ·' When we are confronted wit h orderly arrangeme nt s of things, and unless we have positive reason to account for them without refe rence to intelli gence, we simply do seek to account for them with reference to intel ligence" (1993 , 11 5). Leavi ng fundam ental laws as brute fact is neither a necessary requirement of logic or science nor a sati sfying , persuasive stoppingpoint for common sense reasonab leness. By contrast, "Granted that we normally attempt to acco unt for order in tenus of intelligence when we lack a defi nite reason for not doing so, such a reply [as brute fact] seems arbitrary" (Davies 1993 , 115). Fundamental laws mi ght be regarded as brute fact s, but can thi s view be regarded as an explanation for them? It would not seem so. For it leaves unexplained and myster ious what needs to be ex plained . In thi s case, perhaps it mi ght be accepted only if there is no t any c ha nce of having a better hypothes is exp la inin g the phenomena and so minimi sing the mystery. But there does seem to be such an alternative explanat ion fulfillin g these in tellectual req uirements at least in a more intell igible way. Accord ing to Tennan t, for insta nce, theism gives a less mysterious and more complete exp lanation than an y non -theistic philosophy. He argues that s uch views as that th e world " made

itself' and that its order has simply happened "gives him [the nontheistl more to explain or to refuse to explain : fo r why shou ld the many arran ge them selves to fonn an intellig ible and an organic whole? If, on the other hand , this be due to an intelli gent Creator designing the world to be a theatre for rational life, mystery is minimised , and a possible and suffi cient reaso n is assigned" ( 1930, 105). In the view of Paul Davies too, " If the divine underpinn in g of the laws is removed, their existence becomes a profound mystery" (1992, 81). It seems then that the proponent of the idea that the most fundamental laws should be regarded as ultimate or brute facts


Islamic Thought on the



has not been convincing at all . They do nol succeed in showing that these laws provide a sati sfactory stopping-point in themselves and that they do not need a further explanation. They ju st offer to leave these fundamental laws unexplained on th e

grounds that we have no way of explaining them . But thi s is nOI convi ncing and satisfactory at all , and so is al so not likely to be true. Swinburne 's version of the design argument seems al so to rule out the ' brute facl ' possibility. In thai case, if the evidential

phenomenon in question is \0 receive an explanation and not merely be left as a brute fact , "That explanation must therefore be in terms of the rational choice of a free agent" (Swinburne, 1968 , 204). For the evidence "cri es out for explanation in term s of some single common SOUTce with the power to produce it. Just as we would seek to explain all the coi ns' of the realm having an identical pattern in terms of their origin from a common mould, or all of many pictures' having a common style in terms of their bein g painted by the same painter, so too s hould we seek to explain all physical objects' having the same powers in terms of their deri ving them from a common so urce" ( 1979, 145). Apart from the fact s that evidence e cannot be explained in a sc ient ific way and is very unlik ely to occur uncaused and so to be left as brute fa ct, and that analog ical reaso ning s upport s th e hypothesis h, there is one more ground for adopti ng the hypothesis: The character of God. Swinburne argues that God has reasons for producing an orderly universe, as opposed to a chaotic one. Firstl y, ·' In so far as some sort of order is a necessary condition of beauty, and it is a good thing - as it surel y is - that the world be beautifu l rather than ugly, God has reason fo r creating an orderl y universe" ( 1979, 146). So sin ce beauty is good and necessitates order, God has reason to bring about order for the sake of beauty. It seems to make sense. But thi s is nOI all. God has another reaso n to produce an orderly universe, which seem 10 us to make much more sense and s upport for the hypothesis_ "Secondly," he argues, "it is good that God shou ld make finite creatures with the opportunity to grow in knowledge and power" ( 1979 , 146). In thi s case, he goes on to argue, if these creatures are co nsciously to extend their control of the world, they will need to know how 10 do so. There will need to be some procedures which they can find out, such that if they follow these procedures, certa in events will occur. Thi s entail s the existence of temporal order. So he suggests tht "God has at least th ese two reasons for producin g an orderly world" ( 1979, 147).

The Argumemfrom Wist/om (Hikmo)


Swi nburne's supposi tions about God 's character and God 's two reasons for creating an orderl y world seem correct. But, on the other hand, il seems difficult to understand that he finds the first reason forGod 's creating an orderly universe, beauty, more powerful or right in this consideration than the second reason , making finite creatures with the opportunity to grow in knowledge and power. He says that "Maybe God has reasons for not making creatures with the opportunity to grow in knowledge and power, and so the second reason for his creating an orderly universe does not apply. But. the first sure ly does" ( 1979 , 147). One can suggest that if one of these two reasons does surely appl y or more probably applies than the other, this should be the second one, not the first. It might be suggested that God may choose whether or not to make a physical universe, but if he chooses 10 make it, then he has more reason for making creatures with the opportunity to grow in knowledge and power within it , and so for making it orderly, than he has for makin g it beautiful and so orderly. For it may be argued that even one finite free in tell igenl creature with the opportunity to grow in knowledge, belief, moral responsibility, love , power, and the like is more valuab le and bigger than an enti re merely physical universe which is beautiful but has no intelligent observer (except God), and has no power of being aware of either its own existence or of its creator. As Keith Ward says, "There is a sense in which the sma llest and most insignificant con sc ious being is more valuable than all those millions and millions ofl ight-years of empty space. . . So an unconscious universe is a universe vithout value" ( 1984 , 26) If these are too exaggerated ideas of consciousness or human beings , however, then it can be corrected and stated more modestly, together with Barrow and Tipler, that "The existence of life may be no more, bu t no less, remarkable than the ex istence of the Universe itselr' ( 1986, 4). Perhaps we should also remember here Pascal 's wc ll·known reflection : "All bodies, the firmament , the stars, the earth and its kingdom , are not equal to the lowest mind ; for mind knows all these and itself; and these bodies nothing" (quoted in Peacocke 1979, 51). Nevertheless, the comparative importance of these two reasons given above does not seem as important as the imp lications of both of them for the God hypothesis in the con text of Bayesian design argument. As Swinburne notes, " Human enquiry into divine reasons is a hi ghly specu lati ve matter. But it is nevertheless one in which men are justified in reaching tentative conclusions" (1979,


Islamic Thought on the Existence o/God

147). He seems right in hi s tentative suppositions based on God 's character and reasons for creating an orderly world . For

particularly free , intelligent, moral creatures like human beings seem to be what are really to be expected if God exists. Ismail Raji al-Faruqi has similar conclusions. He argues that " lrthe whole universe itself is really the unfoldings offulfi1ment of these laws of nature which are the commandments orGod and His will , then the universe is ... a living theatre set in motion by God 's command and action. The theatre itse lf, as well as all il includes, is explicable in these terms" ( 1992 , 5\). It can be concluded that Sw inburne ' s Baye sian argument from de sign leadin g to the conclusion of God 's existence seems to be a good argument indeed. We have so far examined both his criteria for the design argument and have found that they are reall y convincing in spite of certain criticisms raised againsllhem. The temporal order of the world needs an explanation. Thi s explanation cannot be a scientific one, and the evidence cannot be left as a brute facl. In this case, the postulation of the simplest agency of infinite power, knowledge, and freedom , namely, God, is almost unavoidable for minimi sing the mystery and providing a satisfactory explanation, and so is highly probably true. Besides, such considerations as God 's reasons for creating an orderly universe and the use of some analogies provide extra grounds for suppon ing the claim that the temporal order of the universe is evidence for the existence of God: and it increases significantly the probability that there is a God . It seems reasonable to conclude that the proponents of the design argument based on the wisdom in the created order, the fine luning ofthe universe, and its conformity to scienti fie laws are closer to the truth than their opponents . Materialistic reductioni st explanations of these aspects of the universe seem to be inadequate or less convincing than theistic explanations in the various ways we have seen. In comrast, the theistic personal explanation in term s of God' s wisdom and design, which is also compatible with scientific explanations, seems more reasonable, plausible, adequate, and so more probabl y true than its alternatives.


THE ARGUMENT FROM PROVIDENCE ('/NAYAH) Having rejected the t wo classical a rg ument s for the existence of God . Ibn Rushd showed definite pred ilection for the two versions of th e teleol ogical argument, which according to him

had a basis in the Qur 'an, and were of a more compe lling nature t han the other arguments. As he interp re ts th e Qur ' an , two

argumen ts fo r the existence of God are recomm ended there. One of them is an arg ume nt fro m providence ('inayaIJ) which runs as follows: Everything in the world is adapted to the existence a nd needs of human bei ngs and revea ls providence. For examp le, day and nigh t, sun and moon, four seasons, the carth and everyt hing therein, ani mals and vegetables, rain, rivers, seas and so on, and also the well-adapted orgnns of the human and animal body. All are obviously suitable and adapted fo r the existence and needs of human beings. The adaptation and functionalit y exhibited throughout the world requ ire an agent who intends and wi lls it. Fo r it cann ot conceivably be due to chance (I bn Rushd 1968, 65 , 66). What Ibn Rushd argues here is not that the wh ole un iverse has been created j ust for the sake of human beings. He disagrees wit h s uc h an idea in his Tahafw al-TahaJia ( 1969, 295). He defends, howeve r, that the uni verse is suitable for the existence nnd needs of human beings. This argument can be s im ply schematized as follow s. 1. All beings are suitab le for the ex istence and needs of human beings. 2. This suitability cannot be achieved by c hance. 3 . Therefore , it is by necessity due 10 an agent in tending 10 do so by


The Anthropic Nature of the World The world not onl y di splays a marvellous mec hanical order; many writers argue from the past to the present tim e that it also disp lays a teleological order, or a cosmic teleology. Accordin g to


Islomic Thnuglu on Ihe Existence of God

al-Faruqi , the order of nature is not merely the material order of causes and efTects, the order which space and time and other such theoretical categori es make evident to our understanding. "Nature is equally a realm of ends where everything fulfils a purpose and thereby contributes to the prosperity and balance of all . From the little inanimate pebble in the valley, the small est plankton on the surface ofihe ocean , the microbial flagellate in the intestine of the wood roach , to the galaxies and their suns, the giant redwoods and whales and elephants - everything in existence, by its genesis and growth, its life and death , fulfi ls a purpose assigned to it by God, which is necessary for other beings. All creatures are interdependent, and the whole of creation runs because of the perfect harmony which ex ists between its parts" (al-Far uqi 1992 , 55.) He also mention s several Qur ' anic verses in thi s context, one of which is as fo llows : "Not for (idle) sport did We create the heavens and the earth and all that is between !" (21: 16). AI-Rumi defend s the same idea of purposeful universe in relation to God and human beings in a poetic form with support of some analogies: Does any painter paint a beautiful picture for the sake of the picture itself? Nay, his object is to please children or recall departed friend s to the memory of those who loved them . Does any potter mould aju g for the jug's sake and not in hope of water? Does any calli grapher write for the writing 's sake and not for the benefit of the reader? When the barriers in front and behind are lifted, the eyc penetrates and reads the tabl et of the Invisible. Such a clairvoyant look s back to th e origin of existence - he sees the ange ls dispute with the Almighty as to makin g our Father (Adam ) His vicegerent. (a l-Rumi 1950, 112) The major purpose of the world is cla.imed to be related to the moral or spiritual exerci se of human beings. Islam "affirms that purposiveness is not only an attribute of every object in nature but Islam therefore is also a predicate of the totality of nature. affirms an end, a purpose to creation , and conceives ofthut purpose as the moral works of man. To thi s end, God provided the necessary

The A rgumelll from Providence ( II/ayah)


instruments .. .. Indeed , the teleological system of nature itself is purposive in the higher sense of fulfilling the instrumental ends necessary for man ' s moral exercise" (al-Faruqi 1986, 3 16-317). Some recent scientifi c developments. particularly the anthropic principle in a gene ral context. have given su pport to Ihi s argument. The argument from providence may be traced up to the early history of the argument from design. It was somet imes considered almost the same as the design argument, and sometimes just as one of its versions. In the West, the eighteenth cent ury writers, for instance, saw the workings of providence primarily in th.e general constitution a nd course of things. The world is orderly, subject to law, and its parts are wonderfully sui ted to each other. God ' s providence has provided it as a sett ing for people's moral discipline. It is a world ad mirably adapted to the purpose for which it was designed. "The meaning of providence in general terms for the eigh teenth centu ry can be summed up as the provision by God in his benevolence ofa beneficent consti tution and course of events which provide the stage and the opportunity for man ' s preparation for a future life" (Gold hawk 1969, 51 t). In the twentieth cen tury, R. Swinburne has formulated a more specific and limited version of the providence argument. He says that he understands by ' an argument from design ' two different arguments : the one is ' the teleological argument ' which argues from some general pattern of order in th e universe; the other is ' th e argument from providence ' which argues from the occurrence of provision for the needs of conscious beings (Swinburne 1979. 133). He particu larl y inquires whether the general circ um stances of the world are such as to show that a good God is providing for the basic need s of men and animal s, i.e. whether the world is a provi den tial place . In this world , according to Swinburne , man has the opportunity to provide both for himself and for others. Agents are born and die and during their life give birth , partly through their own cho ice, to other agents. They can make a difference to the world; but there is endless scope for improvement to it, and each generation can only forward or retard its well-being a little. Agents can make each other happy or unhappy, and can increase or decrease each other' s power, knowledge , and freedom . Thereby they can affect the happine ss and morality of genera tion s distant in time. Furthermore, there has been the poss ibility of man 's gradual ascent up the evolutionary scale, of man gradually developing his moral and religious awareness, and of each generation handing on to the


Islamic Thought on the Existen ce a/God

next some new facet of thai awareness. Man grew in understanding moral truths and in applying them to the case of the less fortunate ; he grew in sensitivity to aesthetic beauty and in the creation and appreciation of works of art ; in the acquisition of sc ientific knowledge and in its application to the betterment of the human condition and to the exploration and comprehension of the universe (1979, 195-96). Therefore, our world is a providential place. These views seem to be summari sed in the following statements: It is providential in giv in g normally to man (and animals) the opportunity to sati sfy their own biological needs for food , drink, safety, etc. ; and providential in giving to man (and animals) the opportunity to sati s fy th e biological and psychological needs of other men and of animals, and so to satisfy their own psychological needs for co-operation , friendship , etc. (1979 , 198)

Swinburne 's providential version of the argument from desi gn here seem 10 be based primarily on the sati s faction of biological and psychological needs of human beings and animals in the world they inhabit and on the character of God. The providential state of nature for the needs of human beings looked so striking to some defenders of the argument from de sign that they dared somet im es to use the term ' purpose' and to consider human beings as the purpose of nature as a whole in so me weak or stro ng se nse. It should be pointed out at this stage, however, that there seem to be two very similar versions of the argument which arc often evaluated and critici sed as if they arc the same, but are actually different at least in respect of some feature s. Both of them dwell on concepts and facts likc purpose, goal , human bein g, nature and God; and both reason in general from the relationship between human beings and the rest of nature to an intelli gent purposive agency, namely, God, from the point of view of cosmic teleology or the goal of the universe as a whole. Nevertheless, one of them more or less claims that the universe exists for the purpose of producing us ; it is only for our sake, for our use, wa nts, and services that God created all these things. Human beings are the centre and darling of the world , and the care of them is the adequate work of God . This version can be found abundantly in the Stoic philosophers. In the conversation in Cicero's The Nature of/he God.~ Balbus. a Stoic, argues thus: " In conclusion I must show that everything in the world

The Argumemfrom I'rOI'idence t lnayah)


which we enjoy was made and ordered for our sake. The universe itself was made for both gods and men , and all that is in il was devised and ordered for the use of Man" (Cicero 1972, 185, see for details 177~ 190). It seems that thi s form of the argument from design , which cou ld be called "strong anthropocentric teleology". cannot easi ly be defended today in the light of our knowledge of th e physical immensity of the universe, and even cannot easily be regarded as a preferable version from the point of view of theology. Simply because, as Descartes pointed out, ", . _ it is yet nOI at all probab le that all things have been created for us in suc h a manner that God has had no other end in creating them" ( 1967, 271). As Paul Badham sees it, "To suppose that in no case has life evolved to a higher state than man seems an incredible assumption to make, and one that does no honour to the wisdom of God" ( 1984,53); so, "On both scientific and religious grounds such a notion ought by now to be otiose" (55). However, there is another form of Ihis purposive version , which could probably be called " weak anthropocentric teleology" or just "anthropic te leology". According to this form , most or some things, not necessarily all things, in the world will be found to have the best possible arrangement,fi/ness or IIse/lliness in connection with the existence, safety and preservation of IlUman beings and of all things, not merely for the service of human beings. And a major reason among the possible others for the creation of the world by God can be its service chiefly to human beillgs, whose existence can be one of the purposes of God in creating all things, though God and His universe could have other ends, too . This form, too, can be traced back in the history of the design argument, as il can be found cautiously expressed in this century. It is this second form that Tennant and others here suggested in this cen tu ry. Tennant sees a close relationship between teleological explanation and an anthrop ic world-view in his wider te leology, which is a good examp le for the above-mentioned second form . He describes and defends a kind ofanthropocenlrism , but in his view, it does not assert that "man ... is the highest being under God, or the final stage of progressive cosmic evolution, or the end and the whole end of the divine design ". Rather, he goes on to explain: It is content to allow that the Divine end, in its completeness, is unfathomable . Nor does it imply

Islamic Thought on the Existenc..'e of God

that lower creatures evo lved in the world process are necessarily of but instrumental value as stages or means to ends, and, when not fig uring in man 's genealogical tree , are mere by-products in the making of humanity. Anthropocentrism rather means that, whereas in the realm of Nature beneath man no final purpose can be discerned, such purpose may be discerned in bei ngs possessed of rationality, appreciation, self-detennination, and morality. ( 1930, 113-14)

We ca n say consequen tl y that to reac h any defini te concl usion s about purpose or teleology - whether they be in narrower or wider sense - is not as easy as reaching a conc lu sion abou t order. However, it seem s that both in Ibn Ru shd 's argument from providence, and in the twentieth century philosophy of religion, argument from the purpose of nature as a whole has been advocated . Yet it appears that none of them have seen lluman conven ience, rationality and morality as the sole object of God 's purpose or care, as in some of the Stoic philosophers. What they modestly asse rt and conside r as a sort of evi dence of design is that nature as a whole is so providential and intelligible for the needs of human life as a whole, including biological , mental , social, and moral needs, that human beings might naturally be consi dered as its overall purpose in the limits of our present knowledge, and that this peculiar or even mysterious slate fonn s an evidence requiring an vil adesau. Ihe Heauty of Nature The re is a one more evidential fact related to order and purpose of the whole universe, namely, the beauty of natu re. As Davidson says, Islamic arguments from design "stress the orderliness or perhaps the beauty, but sometimes the fu nctiona lity too, of nature as a whole" ( 1987 , 218). So the beauty of th e detai ls of nature is also a part of the cum ulative teleological argument. AI-GhazaJi even talks of the beauty in the color of the sky sayin g that blue and green arc the mosl suitable co lors for the health of the eye and for peace of mind ; and the starry heaven s are much more beautiful than the ceil ings of kings ' palaces ( 1987 , 84). When lbn Hazm turns from the celestial to the terrestrial region in his teleo logical argumcnt, he assembles data from animal and plant biology. Unlike most medieval proponents of tel eological argumentation , who, when treating the

71le Argumellf lrom Providen ce ('lnayah)


details of nature, saw only their functionality, he underlines the aesthetic side of tne details of nature. He admires tne skill by which the limbs of the human body are fitted together; the uniform birds, tortoises, reptiles colo ur patterns of sundry "animals, (hasharat), and fish "; the variegated plumages of other species of bird ; the fact that palm tree fiber has a textu re as skillfully woven as fabric from a loom (see Davidson 1987 , 226). Mohammad Zia Ul1ah explain s hi s argument from beauty in more than ten pages. Beauty may be anywhere, in human bein lf::s, in external nature. Green landscapes and s prings of water - who will not be deli ghted by them ? Beautiful laces - who will not be pleased to see th em? But where does the beaut)' of beautiful things come from? Who has created thi s beauty? Not self-created, for sure. 11 is created by God our Creator. The beauty we find in the world around us is proof perfect of th e uniqu e, unequalled beauty of our Creator. He writes that " It is possible that on account of hi s own insen sitive mind a person may not feel the impact of beauty when it is present .. . Likewise hi s own lack of s piritual in sight may not permit hi m to discern in earthly beauty a pointer to the beauty divine, eternal , everlasting, the ultimate source of all other beauty" CU llah 1984, 32). The idea of an ascent of th e mind to God from the beauty encountered in the ph ysical world is an ancient one (See for historical detail s, Viladesa u 1988, 146-148). In the twentieth centu ry, F. R. Tennant formulated a contemporary approach 10 God 's exi stence from the philosophical impli cation s of aesthetic ex perience. He examined ' the aesthet ic value of Nature ' as Ihe fourth of the main field s offact which construct hi s wider teleological argument. Thus, he made th e beauty and s ublimity of nature the basis of a special teleological argument. However, he al so poinled oul thai " If, as standing by itsell: thi s argument fa lls shon of cogency, th e fact s from which it sets out may be said to form a link in the chain of

evidence which comprehensive teleology present s" ( 1930, 89). Tennant finds it weak and precarious to treat the beauty of nature as Paley treated organic adaptations; thai is to say, as if it were a ' special creation ' with no past hi story or development. The aesthetic argu ment ror theism, he says, " becomes stronger when it takes as the mos t signifi cant fact not the forthcom ingness or beautiful phenomena, but what may be called, with almost negl igible need of qualification , the saturation of Nature with beauty" ( 1930, 9 1-92). The I1rst proposition of hi s favourite argument from beauty was stated thu s: " On the telescopic and on the microscopic scal e, from


Is/amic Thought on Ih e hxiSlenct! of G od

the starry heaven to the sili ceous skeleton of the diatom , in her inward parts (if scientific imagination be veridical) as well as on the surface , in flowers that " blush un seen " and gem s that the "unfalhomed caves of ocean bear", Nature is sublime or beautiful " (1930, 91). In the view of Swinburne, too, the world is beautiful , and thi s is one of its considerably important aspects from the perspective of the arguments of God 's exi stence. He uses ' the argument from beauty' under the title of ' Teleological Argumems, ' focuses hi s argument on the things apart from an imal s an d hum an beings. and suggests that " if we confine ourselves to the argument from the beauty of the in animate and plant world, the argument surely works" (1979 , 150). He states this beauty as foll ows: Poets and painters and ordinary men down the centuries have long admired the beau ty of th e orderly procession of the heavenl y bodies, the scattering of th e galaxi es through the heavens (in some ways random . in some ways orderly), and the roc ks, sea, and wind int eracting o n earth , ' The spacious firmament on high, and all the blue ethereal sky', the water lapping against ' the old eternal rocks', and the plants of the jungle and of temperate climates, contrasting with the desert and the Arctic wastes. Who in hi s senses would deny that here is beauty in abundance? ( 1979, 151) The beauty of nature is not a matter of purel y subjective feelings of ind ividuals or of human speci es. Today, beauty is wide ly recogni sed by physicists as being an important characteri stic of the laws of nature, one which has served as a hi g hl y successfu l guide to di scoverin g the fund amental laws of nature in the twentieth century. Some physicists devote chaplers to discuss and emphasise th e role that cons iderations of beauty have played in physics. " As embodied in the mathematical structure of physical theory, some of the se element s of beauty are : ( 1) si mplicity wi th variety ; (2) proportion and harmony; (3) symmetry; (4) inevitabil ity; (5) ingenuity; and (6) havin g an "intere sting twi st ' or a ' strangene ss of proponion '. " These elements are largely constitutive of the classical concept or type ofbcauty (Collins 2002 , 138). As John Polkinghorne points out "those who work in fundamental physics encounter a world whose large-sca le structure (as described by cosmology) and

The Argumcllt from ')rol'idcnce ('Iflayah)


small-scale process (as described by quantum theory) are alike characterised by a wonderful order that is expressibl e in concise and elegant mathematical terms . We live in a world whose physical fabric is endowed with transparent rational beauty" (1998, 2; Cf. Landriere 2001 ,234). It seems, then , that nature is reall y beautiful in a general sense for most people, even though it has got some ugly or evil aspects. Tennant seems correct when he suggests that nature' s beauty must not be treated as ifit had no past history or development. He is correct again in saying that a defender of the design argument should emphasise the overall sublim ity of nature rather than specific of its examples, because especially beauty in living beings is easily subjected to scientific or evolutionary descri ption s or explanations. But it might be suggested, on the other hand , that thi s poss ibility ought not to cause us to leave the beauty of animal s and human beings out of this argument. For they are among the most impressive examples of beauty, and may always be argued to have been designed in one way or another. Finally, it seems also to be true that nature 's beau ty increases the general order of nature and so contributes to the evidence o f the argument from design, even though it cannot perhaps form a very strong evidence on its own. EVAL UAT ION: TIlE PROBLEM OF EVIL, AND DIVINE PROVIDENCE 11 is implied by Ibn Rus hd in his argument from providence that there are two alternative hypotheses to explain the evidential feature s of the universe: chance, and divine providen ce. In his view, the providential nature and purposeful functionalit y exhibited throughout the world cannot conceivably be due to "chance." Therefore, it must, perforce, be the doing of an agent who intends, will s and creates it (Ibn Rushd 1968,65). AI-Faruqi dcrends the

same idea through rejecting "chance" as an alternative. According to him, the nature of the cosmos is teleological ; that is, purposive, out of design . The world has not been created in vain or in sport . It is notlhe work of chancc or happenstance. The world is, indeed , a "cosmos," an orderly creation , not a "chaos. " In it , the will of the Creator is always realised ( 1992, 11 , 12 ). We have examined the providential features orthe universe, s uch as giving to human beings and animals the opportunity to sati sfy thei r biological and psychological needs, as another aspect of the universe showing that it was teleologically ordered. It is claimed


I.v/amic Thought on the


of G od

that the very general feature s of humankind ' s nature and circumstances described in that context are such as a God has reason for making, and so there is some reason for supposing that Ood made them. For there are many other worlds, which if there were no God, would be as likely to come into existence as this one, characteri sed by very different general features. "To tak e crucial examples, the world might have been one in which the laws of nature were such that there evolved rational agents like men or animals lack in g perfect freedom and knowledge, but with the power to hurt each other for endless time or to an infinite intensity." But "the existence of our world rathe r than of these othe r worlds , th e existence of which is incompatible with the existence ofOod , which would be equally likely with ours to occu r if there is no God , is evidence that God made our world " (Swinb urne 1979, 198-99). Arguing with the same probabilistic methodology through Bayes 's theorem as Swinburne, Wesley Salm on claims that the eviden ce of evil sign ificant ly reduces the probability of theism assuming the presence of providential order in the world. He claims that Hume's eloq uence, when he speaks through Philo, creates a vivid picture. Evil abounds in the world . Untold misery and sufferin g plague humank in d. He additionally argues that evil is more abundant today than in Hume 's day, for " Hume didn 't even know about nuclear bombs, chem ical and biological warfare, pollution , and overpopulation problems" (1978, 155). It might be acknowledged that the problem of evi l undeniably constitutes a challenge to thei sm an d the design argument, yet it is not an unanswerable problem for the theistic design hypothes is. These instances of evil mentioned by Salmon as additions to Hume's original list have no power to strengthen the classical Humean argumen l from evi l. For, firstly, all of them may be said 10 be moral evil causcd by human agents, not natural evi ls directly relevant 10 the design argument. Secondly, the idea of evils which Hume did not know of would not change the proportion of good and evil in Hurne ' s time. For, some good aspects of some apparently evil phenomena have been discovered recently thai Hume did not know, either. For example, volcanoes have been one of the commonly used in stances of natural evil for almost all the lime, including Hume's, Science "was late in recognising the important role ofvo1canism in the evolution of the Earth ." But sc ienti sts today agree thai "The oceans, atmosphere, and continents owe their origin and evolution in large measure to volcan ic processes throughout geologic time·' (Decker, and Decker 1991 , pp. 5 12, and 522). Consequent ly,

The Argllment/rom Providence (' fnayah)


Salmon 's statement that there are some evil phenomena that Hume did not even know does not seem to have really increased the force of Hum e's argument. Nor does Salmon seem to prove Ihal the evidence of evil signi ficantl y reduces the probabil ily of theis m. Nevertheless. here \\le need to tres pass onto ' the probl em of evil' , keepin g in mind that we need not become in volved in one of the most confused and comprehensive iss ues of the philosophy of religion more than is necessary. For, as Anthony Kenny sa id , " If one accepts Ihe argument [from design] , then one accepts along with it at least a partial recipe for the problem 's solution : for the a uthor of goodn ess to which the argume nt lead s is by logica l necessity the author of th e possibility of evi l. " ( 1988 ,550). In contemporary phi losoph ical literature, there seem to be two form s of the problem of evil: the logica l or ded ucti ve problem of evil, and , the evident ial or inductive problem of evil . The logical problem of evi l (also called the a priori argument or the deducti ve argument from evi l), which attempts to show that there is a logi cal incon sistency. incompatibility, or contradi ction between certain thei stic cla ims about God and evil, is particularly di stingui shed by the way in which it is a logical. dedlll.;tive or (j priori argument. Whereas, the argument from design is an empiril.:al. inductive and a posteriori argument. It also attempts to reach a high degree of probabilily rath er than a logical certainty, proof or demonstratio n for Ihe existence of God. Therefore , the logical form of the problem of evil is not closely related to the argument from design and for that reason will not be di sc ussed here (see, for its presentation , Mackie 1992 , 25-26 ; McCloskey [974 ,9 7-1 [2 ; for some defences, Plantinga 1967. 11 5-28. 1974, 166-71 ). But it can on ly be mentioned that even for some atheist thinkers s uch as Wi ll iam Rowe, "No one . has succeeded in es tabl ish ing such an ex travagant claim [concerning the logica l inconsistency)" ( [992 , 126). The Hv identiaj Argument of The Problem of Hvi/

Unlike the logical problem of evil, the evidential problem of evil is inducti ve, u posteriori and non-demonSlTative. As suc h it has a parallel logical structure 10 the design argument in several places. According to Wi ll iam L. Rowe, the evidential problem of evi l is "the fo rm of the problem whi ch holds that the vari ety and profu sion of evil in our world , although perhaps not logical ly incon sistent witb the existence of [God] , provi des, nevert heless, rational support for the belief that the thei stic God does not exisf'


Islamic Thought on the Existence ofGvd

(1978,86). The facts which give ri se to the problem of evil are of two general kinds refcrred to as ' natural ' (o r ' physical ' ) and as ' moral' evil. Moral evil , as defined by McCloskey, " is simpl y immorality· evils such as se lfishness, envy, greed. deceit , cruelty, callousness, cowardice and the larger scale evils such as wars and the atrocities they involve" (1960 , 100). When it comes to natural evil , it can be defined as follow s: "Natural evil is all the in stances of pain and suffering· physical and mental· and al l states of affairs significantly disadvantageous to the organisms, which are caused by actions for which human agents cannot be held morally blameworthy" (Reichenbach 1982, xi) It appears that the design argument, since it does not infer God from th e moral goodness of human beings, is nOI directly affected by con sideration of moral evil s. But it is natural evil, especially the quantity of natural cvil , that is, of course, one of the major problems for the design argument. The problem , in Alston 's formulation, "is whether the total pi cture of adaptation and maladaptation, so far as we have it, gives sufficient support to the hypothesis that the world represents the at least partial imp lementation of a plan that is at [east predominantly good " ( 1967, 87). To resolve thi s problem one must try to evaluate opposite factor s and arrive al a fin al judgement of their relative predominance. It is true that unfortunately there arc no real guideli nes for thi s task . No one knows exactl y how much adaptation, relative to maladaptation , would warrant such a concl usion. It is al so both logical ly and practically impossi ble in a strict sense to com pare goods with ev il s in thi s world . However, since McCloskey, an outstanding proponent of the problem of evil from an atheistic point of view, find s thi s kind of compa rison to be " not an unreasonable presumption" and actually makes iI , someone el se, too, may Iry to make ii , or at least to appraise hi s or Ihe olhers ' compari son and conclusion . He main tains the followin g: However, it is not an unreasonable presl1mption , with the large bulk of human kind inadequately red and housed and without adequate medical and health services, to suppose that physical ev il s at present predominate over physical goods. In the light of the facts at our disposal , this would seem to be a much more reasonable conclusion than the concl usio n hinted at by Joyce and opcnly advanced by less cautious thei sts, namely,·lhat physical goods in ract outweigh physical cvil s in the world .( 1960, 99·1 00)

'(1, e Arg umel1lfrom /'rol'idence (' /flayah)


The steps of McCloskey's argument from the amoun t of natural evil seem to be thus: ( I) The large bulk of humankind is (a) inadequately fed, (b) inadequately housed, (c) without adequate medical , and (d) without adequately health services. (2) Given this, it is not unreasonable to suppose that physical ev il s at present predominate over physical goods. (3 ) The second step above is a much more reasonable conclusion than the theistic conc lusion that physical goods in fac t outweigh physical evils in the world at present. (4) Therefore, the atheistic evaluation of the phenomena in the world dealing wi th good and evil is much more reasonable than th e thei stic one.

The Weight of Physical Evil In thi s argument McCloskey also describes the theist who defends the view that physical goods in fact outweigh physical evils in the world incautious ly without explicitly sta lin g the reason for it. [s his argumen t so und, is the theist really incautiou s and mi staken? Neither of these accusations seems to be true . By contrast, the opposite view appears much more reasonable , and McCloskey himself apparently is quite incautious when he constructs this argument. First ofall , one may say that as long as the lotal resources of the Earth are enough , leaving aside its excesses, to feed , to house and so on the whole of humankind on Earth, it cannot reasonably be claimed thaI the atheist ic description of the world , based upon the facl that some people cannot have or get adequate supplies of some goods, is much more reasonable than the theistic one. The reason for the situation of these people is not seem reall y a natural evil. For instance, are the natural resources of the world not enough for its inhabitants? Are we short of natural resources atlhe global level? If the case became so, th is would be a natural evil and a strong argument from evil. But the case does not seem to be such . It is almost certain that "There is in fact no shortage in the suppl y of food at the global level , even allowing for overconsumption in the core" (Bradley 1986 , 93). "Proper ly managed , the resources and technology are availab le to provide a tolerable, ifmodest , ex istence for everyone , even with the world ' s popu lation reaching 4,000,000,000. " (Smith 1979, 17). When it is asked , "Then why all the starvation and the mega-fam ines, especially of black babies in


I.\·/amj(: Thought on the Existence of God

Africa?" , for Bunge ( 1986, 290) Ihe reply is, "Co lonialism created those famines " , This seems to be an in sufficient explanation, because there can be al so so me othe r rea sons suc h as local maladministration, civil wars, unjust distribution and overconsumption of the sufficient natural resources of the Earth among human beings; as somc consume too much , some others cannot get enough . Indeed , " Roughly two-thirds of the world 's people live in the LDC s [less developed cou ntries], with only about an eight h of the world ' s income; the 20 percent of total population in highly developed nations share about 60 percent of world income - half of it going to the USA" (Smith 1977, 16f). In that case, the cause ofevi! seems to be human act ions, not nature; and so, the role played by moral evi l is at least bi gger than that of natural evil. Therefore, these fact s seem not to be suitable evidence of nature being predominantly evil. Con sequently, McCloskey's argument is not a strong one. Secondly, one might say that McClosk ey 's description is an exaggerated one whi ch would not reflect the truth. even if it is, of course, true to some ex tent. It is not the ' large bulk of mankind' who meet with the difficulties described above . It is a minority of humllnkind who are inadequately fed and housed and a re wit hou t

ad eq uate medical and health services. How many human beings are inadequatcly fed while the rest of them are fed adequately? One can say. that it is not most; the balance would seem to be on the side of those who are fed adequately. For in stance, "in 1974-76 there were 436 million undernourished people in total" (I slam 1982, 24), and the number of these people was 20 percent less in the beginning of I 960s when McCloskey wrote hi s estimation . For "Over the ten-year period to th e mid-1970s, the estimated number of undernouri shed people increased by much more than 20 percent" (Islam 1982, 24). Here are some clearer stati stic s. Accord ing 10 the more optimistic scenario, "it is estimated there would be 260 million undernourished", and to the less optimistic scenario "about 390 million people wou ld be-und erfed in 2000," (Islam 1982, 27) while the " world population is projected to increase fTom about 4.4 billion in 1980 to 6.2 billion in 2000" (Islam 1982, 43). These numbers clearly show that inadeq uately fed peop le are not the large bulk of humankind. Besides, the excessiveness of the percentage of these peopl e is probably a recent fact in the hi story of mankind and will decrease considerab ly in the near future . Indeed, " The percentage of the undernourished population would be cut from 23 percent in 1980 to II percent in 2000 and 4 percent in 2030" (Islam 1982,

The Argllmemfrom "rovidellce ('II/ayah)


431). These stati stical data show that the inadequately fed people are almost always the minority, or even a small minority of mankind, certainly not the large bulk or the majority. It seems even that "by the turn of the century or by the year 2030 at the least, starvalion and malnutriti on could be a thing of the past" (Faaland 1982, \ ). So, the percentage of the global food resources and consumption cannot be rightly used to prove that evil is predominant over good in the world at present. One might go on to ask si milarly how many of the world 's population are inadequately housed whi le the re st are housed adequately? Again , almost undoubtedly the balance is strongly on the lat1er side. And how many lives are there without adequate medical and health services, while the others have these se rvi ces? These last two can be stronger cases in comparison with the first Iwo ; but, even in this issue it seems that the balance is on the side of human beings who have adequate medical and health services. In relation to these last points we can exami ne some statistical data concern ing · povert)·'. Poverty is "concerned with the absolute standard of living of a part of society - the poor"; and the World Development Report 1990 defines poverty as " the inabil ity to attain a minimal standard of living" (1990, 26). This Report "supplements a consumption-based poverty measure with others, such as nutrition, under-five mortality, and school enrollment rates" (26). When we look at the perc.f:ntage of poverty in the developing world, we see that the percentage of poor people is always less than half of the population, even in the .poorest parts of the world . According to the same report, percentages of poor in the develop in g world in 1985 are 16.1 in Sub-Saharan Africa, 25.0 in East Asia, 46.4 in South Asia, 5_9 in Europe, Middle East, and North Africa, and 6.6 in Latin America and the Cari bbean ( \990, 2)_ And more general, clearer, and more optimistic stati sti cs for the near future are stated in the same report thus: " Between 1985 and 2000 the incidence orpoverty in the developing world would fall from 33 percent, to 18 percent and the number of poor from 1.1 billion to 825 milli on" (139). Therefore, although especially because the term "adequate" is so ambiguous thaI the issue can often remain controversial , it is almost certain at least in the four cases cited by McCloskey that physical evils do not predominate over the physical goods in this world . Given this, his second step (2) supposing that phys ical evils at present predominate over physical goods is unreasonable. So, hi s argument cannot reach cogently from ( I ) and (2), which seem to be untrue, to the other step and conclusion, (3) and (4). By


Islamic Thoughl on lhe Exislence a/God

contrast, some considerations on his argument may show that the theistic evaluation on the world 's good and evil is much more reasonable than the atheistic one. Because both the quantity of goods in the matters of food , housing, medical and health services and the quantity of human beings having them predominate over or outweigh the quantity of evils concerning the adequate lack of the goods in question for some minority of humans in comparison with the whole of mank ind . However, the fai lure of McCloskey's argument does not necessarily mean that all atheistic arguments in this context fail and that there is no problem left for the argument from design. It can be objected that one should cons ider the amount of natural evil from a wider perspective than that presented by McCloskey, and such an objection should be taken seriou sly. To begin with , it should be pointed out that the existence of any amount of evi l, no matter how slight, or of individual cases of evil, does not count against the design hypothesis of the argument . For the des ign hypoth esis is not such a proposition that its falsehood necessaril y fo llows in the case of anyone contrary fact. Rather, it is a general and approximate proposition. So the possibility or even reality of so me exceptional

an d unexplainable cases would not rebut the truth of the design hypothesis. Likewise, individual cases of evil do not have to be taken into consideration so long as the design argument, too, does not take individual cases of good into account, which new design arguments almost never do. Once these points have been indi cated , one might say that the sum of all apparent evils (where we mean by ' apparent evil ' some of the natural facts or creatures whi ch seem to be evil at first sight without any profound examination), although it looks quite large, yet seems to be considerably less than the amount of good s. In other words, order, hannony, teleology, function, value and so on appear to common sense reasonableness to be more dominant than apparent disorder, dishannony, dysteleology, dysfunction and disvalue in the world. But it mi ght also be argued that when someone looks at the apparent evils more profoundl y and more exhaustively, it appears thai most of the apparent evils may not be seen as real , abso lute an d random evils. Looked at from the point of view of order in the world, for example, it seems that most of the disorder may exemplify a kind of order. According 10 Brian Davies, the defender of the argument from design may want to say that there is order in need of explanation ; and disorder such as pain-prod ucing natural events

The Argum em!romlJro vidence (' Inay ah)


can plausi bly be taken as "just an illu stration of order" . For one might argue in his view that " Pain· producing natural events exhibit order in that their origins can often be traced and their future occurrence predicted with a faiT degree of success" ( 1982, 57). It is stated , for example, that " Lightnin g, storms , fire s, and noods is . Often such statistically regu lar though indi viduall y errati c. violence comes with enough regularity that life can adapt" (Rolston 1992 , 264-65). Thus, one can say with Swinburne that "All natural evil s occur as a result of predictable nalural processes (there are no kinds of natural evil which occur in a totally random way)" ( 1987, 153). Faruqi defend s simi lar ideas: Indeed, earthquakes. explosions. flood s, drought s, fires , peslilences, and other natural catastrophes tell a different talc than the se rvice of man. What is important is that the processes of nature be so interrelated as to provide for nature 's conti nuity and regularity. Whether nature serves God or some other po we r, its continuity and regularity arc sufficient to make it a viable arena for man 's end eavor (Faruqi , Atlas, 317). Looked at from the po int of view of purpose as well, mOSI of the apparent evils may be seen as not real , random or absolute evils. It may be argued that most of them contnbute to greater good s, or become good them sel ves in time. Th is point can hold for different natural categories such as human bein gs, an imal s. and inanimate nature. Most thei sts "po int out that much evil is a means to greater good . And it may well be that there are greater goods for the occurrence of which allowing some lesser evi l to occur is a logicall y necessary condition" (S win burne 1987 , 14243). Arguments along th ese lines are characteristic of the best known the istic defences and theodicies, which will he examined a bit later. For the moment it may be mention ed in relation to the contribution of some amount of evil to the good of human beings that "If the world is to contain con sciou s and moral be ings, some of t hese unsatisfactory states of awareness are unavoidable" (Hudson 1985 , 346). It may be argued that much apparent evil in th e an imal kingdom is not as evil as it is seen at first sight ; and that they contribute their own good . First of all it should he pointed out that it is a mIstak e to view the suffe rings of animals. birds, and repti les


Islamic Thought on the Existence oJGod

too anthropocentrically or too subjectively. For birds and reptiles typically have fewer nerve endings per surface area of ski n; and the level of consciousness, self-awareness, experience or whatever be the proper name for their experiential state, is very different from , more su bdued than , less intense and coherent than our own (Rolston 1992, 266). And " presumab ly the degree of sufferi ng (and pleasure) in creases with mental and nervous com plexity - since man suffers and inanimate matter does not, one would expect increase of suffering with degree of organisation" (Swinburne 1979, 153). Moreover, it is argued that animal pain is eminently useful in survival. Nat ural selection requires pain as much as pleasure in the construction of concern and caring; pain is an alarm system in a world where there are helps and hurts through which a sentient organism must move. On the other hand , any population whose members are constantly in counter productive pain will be select ed against and go extinct or develop some capacities to minimise it. " Pain is self-eliminating except insofar as it is instrumental of su bsequent, functional good" (Rolston 1992, 272-73 ). This kind of argument might be put forward about some natural evi l in that it may be argued that it is useful to nature itself. too. before any direct connection with human beings or animal: for the catastrophic and negative forces in nature are often integrated with the uniform and positive forces. Floods, windstorms, lightnin g storms, and such violences would be more or less like wild fire in an ecosystem ; a bad thing to individuals burned in the short run, but not really all that bad system ically in the long run, given nature 's restless creat ivity. Forexample, "Withoutthunderstonns, Earth would lose to the upper atmosphere, in less than an hour, the negative electrical charge that produces the atmospheric nitrogen upon which most plants depend. Without thunderstonns, playing electric charges over the thin hot soup, life cou ld not have originated" And sim ilarly, " Floods cut the valleys .... Volcanism is one of the mountain building forces" (Rolston 1992 , 265-66). Therefore , one can conclude that it must be accepted fi rst that there are both good and evi l in the world ; however, when it is considered whether the balance in the universe is on the side of physical good or physical evil , it seems that the thinkers claiming that the amount of natural evil is limited and less than the good or design, and that it is even a logically necessary condition for some greater good, seem to be closer to the truth than their opponents. As John Yardan says, "Despite the difficulties caused by selective

The Argument/rom Providence (' iI/ayah)


perception, training, ex perience, culture and one's outlook on life, I judge th e amount of good relative to evil to be overwhelmingly great" (200 I, 193). In thi s case, neither of the design argument's evidential concepts and phenomena, namel y, order and purpose, are severely affected by the amount of natural evil , For much evil occurs in a re gular and predictable way and not in a totally random and unpredictable way. It al so seem s to serve some purposes or some greater goods either for human beings or for th e animal kingdom and inanimat e nature. Therefore , th e amount of ev il ca nnot reasonably be adduced as ev id ence against the view that the world is purposively ordered and as such is suggestive of the existence of a designing Being. However, we should examine one more fonnulation of th e evidential problem of evi l, which seems to be apparent ly strong and well-formulated and brings us to examin e some of th e defences and theodi cies. It is presented as follo ws : (2) There is no posi tive evidence that God exists. (3) The existence of evil in great abundance wou ld fal sify the existence of God unless one assumes eith er that God has suffic ient reason for allowing the existence of evil in great abundance or that evil in great abundance is logicall y necessary. (4) Despite repeated attempt s to do so, no one has provided a good reason to belie ve that God has suffi cient reason to allow ev il to exist in great abundan ce or that ev il in great abundance is logically necessary. (5) .:. On rational grounds one sho uld believe that God does not exist " (Martin 1978, 430-31). When we start to examine thi s argument , we see that ifour discussion about the design argument so far is right, the second prem ise abo ve, (2), is not right. For we reached the conclus ion that

the des ign argument has provided rational grounds for the thei stic belief that God exists. Despite the fac t thai we did not disc uss it in thi s work , it might be sai d together with so me contemporary philosophers of religion that at least th e cosmological argum ent, too, can provide as forceful a gro und for belief in God as can the teleological argument, and even more than the te leological argument for some thinkers (see, Swinburne 1979, ch. 7; C rai g 1993 , Part I). So, the second premi se of the argument above does not seem right. Fo r there are so me strong ev id e nce s, eve n if th ey are not demonstrative proofs, that God exists. As to the third premise, (3),


/.f/umic Tho ught on 'he Existence of God

it should be pointed out, once more, that according to our di scussion the ex istence of evi l is not in great abundance. as repeatedl y urged above. So, that premise may be said to be on ly partially true. The crucial premi se of the argument, then, together with the second one which is probably wrong, is the fourth premise, (4), maintaining that ' no one has provided a good reason to believe that God has sufficient reason to allow evil to exist'. II is thi s point that we have not di scussed in detail yet. So we must turn to it now. Th e


of E)'i/

The theists have offered a wide variety of defences and theodicies in response to the problem of evil over a long period of time. Several of these defences or theodicies deserve to be taken in to consideration in detail ; however, in order to keep to the point it seems enough, for our purpose, to briefly discuss some of them, from the point of view of whether they provide a good reason to believe that God has sufficien t reason to all ow evil to exist or not. John Bowker writes that in both expression s of Is lam, Sun ni or Shiite , the far more general response to sufferin g has been to reiterate the Qur ' an and apply it to whatever new circumstances of sufferin g arise, and that has remained true down to the presen t day (1970,133). Bowkwer 's observation is true; and the prese nt writer 's recent book called /;'vi/ and Theodicy can be considererl as one more example affirming Bowker 's judgement. Because il has been argued at the end of the chapters exploring the theod icies found in the Qu r' an , in Is lamic philosophy, and in Islamic theo logy that the Qur ' an approaches sutTering from more comprehensive, balanced, and also more realistic perspective in comparison to Islamic philosophy and theology (Yaran 1997, 179-79). So the reason for the fact that Muslims reiterate the responses in the Qur ' an is not perhaps related to their intellectual capacity. but is the reasonably satisfactory character of the response found in the Qur ' an. In the Qur'an, "The two clements of the power of God and the responsibility of men lie side by side, but they are also held together in a sufficient doctrine of creation" (Bowker 1970, 123). The Qur ' an expresses in diffe rent ways "an instrumental view of suffering" and attempts to reconci le the fact of suffering with a belief in God 's omnipotence and compassion " (Bowker, 11 2-13). Th e existence of some amount of evil in this world see ms to be almost necessarily instrumental for creating free and responsible beings. [t also seems to be useful intrumentally for the natural order,

The ArRllmem f rom I'rOl,idellce (' II/ayah)


animal survival, and the moral and spiritual development of human beings (Yaran 1997, 180). According to R. M. Green , the Qur ' an implies three kinds oftheodicy. The first is "the free-will thcodicy" . "At first sigh t, thi s free-willtheodicy seems to have little footing in the Qur ' an because of its repeated emphasi s on God 's sovereign ty and his absolute control over human behaviour. . . These passages arc offset by many others in which a substantial measure of human freedom , initiative, and accountability is assumed " (1987 , 438) Green remarks that the Qur ' an di splays two other themes associated with the free wil l theodlcy. One is a vicw of suffering as a "test of righteousness"; and the other is that "The Qur' an also supports a vivid eschatological expectation" ( 1987, 438). The Our ' an "produces a second major explanation , name ly, that suffering is a trial or test. ... It helps to create a fai thful di sposition and it al so helps to discriminate the sincere from the insincere. What this means, in effect , is that suffering not onl y forms character, it also exposes it: it reveal s a man 's true nature" (Bowker 1970, 109, 111 ). In addition , the anomal ies and vicissi tudes of this Ii fe can be accepted because the balance will be restored in the life to come. A reward based exactly on the balance between good and ev il awaits all (Bowker, I 15-16). Muslim philosophers and theologians respond to the problem of suffering in various ways. They argue, for example, that the evil in the world is relatively much less than the good in the world. That limited amount of apparent evil is necessary and useful for the order of nature and for human beings 10 understand and appreciate good, and to develop a morally stronger and spiritually fa ithful character. For some of them, it is also because of the imperfection and limitation of matter and body, on the one hand, and because of the freedom ofwill , on the other hand. The judgement, however, must always be made based on th e predominant side in the world. And the predominant side of nature is its good, beauti ful , and regular side. Besides, thi s world is not the end of the creation process, but ju st an important stage. There will be a better and more just life after death throughout an indefinite time for more purification and perfection. Nevertheless, human beings shou ld not expect with their limited ability of reason to understand or apprehend exactly all the result s of divin e wisdom and creati on . The re remains some unsolvable mystery of evil ; but it is never enough 10 justify disbelief in God in the face of positive arguments in favour of God 's existence, power and goodness (see Yaran 1997, 188-190). Some of the Islamic response to suffering, such as free~w i ll and it s instrumen tal or


Islamic Thought on the 1,:xi,l'tefl(:e ofGnd

educational nature for grealer goods, are seen in lalal' ud·Din Rumi 's po!!tic writings below (Rumi 1950, 155 f). , , , our sense of guilt is evidence of Free-will. If we are not free , why this shame? Why this sorrow and guilty confusion and abashment? Why do masters chide their pupils? Why do minds change and form new resol ution s? When yo u fall ill and suffer pain , yo ur conscience is awakened, yo u are stricken with remorse and pray God to for give your trespasses. Note, then, this principle, 0 seeker: pain and sufferin g make one aware of God; . the Free Will Defence (based on possibility) or Free Will Th eodicy (based on truth claims) are usually seen as solutions tailored specifically to the problem or moral evil. Yet it seems that they have a close connection with most orthe theodicies for natural evi l. They constitute th e major part in almost all greater-good theodicies. Accord in g to Plantinga's Free Will Defence, " It is possible that God could not have created a universe containin g moral good (or as much moral good as this one contains) without creating one containing moral evil" ( 1974, 167). He explains it thus: A world containing creat ures who are sometim es significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else bei ng equal , than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but he cannol cause or determine them to do only what is right. For irhe does so, then they are not signifi cantl y free after all ; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good , therefore, he must create creatures capable of moral evil ; and he cannot leave these creatures free to perform evil and at the same time pre vent them from doin g so. ( 1974, 166) According to the Free Will Theodicy, God decided to create morally free beings. For a person to be a moral agent, he or she

The Argument/rom f>rol'idence ('II/ayah)


must be at times significantly free. God knew that people would sometimes wilfully choose to do wrong, but God granted free will anyway, because a world of free creatures is more valuable than a world of automatons. In other words, a world containing significantly free persons making moral choices between moral good and evi l and choosing more good than evil is superior to a world lacking significantly free persons and moral good and evil. Thus, it was consistent with God's goodness that God created a world inhabited by significantly free persons. And God cannot extensively interfere with creaturely free choice because doing so wou ld jeopardize genuine free will (Reichenbach 1982,64; Peterson, et al. 1991, 107). So, God has a sufficient reason to allow evi l to exist. If Ihat is lrue, then , God cannot be blamed for the ex istence of evi l and cannot be denied on that basis. Some critics like Mackie ( 1992, 33) argue thaI God as omnipotent coul d have created mora lly free agents who always choose the good when they choose between doing good and doing evil. However, thi s view does not seem to be plausible. For it is more likely that the kind of freedom suggested above wou ld nol be a real freedom , Whereas, God chose to create morally free agents who can freely choose to do wrong action as well as good. Thus, if the free will defence or Iheodicy is not wrong - which it does not seem to be - it provides some reason for God to allow evil, especially moral evil, to ex ist. However, as Paul Badham says, "The free-will defence need s the wider perspective of the soul-makin g theodicy" (J994,2). SQ ul Making Theodiq, in its essent ial form by Hick

maintains that God's chief purpose in creation is to bri ng human beings from animal self-cen tered ness into moral and spi ritual maturity. Sin ce the desired quality of personal life cannot be created merely in a joyfu l world , God has designed an env ironment and a process whereby human beings can gradually develop the desired attribute. This environment wil l contain real challenges, real dangers, and the possibi lities of evil, for on ly in such an environment and process - not in a paradise with out suffering - do human beings grow into true moral and spiritual maturity. Hi ck argues that "From our hu man point of view, thi s is a world with rough edges, a place in which man can live only by the sweat of his brow, and which continually presents him with challenges, uncertainties, and dangers. Yet just these features orthe world seem, paradoxically, to underlie


Islam ic thoughl on Ihe r:-xistcnce a/G ad

the emergence of virtually the whole range of the more valuable human characteristics" ( 1985, 326f). Hick 's soul -making theodicy involves a Dumber of very d istin ctive concepts such as epistemic distance, mystery, and eschatology. However, when we look at his theodicy from the point of view of our main question , whether God has a sufficient reason to allow evil to ex ist, we see that God 's reason, for thi s theodicy, is moral and spiritual virtues. It is claimed that there are certain very valuable human qualities, the possibility of which God cou ld not have ensured without permitting suffering. Consider such noble human characteristics as fortitude, charity, compassion , forgiveness, un selfi shness, hon esty, good faith , courage, determination , persisten ce, and love. For example, unselfi shness would never be evoked in a situation in which no one was ever in real need or dan ger; courage would never be evoked in an environment devoid of all danger; and so on . A world which contai ns these values of personal exi stence and qualities is a better world than a readymade utopia in wh ich these moral and spiritual qualities would have no point and no place. Therefore , God, wanting to have a beneT world, had a sufficient reason to allow an amount of sufTering (1 985 , 325-26) It seems that Hick 's theodicy, too, is a plausible explanation for some amount of evil , including both moral and physical. Thus, it provides a more adequate reason for God 's allowance of evil when taken together with the free will explanations. In order not to deviate from th e main issue. givi ng up dealing with some other defen ces such as " Knowledge from Experience" (see, Swinburne, 19 87) and "Natural Law Theodicy" (see, Reichenbach 1982, 101-1 02), it can be concluded that the Free-Will Defence and Soul-Making Theodicy seem 10 present persuasive and plau sible reasons for God to allow so me evil to exist , even though thcy do not perhaps provide absol utcl y conclusi ve arguments to justify the exi stence of all evil . In that case, the fourth premise of the argumenl above is not true either. Therefore, the conclusion of the argument about the nonexistence ofGocI based on evil is fal se. As a result, one may say that the problem of evil does not have really effective power again st the argument from design and its implication of the goodness of the God of traditional theism, even though it has aprima jad e fo rce again st them . For we saw, firstly, that the logical problem of evil is not relevant to the argument, nor is it true for most people, includin g some athei sts. Secondly, with respect to the evident ial problem of" evi l, we argued in support of

l1Je Argllmemfrom Pro vidence ('Inayah)


so me statistical data that the amount of evi l is less than the atheologians claim; and, its real amount is much less than the amount of good or design. And now we have just seen that there are some persuasive reason s shown by some theists for God to allow evil to exist or to bring it about. The greater good theodicies like the FreeWill Defence and Soul-Ma kin g Theodicy can be evalu ated as successful in showing that God has some ( probably s uffici ent) reasons for allowing or producing some evil. Therefore, the atheistic arguments as we saw above based on the assumption that the God of the traditional theism does not exist, simply because no one has provided neither a good argu ment for God ' s ex istence or a good reason to believe that suc h a God has suffici ent reason to allow evil to exist, are not cogent and reasonable arguments. Nevertheless, it might be pointed out that some unexplained evil can remain in spite of all these defences and theod ic ies. In thi s case, it seems that a theist ca nnot be fully successful in coping wi th the prob lem of ev il merely wit h these de fe nces and theod icies independent ly of the thei stic arguments for the existence of God. That is to say, the defences and theodicics can weaken the evidential force or persuasiveness of th e problem of ev il concerning the nonexistence of God 10 some degree by pro viding some ex planation for so me evil. However, th is does not seem enough. What can aboli sh the power of th e problem of evil from th e theisti c point of view seems to be the higher probability of the argum ents for the existence of God, parti cularl y of the design argument , rat her than these defences and theodicies. It seems that what renders belie f in God reasonable in the face of argumen ts from evil are th e power of the positive arguments of God ' s existence rather than th eisti c counterexpla nations , d efences or theodicies agains t th e athe istic presentation of the problem of evil. Thu s, it might be suggested, in one sense, that one of the best defe nces for a the ist against the probl e m of evil is the arg umen ts for God's existence, particularly

the design argument. For if it is so und in its evidences and warrants and success ful in its con clu sion in a reasonab ly probable or suggesti ve se nse, that can be seen as enough evi dence for the existence of God, even 10 those ignorant of s ufficient justi fication s for evil.

The Relalionship He /w een Anthropos and Cosmo We have seen that , according to some defende rs o f the argument, it was possibl e to see all adaptation s of nature as a whol e


Islamic ThoughlOIl Ihl! Exislence o/God

and to some extent as serving the moral development of rational personalities. However, they did not claim that morality was the only purpose of God and nature ; th ey claimed only that sinee in the realm of nature beneath man no final purpose ean be discerned, such purpose may be discerned in beings possessed of rational ity. appreciation, self-detcnni nati on , and morality. The providential and privileged position of human beings in nature would constitute a sign for God's existence (see Tennant 1930, 105. 1 13). A serious objection has been madc here by A. J. Ayer. He argues that the fact that some processes within the world are goaldirected is not sufficient for the proponent of the design argument to persuade the opponent. For the fact that ends are pursued and sometim es attained wit hin a system is not proof that the system as a whole is directed toward s any end . " What necds 10 bc shown is that the entire universe presents the appearance of a teleological system". He assens, however, that advocates of the argument have spok en of there being an overall purpose, but have not said clearly what it was. And in so far as they have hcld any view al all about th e purpose for which the world was created , th ey have ge neral ly as sumed that;t had something to do with the emergence of human beings. But Ayer claims that "This is a view which it is perhaps natural for men to lake but hardly one that would be supported by a di spassionate consideration of the scienti fic evidence . Not on ly did man make a very late appearance upon the scene in a very small comer of the univcrsc, but it is not even probable that , having made his appearancc, he is there to stay" ( 1991 , 207 ; see, for similar ideas, RusseII 1935 , ch. xiii). A defender of the design argu mcnt may rcply to the objection above that, firstly, thc fact that the belief that the emcrgence of human be in gs is part of the ove rall purpose of naturc cannot be supponed by a dispassionatc consideration of the scientific evidence does not prove that thi s conviction is wrong. For science is nei ther the only scheme of thought to teach us the truth nor an unlimitcd arena of human activity. It seems that if our basic datum is a certain configuration of the universe as a whole suggesting an overall purpose of it, science can, by the nature of the case, offcr no explanation . Science tries to fi nd regularities in the associati on of different parts, stages, or aspects within the physical universe. On question s as to why thc universe as a whole exists, or exists in one form rather than another, or what is its purpose, it is silent. As Stephen Hawking says, "The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe"

The Ar~umelltjrom l' rol'idellce (, IIIayah)


( 1990, 174). Ultimately this is because science is committed to the consideration of questions that can be investigated empirically. But there is no way to observe connections between the physical un iverse as a whole and something outside it. Therefore, there seems no scientific alternat ive to the theistic answer to the question why the universe is a un ified system of adaptations and why all adaptations seem to serve the development of mOTa 1 perso nalities (Alston 1967, 87). Second ly, it can be said that this, at least postulated or tentative. purposeful interpretation of the un iverse has been made more reliable. closer to the truth, or probable by the anthropic principle of recent decades. Today the situation seems different from the one generally prevailing over the past three or four centuries. Indeed, it can be said that the version of the argument which regarded human beings as the purpose of nature was quite reasonable when the Earth was being accepted as the centre of what was thought by the geocentric cosmology of Ptolemy to be a relatively small and recent cosmos. At that lime most thinkers appealed to this version in their metaphysics or natural theologies. But after the heliocentri c cosmology of Copernicus and Gal ileo replaced the former, and we came to know the spatial and temporal immen sity of the universe in comparison to our tiny and young Earth , this version of the design argumenllost its force and partially di sappeared in favour of other versions . Indeed , does it not seem more likely, as it was claimed , that "our ordered fragment may be bu t a temporary and casual episode in the history of th e universe, an oasis in a desert of ' chaos '" (Tennant 1930, 80). In other word s, in some tiny insignificant comer of the universe the incessant movement of matter has fo rmed for a brief moment a consciousness· sustaining web of neuronal connection s? And so, " Must it not then be a pathetic fallacy on our part to suppose thai the entire hi story of the universe, in its unimaginable vastness and complexity, exists for the purpose of producing us human bein gs?" (Hick 1989, 12 1). [t seems that thi s objection which apparently looked quite persuasive for a long time could still have some force . But it could be said that its impressiveness is much less than it was before the anthropic co incidences and princ iple s were d iscovered and developed . Tennant's repl y to this kind of objection has been strengthened by recent di scoveries. He replied t hat "the ordered oasi s is not an isolable fragment. It and the supposed desert or ' chaos' are interdependent. It is because the dese rt is what it is that the oasis is what it is; and the one has ordered ness only by permission, so 10 say, of t he olher" ( 1930, 80). It can be said that it


Islamic Thought on the Existence o/God

is exactl y this ' interdependence' and ' pennission ' that anthropic coincidences, and in some sense principles, recently have shown scientificall y in much more detail. The situation seems to have changed today. "Far from man ' s presence in the universe being a curious and inexplicable surd, we find we are remarkably and intimately related to it on the basis of this contemporary scientific evidence which is ' indicative of a far greater degree of man ' s total involvement with the uni ve rse ' than ever before envisaged" (Peacocke 1979,68). Indeed, some physicists have been interpreting anthropic coincidences and principles teleologically in connection with the design argument . For example, physicist Freeman Dyson in the essay called "The Argument from Design" in his autobiography, D/sllirbing Ihe Universe, writes in support of a li st of anthropic coincidences: I do not feel like an alien in thi s universe. The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architect ure, the more evidence I find that th e universe in some sense must have known that we were com ing ... . The peculiar harmony between the structure of the universe and the needs of life a nd intelligence is a third manifestation of the importance of mind in the scheme of thin gs.( I 079, 250, 252)

Paul Davies has si mil ar ideas. He points out first that four hundred years ago science came into conflict with reli gion because it seemed 10 threaten humankind ' s cozy place within a purpose-built cosmos designed by God . The revolution begun by Copernicus and fini shed by Darwin had the effect of marginalizing. even trivializin g, human beings. Peop le were no longer cast at the centre of the great scheme, but were relegated to an incidental and seemi ngly pointless role in an indifferen t cosmic drama ( 1992 , 20f). However, he ri ghtly ind icates that "Far from exposing human beings as incidental products of blind physical forces , science suggests that the existen ce of conscious organisms is a fundamental feature of the universe. We have been written into the laws of nature in a deep and , I believe, meaningful way" ( 1992, 21) Therefore , the objection to the des ign argument which argues that our comparative place in the universe should be seen "as supportlng a naturalistic world-view" (Hick 1989, 122) as Aycr suggested above, cannot be urged with the same force as it formerly

nle Argllmem from Providence ('lllayah)

11 7

had. It co uld be said that the weak form of the purposive version seems to be quite reasonable and tenable from the perspecti ve of both theology and current knowledge ofphysicaJ universe. For the anthropic coincidences and principles have provided new evidences and supportive interpretations to thi s form , too, as well as the version of order.

CHA PTER IV THE ARGUMENT FROM CREATION (IKHTlRA ') As we pointed out earlier, according to Ibn Rushd , there are "two ways or argumen ts mentioned in the Qur ' an ; and he calls

them the argument from providence and the argument from creation . Some modern writers consider the second argument of Ibn Rus hd as a cosmological one. Ahmed el-Ehwany says, "The first is the teleological and the second cosmological , both starting from man and other beings, not from the unive rse as a whole"( 1963, 548). Herbert Davidson also designates Ibn Rushd 's second argument as a " simplified cosmological argument" ( 1987, 230). In our opinion , although the key concept in the argument is " creation " and it also mentions heavens, the argument is more akin to a different version of the teleological argument. For the "creation " taken into consideration he re is essentially the creation of li vin g beings rather than the universe itself. And very interestingly, he mentions the three most important aspects of li ving beings: the creation of life, perception, and reason or co nscio us ness. Ibn Rushd ' s proof, called creation , takes into consideration the animal s, plants, and heavens. It is based on two principles: that all beings are created, and that everything created is in need of a C reator. The exam ples given refer particularly to life, but also, to perception and consciousness in animated be ings. And the heaven ly bodies are in the service ofliving bodies on earth with their regular and stable motions. When we see that bodies devoid of life a re endowed with life, we know by necessity that there is an inventor and creator of life, i.e., God ( 1968, 65 , 66). One can s im ply state Ibn Rushd's a rgume nt from creatio n as follows :

( I) Bodies devoid of life a re created as living beings, in other words, arc endowed with life (and, in some cases , with perception and consciousness) (2) The real ca use of th is creation (of Hfe, perception and consciousness) can be neith er earth ly nor heavenly bod ies which arc in the service of life but devoid of it. (3) Therefore, there mu st be an agent who created life (perception , and consciousness).


Islamic Thought on the h""xistence of God

It may seem paradoxi cal; but this classical argument is in fact very modern as well. It is open neither to Hume ' s major objections to the teleological argument nor to the objections rai sed through the theory of evolution . Its main emphasi s is upon the origin of life ; and it is ready from the beginning to accept some causal contri bution of inanimate beings such as heavenly bodies, 10 the origination and continuat ion of li ving beings. But it insists that the real cause and the really sufficient reason as explanation of life and consciousness requires the existence of a creator God . Let us examine this son ofargumenl in more detail , panicularly in the light of modem scientific developments and phi losophical views.

EVIDENCE: THE ORIGIN OF LIFE AND CONSCIOUSNESS Historically speaking. before the publication of Darw in 's evolutionary theory concerning the origin of spec ies and th e development of specialised organs, the observation: (a) of delicately suited anatomical and physiological structures of organi sms and indiv idual organs, and (b) orsomc apparcntly teleological instinctive

activit ies of li vin g things 10 fulfil their needs and to main tain the existence of thei r species, was one of the main elements of the argument from design. Espec ially in the eighteenth -century which is considered to be the go lden age of the design argument, thinkers marvelled at the apparent order in animals and plants, and in their millions of parts. William Paley, for in stance, in his wel l-kn own and the most innuential classica l formulation ofttl is kind of argument, dwe lt on dctails of anatomical and physi ological structures ofliving bodies. Usi ng the example of the human eye as a case of design, he stressed the ways in which various parts of the eye cooperate in a complex way to produce sight. He argued that we can explain this adaptation of means to ends only if we postu late a su pernatural des igner ( 1963, 13-19). The heart of this kind of classical teleological argument was " the claim that adaptation can be exp la ined only in term s of a designer" (Alsto n 1967, 85). But the theory of Darwinian evo lut ion shifted the destiny of th e argument, or more precisely, of thi s classical form of the first prem ise of the argument. This led to the virtual di smi ssal and diminution of the argument in work s of theology and religious philosophy. This is because Darwin and his followers were accepted to have shown that cvery organic structure had come to be what it now is through a tong series of successive and gradual modifications.

n'e Argumen/ from Crealion (Ikhlira I


Even in the view oflhe most notable modern defenders of the design argument, this has influenced very heavily their understanding of the first premise . According to Tennant, for example, '·its premises became untenable·' ( 1930, 84); to Swinburne. "one of its premises was shown ... to be clearly fal se" (1979 , 135); and to Sch lesinger, it " received a crushing blow" (1988, 123). However, Darwini sm did not cause the argument to die ; and , its defence s in vario us reinterpreted and developed fonns have been offered ever si nce. According to M. L. Diamond, contemporary defen ce of the teleological argument after being severely jolted by Darwin 's theory "s hows three basic tendencies: (t) to ignore evolution and claim that the logi c of the argument from design is valid , (2) \0 cope with the challenge of evol ution by claiming that it does not undermine the effectivene ss oflhe argument, and (3) to modify the teleological argu ment to deal with the dircction of the total process of evolution rather than with instances of functional adaptation that are to be found in the natural world" ( 1974, 226, 227). It seem s that si nce Darwin 's theory of evolution appeared in 1859, if the defender of the design argument does not wish to cease usi ng evidence from the realm of livin g beings complctely and to be content with almost nothin g but the realm of the inorganic or th e order-versio n, then he or she is faced with two main alternatives. One is 10 rej ect almost all the evolutionary picture as in the case of sc ientific creati on ism. The second is to accept the evolut ion ary process in it s scientifically based respects, bUI to interpret it in a theistic se nse. Thai is, to see a divi ne design behind the apparent picture and 10 reject the atheistic speculation based on evolution. In the conlemporary philosophy ofrclig ion , Alvin Plantin ga takes evolution into accounl seriousl y, bUI he find s that "the special creation thesis is somewhat more probable with respect to the evidence (give n theism) than the first [evo lution]" ( 1991 , 22). His conviction about evolution is: "Thai it is pO.\·l·ibfe is clear; that it happened is doubtful ; that it is ,-'erwin, however, is ridiculous" (I99 1, 26). Despite the fact that he is aga inst evolution and finds it more probabl e that organism s and organ s were created spec ially, he nevertheless does not defend a teleological argument based on their complexity and fun ctionality (see, 199 1, 87). !-lis conclusion about the arg um ent from design is not positive, or perhaps more correctly his view "seems ambiguous rather than positi ve" (Diamond' 974 , 421 ).


Islamic Thought 011 the Existence o/G od

Some writers choose this way in contemporary Islamic thought as well as in Chri stian thought. which is mainly based on the idea of creationism instead of any kind of evolutionary theory. Seyyed Hosse in Nasr. fo r in stance , regards " Darwini sm or evolutionism in general " as a " greater danger to Islam " than Marxism. He argues stron g ly that " the Darwinian th eory o f evolution'" is "meta-physically impossible and logi cally absurd" and that "man himself has not evolved one iota sin ce he set foot upon th e stage of terrestrial hi story." He objects to the Qu r ' anic commentators and thinkers like Mohammad Iqbal arguing that "T hose who think they are rende ring a service to Islam by incorporat in g evolutionary ideas into Islamic thought are in fact falling into a most dan gerou s pit and arc surrendering Islam to one of the most insidious pseudo-dogmas of modem man, created in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to enable men to forget God" ( 1976, 228-230). If a proponen t chose thi s interpretation of creati on, then the biol oglcal or purposive version of the argument based on the evidential phenomena found in li ving bein gs would not need to be reconstructed or even to be reconsidcred at a[l. For, in thi s case, al-G hazali's The Wisdom in G od :~· C re uture.\· or Pal ey's hook Na/ural Theology may sti ll be regard cd as one of th e bes t representatives of the argument, except for so me changes in scientific detail. It seems, however, that evoluti onary ideas have not been introduced to Islamic thought after the eighteenth and nineteenth centuri es and perhaps not to enable human beings to forgel God. For various form s of evol utionary ideas have been known and defended by some Muslim s since the very early periods of Islamic thought and science. One can mention only some of thei r names here in orde r not to present a longer list of names. AI-Nazzam (d. 835 or 845), al-Jahi z (d. 869), Ikh wan a l-Safa (early Xl.th centu ry), Ibn Miskawayh (d. 1035), Ibn Tufayl (d. 1183), Ibn Arabi (d. 1240), Mawlana J. Rumi (d. 1273), Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), and Sadr at-Din ai-Shirazi (d. 1640) were some of the Muslim sc holars who defended some sort of cosmic or biological evo lutionary ideas before the eighteenth century; and all of them were truly believers in God (see for details. Bayrakdar 1987). As a n ex ample. one can dwell brieny on the ideas of Mawlana J. Rumi , whois a firm believer in a son of evolution . In the beginning ' God was, and there was nau ght besides Him .' The first th ing created was the sou l of man. Evolli tion started with the matter. There was ' fire and water as wind and cloud ' until the

nlC Argument from Creatioll (lkhtira I


emergence ofa new form of existence - plant life. From plant life emerged animal life which assumed its highest form (so far) in human life. He writes as follows in the Marhnawi (278.8, cited in Iqbal 1956, 268): First you were mineral , later you turned to plant, then you became animal: how should this be a secret to yo u? Afterwards you were made man, with knowledge, reason, faith: behold the body. which is a portion of the dust-pit, how perfect it has grown! As Afzallqbal remarks, in Rumi 's thought, "Evolution takes place, not as Darwinians though t. by ' mechanical and passive natural selection ,' but according 10 the will of the organism to live a hi gher and fuller Iife, by assimilating the qualities oft he hi gher organism. " In addition , "the mystic neither begins with naturali sm nor ends with it. His matter, to stan with, is not the matter of the materialists or the Darwinists. Darwin ' s doctrine consists of struggle for existence, chance variations and natural se lection .. . . With Rumi there is no development by chance variations. For him development consists in the creation of an ever-i ncreasing need for ex pansion and by assimilation into a hi gher organism " (Iqbal 1956, 269-70). We need nol go into discussions about creationism and evolutionism. For the argument from design does not necessarily depend on only one of them. But if the lalter way is chosen, then the purposive version of the argument needs to be reinterpreted or reconstructed. It seem s that the most notable defenders of the mainstream argument from design in the twentieth century have usually accepted the laller course. They have accepted the theory of evolution at least in principle, but, on the other hand, have sought to reject panicularly the naturali stic interpretation s of Darwi n ian or nco-Darwinian theories of evo lut ion. According to Tennant , for example, so long as organisms were believed to have originated in their present form s, with all their speciali sed organs ' ready made ,' and each species was perfectly adapted from the beginning to survive in the part of the world it was to inhabit , the argument that adaptation of part to whole, of whole to environment. and of organ to function, implied design, was forcible . But its premise was undermined by the doctrine of evolution , or became untenable wh en Darwin showed that every organic structure had come to be what it now is through a long series of successive and gradual modifications ( 1930, 84 ; see also, Bertocci , 195 1, 330).


Islamic 11Iought on the ExiSlence o/God

Even though they accepted the theory, the tel eo logi sts thought about why the Darwinian theory of evolution had so severely affected the teleological argument . What were the crucial points in the Darwinian theory that implied that it was no longer necessary to postu late specific action s of a Creator to accou nt for the harmonious interplay between the abilities and needs ofliving beings and their environment? In th e view of Tennant, gradualness of con struction is in itselfno proof of the absence of external design. It is not at this point that Darwini sm delivered its alleged deathblow to teleo logy. "The sting of Darwini sm rather lay in the suggesti on that proximate and ' mechanical' causes were sufficient to produce the adaptations from which the teleology of the eighteenth century had argued to God. Assignable proximate causes, whether mechanical or not, are sufficient to dispose of the partic ular kind of teleological proof supplied by Paley" (Tennant J 930, 84 ; see also, Bertocci 195 1, 332). [t seems, therefore, that what cu t the ground from under th e classical Pa[eyan design argument was not the th eory of evol ution in general. but the theory of natural selection in particular, and especially reductionist interpretation s of it in which natural selection ha s been seen to be sufficient by itse lf to explain the organic construction . In thi s case, some teleological thinkers have opposed the reductioni st interpretation of natural se lection, and defended the view that th e fact of evolution itself would not be fatal to, or incompatible with, a slightly different kind of teleological argument. The view has been advocated that life was dependent on matter, but not reducible to it (Bertocci 195 1,332). It has also been clearly maintained thaI the facl of organic evolution , even when the maximum of in strumentality is credited to what is called natural selection , " is not incompatible with teleo logy on a grander scale" (Tennant 1930, 84). It has still been claimed in spite of these reconciliatory views, however, that while theistic und erstanding of evoluti on is not in any way absurd , it cannot be any part of the sort of the argument espoused by Aquinas and Paley, '"because the premi se of that argument has to be that design is di scernibl e within and not despite the biological evidence" (O ' Hear 1984, 128). Or it has more clearly been asse rted that living beings cannot be regarded as evidence of design anymore, and as such, they lose thei r role in the argument , so thal, "since Darwin wrote , anyone who wants to use an argument for design mu st locate elsewhere the order which the des igner is postulated to ex pl ain " (Mackie 1982 , 140). Whether th ese a ssertions are true or

The Argllmem from CreatiOIl (lkhtira ')


not may be best understood when we turn now to some discernible evidence of design within the biological world offered by some contemporary proponents of the argument who do not see the theory of evolution and the argument from design as incompatible, or the former as fatal to the latter, and who stil l make use of the purposive version of the argument within some new forms. For Swinburne, along with some others, this argument, based on living organisms, can be reconstructed, despite one of its premises having been shown by Darwin and his successors to be false . The theory of biological evolution, or simply, the theory of evolution "encompasses the set of scientific concepts and propositions that apply to the origin of organisms now li ving on our planet and to the changes that have occurred in Ihe living world sinee the origin of the first organisms 10 the present" (Ayala 1985, 59). Charles Darwin argued that species had descended with modification from common ancestral s pecies; and, explained the mechanism of this evolutionary process in term s of nat ural selection. In Darwin 's day, however, the mechanisms ofhcredity and of the origin and nature of heritable variat ion were not known . In 1865 Gregor Mendel filled Ihis gap showin g that mutations were the inception of heritabl e variation . In the mid-20th century, Ronald Fisher joined the Darwinian theory of evolution and Mendelian genetics together, showing that occasional random mutations in genes provided the mechani sm required to explain evolution by natural se lection . Since then, the modern theory of evo lut ion is often called the "Synthet ic Theory of Evol ution ", or "Nco-Darwinian Syn thesis", or more frequently " Nco-Darwinism " . ' Nco ' (new) because it incorporates theories concern jng the origin and nature of heritabl e variation, mutations, of which Darwin was ignorant; and ' Darwinism ' because the central idea of Darwin ' s theory of evolution , natural selection, is still used within it (Betty and Corde ll 1987, 419). In th e view of the criti c of th e de s ign argument , the Darwinian or Neo-Darwinian mechanism described above was the panicular reason for the design argument 's los s of place in relation to living beings. Because, according to the 15th ed ition of the New Em.yt-'/opaedia Brilannica, for instance " Darwin did two things: he showed that evolution was a fact contradicting scriptural lege nds of creation and that its cause, natural selection , was automatic with no room for divine guidance or design" (Beer 1973,23). For the theist, and especially the proponent of the argument from design, however, even though the biological description of the evoluti onary process of living beings may be true, its naturalistic philosophical


L~lam ic

Though, on 'he Existence o/Ood

implications mentioned above are nol. Even given that evolution is a true picture of the story of livin g organisms, there are very intriguing aspects of them which cannot easily be attributed to random causes. These features , considered as evidences of design, are not usually described , and it is not actually easy to cover them under a single labe l. Among them, however, we will deal with some outstanding eviden tial features occurring before and during evolution , such as the fitne ss of the cosmi c physica l condit ions and laws for the emergence of biological evolution, the ori ginal ity of organic life and bio-chemi cal complexity in earl y stages of evolution , and the directedness in the total process of biological evolution culminating in human con sciousness. Physical Law.\· and Primeval Maller Hnergy. It has been known for a long time that the Darwinian theory of the evoluti on of animal specie s by natural se lection of variation s has cau sed teleo [ogisls to modify their approach to living beings, and to chan ge the illustration s used from some standard features of living thin gs which formerly were regarded as hints or evidences of thei r Creator and Designer, God . One of the new grounds shown as an example of the claim that the realm of livin g things was designed by an intel [igent Designer, directly or indirect ly, has been the apparent plan found in the delicate primary coll ocations of the inorganic, such as to give ri se to the appearance and evolution of organi sms. We have already seen a large part of thi s approach in connection with the fine-tunings or the anthropic coincidences of the un iverse. We have examin ed to some extent the phenomenon that the inorganic realm, spatiall y and temporally, contains a vast complex of unrelated conditions wh ich are necessary for sustain ing the life of those who observe the uni verse. They are such phenomena as the physico-chem ical composi tion of the un iverse, the size of the electric charge of the electron , the ratio of the masses of the proton and th e electron , the di sta nce of th e earth from the sun , the composition of the atmosph ere an d the earth. These have a direct relationship with li ving beings, and so are relevant to the concept of purpose in the argument from des ign. Looked at from th e pers pective of our co ntempora ry si tuation , we see that "such conditions are necessary for there to be intelligent human beings . We could not be what we are - li ving, knowing, valuing, aesthetic beings - wi thou t the universe having these specific conditions" (peterson 199 1, 82). The anthropic coincidences and some interpretation s of the anthropic principle seem to be the

l1Je A rgumem from Crealion (fliil/ira ')


most interesting and strongest part of the new design argument' s first premise. But it should be remembered that what makes anthropic coincidences important is their fitness and contribution to the emergence and evolution of intelli gent observers rather than just their incredibly delicate numerical ranges among each other. Without giving rise to the living observers, the intricate balance of initial conditions or orderly operation of sc ientific laws could probably have meant nothing at all. So it may be said that it is the observers or livin g beings which give the anthropic coinc iden ces a valuable meaning in general , and an important place in the design argument. In that case, the relationship between living things and the inorganic prerequisites of their evolution seem to be an intriguing evidential fact for the argument. Defenders oflhe design argument claim that the occurrence of boundary condi tion s, scientific laws and th e material of the universe were such as to give rise 10 or to permit the evolution of intelli gent organisms by natural selection 10 begin and to proceed smoothly (Swinburne 1990, 157; Leslie 1985, 920· It is argued that "There is something crying out for explanation in the sheer fact that our cosmos obeys laws which make Darwinian evolution at all possible" (Leslie 1985 , 94 ). " We could reasonably ask," according to Leslie, " how the universe observed by us managed to balance on such a razor edge of observability" (Leslie 1985 , 97). For recent cosmologicalliteralure presents seemingly very strong evidence that even very minimal changes would have been fatal to life 's evolution . For example, Very slight alterations in the expansion rate at the big bang seemingly yield a universe which either recollapses much too fast or nies apart much too quickly. Very slight additions to the initi al turbulence make everything millions of times too tlOt or lead to a universe of black holes. Small revi sions in the strength of (he strong nuclear force or of the weak force or of electromagnetism or gravitation , or in various particle masses, would have made stars burn 100 fast or too slowl y, prevented the formation of carbon , blocked anything like chemistry, or slopped even protons (without which there could be no atoms) from forming or from resisting decay, and so on. (Leslie 1985 , 102)


Islamic Thought on the Existence afGod

The Process ojEvolution. Apart from these mainly physical laws and conditions, the concept of ' the laws of evolution ' is also sometimes seen to be highli ghted more speci fically for chemical and biological laws of evolution . It seems to have been acknowledged by some teleologists that anima ls and plants around us could have evolved from inorgani c matter by natural processes. But it is, then , claimed that "Clearly thi s evo lution can only have taken place, given certain special naturallaws" _According to Swin burne, "These are first, th e chemical laws stating how under ce rtain circumstances inorganic mol ecul es com bine to make organic ones, and organic ones comb ine to make organisms. And secondly, there are the biological laws of evolution , stating how organ isms have very many offsp rin g, some of which vary in one or more characteristics from their parents, and how some of these characteristics arc passed on to most ofTspring, from which it follows that , given shortage offood and other environmental needs, there wi ll be competition for survival, in whic h the flUest will survive. Among organis ms very well fi tted for surviva l will be o rgan isms of suc h com pl ex and s ubt le construction as to all ow easy adaptation to a changing environment. .. . So the Jaws of nature are s uch as, under certain circum stan ces, to give rise to striking examples of spatial order" (Swinburne 1979, \35). Thus, it seems that, for Swinb urne, for instance , everyth ing in the early chem ical and biological stages of evol uti on , including the origination of living beings from inorganic matter, has been or can be explained by scie nti sts in accord with sc ientific laws. What is important from the point of view of the design argument , however, is the fact th at biological evolution is a lawful process; in other words, evolution takes place by means of physical , chemical, and biological laws, which cry out for an ex pl anation. For example, " Wlty are there laws of evolut ion which have the consequence tltat over many millennia simple organ isms grad uall y g i ve ri se to complex organisms?" (S \vin burne 1989, 129). It can be replied that biological laws of evolution follow fro m the basic laws of physics. But then, Swinburne asks why the basic laws of physics have such a form as to give ri se to laws of evo luti on. And why was there Ihe prim eval 'soup' of matter-energy at the time of the ' Big Bang' s uitable for s uclt evo lutionary development in the first place wh ich gave ri se over many millennia, in accordance with physical laws, to the primitive organi sms? He clearly states that Ihe iss ue here is not why there are laws at all , as in the premise of the argument fro m temporal order, or why th ere is mat1er at all ,

n,e Argumelllfrom Crealion (IV,li ra ')


as in the premise of the cosmological argument. Rather. hi s question is "why the laws and the matter-energy have this peculiar character. t hat they are ready wound-up to produce plants, animals an d men " ( 1989. 129) Origins of Life. There seems to be anot her approach to the matter especially of the bio-chemicallaws, and the compositio ns and complexities ofcarly living beings_Accordi ng to this approach, there are some aspects of early evolu tion that natural selection or any other exclusively scientifi c theory based me rely on chance and necessity factors cannot so easily explain. It is maintained , for example , that natural selection has d ifficu lty doing more than describing how livi ng t hings came to be from nonliving. If one analyses the elemental chem ical-physical compon ents of the universe, one can see thai life is possible. But "What natural selection cannot explain is why these component s should give rise to life rather than to the nonliving. There are many possibilities; what makes these components move towards life-engendering combi nations?" (Peterson 1991, 82). A.E. Taylor notes that "With a different chemical constitution of the solar system , for example, the appearance of living organisms on our planet might have been impossible; even given the actual chem ical constitution, it is easy to think of possible conditions of things which would have prevented our planet from being the habitat of creatu res capabl e of attaining to science, or even to any experience or habit of customary expectat ion" ( 1961, 69). Approximately two years after Tay lor 's reflections on the design argument appeared in 1945, the French physicist Lecomte du Nouy provided sc ientific support forTaylor ' s type oftclcological thinking. His modern restatement of the design argument is main ly based on bio-chemical complexities. He argued that the improbabi lity of the chance formation of the basic chemical constituents ortiving organisms is so great that "it is towl/y impossihle to account scienti fica lly for all phenomena pertaining to Life, its development and progressive evolution" (du Nouy 1947, 36). He dwelt mainly on the coming-to-be of a molecule of protein and tried to calculate the probabili ty of the appearance by chance alone of a si ngle molecule of protein. He claimed that, the probability for a single molecule of high dissymmetry to be formed by the action of chance and normal thermic agitation remains practically nil ( 1947, 34-36), and concludes that " [t was impossible 10 explain, or to account ror, not only the birth of life but even the appearance oflhe substan ces which seem


Islamic 71/Ought on the Ex i.~len ce oj G od

to be required to build life, namely, highly dissymm etri cal molecules" (1947, 39). Th is kind of consideration has been regularly raised in some scientifi c and teleological literature. For example, scientists Fred Hoyle and N. C. Wickramasinghe - whose peculiar theory of "evo lution from space" is outside this study - developed recently a similar way of reasoning and calculating. They write that "the enormous information content of even the sim plestliving systems . .. can not in our view be generated by what are often called ' natural ' processes, as for instance throu gh me teoro logical and chemi ca l processes occurring at the surface of a lifeless planet" ( 198 1, 148). In teleological literature, too, especially informati on content or in formation processin g are regarded as places where "there are hints that something more than natural selection is required 10 explain the ordered phenomena." Thi s is clearly explained as follow s: In particular, how does one gel the informationc hain s foun d in DNA o ul of the basic physical elements of protons, neutron s, electron s, and so on? Once there arc DNA sequences we ca n understand how they combi ne and recombine. Bul prior to there bein g sequences, what cou ld order the in/ormationnell/rai phy sical chemical cle m ents int o info rmation-bearing paired nucleotides linked on a spiral double he li x? That is, what impels the non vital physical clements to become informative; what creates information where there was none? Further, information is meanin gless un less it is read, but prior to there being li ving things there was nothing to read the in formation . 801h the information and the reading of it must arise sim ultaneous ly in order for either aspect to be beneficial and hence worthy of bein g preserved . The problem is a version of the old chicken and egg dilemma, except that here the question is not which arose fir st, but what led to their ari sing together. There is, it seem s, a kind of directedness that moves the basic physical e lements toward the possibility of simu ltaneo us ly being information carri ers and readers. (Peterson , et al. 1991 , 84)

n,e Argument/rom Creation (lkhtira)


[t seem s, therefore, that the question of origins - usually in the beginning but al so in some oth er stages of evolutionary process of livin g beings - is one of the other com mon post-Darwinian teleological evidences, along with the peculiar character of physical laws and primeval soup of matter-energy for evolutionary occurrence and development. For, as Swinburne points out, Even if the cos mological and physical necessary condition s for intelligent life are sati sfied , it is still onl y likely 10 occur very rarel y. Because, given the occurrence of heavy elemen ts on a planet at th e ri ght temperature, len cruci al steps were needed for the evolution of man : the origin of the genetic code, of aerobic respiration , of glucose fermen tation , of photosynthesis, of mitochondria, of the precursors of neuron es , of an eye p rec u rs or, of the en doskeleton, of th e chordates, and fina ll y of the intelligen ce characteristic of Homo .w piens ( 1990, 163).

The Direction /0 Human Consciousness. Another type of post-Daminian version of the argument from design concerning living beings considers the directivity in the evolutionary process as a whole and regards inte lligent human beings wi th a sense of moral and aesthetic value as its culmination . The leading exponent of thi s vers ion is F. R. Tennant. Hi s " wider" or "cosmic" teleology has generally se l out eilher from "plan in the primary collocations", or from considerations as to "the progressi veness of th e evolutionary process." In other words, it concerns the "directivity in the process" of evolution. II has mainly dealt with "the organic realm as a whole," rather than wit h the particular adaptations in indi vidu al organs, organisms. or species ( 1930, 84 ,85). According to Ten nant , th e course of living nature is not mere change, but "change that admits of valuation, of one kind or another; of valuation not only in term s of fi tness for su rvival bUI also in terms of di fferenliation or complexity of struclure and function , and of subservience to furtherdevelopme nt culminating, in man, in rationality and morality." He goes on to express that " Despi te cases of stagnan cy and of degen eration , which equal1y with progress may ensure biological fitn ess, th e plasticity, fomat ive power, or elan in organ ic Nature secures not only self con servation but also progress, morphological and ultimately


Islamic Thought


th e i;xis tcn ce o/G od

mental , so that within the main line of development there has been a steady advance from amoeba to man" ( 1930, \06-107). It appears really true that many organi sms have become increasingly higher and more complex in the course of evolution, even to the point of having very complicated bodil y and mental abilities. In that case, it is still possible to see in modem design arguments such illustration s of teleological order as funct ional aspects of the anatomical structure of Ii ving organs or the intrigui ng instinctive behaviour of some animals. In the view of Richard Taylor, "orderliness is before our eyes all the time", " in the smallest parts of nature" or "in the vastness of th e heavens. " He claim s that, " If one con siders any li ving thin g whatever, he find s that its powers and construction are perfectly adapted to its mode of life . A hawk , for example, has sharp talon s, rapacious beak, keen eyes, stren gth , and a digestive system all perfectly suited to a predatory mode of life. A lowly spider has likewise preci sely what is needed in order to enlrap its prey in artfull y contrived snares. So it is with every creature whatever. Its anatomy, powers, and instincts are perfectly suited to its goal or mode of life" ( 19 74, I 13). Exampl es of instinctive behaviour of animal s arc even morc striking. As was adduced in pre-Darwinian age s, another twent iethcent ury philosopher uses an illustration of this as evidence of design. A. E. Taylor writes that "Numerous in sects ' instincti vely' deposit their eggs on a particular kind of leaf which will supply suitable nouri shment for the coming generation of grubs, thou gh th e insects themselves will die before the eggs are hatched. . The life of organic nature is pervaded throughout by ' prospecti ve adaptations' of thi s kind , and the problem is how to account for this patent fa~t " ( \ 96\ , 60). After considerin g animal s, they con sider al so human beings' bodi es and embryological deve lopm ent as much more striking ev idences. R. Taylor states thi s as follow s: The hom eostasi s or self-re gulation of our own bodies, for in stance, whereby the bod y manages to maintain the most unbelievable internal harmony and to adopt itself to the most diverse and subtle forces acting upon it, represents a wonder which human art cannot really duplicate and our science only dimly comprehends . The same type of order and seemingly goal-directed change is apparent in the embryological development of Jiving things.

'f1,e A rgumem f rom Cre(l/ioll (Ikl/lira 'J


Thi s suggests. . that some things in th e world, particularly living organi sms, seem purposeful or goal-directed in their very construction . ( 1974, 113; see for similar considerat ions, A. E. Tay lor 196 1, 60). The most important outcome of evolutionary directivity can be said to be human inte lligence or consc iousness. And it is argued that thi s cannot be explained in merely naturali stic Darwinian terms. For example, A. E. Taylor maintain s that " hu man intelli gence cannot coherently be explained as the fina l result ofa mere long·continued slow process of the elimination of the ' unfit ' ,. ( 196 1, 83). Swinburne even considers the origination of consciou sness as a complete ly separate argum ent for the existence of God. In the context of argum en t from design, however, both the illu stration s above concerning complex functional aspects of animal bodies, and hum an conscious ness as the culmination of the evolutionary process may better be regarded as examples of the high degree of progressiveness and directivity in the evolutionary process, rath er than as individual evidence of the purposive version orthe design argument. It can be concluded , then , that the fact of d irection and progression in the evolutionary process is indeed "one of the more striking featu res of nature," (Peterson , et al. 199 1, 83 ; Cf. Barbour 2000 , III ). and as such , it looks to be te nable ev idence in th e post-Darwinian teleolog ica l argument . As a result , it may be said that the examination s in thi s subsection have shown that the argument fro m creation or the modern design argument, bei ng mainly based on livi ng bei ngs and their relation ship with the rest oflhe un iverse, including s uch phenomena as the peculiar character of the physical laws and primeval matterenergy, th e qu estion of ori gin s, and the evolutionary directivity culmin at ing in human con sciousness, has quite strong ground s fo r its claim that the un iverse. in its both living and non·living levels, is teleologica ll y ordered. Th ese grounds con stitute very striki ng evidence whi ch cries out for explanation . In doin g thi s, it has also been seen that neither Mackie ( 1982, 140) nor O' Hear ( 1984. 128) were right when they asserted similarly that, after Dam/in 's writings, there has remain ed no place for the design argument in living bei ngs_


J.v/amic Thought on the Exis ten ce of God


Ibn Rushd argues that when we see til at bodies devoid of life are endowed with life, we know by necessity that there is an inventor and creator of life, i.e., God . ( 1968 , 65, 66) Ibn Hazm has a similar conclusion : It is incon troverti bly " known through the necessity of intellect" that the celestial and terrestrial region s must have come about by the "deliberation of a maker" who "exercises choice and in vention." And the evidence of design on bot h the macrocosmic and microcosmic levels is, he asserts, suffici ent not me re ly for concluding that the uni verse has a maker, but for concluding, as well , that it has a "single" maker (see Davidson 1987, 226).

Said Nurs i put s forwa rd that th ere can be only fou r types of ex planat ion concerning particul arly living bei ngs; and after showin g that the first three naturali stic alternatives are false , he argues that the last one, the theistic one, is obviously true. He cites that be in gs exist and this cannot be denied , that each bei ng comes into exi stence in a wise and arti sti c fashion, and that each is not outside time bUI is bein g continuo usly renewed. As a result , he notes, the naturalist is bound to say either : (a) that the causes in the world create beings, fo r example th is animal ; that is to say, it comes into exi stence througll the com ing togeth er of causes ; or (b) that it form s itself; or (c) that it s coming into exi stence is a requ irement and necessary eITect of Nature; or (d) that it is created th rough the power of One AlIPowerful and All-Glorious. Since reason can find no way apart from these fo ur, if the first three arc definitely proved to be impossibl e, invalid and absurd, the way of Divine Unity, which is the fou rth way, wi ll necessarily, self-evident ly and without doubt or suspi cion be proved true" ( 1995, 233-34). Of hi s th ree impossibi lities for each of the three naturali stic alternatives (see Ibid ., 234-244) we can bri eny mention onl y one, as an example. In order to show that the second alte rnative is impossibl e, he presents an analogica l argument : You are like an extremely well-ordered machine that is constantly being renewed and a wonderfu l palace that is undergoing conti nuous change. Particles are working unceasingly in your body. You r body has a connection and mutual relations with the universe, in particular wi th regard to sustenance and the

The Argumelll f rom Creation (Ikht iro ')

perpetuati on of the species, and the particles that work within it are careful not to spoil that relationship nor to break the connection. After having mentioned thi s, he passes to the second step: If you do not accept that the part icles in yo ur body are tiny official s in motion in accordance with the law of th e Pre-Eternal and All-Powerful One , . then in every particle working in your eye there would have to be an eye such as could see every limb and part of your body as well as the entire universe, with which you are connec ted. . To attribute the knowledge and consc iousn ess of a thousand Platos to a sin gle particle of one such as you who does not possess even a particle 's worth of inte lli gence in matters of thi s kind is a crazy superst it ion a thou sand times over! ( 19 95, 237). He summarizes his conclusion as follow s: In Shan: The imaginary and insubstantial thing that Naturali sts call Nature, ifit has an external reality, can at the very most be work of art ; it cannot be the Art ist. It is an embroidery, and can not be th e Embroiderer. It is a set of decrees; it cannot be the Issuer of the decrees. It is a body of the laws of creation, and cannot be the Lawgiver. It is but a created screen to the dignity of God, and cannot be the Creator. It is passive and created , and cannot be a Creat ive Maker. It is a law, not a power, ami cannot possess power. It is th e reci pient. and cannot be the source. To Conclude : Since beings exist, and as was stated at the beginning of this treatise, reason cannot thi nk of a way to explai n the existence of beings apart from the four mentioned, three of which were each deci sively proved through three clear Impossibilities 10 be invalid and absurd , then necessa rily and selfevidently th e way of Divine Unity, which is the fourth way, is proved in a conclusive manner. The fourth



Islamic n/Ought on Ih e Existence of God

way, in accordance with the verse quoted at th e beginning : Is there anydoubl about God, Creator of heavem and the earth ? [Qur ' a n, 14 : 10 1 demonstrates clearly so that there can be no doubt or hesitation the Divinity of the Necessarily Existent One, and that al1lh ings issue directly from the hand of His power, and that the heavens a nd the earth are und er His sway. (Nursi 1995 , 244) It seems that the theory ofevolUlion in general or in principle, the mechanism of that evol uti on, and its general implication s should be differen tiated from each other. As Arthu r Peacocke says. "The proposition of evolution - that all form s of life. current and extinct, are interconnected through evolutionary relationshi p - is not in dispute among biologists" ( 1986, 35). But there sti ll have been a lot of controversies abo ut mechani sms of evo lut ion. Indeed, it has been argued so metimes that " Evolut ion qui ckly gained ground, whereas Natu ra l Selection rema ined in th e wilder ness of unacceptable theories" (El1 egard 1956, 185). As Peacock e says agai n on the other hand. "There are today different views about the rate and mechanism of evolution" ( 1986. 34). Richard Dawkins acknowledges the same point : "Some biologi sts, however. have had dou bts about Darwi n's particu lar theory of how evol ut ion happened" ( 1986, 287; see for details , Dawkins 1986. ch. 9, and 11 ; and Peacocke 1986. 41 -50). Some philosophers of rel igion and most proponents of the argument from design often refer to those controversie s among biologists and usually seek to crit icise evolutionary mechan isms proposed rather than the idea or fact of evolution itself. as have some biologist just ment ioned abovc. In thc view ofJohn Hick, despi te this theory having been known for a long time, the immensely complex process of evol ution is still by no mean s full y understood , and the detai ls of the evol ut ionary picture have from tim e to time to be revised in the light of new infonnation . Recent discoveries suggest, for example, that the process may not be as smooth ly uniform as had hitherto been supported , but may in vo lve phases of relativel y rapid change followed by long periods ofslabi lity. "There are thus mysteries and mi ssing links within th e evoluti onary theory" ( I 989, 82). According to Brian Davies, it is right that there is much involved in the development of living bei ngs that cannot be ex pl ai ned by the th eory of evolu tion (1993, 11 3). For most critics some empirical and theoretical probl ems of evo lutionary theory '''concern th e absence of ev idence of intennediate evolutionary stages in the fossil records,

the Argumefll from Crcaliun (Ikhtira ')


while others point to th e apparently high improbabi lity of life developing at all on the earth, without some in tervention from an outside intelligence" (O' Hear 1984, 130; see for such a critic ism, Betty, and Cordell 1987, 419-4 34). So even the mostly agreed mechanisms of evolution seem to be controversial, disputable and problematic, having mysterious and mi ssi ng li nks, being subject to revisions, and incomplete in the views of both some biologi sts and philosophers of religion. However, it should be po inted out that when we say that mechanisms of evo lut ion, rather than the idea of evolution itself, arc somewhat problematic , we do not aim to descri be them "as a challenge to nco-Darwinians with the imp lication that th e mere ex istence of t hese problems in itself undermin es the rel iability of the neo-Darw inian modern syn th esis" as Peacocke ( 1986, 40) attributed to Hugh Monlefiore. It seems to us that appraisal of the vali dity of mechani sms of evo lut ion requires more information than some popular knowledge of biology. So we will not discu ss muc h about the mechanisms of evolution and its all eged problems. But we have men tioned some general points about its problem s in order to hi ghlight in the beginn ing that, in the face of these problems, there see ms 10 be no respectabl e reason to say that, if som eone ventures 10 suggest doubts about evo lution , he or she is ignorant, stupi d or worse. Indeed , " Richard Dawk in s claims th at ' It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet someone who claims not to believe in evolution, that pe rson is ignorant, stupi d or insane (or wicked, but I' d rather not consider thai)''' (Plantinga 199 1, 2 1). Leaving aside the scientific reliabil ity or respectabi lity of nonDarwin ian biologists, since we are not biologists by profession , this seriously overstates the case, si nce there arc at least som e eminent philosophers ofrc ligion who question Darwinian evolution , like Alvin Planlinga ( 199 1) in the Ch ristian tradit ion and Seyyed Hossein Nasr ( 198 1, 169-7 1, 234-42) in the Muslim tradition who arc neither ignorant, st upid or insane. However the positio n to be argued for in the prese nt thesis sees design as compatible with the acceptance of evolutionary theory even though its mechanism will remain an issue of controversy. It seems that evolu tionary mechanism s hould be differentiated from its im plicatio ns or, rather, its interpretations. It is the materiali stic reductionis t interpretation of evo luti onary mechanism , rather than the mechanism itse lf, that is the compe ting alternative to the divin e design hypothesis of the design argument. When these interpretat ions are taken into consideration, the idea of


Islam h- Though t Qn the Existence o/G od

evolution may be differentiated into two; and , they may be called simply as "blind" or atheistic evoluti on and '"designed" or thei stic evolution . Some evolutionary naturalists seem to stress and like the word " blind" especially. This trend has been most clearl y expressed and effectively defended by biologists like the geneti cist Jacques Monod in the 1970s and the zoo logist Richard Dawkins more recent ly. In some of their work , evolutionary mechanisms have nOI been presented within the boundaries of the biological domain in the merely scientific sense, but have been interpreted and proposed as chall enges to theological or thei stic claims. They have defended the view that the upslope evolutionary progress oflife is all bli nd, and that the current neo-Darwinian mechani sm is sufficient to exp lain all aspects of living beings on both the scientific and the ph i losophical levels, without any need for a divin e design . Monod wrote that "Chance alone is at the source of every innovation , of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutel y free but blind, at the very root of thi s stupendous edifice of evolution " ( 1972 , 11 0)_ As Polkinghome says, "The word where Monod puts Ihe knife in is, of co urse , ' b lind '" (1990, 91 ; Cf Swinburne 200 1. 20 8) . Thi s interpretation of evolution is made much clearer in Dawkins"s words as follows: A ll app eara nces to th c contrary, the onl y watchmaker in nature is the bl ind forc es of physics, a lbe it dep loy ed in a ve ry spec ia l way. A tru e watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs, and plans their interconn ections, with a future purpose in his mind 's eye. Natural select ion, the blind, unconsc ious, automatic process whi ch Dan..,in di scovered , and which we now know is the explanation for th e ex iste nce and appa re ntl y purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind . It has no mind and no mind 's eye. It does not plan for the future . It has no vision, no fore sight, no sight at all . [fit can be said to play the role ofwatchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker. ( 1986, 5; see for philosophica l representation of sim il ar ideas, Flew 1984 , 63-64). According to the alternati ve ' des igned ' inlerpretation of evolution , on the other hand, " biological evolution ," as A. Peacocke points out, " Far from bein g opposed to a theistic doctrine of creation,

The Argumellf f rom ('realion (JAhlira 'J


does in fact enhance and enrich it " (1986, x). Evo lutionary mechanisms like random mutations in the genetic material, and natural select ion can be easily understood in theistic tenns. "The theist can interprct the dial ectic of chance and necessity as reflecting the gifts of freedom and reliability to the creation by a God who is at once loving and faithful. The random 'shuffiing' operations of chance are then secn as the way in which the universe explores its God-given (anthropic) potentiality, incorporated in the lawfulness of necessity" (Polkinghome 1990, 91 ). According to OJ . Bartholomew, who defended in his book God of Chance the view that God's uses of chance has many advantages: chance is real and not wholly the product of our own ignorance, but " chance happenings are part of God 's overall plan" (1984, 94). In the view of Swinburne 100, " It is not incompatible with his being creator ofthe universe that he shou ld allow the existence of an eleme nt of chance in nature" ( 1977, 128). We need not deal with different sorts of theistic understanding of evolution (see for details, Greer 1979, 43-59). From the design argument's point of view, desil,'lled evolution can be regarded, first , as rejecting the su fficiency of the exclusively naturalistic mechanisms and the truth of the reductionist interpretations of evol ution and , second , as seei ng and interpreti ng the evolutionary processes in terms of God 's design or agency. It is claimed that even if the evolutionary theory with its currentl y known mechanism is true, thi s would not undermine the design argument. For having arisen by mechanical means does not ru le out the option of bein g designed as well . As Anthony Kenny observes: If the argument from design ever had any value, it has not been substantiall y affected by the scientific investi gat ion of living organisms from Descartes through Darwin to the present day. If Descartes is correct in regarding the activiti es of animals as mechanistically ex plicable, th en a system may operate teleologi cally while being mechanistic in structure . If Darwin is correct in ascribin g the origin of species to natural selection , then the production of a teleological structure may be due in the first instance to factors which are purely mechanistic. But both may be right and yet the ultimate explanation of the phenomena be finalistic. The only argument refuted by Darwin would be one which said: wherever there is adaptation to environment


Islamic Thoughl on the Hxi.\·/ence 0/ G od

we must see the immediate acti vity of an intelligent being. But the argument fro m design di d not claim this; and indeed it was an esse ntial step in th e argument that lower ani mals and natu ral agents did not have minds. The argument was only th at the ult imate exp lanati on of such adaptat ion must be found in intelligence ; and if the argument was correct, then any Darwinian success merely inserts an ex tra step between the phenom ena to be explained and their ultimate exp lanat ion " ( 1969, 11 8). For most of the modern teleologists there are still some gro unds in the realm of living beings for believing that the universe is ordered or even teleo logically ordered. We examined some main fields of fact which illustrate this point. According to the modem advocates oflhe design argum ent, these can fu Ily be explain ed only in terms of an Intelligence beyond th em, or rath er, the theisti c explanat ions of them in terms of God 's creation and design are more li kely to be true than the atheisti c one in terms orrcductionist chance

and necessity processes. Among these fie lds. the inorganic condition s of evolution seem to have been regarded as the strongest one recentl y. The fi tness of inorganic conditions and materials for the emergence and evolution of living beings and the fact that "the fundamental laws of physics are such as to give rise to laws of evolution" (Swin bu rne 1991 . 285 ; Cf. Peacocke 200 1. 70) are considered as sound evidence that God probably exists. For the God hypothesis is one oflhe few explanatory hypotheses, and for the teleologist , is more probably true in comparison with th e insufficiency of its alternative or alternat ives. A. E. Taylor argued, for in stance, that Ei ther we must be content to take it as an unexplained and inexplicab le miracle th at o ur envi ron ment shou ld be one which has made the appearance of increasingly intelligent and purposeful s pecies of organisms and the development of scienti fic knowledge possibl e, or we must carry back the presence of controlling and directing intelli gence beyond the appearance of living species and admit that it has been al work throughout the whole history

The Argumelll f rom Crealion (lk/llira ')


of the fonnation of the environment which is their indispensable background ( 1961,69). Thi s seems to be the main idea of most versions of postDarwinian design arguments relevant to the li vi ng beings, that is to say, ' the presence of controlling and directing intelligence beyond the appearance of li ving species'. At this point, Taylor also makes a historical claim and says that "As it seems to me (and I know that bettcr philosophers than myself are of the same opinion), the vast expansion of our knowledge of the natural world in the last century or century and a hal f, so far from weakening th e traditio nal "argument from dcsign", has made it much stronger than it cou ld have appeared in the days of Hume and Voltaire and Kant" ( 1961 , 69f) . It may be said thaI much more expansion of our knowledge of the natural world sin ce Tay lor 's day, too , has not put Taylor in the wrong. Some recent scie ntific di scoveries have caused some teleologi sts to reason in a similar way. Indeed , the physical investigations suggested that very tiny alterations in th e universe would have made it uninhab itable and hence unobservable. In thi s case we could and shou ld reasonably ask, together with John Leslie, " how the universe observed by us managed to balance on such a razor edge of observability. " There wou ld be two answers. according to Leslie. The first one " would be that if there existed very many universes and if they differed in their detail s. then it would not be surpri si ng that at least one of them should be observable, even if observability involved so delicate a balance." Seco ndl y, "The man who favours the argument from design has a competing explanation . He too can point to a hypothesis which could make it to be expected that the universe should be right for life. He believes in God" ( 1985 . 97). It seems that one of the IWO explanation s would have to be correc\. [I has already been discussed and seen that the fir st hypothesi s, namely, the many-world hypothesis. lacks both scientific and philosophic support. Looked at from the scientific point of view, the scient ist B. J. Carr, who is one of the well -known scientists in this matter. says that "'Both the '"Many Worlds" and " Many Cycles" explanation s for the Anlhropic Principle are rather bizarre and I would not recommend thai either be taken 100 seriously." " In thi s case," he continues,
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