January 18, 2009

Response to Nizar

I came across this one guy's blog post tonight (the son of Muslim parents who's slipping into atheism). I tried leaving a comment on his blog but apparently you have to log in to his blog to do so, something I'm not interested in doing. Instead, I thought I'd post my comment here as I suspect he'll find it in a day or two, insha'allah.

Stumbled across your blog. As a Catholic-turned-atheist-turned-Muslim, I understand your doubts although I disagree with your beliefs. I think your dad was wise not to try to argue with you; what kid believes their parents, at least at first?

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” (Mark Twain)

What I think you've done is stumbled into the cult of rationality. It's an easy trap for intelligent people to fall into (been there, done that). "Science and technology will solve all our problems and, if it doesn't, logic will guide the way to a bright shiny future." Yeah, that's the ticket. @_@ And it becomes this idol for atheists and agnostics. Science, technology and logic are all very good, but they're merely tools, the means and not the end. As moral compasses they're unreliable. As anyone who's worked with tools will tell you, you pick the right tool for the job; science, technology and logic aren't designed to provide the moral direction mankind needs. But if you want to have a better understanding of the universe or live a better material life (the dunya), that's what you use.

From Ministry of Space Exploration
I find it interesting that you would use the WMAP image of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) for your third picture. A couple weeks ago, I gave a talk to about 60 Muslim children and teenagers about astronomy, and I used that very image for my final picture, my representation of the universe. And one of the kids asked me, "What's outside the universe?" And I answered Allah (swt). Now I've been working on a blog post that expands further on that answer (it's only about half-finished), but what I want to say here is this: as good as the technology is to provide what is, to date, the best picture of the primordial universe, that science, technology and logic will never give you a complete picture. It will never provide you with a basis for your morality. And it will never provide you with an understanding of who your creator is. The cult of rationality can never do that for you. Only Allah (swt) can.

BTW, I agree with your mom regarding Hamas. Ask yourself if the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were right to fight back against their Nazi oppressors. Gaza is nothing more than the Jewish version of the Nazi ghetto, and the Jews know that well. Then give some thought to 2:191, and see what your mom says. Remember, oppression is worse than death.

13 comments:

Naeem: said...

AA- JD,

Excellent response. I pray that young man reads it and ponders over your wise words.

JDsg said...

Naeem:

Wa 'alaikum salaam.

Thanks; you're too kind. Actually, I was a little disappointed with the response; there were several other things I'd like to have brought up, but it was getting so late last night that I didn't have time to write any more. For example, I'd like to have talked more about my own experience, why I came to realize that atheism was a mistake, about why the worship of Allah (swt) is so important (not just the practical side - going to heaven, insha'allah - but the other benefits we gain), and so on.

What really strikes me about this kid (and I think this applies to a lot of other people), is that he's bright, but he doesn't seem to apply his intelligence to understanding the Qur'an and Sunnah in the same way that he does to his college studies. I mean, yes, college is important, but so is understanding your religion. Granted, I came to the Qur'an in my middle age, and have never had the benefit of going to a madrassah or being able to read classical Arabic and all that, but even after thirteen years of study of the Qur'an, I still find nuggets of new understanding about the text that I had never known before (just when you think you know it all...). The Qur'an is so dense and deep in the amount of information and wisdom it provides to mankind. And "you" are going to throw it all away just because you're overly impressed with scientists and atheists? They need to get a clue. They need to be able to respond to the challenges in the Qur'an and answer "the questions"* that the Qur'an asks. I think if this kid (and others like him) were honest with himself and he did the serious study of the Qur'an that he owes himself, he'd find himself turning back strongly, wholeheartedly to Islam.


* Examples of "the questions":

"How can ye reject the faith in God?- seeing that ye were without life, and He gave you life; then will He cause you to die, and will again bring you to life; and again to Him will ye return." (2:28)

"And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against God or rejects the Truth when it reaches him? Is there not a home in Hell for those who reject Faith?" (29:68)

nizars.com said...

Thanks for your response, I will give it a good read and a reply when I finish my classes.

Btw, it doesn't require a login to comment on my blog, try leaving one here and tell me what happens tills I am back.

http://nizars.com/2009/01/17/what-is-wrong-about-being-an-atheist/

nizars.com said...

Sorry for being late in my response.

First, I really appreciate your efforts in answering my questions and I am looking forwards to have good discussion with you on this topic.

Second, I wouldn't really call my self slipping, because my actions are not the result of what you might call an accident caused by carelessness, lake of attention or self occupation in life but rather a conscious choice taken that based on logical thinking.

Third, I doubt that you understand me simply because all the switching that you have done is just from a religion to another, which doesn't make a lot of difference because you still worship the same ancient myths that hasn't been proven to exist in any way just in a different method.

Fourth, Rationality is not a trap!

Fifth, Science and logic are no replacement product for morals and ethics.

Science is a process that help us understand the physically testable part of reality, this force has always proven to us what is true and what is not with support of empirical evidence.

Logic is the ability to think that all intelligent live forms have, it is also a method we use to reach to the truth.

Morals and ethics are not a product of religions although religions have contributed a lot in developing human morals to the point that it is at today.

In my debates I often exclude technology, because it is not directly related to the topic we are discussing, it is more of a tool that civilizations have created to make daily life easier, and it is not a method that helps us reach the truth nor is it vital for human existence because it is more of a luxury than a necessity.

So you claim that science and logic are not the right tools to pick if I want to understand life, but instead I should choose morality?

I guess what you are implying that morality is one of the factors that makes religions vital in our lives, but what if I tell you that non-believer behave better morally than believers and I can prove to you that with statistics.

Sixth, How do you know that God exists outside the universe? How do you know that he exists in the first place?

Give me a reason to believe in god.

Naeem: said...

AA- Nizars,

"Give me a reason to believe in god."

You know, I've always been *passively* impressed by the logical approach that I read/heard once on believing in God. I'm sure you may have heard it as well:

Technically the chances of God existing are 50-50, so why not hedge your bets by simply believing in Him. It may cause you some discomfort in this life (adhering to strict guidelines), while only helping your chances in the afterlife. On the one hand, if He doesn't exist, you'll simply decay away into nothingness. But, if He does, you'll have a fighting chance having had some semblance of faith. :-)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying such an approach is ideal (it may even be characterized as disingenuous). But hey, we are talking strictly logic and rationale here, no?

Hmmm...maybe I should leave this to JD to discuss with you...heh...

JDsg said...

Nizar: Just to let you know, my reply to you is about 90% complete; however, I will need a little more time to complete it. Also, due to its length, I'll be placing it on my blog as its own post (it's much too long to be used in the comments section). I'll leave a link here when the blog post is up, insha'allah.

@ Naeem: Heh, no, don't leave the discussion; the more the merrier. ;) Bring the gang over. ;)

nizars.com said...

Naeem: God's existence is not a 50-50 chance, it is if you exclude all the other factors but realistically it is Likely that God doesn't exist-Unlike that God exists.

There might be a creator, but we don't know enough to claim for sure if one exists or not, but we know enough today to claim that religions version of god is most likely untrue and man made.

nizars.com said...

JD, waiting for your response, I appreciate your time and effort!

DrMaxtor said...

Asalamu Aliakum brother JD,

An excellent post. Atheism is the opium of European nihilism, the amount of damage it has done to Europe is evident. Iman is like a wheel, it goes up and down. My personal view is that atheism is simply not enough, and its attempt to co-opt science may intimidate Christians, but wont budge Muslims as we don't see science and religion as adversaries. Morals and ethics came from Allah(swt), not from man as Nizar thinks. With all due respect to him I doubt he has studied Islam seriously and with an open mind and heart. Spirituality is the opposite of materialism, and the two cannot be reconciled.
How many atheists today are truly "free thinkers." Hardly any. Just look at the way they uncritically eat up whatever rubbish charlatans like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens put out. The character of the crowds they speaks to doesn't surprise me. Here in the States, Dawkins-style selfish-genery is often taken up by free-market lovers to give their philosophy of radical individualism a scientific patina. Two of my friends were once hard core atheists, one embraced Islam, and the other is now coming towards it with a firm rejection of atheism. The 50-50 thesis is just another way of presenting Pascal's Wager, and we don't need it to accept the existence Allah(SWT). We accept it 100% without reservation.
I have to bounce as I have to go to work early tomorrow. BTW googe and watch any of Sheikh Imran Hosein's lectures. You won't be disappointed inshallah.

George Carty said...

Here in the States, Dawkins-style selfish-genery is often taken up by free-market lovers to give their philosophy of radical individualism a scientific patina.

Yes, the rich and powerful in the 19th and 20th centuries have often used Social Darwinism to justify their crimes. Social Darwinism though is not only cruel but misguided, because the worth of human beings is not determined principally by their DNA.

The evolution of human society is Lamarckian, not Darwinian. Society evolves because superior belief systems (religions and secular ideologies) convert the adherents of inferior ones, not by the adherents of the superior systems exterminating the adherents of the weaker systems and repopulating their lands.

Two of my friends were once hard core atheists, one embraced Islam, and the other is now coming towards it with a firm rejection of atheism.

Could you tell me more about this? I would have expected that Islam would be the last place for a disillusioned Western atheist to turn. They'd be more likely IMHO to either adopt a non-Abrahamic belief system such as Buddhism (isn't the irreligiosity of present-day Europe essentially a reaction against the Abrahamic faiths), or to follow the path of least resistance and revert to Christianity.

JDsg said...

I would have expected that Islam would be the last place for a disillusioned Western atheist to turn.

Although you're asking Dr. Maxtor this question (and I wouldn't expect any response from him considering how old these comments are), the notion that a "disillusioned Western atheist" might turn to Islam is not terribly surprising to me, considering that I was one when I was younger. Likewise, Jeffrey Lang, in his book Struggling to Surrender, also admits to having been an atheist prior to becoming Muslim. So there are a few of us out there.

George Carty said...

the notion that a "disillusioned Western atheist" might turn to Islam is not terribly surprising to me, considering that I was one when I was younger. Likewise, Jeffrey Lang, in his book Struggling to Surrender, also admits to having been an atheist prior to becoming Muslim.

Yes, but both you and Mr. Lang were brought up as Catholics - I suspect that makes a difference!

JDsg said...

Possibly; who can say? I pretty much left the church after my confirmation. It wasn't until I was in my mid-30s that I began to study seriously Islam.