Allah has created the heavens without any pillars that you can see, and He has placed in the earth firm mountains that it may not quake with you, and He has scattered therein all kinds of creatures; and We have sent down water from the clouds, and caused to grow therein every noble species. This is the creation of Allah. Now show me what others beside Him have created. Nay, but the wrongdoers are in manifest error. (Al Quran 31:11-12)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
First something about the big picture, Christian apologists want to make a case for Christianity based on laws of nature and science, by showing that there ought to be a Transcendent Creator of our universe. They make this case, in one breath, and in the very next, deny all of science, by insisting on Eucharist, man-God of Jesus, who is not Transcendent, resurrection and miracles that violate laws of nature.
Atheists are right in exposing the irrationality of the Christian dogma. However, the Christians are right in as far as their claim that there needs to be a Creator of this universe, Who employed natural means to do His work. However, both parties in their self-conceit are not listening to how Islam resolves their conflict; Islam as understood by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
In a trilateral discussion between atheists, Christians and Muslims, I believe we can appreciate reality better and come up with better theology, especially if the discussion not only involves the Creator and purpose of the universe, but, also His complete Transcendence, Original Sin and evolution of life on our planet, Trinity and Eucharist.
In the mean while we can keep learning from every good teacher of Abrahmic faiths, who believes in pluralism. We can be learning a lot from even the atheists and sometimes debators are answering a different question, other than one under debate, creating a degree of obfuscation for the less knowledgeable or enlightened.
The Holy Quran says about the purpose of the universe:
And We (Allah) have not created the heaven and the earth and all that is between them without purpose. That is the view of those who disbelieve. (Al Quran 38:28)
Three well known atheists, Prof. Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer and Matt Ridley debated two Christian and a Jewish apologist, including William Lane Craig, in Mexico, in 2010, regarding the purpose of human life:
The purpose of life was well summarized by William Lane Craig in a line, which resonates with the Quranic description, “The purpose of life is to be found in personal relationship with a Holy and Loving God! to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” Allah says in the Holy Quran, “I have not created the Jinn and the men but that they may worship Me.” (Al Quran 51:57)
Now let me link a collection of excerpts from the writings of the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community about the purpose of life.
Going back to the debate, it seemed, at least to me that the theists carried the day, the atheists were superficial, contradictory and adamant. They seemed to agree that the universe and life do not have an objective purpose, there is no overall purpose for human life but in the mean while each individual can assign his or her own purpose for his or her own life, on the basis of his or her desires. The theists built their case on the hypothesis that there is a Creator, Who has made the Universe, made it biophyllic by fine tuning several physical constants and parameters, He has a purpose in His mind, He has made the Natural Law that has done His work since the Big Bang, including the creation of life, suggesting theistic evolution. What was not said, however, as there was no Muslim theist there, that an Omniscient and Omnipotent God, after having created such harmonious Natural Laws had no need to then quickly violate them with phenomena like resurrection or Christian style miracles, which are alleged to be supernatural and suspend the laws of nature. If an Omniscient God has created the universe, then one can be certain that in keeping with His infinite entity, He would have left innumerable ways to influence the universe, so that His divinity is not suspended in any way at any time. Science is possible only because the Law Giver honors the Law, otherwise there will be total chaos and anarchy.
If Muslim speakers from Ahmadiyya Muslim Community had been included, then the atheists would have at least gotten rid of theology with resurrection of dead and miracles that are in violation of the natural order and harmony and would have been left with a much more sublime theology!
I have explained at length the issues of resurrection and Christian style miracles and other important issues about theology in my following articles:
CS Lewis a famous Christian theologian, once observed:
If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.
In conclusion, let me say that the Holy Quran links the purpose of the universe with the purpose of human life in these verses:
In the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the alternation of the night and the day there are indeed Signs for men of understanding; those who remember Allah while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and ponder over the creation of the heavens and the earth: ‘Our Lord, Thou hast not created this in vain; nay, Holy art Thou; save us, then, from the punishment of the Fire.’ (Al Quran 3:191-192)