Deism: Common between Islam, Christianity and Judaism

Epigraph

He is Allah, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are the most beautiful names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies Him, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.  (Al Quran 59:25)

roses-in-glass-vase

We need to look at the beauty around us every day and smell the roses, before it is too late

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

A Muslim is supposed to say prayer or Salat five times a day.  Each Salat is composed of two or more parts and for every part the seeker of God’s bounty has to say his intention, which is also a verse of the Holy Quran.  It reads:

I have turned my face toward Him Who created the heavens and the earth, being ever inclined to God, and I am not of those who associate gods with God.  (Al Quran 6:80)

Several times in every Salat the seeker is required to recite the opening chapter of the Holy Quran, the famous Sura Fatihah, which reminds him or her that God is not only the Creator of the heavens and the earth, but, also their Sustainer:

All praise belongs to Allah, Lord and Sustainer of all the worlds.   (Al Quran 1:2)

There are scores of verses in the Holy Quran, making a case for Deism  or the Creator God.  Likewise scores of such verses can be found in the Bible, especially in the Psalms.

In other words Islam, Judaism and Christianity share the case for Deism, which is Belief in God based only on reason and nature.

There is, however, a small difference, which I will only name here, without going into a detailed discussion.  Unitarian Christianity like Islam and Judaism believes in God the Father as the Creator.  However, when it comes to Trinitarian Christianity, they believe in a Triune God of three persons in one being, God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  To the best of my knowledge, they are not always clear on who is the Creator.  But, they do believe that Jesus was a perfect man and fully divine and as Jesus the man was born around 1 AD, and the Holy Ghost, does not find a prominent place in the Christian theology, so, I find for myself, no choice, but, to understand that they also believe like all the followers of Abraham, in God the Father, as the Creator of our universe.

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Now I will collect quotes of some well known Jews, Christians and Muslims about Deism or belief in the Creator God of our universe.

Haruniyeh

Haruniyah (هارونیه) structure in Tus, Iran, named after Harun al-Rashid, the mausoleum of Al-Ghazali is thought to be situated at the entrance of this monument

Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Ghazālī (c. 1058–1111); (ابو حامد محمد ابن محمد الغزالي), known as Al-Ghazali or Algazel to the Western medieval world, was a Muslim theologianjuristphilosopher, and mystic of Persian descent.[4]

Al-Ghazali has sometimes been referred to by historians as the single most influential Muslim after the Islamic prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him.[5]:14-16

The Cosmological argument has enjoyed a diverse and multicultural history and has been expounded by many.  It was perhaps, first popularized by Al-Ghazali (Muslim) who in turn influenced Aquinas (Christian) and Maimonides (Jewish). The Al-Ghazali formulation goes like this:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause;
  2. The Universe began to exist;
  3. Therefore, the Universe had a cause.
IsaacNewton

Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727)

Sir Isaac Newton, has been considered to be the second most influential person in history, after the Holy Prophet Muhammad.  He had very strong Unitarian inclinations, but that is for another day.  He said:

This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. 

Deism in Europe and USA, at times did have to struggle with popular Trinitarian Christianity.

Perhaps the first use of the term deist is in Pierre Viret‘s Instruction Chrétienne en la doctrine de la foi et de l’Évangile (Christian teaching on the doctrine of faith and the Gospel) (1564), reprinted in Bayle‘s Dictionnaire entry Viret. Viret, a Calvinist, regarded deism as a new form of Italian heresy.[19] Viret wrote, as translated following from the original French:

There are many who confess that while they believe like the Turks and the Jews that there is some sort of God and some sort of deity, yet with regard to Jesus Christ and to all that to which the doctrine of the Evangelists and the Apostles testify, they take all that to be fables and dreams… I have heard that there are of this band those who call themselves Deists, an entirely new word, which they want to oppose to Atheist. For in that atheist signifies a person who is without God, they want to make it understood that they are not at all without God, since they certainly believe there is some sort of God, whom they even recognize as creator of heaven and earth, as do the Turks; but as for Jesus Christ, they only know that he is and hold nothing concerning him nor his doctrine.[19]

If my articles are boring to you, it may be that you need to read more of them, as was suggested by John Cage, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”

Many of the Founding Fathers of USA were Deists.

American Founding Fathers, or Framers of the Constitution, who were especially noted for being influenced by such philosophy include Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Cornelius HarnettGouverneur Morris, and Hugh Williamson. Their political speeches show distinct deistic influence.

Other notable Founding Fathers may have been more directly deist. These include James Madison, possibly Alexander HamiltonEthan Allen,[49] and Thomas Paine (who published The Age of Reason, a treatise that helped to popularize deism throughout the USA and Europe).

Benjamin Franklin

Statue of Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia, USA

In the United States there is controversy over whether the Founding Fathers were Christians, deists, or something in between.[50][51] Particularly heated is the debate over the beliefs of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington.[52][53][54]

Benjamin Franklin wrote in his autobiography, “Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons preached at Boyle’s lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.”[55][56]

Franklin also wrote, “The Deity sometimes interferes by his particular Providence, and sets aside the Events which would otherwise have been produced in the Course of Nature, or by the Free Agency of Man.”[57] He later stated, in the Constitutional Convention, “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men.”[58]

jefferson-memorial-1

Jefferson memorial in Washington DC

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 (April 2, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States (1801–1809)

For his part, Thomas Jefferson is perhaps one of the Founding Fathers with the most outspoken of Deist tendencies, though he is not known to have called himself a deist, generally referring to himself as a Unitarian. In particular, his treatment of the Biblical gospels which he titled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, but which subsequently became more commonly known as the Jefferson Bible, exhibits a strong deist tendency of stripping away all supernatural and dogmatic references from the Christ story.

‘It was impossible’, Jefferson wrote to John Adams, ‘for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition.’ This was the case whether one contemplated the heavens above (‘the movement of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces’) or the earth below (‘the structure of our earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters, and atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies … insects as mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organised as man or mammoth’).

For more details about President Thomas Jefferson and his faith, see an article, President Thomas Jefferson — Was he a monotheist?

151118_SCI_Darwin.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2

Sir Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

Sir Charles Darwin, who has become a hero for atheism and the very foundation, for atheist’s denial of a Creator, was himself a Deist.  He said:

The impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for 
the existence of God.

Einstein

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was named the man of the century by the Time magazine, in 1999.  He said:
The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books – a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.
For more details about Einstein, read an article, Albert Einstein’s search for God.
Salam and Pope

Dr. Abdus Salam with Pope Paul II

The Nobel Prize in Physics 1979 was awarded jointly to Sheldon Lee Glashow, Dr. Abdus Salam and Steven Weinberg “for their contributions to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, including, inter alia, the prediction of the weak neutral current.”
In his Nobel Speech at the time of receiving his award, Salam said:

The creation of physics is the shared heritage of all mankind. East and West, North and South have equally participated in it. In the Holy Book of Islam, Allah says:

مَا تَرٰى فِىْ خَلْقِ الرَّحْمٰنِ مِنْ تَفٰوُتٍ‌ فَارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَۙ هَلْ تَرٰى مِنْ فُطُوْرٍ‏

ثُمَّ ارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ كَرَّتَيْنِ يَنْقَلِبْ اِلَيْكَ الْبَصَرُ خَاسِئًا وَّهُوَ حَسِيْرٌ‏

‘Thou sees not, in the creation of the All-merciful any imperfection. Return thy gaze, seest thou any fissure. Then Return thy gaze, again and again. Thy gaze, Comes back to thee dazzled, aweary.’

This in effect is, the faith of all physicists; the deeper we seek, the more is our wonder excited, the more is the dazzlement for our gaze.

Max_Planck_1933

Max Planck in 1933

Planck made many contributions to theoretical physics, but his fame rests primarily on his role as originator of the quantum theory. This theory revolutionized human understanding of atomic and subatomic processes, just as Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity revolutionized the understanding of space and time. Together they constitute the fundamental theories of 20th-century physics.  He said:

It was not by accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were deeply religious souls.
schrodinger

Erwin Schrodinger

Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger (12 August 1887 – 4 January 1961) was an Austrianphysicist who developed a number of fundamental results in the field of quantum theory, which formed the basis of wave mechanics: he formulated the wave equation (stationary and time-dependent Schrödinger equation).  For this work he shared with Dirac the Nobel Prize for 1933. 

Science is a study of nature: time, space and matter.  So by definition it cannot tell us any thing directly about the supernatural or Transcendent.  It is only through inference that we see the Creator God or Deism.  Erwin Schroedinger states:

I am very astonished that the scientific picture of the real world around me is very deficient. It gives a lot of factual information, puts all our experiences in a magnificently consistent order, but is ghastly silent about all and sundry that is really near to our heart, that really matters to us. It cannot tell us a word about red and blue, bitter and sweet, physical pain and physical delight; it knows nothing of beautiful and ugly, good or bad, God and eternity.
Collins with Obama

Francis Collins with President Barack Hossein Obama

Francis Sellers Collins (born April 14, 1950) is an American physiciangeneticist noted for his discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project (HGP). He currently serves as Director of theNational Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.  He said:
Science is…a powerful way, indeed – to study the natural world. Science is not particularly effective…in making commentary about the supernatural world. Both worlds, for me, are quite real and quite important. They are investigated in different ways. They coexist. They illuminate each other. 
Fred_Hoyle

Sir Fred Hoyle

Sir Fred Hoyle FRS (24 June 1915 – 20 August 2001)[1] was an English astronomer noted primarily for his contribution to the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis and his often controversial stance on other cosmologicaland scientific matters—in particular his rejection of the “Big Bang” theory, a term originally coined by him on BBC radio. In addition to his work as an astronomer, Hoyle was a writer of science fiction, including a number of books co-written with his son Geoffrey Hoyle. Hoyle spent most of his working life at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge and served as its director for a number of years.  He said:
A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion (blind forces) almost beyond question.
Walter_Kohn

Walter Samuel Gerst Kohn

Walter Samuel Gerst Kohn[3] (born March 9, 1923) is an Austrian-born American theoretical physicist. He was awarded, with John Pople, the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1998.[4] The award recognized their contributions to the understandings of the electronic properties of materials.  He said:
I am very much a scientist, and so I naturally have thought about religion also through the eyes of a scientist. When I do that, I see religion not denominationally, but in a more, let us say, deistic sense. I have been influence in my thinking by the writing of Einstein who has made remarks to the effect that when he contemplated the world he sensed an underlying Force much greater than any human force. I feel very much the same. There is a sense of awe, a sense of reverence. 
Paul Davies

Paul Charles William Davies,

Paul Charles William Davies, AM (born 22 April 1946) is an English physicist, writer and broadcaster, currently a professor at Arizona State University as well as the Director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He is also currently affiliated with the Institute for Quantum Studies at Chapman University in California. He has held previous academic appointments at the University of Cambridge, University College London, and University of Newcastle upon Tyne.  He said:

The really amazing thing is not that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural ‘constants’ were off even slightly. You see,” Davies adds, “even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suited to the existence of life—almost contrived—you might say a ‘put-up job.’ 

Wernher_von_Braun

Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun

Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun (March 23, 1912 – June 16, 1977) was a German, and later naturalized, American rocket scientistaerospace engineerspace architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and, subsequently, in the United States. He is credited as being the “Father of Rocket Science.”  He said:
I find it as difficult to understand a scientist who does not acknowledge the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advances of science.
Given the quotes from the Scriptures and all these great minds, no wonder, only ten percent of USA population is comfortable with atheistic conception of our universe.

Epilogue

The Muslims, the Christians and the Jews should join hands in making a case for Deism and join forces against atheists.  The Holy Quran invites all believers to common grounds by saying:

Say, ‘O People of the Book! come to a word equal between us and you — that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lords beside Allah.’ But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness that we have submitted to God.’  (Al Quran 3: 65)

Perhaps we can enunciate the core of our case for Deism for the agnostics, atheists and others in the following words of the Holy Quran:

We (Allah) have created you. Why, then, do you not accept the truth? What think  ye of the sperm-drop that you emit? Is it you who have created it or are We the  Creator?

We have ordained death for all of you; and We cannot be prevented from  bringing in your place others like you, and from developing you into a form  which at present you know not. And you have certainly known the first creation.  Why, then, do you not reflect?

Do you see what you sow? Is it you who grow it or  are We the Grower? If We so pleased, We could reduce it all to broken pieces,  then you would keep lamenting: ‘We are ruined! Nay, we are deprived of  everything.’

Do you see the water which you drink? Is it you who send it down  from the clouds, or are We the Sender? If We so pleased, We could make it  bitter. Why, then, are you not grateful?

Do you see the fire which you kindle?  Is it you who produce the tree for it, or are We the Producer? (Al Quran 56: 58-73)

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