Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Albert Einstein, man of the century, the 20th century, according to the Time magazine was born on Mar 14, 1879.
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein
Atheism tries to explain the first half of the quote, ‘nothing is a miracle,’ and Quantum physics, which Einstein argued against all his life, as it was a brainchild of other physicists, provides adequate explanation of the second half of his quote, ‘Everything is a Miracle!’ How come? Lack of miracle is the easy part, as atheists preach that, day in and day out. However, what they do not explain is that atheism also makes life meaningless and miserable, devoid of hope and eternal salvation. According to Prof. Richard Dawkins:
In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
The celebrated atheist Bertrand Russell paints an equally bleak if not bleaker picture:
That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.
Russell and Dawkins sound horrible on this issue. So anyone who believes in the audacity of hope, has to go along with the better part of Einstein’s quote, ‘Everything is a Miracle!’ To appreciate that I want to introduce you to only one aspect of Quantum physics, which is that it is relatively incomprehensible. This should not be too complex to grasp. Quantum physics cannot be fully understood and appreciated and that is exactly what the meeting place of the Infinite and finite, Sacred and mundane, Unknown and known, Divine and human and Supernatural and natural should be. Quantum physics is the boundary where God’s Providence meets the human vulnerability and constant need to be consoled and provided for!
Niels Bohr, a famous physicist and contemporary of Einstein, said about Quantum physics or quantum mechanics, “If quantum mechanics hasn’t profoundly shocked you, you haven’t understood it yet.” Quantum physics involves many counter-intuitive phenomena and inferences, including events without cause, which a theist could see as seat of God’s Providence. The light source in a Young’s slit experiment can be turned down to the point where it consists of individual photons going through the experiment, one after the other. If the spots of light made by individual photons arriving at the second screen (actually a photoelectric detector) are added together, they still form an interference pattern, as if each photon goes through both holes and interferes with itself on the way through the experiment. It was Richard Feynman, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965, who described this as “the central mystery” of quantum theory, and then corrected himself, saying that in fact it is “the only mystery”. If you understood this, you would understand quantum physics — but as Feynman also said, “nobody understands quantum mechanics” (The Character of Physical Law, BBC Publications, 1965).
Quantum physics is not only a mystery, but it also states that our universe, with every atom being a complex and organized solar system, with trillions of them around us, orchestrating the grandest possible reality-show, it is also a profound miracle! For the rest of the story, as to why both our universe and Quantum physics are miracles:
Now, I put the above quote of Albert Einstein in its full context. He wrote or said:
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people; first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy.
A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Only a life lived for others is worth living.
But, what Einstein did not highlight here is that to have compassion, love, beauty, human conscience and objective morality, we need not only a Deist God, Who created our universe, but, the Personal God of Monotheistic religions, be it Judaism, Unitarian Christianity or Islam, Who is intimately involved with mankind and gives them their morality and values: We Get Upset, Angry and even Mad: Therefore, God Exists!
The miracle of our universe and Quantum physics is that God, the Omniscient and the Omnipotent, can influence each and every quark or electron of our universe, as He wishes, without breaking the laws of nature or making our study of nature or science futile. The Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community wrote:
If 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.
We have our science, our free will and Providence of God all at the same time and that is indeed a miracle! Won’t you say?
2. Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship”
4. Promised Messiahas . Barkat Ul Dua (Urdu) as published in Roohani Khazain. Page 27. Urdu PDF file is available at Alislam.org.