Existence of God – The Perception Paradox

Epigraph:

Such is Allah, your Lord. There is no God but He, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He is Guardian over everything. Eyes cannot reach Him but He reaches the eyes. And He is the Incomprehensible, the All-Aware. (Al Quran 6:102-103)

The Muslim Times has the best collection to refute atheism. Nevertheless, the atheists have an important role to keep the religious people honest and away from each other’s throats. Suggested reading: If the Atheists and the Christians Debate, Islam Wins!

By Sabahat Ali, USA

‘I cannot believe in what I do not see.’

Perhaps 1000 years ago, this phenomenally flawed case against the existence of God might have passed as tenable. However, the 21st century is a world possessed of supersensory observation, where most of the world accepts as fact things that they’ve never seen for themselves. From the Marianas Trench in the western Pacific to the myelin sheaths surrounding neurological pathways, the average person will live his entire life convinced of the existence of billions of things he’s never personally confirmed through observation.

Hence, one can appreciate the incredulity that such an illogical argument solicits in the realm of rational dialogue. It is a universally recognized truth that everything is not known by sight. Nor, for that matter, can the existence of all things be confirmed by any single physical faculty. It is beyond ludicrous to demand that one hear ultraviolet rays before believing in them, taste Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor before conceding its existence, or ascertain with one’s fingers the smell of burning natural gas before swiftly fleeing a premises.

And yet, this is a genuine demand of many atheists even today: that God – the inconceivably powerful force which brought the universe from a state of obsoleteness to bustling with astronomical wonders within moments – should somehow become confined to a physicality so that He might be seen with human eyes. This demand not only insults all facets of logic but runs unapologetically contrary to everything we know of scientific observation and experience itself. It is a paradox perhaps worthy only of God Himself.

However, the argument that humans should see God with their own physical eyes becomes infinitely more embarrassing when considering those realities which are not gleaned by the physical senses at all. Over the many millennia decorated by intellectual gems and theological giants, the concept of love has dominated mankind’s philosophical timeline.

The Case of Love in Observation

The undeniable influence of love is known universally. Its existence is a fact, yet no man has ever demanded to see love physically or feel it by touch. It is simply too profound to be tangible. Love is known only by its various manifestations which give expression to it. It is an otherwise invisible force capable of driving great minds to madness and turning melancholy to endless joy.

Anyone who has ever loved bears witness to the oceanic vastness of it. Ask a mother to describe her undeniably true love for her child and she will never confine it to the few inches of grey cerebral mass that is her brain.

Here, one may argue that love is still known by other means or that a vast majority of human beings testify to its existence – and that is precisely the point. Many forces, concepts and truths are known through means other than the physical senses. Hence, to demand that God Almighty should be seen by our physical eyes is a grave error on all fronts.

In fact, to deny the existence of anything because it is not confined to the physical realities of our universe is as absurd as expecting that the force governing every law of physics should become a slave to them by assuming a physical body. The truth is that the more profound and powerful a force, the more evasive and undetectable it becomes to the physical senses.

Every single step up the ladder of greater and more profound forces makes a compelling case for this. Within the last century or so, man has gone from marvelling at the atom to splitting it; from studying the romance between gravity and matter to discovering dark matter; from analysing energy to being baffled by the veiled mysteries of dark energy.

About this, the Second Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community writes in Ten Proofs for the Existence of God:

‘…the more refined and subtle a thing is, the more imperceptible it is to the naked eye. Its existence is known through its effects rather than by looking upon it, by smelling it, by tasting it or by touching it. Hence, when seeking to determine the existence of Allah the Exalted Who is the most subtle of all, it is unjustified to put limitations on the requirements for belief in His existence such as that His existence can only be attained through sight.’ [1]

And this is only one side of the lens.

A thing not detectable by the physical senses is hidden in one sense, yet totally verifiable through the agency of other faculties or devices. Khalifatul Masih II (ra) explains the term ‘unseen’ as it appears in the Holy Qur’an:

‘There are many things in the world which, though unseen, are yet proven to exist by invincible arguments, and nobody can deny their existence. God cannot be perceived by the physical senses. [2]

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