Can science explain religion? Though it provides many clues for people who ponder but if you are looking for an answer like 2 + 2 = 4, then then you might not get it. Reason being that science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. It is a concerted human effort and if humans have a limitation in seeing, hearing, smelling etc then they also have limits when it comes to thinking! There are many things which are beyond human limits, should those be denied? e.g. in complete darkness, it takes tawny owls less than 0.01 of a second to assess the precise direction of a scurrying mouse. Should we deny this just because its beyond our limits? A dolphin can detect a 2.5 cm object, such as a big coin, from over 70 meters away! Should we deny this just because its beyond our limits?
There are many religious issues that cannot be explained by science because science (as defined above) is a human effort and humans are limited. One such issue is the existence of God as a Supreme Entity that created this universe and expects His creation to remain subservient to Him. Since it cannot be proved scientifically (in a typical 2+2=4 fashion), it becomes a matter of faith.
This is the stage where division begins. Some loose their faith on the basis that it lacks reason while others retain it attributing it to human limitation and not lack of reason. Instead of using science to analyse a large number of religious directives, it is wiser to deal with the core issue i.e. the source of these directives, which is obviously God. No God, No Religion! Once you believe in God which is a matter of faith, then there’s no point in challenging His directives (even in the absence of scientific reasoning).
So the question: Is there a God?
If there is a God then one does not need to provide logic for His directives. Why? Because we don’t even know the logic for the existence of God Himself, how can we give logic for His orders! In other words, if some one cannot even count up till ten how is it possible that he can solve complex mathematical problems? And if there is no god then there is no reason to believe in religions.
Now coming to the main issue, whether there is a God or not, let’s raise the question about the creation of this world and this universe. Is there a creator of this magnificent universe? We find in this universe living things of all size, shapes and mental intellect. Some so small that they are hardly visible through the naked eyes. They have their superb physiological and ecological systems and have thousands of varieties that we know and many that we still don’t know. The sun, moon and the planets floating in the sky, these heavy masses working in a perfectly organized manner, and so much else that we can’t even think about. I mean no two faces of living beings, whether they be animals or humans, are alike! And getting into DNA stuff and the development of a living being inside a living being is simply mind-boggling!
So is there a creator behind this dazzling and splendid creation, which we witness or was it just an accident? Can a big bang be the sole reason of this creation? If one big bang can make such a well-organized universe then let us get together with all our nukes and make many big bangs in the outer space in hope of getting just one beautiful universe like the one we have!
Who created the brains of the scientists for whom we are prepared to give up our faith? I mean a scientist did not create or invent his own brain! So what is the answer to the question about the creation of this universe and whatever is within it?
Is it justified to say that there is no God just because we cannot see Him? Is physical sighting a mandatory requirement to prove the existence of something? I mean nobody physically sighted the earth’s magnetic field whenever it was discovered. Wasn’t it just the effects of magnetism observed through instruments that lead us to believe its existence? Nobody saw the micro-organisms before the invention of microscope and related equipment. Physically visible were just the effects of these micro-organisms like decomposition etc that lead us to believe that they existed at a time when they were not visible. In the same manner, can you deny gravity just because you can’t see it? You have to believe in it due to its effects which you can feel and observe. So why deny God just because He is not visible, even though the splendid effects of His existence are witnessed day after day and night after night?
Since we are debating on the core issue, which is “Is there a God?” Both, the non-believers and the believers have to answer. When a non-believer is asked about the creation of this universe, he explains it through a scientific process. When he is further asked about how that process started, he narrates another process. When he is further asked then he makes another assumption and the discussion goes on and on until it stops at a point. What is that point? It is the limit of human knowledge! So according to non-believers the creation of this universe started with a scientific process. Tracing it back they reach up till a stage where they say that the process started from this point, let it be called “The Molecule Zero”. But due to limitation of knowledge the non-believers do not known how the “Molecule Zero” came into existence.
Now putting the same question to believers, they respond with the statement that God created this universe. And about the “Molecule Zero”, for which the non-believers did not know how it came into existence, the believers reply that God created the “Molecule Zero”. At this stage the non-believers ask the believers that if it is a must that the “Molecule Zero” should have a creator and God created the “Molecule Zero” then who created God? If we (non-believers) don’t know about the creation of “Molecule Zero” then even you (believers) don’t know about the creation of God.
Now this stage is a dead end for both parties, as both of them lack an answer. One believes in God and other in “Molecule Zero”. Interestingly, again it is a matter of faith. Believers already admit that they have faith in God but now even the non-believers will have to admit that they believe in something for which they don’t know the logic or reason. They may not call it faith if they don’t like it but it’s the same thing. Both have faith, one in God and the other in “Molecule Zero”.
So who is right? There are two roads emerging out from this point, the road of belief and the road of disbelief. There is no choice but to opt for any one of them. Yes only one! Because both of them are 180 degrees apart. From this stage onwards you can either be a believer or a non-believer. So let us see which selection turns out to be the right one?
The logical way of selecting something is to look for something that is trouble free. If for example we are driving in a dark stormy night, and at one point of our journey we have to make a choice between two roads:
1) Road A: With a signboard that confirms that the road is well illuminated and equipped to handle emergencies.
2) Road B: Without any signboard or information that confirms its condition.
Which road will we select for our journey, considering both roads take us to our destination in the same time?
The answer is will be “Road A” because mathematical probability of problems and risks involved on this road will be less as compared to the other.
Same should we do to decide between God and the “Molecule Zero”. We should see which path is risk free and which path bears a risk. As far as the “Molecule Zero” is concerned, it has not conveyed to us through anyone about its claim that it should be worshiped. It has not informed us that we will be punished if we don’t believe in it. Whereas in case of God, we are told by some human beings who testify that they are Messengers and Prophets of God, that one has to believe in God and that in case of disobedience there will be severe punishment. In addition to observation of incredible creations around us for knowing our creator, it is the Prophets who have been preaching us about the belief in God. So we need to speak about their credibility before continuing further.
Out of many Prophets (peace be upon all of them) we will just choose one for the purpose of discussion in this article. Let it be the last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). We start with the reputation of this Prophet. But whom are we going to ask? That’s important! I suggest that we ask people who lived with him in his time and not those who were born 1400 years after his death. Although many people turned out to be Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) life taking enemies when he declared his prophet-hood, but before his declaration they were the same people who admitted the fact that amongst them Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the most truthful and honest person. It was after his declaration of prophet-hood that they started the false propaganda against him. Authentic history is evidence to this; even the honest non-believers know this. His rivals did not hate him because he said that there is a God, they hated him because he said that there is only one God.
So if people who lived with him in his time admitted the fact that he was not a liar and in fact considered him the most truthful and honest person amongst them, then how can a person born 1300-1400 years after his death claim that he was a liar? But just for the sake of argument for those who consider him a liar, let us see why a person would lie? After all there must be a reason for anybody to lie. The three most basic reasons for anybody to lie are:
To save oneself from trouble
To get financial advantage over others
To achieve personal benefits
In case of Muhammad (peace be upon him) none of the above options hold true. As far as the first option is concerned, it was Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) declaration that made people his life-taking enemies. If he was lying then he would have given up his declaration in order to save himself from his enemies, but he did not do that at all in his entire life. What to talk about giving up, he did not even alter a fraction of his declaration.
An example of the confidence which Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had in his prophet-hood and consequently in the divine protection of himself and his message is when he left Makkah city and took shelter in a cave with his companion Abu Bakar during their emigration to Madeenah city. The two clearly saw people coming to kill them, and Abu Bakar was afraid. Certainly if Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was a liar, a forger and one who was trying to fool people into believing that he was a Prophet. One would have expected him to say in such a circumstance to his friend, “Hey, Abu Bakar, see if you can find a way out of this cave”. Yet, in fact, what he said to Abu Bakar clearly illustrated his confidence. He told him, ” Relax! Allah (God) is with us, and Allah (God) will save us! ” Now, if one knows that he is fooling people, where does one get this kind of attitude? In fact, such a frame of mind is not a characteristic feature of a liar or a forger at all.
Another example: Muhammad (peace be upon him) had an uncle by the name of Abu Lahab. This man hated the religion of Muhammad (peace be upon him) to such an extent that he used to follow him around in order to discredit him. If Abu Lahab saw him speaking to a stranger, he would wait until they parted and then would go to the stranger and ask him, ” What did he tell you? Did he say, ‘Black’? Well, it is white. Did he say, ‘Morning’? Well it is night “. He faithfully said the exact opposite of whatever he heard Muhammad (peace be upon him) say. However, about ten years before Abu Lahab died, a little chapter in the Qur’an (Surah Lahab) was revealed on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about him. It distinctly stated that he would go to the Fire (i.e. Hell). In other words, it affirmed that he would never become a Muslim and would therefore be condemned forever.
For ten years all Abu Lahab had to do was to say, “I heard that it has been revealed to Muhammad (peace be upon him) that I will never change — that I will never become a Muslim and will enter the Hellfire. Well, I want to become a Muslim now. How do you like that? What do you think of your divine revelation now?” But he never did that. And yet, that is exactly the kind of behavior one would have expected from him since he always sought to contradict Islam. In essence, Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, ” You hate me and you want to finish me? Here, say these words, and I am finished. Come on say them! ” But Abu Lahab never said them.
Ten years! And in all that time he never accepted Islam or even became sympathetic to the Islamic cause. How could Muhammad (peace be upon him) possibly have known for sure that Abu Lahab would fulfill the Qur’anic revelation if he [i.e. Muhammad (peace be upon him)] was not truly the Messenger of God? How could he possibly have been so confident as to give someone 10 years to discredit his claim of prophet-hood? The only answer is that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was God’s Prophet, for in order to put forth such a risky challenge, one has to be entirely convinced that he has a divine revelation.
As far as the second option of gaining financial advantage over others is concerned, it needs no explanation. History is evidence to the fact that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not interested in collecting wealth for himself in this world. If he was lying in order to collect wealth and gain financial advantage over others then he would not have wasted many years of his early life by declaring his prophet-hood as late as the age of 40. Perhaps someone might say that he decided to go for money after he was 40 years of age. Well again, history is evidence. Go through the life history of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and you will know that on many occasions he never even had anything to eat, what to talk about collecting wealth. His companion Abu Hurairah (r.a) reported that he left this world without satisfying his hunger even with barley bread. Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) wife Aisha (r.a) reports that the family of Muhammad (peace be upon him) had not eaten wheat bread to their satisfaction for three consecutive days since his arrival at Medina till he died. State of his residence made his companion Umar (r.a) cry when he once visited him and saw him lying on a mat made of palm trees with nothing between him and the mat. Underneath his head there was a leather pillow stuffed with palm fibers. Leaves of a saut tree were piled at his feet and above his head hung a few waterskins. On seeing the marks of the mat imprinted on the side of Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) body Umar (r.a) wept.
Muhammad (peace be upon him) left everything including his city Makkah for his mission. His poverty was one reason which made his prophet-hood skeptical to some people. According to them if Qur’an was from God then it should have been revealed on some great man, and for them wealth was one criterion for assessing greatness. So this idea that his aim was wealth is totally absurd. And if we talk about the third option of personal benefits then let us know what personal benefits did he attain, if he was lying? Just Sufferings! And if he confronted his sufferings by not changing his declaration then do you still think that he was a liar?
Some would still argue that he might not be a liar but his mental condition was such that he made false claims. Perhaps his claims were due to hallucinations or other mental illnesses, which he could have had. To answer this, let us analyze the revelation i.e. The Qur’an which according to Muhammad (peace be upon him) was revealed on him. In fact certain encyclopedias and various books claim that the Qur’an was the product of hallucinations that Muhammad (peace be upon him) underwent. If these claims are true — if it indeed originated from some psychological problems in Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) mind — then evidence of this would be apparent in the Qur’an. Is there such evidence? In order to determine whether or not there is? One must first identify what things would have been going on in his mind at that time and then search for these thoughts and reflections in the Qur’an.
It is common knowledge that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had a very difficult life. His children died before him, and he had a wife of several years who was very dear and important to him, who not only preceded him in death but died at a very critical period of his life. Although these examples are only a few of the subjects that would have been on Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) mind, they are sufficient in intensity to prove the point. The Qur’an does not mention any of these things, not the death of his children, not the death of his beloved companion and wife, not his fear of the initial revelations, which he so beautifully shared with his wife, nothing. Yet, these topics must have hurt him, bothered him, and caused him pain and grief during periods in his life. Indeed, if the Qur’an was a product of his psychological reflections, then these subjects, as well as others, would be prevalent or at least mentioned throughout.
Apart from this, it is a historical fact that Muhammad (peace be upon him) left his city Makkah due to oppression caused by his rivals on his companions who were supporting his mission. He migrated to the city of Madinah and educated his companions, organized them, trained them, and prepared them to fight his rivals. His rivals had a large army and apart from number they were better equipped to fight him. On the contrary the companions of Muhammad (peace be upon him) were less in number, they did not have sufficient armament to fight or even to travel as many of them shared a single animal turn by turn for riding, while going out on their expedition.
In such a scenario even one of the most medically fit army generals would think twice about fighting a huge well-equipped army, what to talk about a person whose mental health is in question. But the end result is in front of everyone. Muhammad (peace be upon him) not only won but conquered the city that he was forced to leave. Within a span of only 23 years he established such an environment that not only secured his mission but made it dominant above everything. And things were not limited to his time only, the effects of his accomplishment spread far and wide. Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught a comprehensive way of life that included rules and regulations in matters like cleanliness, marriage, divorce, inheritance, business, military etc.
Now at the moment we are not discussing whether he preached the right thing or the wrong thing. We are interested to know whether a mentally ill person can achieve his objectives like Muhammad (peace be upon him) did? Tell me honestly, do you still think that a person with questionable mental health can achieve all this? Do you still think that a person with questionable mental health can make a legislation, which is followed by masses not only in his time but even after his death, for a period of more than 1400 years?
This is a fraction of information regarding one Prophet, as compared to thousands of others who were all honest and truthful and believed in God. So after going through the credibility of the Prophets we go back to the point where we had to decide, whether we should put our faith in “Molecule Zero” or the Prophets.
On one side we have thousands of truthful and honest Prophets who speak for God while on the other side we have no one to speak for the “Molecule Zero”. God has issued warnings while “Molecule Zero” has not issued anything. Which is the path that we are going to select?
We can apply the same logic, which was applied to select between the two roads leading to our destination. You can refer back to the example mentioned earlier. The logical way of selecting something is to look for something that is trouble free. So among the two choices we will go for the path of the Prophets and believe in a God because this is risk free. Since the “Molecule Zero” has not conveyed to us through anyone about its claim that it should be worshiped. It has not informed us that it will punish us if we don’t believe in it. While God has conveyed to us through trustworthy Prophets that one has to believe in Him otherwise He will punish us.
Now a glimpse at the pros and cons of our decision: Since the non-believers only believe in this life, they opt for maximum enjoyment like free sex, alcohol etc. On the other hand believers, since they believe in this life and life after death, abstain from those activities that are prohibited by God. To the non-believers it appears that the believers are not enjoying life but that is not true because religion only prohibits activities that are hazardous to mankind. It does not prohibit from positive activities. The health hazards of free sex (sexually transmitted diseases) and alcohol (even with responsible drinking patterns) are not concealed from anyone. So even in this life the believers have opted for a better choice. As far as life after death is concerned, all the benefits are for the believers and nothing for the non-believers (because they never believed in it).
In reference to life after death, if the concept of “Molecule Zero” is true then there will be no problem to anyone. However if the concept of God is true then the non-believers are going to regret badly, but all regrets at that time will be futile since it will be a point of no return.
To summarize: Both the believers and non-believers have a faith – To decide who is right – One should see whose faith is risk free and well paid!