Study for an Atheist
by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din
Are we not equipped with various cravings and needs which we do our best to satisfy? Our whole life is spent in securing means to gratify our natural requirements. All that we call civilisation solely sprang from men’s efforts in this direction. To secure happiness and to avert pain is the great problem of life. But is not proper satisfaction of our natural desires the climax of pleasure? Is not an ungratified need a great misery? We cannot ignore the existence of two things in Nature: our needs and the existence of means in the universe to satisfy them. We have got ears and eyes: they demand pleasant sights and melodious sounds. Fine arts must come forward to provide them. We want good drinks and delicious eatables, and we have explored the whole world to find them. We experience higher cravings as well, and we spare no pains to meet their demands. We experience feelings of love, mercy, and generosity. We must find some occasion for their exhibition, though at any cost. Similarly do we not possess the faculty for admiration, praise and thanksgiving? Do we not give expression to them when once these sentiments are aroused in our breast? Beneficence and beauty are the only factors to give rise to these noble feelings in us, as they only consummate human happiness. Even a man callous and cruel at heart cannot be indifferent to it. Thus we are in search of beauty and beneficence, and when we secure them our praise and gratitude arise and must find expression. But beauty and beneficence often accrue to us through, inanimate things. Do we praise them and express our gratitude to them? To do so would be a foolish act. If the beauty of a fine product of art contributes to our happiness, we do not look to it for our thanksgiving and admiration we look up to the one who produced it or supplied it to us.
Is not Nature around us the soul source of our happiness? Does it not exhibit beauty and beneficence, even in its smallest particle? Do not its variegated beauties excite our admiration and praise? Is it, then, unnatural to feel grateful after enjoying its blessings? But we never give our thanks to dumb, inanimate things. We always tender our gratitude to some intelligent being who is the maker or supplier of what adds to our happiness. Whom should we look to for showing our gratitude if we have been benefited by all around us? To be grateful is human, to find an object to whom to express our gratitude is natural. Should we praise dumb nature and give our thanks to inanimate matter? We should be untrue to our very nature if we did so. We do need some intelligent being who should claim our admiration and gratitude. It is simply a natural desire. Our very nature looks for an intelligent benefactor to whom we may tender our thanks when ever we derive some benefit. Blessed be the Prophet Muhammad, to whom these mysteries of human nature were revealed. How beautifully the Book of Islam brings home to our minds the existence of God in the following. It speaks eloquently of the beauty and beneficence evinced in Nature, and thus appeals to our sense of admiration and gratitude, which must find expression in favour of some intelligent being, the Author of all:
All praises and gratitude are due to Allah, the Creator, Nourisher and Sustainer of all the worlds around us so necessary for our creation sustenance and nourishment.
The God in which He has made all men — that is the right religion. (The Quran, 30:29)
There is one most striking feature in Nature which a superficial observer even does not fail to notice. Everything in Nature is on its way to evolution, but under some marked course. It obeys certain laws, and so secures its progress. Its very utility to the whole world around it depends on its submission to the procedure fixed for it. The violation of its law means destruction and loss. Everyday the sun rises and sets, with no deviation from its prescribed course. The whole solar system, the atmosphere, the earth and the things thereon are all tending to progress, but under given rules and regulations. The day and the night never overlap each other’s province. How faithfully the moon and the stars pursue their course! This universal phenomenon of the law and obedience observable in the whole universe has so beautifully been depicted in the following Quranic words:
A sign to them also is the night. We withdraw the day from it, and lo! they are plunged in darkness.
And the sun hasteneth to her place of rest. This is the ordinance of the Mighty, the Knowing.
And as for the moon, we have decreed stations for it till it changes like an old and crooked palm-branch.
To the sun it is not given to overtake the moon, nor doth the night outstrip the day. Each in its sphere doth journey on. (36:37–40)
What a truism — ‘Each in its sphere doth journey on!’ Each component of Nature to pursue its own course — no violation, no trespass, but implicit obedience to the fixed unchangeable law. This alone reduces conflicting elements into one harmonious whole: a cosmos out of chaos! This alone is responsible for all scientific discoveries. Science creates nothing: its whole province is confined to the discovery of laws that guide the forces of Nature. Such discoveries were impossible, and futile too, if there be no certainty as to the unchangeable nature of the laws, and the obedience thereto by Nature.
Is it design or adaptation? Does not Nature follow a prescribed course? Does not the law govern matter? Had its evolution been haphazard, disorderly and unsystematic, one could argue in favour of adaptation in the working of Nature, with the law merely as its sequel. But science always finds system, order and regularity as the governing principles in the whole universe, and her discoveries are only discoveries of rules and regulations prescribed to govern matter. It means design and intelligence. The law precedes matter, and hence no adaptation.
“Had all these heavenly systems no designer they would soon have been disorganised and ruined. The vast mass of matter rolling in space without disturbing each other’s motion demonstrate contrivance and design by the regularity of their motions, and hence, the Designer. Is it not surprising that these innumerable spheres thus rolling on from time immemorial do neither collide nor alter their course in the slightest degree? How could such a grand machinery work on without any disorder for numberless years unless it were in the intention and contrivance of a Supreme Contriver? Alluding to this consummate Divine Wisdom, Almighty God says in the Holy Quran. “Is there any doubt concerning God who has made such wonderful heavenly bodies and such a wonderful earth?” (14:11)