Sunday, October 26, 2014

152. TWO BOOKS ON GOD (part one) 


I have recently read two books on God. One is ‘Tlash, (means Search)’ by Uxi Mufti, and the other ‘Why science does not disprove God’ by Amir Aczel. Here are my impressions. First about Tlash.  

This book is written in Urdu language, and is actually a translation of the original book, "Measuring the Intangible”. Mr Mufti is a psychologist and a Pakistani folklorist. He is also the author of many books and winner of many awards. The author must have been studying God for decades, because when he was studying in Prague in late sixties, the title of his thesis was ‘a scientific hypothesis of God’. At that time he did not complete the development of a scientific hypothesis, but now, in this book he claims that he has. So what is the hypothesis?

             The hypothesis is that God can be proven by His ninety-nine names. These names are mentioned in Quran, the holy book which, according to Muslim belief, is the word of God Himself, and revealed to His prophet, in pieces, over years. Each name denotes a quality of God. For instance the name AL-Raheem, means, the Compassionate; Al-Jabbar means, the Almighty; Al-Muntaqim means the Avenger; and so on.

In the book, is there any proof or evidence regarding the truth of this hypothesis? 


The author supports his hypothesis by the following arguments: 

1. Since these names of God are taken from Quran, and Quran is the word of God, therefore there has to be a God.

This argument has of no value to the Non-Muslims

2. The premise is based on two very authentic traditions; one is of Imam Tirmidhi, a famous ninth century Islamic scholar, and the other a prayer called Ganj-ul-arsh (I had great trouble understanding what was meant by Ganj-ul-arsh. The book itself does not explain it. First I thought it was a book.). If his hypothesis was authenticated by these two, he should have at least provided a text of the documents; there is none. Unfortunately, the book lacks an index, which would have helped the reader to find out if the author had explained them somewhere else in the book. 

Again, this argument has of no value to Non-Muslims, and even to many Muslim. Just because someone says that God can be scientifically supported by His names, does not make it so. All Muslims and followers of other religions (except Buddhists) believe in God, just by faith. 

3. In the “introduction” the author states, that some experimental support of this hypothesis will be provided in the second part of this book. I searched diligently, because that would have been the clincher, but there was none.   

A great part of the book is spent on explaining the properties of the ninety nine names of God. The entity of God possesses these ninety nine qualities, amongst hundreds of other qualities, because He has hundreds of other names also. Thus He emerges as a possessor of enormous powers and qualities. Some of the properties are opposite to each other, but the author claims, that it is the nature of God, and of the whole universe, like the positive and negative poles of electricity. He is Restrainer as well as Extender; the Humiliator and Downgrader as well as the Exalter, the Upgrader. 

Even if we accept at face value all the qualities of God, as accorded to Him by the ninety nine names, it tells us what God would look like, if there was a God. It does not prove or attempts to prove that there is a God. 

It is as if there was a myth that somewhere there exists a building which holds all the treasures of the world. The building has ninety-nine doors. Each door has a name (ruby, sapphire, diamond, gold, etc) and leads to a room which contains the treasure mentioned by the name of the door. Nobody has seen this building and nobody knows its location. If somebody claims that the knowledge of the names proves that there is such a building, we will not accept his claim, unless he provides some proof. Mere saying is not evidence. One of the famous scientists of all times, Charles Darwin claimed that species change and evolve. His grandfather, Erasmus Darwin said the same thing and wrote a book named Zoonomia . Nobody paid him any mind, because he was an armchair theoretician, with no data. Whereas Charles, undertook an almost five years voyage around the world and collected specimens of plants, animal and rocks. He collected more data for another twenty years. He then published his theory, which was substantiated with immense data. 

The book deals with quantum physics and spirituality. When I review the second book I will discuss how quantum physics has been used as an alternative hypothesis to the theory of creationism (that the universe was created by God). Its mention in this book points towards the erudition of the author, but adds nothing (rather subtracts) to his central hypothesis 

The best part of this book, which I heartily support, is his advocacy of Sufism (mysticism) as a way of experiencing Reality. He admonishes science not to disregard mysticism. Just as science is based on experiments, so is mysticism. Mystics experiment every day, in the form of hours of meditation for decades. What he/she sees and experiences cannot be demonstrated to others, but it can be replicated. As we know replication is a necessity for validation of any theory. The techniques have been passed from teachers to disciples for over 2-3 thousand years. 

The book is difficult to read and understand. But it is a noble and sincere effort. It fails in its objective because God cannot be proven by science. God also cannot be proven by religion or philosophy. Ordinary knowledge in the form of scholarly pursuits is useless. God can only be realized by practicing mysticism. The path is open to all creeds, even to a secular humanist like me.

Author;, Uxi Mufti's comment about this blog:

I have read your interesting comments. The book niether seeks nor attempts to prove Allah though it explains the scientific and philosophic significance of Divine Names that are revealed.

The book shows that science though factual is an INVERTED VIEW of reality and reality can only be experienced.

Kindly print my views to your blog as comment


To be continued

Sunday, October 19, 2014

151. Development and critique of religious thought. Part three



 To understand the good that the religion has done, let us compare the Island of Tahiti before and after missionaries came and spread Christianity. They reformed the place. Here is an account of Darwin in 1835, when he visited the island, and the history of arrival of missionaries:


On 5 March 1797, representatives of the London Missionary Society landed at Point Venus (Mahina) on board HMS Duff, with the intention of saving the native populations from paganism. The arrival of these missionaries marked a new turning point for the island of Tahiti, having a lasting impact on the local culture.

Excerpts from the Diary entry of Darwin:

November 20th. 1835—………….


 I was very anxious to form, from my own observation, a judgment of their moral

State……… (Darwin had read) that the Tahitians had become a gloomy race, and lived in fear of the missionaries. Of the latter feeling I saw no trace, unless, indeed, fear and respect be confounded under one name. Instead of discontent being a common

Feeling, it would be difficult in Europe to pick out of a crowd half so many merry and happy faces. 

The prohibition of the flute and dancing is inveighed against as wrong and foolish; — the more than Presbyterian manner of keeping the Sabbath is looked at in a similar light. …….

On the whole, it appears to me that the morality and religion of the inhabitants are highly creditable 

There are many who attack, even more acrimoniously than Kotzebue, the missionaries, their system, and the effects produced by it. Such reasoners never compare the present state with that of the island only twenty years ago; nor even with that of Europe at this day; but they compare it with the high standard of Gospel perfection. They expect the missionaries to affect that which the Apostles themselves failed to do. Inasmuch as the condition of the people falls short of this high standard, blame is attached to the missionary, instead of credit for that which he has affected. They forget, or will not remember, that human sacrifices, and the power of an idolatrous priesthood — a system of profligacy (shamelessly immoral or debauched) unparalleled in any other part of the world — infanticide a consequence of that system — bloody wars, where the conquerors spared neither women nor children — that all these have been abolished; and that dishonesty, intemperance, and licentiousness have been greatly reduced by the introduction of Christianity. In a voyager to forget these things is base ingratitude; for should he chance to be at the point of shipwreck on some unknown coast, he will most devoutly pray that the lesson of the missionary may have extended thus far. 

In point of morality, the virtue of the women, it has been often said, is most open to exception. But before they are blamed too severely, it will be well distinctly to call to mind the scenes described by Captain Cook and Mr. Banks, in which the grandmothers

And mothers of the present race played a part. Those who are most severe, should consider how much of the morality of the women in Europe is owing to the system early impressed by mothers on their daughters, and how much in each individual

case to the precepts of religion. But it is useless to argue against such reasoners; —I believe that, disappointed in not finding the field of licentiousness quite so open as formerly, they will not give credit to a morality which they do not wish to practice, or to a religion which they undervalue, if not despise.  

Bloody wars, human sacrifices, idolatry, shameless immorality of women were abolished in Tahiti.  

My main quarrel (amongst many) with religions is their intolerance. Each religion is considered the latest and final word of God. So many wars have been fought in the name of religion, countless persons have died. Even as I write these lines (July 2014), Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Jews are fighting with each other.  There are not many countries in the world where there is no threat of terrorism, or terrorist attacks have not taken place, in the name of religion ( and in some cases, the sects of same religion fighting with each other ); USA, Russia, China, France, UK, Spain, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Nigeria, Somalia, Kenya, Chad, Mali, Algeria, Libya, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Israel, Palestinian Lands, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, are some of the examples.

Critics may say that I have let go religions too lightly. I did not mention their numerous defects, especially some of their wrong teachings, even if we disregard the practices. A tree should be judged by its fruit. If intolerance and bigotry are the hallmarks of the fervent followers of most religions, then why blame the followers and exculpate the religions? It is the teachings which produced the followers. Critics are right. I have purposely avoided it, due to two considerations: When I write, I ask myself two questions ?

            Is this writing appropriate for a spiritual blog?

            Does it bring harmony or strife amongst human beings?

My criticism of the teaching and practices of various religions will not bring human beings closer but split them further apart. 

I must mention my two conclusions regarding social role of religion. I have thought about it for some time. 

1. Religion should have no role in government. In other words, in the old debate of church and state, I consider that the two should be separate. Religion is a personal matter between an individual and God. 

2. In order for religion to maintain relevancy in the next thousands of years, it must learn to innovate and adapt. Rigidity, which was its greatest strength in surviving the upheaval of science and technology, is also its greatest weakness. Scholars of all Middle East religions attempt to explain those writings of their Holy Books which contradict science and common sense by interpreting them in novel ways so that they are in accord with modern age ( one can derive any meaning from scriptures, by giving new meaning to the words ; a day can be one day or a million years ) . These attempts are laughable; for instance, does anyone really believe that Eve was created from the rib of Adam? All such attempts are bound to fail. To this mote, the answer is simple; People, ideologies, culture, books, almost everything, should be judged in the context of their times. During the Vietnam War soldiers in uniform were mocked with anti- war slogans, and called baby killers, in many streets of America. Now the same soldiers are held in high esteem, because they answered the call of their country.

People were given examples, by prophets, which they could readily understand. Raging fires of hell were contrasted with green gardens, trees with fruits , beautiful women and cool canals of heaven.

Don’t apply twenty first century standards on books, ideologies and people who lived hundreds and thousands of years ago.




Sunday, October 12, 2014

Separation from You... an original poem

Separation from You 

Separation from You
is the cause of my pain
You are silent and hidden
and somewhere far
I have no peace, my soul is at war 

Kindle the candle of Thy light
And watch the drama of sheer delight
Mad with joy, ready for death
Mkadk arrives
In the candle he dives
He dives in the flame
Your flame, Your flame
Again and again
Again and again 

He loses his wings
And falls in the fire
As he falls in the flame
He utters Your name 

Blazing heat burns his body
Your majesty it shows
Like embers it glows 
Melting snow sets in motion
Journey of the drop towards ocean
As it merges with the ocean
It becomes ocean 

Oh God, this is my great desire
To burn in Your love

And become fire

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What do religions believe? An analysis

  150. Development and critique of religious      thought. Part two



With these subterfuges God was still good and powerful and had nothing to do with the suffering. There was a third argument that suffering was not really suffering, but an illusion of suffering, because this was a transitional period; universe was proceeding towards a noble goal, therefore some pain had to be borne.


Still it did not explain animal suffering by a kind God.  Also it did not explain the suffering of children born with diseases, such as HIV: AIDS, or disabilities, such as blindness (because it was not their fault. They had not yet lived long enough on earth to commit sins)


And, how about bad people having a good life? The answer to that was that these people will be judged and punished on judgment day. But that brought in the question of free will vs. fate, which is an unsolvable contradiction. In other words, it was not their fault; because even if they had free will (and not preordained results) it still boiled down to how much free will they really had, because a lot depended on their inherited genes or their early environments, none of them was in their own control (I have already discussed this problem in nine blogs, 134-142)


Before I proceed further, I must state what all religions (except Buddhism) believe;


(1). Religious scriptures are either literally word of God (as Quran) or inspired by Him, as Bible and Torah. Therefore no alteration in the religious tenets or religious beliefs is allowed, because they are derived from the Holy Books. They are perfect.

(2) The followers of every religion think that their religion is the best, the others have some defect. The other religions are either outdated, like an old edition of a textbook, or polluted over the ages, so that the original teaching has been lost.

(3). All religions teach that each member should perform good deeds and avoid bad deeds, such as stealing,  looting, murder, or coveting one’s neighbor’s wife. These teachings appeal to common sense because they would be good for the tribe.

(4) All religions teach that one should be good to others. If one is good to others, the others are reciprocally, good to him. Again, very good for tribal society.


Apart from all these good points, there were still philosophic problems with

 (a) Satan appeared to be a human invention; to explain the evil. How could Satan be so powerful, almost as powerful as God Himself? Why did He make Satan and why did He allow Satan to put people on wrong path? If Satan was created to test people, why should God be testing people (how they will react to adversities?) when He should know the result beforehand, after all He is the All- Knowing God? Is suffering due to deeds in the previous lives? If so, how about poor animals who undergo suffering.  Why such cruelty in animal kingdom? The theory of suffering due to sins of previous lives breaks down in case of animals because they have no concept of sin.

(b) Why so many religions (and not one religion), which differ with each other in their instructions to mankind ( Hindus worship cow, Muslims eat cow; as founder of Pakistan, Jinnah, famously said ), and thus cause doubt over their authenticity and cause strife amongst human beings? Why did God not give clear instructions to mankind in some unambiguous fashion?

(c) The universe was so big and an individual was so small, that it did not appeal to common sense that He was going to concern Himself into looking into what every lowly person was doing (as most religions proclaim will happen on Judgment Day).


After considering all that I have written above, I decided not to follow any religion. The moral compass of an enlightened modern man should be sufficiently developed, that he should not need the crutch of religion. Belief in God is an entirely different matter. One should not confuse God with religion. One can believe in God without believing in any religion, as most secular humanists (like this writer) do, and one can believe in a religion and not believe in God, as most Buddhists do.


 What makes the moral compass in us? It is the mother (to a greater degree), father (to a lesser degree), the nuns in Catholic Schools, teachers in general, fellow students, books, films, and the society in general. I have talked to several people who got their education in Catholic Schools. They told me that the nuns were a great role model; here were women who had given up everything and accepted chastity, poverty and obedience, for the sake of God. They taught that one should love and obey God and help other human beings. One should not lie, rob, cheat, or steal. I am a great supporter of religion. Core base of morality in human society has partially originated from religion, and partially because the innate value of many practices such as not to steal, rob or kill, not to covet neighbor’s wife, were beneficial to the tribal society. The mission schools and hospitals in 19th and 20th century spread light and helped the sick and downtrodden masses in the world. This mote went to a missionary run college. My mother took a 5 hour journey, from a village, by train, to go to a Holy Family hospital in a city, to undergo serious abdominal surgery. What could she have done if there were no nearby hospital where she could have had surgery? It would be fair to assume that, in the last two hundred years, events like these must have happened to hundreds of thousands of individuals in Asia and Africa. I think critics of missionary activities in colonial period wrongly consider that these activities were just a cloak to spread Christianity. Yes, spreading Christianity was their mission, but helping the indigenous population was also their mission. The two missions were not mutually exclusive.


To be continued


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Are religions outdated?

149. Development and critique of religious thought. Part one.


I respect all religions, but believe in none. I think that the religions are outdated now. Moral conscience of the society has sufficiently developed. Today is the epoch of secular humanism, which this mote believes (in my case, with the addition of fervent love of God and to reach Him through mysticism).  

The religions arose to fulfill the needs of a particular society at a particular time in human history.

Why did man need religion? I have written about it in various blogs (33, 36, and 98). Let me repeat them over here.

Human beings saw a flat, stationary earth.  Sun and moon rose in the East and set in the West. Stars filled the sky. Sunlight permeated the day and the moonlight suffused the night. Cool breeze in a hot summer day was delightful. There was a pregnant pause at dawn and dusk, as if the whole universe was holding its breath. There was joy in watching the children play. There were myriad plants and animals. Rain came to nurture the harvest. Fragrant flowers attracted butterflies. Each season came with its own delights. Beautiful snowfall in the winter, and fragrant flowers in the spring. There were blue lagoons, winding rivers and deep oceans. Clouds scudded the blue sky. Fish swam in the water and birds soared in the air. Cows and horses roamed in the pastures and camels in the deserts. Bees supplied them with honey and quadrupeds with meat and milk. Man was filled with wonder.  Everything moved with precision. Just as a house could not develop by itself, somebody had to make it; similarly, the world had to be made by somebody. The thought of the grand universe making itself never came in the imagination of humans. There had to be a creator of the universe. 

Against such beauty and grandeur, there was ugliness. There was great suffering and injustice.  

Famines were common. Just few years of drought were sufficient to cause them in ancient times. Hundreds of thousands of people would die, including women and children. Tsunamis, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes would wipe out hundreds of villages and towns. There was the constant misery of epidemics of smallpox, plague, malaria, cholera and many other such diseases. Childhood sicknesses and birthing problems killed hundreds of thousands each year. Most of the globe suffered from chronic malnourishment in the poor.

Then there were the problems created by human beings themselves, such as poverty, wars and slavery. The dark ages had cruel kings like Tamerlane and Genghis Khan who would construct towers of heads. Last century had unprecedented number of deaths by the hands of Hitler, Stalin, Hutus and Pol Pot. 

The problem of misery and injustice has plagued philosophers and religious scholars for over two thousand years. The ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus posed what is now called Epicurean Paradox 

“God is omnipotent, God is good, but Evil exists”

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"

It was more natural to think that sufferings could not be explained by religious arguments, so human beings thought about it and tried to reconcile the 3 powerful observations, which were before them. Those 3 observations were the following: 
(A) Huge universe is present, and could not have possibly arisen, on its own.  
(B)There is lot of suffering
 (C) People do good things and bad things. Cruel or bad persons are not necessarily punished, in fact they may have a great life, and the good are not necessarily rewarded. 

Since it was obvious and unalterable fact (to them) that there was a God, the need was to reconcile it with the second observation, the suffering. The logical answer would have been that God was not such a kind entity; in fact He appeared to be downright cruel. Even under the best circumstances He had to be indifferent and uncaring. So the wise men convinced themselves that there must be a life after death where justice will eventually be done. And to explain the bad deeds in the presence of omnipotent God, the Devil (Satan) had to be invented (bad deeds were the work of Satan and not of God). Hindu religion used a different theory: ‘Your sufferings are due to the misdeeds done by you in previous lives’. Oppressed people needed these dogmas, because that way of thinking gave them strength and eased their burden in three ways:  First, because they may think that their suffering  was due to God’s will, so it must be good, since God is good. And religion taught unquestioned surrender to God. Secondly, they may think that there may be a hidden benefit in the present calamity ( there is a silver lining in most clouds). And, through these trials, there may be an improvement in the better part of one’s nature. Who were they to question God’s wisdom? He knew better. Thirdly, if they were not rewarded here, then God’s justice made it absolutely certain that they will be rewarded in the next life.


To be continued.