Clearest Rational Argument for the Existence of a Creator

shariah

By Mufti Yusuf Mullan

The following six step argument has been formulated with the modern agnostic and atheist in mind. Each premise is accompanied with an explanation of the exact ‘manner of deduction’, so the reader may appreciate exactly what is being done.

The argument seeks to establish an Entity attributed with necessary existence (ithbat al-wajib) and attributes of perfection such as life, will, power and knowledge, and also free of all flaws, including resemblance to the creation in any way which would allow one to pose the question, “Who created him?” This will all be done based only on universally accepted absurdities (musta’hilat). Certain areas where attempts have been made to undermine the proof have been given extra attention. Most major objections have been dealt with in the main body of the article.

Assumptions and Summary

Due to the lengthy nature of the article, we will first list the hinges upon which the argument depends, and then a brief outline of the premises. This will be followed by detailed commentary on all of the stages of the proof, including preempting all major rebuttals. The issue is a serious one, and we ask our reader to please bear with us. The argument presupposes two matters that we believe are beyond debate. We will thus not engage in attempting to ‘prove’ these two issues. Instead, we would rather not discuss with anyone doubtful in these two issues. They are very obvious:

1. Firstly, the real existence of beings, attributes and events we observe in the world. Our direct observation of them is sufficient in acquiring knowledge of their real existence.

2. Secondly, the principle of non-contradiction. It is not possible for two directly opposing propositions to both be true, and likewise for both to be false. Necessarily, one will be true and the other will be false. Similarly if a proposition leads to contradiction – and we are able to demonstrate this – its opposite will need to be accepted as true on this basis alone. It is not warranted for someone to claim we have not proven our point, if we were successful in demonstrating contradiction within its opposite. Yes. If an opponent wants to contest our disjunction, claiming a third option is possible, they are free to do so. Throughout the article, we will preempt all such occasions. Naturally, the article will get lengthy at such places. For this reason we offer a brief summary before beginning. Below are the six stages of the argument listed in a summarised fashion:

Premise 1: [I lift my hand in real life, point to it and say,] This particular movement of my hand is something which began to exist.

Premise 2: Whatever begins to exist must have a cause.

Premise 3: Therefore, this particular movement of my hand must have a cause.

Premise 4: This cause will either be A: contingently existent [along with what that entails], or B: necessarily existent [along with what that entails]. There is no third possibility.

Premise 5: This cause is not a contingently existing cause.

Conclusion: Therefore, by rational necessity, it must have been a necessarily existent Being who created the movement of my hand [along with all of what this entails].

Just by viewing the summary above, one can gather the following:

* This is not your conventional cosmological argument that sets out to establish a finite beginning in time for the universe and argues for a “primary mover” or “first cause”. We ask our reader to please put aside preconceived notions of what they might think the argument is attempting and instead pay particular attention to the commentary which is to follow.

* From the premises above, one can clearly see that this argument is attempting to prove both the existence of a Creator and also occasionalism, all in one go.

* In establishing premise 5, the argument will invoke the absurdity of “infinite regress”, as we believe no sound argument for the existence of a Creator can be formulated without tackling this important angle. Again, we ask that the reader not jump to conclusions prior to reading our explanation.

After this brief introduction, let’s now begin with the commentary:

Premise 1: [I lift my hand in real life, point to it and say,] This particular movement of my hand is something which began to exist.

The purpose of the first premise is to prepare a subject and place it in a class based on a consideration relevant to our argument. Here the subject is a particular movement of my hand.[1] Is this act something or is it nothing? Obviously, it is something. What do we call it? Let’s agree on a term. Given that prior to my initiating this movement, my hand was in my lap. When I lifted it, the particular movement which was not there earlier, only now began to exist. Based on this obvious reality, we suggest that the predicate for the first premise should be ‘something which began to exist’. We will ask our opponent, whether this is an accurate categorization or not. In the first premise we are not ‘proving’ anything. We rely on one-time direct observation in validating this first premise. It does not involve any experiment, induction or deduction.

‘Beginning to exist’ is a simple meaning which is clear. What it contains is the simple notion of a previously non-existent act entering into the realm of extra-mental existence, something for which it was always possible to exist in the mind’s eye. When something of this nature actually does exist, this is what we mean by ‘beginning to exist’. What else do we intend by this phrase? Do we have any elaborate notions regarding this phrase? We say, this is an irrelevant question. Please put aside what we believe, and focus on the reality of the hand being stationary, followed by the particular movement I later drew attention to. What problem can there then be, if we choose to call it exactly what it is?

If one needs to contrast the phrase with something which “did not begin to exist”, then this is very easy. Any imaginary movement can be used to illustrate the opposite of ‘beginning to exist’. We obviously believe in more than this which will be the ultimate conclusion of the entire argument. The point is that our first premise does not in any way depend on this conclusion. In order to accept the idea of ‘beginning to exist’ one is not required to acknowledge at the very outset an extra-mentally existing Entity which never began to exist, i.e. an Entity which is eternally existent. This is not the only opposite to our phrase ’something which began to exist’. The more obvious and universally agreed-upon opposite are those possible acts which have yet to begin. Any yet to exist possible act will suffice. We can now move to the second premise.[2]

Premise 2: Whatever begins to exist must have a cause.

In this second premise we have taken the predicate of the previous premise (something which began to exist) and have made a universal judgment upon it. If we are successful in demonstrating the truth of this universal judgment, then by rational necessity whatever we say here regarding ‘things which begin to exist’ as a class will need to extend to the subject of our first proposition, i.e. the movement of my hand. This is a self-evidently valid form of deduction. We call it the Great Rule of Equivalence.[3] It involves two premises; a minor one which simply prepares a subject and makes it belong to a class, and a major premise which takes the class and makes a universal judgment on it. The purpose is to extend the judgment on the class to the particular contained within the minor premise.[4]

How then do we demonstrate the truth of the proposition ‘Everything which begins to exist must have a cause’? Is it by accepting this to be a self-evident axiom not in need of being proven, or is it done by surveying the particulars of the principle, i.e. by way of induction, or by way of some other method? We say, it is indeed a self-evident truth. It is one of those things which are ingrained in our very nature. This knowledge is not ‘acquired’ through experience. Instead it is used in arguments to prove other less self-evidently true claims. Had it been inductive, an old person 70 years of age would be more convinced of its veracity [because of having many more opportunities to have tested the principle] than say a child of 8 or 9 years. This however is definitely not the case. Children and old people share exactly the same degree of conviction regarding this principle. Furthermore, we draw attention to the fact that knowledge of real extra-mental things in the world is something we do not doubt. This knowledge however is based entirely on the causality principle. If you were to enter a room with your eyes closed, you would not know what is in the room. When you open your eyes, only then, knowledge of what is in the room will be gained for you. We say, if you do not have doubt regarding knowledge of the real existence of the things in the room, you should also not doubt the principle which was the basis for this knowledge. This is what we mean when we say that this principle is self-evidently true. Another example of something which is self-evidently true is the impossibility of contradiction.

As far as the truth of our second premise is concerned, many will be satisfied with what was mentioned in the previous paragraph. Some will naturally need more. Not a problem. We have a second method for demonstrating the truth of the proposition. This second method is nothing more than taking one first principle (the causality principle) and explaining it in light of another more clear first principle, namely the impossibility of contradiction. The questions to our opponent at this time would be: Do you accept that contradictions are impossible? Do you accept that every thesis has an antithesis? Do you accept that if one of two direct opposites is false on account of involving contradiction, then by rational necessity the other must be true? If these three obvious points are conceded, we may proceed:

The direct opposite of ‘Everything which begins to exist must have a cause’ is ‘Not everything which begins to exist must have a cause’, which is in the power of ‘Some things which begin to exist do not have a cause’. Anything which begins to exist by definition can not be necessarily existent [whether such a category actually exists or not is not the point currently. Our opponent is free to believe that it is purely hypothetical]. Otherwise it would have been existent since eternity past, since necessarily existent means its very nature requires for it to exist in which case it cannot have a beginning for its existence. Similarly, it can not be impossible because impossible things do not happen in which case it would not have begun to exist. Since such a thing can neither be necessary, nor impossible, it must be merely possible (another word for which is contingent). Therefore, with respect to the very nature of such a thing, both existence and non-existence are equal. That it is to say, there is nothing in its very nature which requires existence (since it is not necessary), nor is there anything in its very nature which requires non-existence (since it is also not impossible). Thus the two are indeed equal.

Whenever any contingent being [or attribute, act, event] leaves the realm of non-existence and becomes existent [such as the movement of my hand, subsequent to it being stationary in my lap] , it will necessarily need to be on account of some external cause preferring its existence over its non-existence. Otherwise, this is impossible on account of involving preponderance without a preferrer.[5] This is a contradiction because it leads to non-equality in existence and non-existence of that wherein equality of the two was assumed [in the previous paragraph]. The thing we’re talking about like the hand-movement was not necessary, nor was it impossible. Its existence and non-existence were both equal, i.e. not required by its very nature.. so now, if it comes to be without a cause, then this means that existence [in relation to its very nature] is preponderant over non-existence, and just a minute ago we agreed that the two were equal. So how can something be such that both its existence and non-existence are equal and at the same time be such that its existence is preponderant above its non-existence? Since contradictions are impossible, our antithesis ‘Some things which begin to exist do not have a cause’ is definitely false. Since both a thesis and its antithesis can not be false, our original proposition ‘Everything which begins to exist must have a cause’ is necessarily true.[6]

The conclusion of the argument until this point is:

Premise 3: Therefore, the movement of my hand must have a cause.

The above concludes the first leg of our argument. We will now take the conclusion arrived at from the above, namely ‘a cause’ and make it the subject of a new argument using another mode of argument called the Rule of Opposition. But before this, let us remind that in all of the above steps what we did not do is mention the word God. Not even once. Even the term ‘necessarily existent’ only occurred once, and that too in a hypothetical context. The phrase ‘eternally existent’ similarly occurred once in order to illustrate that the first premise did not rely on our adversary’s acceptance of eternal existence. This is an important point, namely that the above steps were clearly traversed without any reliance on our ultimate conclusion or anything entailed thereby. Therefore, it is accurate when we say, we did not expect our adversary to entertain any notion which he does not already believe to be true.

Having arrived at the conclusion in step 3, we are now ready to introduce the Rule of Opposition. This is another intuitively deductive mode of argument the veracity of which no reasonable human being can doubt.[7]

In the previous argument we established with zero probability of the opposite alternative that the movement of my hand definitely has a cause. Now, we will restrict this conclusion of the previous argument within two exhaustive possibilities. One of them will be based on what our adversary understands from causality and existence. We will tailor for him a very specific analogy in order to demonstrate that the cause for the hand-movement cannot have been what he understands from both causality and existence. This will be because his side of the disjunction involves glaring absurdities which are universally accepted: “…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. This is universally agreed upon. This is the Rule of Opposition.

Premise 4: This cause will either be A: contingently existent [along with what that entails], or B: necessarily existent [along with what that entails]. There is no 3rd possibility.

This has been thoroughly explained in the previous section. The B side of the disjunction is our true claim. It is yet to be proven. Do not worry. We will do that towards the end of the argument. Placing it right there in the premise for the world to see is totally valid, since we are now dealing with a disjunction. It will be our task to illustrate how side A involves glaring absurdities, and how these absurdities can not be removed in any way except by accepting what we will place on the B side of the disjunction. This is what the Rule of Opposition is supposed to do after all.

Premise 5: This cause is not a contingently existing cause.

To claim that the cause which resulted in the movement of my hand was of the very same nature as the movement itself, namely something which itself began to exist, is not possible, because positing this necessitates that the movement of my hand remain in the realm of non-existence, whereas in premise 1 we confirmed that the hand did move.

If one assigns properties to causality and existence such as being confined within spacetime [and other such attributes entailed by contingency], then they are essentially claiming that an infinite series of cause/effect relationships must have been concluded before the movement of my hand could ever have had a chance to begin to exist. This however is impossible because infinity can not end. That would be a contradiction in terms. If it ends, it can never be infinite. If it is infinite, it can never end. You would need an infinite amount of time to conclude an infinite amount of beginnings and endings. This is like a car, if it needs to move from A to B, and the condition for its reaching its destination happens to be the concluding of its wheels rotating an infinite amount of times — in such a scenario for it to reach its destination is clearly impossible, since you would need an infinite amount of time to conclude an infinite amount of rotations. Anything dependent on this can never have a chance to occur.

At this point, our opponent will say something along the lines of the following: “Fair enough. We do not entertain an infinite regress. We have our reasons for this. According to us, we begin a journey from the present moment and keep going back in the past until we hit a certain event which occurred approximately 13.7 billion years ago. We maintain that all matter, energy, space, time and everything else came into being at this point in time. Prior to this there was no spacetime. Existence and causality can not occur independent of spacetime. Therefore, the journey stops at this event. If you want to continue the journey beyond this point, you must bring proof”.

We will reply thus: Your stopping of the journey itself at any finite time in the past [based on whatever consideration] does nothing to remove the absurdity we are highlighting.[8]

If we had a line of soldiers consisting of only 20. This line stops on 20. There is no 21st. Every soldier in the line has a gun and is capable of shooting, but there is one condition that needs to be fulfilled before any soldier in the line can ever have a chance to shoot. That condition is for the soldier before him to shoot. Keep in mind that the line stops at 20. Will a shot ever be fired? The answer is no, because the one closest to us will not be firing, on account of the one before him not firing, on account of the one before him not firing and so on. The final soldier does not have a soldier before him and yet his condition for firing is also unfulfilled. Hence, no shot will be fired and we are left with complete silence. Let’s now double the line. Will anything change? Obviously, no. Again, complete silence. Make it a billion soldiers? 13.7 billion years worth of soldiers? Same result. Same complete silence. So you see, making it infinite or entertaining an ‘abrupt cut-off’, either way, the result is exactly the same. The entire series remains restricted to ones imagination. The need attached to each and every unit remains unfulfilled, including the need attached to the very first unit in the series.

In utter desperation, he or she will now ask, “OK, you tell us, what happened? You will inadvertently say, ‘there was an Entity in the background all along (God) who pulled the trigger for the first soldier’. Where did this Entity come from? He was never part of the equation. This is absurd. If you can entertain this absurdity, I can claim that the very first unit in the series occurred causelessly. What’s the difference?”

We will respectfully remind them at this point that we are still discussing their side of the disjunction. There are no soldiers for us, as will become clear very shortly. Be patient. This whole analogy was carefully tailored to reflect only our adversary’s notions of existence and causality, namely that both causality and existence cannot occur independent of spacetime. This is why there is no such Entity as part of the equation. We are not being gratuitous. Not at all.

At this point, we particularly ask our reader to please focus on what is about to be said. In the upcoming paragraphs we will address some major rebuttals which have been presented throughout the ages. This will get intense, and it is possible that some might need to reread what we will mention a couple of times in order to get a clear picture.

What just happened in these last two paragraphs is very significant: The atheist thought we were getting ready to establish a “first cause” (after all, this is what the majority of arguments out there do), thinking we too must reply to the soldiers’ analogy. He found positing an entity outside spacetime to be absurd because according to him there is no existence, nor causality outside spacetime. He misunderstood and believed the soldiers were there to represent entities and attributes which exist in the world. Since we also believe in the existence of such entities and attributes, we also must offer a solution. He then assumed our solution was to invoke a first cause. Based on this, he attempted to put words in our mouth: “there was an Entity in the background..” We, instead, took this very objection of the atheist and made it a component of our proof, which we will later make use of in order to establish “occasionalism” which is our true belief.

The soldiers are not there to represent entities and attributes which began to exist. Therefore, not everyone who accepts the existence of these entities and attributes will be confronted with this ‘riddle’. Rather they are there to represent existing entities and attributes only in their capacity as causes leading to the movement of my hand. This is the understanding of our adversary. The analogy was tailored specifically for him. We do not adopt this position. Therefore the soldiers do not apply to us.

We claim there is absolutely no solution to this problem according to the principles held to be true according to the adversary, namely that causality and existence cannot occur independent of spacetime.[9] As for the question of whether positing a first cause is a viable position, in and of itself, and if an agnostic chooses to forgo their principles (of spacetime dependency) and entertains “transcendence” solely in order to terminate the infinite regress, while of course claiming that the Entity is simply transcendent and beyond spacetime (in order to differentiate him from the rest of the soldiers), though life-less and unconscious… will such a positing undermine our fifth premise which states that the cause for the hand-movement is not a contingent cause? In other words, what problem is there in having an Entity set the series of contingent causes into motion at a particular point in time (for ease of reference, let’s choose the Big Bang singularity), and then have the contingent causes bring about their effects, one after the other, eventually leading to the movement of my hand? Moreover, why does this Entity need to be alive, or posses any consciousness? Perhaps he triggered the chain reaction inadvertently?

This is an important question. We will address this below:

We contest the notion that mere transcendence (being outside spacetime) is sufficient in terminating the infinite regress. Rather what is required is “necessary existence”. This was intended to be explained at stage 6, but we see no option but to exhaust the issue right here at premise 5. We thus begin:

The very first event in the series of contingent causes occurred, configured with a specific configuration of certain attributes, such as location, precise moment of existence, intensity, duration, etc. Take the time aspect for instance: The event occurred at a particular point in time which has been traced back to approximately 13.7 billion years ago. We argue that in the mind’s eye it was conceivable for this to have occurred before or after its actual time by an almost infinite amount of moments in either direction. All such moments were equal. There was nothing in the very nature of the event which required for it to come to be at its specific moment (otherwise, we would not have been able to even conceive other possible moments), nor was there anything within its very nature requiring for it to not exist at this moment (because impossible things do not happen). All moments were thus equal in relation to its very nature. Now, when it did occur at its specific moment, this must have been on account of an attribute within the Being that caused it which specified one of an almost infinite amount of moments above all others. We will call this attribute “will”, constitutive of which is “life”. Claiming that the Entity caused the chain reaction of contingent causes without being alive, or without possessing will, is absurd, because it entails a contradiction of non-equality within the total possible moments, all of which were deemed equal.[10] Thus there must have been will, constitutive of which is life. So the attribute by which the actual coming into existence of the first event occurred is “power”, and the attribute by which the attributes of that event (location, moment of existence, intensity, duration, etc.) were specified is “will”. Moreover, an Entity capable of creating based on specification can not create what He does not “know”. We thus have the four attributes of life, power, will and knowledge. These are all necessary. Without them, the infinite regress cannot be terminated.

By the admission of the agnostic, transcendence was a requirement for terminating the regress. In addition to that, we have shown in the previous paragraph that the Entity must also have been alive, willing and knowing. Otherwise, He could not have caused the first event in order to trigger the chain reaction. We further argue, that the power, will, and knowledge of this Entity cannot have been restricted only to the first event, but rather, by rational necessity, these attributes must also be “perfect”. By perfection, we mean they must extend to all the subsequent contingent events in the chain leading up to the movement of my hand. Otherwise, positing that the four attributes are restricted to only the first event would disqualify this Entity from its role in terminating the regress, because He would then need another Entity in order to specify the application of His attributes to the first event and prevent them from applying to all others, in which case He would not be the Entity we were seeking. He would just be another contingent being posited outside spacetime. The regress would thus continue without being terminated. He wouldn’t be able to end the regress, rather he would just contribute to extending it.

Since for the very termination of the regress it is absolutely necessary for the Entity to have not only brought the first event into existence, but also all other subsequent events, it now becomes clear that it is absurd to posit a first cause outside spacetime which brought about the first event but remained disassociated from all others. Our premise that the cause for this hand-movement was not a contingent cause thus holds true.

From the above, it is quite clear that the movement of my hand can absolutely not have been caused by something which is of the same nature as the movement itself, namely contingent.[11] This is because, for the cause to be contingent results in an infinite series of causes going back in the past which can never be traversed and concluded. Since the series can never be concluded, the movement of my hand can never have had a chance to exist, whereas we confirmed that the hand did move. Both the movement of my hand (Premise 1) and the non-existence of this movement (entailed by the contradictory of Premise 5) at the same time is a contradiction. Therefore, side A of the disjunction is clearly impossible.

Conclusion: Therefore, by rational necessity, it must have been a necessarily existent Being who created the movement of my hand [along with all of what this entails].

This brings us to the conclusion of our argument. There is not much left for us to do at this point. Everything has already been explained in sufficient detail. Having disproved the false side of the disjunction, naturally, the only way my hand could have moved, since that could not have happened causelessly (Premise 2), and it also could not have happened based on a contingent cause (Premise 5) — the true reason my hand moved must have been by the creation of a necessarily existent Being, free of all of the properties which led to the glaring absurdities discussed above. This must be so. This Entity can not have a beginning for its existence. Otherwise He too would need a cause [or Creator], thus bringing us back to the soldiers. Moreover, He does not need a Creator, because He is not attributed with events or any of the spacetime dependent attributes that things in the universe are attributed with. All of his Divine attributes are perfect and do not require specification. His knowledge, will and power apply to all possible things. In short, He is exalted and pure from all of the possible reasons why someone can ask the question, “Who created him?”

This not having a beginning coupled with positing the non-existence of the Entity leading to absurdity is exactly what we mean by necessary existence. Nothing else. At this stage of the argument it is not a claim. It is not something we are respectfully asking our agnostic to entertain. No. It is the very conclusion proven through a compelling argument, with zero probability of the opposite alternative. The whole point behind this is my hand did move. There is no doubt about that. Making the movement dependent on any of the things discussed until now leads to its non-occurrence, which contradicts its beginning to exist. Therefore, we will have to entertain whatever it takes to remove the absurdities. There is no other way.

Part of this ‘whatever it takes to remove the absurdities’ is will, power and knowledge, constitutive of which is life. Will, power and knowledge can not occur without life. Along with the essence of this necessarily existent being [which we cannot comprehend due to our limited intellects], we argue that there is something there on the B side of the disjunction which is specifying the time, place, quality, quantity, etc. of all the bodies, attributes and events occurring in the universe. We will call this ‘something’ will. So that by which the specification of the contingent beings occurs is will, and that by which they are brought into existence is power. Furthermore, a necessarily existent Being who creates based on specification, can not create what he does not know.

Finally, He must be one. Because if there were multiple such necessarily existent beings then the removal of the absurdities discussed above could have alternatively been attributed to either of the two, thus resulting in the other being dismissible. This contradicts the necessary existence of that other, whereas we assumed them both to be necessarily existent. This is a contradiction, and what led to it must be impossible, namely the positing of multiple necessarily existent beings. Therefore, He must by rational necessity be one.

_____________________________

  1. For the subject of the first premise we have chosen a particular event, as opposed to an entity, like the hand itself. This event happens to be a movement. It could have easily been a sound or a sensation, like the pain one feels when kicked in the shin, or anything else. Naturally, then, every place we use the word “thing” it should not be restricted to entities, but rather understood in a general sense inclusive of attributes and events also.

    So please do not get caught up in the specifics of the hand-movement, [or worse, movement in a generic sense,] and miss the point of the argument. Also, the lengthy commentary under premise one is not because we want to make sure our opponent accepts the real existence of things in the world, since that was already mentioned above as an assumption without the acceptance of which we would rather not discuss. Instead, the point emphasized here is that our categorization of the hand-movement within “things which began to exist” is an accurate categorization. This is an important first step which should not be treated lightly. []

  2. What this means is that the true division according to us is a three-way division: 1. Things which began to exist, 2. Possible things which are yet to actually begin. Instead they remain in the realm of imagination, e.g. a hypothetical movement of my hand which could have occurred, but did not, 3. The necessarily existent Entity which exists in a real sense and has no beginning.

    The opponent agrees with us on the first two types but denies this third one. According to him everything which exists [period] has a beginning. According to him, there is no such thing as an Entity which exists and yet has no beginning. In other words, our opponent maintains only a two-way division, instead of a three-way division like we do.

    The point behind this paragraph in the article is to illustrate that in order for the phrase ‘something which begins to exist’ to be meaningful, all we are requiring from our opponent is to accept the agreed upon two-way division. He is free to believe that everything which exists [without exception] has a beginning. We will force him to the third type (which is our ultimate conclusion) through the remaining steps of the argument. []

  3. The Great Rule is very powerful and, as mentioned, self-evidently deductive. The brilliant example of this given by al-Ghazali in the Qistas is that of an animal with an inflated stomach. We see it in front of us and someone claims that it is pregnant. The animal happens to be a mule. In order to explain the error in this claim, you will have to do two things in a particular order. Firstly, you will have to demonstrate that the animal is indeed a mule. Otherwise, whatever claim you make about mules, even if you can prove it, will be totally irrelevant. Hence the first step would be to observe the animal and determine that it is definitely a mule. Once done, you can now draw attention to the fact that all mules (as a class) are sterile.

    You will ask, Do you not know that this animal is a mule? The person will say, Yes… Do you not know that all mules as a class are sterile? He will reply, Yes… Now you know that the animal standing in front of us is not pregnant. []

  4. Before moving on to demonstrate the truth of our second premise we need to clear up quickly one objection certain doubt casters like to use to undermine our proof. They claim that the statement ‘Everything which begins to exist must have a cause’ is a mere tautology, void of any real meaning. There is no room for this objection, but they like to keep repeating it. They are suggesting that our premise is a mere wordplay. According to them, ‘Everything which begins to exist’ [based on our elaborate understanding of it] already contains the idea of causality. Thus it is a redundant and repetitive statement similar to ‘All bachelors are unmarried’. Since that is the case, the premise does not even convey any new information.

    We say, our adversary forgets that he already agreed with us, when we asked about the movement of my hand and whether it was accurate to call that movement something which began to exist. He forgets that it is this very term agreed upon between us in the earlier premise which is being carried forward to the second premise. Forget our own elaborate understanding. Concentrate on what the words actually mean. So, if the term already contains causality, then this is what we want from them in the first place. By agreeing to the term earlier, they have simply relieved us from one step in the argument. The truth is that this criticism was not even worth mentioning. They know very well that causality is not constitutive of ‘beginning to exist’ just like the angles of a triangle totaling 180 degrees is not constitutive of the reality of a triangle. Meaning it is possible to conceive a triangle which is nothing more than a figure encompassed by three sides without being aware of the reality of the angles needing to total 180 degrees. In exactly the same way, beginning to exist is something, and having a cause is something else. Yes. The two are definitely concomitant and it is not possible for something to begin to exist and not have a cause [as we will demonstrate in the main proof], just like a triangle can not exist without its angles totaling 180 degrees. But does that mean causality is contained within the very meaning of beginning to exist? This is nonsense. This is an objection brought solely to undermine our proof with no other justification besides not wanting us to use the premise. []

  5. P w/o P is simply a name we are giving to the specific absurdity about to be highlighted in the article. Keep reading and from the main article alone it should become clear that P w/o P is not some assumed argument with premises of its own. The very contradiction detailed in the article IS the P w/o P.

    This particular phrase is our own English rendering of the Arabic phrase rujhan min ghair murajjih, and for this reason, you will not find it used in other versions of the Cosmological Argument. []

  6. The necessary truth of the proposition has been proven rationally. Now, recall what we said in the introduction, namely that this can no longer be contested by any emperical evidence, or scientific observation. Rather, if one presents anything along these lines to contest the universal application of the proposition, the reply will be simple: obviously, the most such an observation can show us is the lack of an observable cause. It does not solve the contradiction we highlighted just now.

    Indeed, at this point, the opponent must refute our argument mentioned in the main article, and then present the scientific finding. He must do both in order to contest our premise. []

  7. The example of it is that of a man whom we observe walking into a house through the door. The house has only two rooms and no windows. We then follow him through the door and look for him in one of the two rooms. We do not find him to be there. What is the conclusion? He must by rational necessity be in the other. He can not be in neither.

    So, sometimes our knowledge of him being in a particular room is by observing him there directly, and at other times it is by finding the other room empty of him. []

  8. This is very similar to how presenting scientific findings in the field of Quantum Mechanics does nothing to undermine our earlier proposition regarding the causality principle, as explained in the previous footnote.

    Just as in the previous premise, here too, the adversary needs to remove the absurdity, not draw attention to Big Bang cosmology. []

  9. Indeed there is no solution to the “riddle” once one has restricted causality and existence to the realm of four-dimensional spacetime, and it is this very absence of a solution which forces us to look at the B side of the disjunction, as we will do further down in the article.

    So, our soldiers’ analogy is in no way similar to Zeno’s paradoxes, as some like to mention. Those have solutions which one can figure out with minimum difficulty, and what we’ve presented here is absolute impossibility. []

  10. The reasoning adopted here is identical to what was presented earlier while establishing the second premise. It is the same “preponderance without a preferrer” absurdity discussed earlier.

    Here, it is even more clear, since while discussing causality, the equal options were just two. One of two equal options attaining preponderance without a preferrer was shown to be absurd. How then can this occurring in an almost infinite amount of possibilities not be absurd? []

  11. As for the observable causality which we see between fire burning and water quenching thirst and other events of this nature, we maintain that these are not the true reasons why things begin to exist. So, if one attributes the movement of my hand to immediately preceding organs, tissues and skeletal muscles, while attributing these earlier movements to the flow of blood and neurological phenomena– if one claims that these are the only reasons why things begin to exist, we will place the soldiers in front of them and ask for a reply. Does that mean we Muslims deny empirical observation and deny that there this is any correlation between these events? No. Not at all. We say, there is a correlation, and that is all it is, a correlation. It is not causality in the sense that was established in the second premise.

    The Creator who created the movement of my hand through his will, power and knowledge and maintains my existence at each and every moment has chosen for the world to function in this way. He creates the earlier events and also creates the subsequent events. His habit is for these things to generally co-exist. To those who are unaware of the true reality, this gives the impression of causality between these events. The rational mind, however, understands that incomplete induction is no proof which could lead to absolute certainty. Our repeated observations of fire burning does not necessarily entail that it is the fire that does the actual burning. This is because no matter how many times we make the observation, we will never be able to make complete induction. We can thus never claim that it will always be the case. More importantly though, causality is a “meaning” which at most can only be inferred from observed events. You can not see it directly. The intellect will judge and point out the error in this inference of causality from the events we observe in the world. So, what is observed is correlation, and we accept this without any doubt; what is inferred is causality between the events, and we reject this based on the proof presented in this article. Our position thus is the only viable belief which is in full conformity to empirical evidence and the judgement of the intellect.

    Every now and then, the Creator, Exalted be He, will do something which contradicts the normal pattern based on His infinite wisdom and in order to guide His creation to the truth. This is the basis for miracles. A miracle is an act of God done contrary to the normal pattern of observed cause and effect (what was earlier referred to as correlation). In the case of a miracle, He will do this in order to strengthen a Prophet in his claim to prophethood. The act thus stands in the place of the Almighty Himself saying, “My servant has spoken the truth”. []

58 Comments

  • August 15, 2010

    olrepublic

    I think it would be great if Shaykh Mullan clarified what constitutes “doubt casters” at the out set, e.g. atheist, agnostic( strong, apathetic, and atheistic), and ignostics.

  • August 16, 2010

    Yusuf Mullan

    Actually, I’ve (now) omitted that phrase from the introduction, along with a couple of others. Its meaning was obvious, but it wasn’t essential, and I received reports of certain readers finding the phrase strange, causing them to dismiss the points made in the argument. The argument was not in need of such reinforcements.

    I recently edited the whole article, introducing a couple of new angles and omitting some redundant sentences. What is found above can be considered version 2.0.

    • May 22, 2011

      Herz

      If you could answer the 2 points that refute your argument that would be appreciated.

  • August 22, 2010

    oldrepublic

    Thanks for the clarification and the following Sunniforum thread link: http://www.sunniforum.com/forum/showthread.php?61145-Clearest-rational-argument-for-the-existence-of-a-Creator-Yusuf-Mullan (I’ve decided to post it here so that others may benefit as well)

  • August 24, 2010

    Scott

    Just out of curiosity in matters of usool al-deen are Muslims allowed to use kalam or are you restricted to the the Qur`an and Sunnah only?

  • August 25, 2010

    Yusuf Mullan

    Not all matters of usool al-deen are identical. There are some of them which are indeed “rationally discernible” and we are encouraged to formulate proofs in order to establish them. Any properly formulated argument using “proof by contradiction” as its basis will be a Qur’anic argument though it might not be listed in the scriptures verbatim.

    The matter we are concerned with here is the “existence” of a necessarily existent Being, as mentioned in the introduction of the argument:

    …an Entity attributed with necessary existence (ithbat al-wajib) and attributes of perfection such as life, will, power and knowledge, and also free of all flaws, including resemblance to the creation in any way which would allow one to pose the question, “Who created him?”

    We do not claim to “know” the Creator through this method. There is a difference between using reason and logic to establish the existence of an Entity whose reality we do not claim to know, and trying to determine for Him a reality based on reason and logic. It is the first of these which is the topic of the argument above.

    As for the method being Qur’anic, it is probably the topic of another article. If you want me to continue with this, please indicate.

  • August 26, 2010

    Scott

    Yes I’d very much like it if you could continue with this. The reason I ask is very simple, at my local university there are two groups of Muslims, the neo-rationalists and those who are averse to any type of logical arguments. Anytime logic/kalam is mentioned they dismiss it as Aristotelian dialectics. This leaves someone like me fairly confused on what Muslims really believe and what they do not believe in.

    Your elaboration on this topic would be much appreciated.

  • August 26, 2010

    Yusuf Mullan

    Like I said, it’s the topic of a whole other article. Please read the comments under the following blog post, starting from around a third of the way down, where user “Abu Adam” appears:

    http://muslimmatters.org/2008/04/09/the-role-of-atomism-on-groups-of-kalam/

    It is a lengthy read and should satisfy you on this issue. You will see both sides of the discussion. If you need further clarification, please re-post here. The general method being Qur’anic I believe has been illustrated quite sufficiently.

  • September 7, 2010

    Saido

    I think this whole argument can be summed up as “Nothing comes from Nothing.” Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit. But, there is something. Therefore, necessary being exists.

  • September 11, 2010

    Yusuf Mullan

    Saido,

    I would rather not try and sum up the argument in that way because:

    1. The issue is more to do with something [contingent] coming to be by nothing, as opposed to “from” nothing. This is what is impossible.

    2. Falsifying infinite regress is a necessary step without which the conclusion will not draw.

    So both of these issues are important.

  • September 29, 2010

    sk ultra

  • September 30, 2010

    Yusuf Mullan

    sk ultra,

    From the article itself:

    We ask our reader to please put aside preconceived notions of what they might think the argument is attempting and instead pay particular attention to the commentary which is to follow.

    Did you even try to do this?

  • December 10, 2010

    karizukate

    Dear Mufti Sahab..

    Posted your article here… in the islamic section..
    Reddit has a thriving community of atheists..

    http://www.reddit.com/r/islam/comments/ejmzn/clearest_rational_argument_for_the_existence_of_a/

    I am myself a muslim… and my line of explanation is making a rational argument for a Prime Mover, presenting the Quran as evidence of prime mover (through the various scientific miracles of the Quran)..

    Your article is very interesting..

  • December 10, 2010

    karizukate

    I require some help on the article…

    Infinite Regress in our plane of existence does not exist.. everything created here has to have a creator..

    However in the world of the divine.. you cannot prove infinite regress cannot exist… you have no frame of reference of the world you haven’t experienced..

    Theoretically in that world an infinite regress might exist…

    The impossibility of infinite regress here should not be extended to the metaphysical world without an argument..

    This is an important weakness in the Kalam cosmological argument..

    I Welcome your guidance on that..

  • December 11, 2010

    karizukate

    Got the issue clarified.. this is a great article.. thank for writing this.

    • November 13, 2011

      A.

      I still don’t understand the resolution. Can you explain?

  • December 27, 2010

    Ahmed

    salam alaykum,

    The argument used for occasionalism is that God has to neccessarily specify all events to prevent infinite regress. But this would only hold if all events neccessarily require specification.

    It could be that all events except the first was specified by the event preceeding it. Hence the only event left that would need necessary specification is the first event. So if there is no other event to specify except the first, the argument for occasionalism does not hold. right ?

  • December 30, 2010

    Ahmed

    Nevermind the previous comment. I have understood the argument for occasionalism. Quite Impressive.

    Was this argument for occasionalism developed by the kalam scholars of past or was this something you personally developed ?

    • January 4, 2011

      Shadi Ahmad

      In reply to Ahmed.

      This was always known by the salaf as salih,but it was Imam Ash’ari and Imam Maturidi radi allah anhum who codified and explained it when the need arisen.

      Imam Maturidi and Imam Ash’ari were both among the salaf. (early generation of muslims).

  • February 13, 2011

    Souphienne

    Bismillah wassalam’aleykum Shaykh,

    I ve got two proofs for proving that the world must be made of a finite number of bodies at all time,I just need to know if they work:

    First-odd/even proof:

    a-On one hand if you have for example an infinite number of horses then this number must be on one hand either even or odd because if you remove all the couple of horses available from an infinite amount of horses it will stay either zero horse,then your infinite set was even,or it will stay one horse,then your infinite set was odd.You can’t have more than one horse left when you remove all of the couple available because you would still have left couple of horses to remove.

    b-On the other hand an infinite number of horses cannot be even because if you add one then you ll have an even number and how an infinite number can lack one item?And also this infinite number cannot be odd for the same reason.

    So because of the contradiction regarding the conclusion of a and b it is impossible to have an infinite number of discrete items making the world.

    do you agree?(it can be found in the Iqtisad of ghazali but I m not sure of my understanding )

    2nd proof:

    If you have an infinite number of planet in the universe for example it is still possible to add one planet to this infinite set of planets.So on one hand we would have the new set of planet strictly greater than the old one in quantity and on the other hand we would have two infinite counts of the same type where none can be said to be greater than the other.This is absurd so the number of discrete items must be finite at all time.

    Do you agree?

    If not can you give me one that works.
    Barrak Allahu fikum
    wasalam

  • April 18, 2011

    Herz

    You say existence and non-existence are equal when it comes to contingent entities. Equal in terms of what?

    • May 24, 2011

      Ayman

      I believe equal in terms of being only possible in existence and not necessary.

      • August 29, 2011

        Fahim

        The statement means that the possibility for contingent things to exist is equal to the possibility for them to not exist.

  • May 22, 2011

    Herz

    Another problem I see in this argument is the idea of moments existing when time did not exist. Where are you getting these moments from?

    • May 24, 2011

      Ayman

      How does this argument posit moments existing in a timeless realm? Allah is timeless. This doesn’t mean when we say Allah Willed such and such, He is doing so in a sequential temporal sort of way. Allah’s Choices do not have a beginning.

  • May 24, 2011

    Shabeer

    “Another problem I see in this argument is the idea of moments existing when time did not exist. Where are you getting these moments from?”

    Essentially your question is: “You cannot apply causality to the universe. Because causality presupposes time, and since the universe is all of time, the universe cannot have a cause. In other words, causality doesn’t make sense outside of time; therefore you cannot ask what caused the universe. The question becomes meaningless.”

    H Tzortzis has replied to this as follows:

    “The problem with this contention is that it assumes that causality presupposes time. There is no philosophical justification that causality only makes sense within time. In actual fact, there is no consensus amongst philosophers on what causality is, so in absence of a consensus the basic definition will suffice, and the basic definition is “something which produces an effect”. If you notice with this definition, time is not pre-requisite in understanding causality.

    Additionally, there is a concept called “simultaneous, asymmetric causation” which means that something can be causally prior but not temporally prior (before in time) to the effect. A useful example to illustrate this is by touching your elbow on your pillow and then pushing your elbow into the pillow. The indentation seems to happen instantaneously when the elbow moves into the pillow. As you watch the elbow move so does the pillow and this seems to happen at the same moment. So the movement of the elbow is prior causally but not prior temporally. Therefore, since simultaneous asymmetric causation is possible, there is no reason to think timeless causation is impossible.

    Even if this contention carries some weight the following questions still remain: how could the universe come into existence with no causal conditions whatsoever? Why did the universe begin to exist at all? To claim the universe began to exist without a cause would be truly absurd. The questioner may respond by saying “Well, what caused the cause of the universe?” and if they do they will be admitting what they first denied, that causality makes sense outside of time!

    Putting rhetoric aside a simple response to the question “what caused the cause of the universe?” would be to respond by saying “nothing, it is necessarily uncaused”. The main reason for this is that if we say there is a cause for the cause of the universe, then what stops us from continuing this ad infinitum? If the causes went back forever there wouldn’t be a universe to talk about in the first place! For example, if I was a soldier with a gun and I wanted to shoot an enemy would I ever shoot if I had to ask the soldier behind me for his permission, and they then had to ask permission from someone behind them to, and this went on forever? No. I would never shoot. This is the same for the cause of the universe, therefore it has to be uncaused.

    To simplify a response to this contention, you can argue that time only allows us to recognise that effects are a result of prior causes and not necessarily a result of time itself. “

    • June 4, 2011

      Herz

      Actually my question has nothing to due with the relationship between causality and time.You copy and pasted your entire answer from a blog that was irrelevant to my question.

      He says that there could exist moments before the big bang,if time began at big bang there are no moments before it. Am I missing something here?

    • June 4, 2011

      Herz

      Actually my question has nothing to due with the relationship between causality and time.You copy and pasted your entire answer from a blog that was irrelevant to my question.

      He says that there could exist moments before the big bang,if time began at big bang there are no moments before it. Am I missing something here?

      • July 1, 2011

        Yusuf Mullan

        Scientists use various trace-back methods to come to their estimate of the big bang having occurred 13.7 billion years ago.

        It’s not about “moments” being possible before our current big bang, as obviously that would not be possible given the actual occurrence of OUR big bang at the particular time that it occurred (known through the trace-back method). That would be a contradiction in terms as “moments” presuppose time and before our current big bang there was no time as you rightly point out.

        The question then is about whether it is or is it not conceivable (in the mind’s eye) for this first event to have occurred in a manner that were we to employ the trace-back method, it would lead to a number greater or larger than 13.7 billion years. The answer is clearly, yes. There is nothing rationally incoherent with having a different number. (If you can imagine it, it is rationally possible).

        If it was say 27.8 billion years, this would simply mean that we have an entirely different big bang and THAT would have been the start of time. There is nothing rationally incoherent about this.

        • July 5, 2011

          Herz

          Fair enough,so you use this argument once you establish that transcendence is required to indicate that the immaterial cause has attributes of will,etc.

          We know that motion requires a cause but can’t I say that the body caused itself to move? You mentioned something about the cause of your hand can’t be the same nature of movement,what do you mean?

  • July 5, 2011

    Herz

    Also you say there is nothing incoherent about having a different number,how is that when time is dependent upon motion? The amount of “motion” in this universe is fixed to the conditions of the big bang. Think about a wheel which you spin really hard,as time goes on it starts to slow down. If at some point during its turning you want to say,well can’t the beginning of its turning be pushed back? That would ultimately do nothing,because if its pushed back the time which it ends follow as well. So the amount of time the wheel is turning will always remain the same.

    • July 7, 2011

      Herz

      If you can ignore my first reply that would be good as I learned more about contingency reading al ghazalis books,etc. See what you guys are doing to me lol. My second response however still stands, I’m a bit confused on that point.

      Also is this argument from the ashaari scholars?

      • December 28, 2012

        Hossein

        Salam,

        Again a very late reply, but what we are trying to say in essence is:

        There are two possibilities: Either the (1) “movement with its contingent conditions which need a specifier” is brought about by another “movement with its contingent conditions which need a specifier”, or by (2) “a Being who is transcendent beyond all contingent conditions, and who is Self-Sufficient”. If we go through ‘option 1′, there is no end to this matter [an infinite regress emerges, since we are precluding 'option 2' every single time, and we always 'need' another 'contingent being' ad infinitum]. The example of the wheel and its motion and time is only to illustrate the contingent conditions which come up at every bifurcation.

        Bringing up the example of the Big Bang does not solve the contradiction, since we would say that: “Ok, the Big Bang is just another set of contingent set of conditions which needs a specifier”. They cannot just stop the regress at that point, since the specifier has not been found yet- they would have to show us the “pre-Big Bang set of contingent conditions” which gave rise to the “Big Bang”, and so on and on (which is something they obviously cannot do). This is why we are forced then to take the second option as the only correct possibility to solve this issue.

        With respect to the origin of this argument, there is a Hadith on this matter, that a man came to the Prophet (Salla Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and asked him: “O Messenger of Allah, camels might be such and such and when they mix with scabietic camels they are affected with scabies as well. He (peace be upon him) replied: “And which camel infected the first one. There is no infection and no evil omen.” There are also some Ayats from the Qur’an, such as Ayah 52:35 “Or were they created by nothing, or were they the creators [of themselves]?” which express this same idea.

        Of course, these are the simple answers and phrases, but the scholars of the Asha’ira and the Maturidiyya expanded on what this meant.

  • August 1, 2011

    Saif

    The argument for occasionalism does not seem to follow, because the possibility of God’s attributes being applied only to First cause does not necessitate a restriction from outside Himself to rest of the cause. The restriction could be because of God’s own beginningless freewill.

    • November 3, 2011

      Defending-Islam Team

      This is incorrect because the Being whose will does not apply to everything, but rather to only one thing, needs something other than itself to specify it. Saying that this restriction is due to God’s own free-will would be a violation of the second step where we agreed that everything with equal possibilities in its very nature needs something outside of itself to specify it.

      In here, our saying that “God’s” Power and Will are only applicable to the first cause and not to the rest means that there is equal possibility of them being applied or not applied with respect to any given cause. This is what establishes the “equal possibilities principle” through which we know that something external is needed other than the “God” we are talking about.

      (Interestingly, the Christians do something exactly like the violation of this rule when they say that “God the Son” created and managed the body he was occupying during his stay on Earth… so they say that the specifications of some bodies may be self-caused)

      • November 16, 2011

        Saif

        Its not a violation. The principle cannot be applied upon Allah’s Will as His Will is Eternal. His Will also is necessarily free otherwise there is another cause effecting His Will. Thereby occassionalism is not necessary only a possibility through this premise.

        • December 9, 2011

          Defending-Islam Team

          The Will of Allah pertains to possibilities, through which such possibilities are actualized. The Power of Allah is not a “possibility” but something absolutely necessary that does not change, so it is meaningless to say that the Power of Allah was restricted by His Will.

          Similarly for all the Attributes of Allah. It is meaningless to ask, for example, why the Power of Allah cannot restrict His Will, or why it cannot restrict His Knowledge, since these are not like the attributes of creation which are only possibilities that are susceptible to change.

          • December 9, 2011

            Defending-Islam Team

            ^
            Just to clarify one point about this. What some people may think is that since Allah’s Will is Eternal and Unlimited, this means that, in their minds, Allah can Will for His Power to be “disconnected” from some possibilities (such as bringing certain things of this Universe into existence).

            This is what we are objecting to, since Allah’s Power being connected to every possibility is absolutely true with no possibility of it being otherwise, for if it was otherwise then the being we call “Allah” would be just another creation.

  • September 2, 2011

    Tom

    Premise 2 is false. Virtual particles come into existence and cease to exist without cause. I do not see how your argument survives.

    • September 13, 2011

      Turhan (Ebu Aydin) bin Saip

      Tom, you’re equivocating two very different meanings for the term ’caused’ (or uncaused). Virtual particles are not ‘uncaused’ in the relevant sense – they come about as as result of the fluctuation of pre-existing energy in the quantum vacuum. So what we’re actually seeing is the conversion of energy to matter, back to energy again. The process is wholly the result of the interplay of various physical forces. And since there are a whole range of necessary conditions required for the occurrence of these quantum fluctuations, they are not uncaused in the sense of occurring for no reason. Thus they provide you with no exception to the PSR. Ditto other quantum mechanical events like radio-active decay. We mustn’t conflate ‘stochastic’ with ‘uncaused’. And anyway, it’s not even certain that these processes are ‘stochastic’ – depends what interpretation of quantum mechanics you prefer.

      (link under review)

      Cheers Tom!

  • September 20, 2011

    Defending-Islam Team

    Regarding the comment:

    Virtual particles come into existence and cease to exist without cause. I do not see how your argument survives.

    We say that we are not talking about the empirical cause for these particles to come into existence or cease to exist, but rather the real reason for their existence from a ‘philosophical’ or ‘mathematical’ view.

    That is why the only thing we need to acknowledge is that a change of state took place (Non-Existence -> Existence, or Existence-> Non-Existence).

    After that, the explanation given by the Muslim ‘Ulama (and provided above) that there can be no preference without a preferrer is taken. The rest of the argument, showing that this preferrer cannot be contingent like the body or the movement itself, follows.

  • September 29, 2011

    Sayyid

    I have to say after reading the argument on sunniforum this guy who wrote the article seems to be a bit too confident in what he is saying.

    The term “Existence and Non-existence are equal” has no meaning.

    Thats like me saying “The banana and the apple are equal”, equal in what ways?

    If you say that they are equal in the sense that neither one has disposition over the other then obviously.

    However who is to say that the entity staying non-existent has 50% chance,and it becoming existent has 50% chance?

    He is creating a false dilemma,as if non-existence is fighting existence for preponderance.

    • October 18, 2011

      Defending-Islam Team

      Another matter that I forgot to mention is:

      With respect to th comment

      He is creating a false dilemma, as if non-existence is fighting existence for preponderance.

      Our response is:

      There is no fighting to begin with, since it is our position that both are equal in chance as far as the contingent change or body is concerned. (This point is the one we have to keep in mind, of what is the relationship of existence and non-existence vis-a-vis the body itself).

      If we take the view which it seems you were implying at one point (that one of them is indeed preponderant over the other) then we can imagine fighting between the two since it would be possible for one of the two scenarios (non-existence or existence) to have independent preference over the other one at some given time, and for their roles to be possibly reversed at some point in the future.

      But when we take both to be equal in possibility there can be no conflict

  • October 18, 2011

    Defending-Islam Team

    The objector said:

    The term “Existence and Non-existence are equal” has no meaning.

    Thats like me saying “The banana and the apple are equal”, equal in what ways?

    If you say that they are equal in the sense that neither one has disposition over the other then obviously.

    However who is to say that the entity staying non-existent has 50% chance,and it becoming existent has 50% chance?

    Our response is:

    Your saying that ‘neither one has disposition over the other then obviously’ is the exact same thing as saying that existence and non-existence have, as far as the contingent body is concerned, a 50-50 chance of occurring, since it is only like this that neither of the two possibilities has a disposition or a preference over the other possibility.

    This is why we say that they are equal as far as the body itself is concerned, and a change cannot occur except if there is something outside of the body bringing about this change.

    With respect to the banana and apple, no they are not equal as far as this argument (or a very similar argument related to this one) is concerned, since they are different bodies that did not require their specifications to be exactly what they are. For purposes of simplicity, though, and in order to avoid certain problems we are concentrating on movement.

  • October 29, 2011

    riyadh

    • November 5, 2011

      Defending-Islam Team

      Wa Salam,

      Yes, basically it is the same. But the one on sunnianswers is more general, starting out by saying that “We are here now”, and then moving on to show that the reason for our existence could not be something like ourselves. But the one by Mufti Yusuf is more detailed and tries to concentrate on one small ordinary change and works its way up with this change rather than the phrase “We are here now”. Basically all the arguments from the orthodox Muslim scholars are the same in this respect, it is just that sometimes incidents may be used to prove this argument, and sometimes bodies are used to prove the same.

  • November 6, 2011

    Sayyid

    I made a typo and I couldn’t edit it.

    I meant to say was, what if it was said that the occurrence was based on probability I.E. 50/50 chance.

    If you say that it is probability then you are saying one side has a 50 percent chance of coming about without a cause so be careful.

    However if you have a scale both with equal weight,then probability has nothing to do with one side becoming more weightier.

    It cannot be said that one side has a 50 percent chance in this scenario. I posted this question to see the objections to this thought.

    • November 8, 2011

      Defending-Islam Team

      It simply means that the probabilities for either one of the two choices to occur are the same in the mind’s eye. We cannot imagine why one choice (either existence or non-existence) should have priority over the other choice as far as the intrinsic qualities of the subject under discussion are concerned.

      If someone wants to say that one of the two choices has a priority in and of itself, then tehy can tell us why they think so.

    • January 12, 2012

      Yusuf Mullan

      I re-read the proof again after over a year. Seems clear to me. This equality vs. non-equality point was explained in several different ways in the article itself. So, the question was in what sense are the 2 equal? Here’s the very simple reply:

      The 2 are equal in NOT BEING REQUIRED by the very nature of the being.

      There’s nothing in the nature of the being that requires either. Left to itself, the thing would remain a possibility without occurrence and this state would need to maintain forever until something comes along to prefer one over the other (since it’s very being is not doing it, otherwise it would have been existent since eternity past).

      The idea is complex and the reason for the complexity is the axiom was self-evidently true to begin with (this was stated in the article). This is what happens when obvious things are proven deductively.

  • November 8, 2011

    Defending-Islam Team

    Thinking about it again, if we want to use the comment:

    If you say that it is probability then you are saying one side has a 50 percent chance of coming about without a cause so be careful.

    Then we would say:

    We are dealing with only two “sides” in this scenario.

    If we suppose that things happen without a cause, we are saying (as you say) that the “first side” has a 50 per cent chance of happening. Here we agree. What some people forget is that the “second side” also has a 50 per cent chance of happening as well, if we assume no cause. So in such a causeless scenario, there is a 50/50 chance of the “first side” occurring or not occurring, as well as a 50/50 chance of the “second side” occurring or not occurring.

    This is why it was important in the first step to obtain the concession from the opponent saying that a change had taken place, because it would tell us for certain that there are two sides and that both of them are possible to occur, and that at a certain point in time, one of them has occurred while the other one has not occurred. When we see this, we can see that there is a contradiction between that which we observe and what the situation would have been had the causeless scenario been true.

  • December 16, 2011

    hope1

    Assalamua aliakum Mufti Yusuf,

    Can you please let me know if this is relevant to this discussion in any way and if my connection of the following concepts to this article is valid:

    I read this in Wikipedia:

    In particle physics, fundamental interactions (sometimes called interactive forces) are the ways that elementary particles interact with one another. An interaction is fundamental when it cannot be described in terms of other interactions. The four known fundamental interactions, all of which are non-contact forces, are electromagnetism, strong interaction, weak interaction (also known as “strong” and “weak nuclear force” respectively) and gravitation.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_interaction
    Basically, the way I understand it, the physicists are admitting that these fundamental forces are not contingent (or explainable) effects with an identifiable cause. Even if they somehow explain something, I am sure it will be through something else which is also unexplainable. Isn’t it possible that these unexplainable forces is just how Allah is choosing to exercise His will? Moreover this is what they say about contact forces:

    A non-contact force is a force applied to an object by another body that is not in direct contact with it. The most familiar example of a non-contact force is gravity. In contrast a contact force is a force applied to a body by another body that is in contact with it. However it is to be noted that the origin of all contact forces (such as, for example, friction) can be traced to non-contact forces.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-contact_force
    So here they are admitting that every contingent cause is a direct result of these non-contingent, non-contact, fundamental forces. Am I imagining something here, or is there actually something here?

  • February 7, 2012

    Mohamed

    If we reject the idea that everything begins to exist has a cause, then we are asserting that:

    Everything that begins to exist has no cause

    Then we will be saying that everything begins to exist out of pure randomness. If we say that things happen out of pure randomness, we are saying that all the infinitely many possibilities that exist in the universe, are all equally possible (that is, after all, what randomness is). It is sort of like a fair die (singular of dice) with infinite sides. With an infinitely-sided die, no matter how many times you roll it, you will NEVER observe a pattern. Even if you have a million infinitely sided dice, and you roll each a million times, you will still NEVER have a pattern, no matter how macroscopic you go. And if a pattern is observed, it MUST be concluded that the die is not fair. This is just based on the rules of prior probabilities (a priori). However, the world we live in has patterns, from our breathing to the rotation of the planets. Therefore, the universe is not random, and the premise that holds that everything that begins to exist must have a cause holds true.

  • May 23, 2012

    Raf IQ

    Two points:
    1. The Infinite Regress notion is not as absurd as it seems. It depends on which state you are working back from.

    If each solder is waiting for the soldier before him and so on…in which case you are seeking a starting point in an infinite regression. That is absurd. In this case, since this is an infinite regression, there can be no starting point and so nothing will happen or begin to exist.

    However, something DOES exist. Which means that the last soldier did fire his gun (“the hand was raised”) because the previous solder fired his gun and so on…in this case there is an infinite regression of soldiers each of whom fired his gun. It never stops. That is what an Inifinite Regression means.

    In summary:
    Something exists now. It has a cause which had a cause which had a cause…an infinitum. So no Prime Mover.

    2. In the paragraph beginning with “The very first event in the series of contingent causes occurred, configured with a specific configuration…”, you conveniently but illogically introduce a Being as the cause when in fact you don’t know for a fact that it was a Being. It was a cause. That’s all you can deduce. The rest, including attributing properties of Will, Power and Knowledge, are your baseless assumptions. A non-alive, non-intelligent cause setting of the Big Bang is possible because there no “possible” moments before the Big Bang, no existence of time along a liner or any other axis.

  • July 2, 2012

    Defending-Islam Team

    I am not really following this discussion too much nowadays, but let me say this and then others (particularly the respected Mufti) can correct me if I am wrong:

    1. With respect to point (1) of member RafIQ, what is being forwarded in his argument is a type of circularity with a limited number of subjects/members (since it is akin to a chain with a finite number of links), not an infinite regress.

    Islamic theology rejects both of them anyway, since they have
    no solution, and Insha Allah someone can talk about the logical absurdity of circularity if possible.

    But coming back to this issue, the Mufti’s argument was with respect to regress (going back 1 by 1 by 1- the definition of a regress means that there is a ‘regression’- a linear going back. If it is a finite regress we reach the solution at point ‘X’, etc. If it is infinite, then there is no starting point
    and no solution, as observed by member RafIQ.

    2. With respect to point (2), member RafIQ has become confused as many others do, thinking that what is set out to do is to prove that there is a Prime Mover for the Big Bang and then everything else comes along with mechanical causes and effects. In fact what we are saying is that the Big Bang event and all other events, are in fact independent of each other, and each one of them is brought about directly by Allah the Exalted. I know the statement ‘The very first event in the series of contingent causes’ might cause confusion to some, but we are mentioning it only as it is the ‘first’ event, not that other events have any absolute direct causal connection with it.

    Now with respect to the objection of attributing Life, Power, and Will to the Being that brought about the ‘Big Bang’ event and all other events, the reason for this is that the Being that brought about this event cannot be like the event itself, as we showed in point number (5). What happens is that any contingent event has no absolute ‘life’, nor ‘power’, ‘will’, etc. We say that people have life, power, and will but this is only a linguistic connotation to say that we have these as contingent attributes that are renewed at every moment by Allah the Exalted. But Allah Himself has necessary Life, Power, Will, etc., since there is no other being upon which these qualities of His depend.

  • July 9, 2012

    Dhul-Qarnayn

    The recent announcement on the Higgs boson draws our attention back to the Higgs mechanism which, if it holds up, clearly indicates that materiality (mass) is accidental, a result of the interaction of forces which are mediated by virtual particles (force carrier particles, specific types of bosons). Virtual particles are constantly created and annihilated. All the matter with mass in the universe is undergoing constant creation and annihilation according to the most current understanding of physics and this turns traditional causality on its head since you cannot trace a causal connection to anywhere but the empty vacuum (not the vacuum with its content of virtual particles, but devoid of all fields, something not occurring in nature). All of this points outside of nature for the cause of every event occurring in nature.

    • September 28, 2012

      meelash

      This argument is not valid. Just because you don’t know something is not proof that it does not exist. It is better to use solid deductive arguments, then, for the sake of convenience base something on inductive reasoning. The reason is that when a further discovery overturns the basis of your inductive reasoning, the general people will not recognize the difference between your convenient but false argument and the valid arguments, and will throw out the whole concept based on the false argument having been shown false.

      What I’m saying is, in 300 years, when it is discovered that there is, actually, a pattern and causal connection (and this is a *possibility*), the Muslim writings using that as proof of God will look very silly. Therefore it is better to stick with deductive proofs where there is no chance of observation changing the conclusion and they will definitely stand the test of time. Even if it is more difficult to explain and not as convenient.

  • August 23, 2012

    Adil

    May God Bless you :)

  • March 27, 2013

    submitter

    one way of thinking of existence of Creator is us humans on only 1 sole planet. The law is totally different for other planets. The planet earth posses humans and animals and trees.

    and Allah mention clearly;

    We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?” Quran 21:30

    the Creator invite us to think about Him for those that disbelief on presence of God