Many people see Islam as just another man-made religion and just another generic arbitrary religions in a history of men making generic arbitrary religions that all seem to say they have “the truth” and to follow their “God/gods”. Dr. Lawrence Krauss puts it best when he says that there are about a 1000 religions, all making mutually exclusive claims, so at best one is correct, so Islam has a 0.1% chance of being correct, if any are correct at all. What do we do in the face of all these “competing” religions? If we were to sincerely examine them all how do we know which would be correct? Is there even a “correct” religion?
Well the approach you take really does depend on your personal paradigm, on your personal viewpoint of which reality makes the most sense overall of which there are 3 possibilities:
- There is no divine being or supernatural elements outside of the physical, and what we see is what exists.
- There is a god, and everything we experience has been created by him.
- There are multiple gods and the universe is a result of this multiple gods system.
In a way these 3 possibilities can really be reduced to two alternative views: a) the universe is an independent existent which doesn’t owe its existence to a previous cause b)the universe is a dependent existent which owes its existence to a previous cause.
The universe as we know it in actual fact had a beginning. This is essentially a fact from astronomy deduced by extrapolating the starting point of all the galaxies in the universe. Basically what astronomers have found is that galaxies are moving away from each other. If we go back in time, then the galaxies would be closer together. Go back far enough then they reason it all must have started from a single point. There is further evidence for this picture such as the cosmic microwave background radiation. This is radiation at the microwave frequency which is basically everywhere in the universe. As the universe expanded the original radiation (from the origination of the universe) which would have been gamma radiation has since been stretched into microwaves.
If something began, then it follows that it was caused. To say something that began doesn’t have a cause is not a reflection of reality, because we observe that every effect has a cause or causes. In my view this is why I think atheism to be an untenable position because there’s no logical materialistic explanation for the origin of the universe because we know atoms can’t just spring into existence by themselves. (Oh but in a vacuum matter and anti-matter spring into existence all the time! ,_, You do realise that all that is the conversion between matter and energy according to Einstein’s formula E=mc2) A vacuum is free of matter, but energy can still exist, and energy can turn into matter, just as matter can turn into energy such as when a nucleus goes boom (and for your information a particle of matter and anti-matter always spring into existence in a pair and then cancel each other out). Some physicists think that one of these events ballooned up into a universe. There are two objections to that: 1) why hasn’t that happened “again” within our universe in 14 billion years? 2)Where did the energy that converted into matter actually come from in the first place?
So, to clarify the point and bring our discussion back into focus, a theistic view of reality makes more sense than an atheistic one, because the universe (being finite and having a beginning) really requires and uncaused Causer (uncaused because this eliminates the absurdity of a causer being caused by a previous causer in an infinite regression).
This is really the best position to explore the world’s religions in my view.
So, let’s say we are someone who certainly believes in a supernatural being who started the universe but we don’t really know what this being is and what his/her relationship to the universe and us as human beings is. We would hope that such a being has or does communicate with mankind. At least this is what the various religions claim isn’t it? Really for us to be convinced that anything came from this supernatural being is evidence of supernatural events. Now what is a supernatural event or a miracle?
Apparently David Hume defined a miracle as something that breaks the natural laws or happens in spite of the natural laws. I prefer the Islamic scholarly definition of a miracle (according to Hamza Tzortzs) which is that it cannot be produced using naturalistic means or explained using naturalistic methods, i.e. it originated and caused supernaturally which is more intuitive.
Evidence of miracles that points towards the supernatural is just one component of what we need as sincere seekers of truth. Because these religions start with a man who comes with a set of teachings, and the miracles that we are looking for seem to manifest around these individuals, then it becomes important for us to be able assess these individuals in a rational and objective way. Basically we are interested to know who is telling humanity the truth? Who amongst them can we trust and believe in, and then follow in this short life that we have?
Well we have to check the motives of the person and gauge if he is telling the truth. We can’t base this on how “believable” the man is, since we are dealing with unbelievable things to begin with. Rather we should examine the motives and the resulting conduct of the man, and the people who follow him. If a man was motivated by money then as soon as there is no money he would not continue to exert the effort. If there was a worldly motive, then many or most of the man’s actions could be explained away in this way. In any case this is the critical mindset we should examine anyone with especially people connected to matters of import.
In this way I would like to discuss the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (blessings and peace upon him). I’ll also tie in other religions and historically significant men such as Jesus (on him be peace) and Moses (on him be peace) since in reality all the major significant religions have a real connection and they aren’t just arbitrary copies and competitors.
In the next article I want to discuss what we know about the character of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
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