Monthly Archives: June 2013

Is the Concept of “God” a Placebo?

Mehran Banaei

Often, when the notion of the Creator is brought into scientific discussions, particularly in the context of teleology, many scientists and some philosophers become immediately apprehensive because of the past and present records of many dogmatic religious institutions. A plausible explanation that God must have designed an incredible biological phenomenon is tossed out or not even considered. The trend is, there is no room for “God” in the 21st century science. Atheism is the only possible acceptable paradigm in the post-Darwin scientific community.

In this disposition, what are often overlooked, is first the problematic defence of atheism with all its serious scientific flaws and fallacies, as well as the problematic refutation of theism. The fallacious approach to this issue arises from two faulty ill-perceived notions of: “God” and the nature of “Belief”. These have both led to primitively worthless judgements. Let us analyze both notions.

“God”

The profound common mistake in any atheistic, theological, philosophical and scientific discussions involving the notion of “God” is to ignore that there are various concepts of “God”,[1]  just as there are various concepts of ethics and rights. What kind of god is believed or disbelieved? There is the henotheistic concept, the polytheistic concept, the dualistic concept, the monotheistic concept, the Trinitarian concept, the panpsychism concept, the pantheistic concept, the kathenotheistic concept, the anthropomorphic human-like concept, the demi-god concept, the God-incarnate concept, the fatherly-figure concept, the goddess concept, the family god concept, warring god concept, the totemic god concept, the god of the new age movement and so on interminably. It is often pointed out by atheists that the lack of belief in each above-mentioned notion of gods would qualify the unbeliever as an atheist. Therefore, the theists themselves are at odds with each other, having historically fought many wars against one another and committed so many atrocities in the name of their gods.

Furthermore, atheists always assume that any theism must be of a version of an anthropomorphic Judeo-Christian cosmology. Or a pantheistic Hindu like explanation of how the cosmos was created. They fail to recognize that proving the irrationality of a particular concept about “God” and how this “God” created the universe is not at all the same thing as refuting the existence of a rational concept of “God”. For instance, such as a Singular Intelligence as the First Cause, the Uncaused Cause, the Immovable Mover, the Necessary Being, the Designer, the Creator of matter and energy, the Originator of time and space dimensions, the Sustainer and Cherisher of the universe who is not subject to gender, plurality, culture, personification, and time and space continuum. There are many atheists who would still refute this rational definition of “God”. Their primary attack is not to debunk this rational concept of God, but is totally based on exposing the hypocrisies and dogma of many religious institutions that claim to adhere to this notion of God, and exposing their dismal track records. To refute God as the First Cause, they argue that organized religion is no different than organized crime and religious leaders are conniving, no different than Mafia bosses. Religions of all sorts in general have no credibility and must be dismissed. Thus, throwing out the baby with the bath water, rejecting the most essential along with the inessential. They conclude because of, for instance, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, “the suicide bombing community”, or Jewish settlers who kill the rightful owners of a land to steal their land, now this universe does not have a Creator. After all, each radical group claims that God is with them and crimes committed, are committed in the divine name of their almighty God.

The irony of their argument is that they always claim to be using the rational methodology of scientific inquiry to reach their conclusion while they are not. Whilst there are many religions that continue to cash in the gullibility of the masses, this act of thievery does not have anything to do with the teachings of their founders. This approach is a general rule for atheists to discourage people to believe in God.

Radicalism is not the exclusive property of religious ideologies; radicals and extremists are to be found everywhere. There are radical feminists, radical environmentalists, radical libertarians, radical social democrats and radical secularist humanists. There have been so many horrible crimes committed in the name of democracy by the democracy and human rights loving world leaders. How is the crime committed in the name of God any worse than the crime committed in the name of liberation and freedom? How could hypocrisy and religious warfare cast doubts on existence of the Big Bang Originator?

“Belief”

Another barrier involved in belief in God as the Originator is the erroneous nature of “belief” itself. There is an old atheistic adage, purporting that God did not create man, but rather man created God. This idea has been around for more than a couple of centuries and was supported by many famous materialist philosophers, sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists. Among them were Hume, Freud, Marx, Feuerbach, Nietzsche and the current modern day atheists like Christopher Hitchens, Peter Atkins and Sam Harris. Subsequently, many have been influenced into thinking that this idea is true, because it was pointed out by the above-mentioned array of clangourous philosophisers and academics. This assertion holds that the concept of God, as a powerful Deity, being responsible for the creation of this vast universe, is merely wishful thinking. It is utterly a product of the human imagination. Man, a helpless mortal creature who is terrified by the incomprehensible forces of nature and hardships of life seeks emotional comfort, consolation and protection. Therefore, he invents God. God is man’s oldest and the most urgent need for a strong supernatural and compassionate being, residing in the wonderful imaginary world called heaven, who responds to the outcries of his helpless troubled creatures in misery and misfortune. Thus, this imaginary concept of God is merely the hope of the hopeless, a help for the helpless. In a nutshell, God is invented to be used as a means to a psychological end. Thereby, the rational conclusion in the Uncaused Cause of the universe is painted as cultish diatribe of the hopeless.

However, there are several serious flaws in this myopic outlook that are puzzling, not the least of which is how it could have been in vogue for all these years and still be used. The fallacy arises from the erroneous notion of “belief”, which in turn has led to primitively counterproductive conclusions. The atheists subtly project their own dis“belief” in God a product of logic, but “belief” in God a product of psychology as if it cannot be the other way around.

All of the above theoreticians basically argue that the concept of God as such is a human fabrication, a form of placebo. A placebo is an unmedicated preparation, an inactive substance that has absolutely no physiological effect, but may effect the relief of pain in someone who is set-up to believe that he is actually being easily treated. Its psychological effect, however, solely depends on the person’s expectations. The expectation is the causal factor and plays a decisive role in the treatment.

For placebo to be effective, the patient is made to think that he is taking the wonder drug. However, a man who is sexually dysfunctional cannot benefit if he already knows that the supposed medication given to him is not Viagra, but only TicTac. Consequently, this would obviously entail that no patient can prescribe himself a placebo. If there is no proper set-up involved, no amount of will to believe can improve his condition.

placeboSimilarly, a prospective and thoughtful individual, as well as a gullible fool, even in the most frightening and unfortunate circumstance, cannot take up a fraudulent belief and false hopes, based on a self-invented notion of God and paradise, when he knows better that the whole idea is illusory and mendaciously unfounded, simply due to its inherent dysfunctional nature. Illusions, myths, false hopes and manufactured reality will remain psychologically deceptive, so long as one mistakes them for reality. Once the truth is revealed, though, the placebo effect is no longer operative, by then taking sugar pill defeats the purpose.

Consequently, a man in a total state of darkness, who denies reality is either a fool, crazy, confused or is knowingly following his selfish desires and vested interests. One cannot manufacture reality and then confidently believe it, just as one cannot knowingly give oneself a placebo pill and expect it to work. One could only accept it, but cannot truly believe it, because it is utterly impossible to believe a manufactured reality once it is realized that it is manufactured. No one has ever believed in his own self-manufactured lies, and then acted accordingly. Therefore, belief per se, can never produce conviction. No amount of staunch belief can produce facts. Belief and conviction are two distinct yet interconnected components. The former is a concomitant result of the latter. That is because, real belief — the result of conviction — can only arise out of understanding; understanding requires justification, justification requires proof, and proof demands evidence; evidence means digging something from reality. Belief without evidence is nothing but self-hypnosis. It is submission to blindness. The security of conviction is that which arises from certainty and verification, which in turn can only be realized, if and only if, one has used reason and examined the evidence yielding conclusions free from all types of inconsistencies. Only then, one can acquire tranquillity and peace of mind. Peace of mind is a product of this process. It comes only after there are no internal and external contradictions. It comes only when paradoxes and ambiguities are eliminated.

placebo-effect-one-a-day-1024x1019It may be argued that a few charlatans who wanted to control the naive uneducated masses for their own vested interests invented and propagated the concept of God. Thus, they prescribed the laymen with placebo of God. That may be very well true. Nevertheless, once the patient finds out that his given medication was only a sugar pill and the man who prescribed it was no doctor, but a crook, then the placebo effect would disappear. Furthermore, atheists seem to assume that only theism produces charlatans—as if atheism does not. Likewise, atheists should be reminded that atheism also provides a manmade consolation, a false comfort zone for the atheists that one can freely do as one likes, and at end not be accountable for ones own values, behaviour and choices made in life.

placebo-effect-clinical-study

However, when we deal with the concept of God as unique, outside space-time, indeed the very Originator of space-time, such a placebo argument for every ideology collapses, because according to this non-anthropomorphic concept of God, this God may or may not answer man’s prayer, all depending on His infinite wisdom as to what is best for the individual. To be discouraged and loss faith, it is enough to ask this God once or twice for some favours and protection which the turnouts are not propitious. For this primitive man, the gap between hope and optimism verses fear and despair is only a tin line.

The Big Bang Originator concept of God is not like an action hero i.e. “Superman” or the Genie in the bottle, who answers to every demand that man makes. Therefore, the confirmatory belief in a cosmic Originator who is not subject to push-button demands, cannot be a placeboic belief, “an opiate for the masses”, just as a prescribed placebo of the type in which an acknowledgement is made at the outset to the patient, that it may or may not cure him, has no effect and is no longer a placebo.

Anthropologists assert that in almost all notions of God, which exist in different cultures, God does never unconditionally sign blank cheques to his creatures. That is to say, God is all-powerful and compassionate, yet he also has “temper” when his “expectations” are not met. Just as there is a notion of divine intervention and heaven, there is also the notion of divine chastisement and hell, commonly described as eternal punishment in fire. Let’s assume that paradise could be a manmade wishful thinking, what about hell? Where did hellfire come from? Is the fire from an erupted volcano that the primitive man was running away from more fearful than the eternal hellfire? Therefore, how comforting is it to have the feeling of protection coming from this entity, yet not considering his wrath and anger which is far worse than erupting volcano. The end of time is viewed in many religions to be apocalyptic. Christopher Hitchens accuses God to be a celestial dictator, because of apocalyptic end, torture chambers in the abyss of the hellfire and the fact that God is said to be persecuting man for thought crime. But this God, if created out of human imagination cannot be both placeboic and dictatorial. He cannot be both, as the two concepts are mutually exclusive, yet He is often described by atheists as being both. If one is taken the placebo pill with the knowledge that far from being cured, the pill could actually make one more sick or kill him/her, one would never obtain any psychological benefits from this false medication. What kind of helpless man would manufacture such a notion of God, which is so counterproductive? In the Freudian language man may urge for an Oedipus complex, but the desire results in him having unwanted castration anxiety.

Furthermore, if we are dealing with a concept of a benevolent God, within a common ideology, where He may even respond favourably to the prayer of the disloyals and the unbelievers, then benefits are not exclusive to the members of the believing club. So, why should I then believe and follow a “rigid decree”, when I too, equally have a chance of getting what I want if I am still disloyal?

For those who imbibe in the opiate of atheism, until the proper concept of belief is seen as being based purely on rationality and evidences, it will not be understood that the non-anthropomorphic Big Bang Creator cannot logically be a placebo.

[1] Jordan, Michael (1992), The Encyclopedia of Gods, Jordan provides approximately 2500 different names and concepts of ‘divine deity’ collected from different cultures and era.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Philosophy of Science and Religion

A Desert Dweller with Pre-emptive Knowledge of Haloclines

Mehran Banaei

The modern science of oceanography has revealed that in places where two different seas meet, there is an implicit natural impassible barrier between them described as a halocline. Halocline is a wall made of water between two different bodies of water. This indissoluble aquatic partition divides the two seas where each sea has its own temperature, salinity, oxygen concentration, composition and density. Just like oil and vinegar the two bodies of water are totally immiscible. A case in point is at the Strait of Gibraltar where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean intersect. The two seas in essence are distinct from each other. In the Mediterranean Sea, water is moderately warm, saline and less dense compared to the water in the Atlantic Ocean. When the Mediterranean Sea water enters the Atlantic Ocean over the Gibraltar sill, it moves several hundred kilometers into the Atlantic at a depth of about 1000 meters with its own warmth, saline and less dense characteristics, thereby forming a horizontal halocline. Despite large waves, tides and strong underwater currents, the flow of the incoming stream from the Mediterranean Sea keeps on traveling most of its way across the Atlantic Ocean intact and undiluted. Haloclines also occur at estuaries or underground river systems. Yucatan Peninsula in the southern part of Mexico has many popular halocline diving sites where underwater explorers and cave divers pass through one body of water into another.

Pictures below show of another extraordinary example, a rare vertical barrier in the Alaskan coastal area as well as in Skagen, Denmark resembling the Great Wall of China. Skagen is the northernmost point of Denmark, where the Baltic Sea and North Sea meet. The two opposing tides in this place cannot merge that is because they have different densities and chemistry. As it is said, a picture speaks a thousand words: the following tapestry of images convey those words of this fabulous oceanographic phenomenon:

4

1

212108847_504314713071481_3673826199864629302_n

3

The pictures below show the area where the Rio Negro and the White River (Amazon River) face off in Brazil. Amazon River is silty, while Rio Negro looks like strong dark tea due to high concentration of organic constituents of soil, minerals and vegetation.

image009

5

Amazon Rio Negro

6

7

image007

mage008

Confluence of the Thompson and Fraser Rivers in Lytton, British Columbia, Canada.

Halo10

Confluence of the Mosel and Rhine rivers in Koblenz, Germany.

Halo13

Confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers in Devpryag, India.

Halo11

Confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers in the Canyonlands National Park, UT, USA.

Halo14

Aerial view of the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in Cairo, IL, USA.

Halo15

arc_ce2_-_03_m

13096325_609727405845544_3205219296263383040_n

13096248_609727352512216_3567708011985519262_n

13076675_10154186396270452_4235205085347265328_n

13055388_10154186395955452_5946938157417727278_n

Consider the following verses in the Quran which were revealed to Prophet Mohammed:

“He has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting together. Between them is a barrier which they do not transgress. So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?” Quran (55: 19-21)

“And He it is Who has made two seas to flow freely, the one sweet that subdues thirst by its sweetness, and the other salt that burns by its saltiness; and between the two He has made a barrier and inviolable obstruction.” Quran (25:53)

“And not alike are the two bodies of water. One is fresh and sweet, palatable for drinking, and one is salty and bitter. And from each you eat tender meat and extract ornaments which you wear, and you see the ships plowing through [them] that you might seek of His bounty; and perhaps you will be grateful.” Quran (35:12)

“Or, Who has made the earth firm to live in; made rivers in its midst; set thereon mountains immovable; and made a separating bar between the two bodies of flowing water? (can there be another) god besides Allah? Nay, most of them know not.” Quran (27:61)

It seems like after all not all religions are incompatible with science as the British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins claims.

Indeed a thinking mind should be perplexed when a high-profile 21st century scientist like Richard Dawkins seems to be totally ignorant about this fact, but how an illiterate bedouin desert dweller in the early 7th century (C.E.), born and raised in the desert, in one of the most primitive and backward societies on earth, who never experienced sea travel nor did any scuba diving, knew about this modern fact of oceanography and oceanographic water chemistry. As proof for its divine origin, the Quran is indeed full of information on a variety of different topics, which were not known to mankind at beginning of the 7th century. What would be the possible explanation for Prophet Mohammad’s source of information and the origin of the Quran?

A: Heard it from someone who knew about this phenomenon and felt like including it in the Quran.
B: Good wild guess and he decided put it in the Quran.
C: Received authentic revelation from the Creator of all that exist.
D: None of the above, the verses in the Quran are inaccurate. As Dawkins states, salt water and fresh water can be mixed.

References:

http://www.helcom.fi/environment2/nature/en_GB/nature/
http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewImage.do?aid=9206&id=18008
http://www.divediscover.whoi.edu/dhabs/halocline.html
http://www.itameriportaali.fi/en/arkisto/sanasto/en_GB/saltwaterinflow/

Leave a comment

Filed under Philosophy of Science and Religion, Travel

Conflict Resolution Strategies: Lessons from Nature

Mehran Banaei

Abstract: In a series of articles,  the author tries to impress the reader with nature’s superiority, beyond biomimicry and her advanced technological supremacy. He argues that we can equally learn a lot from nature in the area of sociopolitical dynamics. He attempts to stimulate the reader to ponder whether the amazing nature is a product of aimless chance or superb intelligence.

Throughout human history, individuals and nations have continuously waged senseless wars against the perceived enemy. Some such conflagrations have been for sheer power and domination, some for access to natural resources, some for “glory”, some for “honour”, and some supposedly for love. For humankind, cross-culturally it seems that, when interests are at odds, there is no better solution, but to drop the gloves and appeal to violence. Murder and war have always been the most common solution for conflict resolution among the human species. A typical correctional facility in any country is tightly packed with individuals who find murder as the only viable solution for conflict resolution and have no qualms in using this gruesome approach. The same jingoistic approach is the strategy of choice for “civilized” governments that easily go to war as soon as a conflict surfaces. From ancient times to the modern era, the mere basic elementary weapons have evolved into horrific super-sophisticated weapons of mass destruction. This prehistoric annihilistic form of conflict resolution has been intact and seems forever unchangeable.

Consider the following mindless case: legend has it that in ancient Greece, the Prince of Troy falls in love with the Queen of Sparta. The Prince steals the Queen from her husband, King Menelaus. The devastating consequence of that was, the two nations descended into a ferocious war that lasted for 10 years and resulted in the death of thousands of innocent people and the destruction of natural and manmade environments. In the end, the city of Troy was burnt to ashes, all for the sake of one man’s odious obsession with desiring a piece of flesh, fixated upon the lust of another man’s rightful wife.

From the ancient era, the use of violence, the rise of aggression and the use of conquest as a remedy have continued up to the 21st century. In the 20th century alone, we experienced two devastating World Wars, the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the Arab and Israeli war, the India and Pakistan war, the Falklands/Malvinas war, the Iran and Iraq war, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the 1st Persian Gulf war, the Balkan war and several other regional conflicts in the Far East Asia, Africa and South America, each with enormous casualties. It is estimated that about 170 million people died and an incalculable trillions of dollars spent on wars during the 20th century. A shameful report card of recklessness and absolute lack of concern for human life and properties, yet humanity is still unwilling to learn and accept the crucial lesson to find an alternative non-violent approach to settle its differences. We know one thing for sure: that the high economic, environmental, psychological and human costs of this faulty and quixotic conflict resolution strategy reverberates for many years to come, yet we are still adamantly addicted to use murder and war as a practical strategy. It is hard to fathom that the remarkable complexity and evolution of the human brain which self-servingly distinguishes and prides itself from the rest of creation by the gift of reason should often forsakes reason and allow to be governed by emotion, greed and the paltrification of short-lived desires. Desires that blind him to realize that there is nothing poetic and glorious about killing and destruction.

Compare this human approach of conflict resolution with that of other social species, like birds. Birds use only diplomacy to resolve their differences, yet they are superfluously considered by humans as one of the dumbest creatures on earth. Thereby, derogatory terms such as “birdbrain” and “featherhead” are coined to refer to unintelligent individuals. Far from being unintelligent, birds employ the most effective form of conflict resolution in the animal kingdom that deserves to bring shame to homosapiens — a swift blood-free approach. When it comes to communication, birds are classy and eloquent, for they communicate with each other and to other species in magnificent style. Among most birds, singing a musical song is the weapon of choice to resolve, for instance, a territorial dispute or mating rights. A bird by singing, first and foremost establishes his presence in the area, which alone can favorably influence the outcome of a potential situation. He likes his neighbours to know that he is rightfully in charge of his domain and that ought to be respected. Some birds have large repertoires, where each song is performed for a different purpose or performing a particular song that members of a particular species would only recognize. In their songs, birds pass on encrypted messages to their opponents, i.e. “take a good look at my physical fitness, strength and beauty”, “go away”, “keep out”, “no trespassing”, “do not get any closer”, “back off” or “come in”, “stay with me”. A dragged standoff only results in a prolonged musical complexity between the two challengers. Some birds can play as many as 50 different notes: in both high and low pitches. They can sing solo, duets or harmoniously with other birds in what could resemble an orchestra. The music masterfully played has structure and identifiable rhythm, indeed they never sing out of tune.

In a highly competitive courtship pursuit, their musical performance is often accompanied by an extravagant visual display similar to a stunning fashion show and/or to a bodybuilding competition, as birds show off their beautiful vibrant feathers to exhibit their wide array of accomplishments. If that is not effective enough, most birds’ techniques of persuasion also include extraordinary dancing rituals.

Whether birds are conscious of it or not, there is an in-depth therapeutic connection between music and peace, between beauty and peace, between art and peace. All three elements are conspicuously used in birds’ diplomacy. Their life comprises of constant beautiful musical and artistic presentations, followed by a mating act in the background of a lavish green forest with a blue sky above and the constant breeze of clean refreshing air, living in a niche with plenty of renewable resources available, with the ultimate reward of raising a family. Thus, the objective of their existence, the continuation of life seems to be satisfyingly achievable, then why be greedy and create conflicts.

It certainly seems to the eye, that bird singing is motivated and generated by some form of inner pleasure, as there is no sign of anger — while singing to resolve a dispute with a rival. This innate attitude is indeed what should make birds the envy of all, over and above their sheer physical and vocal beauties. The stark fact is that throughout a dispute they maintain their cool temperament, and consciously respect and submit to the laws of nature. It is perhaps for these characteristics that birds symbolize freedom, love and peace, a joyful species that is never discontent, seems always too busy to celebrate life, while humans oftentimes are languishing in the doldrums of an empty purposeless existence rolling in their own self-created mess.

South American macaw parrotThe exotic South American macaw parrot, a social bird that hardly stays quiet

BirdSinging bird of Prairie

Likewise some primates such as the Siamang gibbon extant in the rainforests of Malaysia and Sumatra appeal to the same strategy — singing as opposed to a bloody duel. The Siamang gibbon has a large throat sac that is used to amplify sound, which can be heard from miles away. Their throat functions just like an air sac of a bagpipe. Howling melodiously is their stunning form of effective tactical communication to an intruder in order to avoid the situation unnecessarily escalating to the use of force and aggression causing bodily harm. The message being communicated is similar to that of birds.

siamangSiamang Gibbon howling, male and female pairs call in unison

In the same manner, during the night, the boisterous yet rhythmic sound of many insects fills the air like a unique orchestra with cicada and crickets chirping, and the choirs of colourful frogs and toads continue to be heard until dawn, carrying the same messages to others. The loudness and frequency of each call made are indications of the male’s stamina and versatility. A tiny male cricket can produce a loud sound by rubbing together certain parts of his body such as his wings. The message being broadcast is that “I am the lord of this block”.

A tropical rainforest is indeed such an acoustically noisy place like a concert hall, an opera house or a cathedral. There are always countless musical symphonies being performed by various species. Musical echoes that constantly resolve conflicts, not the sound of bombs and bullets being fired and dropped. Unlike the human approach, the conflict resolution approach employed by birds and chimpanzees enhances the environment, rather than harming it. Their battlefield is nothing short of a popular musical venue in an everlasting festival of life.

In nature, there are firm rules of conduct that are well established for all the participants and are not subject of deviation. Based on these rules, inter and intra species disputes are settled in an efficacious and expedited manner. The costs and benefits to the overall balance of the ecosystem is the sole criterion to be considered. The interesting point in any dispute is that there are no judges or juries, no mitigation or litigation, no bargaining or appeals allowed to determine the fate of a dispute. There are no enforcers to enforce the verdict either. The participants are the judges themselves. In the absence of arrogance and egoism, “defeat” for lack of a better word, is accepted graciously. There are no cases in nature that a dispute results in the destruction of habitats or the decimation of species, quite to the contrary, it contributes to sustainability. Nature’s model is all about conflict prevention at the root, for so-called “Mother Nature” knows that prevention is better than the cure. Nature creates conditions that are conducive to life, not to destruction. Senseless killing is not a practice of nature, not even between predators and prey. For example, zebras have no fear of a pride of lions in close proximity if they know that the lions have already had their lunch. A parasite could, but would not kill its host, since he knows that he would then have nowhere to go. Any blood that occasionally sheds between “adversaries” is for the maintenance of the overall equilibrium not domination of one over another. Nothing is farther from the truth than misperceiving nature, as being an ad-hoc system of manipulative domination that disrupts equilibrium; rather, nature’s conflict resolution strategy has always managed to effectively keep the ratio of predator and prey in balance and the fragile ecological equilibrium at bay for the past 4 billion years, confirming its practical results and value. Indeed, where Nature’s laws rule, it is the most truly civilized and trouble-free part of the world, as all resources are guaranteed to be distributed justly to all the inhabitants.

However, there is only one area where nature’s diplomacy fails, and that is when a species’ interests are at odds with that of the human species. Here, for the egotistically selfish Man, right is always equal to might. When humans betray their own fellow species in the quest for more profits under lies and false-propaganda, which always accompanies the onset of mass violence, respect for other co-habitants of this planet is never in the picture and is consigned to the black-hole of ignominy. Nature’s natural way is always violated for the sake of the protection of Man’s interests, even if it results in the extinction and the endangerment of myriad species and habitats.

Why are there so much differences between the human and non-human approaches in the distribution of justice and consequently in their conflict resolution strategies? Can the gap ever be closed? Most probably not. Let’s have no illusion here or be overtly romantic, although nature’s model of conflict resolution is far superior to the best that humanity can ever construct, it will never be emulated by the self-serving Man. The only way humans can implement a preventive conflict model like nature, is if resources are fairly distributed, thereby eliminating scarcity, tension and suffering. Such a model will never be emulated, as long as 40% of global assets are owned by 1% of the world’s population, as long as 50% of the world’s population owns only 1% of global assets, as long as 20% of the world’s population continues to consume 80% of the world’s resources, the human model of conflict resolution will remain what it has been for millennia. Conflicts and wars on a massive scale that could be avoided would continue to be generated under the name of spreading democracy, freedom, religion, protecting minority rights and other such obtuse and false pretexts for usurping the wealth and resources of other less militaristically powerful nations, rather than through mutual trading and co-operation, where disputes can and ought to be settled amicably for overall peace, stability and fairness. “By way of deception, Thou Shalt Do War” is the philosophical outlook of warmongers. Conflicts and wars have deliberately become a profitable business venture for the elite 1%. It first and foremost sustains their power and domination. Furthermore, for corporate war profiteers, peace means recession leading to an inevitable bankruptcy.

This egocentric and criminal business model, however, is symptomatic of a deeper problem: the total disconnection of reckless Man from understanding the deepest and most basic principles of nature and what lessons we ought to learn from them. This is the lesson that every bird, cricket and frog keep on melodiously chirping into our ears day after day, but we are too deaf to hear it, drowned as we are by the louder reverberating sounds of the war drums, beckoning us to yet another avoidable battlefield of destruction.

A bird does not have a conscious choice to resolve a conflict in any other fashion contrary to the bird’s designed nature. However, the human species does have a choice — the choice and propensity to go for avoidance, tolerance, compromise, reconciliation, cooperation, sharing and love as they should all be available options on the table and are a much better alternative to war. To quote Rodney King: “We can all get along together”. The choice to live in harmony with nature and humbly submit to its life sustaining laws like every other species, or conversely to walk on earth with arrogance in pursuit of our insatiable whims and self-indulgence. Sadly, humankind in general has chosen the latter, to be an injurious parasite, that out of greed would rather kill and destroy its host, the whole planet earth, than to preserve the dynamic balance of life for an endless future benefit for the entire global family.

Mehran Banaei is a freelance writer with a Masters Degree in Social Philosophy from York University. His area of interest is to follow Nature’s path, identify endeavors that the animal kingdom has marvelously succeeded where humankind has failed terribly. This article was published in the Scientific God Journal in May 2012, Vol. 3, Issue 4, pp. 213-218.

2 Comments

Filed under Philosophy of Science and Religion

Are rights prescribed to animals and nature, or are they inherent and pre-existent?

Mehran Banaei and Nadeem Haque

Abstract: Nature is remarkably ahead of humankind by over four billion years in research and development; however, nature’s wisdom can easily be plagiarized by humans at zero cost. By observing how nature operates, humankind can immensely benefit beyond biomimicry, in the area of socio-political dynamics.[1]  In this article, as the title suggests the authors dwell on a universal foundation for animal and ecological rights derived from nature itself, where the implemented laws are not relative or socio-culturally biased. The authors further argue that the proper use of nature requires that one must be aware that animals and the rest of ecology do indeed possess inherent rights, and that these rights must be upheld. We can arrive at this universal conclusion for the existence of inherent rights and see that such rights stem from first principles, using our mind and the signs in the universe, endowments that are readily accessible to any human being, anywhere on this planet, at any given time.

Every weekend at a zoo in the city of Sari, in northern Iran, a living and breathing old donkey is thrown into a cage containing a pack of lions. In front of hundreds of salivating spectators, the poor, petrified and defenceless creature having nowhere to run, is immediately ripped apart by the talons of voracious hungry lions.[2]  The donkey, an obedient domestic animal that all his life worked so hard for free to enrich his selfish proprietor, now that has he reached the age of retirement his pension package is a brutal death sentence. In his short remaining life, he is no longer economically viable; nevertheless his death could still generate a few more dollars for his cruel and heartless owner which serves to entertain an insensitive crowd too busy not to miss an excellent photo taking opportunity. Sadly, such a cruel act is not limited to this zoo in Iran. In most zoos and safari parks around China, feeding live goats and cows to lions and tigers is a popular hourly show for tourists.[3]  The show is considered as a family entertainment. But to some, this cruel feat is nothing, but outrageous and an outright criminal act. Caged predators have no hunting experience; consequently, it would take them a very long time to kill a live defenseless prey. The barbaric act committed is a crime because unlike as it is in wild nature, the prey has no means to defend itself and suffers from a prolonged painful death. For example, when a lion goes after a zebra in the savannah, the zebra can either run as fast as he can, blend in with other zebras to confuse the lion, or directly defend himself by kicking the lion while on the run. Neither of these options is available in a confined man-made environment. In fact, in the wild, a zebra first and foremost tries consciously to avoid all predators. In nature, it is all fair game. Nevertheless, when a zebra is caught by a lion, the lion immediately chokes the zebra to death. The zebra is dead in just a few minutes before the pack devours the prey. The horrible crime committed in Chinese Safari parks is then proudly videotaped by the accomplice tourists and put on Youtube as the trophy of their exploitive expedition to witness nature in a truly disturbing and unnatural setting.

tigerm_450x300Tigers are not a social species; in the wild they are solitary hunters and only ambush their prey

Poor DonkeyPlease get up even if your back is broken or you will be thrown to the lions

Everyday thousands of animals of all kinds are being brutally sentenced to abuse, deprivation and driven to extinction, due to the insensitive activities of humankind. Indeed, the very ecosystems which serve as the basis of life are being devastated as never before. Yet, in this atmosphere, although there is a great deal of ‘lovey-dovey mumbo-jumbo’ talks about “saving the planet”, it appears that more than passing sentiments are going to be necessary to make effective amends. A proper attitudinal shift is required so that our attentions are translated into the performance of the most useful kinds of actions possible. Sincere emotional concern is not sufficient. What needs to be examined is our attitude towards how we ought to relate to nature as human beings. Indeed, what is needed is the realization of a globally beneficial and integrated worldview.

The obvious question which comes to mind, in connection with such issues is that of the concept of rights. Does the donkey in the above picture have any rights? Is it justified to kidnap wild animals from their natural habitats and cage them in a confined space in order to generate income? Are we human beings justified in categorizing ourselves as the “chosen species”, given the fact that animals existed long before even the first homo-sapiens ever set foot on the earth? Do we possess the autonomous authority to override animals and nature for the fulfilment of our egocentric whims? Or are we, on the contrary, violating the rights of animals, together with the rest of nature?

MatadorWhat is this bleeding bull trying to convey to this Matador?

The opponents, and even many of the proponents of animal rights assume that the concept of rights is a subjective human construct and originates in the minds of human beings. They presume that these rights are not absolute, but rather, arbitrary. According to this view, all rights extendable to animals, by humans, are relative determined by vested interests and socio-cultural factors. There is no such thing as an absolute right. On the contrary, what needs to be pointed out is that the very assumption that the source of all rights is an institution of human beings, is itself fallacious: it is, indeed, just another anthropocentric (human-centered) notion as to where rights emanate from. In fact, this premise is a prime example of a faulty argument known as the fallacy of dubious assumption or fallacy of problematic premise.[4]  This fallacy surfaces when the foundation of one’s argument is based on a premise or on a set of premises, which are not validated and are open to question. Therefore, what we should ask in the first place is: Is it indeed legitimate to assume that all rights are conventional?

John Locke, the seventeenth century thinker was among those over the centuries who noticed this erroneous form of argumentation. Locke argued for natural rights discoverable by reason, as opposed to those imposed by the changing institutions of social convention. He asserted that the state of nature is the state of liberty, not of license and that therefore, the state of nature has the law of nature to govern it. These laws are absolute and independent of governmental legislation. This led to the view that the rights derived from recognition of these laws, are neither relative nor the products of human convention: everything is unnatural about the captivity of wild animals, just as everything is natural about their inborn freedom in the state of nature.

The State of Nature

In the natural domain, when the relationship between members of the same species and coexisting participants is examined, we realize that within such interspecies’ and intraspecies’ interactions, the prevalence of rights is associated with their behavioural patterns. Many mammals, birds and even some fish are highly territorial as they explicitly mark off the extent of their boundaries. In the event that the markings are missed, any unwelcome visitors would be immediately chased out. The defence of a territory does not usually involve fighting. Most often, for example, the invader respects the displays of a resident bird’s vociferous squawks or threat displays. Such communicative objections are usually sufficient to cause the invader to withdraw peacefully. The explicit unwritten right here is tantamount to: This is my tree – keep off! Another example, is of hyenas abruptly terminating the chase of a promising prey animal as soon as they reach the border of neighbouring hyena territory, even though no other predators are in sight.[5]

Some mammals such as the dominant bull elephant seal, and the sea lion, are highly possessive of the females in their polygynous entourage. The dominant male fights off any rival male who approaches his females, making sure that the intruder understands that he alone has the right to mate with the females. The message being conveyed in this case, is equivalent to: Stay away from my relations!

It can also be observed, that in some specific instances, hyenas and wild dogs give up their hard earned kill without even putting up a fight, as soon as a lion approaches the carcass. There is a social ranking among the various species which have gathered while the lions feast. When they have consumed enough, the attendant species proceed one by one in a specific order towards the remaining flesh. The sequential order of approach is as follows: firstly the hyenas, followed by the wild dogs, then the jackals, the vultures and lastly the insects and worms.[6]  All of this suggests the existence of well established relational ranking among species: the lions appear to have a priority, in this instance at least, over the meal, than their ravenous audience. This ‘power’ and priority in nature is directly linked to the sustenance of equilibrium, however, and not to greed.

Competition or Cooperation?

There are various perspectives in ethology, on whether there is cooperation or competition among animals. Some of those who posit that animal interactions are all purely cooperative, state that because the above-cited examples of animal behaviour are mistakenly held as being competitive, it is then assumed that rights automatically exist (because only when there is competition in the human world are there rights associated with competition). Such cooperationists feel that when the proponents of competition theory refer to such observations, they are anthropocentrically equating rights with competition. In fact, some of these radical cooperationists hold that there is no actual competition among wild animals and that therefore one cannot even talk about rights when it comes to the wilderness.

Although the above-mentioned observations may not be sufficient to conclude the presence of competition among species, they are nonetheless an indication of territorial ownership. Whether the behavioural patterns exhibit competition or cooperation is, in fact, absolutely irrelevant here, since even in the case of cooperation, there are associated constraints. After all, cooperation does not exclude respect for mutual ownership. Indeed, we cannot escape the fact that cooperation itself includes the fulfilment of the respective functions contractually or verbally assigned to mutually cooperating parties. This fulfilment is an expectant right of the mutually opposite members of the same cooperative unit.

Animals, in actuality, appear to be engaged in more than our simplistic anthropocentric notions of either cooperation or competition. Each species conducts itself by rules, within myriad infrastructures and dwellings which are optimally suited to their own particular needs. Indeed each species is in total submission to something higher. The universe certainly exhibits higher and novel design principles that are beyond the wildest imaginations of the best of what the top scientists can conjure up. Each design is an optimal solution to a problem, which would have been intractable where this solution were to have absent.

Animal species also engage in various forms of communication,[7]  in what could best be described as communities.[8]  In order to flourish, any community, be it human or non-human requires a set of regulatory principles based on just natural law, which ensure the collective stability of social order taken as an ensemble. Indeed, examples of such animal behaviour are profuse. Animals themselves never came up with any individual preventative strategy or technology to make the best of their environment. Their needs were provided. Is it not fair to raise the question: by whom?

The Source of All Rights

By reflecting on the expanding universe, and the diversity of life forms within it, we certainly observe a panoramic display of remarkable order and consistency. Such harmonious order is maintained throughout, by the structure of the extremely delicate balances in the physical universe, as for instance in the ecological realm of existence, where plants and animals have been designed to be ingeniously adapted to their respective niches. There is indeed a fragile equilibrium within nature’s economy; even a minute change would disrupt the balances in this dynamically interrelated scheme of existence.

Consider a notorious case of human folly, which occurred in Australia. Not too long ago, a famous movie star appeared a number of times on camera, wearing an outfit made of snake skin. As a result of this blatant exposition, the outfit became the prevailing fashion of the day. To keep up with an increasing market demand, the suppliers raided the bushes, killing as many snakes as possible, not realizing that the snake has a function in the food web. It preys on rats. Since the inherent property of this physical universe rules that every cause is followed by effects, and that for every action there is a concomitant reaction, the subsequent callous mass slaughter of snakes, resulted in an explosion in rat population. The prairies were destroyed, as the multitudinous rats consumed all their favourite crops. This culminated in a man-made food shortage in parts of Australia and further led to increased habitat destruction through the continuation of ecosystemical dislocations. These were induced by none other than a network of cause and effect interdependencies. The example just cited, is not simply an isolated case; indeed, the world is plagued at present by the elimination or reduction of many species, interconnected to the precious web of life by similar or worse catastrophes.[9]

In fact, this disastrous episode graphically reveals that in order to maintain the balances in nature, the snake has the inherent right to remain unmolested and free in its natural setting. This right is not derived by an arbitrary or selected social convention; rather, it is the snake’s natural right, as defined by the universality of cause and effect relations, manifested in the equilibrating checks and balances within the countless structures and processes in the universe. Universal laws of cause and effect dictate natural rights with well-defined parameters. In fact, in some cases the natural laws would themselves dictate that the animal in question should have more rights than the human, in order for the system to move toward the restoration of the natural balance. For example, if the human and the animal shared a common food resource and there was a shortage of supply, the animal would have precedence over the human, in the consumption of that resource, for the human would have many alternatives, whereas the animal would be tightly bound by its niche. Take the case of the Galapagos Islands and various other national parks around the world where inherent natural rights based on the conservation of the balance of nature are fully recognized and upheld by the international and local governmental institutions. The pristine ecosystem has to be preserved and untouched. In the Galapagos, as bizarre as it sounds, animals, no matter what species have more rights than the wealthiest humans. All natural inhabitants of the Islands enjoy the rights not to be disturbed, while animals from the outside have no rights even to enter the Islands (brought in). The question is: Why should this sound policy be limited to a just few places on earth?

With this kind of an overview, it is observable that it should not be humans who should invent this right. Rather, it should be we, who should recognize these unique rights, by observing the interrelationships within the processes inherent in the universe on earth. We should therefore choose to intraconnect these discoveries within the communities in nature, be those communities human or non-human, as naturally integral components of already pre-existing universal laws. In a sense then, it is nature which projects the realization of these rights onto the sense of the human, if the human is observant of those very balances in nature in the first place. These rights are not relative, but absolute, as they are founded upon and originate from the equilibrium of nature.

Given all these factors, an obvious thought which comes to mind, however, is that so-called “Mother Nature” is not in itself a conscious entity, and one could still pose the logical and legitimate question: What exactly is the real source of the originated laws and the natural rights derived therefrom? Many scientists and researchers are averse to attribute the indisputable wisdom behind nature because of undesired teleological implications. However, the fact is that nature’s components have been designed. This is an inescapable conclusion. For instance, it would be highly contradictory for atheist biologists to be applying for a design patent after having copied nature and then not ascribing design to the very object they are copying. They give credit to the personification of nature, processes and laws that are captured in the notion “Mother Nature”, “Self Organization” or “Natural Selection”, but it is interesting to see that “intelligence” and “will” are projected into these catch notions in the sense that for example, selection, particularly a wise or optimal one, implies an optimizing selector which implies intentionality, which in turn implies intelligence and consciousness, of unsurpassable wisdom. Indeed, how can atoms or energy be conscious or wise? Atoms and energy do not choose. They cannot choose but just be existent and unconsciously follow prescribed or designed laws!

The realization of natural laws on all levels, then, is diametrically opposed to the concept of the human’s own manufactured notions of rights derived by social convention. In fact, social conventions must be in complete congruence with natural universal laws in order for the whole system to function beneficently. For if man-made conventions traverse against the natural flow of the universal laws, they cause crippling dysfunctionalities which ultimately lead to an inevitable collapse of the integral systems of life. For example, take the case of governmental policies regarding deforestation: clear cutting in the Amazon and elsewhere around the world, has led to the death of forests, destroying their roles as the harbingers and maintainers of the crucial life support systems of our biosphere. The fact is, that not much regard had been paid to their complex ecological characteristics. Now, more attention, though certainly not enough, is indeed being paid due to a clear cut realization of the adverse affect of such devastating conventional policies on the various creatures and their ecological niches. Any disruption in this natural order is not only harmful for florae and faunae, but also devastating for man. After all, man is not apart from nature, but a part of nature. When lakes and rivers dry out due to human actions in a particular country, all co-habitants of earth nearby and far away pay the price of human caprice.

A Worldview with Co-Integrated Rights

It has been discussed as to where rights should in actuality emanate from. However, if the term ‘rights’ in connection with animals and nature still conjures up a perception which appears incongruous for many, it is because humans have unnaturally disconnected themselves from the realization of the proper interconnectivity between the entities in nature and human society. For in essence, the issue of animal rights, and by extension, the ecosystems, boils down to how we ought to treat them. Let us therefore look beyond — to the core of the issue. Let us delve deeper and remember that if our concern here is truly about animal welfare, including the plight of the whole ecosystem and the future of humanity, then let us not get bogged down by some trivial semantic objections as to what it really means to give rights to animals and the rest of nature. Let us look to the essence of things. We could, for example, substitute the word treatment policy or simply treatment for rights, for this is the very basis of what anything of value converges to.

Any human society is based on a particular worldview, which, perceptibly or imperceptibly, moulds the attitudes governing the treatment of things within its space. The present tragic state of affairs is stark living, or in fact dying proof that most human societies around the world have lost touch with the balance. However, if a society were to be comprised of individuals who would base their outlook on the reality of the principle of balances, from which all laws at any level could be deducible, their society would necessarily evolve to a stage where it would promulgate not only a balanced Charter of Human Rights, but also a co-integrated Charter of Animal-Ecological Rights. As established, the balances in nature put a limit to the extent of human rights, so that they are not utilized at the expense of animal and ecological rights. That is to say, human beings have no right to harm an animal for ostentatious personal luxuries or financial gains. In fact, individuals in such a society would recognize such rights within the very framework of their own governing constitution and would naturally implement any such inherent rights. This implementation would be the result of the realization that the human being is not at the centre of the universe, but anything in the natural world is at the centre of the universal concern, whenever the balances impinging upon it are threatened. With this worldview nothing of significance, whether it be in the universe or on the earth, be it large or small, would be looked upon with neglect or disdain. For in such an atmosphere, any entrenched anthropocentric view would be superseded by a teleocentric view which would include a deep concern and sensitivity for every living and non-living element within its embrace. With this concern, it would be realized that everything has a purpose and that there is indeed no redundancy in biodiversity.

Human beings, in such an evolved society, would form an integral part of this natural legislative process. They would be cognizant that humans are the only uniquely reasoning multi-adaptive carbon-based creatures on the face of the earth and would be responsible for their myriad interactions. Such individuals would, in actuality, be the only ones who would not be blinded by the beasts within; rather, they would realize the existence of such rights with wholesome sensitivity. No doubt, they would deeply understand that, so far as is known, this is the only planet where the interface of fate between the global community of humankind, and that of the established communities of animals in the rest of nature is necessarily interlocked in a state of mutual dependency.

In the final assessment, it is only as a direct result of this development, that can a sustainable and enhancing future for all humans, animals and their ecological/environmental niches be assured, on the singular global niche of our precious planet earth. Yet, how long will the plea of the earth go unheeded, as a solitary cry in the midst of depleting wilderness? This plea will go unheeded until we all recognize with due cognizance and diligence that we, like the dynamic atoms of this universe, must also acknowledge that there is a law Giver who alone is worthy of the credit of the wondrous panoply of the entirety of existence.

References:

1. Banaei, Mehran (2012), Being Ant-worthy, Scientific God Journal, February 2012, Vol. 3, Issue 2, pp. 213- 216.
Banaei, Mehran (2012), Conflict Resolution strategies: Lessons from Nature, Scientific God Journal, May 2012, Vol. 3, Issue 4, pp. 409-414.

2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_QODniHVE8

3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHmcsJ0DaOk

4. Johnson, R.H. and Blair, J.A. (1983), Logical Self-Defence, p. 46.

5. Kruuk, Hans (1972), The Spotted Hyena: A Study of Perdition and Social Behaviour, p. 160.

6. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/elephant-life-after-death/

7. Bright, Michael (1984), Animal Language.

8. Giller, Paul S. (1984), Community Structure and Niche.
Forsyth, Adrian (1989), “Togetherness: The Logic of the Herd”, Equinox, No. 43, pp. 48-57.

9. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/swarm-nature-incredible-invasions/

1 Comment

Filed under Animal Rights

Quran: The Flawless Bridge between “Science” and “Religion”

Nadeem Haque and Mehran Banaei

One of the greatest philosophical conflicts in the dynamic vistas of human dialectical thought, is that of the perceived incompatibility between science and religion. In the last few decades, a spate of books, articles and television documentaries have arisen, dealing with this issue as circumscribed by the Judeo-Christian tradition. Yet it appears strikingly odd and intriguingly compelling, that the general debate on such a universal theme has turned overwhelmingly into an exclusive debate between science and the Biblical account of the creation of the universe and its multifarious processes. This has no doubt contributed to highlighting the existing variances between scientific facts and the Bible, in turn leading many people to dismiss religion in general, whilst concomitantly fostering the growth of atheism and agnosticism. It seems even more odd, that such a discussion, by default, usually excludes all religions except the Judeo-Christian tradition. Yet, once this tradition is conclusively shown to be incommensurate with science, all religions, including the initially excluded ones, are brought back into the fold of discussion and summarily tainted with the stain of scientific incompatibility. This is indeed a most bizarre state of affairs, especially when it emanates from those who advocate the scientific method of discovery — the very group that claims to value accuracy and objectivity.

One of these often excluded worldviews is that of Islam, and its claimed revelatory foundation — the Quran. Muslims, however, claim that no dichotomy or chasm exists between science and the Quranic belief in monotheism. In fact, Muslims acknowledge that any book that claims to describe the creation of the universe ought to accurately reflect the essence of the universe in both principles and processes. It would therefore be most intriguing for the interested and contending parties to examine whether the Quranic model casts some light or indeed fresh new insights into this ongoing epistemological divide. Yet in the West, it is felt that Islam, far from being compatible with modern science, must be the underlying reason that has directly had something to do with fomenting retrogressiveness, intolerance and fundamentalism. In fact, in this discourse on science and religion, Islam seems to have become unfairly excluded, since it has been misperceived to be an exclusive religion of the Arabs, emanating from a primitive and outmoded culture. However, it is not generally known that the word Islam is absolutely non-exclusive, universal and timeless, since, unlike most religions, it is not tied to a culture, nationality, race, region, personality or somebody’s personal belief; rather, it is a description of a state of mind and action, linguistically denoting voluntary peaceful submission to the singular Creator, where one flows in concordance with the universal natural order of cosmic scheme (22:18). A Muslim is anyone, anywhere, at any time, who chooses to follow such ubiquitous natural laws in the realm of existence.

Yet despite this misunderstanding, evolving incipiently, side by side with the resultant inordinate rejection of Islam, is an ever-growing realization among many Muslims, as well as some non-Muslim academics, that the Quran appears to be addressing this age and the coming 21st Century and beyond, over and above the contents and approach found in many other scriptures.

Scientific Correlations
In the 20th Century, perhaps the greatest realization or discovery has been that the universe has evolved from a singularity — commonly referred to as the Big Bang. Indeed, it has been admitted by leading atheists, such as philosopher Antony Flew, that this point has become their nemesis. This is because an origin implies that there was once ‘no thing’ — whatever that may mean — and that such a rude beginning borders on the now taboo or embarrassing question of “God” or a Creator. This is not to say that many scientists have not tried to escape the dreaded ‘beginning’ by postulating an accidental universe; however, their solutions themselves have been highly problematic, unprovable or wildly speculative, such as: imaginary time, quantum fluctuation, multiple-universes, self-created universe, infinitely cyclical universes, etc. In fact, it appears that all the purported solutions to escape the singularity problem are haunted by the growing awareness that there appears to be intelligence embedded within the processes of the universe. This line of thought, under the right conditions, would naturally lead to the logical question as to whether there is some connected overall purpose to the universe and, concomitantly, a species such as the human being. Interestingly enough, but not surprising, towards the end of his life Anthony Flew abandoned atheism and arrived at the conclusion that there must be an Intelligent Creator behind the Big Bang and the complexity of nature.

The verifiable fact about the Quran in this whole debate on origins, is that unlike other scriptures, in the Quran — during the depths of the Dark Ages, 1,400 years ago — it has been unequivocally recounted that the whole universe and the earth therein, were once, one piece and that the Creator ripped them apart and made every living thing from water (Quran: chapter 21, verse 30), that the Creator is continuously expanding the universe (Arabic word used for expanding is musiuna, 51:47), and that the universe has evolved to form celestial systems and the earth, from the coalescence of dust and gas (41:11). These concepts were not realized until the 20th century, particularly after the discovery of galactic recession by red shift by Edwin Hubblein 1925.

Yet another branch of knowledge, among a myriad, where the Quran’s correlation with science has been startling, is in the area of embryology. Although it was linguistically clear as to what was being said in the Quran, about human development before birth, by Arabic linguists, many of the verses on embryology were unconceptualizable to them, owing to a lack of specialized education in the subject. One of these intriguing verses which was queried, stated: “Read in the name of your Sustainer and Lord, who created the human from a thing which clings (alaqa)” (96:1-2). The “clinging thing” alaqa is also the root word for the derivative meaning of alaqa which is “a leech-like structure”. This is a pristinely accurate visual-cum-structural description of the embryo from day 7 to 24 when the zygote clings to the endometrium of the uterus much like a leech clinging to the skin. The University of Toronto embryologist, Professor Keith Moore, who was approached by linguists on these verses, explained, in the 1980s, that just as the leech sucks blood from its host, so too does the human embryo withdraw blood from the pregnant endometrium. By the 23rd to 24th day, the embryo has a strong physical and functional resemblance to a leech. The root meaning of the word for clinging is alaqa, which, unfortunately, has been mistranslated into English incorrectly, as “blood clot”, in many translations of Quran.

Yet another verse states that: There is a stage before birth when the human being is like a “chewed lump” (mudghah, verse: 23:14). The “chewed lump” verse was explained dramatically by Moore as follows: He made a plasticine shape resembling the 28-day-old embryo and then had it bitten into. When juxtaposed, the resemblance between the special plasticine model and the actual microscopically enhanced picture of the 28 day old embryo, is strikingly similar, for one can observe that the structures on the embryo are the somites, which are the early stages of vertebrae; they do indeed resemble bead-like teeth marks imprinted on the plasticine model and hence the appropriate description of this stage as resembling that of a “chewed lump” — the mudghah. The staging of pre-natal human development was first described in 1941 by Streeter, and a more accurate system was proposed by O’Rahilly in 1972.

Another area that the Quran covers, most accurately, is geology. As geologist Z.R. El-Naggar points out concisely, “…the Quran consistently describes mountains as stabilizers for the Earth, that hold its outer surface firmly lest it should shake with us, and as pickets (or pegs) which hold that surface downwardly as a means of fixation. So simply stated, the Quran describes the outward protrusion of mountains from the earth’s surface, and emphasizes their downward extensions within the Earth’s lithosphere, as well as their exact role as stabilizers and as a means of fixation for such a lithosphere.” Some of the verses pertaining to these geological phenomena are: 78:6-7; 15:19; 16:15. The notion of mountains having roots was first hypothesized in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and their role in connection with providing stability to the dynamics of the lithosphere, through plate tectonics, has only begun to be comprehended since the late 1960s.

Nature of Belief in the Quran
Given these considerations, one might be led to question how these verses ended up appearing in the Quran. Historically, it must be pointed out that the undeveloped paganistic Arabic society in the 6th Century had no 20th Century notions of the Big Bang, the expanding universe, plate tectonics and embryology, for the Quran was revealed to an illiterate Muhammad by God in the Dark Ages, and that the inductive aspect of the scientific method sprung up after the Quranic period. Several centuries prior to the advent of the Quran, superstitions, mysticism and a non-scientific way of explaining nature had gained a hold in most societies on earth. In this abysmal atmosphere, the Quran led untutored desert nomads and the people they came into contact with, to look into the nature of the universe in order to fathom things, which led to a scientific revolution that helped foster the Renaissance and the Enlightenment periods in Europe. Indeed, the Muslims had learned and then further developed the thought heritages of the Ancients, and in so doing, evolved the conduction of science to new and novel heights. As medieval historian Thomas Goldstein has remarked in his book, The Dawn of Modern Science: From the Arabs to Leonardo Da Vinci: “Every single specialized science in the West owes its origins to the Islamic impulse — or at least its direction from that time onwards.”

Methodologically and inspirationally, it was the Quran itself that led to the “Islamic impulse” that Goldstein refers to. To understand exactly why, we need to delve deeper into an analysis of the Quran itself. The Arabic word Quran literally means a book “to be read”. It claims to be the complete and absolutely unaltered communication from the single intelligence that has originated and developed the entire universe. The Muslims’ claim is that if this assertion is true, then the Quran must be able to withstand, at least, the following tests: Firstly, there should be no internal inconsistencies and contradictions within its contents. Secondly, it should not contain statements that are contrary to known facts, regarding for example, the structure and function of the universe. Thirdly, it must be linguistically clear, unambiguous, and precise. All these tests are necessary so that its contents can be objectively confirmed or refuted. Passing these tests, successfully, would indeed establish the credibility of the Quranic claim of its ‘divine’ origin. On the other hand, if inconsistencies and ambiguities do indeed exist, then the book in question is either entirely man-made, or might have originated from the Originator, but was subsequently corrupted by human beings. In a nutshell, this would mean that the book is not credible.

The analysis of any book, which claims to be a revelation, ought to include the most important resource accessible to us — the human intellect. It is only through the human intellect that we can confirm or negate the presence of contradictions and thereby substantiate or invalidate claims. Surprisingly, the Quran itself emphasizes that the reader subject its contents to rigorous analytical scrutiny with an objective and honest intent, in order to ascertain if there are indeed any internal or external inconsistencies (4:82). In this way, the Quran boldly and confidently challenges its readers not to take its claim of divine origin at face value, but to examine the book and always remain alert for any kind of inaccuracy, a challenge which is unequivocally open to all skeptics and those with a keen interest in scientific investigation, particularly in the area of the compatibility or incompatibility between science and religion. The claim of the challenge, even after 1400 years, has still not been deposed, even by those who are no friends of the Muslims. More interestingly, from a scientific perspective, the Quranic proposition to find internal or external incongruity within its contents, as a way to dismiss its claim, is tantamount to a truly scientific method of falsifying invalid ideas and concepts.

In general, the aforementioned criteria may be used to test any claimed revelation. Contemporary Islamic thinkers point out that if the information contained in this book was unknown 1,400 years ago, one would perhaps be led to question its presence in so ancient a document. They ask: Does the Quran indeed withstand the tests of precision, consistency and non-contradiction? And if so, is the structurer of the Quran also the structurer of the universe?

One certainly needs to question, where such scientific verses came from? However, one thing is certain: If Muhammad did indeed write the Quran, expositing his own ideas and mindset, he would have had to have gained 20th Century knowledge regarding: embryology, cosmology, geology, ecology, archaeology, biology, sociology, anthropology, history, atmospheric sciences and cognitive sciences, whilst being deprived of libraries, laptop computers, telescopes, microscopes, universities, the internet and sophisticated databases. Even if they were somehow miraculously available, of what use would they be to an illiterate man. However, be that as it may, the central question remains: Whether one believes that Muhammad procured his knowledge from earthly or possible extraterrestrial sources, as opposed to from a Creator who is independent of our space and time conceptions, what exactly is the thrust and the message of this widely possessed, though seldom analytically studied book?

To fully understand the Quranically inspired re-genesis of knowledge in the Dark Ages, its multiplier-effects over the ages and the import of the Quranic view of science, we must understand that the Quran unequivocally rejects belief based upon blind faith. However, many people tend to look upon the Quran from a Eurocentric perspective on the nature of religion, and tend to thereby color Islam as just another dogmatic belief system. For example, even the word for “belief” in Arabic does not mean “belief” construed as “blind faith”, as it has evolved to mean in Christianity and many other belief systems. In fact, this blind-faith notion is echoed in the authoritative proclamation of St. Augustine: “Credo quia abserdum est” – “I believe, because it is incredible”. In stark contradistinction, the word for “belief” or “faith” that is used in the Quran, is iman, which has, at its root amana. This word means to confirm or verify things. Therefore a real Muslim is one who confirms ideas and statements, and is not given to accepting ideas without proof and evidence. There is no room for a leap of faith at any stage. The fact that many profess to adhere to Islam, but do not in fact follow its pristinely laid out Quranic methodology, in no way diminishes Islam’s pre-eminent position towards evidence and proof (e.g. see 2:44; 3:190,191; 16:90; 8:22; 28:49; 23:17; 67:10). It was, after all, the Quran, which wrought a revolution in science by its emphasis on intellection. Through the influence of the Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd’s (Averroes’) writings and that of others, the European Averroists in the Middle Ages set the trend for rationally criticizing authority based on mystical doctrines. Since the Quran fostered such a transformation of the West itself, it is in reality, a neglected part of the Western legacy, and is a document that is vitally worthy of scrutiny. This is because the Quran invites self-examination and proof at the crux of its fundamental framework.

The Quranic approach is proof-seeking and teleological, that is, it is purpose, intention and design based, being identical in many respects with Unitarian beliefs, which had many well-known adherents such as Voltaire, Newton, John Locke, Milton and Joseph Priestly. The message of the Quran is that of Unitarianism, albeit an advanced and completed version of it, as the sample verses on embryology, geology and evolutionary cosmology illustrate. If one recollects, these Unitarians within Christendom, like the true Muslims, denounced mysticism, believed in rationality, and did not regard Jesus as divine or semi-divine.

Socio-Environmental Implications
Given the consistent rational stance of Islam, the laws of nature are seen to collectively form the primary revelation. The exposition of splendid artistry and remarkable engineering contrivance in divine creation overflows on almost every page of the Quran. Indeed, the quintessence of the Quranic outlook, is that by reflecting on the universe, and the diversity of life forms within it, we certainly observe a panoramic display of remarkable order and consistency. Such harmonious order is maintained throughout, by the structure of the extremely delicate dynamic balances in the physical universe. The Quranic outlook emphasizes that nature’s equilibrium is itself comprised of interlocking and interdependent structures and processes. These processes by their very design have particular functions and boundaries that are not arbitrary or ad hoc. Therefore, the usage of the elements of nature, whether in the ecological or social spheres, have their usufruct limited to ensuring that they are not used in a manner in which their structure or function causes instability and disequilibrium, internally or in the wider domain.

This parameter of universal utility is discernable by examining structure and function and the context in which structure and function are embedded or operate. In other words, human-made designs extracted from natural designs must be part of the balance which gives rise to absolute social and environmental principles based on: not upsetting absolute cause and effect relationships that maintain the dynamic equilibrium. In this discernment of nature, social and ecological rights are not ethnocentrically conventionalized or man-made synthetic constructs; therefore they cannot possibly be relative or biased. Such absolute rights encapsulated by the full recognition of reality are to be upheld under the auspices of a beneficent Creator, who is the ultimate Owner and Inheritor of the universe, and to whom all creation will eventually return (22:64 and 67:15). Indeed, all dominion belongs to the Creator, and not Man, who oftentimes attempts to be the arrogant opportunistic usurper. Man must maintain the balance dynamically inherent in natural order (55:7-9), and be ultimately accountable to the peerless God, for every action, large or small in the socio-ecological realm.

Perfect “Convergence”
In the globally united vision exposited by the Quran, non-contradiction and teleology are intricately interconnected, as much as dominant present day indeterminacy and relativism are inextricably intertwined with the notion of a blind chance-based universe. These two roads — one of intelligence, the other of chance — tend to lead individual thought and socio-environmental structuring into diametrically opposite destinations.

Taking the route of intelligence, rather than that of chance, if humanity realizes that the Quran is nature’s precise reflector, to be used as a prescriptive guide and motivator to prevent or cure our mounting socio-environmental problems, there would be an eventual dissolution of the artificial boundary between the sacred and the profane, science and divinity, through a natural rapprochement based on the correlation between causality in nature and pristine revelation. Inevitably, such a rapprochement would further set the stage for transforming human thought towards a unitary understanding of the whole purpose of creation and man’s role within the vastness of cosmic order. In fact, anyone imbued with such an outlook would not be searching for a pristine revelation to act as a bridge between science and religion. That which is one, needs not to be bridged. Indeed, in this vein of reality, it can certainly be proclaimed that science is truly religion and religion truly science and there is no dichotomy in knowledge.

If these ideas of verifiable unity are eventually realized, then the whole of humanity would indubitably reap the benefits of a perfectly complementary relation between the usage of scientific reasoning and the usage of revelation, where each one symbiotically reinforces the value of the other, for the enhancement of both humanity and the rest of nature, whilst simultaneously pointing to the very same ultimate providence.

This article was published in The Quranic Horizons, Quarterly Journal of the Quran Academy, in the April-September Issue of 2000.

1 Comment

Filed under Philosophy of Science and Religion

Being Ant-worthy

Mehran Banaei

A legendary story of the fourteenth century Turko-Persian conqueror Tamerlane (Timur-Lang or Timur the Lame) of Samarkand recounts that when Timur’s army was severely defeated in one of his early expansionist campaigns he was on the run. In a desperate attempt to hide from his relentless pursuers he hid in an abandoned building. As he sat there all alone, consigned to meet his inevitable and invidious fate, he noticed an ant carrying a large piece of food several times bigger than her own size. Timur watched with keen interest as the ant repeatedly tried to carry the food up and over a wall, only to have it fall down each time. The undeterred ant would tenaciously pick up the food and try again and again. Timur counted ten, twenty, thirty, …attempts, but each time the weight of the food proved to be stronger than the little ant. It is said that finally, on about the seventieth try, the tireless ant managed to push the food over the wall into the nest.

So inspired by this display of perseverance was he, that he was led to proclaim: “If an ant can do it, so can I! I am by no means inferior to an ant, arise Timur and get back to work.” And, as history attests, he certainly did do it. He regrouped his army, redoubled his efforts and ended up routing his initially implacable foes. The point here is that we should never cease to look into nature for inspiration. Apart from perseverance, patience and determination, we humans have a lot to learn from a tiny insect like ant and other species, and apply object lessons from nature to our personal lives and workplace environments, in order to achieve efficiency, harmony, order, fairness and peace.

A workplace environment is no different than the natural environment. In the natural environment the behaviour of all species is interconnectively goal-oriented. Millions of species work on day shift, millions of others on night shift, while some are migrant or seasonal workers. In nature’s economy no one is jobless. Everyone involved plays a vital role in the interactive operation of a vigorous ecosystem that is in a natural scheme of dynamical equipoise. Everyone involved knows his or her finely tuned role and submits to the perspicaciously designed laws of nature without any transgression. The complex system employed in nature always allows the best to evolve, the greatest good for the greatest number. It operates on cooperation and an overall equilibrium-maintaining-competition, rather than senseless, fraudulent, greedy and exploitive competition. It allows for the maximization of productivity in a most harmonious atmosphere, the end result being increased efficiency, optimality and above all, a total elimination of wastage in the grand recycling system of nature.

The resplendent teamwork involved in daily complex operations of an ant, bees or a termite colony is indeed a marvel of operational fastidiousness. Every single member of the colony is a dedicated high-performer and self-disciplined “Employee of the Month”. Well-established division of labour for all castes and both sexes exists, with resources being shared equitably; they all operate in the best interests of the group with absolutely no supervision. Indeed, all members of each colony work together as a single unit in a highly organized manner with no central control. The governing laws are never subject of deviation or negotiation. Workers never go on strike or cut corners; the queen never takes advantage of workers and soldiers. The queen does not see herself as above the team and everyone else being subservient to her majesty, but as an integral part of the team. They know fully well, be it through a level of reasoning and/or instinct, that the survival of the colony depends on efficacious teamwork.

The success of this massive operation requires an effective communication and information sharing system which is achieved by releasing different pheromones, thereby passing on quick messages to one another, or to alarm the entire team, as well as to warn the intruders. Their communication and organizational skills combined with their superb sense of prioritization have made ants one of the most successful species in the ecological market. Despite their size, ants are a super-organism in nature’s vibrant economy.

The interesting observation is that the best part of it in this workplace environment is that it is not even unionized, for there is no need for “protection” and neither are there any lay-offs, wrongful dismissals or awkward office politics. Lifetime job security with full benefits is inherently guaranteed. Just imagine a human workplace environment functioning like a termite or ant colony. The productivity would be at its highest level. Such a workplace would indeed be so peaceful and such a joyous environment to work in.

TermitesColonyThere are more than a million tiny magnetic termites that work around the clock in each colony

ants

AntsAn amazing display of teamwork from a tiny ingenious creature

Take example of this remarkable hardworking social insect, have you ever considered a bee for instance. A bee colony must collect nectar from over 2 million flowers to make approximately one pound jar of honey. Bees are truly model citizens of this unique planet with superb work ethics; anything a bee eats is clean, anything he drops is sweet, any branch he sits upon does not break, and that which he produces never spoils. To be like a bee in a workplace environment is not to cut corners, not to be jealous of co-workers, to avoid bullying, backbiting, and gossiping about fellow workers — in short doing your job effectively and going home.

Here is a further example of harmonious behaviour: anthropological studies show that predators like spotted hyenas are very adept at cooperation and problem solving in their hunting strategies. Hyenas are well organized and follow a specific plan. The common strategy is to isolate the prey, and go for the kill when the prey is outnumbered and completely surrounded. If the pack runs out of energy and gets exhausted before the prey, the hunt is off. To avoid failure, the plan oversees initial risk assessment. Their strategic thinking is based on the existing circumstance, i.e. the type of prey and their numbers, presence of other predators, number of hyenas in the pack, etc. The pack always follows the lead of the dominant male or female, the one who possesses the best leadership skills. As a group they learn from trial and error and always hinge on the experiences of the older hyenas. For instance, anthropologists have learned that when a young hyena unfamiliar with the hunting task was paired with a dominant experienced one, the pack always succeeded in hunting with a minimal effort. This is indeed the best model there is. This holistic model can be implemented at human workplace environment.

Likewise, the lessons from animal kingdom have been adopted in succession planning in workplace. The idea is to build and maintain a diverse workplace environment free from unproductiveness, transgression, discrimination, harassment and stress. HR professionals argue that it is indeed essential to create a workplace environment that operates on cooperation, where staff can harmoniously learn from one another. Managers are encouraged to promote teamwork and collaboration among co-workers, where both veterans and rookies can be teachers to one another. An efficient and cohesive workplace is all about building the morale and productivity of employees and minimizing complaints, grievances, absenteeism, disruptions and legal wrangles, whereby everyone can get on with their work in a healthy and creative manner. The intrinsic feelings that motivate an employee to be creative, responsible, and eager, with a sense of being part of a team would be integral factors in the formulation of an unbeatable concatenation of ‘environmental attributes’ that would facilitate peace, happiness, satisfaction and useful productivity, for all and not just “top management”. This way of conducting work has been incipiently creeping up on capitalistic employers over the last few decades who have been, behind the façade of magnanimity to the public, ensconced in solely the ‘profit motive’, so oblivious to humane, humanitarian and environmental considerations. Yet, once again, even in this area, it certainly looks like the design in nature has beaten the best human minds in optimal environmental workplace engineering, by four billion years! Perhaps one has to think like an ant to know this and if so, let’s be an ant.

To identify best practices and to maximize performance in our workplace environment we can learn far more from humble tiny insects than from top paid management consultants. In this perspicuous way of looking into the natural world, by possessing and inculcating within ourselves the approach of the ants, being conscious of all our capabilities and limitations, the possibilities of tremendous improvements in all human endeavors are endless.

Mehran Banaei is a freelance writer with a Masters Degree in Social Philosophy from York University. His area of interest is to make sense out of life. This article was published in the Scientific God Journal, in February 2012, Issue 2, Vol. 3, pp. 213-216.

Leave a comment

Filed under Philosophy of Science and Religion

God: “The Celestial Dictator”

Mehran Banaei

Richard Dawkins in his book God Delusion perceives the God of the three Abrahamic religions as a monster with psychopathic tendencies. He says:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

His fellow British atheist Christopher Hitchens sees God as a “celestial dictator” who “punishes man for eternity for thought crime.” He has expressed the following view repeatedly both in prints as well as in his lectures and debates:

“Do I think I’m going to Paradise? Of course not. I wouldn’t go if I was asked. I don’t want to live in some F***ing celestial North Korea for one thing, where all I get to do is praise the dear Leader from dawn to dusk.”

There are a few parts of the Old Testament in which God is portrayed in a distasteful manner, however to extend this image of God to all religions and scriptures is a giant erroneous generalization.

In assessing the atheists argument there can be only three possibilities. First is that God does not exist. Second is that God exists and He is not a dictator. Third is what Dawkins and Hitchens suggest: if God exists, He is indeed a fascist dictator. This is a bizarre and absurd idea on the rise gaining popularity day by day. The following section below is the analysis of the atheist argument in light of each possibility.

1. God does not exist

It is suffice to say, that which does not exist, is not worthy of preoccupation. It is puzzling as to why atheists go outside the domains of their expertise to declare an entity, which they claim to know for sure does not exist, insisting publicly and vociferously that it does not really exist. This is perhaps the only movement in the world that identifies itself with what its followers do not believe, rather with what they actually believe. We agree that it would be silly and waste of time to propagate a universal belief in denial of fire-breathing dragon with wings. The same can be said about denial of any other imaginary concept i.e. “God”. Indeed, what is the point of such an obsessive and over-the-top activism? It is more ridiculous to see them audaciously painting a negative image for an entity that is claimed to be nonexistent and fictional, in order to demonstrate that it is non-existent!

2. God exists and He is not a dictator

All dictators enjoy the support of a superpower or each one forms a coalition or treaty with other like-minded dictators without which they cannot last very long. Who is the higher power behind the scene supporting this “celestial dictator”? Unlike the authoritarian Saudi ruling family who unjustifiably claim that everything in their country belongs to them, (even they named the country after their family) everything in the universe rightfully belongs to God. Everything including mankind. His rulership over the universe and ownership over mankind are legitimate.

Moreover, the universe does not indicate that God is a dictator. On the contrary, everything in the universe indicates that God is a Merciful Provider. Life is a joyful experience. The earth is hospitable place with plenty of renewable resources freely available for our consumption. Regular expression of appreciation to the Provider for what is provided is not a sign of bondage. We can never thank Him enough.

Furthermore, everything in the universe indicates that the Creator of this universe is powerful and intelligent. The Being who is powerful and intelligent must necessarily be unequivocally just, loving and forgiving or He is not intelligent at all. So long as one does not engage in overwhelming acts of transgression, and believes in this non-dictatorial Creator but testing Entity, one is assured everlasting peace after death. What could be a better gift given by this most generous Philanthropist?

Therefore, on what grounds is this Ruler perceived to be a dictator? Is anybody here overtaxed, overworked, underpaid, beaten up, chastised, ostracized, persecuted or detained? Does one feel that one lives under Divine Imperialism where one is oppressed, suppressed or depressed? If so, is it God who is responsible for one’s miserable life, or is it because of the ungratefulness, arrogance, irrationality and rebelliousness from His specified correct path as advised peacefully by the prophets and sages over the ages that mankind is suffering without self-reflection?

3. God exists and He is a dictator

If an atheist claims that God is a dictator, then it seems that the issue at hand is not whether there is a God or not. One gets the impression that these atheists already believe that there is a God, but they just do not wish to submit to this God, because they do not like Him. Hitchens in his book: God is not Great, as the title suggests, presents arguments not against God’s existence, but against God Himself. He refuses to bow down to Him. To a believer in the First Cause, the Uncaused Cause, this is a choice made out of arrogance, not out of logic. Further, it is a choice made out of hypocrisy and not intelligence. Many of these individuals who adamantly claim not to believe in God, whenever they find themselves or their loved one in a life-threatening situation, they suddenly start to pray to the rejected God. However, as soon as they reach safety, they quickly retrogress to their normal routine. If that is so, then they are not atheists, a new terminology is needed to refer to the individuals who believe there is God but hate Him and refuse to acknowledge Him as their Lord. ‘Anti-theist’ would perhaps be a more appropriate term to refer to likes of Dawkins and Hitchens.

A dictator is a person who has no legitimacy to the power, but manages to hang on to it by fear-mongering, threats, use of violence, detentions and mass killings. For sake of argument let us seriously assume that the atheist anthropomorphic view of God, as expressed above by Dawkins and Hitchens is indeed correct. It seems that rather than an old man reclining up there in the clouds, we have a dictator in a military uniform up in the clouds, watching over our daily conducts with surveillance cameras. Let us further assume that God is a “celestial dictator” and we are all trapped in an Orwellian forced labour camp on earth to worship Him. I suppose, subjugation of human beings must be vital in the preservation of this Divine totalitarian regime, or his Divine economy will soon collapse. What are our options to end this tyranny?

A question that I would like to put to our smart anti-theists and seek their guidance is: What is the proper course of action we ought to take in order to bring down “celestial dictatorship” and gain our freedom?

A) Can we go somewhere else to be free and immune from His reach, for instance to seek asylum and protection? No, we cannot apply for refuge status in a different universe. There is no such a place; everywhere is under the sphere of His influence and control.

B) The most frequently attempted method of changing a regime is a coup d’état. Is there any possibility of regime change in Heaven by a coup d’état? No, there are no competent or worthy oppositions in the autocratic celestial system. If the idea was feasible, the Devil who is the most elite rebel against God’s regime would have plotted this a long time ago. If the Devil is not up to the task, there is no chance for the atheist materialists and anti-theists. Furthermore, study of military coups illustrates that in every single case of a coup, nothing actually changes, as one bully manages to replace another bully. Therefore, what is the point of such a change? No coup d’état ever gave birth to an institutionalization of a durable democratic system, just take a glance at the political history of Africa and the Middle East.

C) Then, are we going to fight Him? What are anti-theists particularly going to do about this “celestial dictatorship”? Can they show us some leadership?

Let us assume that atheism expands from a philosophical ideology into a political ideology. Atheists now from passive observers of the universe change to active revolutionary freedom fighters who are mobilizing the people to resist and fight this unjust dictator. A movement led by contemporary atheists, the four horsemen of atheism: Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dennett.

Realistically, how do we fight this dictator, and if we find a practical way, can we win it? His power seems endless. If God is a “celestial dictator”, it seems that resistance is futile. Let us be positive and assume that, we can win this fight, and we eventually will.

One hopeful scenario would be that these revolutionary pioneers would be able to educate and unite the masses and successfully get everyone to revolt against God. Atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and secular humanists together form a formidable coalition against God. Boycotts and civil disobedience are the first things to do. No one should engage in acts of worship or attend places of worship. The movement gets hot and popular, and subsequently starts to spread like a wildfire. There will be secular Jihadists ready to give up their lives for a noble cause: Man’s freedom and unholy secular values. After sacrificing the blood of many humanist martyrs, at the end, humanity triumphs. God losses His throne. He is at last overthrown by humanity. Mankind is finally free from Divine subjugation. Individualism prevails, no more “Dos” and “Don’ts”. Envision a world without boundaries, imagine having a lifestyle when you can act as you like, when you are free to follow all your inner desires, when religious decrees can no longer spoil your enjoyments, when you are no longer judged or held accountable, when you are no longer required to pray, fast, go for pilgrimage or pay charitable taxes. Is this humanist idea of utopia worth fighting for?

D) Where is God’s headquarter in this endless universe? Where does He reside? Where can we find Him? Where is heaven, if He is there, how do we get there to arrest Him and bring Him down to justice?

Let us suppose that God is somehow arrested and charged with planning and conspiracy to engage in the continuous act of Divine terrorism, using weapons of mass destruction i.e. tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes and plagues. He is charged with killing of innocent children by injecting them with cancerous cell and viruses. Charged with failure to help victims of medical complications resulting in death or bodily harm. The list goes on and on. The bottom line is that He is a fake “Mr. Nice Guy”, He had the power to intervene and stop evil, but He chose not to.

The deposed God is brought on live television, interviewed by a panel of humanists. He confesses to His crime and is put on a fair trial. His trial is televised like O.J. Simpson’s trial. He is found guilty by a very objective judge and competent jury in the International Court at The Hague for crimes against humanity.

E) What is next rational step? Are we going to execute Him? The answer should be very obvious: We cannot. This dictator unlike all other dictators is immortal. He has no beginning and no end. He has no head to hang, no body to shoot at. He cannot be electrocuted or terminated by needle injection.

F) If death penalty is not an option, can He be sentenced to life in prison without parole? Once again the answer is no, this dictator’s life expectancy is eternal and never-ending. Furthermore, what if He escapes from prison and tries to regain His throne? For this detainee, the cost of His eternal everlasting escape-proof detention ought to be infinite.

G) Are we going to throw Him out of His domain and send Him off into exile somewhere far away? We cannot. Where to? Everywhere is His domain. That is a serious dilemma. What shall we do with a convicted God? Let us say he is kept in Guantanamo indefinitely until a solution is found. Meanwhile, maybe He will go on hunger strike and dies out of starvation and depression.

I suppose, we shall not be content with our achievement so far on this planet and would like to free the rest of the universe. We shall export our democratic revolution of “by the people, for the people and of the people” to other galaxies to free all other enslaved creatures as soon as we overcome the ‘minor problem’ of attaining warp speed. I suppose, it would free them up and help other lifeforms/extraterrestrials just as it did help the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and tons of other places.

H) Let us say that this guilty God voluntarily gives up His power and somehow wipes Himself out of existence into the realm of Nothingness. Let us suppose when He disappears, His creation will not disappear with Him. What is next? Who is taking over the universe now? Richard Dawkins? Or perhaps the ambitious Lawrence Krauss, or maybe Daniel Dennett since he has more experience. Let us assume there will be no back-stabbing and rivalry among these intelligent men of science for humanity’s intellectual and political leadership and there will never be divisions in this forever-cohesive political movement. Are there any guarantees that this new leader is not going to turn into another dictator? I think, human history can convincingly answer this question that power corrupts. In particular some of the worst dictators in human history were atheists, Godless cruel absolutist like Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot. In most human revolutions, the new clique turned out to be more ruthless and more ambitious than the old one, to the extent that soon after the regime change the masses started to regret the loss of the old ruler.

Thus, if all the above options are not a workable solution to deal with a “celestial dictator”, what would be a workable solution? If one somehow rationally comes to this conclusion that God is truly a dictator, this person should also objectively come to the subsequent conclusion that resisting this powerful dictator is futile and suicidal. So, get use to it, this is one dictator that you do not want to mess with. Therefore, the best sound thing for this individual to do is to submit to God as all other options are dead-end. And, if one really wants to gain favors and impresses this “celestial dictator”, it is best to “praise the dear Leader from dawn to dusk” and start reading this Dictator’s handbook on how to gain His favours. This is the only “dictator” worthy of adoration and worship. Hence, it pays off to conform and be submissive than to be a defiant loser.

When you think of it, to surrender to this “dictator” whole heartedly may indeed be a very liberating experience. Is this not what many believers in God voluntarily do with so much pleasure? For example, Muslims willingly submit to Allah from dawn to dusk by not separating “profane” from “mundane”, “sacred” from “secular”.

In conclusion, the obtuse and appalling idea of a “celestial dictatorship” seems to be deeply flawed and void of basic common sense.

2 Comments

Filed under Philosophy of religion