Tag Archives: Islam

Have You Ever Wondered, ….

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Have you ever looked up at the starlit sky one night and wondered about the magnificent order in the Universe?

Perhaps you are a biologist and are struck by the remarkable complexity of even the smallest microbe.

Perhaps you are a farmer and are impressed by the harmony in nature.

Perhaps then, you might have wondered that given the amazing complexity of the structure of the universe, its laws and all that is within, that there sure must be a Creator who has put this master plan into effect.

Perhaps then, you too might be in submission to His laws.

Perhaps then, you might be a Muslim.

Warning: Please stop wondering any further, you are on the verge of being labeled a terrorist and deemed inadmissible to the United States of America.

 

 

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The Day My Parents Lied to Me: “Shame on Them”

Mehran Banaei

I must have been 3 or 4 years old. After half a century, the memory of that day is still vividly fresh in my mind with so many details. It was my mother who came to me the day before and told me that tomorrow is “take kids to work day”. With her innate caring charm, she asked if I would like to have fun by allowing my father to take me to his work. She got me excited and I replied “yes”, with so much enthusiasm.  My father was a civil engineer working on construction sites in the suburbs surrounded by natural beauties. I went to bed that night and looked forward to having fun the next day by running around in the prairie.

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In the morning, my mother dressed me up with nice clothes and made me wear clean underwear. She told me: “today your dad is working at the hospital.” I knew my father also had a second job in the local hospital in our home town. I was disappointed about not being able to be in nature, but still was excited about the opportunity to get out of the house.

On our way to his work, my father tried to explain his job, working as a radiologist at the department of Medical Imaging. It was my first trip to a hospital and I did not find anything exciting about the hospital environment. I recall, I spent the most of the day waiting in the waiting area full of sick people, or around the garden at the front entrance of the hospital smelling violets and daffodils. By mid-day I was getting restless and bored, told my father that I wanted to go home. My father then introduced me to a nurse colleague and said she can show me an operation room before heading home. The nurse holding my hand took me alone inside, straight to an operation room. She asked if I wanted to play the game of “doctor and patient” and I would be the patient being operated on. I agreed. She put me on the operation bed. The next thing I knew I was surround by a few doctors and nurses. I thought it was all a game, until a male doctor removed my pants and started to touch my private parts. Even at such an early age I recognized that to be ungentlemanly conduct, felt very uncomfortable being exposed and helpless. So, broke into tears. I remember too well another doctor with an unpersuasive smile put a black rubber on my nose and I quickly went into a deep sleep.

The next thing I recall, I woke up at home in my room, being slightly in pain, wearing a skirt with blood stains, surrounded with boxes of sweets and pastries, and couple of new toys at my bedside.

It took me a few more years to learn what happened to me that day was a simple medical procedure called circumcision, which all my peers have gone through. I do not recall either one of my parents ever lied to me again, not even a white lie. Despite that haunting experience, in my book, my parents never lost their credibility or my respect.

While growing up, for years I kept asking myself, why did my parents lie and set me up? Were they at fault? Would there not have been a better alternative than deception to handle what was coming to me? Foremost, how would I have reacted to any other possible approaches?

I suppose another option would have been for my parents to tell the truth at the outset and allow me to make that decision for myself, after all, as the civil libertarians advocate it is my penis. My father could have come to me saying: Son, Piaget the renowned Swiss developmental psychologist argues that you can handle the truth at any age. I see it in you, you will grow up to study philosophy and logic. You will be a man of reason and rationality. So, let’s talk man to man, let me give it to you straight: Your Mom and I are concerned about your hygiene. We are committed to prevent you from having penile problems, such as having a decreased risk of urinary tract infections. More so, when you grow up, we like you to have a decreased risk of sexually transmitted disease. We would like to avoid, you suffering from phimosis, which is an inflammation of the foreskin or head of the penis. Beware that the foreskin on an uncircumcised penis can be difficult or impossible to retract. By being more hygienic as such, this helps your future wife to reduce the risk of having cervical cancer.

Relax and do not confuse this simple medical procedure with a form of cruel barbaric genital mutilation or allow yourself to suffer from a Freudian notion of castration anxiety. The doctor involved is the best surgeon in this field. Trust him. He is going to cut just the top skin, not the whole thing.  It is recommended that this surgery to be done at an early age. I assure you that the idea is safe. It has been practiced for thousands of years by all Muslims, Jews and boys from certain aboriginal tribes in Africa and Australia. Despite what you may hear later from secularists and atheists, we are not trying to indoctrinate you or subjugate you to a cruel religious ritual. If you don’t believe me, I offer you a Popperian falsification, go head make my day, consult with the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP). I take it you understand everything. So what do you say, do you agree to a prepucectomy? If so, please sign the consent form after consulting this matter with your lawyer.

Regardless of how smart a kid may be, even a genius 3-year-old is still a 3-year-old child. In retrospect, when I think of it; my parents indeed handled this in the best possible way. They unconditionally served my best interest with no appeal to cruelty or indoctrination. The reason for their lie was to eliminate the fear factor for a 3-year old child. My experience was void of any imposed religious or cultural flavour. In fact, I would not have known what happened that day, if the medical team had acted more diligently, by putting me under anesthesia first before starting the operation. Far from child abuse, my parents’ actions were no different than when Western parents tell stories about the tooth fairy to a child who is about to lose a tooth. How is the former considered as indoctrination but the latter is not? Why is it that parents like mine must be “ashamed”, are accused of cruelty motivated by religious dogma, having indoctrinated their children like a cult leader?

From Hitchens point of view, circumcising a little boy is a “shameful” and “inhumane” act. However, Hitchens had no problem supporting the invasion of Iraq which resulted in the death of over 200,000 innocent Iraqis, most of whom were children. Is this not a case of hypocrisy, or perhaps a convoluted perspective on what is “humane” and “inhumane”? He blatantly ignores researched data which disagree with his position.

The other opponents of the practice of circumcision are the far right anti-immigrant groups in Europe and North America, who think in Rome, immigrants should only do what Romans do. They take an offence, if the penis of an immigrant does not look consimilar to theirs. Similar to opposing to Halal/Kosher dietary practices or observing dress codes, circumcision is also under attack. Its practice seems taken as a big threat to Western values, values which are supposedly built on Judo-Christian heritage, and loudly broadcast tolerance and pluralism.

Like atheists, this group is also arrogantly attacking the practice of circumcision under the pretence of intellectualism blended with a self-acclaimed superior sense of morality and concerns for children’s welfare. In reality, their campaign to demonize and ban circumcision is nothing short of racism and xenophobia.

What motivates me to write this article is because I am getting sick of seeing how secularists like Hitchens, Dawkins and Krauss elevate themselves intellectually and morally high by painting their opponents as being stupid and barbaric. The current anti-theist movement revolves around a campaign that we the atheists are rational, objective; believe in science, and the theists are barbaric and close-minded. For Nothingness sake, for the love of natural selection, in defense of atheistic view, at least say something rational, objective and scientific.

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Propaganda and Brainwashing in Western Societies: The Power of the Media

Mehran Banaei

During the repressive totalitarian Soviet era, the Russian people were known to be among the most informed people in the world. Not that they had a better access to the news, on the contrary, their access to the real news was utterly restricted. However, Russians knew well that whatever their state controlled media propaganda machine was feeding them, was not true and the truth would most probably be the opposite of what was being constantly broadcasted.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the people in the West where the most coercive form of tyranny has been in effect inconspicuously, where the gullible masses are kept ignorant. Particularly in the North America to preserve governance, masses are constantly distracted by trivialities, spoon-fed with lies, and consequently kept in darkness. In this polluted atmosphere, deliberate manufactured endarkenment is considered as enlightenment, and an actual enlightenment is considered as dogma. Insisting on the truthfulness of the Truth is considered as radicalization. Unlike Russians, very few people in the West question the contents of the corporate media or are able to distinguish between news and propaganda, hypnotism and entertainment, indoctrination and education. For the overwhelming majority, even if the truth is somehow leaked, it does not really matter to them that they were lied to all along. This bizarre indifferent attitude can only be the result of a premeditated systematic conditioning and desensitization.

Indeed, the most coercive form of tyranny is not that of the former Eastern Block system with KGB spies and surveillance cameras being present everywhere, but it is the one that prevents people from seeing the truth and removes the awareness of other possibilities. It is the one that makes it seem inconceivable that perhaps there are much better ways and viable socio-economic and political solutions. It is the one that removes the sense that there is a better world beyond our manufactured mental borders. It is the one that makes the people illusively think that they are in charge to govern their own affairs; yet they are being easily governed. It is the one that conditions people to erroneously feel liberated and well-versed freethinkers while they are actually in bondage. And above all, it is the one that makes the Truth look like a lethal idea and those who advocate it are monstrous fanatics to be feared.

Malcom X believed, the media is the most powerful entity on earth: “The media has the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent,” thereby, well capable to control the minds of the masses. Not surprisingly, he was labeled a radical rabble-rouser and was assassinated in the country that prides itself as a free polarized society. He realized that media is the prime working tool for the elite to subjugate the masses. Their prime goal has always been to create fear and divert attention from real accomplice of the crimes committed. Politics of fear dictates that bogymen are created and constantly demonized.

Fear

St. Augustine narrates the story of a pirate captured by the warmonger lunatic Alexander, pathetically tilted “the Great”, who asked him “how dare he molest the sea”. The pirate boldly replied: “How dare you molest the whole world”. “Because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you are doing the same thing with a great navy, yet are called an Emperor”.  Nothing has changed from those days other than the Emperor and pirate. The pirate is always to be feared, while the Emperor is supposedly the benevolent protector, a champion for democracy and human rights.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the scapegoat changed from communist party to Islam. The religion that literal means peace, stands for justice and equality has been presented as one of the most violent and feared ideologies to combat. Deranged thugs and dictators who have never read the Quran are presented as faithful adherer of this religion, despite the fact that their conducts are at odds with the very basic tenets of Islam. But, why are there so much biases and double standards in the media and policies when it comes to Islam? Why does Islam have so many internal and external enemies? Is it possible that spread of Islam could pose a serious threat to the vested interests of certain groups? The answer is a most definite “yes”. Islam is no exception to rule and has many hostile enemies who cannot tolerate or afford its growth. Therefore,  for example could  the atrocities committed in the name of Islam by the so-called Muslims, like the Charlie Hebdo attack or 9/11 not simply be a false flag operation to demonize Muslims and ostracise Islam. It is not like the Western governments never engaged in covert operations or appealed to deception before. Their track records prove otherwise.

Hardly anybody in the West questions why the upper echelons that own the media resent Islam, and falsely portray this worldview in such a harsh manner. The simple reason is that it is due to the blatant fact that Islam, a comprehensive socio-political system, poses a deadly threat to the existing oligarchical structure of most parasitic and corrupt societies. For assuredly:

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate the present unjust socio-economic set-up that sustains the current unfair system of distribution of wealth and resources.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate any move towards a control of the world resources, economies and political systems by a cabal of power-hungry elites.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate any system which would continuously piles-up a massive amount of arms and arsenal for its own profit and protection, while leaving its own grandmothers and grandfathers, begging homelessly on decrepit streets.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate any banking system that would callously and unjustly force a dispossession of one’s property, because of missed mortgage payments.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate any economic system which makes a huge profit by the degradation and destruction of the environment in various ways.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate the pharmaceutical industry in which its goal is blatantly set on repeat customers rather than curing the patient.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate a colossal alcohol industry that, like a vampire, drains the life-blood by providing a habituative obnoxious fluid to society at the expense of the predominant health, family and social complications.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate an industry which strips women off their clothes and dignity, and perpetuates promiscuity, immorality and family breakdown in society in order to inflate the wallets of executive pimps.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate a multi-billion dollar cosmetic and fashion industry, which replaces the intrinsic values of women with instrumental values, since its lifeline depends upon spreading illusory images to brainwash women to market themselves for disguised licentious men.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate an educational system which produces regurgitative automatonic relativists, who conform to machine-like systems and are blind to all of the above problems from cradle to grave.

Islam is a nuisance to the voracious conglamerates who own the world. Therefore, it would indeed be an exceedingly naive presumption that in this system anything good will ever be said about Islam, an ideology with many common enemies.

Voltaire, the famous French satirical polemicist, recognized the dubious soico-political system imposed by undemocratic established institutions of the day; he suggested that to learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.

The answer will be clear to anyone who chooses to accept the truth unequivocally, that is one who does not have any vested interests, other than to know the reality of who is trying to run the show.

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“Moderation” in the Consumption of Alcohol: Nonsense upon Flimsy Stilts

“Moderation” is the best defense provided for the consumption of Alcohol. This seemingly harmless approach is adopted by both the alcohol industry as well as a segment of the healthcare industry adhering to the “harm reduction” model. In this comprehensive book, the author attempts to debunk this inept and deceptive approach by providing 23 different arguments to refute the proposed solution to combat alcoholism. He concludes that “moderation” cannot be defined or prescribed to defend the consumption of alcohol.

You can view or download this book in PDF format at the link below.

Moderation_in_the_Consumption_of_Alchohol_Nonsense_upon_Flimsy_Stilts

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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.

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From Mecca to the Galapagos: The Memoirs of a Pondering Philosopher of Nature

Mehran Banaei

Jan. 2013, Part One: Before the Trip

I always wondered what would be the differences in the brain activities during sleep, or the quality of sleep between two contrasting occasions: A) When one goes to sleep at night and has to catch a flight at 6:00 a.m. the next morning in order to start an exotic vacation. B) When one goes to sleep and has to face a firing squad at 6:00 a.m. on the following day. As far back as I can remember my position on mind and body relationship was that, I always assumed in case of “A”, one has to be obviously at peace. In case of “B” one has to be in so much agony, sick to death, or to say the least psychosomatically disturbed.

Last night I was the person described in scenario “A”, as I went to bed early and wondered how pleasant my sleep going to be. Since it was the night before my long anticipated journey. I was hoping to be the consummate purveyor of sweet dreams on top of a good night sleep. However, sadly I admit it was not the case at all. Far from being relaxed, I was not even able to sleep for a minute. My anxiety level was so high, plagued by worries about unexpected things that could go wrong. I was tossing and turning all night long like a ship in a perfect storm. In the morning I was so surprised to learn that one of my oldest assumptions was shattered into pieces when it was actually tested. Well, no big deal; I have been proven to be wrong before, and this incorrect assumption was not on a fundamental issue. Nevertheless, it is always better to be corrected than remain in error. For comparison, I hope I don’t ever get to experience “B”; although you never know, in case of “B”, I may be surprised to find myself to be so relaxed and smiling while standing before my erstwhile executioners.

I cannot stop thinking where else I could be wrong and not knowing. For a man who is obsessed with certainty this is bothersome. Yet, the last night experience turned out to inadvertently confirm another cherished belief of mine, that is, Man has to constantly put his faith to test. Yes, relentless confirmation and re-confirmation, this is exactly what I am about to do again. While absolute certainty is obtainable, one should always remain wide open to challenge it. Even if one does not find any flaws, constant confirmation makes one feel more secure. Several times in my life I deleted everything I believed from my mind and started from scratch to re-investigate the Truth without any affinity to what I previously believed. If there is ever going to be a “paradigm shift” in our human understanding of the objective reality, I want to be among the first people who realize it. I am not looking for a prize, just do not want to have a wrong belief, not even for a minute. The last three times I engaged in this exercise I came to the same conclusion, the last of which was during 2011/2012.

Here I am waiting at the Miami airport for my next flight to Lima, Peru to fulfil this enduring mission. Going away to South America for a month. I am on my way to destinations high up on the top of the Andes, and then further deep into the heart of the virgin Amazon rainforest, and finally will follow the footsteps of Charles Darwin and will sail to the volcanic Islands of Galapagos in the Pacific Ocean. The last stop is surely the cream of the pie. Galapagos is one of those rare beautiful group of nearby islands in the world beside of course Kish & Qeshm in the Persian Gulf, that once in there, one does not get distracted by heedless semi-naked girls wearing dental floss for cover. Unlike Cancun or popular destinations in the Caribbean, it is not enticing to average sunseekers and young beach party lovers. The beaches there are crowded by giant fully naked sea lions, tortoises, various species of land and marine iguanas, countless sally lightfoot crabs, penguins and albatross, etc. all reclining in a majestic landscape. Truly, a pristine beauty to be witnessed at a close encounter. Galapagos archipelago is a protected area with a unique and phenomenal wildlife. I picked this spot particularly because; it is said to be the microcosm of life on earth, a complex and delicate ecology evolved over some million years on a solidified volcanic lava piled up from the bottom of the ocean. Right there at these islands diverse multifaceted life started from zero in total isolation.

See BBC Galapagos Series:
http://www.infocobuild.com/books-and-films/nature/galapagos-bbc.html

Nowhere on earth such an abundant of life can be found packed together. Another of its uniqueness is that most Galapagos animals are known to be fearless and approachable.

The trip will provide me with the opportunity to gaze in wonder. I am taking with me a small telescope, a microscope, my scuba diving gear and a newly purchased underwater camera. I am taking this trip alone to think and reflect, more so than mere sightseeing, to reflect on the whole of the universe and Man’s place in it. To reflect upon the incredible complexity and miracle of life, to continue reflecting about life and death, about joy and pain, to reflect upon my own frustrations and failures here and there, to reflect about all my unanswered “Why” questions and so on. To seek meaning and purpose for my own worthless existence. I am not depressed or suicidal, but just being realistic. As Omar Khayyam poetically puts it in his Rubaiyat, the same goes for each one of us considering the overall scheme of things: “My personal existence brought no benefit to the universe, nor does my demise diminishes its majesty and glory”.

Secondly, I would like to probe into how such an experience as claimed by some British naturalists and explorers would possibly lead one to atheism. How can anyone deduce atheism from nature is beyond me? I often hear that the belief in God was acceptable until Darwin discovered evolution. Darwin’s discovery demolished the need for a Divine Planner for the creation of life. I kick my own head to figure out how the theory that one species could have evolved to another would eliminate the role of the Creator and justifies atheism or agnosticism. For instance, David Attenborough, despite his incomparable global firsthand experience in nature is a self-proclaimed agnostic. Mind you, I like Attenborough very much, but never had much respect for agnostics in general, that is those who neither believe nor disbelieve in the existence of a Deity. What do you mean you neither believe nor disbelieve? How could that be? No offense, if I may I be so blunt as to enquire: Are you so unintelligent that after a lifetime of living in time and space dimensions and possessing a fully functioning brain you still cannot figure out what to believe on this most basic issue? When do you think you are going to figure it out Sir/Madam?

For Attenborough after all that he has seen, the stumbling block to believe in God is the so-called “Problem of Evil”. [And I ask them], “Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child’s eyeball? Because that doesn’t seem to me to coincide with a God who is full of mercy.” I never felt that this sort of emotional and psychological argument can pose any logical challenge to the existence of God; nor do I really think the view expressed here is an intelligent one. Its flaw is that the premise does not support the conclusion. Attenborough is basically saying, if there is a merciful loving God, the infected child should not get infected and lose an eye. He expects the law of consequences to be inconsequential because God is merciful. Living in the universe of cause and effect, the infected child consequently loses an eye; Attenborough then becomes unsure now if the universe has a Creator. Thus according to him, maybe there is no God. Thereby, he is now an agnostic and does not know what is going on.

There are so many others who formulate similar erroneous arguments arriving at the same conclusion, just using slightly different premises. For example:

If there is a merciful loving God, He would then respond favorably to my sincere outcry. He did not respond to my persistent prayers and left me alone in my difficult time of need. Therefore, there is no God.

If there is a merciful loving God, my wonderful mother did not have to die from cancer. My mother has passed away, suffered so much from a long painful disease. She did not deserve this. Therefore, there is no God.

If there is a merciful loving God, my teenage daughter would not have to die in a horrific traffic accident, my beloved daughter the nicest person on the earth is now gone forever. Therefore, there is no God. All you need to disprove the existence of God is to walk into a children hospital.

If there is a merciful loving God, I would not have to go through an unfair painful divorce experience. After working so hard all my life, I lost everything, my family, my wealth, and my health. Where is justice? Life sucks. Therefore, there is no God.

If there is a merciful loving God, “He would make that gorgeous chick next door to fall in love with me. Is this too much to ask for from someone who claims to be your best friend?” She is not in love with me, does not even notice me, and is too busy to watch The America’s Next Top Model. Therefore, there is no God. “Where is this God when you need him?”

If there is a merciful loving God, He would have prevented, me losing my wallet with my hard-earned paycheck in it. I lost my wallet, can’t find it. Therefore, there is no God.

If there is a merciful loving God, He would not allow slavery and human exploitation to permeate. Therefore, there is no God.

If there is a merciful loving God, and He is as powerful as claimed with foreseeable knowledge, 9/11 should have been prevented. If I had known this is what was going to happen that morning, I would have alarmed the authorities. Wouldn’t you? Therefore, there is no God.

I am not trying to be cute here; these statements are actually what I have personally heard people saying. It seems that if one’s expectation is not fulfilled then atheism is warranted. Why do we fail to see that in everyday ups and downs of life, it is man who is on trial not God? These arguments are all fallacious, and are known as invalid modus ponens or the fallacy of affirming the consequent. There is a profound problem with this line of reasoning. Allow me to explain:

It is like saying: If my husband really loves me, he would then bring me flowers. He does not bring me flowers. Therefore, he does not love me. Or the reverse: if my husband loves me, he would bring me flowers. He does regularly bring me flowers, therefore he loves me. In either case the conclusion made is invalid, what if the husband in question orders for flowers delivered to his wife from his mistresses apartment, or buys inexpensive flowers for his wife, but gives very expensive diamond jewelry to his mistress. Or, maybe a devoted loving husband is just too busy to earn a living in order to provide a comfortable lifestyle for his wife. The point here is giving or not giving flowers cannot be a rational criterion for love.

Another example, if Mehran Banaei wrote the “Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse”, then Mehran is a superb writer. Mehran is a superb writer. Therefore, Mehran wrote the “Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse”. Not so, Mehran did not write the “Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse” nor is he a skilful writer in either English or Persian. Mehran does not even speak French or has ever claimed to have written “Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse”. Further, we know for a fact that “Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse” is written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The above reasoning is flawed.

Apart from doing a biopsy and autopsy on the above ill-posed arguments to determine structural validity, I would like to ask Mr. Attenborough: Have you not seen enough wonders to overcome your fixation over a tiny parasitic worm? Be fair. That is the way nature operates – let’s accept it. One species thrives on another one for its survival, Attenborough knows this well. He would not be complaining about God’s mercy when he is on the driver’s seat having his chicken soup and fish & chips.

A believer in God, however, who loses an eye for whatever reason, is taught to peacefully accept and submit to the bitter reality that he cannot change. What is done is done. He knows that the belief in God, first and foremost, does not give the believer a special status, i.e. a privileged one such as diplomatic immunity against misfortunes and adversaries. Life goes on regardless. Further, he is also taught prevention and science of cure, which he must always be mindful of or pay the price. Furthermore, in the above case God is so merciful to the worm. Isn’t He? This worm is also a part of His creation. What’s ecological diversity without worms? How is this case any different than when a monstrous crocodile devours a defenseless Thomson’s gazelle in one move? Is the gazelle not as “innocent” as the child whom Attenborough refers to? The hunt is good for the crocodile and bad for the unsuspecting thirsty gazelle, depending on your perspective, yet that keeps the whole ecosystem in balance. Is this not what Darwin called the survival of the fittest? Was it not Darwin who introduced the brutality of Nature, “Nature, red in tooth and claw”?

Wait a minute Mr. Attenborough, why are you holding grudge against God? You are agnostic and a Darwinian evolutionist, why as an evolutionist you are assuming one species (man) has more moral and intrinsic value and more rights to life than another (worm)? This is not a scientific postulation, yet alone a Darwinian one. Darwinism or any other disciple in science cannot by any means imply that humans are more important and relevant in the grand scheme of things than worms. Further, if this case really bothers you, should you not be addressing your objection to “Natural Selection”? After all, it is Natural Selection’s fault, which favoured the worm over man. Why double standards? Why when credit is due, it is given to “Natural Selection”, but the perceived problems are attributed to God?

The proponents of the “Problem of Evil” often confuse God with Superman or Genie, and expect Hollywood style intervention. The best of their arguments cannot establish that there is no God, but “Natural Selection”. At most it can only suggest that the Creator is like the universe which is neither benign nor hostile. He is indifferent to all His creation: both large and small, organic and inorganic, living or inanimate, etc. However, this deistic view too, has its own share of predicaments that I will not elaborate here.

I think having experiences such as that of David Attenborough should indeed lead one swiftly to the opposite conclusion. The famous French oceanic explorer, Jacques Cousteau, the Sorbonne University Prof./explorer/Egyptologist/M.D., Maurice Bucaille, the American astrophysicist George Smoot, and his fellow countryman astronomer Owen Gingerich the author of God’s Universe (2006), Australian Biochemist Michael Denton author of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (1985) and Nature’s Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe (1998) are just a few among many who would have fully agreed with me. We just don’t hear much about what they have to say, as much as we constantly hear from Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawkins.

Cousteau in his last book titled: The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus said: “The glory of nature provides evidence that God exists; those who show no respect for nature show no respect for God.” The statement here resembles numerous verses in the Quran. Interestingly enough Cousteau candidly acknowledges this Quranic point. The first part of the above quote is also exactly similar to what William Paley said 50 years before Darwin. Elsewhere in his book he says: “Faith after faith exhorts its followers to open their eyes to nature as a reflection of God’s grandeur. What a contrast between Attenborough and Cousteau? Gingerich believes we live in a designed universe of purpose and intention. Smoot said “looking into the cosmos is like looking at God.” I say, looking at a minute speck of dust is like looking at God. Do you have any idea how complex a microscopic dust particle is, and the beauty & order it displays? Have you ever marveled at the complexity and beauty of a valueless grain of sand or a bird’s feather? I urge you to check it out:

Sands: http://inspirationgreen.com/magnified-grains-of-sand.html
Dust: http://www.smokyhillbound.com/forum/dust-magnified-22-million-times

Regular sands on a beach magnified 250 timessands

Household dust magnified 22 million times, consists of long hairs, cat fur, twisted synthetic, woollen fibres, serrated insect scales, a pollen grain, plant and insect remains.

dust

Magnified view of a red-tailed hawk feather, looks like a hand knitted fabric

red-tailed-hawk-feather

I have been indeed privileged to witness wonders far beyond dust particles and so grateful, indeed so grateful to comprehend the implications. Having experienced a week deep in the Brazilian part of Amazon, and visited the breathtaking Iguazu Falls in Argentina and Patagonia back in 1999 with my sisters, I recall I felt much closer to my Creator than when I was circling the Kabba in Feb. 2000. Ironically, it was my South American experience, seeing a natural and delicate ecological order in the lavish Amazon rainforest and watching a countless number of bright stars at night which motivated me to take the subsequent trip to Mecca.

I just got back from the Middle East having preformed my 2nd Hajj (pilgrimage) some 13 years later. The end result was not as fulfilling as I was hoping to be. I was yearning to feel that “Allah is indeed closer to [me], than [my] jugular vein” (Quran 50:16). I had an enormous zest to experience what Moses experienced when he went up to Mount Sinai, and I didn’t. I suppose, there may very well be a problem with my expectation, after all I am not Moses or anyone special, nor is Hajj supposed to be a rendezvous with the Divine, but a mere acknowledgment of one’s submission to the Divine. German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler, a key figure in the 17th century science had a similar sense of inquisitiveness. He is reported to have said: “There is nothing I want to find out and yearn to know with greater urgency than this: Can I find God, whom I can almost grasp with my own hands in looking at the universe as well as in myself?” It was this strong sense of curiosity that led him to purse science, a means to reach at the Divine.

For me after a lifetime of contemplation, the debate on Causality has reached the level that I would say, I can prove the existence of the First Cause just the same way one proves the Pythagorean theorem, both deductively and somewhat inductively; the clear objective signs are overwhelming. I am hoping to add some personal subjective components to an objective conviction, adding personal touch to a linear verification process, that this is not all belief in abstraction; one can indeed experience it too. I want to experience that which reason dictates. Subsequently, this experience can be kept fresh in my own mind as a reminder for as long as I am alive. I wish to understand the nature of the Divine and His mind, if I may, if I am capable to comprehend this Reality. Or, is it all beyond my comprehension, totally inaccessible to my limited intellect? Is my quest quixotic or supremely rational?

In Mecca, I felt I was in presence of an Entity that knows my past, present and future. It really felt like, there is no point to put up my best side, this Entity knows me so well and can see straight through me. I kept telling myself, “so Mehran just be who you really are.” When I entered the Harram (sanctuary), at the beginning I was a bit fearful, fearing: is the Almighty pleased with me or displeased and is perhaps going to get me for all my wrong-doings. However, my fear very soon disappeared, for I felt that despite all my past shortcomings, I was invited and welcomed there. For weeks I entered the two historic Mosques in Madina and Mecca, made never-ending supplications and was so sure that the Incomparable Master of the universe would hear me. However, Just like Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), I wanted to see or hear a reply that can be certain it is directly from Him. An individual customized message addressed to me, a message in a bottle, flung from eternity to me. So far I have not, or have been unable to decode His envisioned communication to me. “Patience is a virtue”, that is what I keep telling myself. It will come, it will come. I should know better, the importance of patience is the first thing one learns in reading Aristotle as well as Persian poetry.

A scene in the Ten Commandments movie had a tremendous effect on me. That is the part when an Egyptian solider kills an old Hebrew slave in a mud field. Moses grabs the man and tries to comfort him in his dying moments. The man not knowing who Moses is, tells Moses that he has no fear of death nor has any regrets; his only disappointment in life is that God never answered his prayer. Moses curiously asks him: what was your prayer old man? The man replies all my life I prayed that before I die I get to see the “Deliverer”. How ironic it is that, the man then dies in peace in Moses arms. I would not be so impressed with this probably fictional scene if I could not personally relate to it. The lesson here is that we too often just don’t see the obvious, or if we see it, we tend to easily forget it. I keep asking myself, what kind of a message would really convince you Mehran that the message is directly from the Divine. What convinces you that He is indeed closer to you than your jugular vein? Honestly, I have absolutely no idea and don’t really know. I guess, I would know when I receive it.

So on this trip to South America, I would try to decode or should say remind myself of His general message, where the objective is to get closer to Him. Furthermore, I intend to test one more time which of my two back to back, dissimilar Truth/soul searching trips, would drastically increase my Taghwa (God-consciousness) and brings me near to the Most Merciful. Mecca in a hot barren desert or the lavish Galapagos? Although I already know the more one is in contact with nature, the more one sees the glorious signs of the Big Bang Originator. There is a famous and profound saying of Prophet Mohammed that “An hour of contemplation on the work of the Creator is better than seventy years of prayer.” This saying makes a lot of sense. If you have the proper perspective and are well-focused, being in nature is like having a one on one dialogue with the Creator. By observing signs in nature, you can easily become aware of many of His attributes. This approach is more logical than going to a retreat in an isolated cave, meditating for a number of years with the sound of one hand clapping, or travelling to India or Tibet to meet the famous Yogis or Dalai Lamas, asking them to show me a mystical path to Nirvana. I have no interest in shopping for a new manmade organized religion; to me organized religion is no different than organized crime. All religions have turned into a moneymaking business and a means to control the masses. However, unlike atheists I would never negate the Deity for the crimes constantly committed in His name. I have no interest in following a “spiritual leader”, for they are all crooks. I trust my own brain more than someone else’s, and that which I do not know yet, is no obscured secret; it can be acquired. Reality should not be mysterious and inaccessible to ones intellect, understood and preached by the supposed “chosen few”.

When I observe the inherent behavior of any species in its natural habitat, I feel like I am observing a proper behavior of a truly upright monotheist who is in total submission to Allah. I even sense that this bird, or ant or a tree is acting as a TA (Teaching Assistance), purposely trying to lead me to something, teaching me a 101 course on how to drop my human arrogance, selfishness and be in harmony with the rest of nature. Telling me, if you really want to be free you must be in submission to none, but the Master. To have this dialogue with the Divine you must tune your reception on the proper frequency in order to receive the ubiquitous Divine signals. The signals given have a message for all attentive individuals whose radio receiver is left on. The message is: nothing is random, the universe is designed; it follows certain laws and is perusing an intention. The universe is not created in vain. Everything in the universe points to an Intelligent Designer and a Programmer.

“Indeed, in the origination and design of the universe, and in the alternating succession of night and day, evidence indeed exists for those who use their minds, who remember their Creator, while standing, sitting and reclining on their sides, and contemplate on the creation of the universe, exclaiming: “Our Sustainer! You have not created all this without a meaningful purpose. Glory be to You!” Quran (3:190-191)

Fast-forward the evolutionary processes of the creation of the Galapagos in your mind. From when the lava surfaced and cooled off to a paradise that it is now and then tell me, if it can be all due to an unguided processes of “Natural Selection”. Take one step back; just the same way imagine the processes involved in the creation of the earth from some 4 billion years ago to present. Take one more step back; visualize the creation of the universe from the Big Bang some 15 billion years ago to present. Although many atheist evolutionists do not wish to use the term “accident”, but according to them, it all seems that we had a long sequential chain of favourable accidents one after another in order to be here. This is utterly impossible, accepting it is a sheer exercise in self-deception and outright stupidity.

“Have they never cast a glance at the firmament above? How We have set it up and decked it out! And how there are no rifts in it. And the earth ¾ We have spread it out; have cast forth stabilizing mountains and caused to grow on it, in complimentary pairs, all kinds of palatable vegetation. All these signs merit deep reflection and reminiscence by every penitent votary.”  (Quran 50: 6-8)

“He created seven universes in layers. You do not see any imperfection in the creation by the Most Gracious. Keep looking; do you see any flaw? Look again and again; your eyes will come back stumped and overstrained.” Quran (67: 3-4)

In respond to William Paley’s elegant argument, watch (life) and the Watchmaker (God), Dawkins in his book: The Blind Watchmaker argues that the blind forces of physics are responsible for all that exist, referring to “Natural Selection” as a sightless process having no intent. He says: “A true watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs, and plans their interconnections, with a future purpose in his mind’s eye. Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind.” … “It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker.” The conclusion of his book is, thanks to “Natural Selection” anything in nature which does look designed is not really designed, only appears to be designed. Wow, what a load of sugarcoated crap coming from someone whom the world regards as one of its most eminent scientists. Please pardon my English, I honestly cannot express my true feelings any differently. Note how far a naked Emperor goes to deny the obvious.

Am I supposed to accept that i.e. the rampant Fibonacci sequence and golden ratio in nature/cosmos are an outcome of a blind purposeless process? Am I supposed to accept the Double Helix geometric shape of DNA, the molecule of life is an outcome of a blind process having no thoughtful origin? Each human DNA molecule is comprized of chemical bases arranged in approximately 3 billion precise sequences, which Dawkins claims, is all work of blind forces of nature, I guess having nothing better to do for leisure. Is Mr. Dawkins cognizant of how much mathematical computation being processed so spontaneously in our brain, when the brain commands a simple task to our body like to lift a cup of coffee or to start walking? Am I supposed to ignore that if the precise value of many physical constants had been different, the universe would not have supported carbon-based lifeforms? For example, if the rate of expansion of the universe from the Big Bang to present time was as small as 1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000 different (either above or below the cosmic constant), then the universe as we know it would not be here today. Subsequently, life on earth could not have evolved. Blind watchmaker eh! If this alone is not a proof for the existence of a Designer and a Creator, then I wonder what is. Whenever my belief and confidence weakens or I fail a trial, all I need to do is to remind myself of the above facts, or think of the complexity and beauty of a grain of sand or dust particles. I am swiftly rejuvenated and able to re-focus and overcome distractions.

Just a couple of days before I left Toronto, I went to see a friend mine who was in the hospital. The poor soul suffers from a number of serious medical complications and has been regularly in and out of hospital for the past 10 years. Some of his vital organs are either already removed or are not fully functioning. His last operation lasted 8 hours. When I saw him unconscious in the recovery room, he was connected to so many equipment, each piece was doing the task of an organ that he has lost or is impaired. There was a nurse seated next to him around the clock to monitor his condition. All those equipment that were connected to his body to keep him alive each one of us possess a small portable one in our body, made of the best technology there is. In the hospital I praised the Creator and prayed for his recovery, and thought only an arrogant fool would deny purpose and design. Why when an artificial heart or a kidney dialysis machine is manufactured by GE, Siemens or Philips, it is considered designed to serve a function, but a natural heart or kidney is not? How is it that teeth are not designed to chew food, but denture specifically is, a knee is not designed for movement, but knee arthroplasty delicately is? Consider another example; that of an injured Bald Eagle. Scientists have recently devised a prosthetic beak for this poor helpless eagle in the picture below.

BaldEagleAccording to atheistic Darwinian evolutionists, Dawkins et al, the original beak was not designed; it only has the appearance of design. However, the manmade imitation of the original, which can never look and function as good as the original, has been designed. What an incredibly irrational, and hence unscientific claim.

The whole biomimicry industry revolves around copycat design of what nature does best. The creative capacities of nature and the whole of universe are mind-boggling. Indeed, Dawkins makes absurd arbitrary distinction.

So, the origin of a watch is with a watchmaker who is supplied with the parts. The origin of anything is with its originator, this is not rocket science. Dawkins erroneously assumes that every self-proclaimed believer in “God” is a mindless fundamentalist fool. His arguments often lack rational muscle. He aims but fails to convince a thinking person that if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it isn’t a duck. Yup, sure.

If this assertion is true, then, Mr. Dawkins, you, Darwin and all other atheist evolutionists, your brains, thoughts, views, writings, etc. are not valid and true, or a concomitant result of a free intellectual inquiry. They are mere product of a blind, unconscious, automatic, mindless and mechanical process. For a man who argues: “the basic idea of The Blind Watchmaker is that we don’t need to postulate a designer in order to understand life, or anything else in the universe,” would that “anything else in the universe” not include his own brain, all his academic postulation the product of that brain being void of purpose, thoughts, design and intelligence.

Further, let’s assume the processes of cosmic and earthly Natural Selection from when it all started until the end of time is blind. That means it also has to be blind to future, not aware of the outcome of a chain of events 15 billion years later. From the Big Bang to present we can assume that the evolutionary processes involved were unguided and totally blind, but we cannot assume that they were not goal-oriented. The passage of time confirms this to be a fact. A goal oriented process is not blind, cannot be blind, it ought to see and recognize the goal to aim at it. It ought to constantly stay on track. As physicist Freeman Dyson puts it: “The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.” Therefore, if the processes involved were goal-oriented with foresight, they could not have been blind as Dawkins assumes. It is no surprise that he dismisses the notion of purpose in design as a silly notion. The atheists are unable to tackle this issue using science or any other tools. No scientist can argue that the outcome of creation, from the Big Bang origin meant to be anything other than what it is now without deviating from the realm of empirical science. This would lead me to my next thought.

If you put all the necessary groceries in a fully equipped kitchen with high-tech appliances, the meal still will not be prepared in a zillion eons if there is no chef with a recipe who is willing to cook. For sake of argument let’s stretch our imagination, suppose in the morning you wake up and see your favorite omelet and coffee is ready just on time for your consumption without anyone preparing them. You don’t need to drive yourself crazy to figure out who prepared this meal; you are spared the agony to resolve the mystery. There is indisputable evidence on how did this happen, a convincing note on the table saying:

Good Morning,

Enjoy your favorite breakfast, will be back on time to fix your most desired supper.

Love & Hugs,
The blind wavering, but caring and dying to please forces of physics

P.S. You can call me Natural Selection

Well, blind forces or not, where did these forces come from? Where did the law that if you apply heat to meat or egg it will be cooked come from, what if it did evaporate or disintegrate instead. We would then have had a completely different universe. Why is there cause and effect, why action and reaction, why stimulus and response, why harmonious order as opposed to chaos? Why is there something as opposed to nothing? Why is there “Natural Selection” at work as opposed to “unnatural rejection”? Where did evolution and inescapable domination of the principle of evolvability come from? Who set the rules and safeguards them? Where did all the matter and energy in the universe come from? How did consciousness popped into the picture with matter and energy? Would any materialist evolutionists dare to tackle these core relevant questions? The point is, the so-called “Natural Selection”, if it exists at all, is not a conscious process, acting on its own volition. It operates based on existing pre-determined laws. Anyone who attributes order and fine-tuning of the universe to the natural physical laws of nature has said absolutely nothing, so long as he or she has no sound explanation and proof for the original source of regularities and applied physical laws. The term law denotes regular orderly operation, not an ad hoc procedure. The explanation offered begs the question when ignores the Regulator and Lawgiver. Therefore, evolution (process) is not a challenge to the notion of the Creator, because a process must have a cause. Interestingly enough the materialist atheists question who created God, but never pose the question who designed and created the Darwinian mutating replicator.

Further, if “Natural Selection” is indeed responsible to feed us every day and is the underlying reason for the survival of all species, shouldn’t we be so grateful to this process, rather than constantly trivializing the intelligence behind this mechanism. If there is no God, but “Natural Selection”, we should then start to worship “Natural Selection” as our sustainer, a worthy god to worship. That would be a good first step in the right direction.

Denying or covering a causal/intelligent factor in the creation of the universe is like attempting to suck air out of existence, an impossible task to achieve. The intelligent factor keeps on popping up somewhere else down the line. The scientists who dismiss intelligent design behind universe/nature are indeed far more dogmatic and fanatical about their belief than those religious zealots who worship rats and cows or drink their own urine for longevity. More is expected of those who should know better, yet they advocate magic wrapped in a science package. To quote Molière the 17th century French writer, “A learned fool is more a fool than an ignorant fool.” The irony of it is these arrogant atheists are under the illusion that they are the intellectual elite of the society. They cannot comprehend that those individuals who seek the Truth and are obsessed with certainty would never settle with the “hope of the hopeless.” The ancient Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero said: “If anyone cannot feel the power of God when he looks upon the stars, then I doubt whether he is capable of feeling at all. From the enduring wonder of the heavens flows all grace and power. If anyone thinks it is mindless then he himself must be out of his mind.” (On the Nature of the Gods, Penguin Classics, 1972, 2.55)

Christopher Hitchens in an interview before his death said that when he was a kid, he once heard from his elementary school teacher that among all colours in the world, blue and green have the most calming effect on human psyche. The teacher concluded that this is perhaps why God picked the colour of blue for sky and green for vegetation. Hitchens laughs at the teacher’s inference, since according to Darwinian evolutionists our liking of blue and green is all because of our adaptation to these colours. So, if sky was pink and vegetation happened to be bright yellow, red or black we would still have felt just the same way. Imaging saying or hearing: “What a lovely gorgeous day today, just look at the beautiful pinky sky and that pretty black park in sight.” Well, this is an interesting theory, but is there any proof anywhere. Did our scientists suddenly forget that an explanation is not a proof? Or, is it all matter of a giant leap of faith in the all-mighty “Natural Selection”, and it must be true, because the Imam Richard Dawkins et al. have said so. Even if the offered explanation is valid, where did I get this handy, convenient and effortless ability to adapt to whatever is above and around. How can anyone skip this pivotal question? Why human species after 400,000 years or so still cannot adapt to the irritating sound of their own baby’s cry, but easily get use to any given colour? It seems that some desired adaptations are unachievable. Hitchens’ attitude is an example of a faulty, off tuned receiver not detecting primordial broadcasted signals. He and other materialists persist to observe the universe by looking at the wrong end of the telescope. Their arrogant attitude reminds me of the repeated verse in chapter 55 (Al-Rahman) of the Quran: where after a marvelous example similar to the above is given, then It asks: “Which one of the favours of your Lord do you deny?”

On this trip to South America, I also intend to visit the roughest neighborhoods in Lima and Quito to sense the real social fabric of these societies, although I have been warned not to. I will see, it cannot be worse than parts of Sao Paulo or Mexico City. I like to observe the socio-economic ills in faraway lands. I just hope I do not run into some of those criminals that I barred or deported from Canada over the years whom may recognize me. “Hey Señor Policia, it is payback time.” If in trouble, I guess my best defense would be my well-known Client Eastwood Dirty Harry imitation that should scare off all those South American punks.

I hope to stay healthy throughout this trip; I am a bit concerned about how my body would handle high and low altitudes, the humidity of the rainforest, etc. So much for being healthy and strong, a tiny mosquito (malaria) bit can knock me down for good. If that happens, God willing not, I recognize mosquito’s rights to life and procreation.

I have to go now, they are boarding. In the name of God, the Beneficent and the Merciful, let the journey unfold, see what it will teach and where is it going to take me to. I may not be able to update my log regularly as I will certainly have no, or limited access to the Internet. “Ya Haque” and God willing “hasta luego”.

Part Two: During and After

Life in our unique planet is manifestation of something truly extraordinary. Things that appear so “insignificant” have substantial properties and purpose(s). Existence of things such as mankind that are distinct in every sense of the word must have the outmost significant purpose, after all we appear to be so special compared to other species. I am trying to comprehend the dynamics of life, first and foremost my own life. Every experience in life has a purpose. My existence must have a reason and purpose; my personal experiences good and bad must have reasons behind them. I want to know what that purpose is. I do not want to be a passive observer of life, which I get to live it only once. The unfinished quest for awareness is driving me outside libraries, books and Internet to the various parts of the globe. I am anxiously looking for the Divine that my intellect verifies Its existence.

The British atheist Peter Atkins, one of the most arrogant and closed-minded atheists in the world while reclining in the comforts of his academic ivory tower claims: “only those with lazy mind would believe in God,” in a God which he defines as “the hope of the hopeless”. “The real thinkers” would come to believe in what he believes: in a self-created accidental universe. All my adult life as well as partial childhood I have tormented my mind to figure out what is the Truth. It seems like a never-ending exhaustive task. For a real thinker in my opinion, the zest to understand the nature of the universe gets greater and greater as one accumulates more experience and knowledge, as one gets closer and closer to death. “A priori” reasoning (justification independent of experience by sole usage of reason alone) no longer quenches my insatiable thirst. Now in my early 50s, I have come to appreciate “a posteriori” knowledge (discovering after experience) far more than I used to. I want to see, I want to feel, want to touch, want to experience. I am not willing to settle for mere rational cognitive analysis. Experience should support what reason dictates; it is like double locking method to feel really secure. Obsessive compulsive disorder may be a better sarcasm to use than calling people like me “lazy”, an obsession with certainty and Truth.

I arrived in Lima at night, there was a “G Adventure” driver waiting for me in the airport’s arrivals area with my name written on a placard. He took me from the airport to my hotel located in an affluent part of Lima known as Miraflores. On the way to the hotel, I noticed the barbwires and broken bottle glasses on the walls of almost all houses. Further I was very surprised to see so many casinos in Lima. The driver told me that all casinos in Lima are privately owned and runned. I would say there are more casinos in Lima as there are mosques in Isfahan. Next morning when I took my first walk around Miraflores I noticed there were 2 or 3 fully armed police officers in front of each bank and ATM machines. I had the intention to go and take a look at the impoverished areas of the city, but I realized that these observations alone are sufficient to provide me with a good sense of the real social fabric of Peru. It is a place that one has to constantly look at ones back. I realized that here I don’t have to look for trouble, if not careful trouble will come to me.

As careful as I was, in my first day in the city of Cusco located near Andes I was pickpocketed. I left the hotel to exchange some money. The exchange place was not far from the hotel. After exchanging money I was followed without knowing. At a crowded area, in split second two men made body contact with me, one coming from front another from behind. One of them stole my wallet with about $500 cash, all my IDs and credit cards in it. I instantly realized what really happened, but it was too late. They both disappeared in the crowd.

Naturally I was very upset, could not stop wondering why among all those tourists this should happen to me. The incident caused considerable difficulties for me and put a bitter taste in my mouth right at the onset of my journey. I was incredibly excited about this trip for so long and now this. I had my scuba diving license in my wallet without which could not dive in the Galapagos. How can I go on with this trip without having enough cash or credit cards? The wallet itself was gifted to me with some personal items in it. The wallet had a great sentimental value to me. I felt violated, cursed the two thieves and demanded justice. This experience was the epitome of when something unexpectedly goes wrong in life. Often a horrible accident at the worst possible time, leaving one with no choice, but to bitterly accept what has happened. Everything is fine and dandy, in a split second, things can change to a nightmare that may overshadow everything in one’s life and future. You had it all along, now you don’t, be that a loved one, good health, beauty or basic worldly possessions.

It took me a couple of days to get over this and tried not to allow this unfortunate incident to ruin my trip. However, in the next few days, I got even more disturbed by realization of my own deficiencies. Far from being a God-seeking poster boy, it seemed to me that I am just too phony. I should have looked at this incident from a much broader perspective, but failed to. Could this not have happened for a reason, which may unfold in future? May be there was wisdom behind this incident, which time will reveal. I kept telling myself: “You are full of it”, “You are as fake as Ahmadinejad”, …. I criticized myself for becoming revengeful. Why did I curse the two thieves? Why did I get angry beyond a couple of hours? I suddenly realized a huge gap between my ideal self and the real self. My conscious started to really bother me that I could not be a little bit forgiving. You may not understand why, but I myself know the reasons well. Let me try to explain these reasons.

First, I should have been grateful that the damage was not worse, it could have been much worse. I still had my passport and some cash left. Back on the eve of Christmas 2004, many people went on a vacation of lifetime and never returned. They were suddenly washed away into the sea by a massive Tsunami as they were walking on the calm beautiful resort beaches of Thailand, Indonesia, etc. On that fateful day, over 250,000 people died in 14 countries, one third of them were children. What is my loss compared to theirs? People go to Hajj to get closer to the Divine, some would not make it back. Every year so many pilgrims die due to heat exhaustion, disease, or accident, i.e. stampede or fire. Indeed, I failed to be a bit considerate and thankful in the realm of things.

Secondly, back in 1978, I saw a powerful movie titled “Les Miserables” based on Victor Hugo’s famous novel. By the passage of time I almost forgot about the plot and the main story in the movie, only 10 minutes of the movie always stayed fresh in my mind and left an everlasting impression. The movie is about an impoverished jobless man during a bad economic time in France who steals a loaf of bread because he and his family are hungry. He is caught and the court unjustly sentenced him to prison for 5 years, which later extends to 20 years, until he escapes. This helpless fugitive on run is so bitter about life and angry with God for what he went through, until destiny crossed his path with a God-conscious wiseman who created a turning point in this man’s life. The wiseman that I always envied to be. The wiseman who had a much better understanding of life and the Divine than I ever had. Indeed, how rich are those who have the proper understanding of life and man’s place/role in it.

(I recommend watching the whole movie or please watch from minute 27 to 37).

A few of years ago while watching the following CBC news this sentiment once again rejuvenated in me:

Once again I remembered the 1978 movie and wondered how would I react if I ever find myself in the same situation to that bishop or storeowner. Well, in Cusco I did find myself in that situation, and found out that I deserved a big fat “F”. The experience was a disappointing lesson in self-actualization. But is the self-actualization not what life is all about? Is this not why God puts man in tests and tribulations? Life is full of unpleasant surprises. What is the purpose of learning and accumulating knowledge if that knowledge does not manifest itself in ones behaviour and conduct? So in this sense I learned a valuable lesson worth more than $500 that was long overdue.

When I returned to Toronto, I looked for the movie which I watched back in the late 1970s, and have watched the said part several times. Each time it brings tears to my eyes and shame to me heart.

Andes

I began my journey from a small village of Sernanp, Piscacuch and followed the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. Starting point was the Huascaran National Park. We entered the park by crossing the Urubamba River on an old suspension bridge, gradually gaining altitude towards Machu Picchu. For five days I walked for about 85 Kilometers going up and down through the stony mountains of Andes, climbed as high as 4,200 meters above the sea level. Often the altitude was high enough for us to walk through the clouds and surpass them. Luckily, high altitude had no effect on me, however, I walked and climbed on a very slow pace, often too busy taking pictures and enjoying the view. I took about 1000 pictures during my trip, and actually wrote this diary paragraph by paragraph in my mind on route as I witnessed and experienced life in high and low places.

From the top of a high mountain, looking down at valleys below and other mountains in the horizon makes one feel how insignificant (size wise) one is on this vast planet. On the way, one can also enjoy seeing various neon butterflies, centipedes, millipedes and herds of llamas. At a clear night I could see one of the things that I actually came to see: millions of stars. Unfortunately throughout the night sky was often foggy.

At some part, I came across what would appear like pigeonholes in the mountains from far away. Once we got closer we were told that the holes in the mountains are actually graveyards where Inca people used to bury their mummified deads.

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The local tour guide kept talking about the greatness of Inca Empire. I certainly could see the greatness of their civilization, but on my mind it was those amazing neon butterflies, which I saw while climbing not on the big civilization that used to live in these mountains some millenium ago. The Machu Picchu only verified to me the Quranic verses, which state that there were people and advanced civilizations before us, but are no more.

“Have they not traveled through the land and observed how was the end of those before them? They were more numerous than themselves and greater in strength and in impression on the land, but they were not availed by what they used to earn. And when their messengers came to them with clear proofs, they [merely] rejoiced in what they had of knowledge, but they were enveloped by what they used to ridicule.” Quran (40: 82-83)

Where are those Inca people today? None left. Machu Picchu ruins is a reminder that big and powerful civilizations or the whole of humanity for that matter may not last forever.

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Up in the Andes it can get really cold at night, particularly if you are not moving and it is raining or snowing. You may get dizzy at times and experience difficulties in breathing. You have to be very careful and avoid slippery edges on steep mountains or you may fall to your death. Just a week before I got there an American tourist died after falling 300 meters into a ravine. Mountains are beautiful but inhospitable for city dwellers. Yet, some of the most inhospitable places on earth are home suit homes for some species, life cannot be any better elsewhere.

At the end of the trail we reached the beautiful town of Aguas Callientes. From there we took the train back towards Cusco. Train ride was through the mountains at the base level. I was thinking that the trip to Andes as valuable as it was, it did not really provide me with a sense that Allah is indeed closer to me than my jugular vein. I had the fear that may be I am just chasing my own tail, trying to experience the impossible, something that my brain is not even able to handle. That is, the nature of the Deity Itself is not subject to human experience. If I know that very well, then what am I looking for? After over an hour and half of train ride, deep in my own thought, I suddenly noticed that we just passed that suspension bridge over the Urubamba River. I could not believe that I had actually walked that far over the mountains. The trip brought me to a literal realization of the famous Chinese proverb that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.” It encouraged me to be patient and keep on searching on this long journey which may very well go beyond this trip and next.

Amazon

Rainforest is an excellent place to study the interconnectivity of the ecosystem and fine-tuning of the universe. Amazon is a vast region functioning as the earth’s lungs and the world’s icon of biodiversity. One cannot help not to notice wisdom behind everything one observes. A week in Amazon could surely persuade most visitors that the Power behind nature is an Intelligent Designer, an Educator, a superb Engineer, a talented Artist, a Choreographer, a music Composer, a Gardner, a skilled Medicineman, a Mathematician and…. When you walk through the rainforest, it is like you are walking through an art gallery, a popular concert venue, a pharmacy, an industrial engineering trade fair on advanced biotechnology, and the greatest recycling facility on earth where absolutely nothing goes to waste. To grasp all these features, you only need to fully open your mind otherwise all your eyes detect is just a huge leaf depot in a worthless place better suited for reckless and abusive human pastime. Particularly its most favorite one, that is habitat destruction to accumulate wealth.

IMAX Amazon HD

In my previous trip to Amazon in Brazil, I stayed in a large treehouse built on the top of big tall trees. In Peru, I stayed in a cabin like eco-lodge built a couple of feet above the ground, yet various animals were still able to get in. I had frequent visitors every night. Aside from mosquitoes, bats were flying in and out of my cabin all night. I slept in a net bed for protection and cautiously avoided walking without my shoes. Hookworm can be contracted through soles of feet if one walks barefooted on infected soil. Psychologically, I was more concerned about scorpions and snakes than invisible hookworms. At the same time I also did not want give any excuses to the likes of Attenborough to become agnostic.

The best part of my Amazon trip was the night walks throughout the jungle, encountering night shift animals and insects living in harmony. Witnessing profuse lifeforms on the forest floor, on the branches of trees, in the sky, with plenty of resources for everyone. One night after we walked about 1.5 Kilometers away from the lodge, the local tour guide asked us to turn off our flashlights and keep silent for 5 minutes. He said just try to look at the starry sky blocked by the branches of the trees, look for stars through the holes in the canopy of the forest and listen to the forest’s peaceful melodies. It was like symphony of music preformed by insects, amphibians, monkeys, etc. in a total darkness with shining stars that one could detect above the canopy. Florescent fireflies glowing in the dark lighting up the forest like flashing dim lights in a discotheque. Five minutes of therapeutic serenity that one never encounters in a manmade urban settings.

Daytime walks through the jungle were completely a different experience, seeing different species. Humidity is usually much higher during the day. The area that I went to is known to be the habitat for giant anacondas. Regrettably, I did not see any. It is amazing to see one while having its meal. Average adult anaconda is about 25 to 40 feet long, could weight around 230 Kg and can easily devour a prey 3 to 4 times wider than the size of its mouth without the need to chew it. It is no surprise that I did not see one during my weeklong stay in Amazon. Anaconda is usually hiding in the water to ambush its prey, only its eyes and nostrils are above the surface water level. They are known to hold their breath and can submerge under water for about 20 minutes. Our guide told us that a week ago he spotted one in the same area. He even showed us the film that one of the tourists took of him while he was wrestling with that big snake.

The great thing about being in the Amazon is that one can get to see so many different animals. Every animal and insect is fascinating in its own way. As strange as it may seem to the reader, I spontaneously conversed with every animal that I closely encountered, sometimes even with other life forms. I called each a brother, a follow teammate in the finite universe of time and space. The team of mortal carbon based lifeforms. I would say the best species that I encountered and got close enough to take pictures was the beautiful owl butterfly, colourful hamming birds and boisterous macaws, piranhas. As well as having encountered a jaguar from the opposite side of the riverbank.

Owl butterfly particularly interests me so much because the theory of evolution fails to explain its appearance and defense mechanism. This butterfly as its name suggests resembles owl. It has eyespots on the lower part of both sides of its both wings. When a predatory bird or lizard approaches, the butterfly turn itself upside down and closes and opens its wings quickly which makes it look like an owl winking its eyes. It sends out a strong warning message to the approaching bird or lizard. The message is: I know what you are thinking. Do you really want a piece of me? Well, do you, punk? If you dare, go head, make my day. I am an owl, well capable of making a meal out of you. You are better to keep off. The trick effectively fools all predators.

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Well, how this tiny insect is fully aware of the details of its own physical appearance? She certainly could not have learned this from looking at herself in a mirror. How does this so fragile insect know that she looks like a bird of prey that its very own predators are afraid of? How does the insect know that in order to mimic an owl she has to first turn upside down otherwise the trick would not work? I encountered several owl butterflies and got so close to them to take pictures. In fact, I deliberately got too close for comfort, hoping that the butterfly perform its usual trick on me. But they knew that I was no existential threat to them, thus none preformed its defensive act. Finally when they had enough of me, they just moved on to another tree. How did evolution equip this insect with ingenious conscious awareness to come up with complex imitations as defense mechanism? I submit that it could not have.

The whole thing in this case is nothing short of an empty bluff in a face-off. What is most amazing about this bluff is the butterfly’s remarkable confidence level that this trick is always effective. Butterfly has to have enough inside information about its predators’ “IQ level” to be able to pull it off and deceive them. After millions years of evolutionary processes to finally have an insect look and mimic a bird of prey, now what is left for this trick to pay off, is that the butterfly’s predators have to be fearful of owl, as well as so naïve. Otherwise this impersonation defense approach has been a huge waste of evolutionary time. Further, they must never realize that their opponent is just a paper tiger and cannot withstand challenge. This vital secret must never leak out. When you are bluffing you better make sure that your opponent never picks up a slightest cue that your defenseless, or else that would cost you your life. The owl butterfly seems to have a guaranteed insurance policy in this respect. When deadly predator approaches, she never seems to be too concerned, for her it all seems like just another boring day at the office.

Well, is this a coincident that the butterfly’s predators are cognitively inept at identification as they ought to be? Intelligent predators would easily put this species on the verge of extinction since it has no other means to defend itself. For natural selection to claim responsibility for this defense strategy is to acknowledge that natural selection was equally responsible for, first the butterfly to evolve to have such an appearance and the know-how. Secondly, its predators ought to simultaneously and deliberately evolved to be ignorant. But according to rational behind evolution this cannot be so. The evolutionists deny that evolution is designed or is pursing an intention. These are two distinct separate categories of species, one is insect the other is either bird or reptile. Secondly, why should a species, which preys on owl butterfly evolve towards a direction, which does not contribute to its increased survivability? It seems that it is doomed to remain in a relative sense “stupid” in the ecological food web. However, this is contrary to the Darwinian theory of evolution.

Examples like this are overwhelming in nature, which one species could only survive at the expense of the naiveté of another species. For instance, cuckoo birds do not bother building their own nest or raise their own family. Perhaps they do not know how to, or not programmed for that task. Female cuckoo birds lay their eggs in the nest of another bird like warblers, sparrows or robins. She has the ability to alter the appearance of her egg, make it look similar to that of the host. When the nest owner returns she does not realize that one of her eggs had been replaced by a cuckoo egg. She does not come to this realization, not even when the eggs are hatched that this is not my chick, not even when the chick grows several times bigger than Mom and Dad. In order to get the maximum parental care and attention; the imposter chick instinctually immediately dumps all the unhatched eggs or the other chicks off the nest. Did the biological mom coach the chick to do that? The unsuspecting foster parents are totally unwary of the murder committed raises this brood parasite just as their very own offspring, ensuring the survival of another species rather than their own. This evolutionary trick would only work if the foster parents are both “stupid” enough not to suspect a thing all the way until the cuckoo chicks have reached maturity, “stupid” from human perspective.

To me the explanation that there is an Intelligent Creator who designed this defenseless butterfly this way, and her predators that way makes more sense that a farfetched idea of self-regulated processes of blind natural selection. Natural selection cannot account for the creative directional changes in species – for these are tied to something much larger, which involves the whole system of nature wherein camouflage for deception and specialized structures that fit in with the environment within each genera are there to ensure the total systemic balance. Let’s not overlook that if these thoughtful systems are not in place the interconnected food web will be disrupted. This requires Design with a Capital D and teleology with a capital T. This smacks of not blind processes, but an instigator of the processes that must be imbued with intelligence; one that that oversees the processes from outside, as it were. Indeed the Watchmaker is not blind. It is a witnessing All-intelligent Watch-evolver aware of the interconnectivity of that which is unknown to mankind. Consider an iPhone for instance, most people admire this “smartphone” and its practical functions, praise the genius who came up with the idea and design, but the same attitude is totally missing when it comes to examining the real complexity, i.e. the universe and natural world within.

One of the most incredible things that I saw in the Amazon which had no idea it even existed is what commonly referred to as “walking tree” (Socratea exorrhiza). I had seen this tree before in the Costa Rican rainforest, but did not pay much attention to until I questioned its peculiar shape. It occurred to me that if there is a difference in design, then there must be a difference in function. Hence I begun to wonder why this tree unlike any other tree is not monolithic, but looks like a huge tripod, more accurately multiplepod. So I learned that, Socratea exorrhiza a tree that can gradually move around in order to obtain the highest possible sunlight and nutrients. It moves by developing additional roots at the direction that it “wishes” (if I can use this word) to end up, and kills its own roots where it wants to move away from. That is to say, if you circle where a “walking tree” is located in January and check it out again at the end of December, you can see that a year or so later it has moved out of the circle. It moves, if and only if the sunlight and nutrients outside the circle are better-off.

I knew about plants, which are carnivorous and plants which are amazingly able to communicate with each other by sending off chemical messages through the air, warning of hungry predators approaching, but for me a “walking tree” was unheard of.

According to natural selection theory the reason that a “walking tree” moves to a better location is because it extensively contributes to its survival. This implies that at one time a “walking tree” was just a regular tree, pretty much stationary and did not employ such a genius strategy – but gradually came up with the “idea”. Likewise carnivorous plants, the flesh eating vegetation at one point in the evolutionary history were just regular plants that somehow deviated from botanical norms and “decided” to take a drastically different path to increase their survivability. The same goes for “talking plants” which evolved to possess abilities to communicate and mobilize themselves against predators. However, such a ridiculous evolutionary claim can never be empirically tested as it is required by scientific standards. There is definitely a scientific problem here when scientific principles are not upheld, yet still theories are propagated as though they are established facts. Empiricism is supposedly that which fundamentally distinguishes science from non-science, i.e. it refutes the existence of God. God’s existence cannot be empirically verified as some scientists propose, therefore it cannot exist. Moreover, nor does natural selection explain if a tree can “learn” why and how to shift its position, or how to communicate with other plants, or in case of a carnivorous plant what to consume, why other trees and vegetation lack this handy quality.

Furthermore, if an animal behaves in an intelligent manner, biologists are often quick to attribute the intelligent element to instinctual reaction. Obviously the presence of consciousness and intelligence in above case cannot be attributed to an unconscious living organism like a tree which even lacks instinct. So, who or what should then be credited with consciousness and intelligence involved in this case? This is a headache for the materialist evolutionists who dismiss intelligent design. They are unable to satisfyingly explain these questions. Thus, based on a single paper published in 2005 by a Costa Rican biologist Gerardo Avalos in the Journal Biotropica, they have started to argue that although Socratea exorrhiza keeps on growing new roots to replace the old ones, it actually does not walk. The notion of a “walking tree” is mythical. Well, no kidding. Of course a tree cannot wander around on the forest floor the way animals and humans do. No one ever claimed that this particular tree could walk from Peru to Ecuador. Why appeal to “Red Herring” fallacy and caricature reality?

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Socratea exorrhiza shifts to where there is a better access to sunlight and nutrients, just the same way as any tree branches out, moves up higher above all other neighboring trees and vigorously competes with adjacent trees for sunlight. The new roots of Socratea exorrhiza are not developed where the old roots are located and are still alive. The slight gradual change in the location of this tree is due to its unusual rooting system which causes what can be best described as re-location, shifting or adjusting its position. The tree does not develop new roots at its center, but always at the edge. For Socratea exorrhiza not to shift at all, its new roots ought to develop precisely at the same pin point location as the old one, which is logically impossible. Imagine a chair that it constantly replaces its own legs by death and re-birth of new legs, obviously by the passage of time the chair is not going to remain at its initial spot. There must be a reason in the first place for that chair to possess such a quality, i.e. it is designed that way and is pursuing a goal. Likewise, the Socratea exorrhiza invariably shifts as it grows. The point is, the fascinating feature of a Socratea exorrhiza is its unique ability to grow horizontally as well as vertically for a specific reason. And further, its unusual ability to develop new roots driven by its capability to identify more sunlight and nutrients in its surroundings. What is amazing for a tree is to have an unlike-tree characteristic, be that flesh eating or ability to communicate, or ability to shift its roots. It has become a career for atheist evolutionists to argue against intelligence in design. For them, typically there is no limit into skepticism, things that are amazing and complex always just appear to be amazing and complex, or just happen by sheer chance without any cause. Our existence is just a glorious accident. If intelligence in design cannot be denied, the other option would be to belittle it.

Galapagos

There are so many different species of birds in the Galapagos, different in size, shape and colouration. Galapagos is a paradise for birdwatchers. There, you don’t really need a binocular, as one can get so close to them without scaring them away. They fly right above you, take off and land near you. If you walk on the edge of a cliff, you can see so many birds almost motionless above the ocean that are suspended up in the air only by having their wings opened without absolutely doing anything else. They patiently remain almost still in the air for a long period of time. When a fish is spotted, their brain quickly and accurately calculates the deflection of light from two different mediums (water & air) to precisely locate the position of that fish, then they shrink their body and make a sudden sharp plunge into the water to catch that fish. It is so easy to notice how they expand and counteract their body size to suit their needs. Wind and their bodily design combined with simple laws of aerodynamic keep them up like a weightless kite held by a long string, and when they dive, it is just like a bullet being fired off. I spent hours and hours watching and admiring the physical law by which an object of a few kilos or heavier can so effortlessly be suspended in the air without any support. By achieving zero buoyancy birds defy gravity. They demonstrate that within the physical law, there is a law to beat the law. Indeed, what a breathtaking beauty to witness such a defiance. Unlike human’s actions of defiance, bird’s defiance enhances the environment rather than diminishing it.

One fascinating feature to notice about all birds in general is that their “engine” and “landing gear” does not make noise during flight, take off or landing. You compare this feature with a turbine engine of any aircraft, which the level of noise generated is deafening. The reason why a flying metal makes so much noise is because its engine is not efficient, thereby it wastes so much energy by creating heat and noise. For instance, compare a design of an Albatross with a manmade bird like Concorde. Back in the 70s, after spending 2.5 decades of research and development the top aerospace engineers from France and UK introduced the first supersonic commercial aircraft: Concorde. At the time it was assumed that Concorde for centuries to come would remain as state-of-the-art aircraft in aerospace industry, an engineering marvel, an everlasting aviation icon. The Americans not wishing to fall behind their European counterparts initiated their own project. However, the expectation was premature, as many major international airports around the world would not give landing rights to Concorde due to the loud noise generated. From 1976 to 2003 this aircraft ruled only the sky over the Atlantic connecting just a few major capitals. Yet despite billions of dollars spent in gradual modifications finally Concorde had to go for an early retirement due increasingly identified flaws in the design, poor safety record, environmental hazards and above all high maintenance cost. The failure of Concorde made Boeing to abort their Boeing 2707 project, a supersonic aircraft similar to Concorde developed by the best U.S. engineers. At the time, Boeing had 120 pre-paid orders from 26 airlines to manufacture this aircraft.

No bird has ever experienced such a tragic destiny. The decision made by the British, French and American authorities coined a new terminology in social philosophy and economics discourses known as Concorde fallacy. It refers to attempts that may lead to bad decisions, a notorious shortsighted theoretical error made by business executives and governmental policymakers alike. It amounts to investing further in a bad project, product, etc. simply because one has already heavily invested in it and feels that cannot back off, rather than because of potential future return on the investment. In short, once one realizes that one is in a quicksand, it is best to cut ones losses and get out as quickly as possible before it is too late. My point is that “Nature” has never committed a Concorde fallacy in its 4 billion years history of the so-called evolutionary “trial and error”. How is that possible in a system that is said to have evolved based on a “trial & error” and random mutation? Where was the error? There has never been such a thing as “bad design” or “a failure” in nature. We cannot even refer to extinct species as a “bad design”. Many species did not survive due to natural causes than manufacture’s defect. Mass extinctions meant to happen, we can never conclude that dinosaurs did not survive because they were poorly designed. Further, humans are largely responsible when some species of flora and fauna become extinct, endangered or threatened. It is due to our harmful activities and interference with the natural processes i.e. with the climate, expansion of urban areas, commercial overfishing, overhunting and poaching that threatens many habitats resulting in the extinction of species.

Those who study biomimicry attest that when it comes to design and manufacturing, the best of human technology does not even come close to what nature can produce. Materialists tend to easily overlook this fact. For instance, atheist physicist Leon Leaderman once remarked that give me matter and motion, and I will construct a universe for you! Some evolutionary biologists have also made similar proclamations that all they need is a living cell to create life from scratch. According to their view God is totally unnecessary, a superfluous obsolete concept to explain the universe and how it was created. Oh, really? Talk about condescension, the degree of arrogance displayed here is colossal. Gentlemen, wake up, you are dreaming again. Forget about creating a universe with complex life forms, you fellows cannot even produce a basic toaster from scratch.

Suppose that after all you do create a universe with various life forms, well then thank you very much, you have just made a solid case for intelligent design.

Compare this conceited attitude with that of tribal Iranian carpet weavers. After working on a fine handmade Persian rug for a couple of years, the weaver initially feels that his silk rug is a prefect masterpiece. A small rug that can be auctioned in Sotheby’s or Christie’s for well over $25,000. This humble craftsman with no formal education thinks twice about his feelings. Upon reflection he concludes that I am a fallible mortal human being incapable of creating perfection. I should know better where my place is in this universe, for perfection comes only from the Divine. So it is that he deliberately introduces an obvious noticeable flaw into his work, either in the use of colours or in the designed pattern. This act of meekness resulting in a conscious error is known as “Persian Flaw”. Do you see such a humility in Leon Leaderman, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Lawrence Krauss, Daniel Dennett, PZ Myers, Dan Barker, Sam Harris, or in any other hotshot gurus of atheism, the pioneers of “Bright Movement”? On the contrary, the noticeable common feature among all of them is sheer arrogance with self-inflated ego.

These materialists act like an ambitious entrepreneur with no money and connections yet wishing to create a business empire from scratch. Suppose that the Divine provides them with matter and energy, as well as with a living cell, suppose that they do even create a fine and dandy universe profuse with life in a separate manmade time and space dimensions. So what? Having done that, do they then want to claim the credit for their “achievements” to discredit God? What did they do here that gives them a sense of “accomplishment”? Matter and energy are the two essential ingredients in the creation of the universe plus the physical laws, which turn matter and energy into an expanding universe. Matter, energy and living cell are no trivial components, they are everything there is. Nevertheless, having them is pointless without the governing physical laws that initiate the process from zero to completion. Since the beginning of recorded history for atheists to resolve the origination problem, has always been a headache for which there is one and only unique solution exists, the rest being escapism.

Further, if this hypothetical manmade universe is somehow created, it would be Leon Leaderman who triggered the process. He is the one who had the intelligence and know-how to construct a functioning universe. Let’s say with the help of an intelligent biologist complex life is also installed in this universe programmed to evolve from a single cell to a variety of higher life forms. By the same logic, who then triggered the construction of our universe, which gives birth to his? Where did the essential matter, energy and the first living cell required in this exercise come from? Surely, I cannot be the only one who sees a clear case of paralysis of analysis in the atheists’ view.

Moreover, consider this example, to incubate an egg all needed is the egg. However, what would you do with that egg and a high-tech electronic incubator if there was no physical law to turn the egg into a chicken. Has the factory-farming industry been able to eliminate the notion for God because chickens are now massively and mechanically hatched? I suppose for an atheist it has.

One sunny morning during our group hike in the uninhabited island of Española, I accidentally found a 1998 Canadian penny in the middle of nowhere. Paley’s argument immediately came to my mind. The only rational conclusion anyone can make out of this, is that a tourist coming from Canada must have dropped this penny. We all agree with the old adage that money does not grow on the trees. Canadian pennies do not evolve in the Galapagos and “Natural Selection” cannot be responsible for this penny being there. Therefore evolution must follow precise rules that allow simple organic compounds to evolve to complex forms, but prevents bacteria and algae to evolve to Canadian pennies. If we agree with this, then we should ask the next questions who set these guidelines?

One afternoon we were moving on our yacht from one island to another. As I was enjoying the ocean view from the top deck, I noticed two flies approached the yacht one after another and landed on a vertical beam next to where I was sitting. Without any hesitation they immediately started mating which lasted a few minutes, then they left separately. It appeared to me that a consensual agreement about copulation was already reached prior to arrival. The issue left for the two to resolve was to find a mating ground.

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During my trip I witnessed mating ritual and act of several species, i.e. turtles in the water, llamas in the mountains, birds but this one was the most extraordinary one. I was puzzled that how a fly in the middle of ocean first finds a promising mate then a hard surface to engage in the act of mating. This certainly requires intelligence and a know-how to find both just at the right time, which apparently tiny flies are well equipped with.

Lying down on the deck provided me with the opportunity to observe several species of birds, which were constantly following the yacht to fish. For hours these birds were cruising like a glider behind us at the speed of 35–55 mph without flapping their wings. How is that for energy efficiency? A cheetah would never stop chasing a gazelle if it could run at no cost. Thanks to the wisdom in nature, there is a reason why most predators are conscious of their fuel expenditure, it has to do with the conservation of shared resources and predator-prey ratios. In order to maintain the intricate balance of nature, different rules are applied in different niches. For a cheetah too, it is not worth the extra drive if the price of gas is more expensive than the price of food obtained. So cost efficiency of hunting is calculated before each attack.

Once at night and once early morning, I saw several species of sharks circling the yacht when it anchored. There was something attractive about our yacht to the fish. May be the kitchen’s wastes. Sharks came so close for the fish. I encountered sharks face to face several times during snorkeling, they seemed totally indifferent to human presence. Jellyfish on the other hand would sting easily whenever came to contact with swimmers. It is pretty fascinating to see a jellyfish closely, a transparent creature with no bone, blood or brain which is %98 made of water. If a dead jellyfish washed up on the beach, its carcass will disappear as the water quickly evaporates. I wonder what this beautiful creature uses for eyes or brain. They look like bizarre extraterrestrial creatures from out of deep space.

In the Galapagos most animals, do not have predators, therefore they only die from natural causes, i.e. old age. In case of baby seals, if the mother is killed by sharks, the baby dies too since the mother is no longer there to feed him/her. You can see the carcass of many dead animals on the trail during any hike. One can witness that the death of one animal ensures the survival of another. It is also a reminder that even in this earthly paradise death is an inescapable end result of life for all.

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The best part of my Galapagos Island tour was the visit to Bartolomé Island, one of the youngest Islands in the Galapagos collection. A major part of this Island is covered by volcanic lava plates roughly from 150 years ago laid down on top of the existing lava from over a million years ago. The relatively recent lava is like black layer of rock covered the surface fertile land. The old lava is all red already turned into stiff clay. It really resembles the surface of Mars. The black lava is orderly formed into a beautiful geometric pattern as it erupted and flattened on the surface. The contrast is fascinating, it seems like you are walking on a different planet. The red part hosts life while the black part is barren wasteland.

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During my hike on the black lava I came across a few weeds and lava cactuses here and there, sign of life coming back to this part of the Island. Seeing a cactus growing in a most inhospitable place was like witnessing life evolving on earth back a few billion years ago. The function of this unique plant is to pave the way for other vegetation and animals to grow. Somehow I felt that cactus is telling me: “Hey kid, come closer and take a good look at me. I am alive and growing on a lifeless solidified lava rock, hardly need any water or nutrients, yet I supply both to others. Am I not miracle enough? Am I not what you came here to see? This is as close as you are ever going to get to the Divine. Is this not close enough? You cannot remove the barrier between human and the Divine. Praise your Lord.” Indeed I praised Him. How could I not? I saw one of the ubiquitous signs designed in nature and ironically one does not require a high definition vision or magnification to detect these signs. This observation reminded me that I myself used to be stardust evolved into a living organism with ability to feel, to grow, to think, to learn, to love, to laugh, to die and finally to turn into dust again. All these signs indicate the Creator’s close and tangible presence. It felt just like what Moses could have experienced on Mount Sinai, an experience within everyone’s reach. The message that I picked up from this cactus is the same universal message that one would receive from the jellyfish, “walking tree”, owl butterfly that I encountered, the same message, which I had already received from a feather, dust particles and a grain of sand.

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At the end of my trip I was able to reconfirm what I had already learned in my previous trips elsewhere. It seems that the universe is not only more amazing than what we know so far, but even more than what we can ever suppose! Everything in the Andes, Amazon and the Galapagos points to and glorifies the Creator of life, be that a jellyfish, butterfly or lava cactus. They are all a sign from the Creator. If you can connect with animals, you then connect with the whole of nature, thereby are able to connect with the Creator of nature. You can testify that every species involuntarily follows a certain law, every species except humankind. Man may wish to exercise his free will and voluntarily follow this pattern just like the rest of earth’s co-inhabitants. Or, he may shut off his faculties and follow his whims, a choice that each one of us has to make.

I learned that the earth and the whole of universe cannot be a remarkable place if it is product of a giant accident, if its remarkablity has just the appearance of design, but is not at all designed. How can anyone be deeply moved by looking at the Milky Way through a telescope, be impressed by the beauty of a butterfly, or by smell of a rose, if all you observe and experience is an outcome of a sheer accident, or at the most work of blind forces at large.

As for Mecca or the Galapagos, which of the two can bring one closer to the Divine. It should make no difference, if one can see the Divine signature in a minute speck of dust, in a grain of sand, in the fabric of a bird’s feather or in the geometric patterns of a snowflake. The Divine can be found everywhere. I yearn to be able to re-visit both places at least once more.

I have learned to be more thankful for everything that I have and understand that there is a reason for losing everything that I once had, or could never have. Life is a trial full of ups and downs, requires knowledge, patience and appreciation. Those who understand this are truly the successful ones. We are living in a universe where galaxies and solar systems are constantly colliding. Yet this horrifying phenomenon has never happened to our galaxy, life on earth is so peaceful. I do not recall that I personally have ever expressed gratitude to the Power responsible for not allowing this so common destructive occurrence to happen to our galaxy. Only if one stays focused, one can then bear witness that this is no accident, and we all have so much to be thankful for. To be mindful of this fact, is to realize that the Power responsible is indeed closer to us than our jugular vein. When you think of it, no one cannot thank this Power enough.

My discovery/confirmation journey will soon continue on another continent. I am preparing for my next trip to Africa, destinations: Etosha, Kalahari, Kruger and Serengeti.

May the Divine cast His endless mercy on all of us, and guide the seekers closer to the Truth.

Peace,
Mehran

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From Big Bang to Big Crunch

Mehran Banaei and Nadeem Haque

From Big Bang to Big Crunch

From the emerging dawn of human civilization, Man has always reflected on the origin of the universe. He has marvelled at the beauty and the order manifested in it. Like an earnest child asking inquisitively why the canopy of the sky has the hue of blue, mankind, in general, has always sought answers to such seemingly perplexing questions, having to do with the origins and destiny of the whole of existence. In a state of deep yearning, he stares at a starry sky and wonders: where does this universe start, where does it end? Does it have an actual edge, and if so what lies beyond it? He wonders: why does nature behave the way it does? As he contemplates, he sees the pattern of birth and death in the animate as well as in the inanimate world. In addition, he knows that his own body is not immune from this scheme either. But, what about this universe as a whole? Did this vast universe have a beginning in time, and if so would it ever finally come to an end?

With the progression of scientific knowledge in this century, we have been able to gain a better understanding of the immensity of the cosmos. We have become privileged witnesses to the beginning of creation. It is now well established that space is rapidly expanding as all the countless galaxies, which are sprinkled in the stretching fabric of space are receding from each other at tremendous velocities approaching that of the speed of light. This would mean that once, the entire universe had been a single dimensionless point where there was absolutely no space and absolutely no time, for these were originated in a flashing instant when that singular point exploded to form space and time. For beings like us, who have always been engulfed within the dimensions of space and time, it is indeed difficult to visually conceptualize that somehow space and time were simultaneously brought into existence from oblivious non-existence.

Further knowledge confirmed this astonishingly unique event, when it was detected on a radiowave antenna that a constant background radiation permeates the whole of space. This background noise was no doubt the primeval remnant of that explosion which took place less than 15 billion years ago, commonly referred to as the Big Bang — the singular moment in the creation of the totality of the universe.

But from this explosive expansion it was not disorder which resulted, but rather a deep penetrating order. Unlike any explosion that results in destruction, this explosion resulted in construction, of an imaginable scale –- the universe. Through the course of time, as the universe cooled, many structures arose: galaxies were formed that were comprised of immensely dense clusters of stars, flowing relentlessly across a vast cosmic ocean of space. In time, planets formed and subtle processes came into effect which allowed the emergence of life on earth. Subsequently, biological life developed due to the vital presence of the water-cycle and similar processes, producing a great diversity of plants and animals. Without water, there would have been no life springing from the dry earth. Remarkable balances between the living and non-living components of our planet allowed for the preservation, sustenance and continuation of life. The nurturing rays of the sun provided growth for life. Plants started to give off oxygen, which was necessary for all breathing beings, and animals returned carbon-dioxide which was necessary for the plants. Furthermore, each animal arose to be specialized and functioned to maintain the balances in nature. Without these processes life would not have been possible.

By reflecting on the interpenetrations of origins and destiny, we may fully appreciate that so many are the celestial bodies that permeate space that they remain countless within its ever-expanding horizon. Yet even within this cosmologically stretching fabric, strewn with innumerable galaxies, we have not, thus far, conclusively been able to empirically determine the existence of any other ecosystems and extraterrestrial life.

It was with the advent of these biological processes on earth, that there came a time when the most complex organism arose: the human being. Yet in essence, a human being, within his own lifetime, issues from the very processes inherent within the vastness of cosmic order. Human life begins with conception, and then, in just nine months, a nearly microscopic fertilized egg-cell is transformed through a truly remarkable process into a human infant, possessing heart, brain, eyes, muscles, lungs, and all the biological systems needed for survival outside the mother’s womb. It is indeed amazing to envisage that in the combination of such a tiny, minuscule part of drop of male semen and a female egg there exist specific parts responsible for the development of our complex body, mind and social being. In just a few years after birth, this newborn baby has grown into a human being well capable of learning a multitude of languages, of familiarizing himself with his environment, and has the capacity to be creative, learning to interact with others of his own kind and other species.

As this human being is maturing and aging, the process of intellectual development and questioning continues actively, and as a sense-making creature he ponders on his origins and about his place in the universe. He becomes aware of the fact that the omnipresent face of death is an inescapable consequence of life. He also becomes aware of the rapidity with which the dead body deteriorates, when in time, it will be turned into nothing but a pile of rotting bones, and then face a further reduction from bones to dust — dust to dust … under the dust to lie. This appears to be our common heritage and unavoidably our common destiny, the transition of man from birth to death, the journey of mankind from noble extraction to a hopefully noble extinction. He came from nothing and, finally, will merge back into nothingness, for in nature, just as things began, so too will they end. He knows that he is residing on this earth for only a short while and once he is departed, shall return no more. Thus, he curiously looks up at the starlit sky, seeking to know if there is anything beyond his death.

Just as our sun had its own birth billions of years ago, so too is it eventually destined to extinguish itself into a shrunken, collapsed dead star and with it our earth will be rendered devoid of life, where once it had been so profuse. Life on earth is crucially dependent on the sun; indeed, had the earth’s orbit been even slightly offset in either direction, water and the resulting forms of life would not have emerged. Yet, our sun is only one tiny speck of light amidst an ordered scattering of billions upon billions of objects distributed throughout the vast reaches of space in time, which are all experiencing the same patterns of birth and death in the cosmos.

But will the universe, which had its birth with the emergence of space and time, also have its fate sealed with the end of space and time? It is now well established that depending on the density of the universe, it will either fade away into an infinite void as the stars disintegrate into a sea of obsolete radiation, or conversely, it will collapse into a Big Crunch as it reaches the limits of its expansion. In the Big Crunch, the overwhelming density of matter and energy would have the effect of contracting the universe back into one singular point due to immense gravitational forces. Nevertheless, whatever the outcome is, it appears certain that the universe will end up either in the emptiness of space, where time will not be significant, or in the nothingness of absolutely no space and time, just as it was in the beginning. This is not obscure fantasy nor is it far-fetched science-fiction. It is derived from facts and scientific knowledge, even though it is not visually conceptualizable that space and time will simply vanish into the Nothingness of Nowhere.

We have seen that this universe has originated from the non-existence of space and time. The emergence of life into the intelligent consciousness of man has been facilitated and is dependent on the unfolding of time by precisely arranged, intelligently structured laws of nature. We have also seen that the universe will eventually devolve into a realm of nothingness. But why did it originate in the first place? And then why should it disappear again? From nothing to something and then from something to nothing with no meaningful purpose and no purposeful end? Is this a cosmic joke? Is this all there is?

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