5 – Western Proofs for the Existence of God
This is “proof by definition” and requires no reason. So they say,
- ‘God is something than which nothing greater can be conceived.’
- Which is greater: something that is real or something that is only conceived in the mind?
- Therefore, the notion of the greatest conceivable being cannot be conceived of in thought alone, but rather must also be conceived of as existing. Otherwise, the ‘concept’ of god would actually be contradictory since an existing god would be more perfect than a conceptual god.
In other words: God must exist by definition.
This was first proposed by Aristotle in rudimentary form, and then unfortunately was taken by “Muslim” philosophers who refined it. This is counted amongst the western proofs because the philosophers were actually not Muslim. Ibn Seena (Avicenna), for example, actually ended up denying that Allah has knowledge or that He created us.
It three primary forms:
- Argument from motion
- Argument from Cause
- Argument from contingency (existence)
This argument says that every object is either in motion, or at rest. If it is in motion, it must have been put in motion by another object. If an object is at rest, it cannot move itself, therefore there must be a ‘mover’ that put it into motion. There cannot, however, be an infinite regression of things causing movement to take place, otherwise there would be no first mover. Therefore: There must be a primary, ‘unmoved mover’ that is the cause of all motion, but does not move itself, and this is God.
Their entire concept of Allah is an “unmoved mover.”
The problems with this proof are numerous. It is extremely complicated, and its conclusions have repercussions that go against Tawheed. One example of this is that the people who believe like this will, for example, deny that Allah comes to the lowest heaven in the last third of the night.
This means “proof from the creation.” The most famous example is that of Paley’s watch. It basically says, if you were walking on the beach, and saw a watch sitting in the sand, you would conclude that it was made by a watchmaker. Similarly, when we see the creation, it is assumed that there must be a Creator.
This example is maybe the most Islamic of the philosophical proofs, but even it has been heavily criticized. Among the criticisms are that the creation is not perfect, so therefore there cannot be a Creator. They may also argue that watch-making shows evolution to more perfect watches, and thus would actually be a proof for evolution.
This simply says that there is a 50/50 chance that God exists or does not exist. The consequences of believing he does exist are far greater than that of non-belief. It therefore follows, that to believe in God is the “safer bet.”
These “proofs” give us an appreciation for the Quranic methodology. We do not need to do any mental gymnastics to prove the existence of Allah, or give it so much undue attention. Rather, we take the simple Quranic proof. Due to the spread of atheism in our times, as well as the incoporation of some of these ideals into Islamic literature, it is important to at least familiarize ourselves with these concepts.