Richard Dawkins is right, Mr. Hasan

This article is a Rebuttal to the original Mehdi Hasan’s article “Dawkins is wrong – Religion is rational” published in the Huffington post on 24/12/2012. Mr. Mehdi Hasan is Political Director of Huffington post UK. 

This is the link to the original article: Dawkins is wrong – Religion is Rational

Mehdi Hasan, the political columnist at Huffington post must have felt seriously wounded while interviewing Professor Richard Dawkins that he went on to write such a nonsensical grovel about why believing in flying horses does not necessarily makes him irrational.

It is something inherent in people who write about Politics, they are very good in debating but very bad in promoting truth and rationality. The central purpose for them is to somehow make their readers believe what they are saying is in fact true, even when they are nowhere close to it.

Mehdi Hasan wrote:

[Faith, in the disdainful eyes of the atheist, is irredeemably irrational; to have faith, as Dawkins put it to me, is to have "belief in something without evidence". This, however, is sheer nonsense. Are we seriously expected to believe that the likes of Descartes, Kierkegaard, Hegel, Rousseau, Leibniz and Locke were all unthinking or irrational idiots?]

Of course, I am not saying that Hegel, Locke or Descartes were irrational idiots. I am sure that Mr. Dawkins would agree with me on this. These people did not have the privilege to know what we know today. These people were born in a time when there was no theory of evolution, genetics or a body of science that could precisely explain the meticulous functioning of the Universe. This is the reason why William Paley gave the watchmaker analogy, something that has been criticized to the level of shame by all the scientists and philosophers of our time. That analogy did well to make a reasonable case for God in the 18th century but today it has become almost redundant. What we have learned today is that although the Universe acts as precisely as a pocket watch, it does not necessarily needs a watchmaker.

There is a difference between being ignorant about certain facts that if known could change your views and being ‘’thick as a brick’’ on the face of overwhelming evidence. I would keep Mr. Hasan with all humility in the latter section.

[In trying to disparage 'faith', Dawkins and his allies constantly confuse 'evidence' with 'proof'; those of us who believe in God do so without proof but not without evidence.]

It would be a shame if an evolutionary biologist did not understand the difference between evidence and proof.  To keep it simple, proof is nothing but conclusive evidence. As one gathers more and more evidence, he gets closer to a stronger proof. So, where is the evidence for an Islamic God? If there is one, can Mr. Hasan keep it before us? No, on the contrary, he hides behind the words of a Christian theologian and apologist, Alistair McGrath. Do you think that McGrath himself would agree that there is even a shred of evidence for a possible Islamic God, though I’m sure that he would show us a few of his cooked ones in favor of his Christian God.

[Second, there are plenty of things that cannot be scientifically tested or proven but that we believe to be true, reasonable, obvious even. Which of these four pretty uncontroversial statements is scientifically testable? 1) Your spouse loves you. 2) The Taj Mahal is beautiful. 3) There are conscious minds other than your own. 4) The Nazis were evil. ]

Am I being rude to press that because we believe something to be true does not necessarily makes it true. My housemaid believes that she can chat with cats and dogs. Should I take her seriously?

There are several subjects in the world that cannot be studied using scientific methods. Therefore, we have a whole branch of philosophy and logic for that purpose. ‘’Love’’ is a subjective term and people differ on its meaning. Scientifically, if we conclude that the feeling a person has after the release of Oxytocin in his blood is indeed the feeling of ‘’love’’ then we can bring this subject into the scientific purview. Beauty is likewise a subjective term.

Strange that Mr. Hasan would bring out such points in his defense. For a believer, God is not something that has a subjective meaning, like love and beauty. God is an absolute truth. For that reason, we need concrete evidence to accept the God hypothesis. Hope, I’ve made my point clear.

[Take the Kalam cosmological argument - first outlined by the medieval Muslim theologian al-Ghazali, and nowadays formulated by the Christian philosopher William Lane Craig as follows:

1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2) The universe began to exist.
3) Therefore, the universe has a cause. ]

This argument, first made by Aristotle is based on the premise of first cause. The argument was later refined by Arab theologians like al- Ghazali and al- Kindi. Currently, there are several philosophers and physicists that have criticized this argument. Victor Stenger argues that quantum mechanics dis-confirms the first premise that is, that something cannot come into being from nothing. He postulates that naturally occurring quantum events are exceptions to this premise, like the Casimir effect and radioactive decay.

This argument according to Kant is nothing but ontological argument in disguise. He states that any necessary object’s essence must involve existence, hence reason alone can define such a being, and the argument becomes quite similar to the ontological one in form, devoid of any empirical premises.

Even if we agree on Kalam Cosmological argument, how can we say that the cause for the Universe is God? Secondly, who designed God? If we need a cause for the universe because infinite regress of time is absurd then shouldn’t we ask the same questions in the matters of God?

[But hasn't the theory of evolution undermined Islam? asks the atheist. A few years ago, Dawkins accused British Muslims of "importing creationism into this country". He has a point. These days, the vast majority of my coreligionists see Darwin as the devil. ]

Religious people see Darwin as a devil because evolution goes against their long held belief in creation. If you accept the theory of evolution, you are accepting that there were no Adam or Eve, no Garden of Eden and human beings do not hold a special place in the natural world. One can still reconcile his faith with evolution and go on being a believer. But, do you think that a billion Muslims in the world are ready for that?

Anyways, if you think that evolution is true and God only guided the process, then you are desperately trying to search your God in the gaps of human knowledge. It is seriously a dangerous position, as well as a sad one, for as soon as we close those gaps, your God will vanish in thin air. Wait for that day and enjoy the warmth of your beliefs until then. I have my sympathy with you.

photo (1)Sourabh Tiwary is the Editor and Columnist at Rational Avenue

  • This Post Was Horrible

    I’m not a Muslim, but I can’t help but see many many, dare I say, many things wrong in your reasoning to the latter two arguments.

    • Sourabh619

      Can you mention the fault in my arguments?

      • StopS

        haha, it’s always the same: claims and more claims and when you ask for some facts, they run and hide. Frustrating.

        • Verk

          They run and hide or they go on a murderous rampage, screaming “I’m offended!”
          Wankers.

  • yataffakarun

    Mr. Tiwary, reading your piece one can infer that you seem to think to hold what’s truth and what is not truth “….promoting truth and rationality. The central purpose for them is to somehow make their readers believe what they are saying is in fact true, even when they are nowhere close to it.” In regards to “…These people did not have the privilege to know what we know today. ” are you implying that these people would have changed their believe had they known what we know now? If so, how can you substantiate that?…on “So, where is the evidence for an Islamic God? If there is one,”….. Not sure if you’re aware that in the monotheistic religions Islam, Christian, Judaism, the claim is that it is the same God, in other words, there’s is not such a thing as the Islamic God, or the Christian God, or the God of the Jews….on this point “For a believer, God is not something that has a subjective meaning, like love and beauty. God is an absolute truth. For that reason, we need concrete evidence to accept the God hypothesis.” few things here, what would you consider to be “concrete evidence”? and any scholar, philosopher, other…whether or not he believes in God, would conclude that the believe in God is a metaphysical question something that science can’t address…(I feel I should say I believe in science. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m against it)…. On this next point…”….He postulates that naturally occurring quantum events are exceptions to this premise, like the Casimir effect and radioactive decay.” It’s interesting that an exception can be made for the occurring quantum events but not for God….on these two questions ” how can we say that the cause for the Universe is God?” My question would be, Do you have a cause to postulate?…. in regards to ” Secondly, who designed God?” This is not even a contention on grounds of the absurdity of an infinite regress….and here “If we need a cause for the universe because infinite regress of time is absurd then shouldn’t we ask the same questions in the matters of God?” Well the answer is no. You seem to fail at grasping the concept of “the first mover” (Aristotels) “Necessary being” (Ibn-Sina) To break an infinite regress one “First Mover” or “Necessary being” is needed. Now someone who believes in God postulates God, someone who does not believe in God would postulate a different entity, but by rational necessity this entity must “exist”…I find your closing statement quite interesting….”… for as soon as we close those gaps, your God will vanish in thin air. Wait for that day and enjoy the warmth of your beliefs until then…” …You seem to be critical of someone who has faith, but your (closing) statements are clearly based on faith. Friendly regards.