My paradigm

Because everyone is entitled to have my opinion.

So, what are your beliefs anyway?

You might have noticed that for a site that supposedly promotes my viewpoint, I mention very little of my religion. There are several reasons for that.  The most important being that I do not consider myself an authority on Islam to start making a site about it. There's plenty of books and some links on this site for that. Another reason is that I wanted to convey my personal experience and viewpoints in this site; and I find it dangerous to present those side by side with my beliefs, because people might not necessarily notice where my personal input ends, and the official Islamic explanation begins. So writing such things could lead to innovations and divisions in religion, which I don't consider a good thing. So that's why I limited myself to these philosophical approaches. Yet a third reason is that this site is directed mainly to atheists, and I find it useless to go into to much detail of religion when you can't even reach an agreement on basic principles like the existence of God. However, in the Feedback section, you can feel free to bring any question up. If you can convince me there that something should be mentioned in my site, I'm willing to consider it, even when you judge it might speak against me.

Rationality

 

"It would be perfectly possible to be a complete and absolute Rationalist in the true sense of the term and yet accept this or that dogma. The question is how to arrive at your opinions and not what your opinions are. The thing in which we believe is the supremacy of reason. If reason should lead you to orthodox conclusions, well and good; you are still a Rationalist."

Bertrand Russell; "Am I an atheist or an agnostic?"

In the other pages I have explained:

  • How different interpretations of physics and philosophy of time have lead me to believe the existence of mind-body duality.
  • How neither big bang nor evolution account for our existence.
  • I've also briefly mentioned the anthropic principle in the opening page.
These new perspectives; tied in with my personal experiences, had lead me to believe in the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, supreme being. But one part of my paradigm will probably still be vague. Why Islam? So far all I've done is explain how I believe in something vague. Something that Islam could fit in, but there must be more then one faith that would fit such a description. So why Islam? Well like Russell Bertrand, I believe in the supremacy of reason. And reason convinced me that Islam must be truthful.

The miraculous Qur'an

Every messenger of God was assisted by divine miracles in order to prove they were genuine prophets. It would have been unfair to expect people to believe in something that is implausible, and then punish or reward them based on that in the hereafter. Afterall, there were many false prophets as well, hwo seeked personal gain. No, merely by looking at these miracles, one would be able to distinguish the genuine prophets apart from the other people.
Of course the problem is, only the people who were present to witness the miracle, can truly rely on it to be certain of said prophecy. Everyone else would have to rely on the reports of others. Due to this lack in universal validation for each individual person, many have jumped to the conclusion that those ancient prophets were most likely clever and witty people, ahead of their time who tricked people into following them for whatever benefit they sought to find in that. It is in a way understandable that people would reach such a conclusion. However with an Islam background, one shouldn't make the same assumption.
We believe that every genuine prophet was send with a specific message only to a specific nation at a specific time. So there is no need for people out of different areas & eras to validate the prophecy of the earlier prophets. Only the last prophet (peace be upon him) was sent to all of mankind. So therefore, according to Islam only the miracles of the last prophet needs to be universally validatable. The most significant miracle to validate this prophet, was the revelation of the Qur'an to him. Now, since the Qur'an was written down and preserved over time, people can still today witness the miracle. If you paid close attention to what I said, perhaps you have an objection to what I'm saying. If the origin of the Qur'an was indeed miraculous, how can people of different times validate that divinity. Just reading the text doesn't show you whether or not it was divinely inspired does it? Well not exactly, the Qur'an is miraculous in nature on various levels. It is miraculous not only in the method trough which it was revealed, but also in it's content. Reading the Qur'an, it appeared obvious that whoever has made it; had a very deep and profound knowledge of nature, physics, human psychology, and so on. A knowledge so profound, that the only plausible explanation to me seems that it was indeed divine revelation. It's just the only logical explanation that adds up. God Challenges us by saying,

"Will they not then consider the Qur'an with care? If it has been from the other than Allah they would have found therein much discrepancy." (Qur'an 4:82).
"And if you are in doubt as to that which We have revealed to Our servant, then produce a chapter like it and call on your witnesses besides Allah if you are truthful. "
(Qur'an 2:23)

Even though I did have the intention in mind to find flaws in the Qur'an, when I first started reading a translation of it. I was unable to find any. Quite the opposite! I was amazed at some of the scientific miracles. I should give a fair warning though; not all of the popular alleged miracles of the Qur'an are genuine. In a passionate attempt to validate the Qur'an as genuine, some writers have placed quantity over quality and thus the genuine miracles are somewhat hard to find amongst a bunch of semi-science far fetched miracles. The correct approach that we should use, is to keep religion and science separate. That is to say, if you study science, then use the scientific methodology, and if you study scripture, then use the correct methodology of exegesis. If then trough these two independent studies, we reach a mutual conclusion there is nothing wrong with such an event. However we should not let our knowledge of scripture interfere with the scientific methodology, nor should our knowledge of science interfere with the rules of exegesis.

As I see it, there are 5 classes of alleged scientific miracles in the Qur'an:

  1. Miracle based on correct exegesis, confirmed by scientific proven theories.
  2. Miracle based on correct exegesis, confirmed by unproven scientific hypothesis.
  3. Miracle based on incorrect exegesis, confirmed by scientific proven theories.
  4. Miracle based on incorrect exegesis, confirmed by unproven scientific hypothesis.
  5. Miracle based on incorrect exegesis, and which are unscientific.
  1. The first category, are those that truly validate the prophecy of Muhammed (peace be upon him).
    Among these are:
    The description of embryonic states.
    The descriptions of the root of mountains and their function.
    The description of the different layers of the sea, and their effect on light.
  2. The second category, are interesting to note, but should be dealt with cautiously.
  3. These are controversial, a Muslim should avoid exegesis which is not according to the rules of tefsir (see introduction of Ibn kathir's tefsir). these alleged miracles are where they re-interpret the meaning of the Qur'an in order to "fit" scientific knowledge. Rather then validating the Qur'an, this behaviour actually damages the trustworthiness of Muslims and should thus by all means be avoided.
  4. This category should be avoided for the same reasons as the 3rd and even more so, since there's a plausible probability that science abandons the hypothesis when future discoveries prove them wrong.
  5. These are the worst category. They are suggested by popular writers who have a poor knowledge on both science as well in religion. these miracles are obviously wrong, and hurt the image of Islam the most.

I will attempt to discuss some of the miracles of the 1st class. 


The description of embryonic states.
(Explanation coming soon inshaAllah)


The descriptions of the root of mountains and their function.

The Qur'an says:
Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, And the mountains as pegs? (78:6-7)
The part saying "mountains as pegs" is not vague. It gives a clear view of their shape, and this has been confirmed by science, and there was no way to discover these things without our current scientific advancement. If we look at an early tefsir made prior to scientific discoveries it's also clear that this is not a make-fit-translation:
Tafsir ibn kathir
And here's a scientific article that confirms the shape of mountains:
Beneath the mountains

In an earlier verse we see:
And We have placed on the earth firm mountains, lest it should shake with them, and We placed therein broad highways for them to pass through, that they may be guided. (21:31)
Here the Qur'an goes further, not only telling us the shape of mountains, but also their function. Again the early tefisr:
Tefsir Ibn Kathir
Article explaining how research confirms the function of mountains as insulators for earthquakes:
Effects of Large-Scale Surface Topography on Ground Motions

 The description of the different layers of the sea, and their effect on light.

The Qur'an says:
Or as darkness on a vast, abysmal sea. There covereth him a wave, above which is a wave, above which is a cloud. Layer upon layer of darkness. When he holdeth out his hand he scarce can see it. And he for whom Allah hath not appointed light, for him there is no light. (24:40)
This verse claims that:
1. Deep inside the sea there is darkness, this has now been tested with diving equipment and validated.
2. There are different waves above each other. This has now been tested with hightech equipment, measuring density and temperature, you can find "layers" of sea.
3. The darkness is caused by the layers. Again this is correct. These different layers of sea, since they each have a different density and temperature cause a phenomena which in science we call: "light refraction". Upon each refraction, a percentage of light is reflected back up. So the light is really stoped in part layer by layer.

(In all fairness, do note this only accounts for part of the darkness, allot of the light is also reflected on the surface (+-30%) and also some part of it is absorbed as heat by collisions. However, I find it amazing that this verse does not contradict science nevertheless)

Conclusion


If you read these verses at face value, they have an obvious direct meaning. They are clearly not meant in a metaphorical way, and give a direct message. Of course people can interpret that differently, but that's not my point. My point is:
1. The direct literal meaning of these verses is confirmed by science
2. The early scholars, who lived before we had these scientific knowledge, believed that these meant the same as we now believe.
3. This knowledge could not have been discovered without our current technological equipment.
4. The only logical explanations are that it is truly a divine revelation or that it was a lucky guess. However to claim that all of these different miracles were all lucky guesses defy the logic of chance-calculation and luck, and is therefore no longer a logical explanation.

Other characteristics of Islam I found appealing

Compatibility with science.
I have been passionate about science and learning how stuff works from childhood on. I've also enjoyed a pretty scientific education. Among other things one of the factors that drove me away from Catholicism as well as other religions is the contradictions they pose towards scientific findings and advancements. Islam however has none of those dogmatic views. Not a single part of Islam has been contradicted by science, in fact many of the viewpoints have been confirmed by science! The only controversial part perhaps is the theory of evolution, that is why I discussed that matter in such great lengths here. And although I expect many people might disagree with my viewpoints on evolution, I hope most will have the decency to acknowledge that indeed only the parts that are not scientifically proven are problematic for Islam, whereas the parts of it that are proven are completely in sync with it. And that even if those problematic parts turn out to be true after all, they still wouldn't contradict Islam conclusively.

Consistencies & logic.
Well like I said, I'm not an expert on Islam, but from the many things I've learned and read in the past few years after converting to Islam I haven't found a single inconsistency or logical flaw within Islam, and that includes the Qur'an. It all adds up. Not only does everything add up, but the rules of Islam are very practical. You can often sense an underlying logic behind it. The different rules also have consistency towards each other. Like if something is forbidden, then something that could easily lead to it is also discouraged or in some cases forbidden itself. As opposed to other religions who do allow you to tempt yourself, but don't allow you to yield to the temptation. Logic is also an important part of Islam itself. Muslims are encouraged to think critically and logically. The Qur'an invites people to examine the world and study different branches of knowledge. Exegesis of the Qur'an also needs to be done with specific logical guidelines. If a Scholar makes a ruling concerning an issue that was not revealed in Islam he also has to follow logical guidelines. I find this to be a huge contrast to some other religions who instead seem to aim to keep their followers uninformed about certain issues. This also means there are no taboos in Islam; no question should be withheld for the sake of shyness. Of course by this I don't mean there isn't any personal privacy, but instead what I mean is that there aren't any subjects that scholars attempt to avoid. 


Lack of mysticism.
Another important characteristic that drew me towards Islam is the lack of mysticism. Growing up in a Catholic environment which has a rich culture of mysticism, I've grown quite an aversion for mysticism. In my opinion, mysticism relates to religion in the same way that a virus relates to the human body. In the analogy, a detailed truth would be the vaccine. Mysticism is a mechanism to blind people from inconsistencies. A sort of smoke screen to escape difficult questions. I should add however in all fairness, that there are sects in Islam, like Sufism, that do add mysticism to Islam. However these mystical concepts they hold have alternative, logical explanations in mainstream Islam.

Conclusion

So if I'd have to summarize all the previous pages, and pour all the information into a few sentences that answers why did I reverted to Islam, I would reply:

Because I believe it's the most logical explanation of life, the universe and my experiences in it.
Because I believe it's the most plausible answer to all questions.
Because I believe in Islam.
Because I believe. 

News

01/12/09
Big bang page: Added paragraph regarding Baum-Frampton model.
My beliefs page: Added parts about miracles of the Qur'an.
01/10/09
Fourdimensionalism page: Expanded the mathematical explenation of physics of light, with added formulas.
30/09/09
Fourdimensionalism page: Cleaned up some images, the one with the satellite orbeting earth.
Sidebar: Added new flag-images. The flags are now also clickable as link.
My beliefs page: Corrected a few more spelling and grammar errors.

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