Ever since I reverted to Islam -January 2005- I've been asked about this hundreds of times. And often I give a different reply. All of those replies are accurate but all of them incomplete. Even if I were to list every single event and thought in my head that contributed, I still think it wouldn't do. The story is more then just the sum of it's parts. Personal experience goes a long way, the only way to understand that is to go trough it yourself. Nevertheless, I'll still attempt to convey the story by giving the biggest chunks of it.
I've been very pedantic, pragmatic and stubborn from childhood on. If I didn't see the purpose of something, I didn't do it. So I was defiant and strong headed against blind authority. As an example, I'll give one of the oldest memories I can recollect. I must have been three years old give or take, I find it hard to pinpoint age of those early memories. I understood people quite well and was able to speak myself, but I just didn't see the point of making efforts to speak. My mom had this trick to get me to speak. At dinner she took away the topic I was putting on my sandwiches to make herself a sandwich to. I found that suspicious since she normally never ate that particular topic on her sandwiches, but didn't gave it much more thought than that. When my sandwich was finished, I suddenly understood her purpose. She refused giving it back until I asked for it properly. I had some problems with pronunciation, and sometimes they'd make fun of that. So I thought they just wanted to have a good laugh. When I refused to ask, they pretended they didn't know what I wanted. But they are lousy actors and I could tell quite well they knew what I wanted. Eventually I got up; determined to just take it myself and they spontaneously started passing the food around so that I wouldn't be able to get without their help either. This confirmed my suspicion that they knew what I wanted and confirmed my simplistic view that this was just a game to them. At that point I was furious and went to my room still hungry. My mother expected that I would have forgotten all about it the next day, but much to her surprise, I didn't. She still remembers very painfully how I didn't say a single word and gave her a angry look every time I saw her for days. Looking back now it saddens me deeply to see the irony that despite her determination she was unable to break my will, whereas I had shattered hers without even realizing it! Ever since that point the relation between my mother and I had changed. It has been like a constant battle for authority. She remained strict on certain things, and as long as she was able to justify her rules, I followed them. But when she couldn't, she found nothing but defiance and gave up rather quickly. Next to that, this also damaged my trust in people.
A couple of years later yet another authority figure breeched his trust. After about a half year of treatment with antibiotics for chronic ear inflammations and sickness (I practically threw up on a daily basis) my mother decided to get a second opinion. Eventually someone send her to a pediatrician who happened to be specialized in heart deceases. He immediately discovered that I had stacked fluids in my upper heart chambers and my heart was to small for my age. The antibiotics were partly the cause. The doctor prescribed a strict diet (no fats, no sugar) and I had to watch out for all artificial colors and tastes since they seemed to make me sick. So no Fanta, gummi-bears or Mama Miracolli for me, it got out faster then I could eat it. I couldn't join gym class either, once I even slept halfway up the stairs because I was to exhausted to continue going up. Regardless of this, our family doctor refused to accept anything was wrong with me. Needless to say my mom had to find a new one.
My father was an atheist, and my mom is a non-practicing Catholic. This basically means she believes a God exists, goes to church for wedding and funerals, but it all ends there. Neither of our parents tried to push their believes upon my sister or me, and we were free to believe whatever we wanted. We did however both attend Catholic schools, simply because they have a much higher quality opposed to state schools. On weekends that we slept over at out grandparents' house however, we had to go to church on Sunday. And in the beginning I was open minded to religion and willing to believe, but as time progressed I got more and more skeptical realizing the flaws in Catholicism. I didn't see any reasons to believe either, no indications of God's existence, no proofs. And if you can't believe your doctor's word with your health, and you can't trust your mother with giving you food, why should I trust a priest telling me what to believe? Intuitively I realized the word "God" had little meaning without omnipotence and omniscience. Of course I wasn't familiar with those fancy words, but I did know if there was a God, he should be able to know and do anything, or else the word God had little meaning. I think I must have been around the age of six sitting in church one Sunday morning thinking: "O god, if you truly exist, prove it by letting that lamp fall down, or maybe let a bird fly against the window? Just any sign, an answer."
Off course nothing happened no organ pipe jams, no crucifix falling nor priest slipping. I realized however that God wouldn't necessarily have an obligation to answer. So in a last desperate attempt to get some response I thought:
"If you can't give me a reason, I really don't see the point of following your rules. I guess I'll just choose not to believe then until you decide to come out of hiding ..."
Obviously there still wasn't any answer.
As years passed, this choice kind of grew on me. Its a circular paradigm. I first made a conscious decision not to believe, but then soon forgot this was by choice. And as you learn and progress, you pick up anything that seems to fit that puzzle. Before you realize it, your paradigm entraps you like a spiderweb. Each thread reinforces the structure. To give a small example; I remember a teacher in 6th grade (would be equivalent to American middle school senior) once explained us that some scientists were convinced that time traveling is theoretically possible. My initial reaction was interesting. Although I didn't know anything of science at that point, I thought the only way to visit the past is if it doesn't seize to exist after the present moves away from it. As almost any human does, I intuitively believed in presentism, which means I believed there didn't exist anything to travel back to. So far so normal. What's peculiar here though, is that for a split second I started entertaining the idea of eternalism and time as a continuation of stages; of course this was again in a simplistic intuitive way without being acquainted with any of those terms. But after indulging that thought for a few seconds I immediate renounced it. I figured, such a view requires some sort of all powerful intellect to govern it, so since God doesn't exist that simply can't be. You see, even though I initially acknowledged my disbelieve to be a choice rather then a certainty I'm quick to forget that and base further deduction on it to build up parts of my personal paradigm.
I was around eleven years old when my parent's marriage was in a crisis. My father was manically depressed to the point of entertaining thoughts of suicide. He was to proud to go to a psychiatrist let alone to admit something was wrong, and my mom who had found out about yet another affair of his, wasn't really up to handling his depression either. But leaving a family behind didn't seem much of an option for my father, so after a while the only alternative he could think of was to first kill us, and then commit suicide. Luckily my mom saw this coming, and she had hid the riot gun that my father kept for protection of his jewelry store at our grandparents' place. Apparently his next weapon of choice was a butterfly knife. I came down from my room because I heard people yelling. I'm standing in the hallway and my heart is pumping like crazy looking at a closed bathroom door. Should I or shouldn't I open it? After some careful consideration I finally open the door. My mother screams: "Close the door! Go to your room!" And then to my older sister: "Quickly, take the knife and hide it, I don't know how much longer I can hold him.". The odd thing is, although I know exactly what happened, although I can picture myself standing in that hallway, although I can remember exactly what my mom said, although more than ten years have passed in order for me to cope with this, I'm still to this day unable to recall what exactly I saw. I mean, I know how it probably would have looked like to see my family fighting, and I know that they were indeed fighting, and I remember that I did indeed saw that, but I just can't recall how that looked like, I can't recall the image. After closing the door I went to my room as I was told and continued to play with my Lego's; afraid that any minute my mom would come upstairs and yell at me for interrupting and opening the door without knocking. But when she finally came, she didn't yell at all, she told me that dad was gone drinking and that I should pack my bags because we were going to sleep over at my aunt's place. At this point, "trust" was no longer a concept I was familiar with. So go figure my thoughts on "faith".
Now don't get me wrong, eventually the relationship with my father was restored, at least as far as such broken relationships can ever be restored. And after the birth of my little babysister, I even started considering my stepmom as part of the family to. I would even have to say that my relationship with my dad was a lot stronger than the relation with my mother. Even though by anyone's judgment my dad's breach of trust was incredibly more severe as opposed to my mom's. Maybe that was because I was older at that time, or maybe because I can understand the motivation better, or maybe its just because he at least always accepted me for who I am. He didn't go about trying to force me to be somebody I'm not or to obey his laws blindly without him even realizing why. He was a bit of an anarchist in ideology and defiant of blind authority himself. He even backed me up in school and scolded my teachers when they tried to force some arbitrary stupid rules upon me. Later on I learned that he has had the same problems in school when he was young. So I can definitely relate to the life he lived.
With my growing atheism and my defiant nature, finding morality and ethics became increasingly challenging over time. In fact it's more of a decline as opposed to a search. Although I was always giving my dad a hard time about his habits when I was young, I started experimenting with alcohol and cigarettes myself around 14. And by the age of 16 I was already a heavy addict. To give you an idea, on a day where I went clubbing at night I easily smoked two packs of Gauloises and had in average half a bottle of vodka; vodka being my favorite, since it gives less severe hangovers. And it wasn't just weekends, I drunk any occasion I could. One of the main questions that drove me was no longer: "What's the point" but instead: "What's in it for me.". On top of that I was also cunning enough to manipulate people to get them to do what I wanted, although I wasn't clever enough to realize I was in turn being manipulated.
The next step in the decline, at a certain night I decided to try out some cannabis with my friends. What me and my friend didn't know though, was that it had been sprayed with LSD. Since I had a whole bottle of jenever (Flemish liquor similar to gin), I was pretty out of it and didn't seem to notice much of the effects. My friend on the other hand was completely tripping. He started speaking complete gibberish and seemed to be experiencing things we weren't. The odd thing was, the guy who brought the wheat joined him in his gibberish conversation and they seemed to have quite some fun. Then at a certain point the mood seemed to have turned, and it looked like they were arguing over something, until finally my friend got scared and tried to leave. When we asked where he was going he mumbled something about elves and almost stumbled into a lake.
Disillusioned with not feeling any effect I was determined to try it again the next day. My friend passed for the occasion though, he said he wasn't in the mood. When we were alone for a second he told me I shouldn't go either, and that he had a bad feeling about it. But I wasn't about to give up on it just because he couldn't stomach it. I didn't feel anything the day before, so even if it would work today, it probably wouldn't be that bad. So this time it was just me and this new guy we met. Since the park was pretty crowded due to city festivals we decided to take it somewhere else and we found this empty car-park. This time around it did work, and it was one of the scariest experiences of my life. It was as if this guy's face started changing. I don't know quite how to describe this, so bear with me. You know when you hold your hand in front of a light source; some of the light will travel trough your hands, and the flesh of your fingers, especially around the edges where your finger is thiner will start to light up to a bright orange color. Well, it was like this guy had fire behind his eyes. Not because a blood vessel in his eye had burst, but his whole eye sockets seemed to be lighting up! His hair was pitch black and fixed in small upward spikes with gel and every now and then he had this very short fake eerie laugh that froze me up and sent shivers down my spine. At first I tried ignoring it, thinking my mind was playing tricks on me. He started with playing the same games as the day before, close your eyes and imagine... And then he would start describing all sorts of things. Imagine you're on a carousel, the control is broken... Imagen you're falling down in a deep pit... and so on. I lighted a cigarette after the blunt was done. At this point, he started talking the same gibberish as the day before. And I really mean the exact same thing! Only this time, his sentences actually made sense and were understandable. And every time I wanted to answer, I suddenly realized my friend had replied the exact same thing the night before. At this point, I'm convinced this guy actually is the devil in disguise, and this routine he's going trough is some sort of mind game. Psychological torture for his entertainment, like a little boy who just caught a spider and starts pulling out the legs. My second reaction was despair and just letting him say whatever he wants. If this was true, then there was nothing I could do anymore, and I should just sit back and make the best of it, eternity is a long time, who knows after a while I might get used to it. I felt so drained I couldn't even find the energy to put out the cigarette butt which was tightly squeezed all the way down the corner between my index and middle finger. It was held in such a way that the cigarette is kept in it's place even if all the muscles of the hand are completely relaxed. The only way to loose it is by lifting my other hand to take it away. Well that's OK, the fireball will probably go out once it hits the filter either way. After a while I feel an immense burn. I was holding the cigarette to far along the filter, and the fireball reached my fingers before it reached the filter. I look at my hand panicking, and considering what to do next. There's no way I could ever get used to this pain, it doesn't diminish over time at all. After a while I gather the energy to shake my hand, and the cigarette but falls on the floor. I need to do something, I start arguing: "What have I done? How do I deserve this? Why are you doing this?". He replied "I think you know that better than I do". I don't know why, maybe he thought it was still a game. This goes on for a while and still every reply I think of doesn't even seem worth saying, since I already heard it the day before. I even try to bargain my way out of it, but he just laughs with me. Finally I get up and decide to take a run for it."Hey wait, where are you going?. I want to go home, but I don't want him to follow me and find out where I live, so I lie: "I'm going to the vijf voor twaalf." Which is the dutch name of bar we frequently went to. The echo picks up my last word: twaalf, aalf elf... "Hey, elves! So that's what he meant. (The dutch word for elves is similar to English) Wait, there wasn't any echo yesterday in the park! I can't feel my legs anymore from sitting down to long, so the first steps are a bit challenging. "Watch where you're going!" he yells. Even though I know there's only a driveway with small rocks in front of me I see that dark lake from last night occasionally reflecting moonlight trough the shadows. As I start walking the effect of the drugs seems to wear off. And suddenly this guy seems to change. "What's wrong, why are you going all of the sudden? "You really need me to tell you?" "Yeah man, what happened, really I don't know why, tell me.". Since the mood seems to have changed, I start giving him the benefit off the doubt. I don't understand what happened but I try explaining to him as we're walking. When we get to the park he asks me to sit down a while. As I continue explaining what happened he starts bringing up his eerie laugh again, and it immediately triggers the same hallucinations all over again. Although we were surrounded with people, it was as if we were suddenly alone. The people's conversations where overwhelmed by this repetitive circus organ that was playing due to the festival. All the people and background objects around us started to get hazy with black vertical stripes dancing around like my whole surrounding was nothing but an image projected by a very old projector, and it seemed to be stuck on a loop of several seconds movement in tune with the organ. His eyes lit up once again, and the conversation continued where we previously left off. I get up and start walking away. He starts following me again and asks me where I'm going. I start yelling and making a scene: "You wanna know where I'm going? The exact opposite direction that you're going, so go away from me, any direction you want and I'll take the opposite road!". I didn't understood why he let me go. But I didn't really need to think about it. He was off my back for now, I just wanted to get home and get some sleep. As I enter the kitchen I place my sunglasses next to the coffee machine. The first thought that comes to my mind is: "Oh no, normally I never do this, but I did this yesterday to."
Now the thing is, if you have a bad trip with talking beer bottles and flying elephants, the next day you have a good laugh and ponder on how stupid you were for actually believing it was real. But is believing in the devil stupid? I didn't want to believe it was true, it shouldn't be. After the weekend passed I went to my doctor to have my blood checked. My doctor told me that they don't check for drugs in blood but only in urine and that after 2 days it's hard to trace if you don't use frequently. I tested negative but there were some small traces though. Even so, I still can't prove the non-existence of something. Off course the most plausible explenation is that it was all a halicunation, but I can't rule out the possibility that it was all genuine completely. I was so afraid that I slept with the lights on for more than a month. Whatever happened that day, I'm still not certain. Maybe It was the drugs, maybe it was something supernatural, or maybe I just had a psychological breakdown. Maybe it was a combination of things. To be honest, I don't really care that much anymore. What matters to me now is the effect it had on me. I started bettering my ways, cleaning my act up. Initially it was only out of fear, but as I started to forget about this. These better ways kind of stuck on me. I also started to concern myself with the issue of faith more actively as opposed to the earlier passive I'll-believe-what-I-can-see-attitude. But I still had the same paradigm wrapped around me where believing in God was very challenging. One of those many threads were causality. From my -at that point limited- understanding of biology I was convinced that human decisions are nothing more than pre-set responses on external impulses. That implies that we don't really have any choices in anything. Our decsions are then stripped to nothing more than a reaction goverened by laws of physics. And if there's no freedom of choice, then how can we be helt acountable and responsible for our choices? Furthermore, if we have no responsability then heaven and hell are unfair; like a programmer being mad at his software for having lousy programming. So good intentions didn't seem to get me anywhere in faith. But without belief looking for morality is tricky. It's like finding your way in a dark room full of chairs and tables stacked with china. And the more you stumble the more justification you find for old habits. "The end justifys the means, extreme circumstances require extreme measures, morality doesn't solve problems. The supply of one-liners seems endless. And I didn't even realise where they were coming from. Atheists and agnostics will probably object to this, and claim that a person who doesn't have any particular faith can jus tas easily find ethics and morality. And I can see why they would say so. I to would have said so back when I was atheistic/agnostic. However now that I do have faith, and have found a much firmer and consequent ethics and morality, I see things differently. I would argue that even the most moral and ethical amongst atheists and agnostics still have many questionable and rejectable opinions and actions. Human beings are fallible, and therefor inevitably even with the best intentions, the best of us will fail in making the right choices. However the difference with a person that has faith in the genuine religion is that if he fails, he has a higher chance of acknowledging his mistake, and will possibly try to avoid this in the future. However if an atheist is mistaken in his views of morality and ethics, its much more likely that he repeats his actions over and over, because in his view, they are justifiable. Anyway, getting back to mys story; regardless of how many twisted deductions and justifications that snucked in, every now and then I'd get a nightmare reminding me of that guy, that night and that eerie laugh.
Beginning of 2001 my father developed lung cancer. All his live he said that if he'd ever got cancer he didn't want chemo. Of course no one took him serious and expected he'd turn if the situation would actually occur. But he even kept his illness a secret from everyone for half a year so that we wouldn't try to push him. He took care of some loose ends and then during the summer he got to the point where he needed to be hospitalized. His doctor sent him to the nearest hospital in his region which unfortunately wasn't the best choice. They didn't seem to have the right accommodation over there let alone the know-how to treat him. At this point -a month before he died- the doctors there even told us he could easily live for another 2 to 3 years. Luckily my mom -as an experienced nurse- knew better. She advised us to take this opportunity to say whatever we still wanted to share immediately rather then to wait 2 more years. After some weeks we had him transfered to a better hospital. There they placed him on the palliative care department, and that same week my father slipped into a coma. I remember standing there at his bed feeling completely useless and pointless. There was nothing I could do for him anymore. And I know this sounds cold, but at that point I had already said goodbye and I just felt like things should speed up so I could start coping and get on with my life. Of course I never did go on. Six year later as I am writing this it still hurts and I can barely keep the tears from my eyes. But I guess I just had to pretend this at that time, for self-preservation. It's a Friday night, so I do what I always do. Go out and try to get myself drunk and tune out the world. It was my answer to all my problems. It was the only way I knew to get some peace of mind. Sort of short circuiting my conscience as well as part of my consciousness.
See, sometimes while entertaining thoughts, whether they are important or irrelevant, it feels like I lack the capability of switching those thoughts off. Once I start entertaining an idea, I cannot stop entertaining it until I feel I have developed the idea to its full potential. Today still, I would be standing in my room on my prayer rug, ready to start with prayer and a thought would slip in my mind. Then before I realize it, I'm standing there for more then an hour thinking of whatsoever. Anyway, so alcohol seemed to be my "off-switch" that apparently allowed me to have some peace of mind. Of course, now I realize it was only making matters worse.
That one night however, even though I had intended it, I just couldn't do it. After drinking a few glasses, I just couldn't continue, not this time. It didn't seem fair, it didn't seem respectful. I didn't want to switch my mind off. A bit like the main character in Edgard Allen Poe's poem, I preferred to be confronted with the Raven's "nevermore". I got home and went to bed. I couldn't stop thinking about my family. Would they still be keeping watch? For what purpose? don't they see it doesn't benefit him? Then it hit me, they are not there for him, but for themselves. They had believed in his recovery, they did have hope. They hadn't taken the opportunity to say goodbye yet. It's moments like these, when one lies in his bed thinking, that ones imagination runs wild. "What if I had superpowers that could heal him, how would that be like? Or maybe telepathic powers to take over his pain, perhaps even just a brief moment, so he can come back and say goodbye." Then as soon as you conceive those thoughts, you're quick to classify them somewhere in the back of your brain under the "N" for nonsense. Accept for one of them "wouldn't it be cool if I had a god to pray to at moments like these? I just couldn't classify it, It keeps jumping out again, "what's the harm? give it a try, what do you have to lose?"
As I recall it, I chose my words very carefully:
"I realize it's been a long time since we last spoke (age 6 in church). And I do realize that even if today you grant me my heart's desire, chances are the tomorrow I won't believe in you nevertheless. So in recognition of this, consider my proposition: If you bring back my father, albeit only for a brief moment of time, just to say goodbye I'll be thankful. However I still have practical objections and questions that make me disbelieve in your existence, and thankfulness alone doesn't allow me to bypass that. Let alone I don't even know, if you do exist, which religion would be genuine. But if after some time you are able to answer me my questions whichever way you find most suitable, I promise I'll follow your commands whatever they'd be."
I turn around and laugh at how silly and desperate I must sound for trying this. I gaze at the big red LED digits of my alarm clock, and against all odds, I fall asleep almost immediately without troubling my mind any further.
The next morning I overslept. I had a weekend job at a restaurant just down the street and was supposed to start preparations in the kitchen for tonight's shift. When I woke up I was still facing the alarm clock, and I immediately rushed to work in the knowledge I was already 15 minutes late there. The boss knew about my father, so he didn't make a big deal out of me being late. I didn't get much work done though, on arriving he met me at the door and told me they had tried to contact me by phone to tell me my father had died and that someone was going to come and pick me up to go to the hospital. Once I arrived at the hospital I was in for a surprise, apearently my father had woken up the previous night before he died. I asked around what time? They had this annoyed look on their face as if to say: "This detail is what concerns you right now?" but then told me anyway when I insisted by simply repeating the question. Apparently he woke up at the exact time that I had fallen asleep and died at the exact same time that I had woken up. They also added that right before dieing he called out for me, but I think they added that little detail just to condole me with the idea of being wanted. Either way, just as I predicted in my prayer, criticism and questions kept me from believing despite my thankfulness, and I felt comfort in the knowledge I had at least anticipated that.
Years passed and despite my many experiences, I cannot seem to escape this downward spiral. My behavior and ethics were still acceptable; at least from a western point of view. But in my head it felt like chaos and as if I was ready to fall in the abyss any second now. I started reading up on psychology but any attempt to self-analyze my psyche didn't turn out very constructive. I seemed to fit to many disorders and lacked the insight to have a comprehensive oversight. By exploring the distant corners of my thoughts I'm frightened by some of the dark thoughts I encountered there. And I ended up depressed by the pointlessness and sadness of the world. And at that time my only cure still was alcohol. But switching my mind off with alcohol all the time obviously only pushed me further down decline. I did however still have an intense passion for science. Because from my atheistic paradigm, that was the only reliable method towards insight. Finding some answers, or if there exist none, at least understanding matters. And I don't mean understanding the mechanics. Not the details but the true underlying cause. Understanding the why; what is the universe; what is matter; what is time and space; and why is it that way. Then one day I had a significant déja vu; an epiphany. Usually when I get the feeling of a déja vu, it goes hand in hand with reaching some new alternative viewpoint, a fresh look on matter. As if something was revealed to me in a brief vision a while ago, but I couldn't make any sense of it so I had forgotten all about it, until I actually experienced it. Or sometimes it seems the other way around! Sometimes I start by having the feeling of a déja vu, and then that peculiar feeling triggers a chain of thoughts that eventually lead me to a new perspective on whatever matter was at hand. As if that déja vu was somehow implanted with the intention of guiding my mind towards that particular insight, by drawing my attention to something I would otherwise overlook.
I was reading some books regarding general relativity and quantum mechanics. But I had some problems understanding how special relativity and Einstein-Rosenberg bridges (a.k.a. wormholes) would allow for time travel to take place. Then one day I was replying on an internet forum. The thread in the forum was about a guy who had asked for help on a thesis about "the truth" he had to make. But my mind was still wandering off to two other topics I had just posted in, one regarding the nature of time and one regarding free will. And the déja vu somehow brought my attention back to a movie I had seen the other day called: "memento". The movie is about a guy who has no recollection of his past due to a problem with his short term memory. To him the future was equally real and unreal as the past. The sum of all of these things associated together suddenly helped me understand general relativity. And how it implies a whole different view of the universe. A fresh idea: Fourdimensionalism!
If one studies the ontology of time, starting from the scientific theory relativity, one arrives at the view of four-dimensionalism. Meaning that time is a dimension just as the three dimensions of space. That those four form a space-time-continuum. And more importantly, that objects are four-dimensional as well. Such a four dimensional object is the sum of all the three-dimensional parts of that object we percieve troughout time. So just as one can have spatial parts (your feet, your hands, your head), so to we have temporal parts (your body when you were 3 years old, your foot at age 5, your liver from 12 to 16 years, ...). Such four-dimensional objects would be completely static and motionless. Any change as we percieve it is the result of an illusion. an illusion created by the succesion of slighly different temporal parts. Kind of like how a motion-picture creates the illusion of motion by projecting static images in succesion. This implies the existence of a soul, an immaterial entity enduring trough time rather then persisting over time like our four-dimensional body. Something that travels trough the different temporal, three-dimensional segments of your body.
Well not exactly 'fresh'. It was the vision of time which I had earlier rejected when I was in 6th grade due to it's need for outside governing. And it slapped me in the face, this is the only way that physics makes sense. But, if our bodies have four dimensions then what causes our consciousness, our awareness to be confined to a present? Why are our thoughts limited to just a segment of our four-dimensional bodies? It begs for a three-dimensional vessel, that travels trough the different segments of that four-dimensional body. Sort of like a soul? As I entertain the thought the treads of the spiderweb unraffle one by one. Although I must admit that is a somewhat simplistic representation, a paradigm doesn't fall just like that in a second, the process takes a lot more time and complexity. But there seemed to be a continuance of little events, which by any outside person would probably have been classified as completely random and meaningless, but which all seemed to be pointing at the same direction. All of them on the right time, and in right succession tending to my newly found spirituality with any food it requires. For example; I'm breaking my head over a philosophical question I cannot place within the new paradigm I'm building, I decide to take my mind of the matter a bit and watch some television. I open the television by pressing a random button, on the remote and it opens a channel I normally rarely watch, and they were having a debate on the very subject I couldn't warp my head around! At the risk of sounding cheesy and clichématic, the signs really were everywhere ones I was willing to look for them.
I had some Turkish friends who in a diplomatic way I would describe as "non-practicing-Muslims". In the past I'd tried to discuss the topic of religion with them on several occasions, mainly with the intention of "saving" them from their old fashion myths (as I viewed Islam to be in the past). But since they had little knowledge on Islam them selfs, those discussions weren't very productive. Except for one of them though, he constantly threw me. every time he'd ask: "Have you read the Qur'an?" And after replying "no" he'd always say something among the lines of "Well then there's not much to say and you're just speculating on what you have no knowledge of." It always annoyed me, I knew he was right, but that wasn't what annoyed me. What annoyed me was that I knew -and he didn't try to hide that either- that he had never read the Qur'an either!
At the same time somebody posted something on the forum I was active on about the scientific miracles of the Qur'an. My friends had mentioned them before, but I had waved that off thinking it would probably be interpretation and make-belief. However the guy on the forum went into much more detail and got me intrigued. So I thought what the heck, let's just check this Qur'an myself, in the worst case if I wasted my time on it, at least I'll be able to tell of that friend by saying I did finally read it and found a bunch of flaws in it. Well I didn't, not a single one. It's flawless. Not only did my finding of flaws fall short, but I was also shocked by the profoundness and deepness of the words. I was also intrigued by how the book felt psychologically custom made for the human mind. Sometimes it even felt as if it was written just for me, since it was so applicable, as if the book interacts with me on a personal level and has anticipated all the reactions I have, and replies to them appropriately. It knows me better then I know myself, and answers all my questions. It knows science better then scientists. As I started reading I feeling emotions so profound, like I had never felt before in my life. Almost as if they were being rushed down trough me with a high pressure hose. Levels of fear but at the same time security, the most deepest of sadnesses but at the same time the most profound joy. I didn't even knew that such emotions existed. Next to all that, even though I was just reading a translation one can still see the traces of a magnificent poetic order and symphony that is complete in tune with the content of the text without such a thing compromising any of the other mentioned qualities. In summary, the book seemed like pure perfection on every level and aspect. No way was this nothing more then a fraction of someone's imagination several centuries ago as I had first thought. That explanation just doesn't add up.
So in my head I've already started a checklist. Could it have been altered and perfectionized trough time by scholars? Maybe it's alien and brought by a intergalactic travelers? Maybe someone is writing this as a way to prank me and this thing I'm reading on the internet isn't the real Qur'an? Maybe they just copied the best of the best from various different sources when they made this book. Not a single alternative explanation holds trough scrutiny. Not a single can hold ground. Only one makes sense, it all adds up, it has to be genuine!
I remember the deal I proposed, in fact I didn't had to, the Qur'an did that for me and reminded me in a specific verse of how even the strongest atheists calls on God whenever he's in dire need; and then forgets as soon as his need is lifted. I cannot bare to be like that. Every single thing I asked for was granted even though my proposition was selfishly unbalanced, and even though I was at that time in no position to make demands, nor had I lived a pious life. How merciful and beneficent is God! From that moment on, I believed. not the whole nine yards, and every little detail. I was still skeptical against all human input and interpretation, and had a long way to go. But I believed in the basics. I remember when some Muslims asked me if I was willing to take the shahada. The shahada is the Islamic testimony of faith, one of the five pillars of Islam. I was a bit hesitant, not knowing that much about Islam and what it entailed. But when they told me what the testimony asks me to testify to: "That there exists none but only one God, who is worthy of worship, and that Muhammad is his servant and prophet." I thought to myself, yeah sure, of course I can testify to "that". Today I've come a long way from there and expanded those basics allot, yet I realize I still have a lot to learn and a lot of details to fill in. But that one moment was like a light switch. Finally I could at least see where I'm going as I'm looking for my path, finally I had a solid base to build upon. True, my paradigm today is just as circular as my previous one was. And in the end of the day I have no absolute proofs that I'm right this time. But the difference is as the difference of night and day. I can't even understand anymore how I was able to cope before. Finally the universe makes sense, finally all the pieces of the puzzle fall into their place, finally I realize I haven't been living in the wrong planet afterall. You might be wondering, if you indeed acknowledge that your faith is just as circular as your atheistic paradigm before. How can you justify following it? Well, frankly, I don't feel like I have to. I follow it because I believe it, and because I believe following it is the right thing to do and that is sufficient to me. How do people chose their paradigms either way? Do you know how to justify yours?