Saturday, October 20, 2012


Proofs of Deity, Humour

I am preparing a small book on the proofs of God's existence. For the next several weeks I will be posting often on the Badi' blog selections from my notes, sometimes preliminary essays to be included in the book. If you are overwhelmed, just email me and I will pull you off the Badi' mailing list. As a former atheist, this topic is more fascinating for me than for some.

 Long ago I set up a "system" with slots to take in every note and quote that I collect; the first of these categories is humour, which includes not only jokes and cartoons, but also proverbs, anecdotes, fables, and other nonsense. Here is what I collected for the proofs of deity.


Going through the labyrinthine passages of a university library many years ago, I stumbled upon an excellent book called "Oriental Humour." It featured some of the startling and often profound jokes and koans from Japan, Korea and China. One is so famous that it has entered Western culture, too. We know of it as a Zen koan, but according to this book, it is also a Korean proverb,

"One hand finds it hard to clap." (Korean Proverb)

One meaning of this proverb is that a given spiritual experience is not enough, we need social feedback; we need religious experience. In turn, society needs spiritual experience as well. However much an individual may feel affected or transformed by a given state of consciousness, the reality of it only lives on when others share in it, or at least when they benefit from the changes it had on us. I think this may be why Jesus, when he declared, "The Kingdom of God is within," used a word that also can mean, "The Kingdom of God is among (you)."

 Here is another story from Oriental Humour,

 "A man called at his landlord's and said, `I didn't know at all that you were ill. When I came back home today, my wife said that you had ophthalmia. How do you feel now?' The landlord appeared from within the dark doorway, squinting. He replied, `You're welcome, I feel better since yesterday.' Looking at him, the man said. `I see that you are not only suffering from ophthalmia but there is something wrong with your eyes, too.'" (Blyth, OH 549)



 The authors of the book commented: "The great fall of man is that we use words that are meaningless, words like `God,' `infinity,' `the absolute,' `perfection,' and `opthalmia.'" A fable from Aesop (AE180), illustrates another divine lesson. It is that, as God puts it in the Bible, "my ways are not thy ways..." The story is called, The Ass Carrying Salt,

 "An ass loaded with salt was crossing a river. He slipped and fell into the water and as the salt melted, he got up with a lighter burden. He was pleased at this and another time when he was loaded with sponges. He came to a river. He thought that if he fell in again he would come off lighter, and so he slipped on purpose. As the sponges filled with water it turned out that he couldn't get up and was drowned."




 The fate of this ass shows the dangers of drawing spiritual conclusions from material evidence, and vice versa. Great is the incompatibility between these ways of thinking in our own lives. We can only judge of a religious experience by whether we walk away a better person, or have a lighter conscience. If we get stuck and drown, we know to avoid such things in future. Difficult as this is, how much harder it is to judge fairly the spiritual lives of others. Still, if large numbers of people live many generations in a given faith, we know that its beliefs cannot be wholly invalid. On the other hand, if a certain belief drowns its adherents in hatred and prejudice, it will not last long anyway. In that case it is not unreasonable to reject it and to consider its adherents as, well, asses.

 The skeptic generalizes on the evidence of bad experiences by some and dismisses the entire enterprise of faith A Priori. For them, belief is a quagmire, a failure and a sorry waste of time. H.L. Mencken's famous quip sums up this rush to judgment,

 "For centuries, theologians have been explaining the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing."

 Others are not so hasty. Religion, after all, is a cultural universal. No society in history is known to have survived long without some sort of ritual, prayer, belief in God or gods, or other expressions of faith. As the proverb goes, "Big ship need deep water." Mind and consciousness need to take in the infinite, if only to recognize our helplessness before it. Having done so, we feel the better for it. Another proverb says,

 "Stand far, see better."




 Even the most skeptical can benefit from stopping and entering into communion with the eternal, in whatever way works for them. We might take, for example, a walk in natural surroundings. Trees and grass have been around for hundreds of millions of years, after all, so every natural place is like a very ancient cathedral. Or we might enter a place of worship and there converse with God, or, if we prefer, with our higher, more distant and detached self. To stand in a place designed to reflect the aspect of infinity is always to be illumined, and later to see everyday problems in a different perspective. Of course, we can often gain spiritual maturity just from our daily service to others.

"On the morning I began my new job was an excavation company I found myself standing knee-deep in mud, holding a shovel. `You know, Jerry,' I remarked to the boss, `I signed on with this outfit to learn how to operate heavy equipment.' `Don't worry,' he said with a grin, `by the end of the day that shovel will be heavy enough.'"


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Muslim's Proofs of Deity

9:21 AM

I was returning a book to McMaster University's library when I ran into Aiya at the Muslim Student Association booth, who offered to answer any question on Islam, "no matter how controversial." I was impressed with this young proponent of his Faith. I asked for an essay about Muslim proofs of deity, the subject of a talk I was preparing. A colleague of his emailed me the following, which I share here with permission.

So in terms of proving the existence of God in Islam we use two things: the Quran and the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). These are the two things that show us that there is a God and that he is communicating with humankind. The Quran very rarely will address the existence of God because it is already assumed that God exists since it is the speech of God. Imagine, for instance, having a conversation with someone - they wouldn't need to tell you that they exist because that conversation entails that they exist.

You might now ask, well how do we know that the Quran is the speech of God?

The answer to that is its miraculous nature: its inimitable language, it's historical, scientific, and linguistic miracles. For a better idea on the miraculous nature of the Quran please watch the following video by a renowned Muslim scholar, Yasir Qadhi. He starts at 4:10 and continues on to talk about how the Quran is miraculous.

The second way we prove the existence of God is by reflecting on the life and teachings of the messenger. God sent us many messengers to remind us of our duty to worship Him and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the last and final messenger.

How do we know that he was a true messenger of God? We can easily deduce this with the following options: either he was a liar, he was deluded, or he was a true messenger.

Now he couldn't have been a liar because he was known as the honest and trustworthy of his people even before he became a Messenger (at age 40). People would keep their gold and precious belongings with him whenever they went on a journey. And he would always return it to them, thus he was a very honest person.

It could also be argued that he wanted to be a messenger for money and power. But if you look at his life you can see that this was not the case. When he first started calling people to Islam the tribe leaders tried to persuade him to stop. So they offered him riches, women, power but his reply was

“By God! If they were to place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand in order to abandon this mission, I would not do so until it has been well established or I would perish in my attempt to do so.” 

This, along with many other examples, proves that he was not in it for worldly desires.

Then was he deluded? Well, he was not known to be insane his whole life, but rather was known as the man with the best character. It is extremely rare to develop a psychological disease when you are 40 without showing any signs during upbringing.

Additionally, the insane have difficulty having a conversation one on one let alone be the leader of a political, social, cultural, and religious revolution that changed the face of human history. Another point is that the Quran is very eloquent and consistent so it is impossible for such a coherent message with a clear system of guidance and set of laws for all aspects of life to be produced by someone who is not mentally stable. You can watch the following video by another Muslim scholar, AbdulRaheem Green to get a better idea:

So this is basically the Islamic way of proving the existence of God - His Message (the Quran) and His Messenger (Muhammad). If you have any other questions feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to help!

Thanks for your interest! 

Aiya Al-Saudi
Dawah Director
McMaster Muslim Students Association

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Is there a God, or what?


Is There A God, or What?


Speaker: John Taylor


8 PM

WEDNESDAY, October 10, 2012



SPONSORED BY THE Baha'is of Haldimand

Discussion Series on the Baha'i Principles








Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Posture: Stand up straight, or not...

Poem on Bikes: "If I Ride"

Discussion on Humankind in Wainfleet, Ontario

This Month's Philosopher's Café will be on Thursday, October 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the Wainfleet Library’s meeting room.


This month’s topic is:


“Mankind is One”



What is the PhIlosopher’s Café?


A second Thursday of the month destination

for provocative, insightful discussion

around ideas and issues that matter.



. Everyone welcome. Drop in for a lively




. There is no fee to participate.


. No formal philosophy training required;

real life experience desired.


Wainfleet Township Public Library

31909 Park Street P.O. Box 118

Wainfleet, ON LOS 1VO





Monday, October 01, 2012