Sabahat Ali Rajput, Missionary, Mexico
In continuation of our series “Atheism on Trial”, we present herein the second part of the previous piece (published on 13 March) discussing the logical fallacies and unscientific approach to investing faith of famous New Atheists.
It is not just philosophers like Daniel Dennet whose approach to investigating God drips with unprincipled bias and premature conclusion. Indeed, even Richard Dawkins, who for decades has blown the trumpet of the need for conducting fair investigation, research and purely academic methodology, as he boldly proclaims in a BBC interview, “I see my role as trying to persuade people to think for themselves and look at evidence.” (Richard Dawkins on Islam, Jews, Science and the Burka, BBC Newsnight, Evan Davis speaks to Richard Dawkins)
Yet, such words slip into an abyss of forgotten nothingness when it comes to God. The truth is that he has altogether brushed aside the need for real investigation into Islam. How curious that when it comes to Darwinian rhetoric and genetics, Dawkins has demonstrated great regard for careful investigation.
When it comes to the subtlemost genomes, Mr Dawkins is willing to endure astounding patience because he truly believes that it will unravel scientific truths. Yet, when it comes to the idea of God, he has hardly given a second thought to His existence.
Apodioxis has been defined as an emphatic rejection or dismissal of an opponent’s argument or an opposing proposition. For example, when Dawkins is asked, “What are the five best reasons why there is no God?”, he smugly replies, “What are the five best reasons why there are no fairies?” This deceiving proposition has been dealt with at length in part two of this series of articles. Without answering the question, he slips past the onus of presenting five sound arguments against the existence of God and attempts to distract his audience with the totally erroneous illusion that the existence of God and fairies is contemporaneous in nature. It is fun houses of mirrors like these which New Atheists orchestrate and puppeteer with finesse and flair.
Another aspect of apodioxis as used by New Atheists relates to the sweeping, melodramatic and unfounded claims they make about religions and their founders. What is astounding is the slick manner in which New Atheists will circumvent answering the question and just vilify the opposing view, entirely abandoning reason, rationality and fact for fibs, fabrications and fables.
Important note on Muhammadsa as a medical man
Take, for instance, the example of Christopher Hitchens – evidently, the King of Apodioxis – when he unabashedly declares:
“Today, the least educated of my children knows much more about natural order than any of the founders of religion.” (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hachette Book Group Publishing, 2007, pp. 66-67)
Alas, Hitchens’ deliberate refusal to investigate religion honestly has cast him into a cavern of ignorance. If he had but studied the most authentic and famous of all the books of Islamic Traditions, the Sahih of Imam Bukharirh, he would have thought twice before making such an absurd and irreverent comparison. It must be borne in mind that despite the lack of education and availability of medical knowledge among the desert-dwellers 1,400 years ago, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa declared, for instance, that the medicinal qualities of Nigella Sativa (known as kalonji in the Indian subcontinent) “are a healing for nearly all of your ailments and illnesses except death.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, The Book of Medicine, Chapter 8 – Treatment by Black Cumin, Hadith 10)
Considering the latest research on this subject, this ancient declaration is astonishing. After all, what investigative or scientific technology did the Founder of Islam have at his disposal that he could have proclaimed such a thing?
One must bear in mind that his words were acted upon and followed to the letter by thousands and so, countless traditions also exist of him prescribing various herbs and other foods to treat an array of ailments, with remarkable success.
An honest perusal of just two books from Bukhari – Kitab al-Tibb (The Book of Medicine) and Kitab al-Taharah (The Book of Cleanliness) offers ample evidence of the remarkable expertise of the Founder of Islam about the natural order of the world.
One must also remember that, all along, the opponents of Islam were constantly on the lookout for any opportunity they may have had to try to disprove any statement of the Prophetsa. Yet, no authentic narration exists where these eager opponents have even tried to challenge the medical knowledge of the Holy Prophetsa, despite the traditions being replete with his various ingenious prescriptions.
On the contrary, Jews and Christians would themselves present their medical needs before him, asking for a remedy or treatment. One is totally baffled at the extent to which educated scholars like Hitchens have allowed their exaggerated biases to cloud their judgement and have, as a result, made such sweeping and unsubstantiated claims as the one quoted above.
After all, what laboratory resources did the Holy Prophetsa possess that he could confidently declare a single spice or food to be a source of healing and treatment for nearly every ailment?
Today, modern science is just beginning to realise the great depth and far-reaching truth of such medical statements of the Holy Foundersa of Islam. From being an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antianxiety and anti-depressant, to an antibacterial, anti-viral, anti- fungal and antiparasitic, the various uses of Nigella Sativa in its different forms are truly wondrous. It also combats histamine intolerance boosts Immune functions, and has been proven repeatedly to have incredible effects on different cancers. (Potential adjuvant effects of Nigella sativa seeds to improve specific immunotherapy in allergic rhinitis patients, Medical Principles and Practice: International Journal of the Kuwait University. Accessed 21 December 2017; www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pubmed/20357504) (Can methanolic extract of Nigella sativa seed affect glycoregulatory enzymes in experimental hepatocellular carcinoma?; Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, Accessed 2 December 2017; www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ pubmed/22767221)
Nigella Sativa seeds are also proven to help protect against heart disease, increasing testosterone levels, helping with asthma, rhinitis and other respiratory difficulties. They are also anti-diabetic, neuroprotective, natural painkiller, aid in treating osteoporosis and arthritis, as well as eczema and other skin conditions. They protect the kidneys while preventing kidney stones.
Furthermore, they are an anti-septic, conducive to male fertility, anti-epileptic, radioprotective and highly effective in the treatment of opioid dependence. Their phytochemistry reveals a staggering number of effects in laboratory environments, from possessing a hypoglycemic effect to being effective in treating gastrointestinal complications including ulcers. (A Review of Medicinal Uses and Pharmacological Activities of Nigella Sativa, Department of Biological and Medicinal Sciences, The Aga Khan University Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan, Asian Network for Scientific Information)
This is but one example from a long list of truly astounding medicinal statements of the Prophet Muhammadsa. Yet, people like Mr Dennet seek to deceive their readers into believing that founders of religion were totally ignorant of the realities of nature by making extensive and unfounded claims about them.
The truth is that the Prophet Muhammadsa was a brilliant compendium of knowledge when it came to the natural sciences. His revolutionary teachings about spirituality notwithstanding, he brought the desert Arabs out of their degenerate state of deplorable hygiene and turned them into soaring exemplars of physical cleanliness and civility.
From using water to cleaning oneself after the privy (something that much of the civilised elites of today are still ignorant of), to the medicinal uses of dozens of natural plants, honey, leaves, herbs and seeds, to his numerous remedies for various ailments, his minutely recorded life stands boldly in contrast and indignantly in contradiction to such uneducated statements about him by his biased detractors.
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh, the Fourth Successor to the Promised Messiahas, refers to yet another brilliant observation which could not have been conceived by a desert Arab 1,400 years ago. He writes:
“This … is fully endorsed by a tradition of the Holy Prophetsa in which he strongly admonishes people not to use dried up lumps of dung or bones of dead animals for cleaning themselves after attending to the call of nature because they are food for the jinn.
“As we use toilet paper now, at that time people used lumps of earth, stones or any dry article close at hand to clean themselves. We can safely infer therefore, that what he referred to as jinn was nothing other than some invisible organisms, which feed on rotting bones, dung etc.
“Remember that the concept of bacteria and viruses was not till then born. No man had even the vaguest idea about the existence of such invisible tiny creatures. Amazingly it is to these that the Holy Prophetsa referred. The Arabic language could offer him no better, more appropriate expression than the word jinn. (Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth, pp. 363-364)
One must bear in mind that New Atheists like Hitchens seek to entertain atheists as well as infuriate believers. Such statements issued forth from the mouths of the academic hallmarks of our society are astonishingly against the basic principles of academic research and investigation.
On one occasion, Hitchens goes so far as to say that “all attempts to reconcile faith with science and reason are consigned to failure and ridicule.” (Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hachette Book Group Publishing, 2007, p. 65)
For a man who advocated education for so many years, one is left astounded at how closed-minded and non-progressive his views are. For him to forever slam the door of trying to reconcile religion with faith is directly contradictory to what he apparently spent his life preaching and practicing.
It is true today more than ever before that the audience of New Atheists are often atheists first and scientists after. This dangerous order of precedence is no less intellectually lethal and spiritually debilitating than those who are criticised for being believers first and scientists second.
The truth is that Islam propounds an inextricably interwoven and ingeniously interdependent relationship of academic symbiosis between the faculties of rationality and revelation. It rejects the rejection of science and scientifically substantiates the need for revelation – indeed, it is this very relationship betwixt the two which birthed the Scientific Islamic Golden Age, without which the fundaments of European enlightenment would simply not have existed.
As Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh, in his magnum opus, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth, explains, “During that period, although Muslim enquiry was predominantly influenced by Quranic teachings and the traditions of the Holy Prophetsa, it could not be entirely qualified as Islamic. There was a rapid proliferation of academic growth in all directions. Many new philosophies and sciences were acquired from past eras of secular, academic and scientific achievements.
“Also, many a new branch of religious and secular knowledge was pioneered by some outstanding Muslim thinkers. Thus, religion and rationality went hand in hand. They drew their thrust largely from the emphasis on the pursuit of knowledge laid in the Quran and the instructions of the Holy Prophetsa. The role of rationality was so powerfully highlighted that religious belief and rationality became synonymous.” (Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmadrh, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth)
It is this bridge between the two faculties of revelation and rationality which Islam seeks to reconstruct, so that the science of spirituality and the mystic realms of science may combine to usher in another thousand golden eras of erudition and wisdom along with the technological advancements of today.
It was well over a century ago that the founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslims Jamaat, the Promised Messiahas declared:
“In this time, God Almighty has not just confined religious affairs to fables and speechmaking but has deemed faith a science. This is precisely why this is the age of scientific discovery; a time where every matter is presented academically. I have been sent for this very reason – to present the historical accounts of the Noble Quran and religious beliefs in an academic manner. (Al Hakam, 10 April 1902, p. 6)
“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass, God is waiting for you.” (Werner Heisenberg)