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In the Name of God بسم الله


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  1. Thanks for your thoughts Baqar, thoughts that I have also considered in the past. But what may be common sense to you is total nonsense to another… which is why Muslim scholars themselves, Shia in particular, discuss these issues far more deeply than what I have presented here. If such issues really are simple (a claim which I am not necessarily questioning), then responding to the objections atheists or even Muslim scholars themselves raise should also be very simple… in which case I would hope you can contribute to discussion. If you still think all of this is unnecessary, please realize that it is exactly such probing and deep analysis that increases your knowledge, understanding, and hence closeness to the divine. There are many paths to such ma’rifah. The fruits of the intellectual path should not be overlooked or dismissed.
  2. Hello Gulliver, Thank you for your post. Apologies for the late response as I’ve been a bit busy and also have very limited net access... appreciate your patience though. I think my attempt at being short and to the point has caused some miscommunication in my intended points. I didn’t want to get too detailed in the OP, but given your post, maybe I should have. I’ll address your points below. The last few of your quotes are in "code" since I went over the quote limit. My intent was not to shift the burden of proof to the atheist. Please notice I’m not really discussing the existence of God at all in the OP… the OP is solely tackling the issue of whether or not the universe needs a source outside of itself to explain its existence. That source can be anything at this point- X, Y, or Z. Perhaps introducing the voices of “theist” and “atheist” was a bit premature, but I did so for ease of following the argument. Secondly, I realize I didn’t really offer a positive argument at the outset but just responded to objections (though some positive arguments are embedded within the responses to objections). This is because I found the claim that “an existent within the universe requires a source” (see below for reason in change in wording) to be a primary self evident intuition– much like the claim that triangles have three sides. This intuition is based on our experiences with and observations of the world. Thus I didn’t think it required an argument. If you find this claim questionable, please explain why. Am I shifting the burden of proof here again? You state, “This is a far fetched claim, and the general rule of thumb is that the more extraordinary the claim, the more the burden of proof lies with the claimant.” Saying that a material existent within the universe does not need a source seems much more far fetched than saying it does. If you asked me to prove that the chair I am sitting on (or any other material existent in this universe) did not just pop into existence on its own or that it did not just always exist, then I would think you are switching the burden of proof. This is why I put “pre-existed” in quotes… because such terminology is essentially inaccurate given that we are using a temporal term to describe a non-temporal dimension of existence. But I do not see a problem in saying that the singularity requires a source whilst understanding that this source did not come “before” the singularity in the way that we understand “before.” I also understand that this source cannot consist of any sort of “causal chain” since that would imply it is bound by time. These considerations, however, do not undermine the fact that the singularity requires some sort of source for its existence above and beyond itself. So in other words, I’m not sure if I understand how your point is significant beyond just correcting the terminology we use when describing that source. I should clarify that by “universe” I was not referring to anything beyond just the material existents that make up the universe. I am arguing that the individual material existents within the universe require a source. I was not arguing that this abstract concept of “universe” that refers to the collection of individual material existents needs a cause. “Universe” is just a concept that does not actually exist materially. It is the individual material things that make up the universe that exist. And it is those things that I am arguing require a source for their existence. Now, you may object by saying each existent is already explained (via a naturalistic chain of cause/effect) and hence no longer requires a source/cause above and beyond the chain. In response, if each existent is explained by the previous existent in the chain (which is how I am assuming you would explain their existence), then the “first” existent in the chain still requires a source/explanation that cannot be found within the chain. If we want to think in Big Bang terms, “what is the source of the singularity?” would be the appropriate question here. Thus, I don’t think the fallacy of composition is applicable to the argument. Though I realize my brevity in the OP might have given the wrong impression. I must admit my total ignorance of quantum physics (and shortage of time to study it right now)… so can you give me a (simpler) example of something in the universe that does not have a cause? Secondly, wouldn’t you agree that such a case(s) – assuming that it exists the way you describe it- is the exception and not the rule? If so, do you think it’s wise to base one’s overarching ideas and arguments on such rare occurrences (especially when we have no reason to think such processes apply to any objects beyond just that which they are observed in)? Is the problem with the “within time” part or just saying the universe is eternal? I don’t understand what exactly your objection is… As for shifting the burden of proof: same response as above [saying the universe (or the material existents/first material existents to be more precise) has no source is far more extraordinary than saying it does… given our knowledge of material existents]. In any event, I don’t want this discussion to turn into a debate over who has the burden of proof, because settling that issue isn’t absolutely necessary for discussing the topic at hand… I don’t really want to get into this issue yet because it gets into part 2 of the discussion (i.e. what that source is like… which includes arguments as to how it is that the source “just is”). But very briefly, to me the response to your issue consists of two parts: 1) why the universe can’t just be and 2) how the source/agent can just be. As for 1, provided we agree that the universe (or the first material existent) requires a source for its existence, then we can no longer just say that the universe or that first existent “just is,” however much we may dislike the alternative (an external source/”agent”). Recognizing the need for the existence of some sort of outside “agent” is an entirely different issue from demonstrating the attributes of that agent (which answers how it can just be). It seems like this objection is always raised once an argument for the necessity of the existence of a source has been provided (and before arguments are given for what that source must be like- which is what would answer the objection)… but the objection doesn’t really do anything to show that the universe can just be. Anyways, I’d like to be a bit more thorough in my response but don’t want to get ahead of ourselves in the discussion… or make this a free for all as to any atheism/theism issues. The more focused the better. The one issue I would like to discuss for now is whether or not the universe requires some source for its existence. Of course we will always be gaining new knowledge, but that will not undermine the most basic, fundamental principles upon which all knowledge is based (causality, substance, etc). Just because we do not know everything does not mean we cannot progress based on that which we do know. I responded to this above. As I explained earlier, I am not saying the universe as a whole requires a source for the reasons I outline earlier. Rather, each existent requires a source. I am assuming you will refer me to a causal chain as a source for each existent. Within a causal chain, not every existent will be explained (i.e. the first in the chain). Therefore, my argument should be read as “the first material existent” or “material existents” require a source. I didn’t think I would have to get that technical so I didn’t word it that way in the OP. Hence my change in wording now if that is more suitable… 4. even if the conclusion was true, despite the fallacy, this argument can also be applied to an agent creator Again, don’t want to get into this issue yet… we’ll leave it to part 2 if you don’t mind following the order I’d like to keep the discussion in. 1. precedence requires time, and there was no time before the Universe 2. fallacy of composition 3. this argument can also be applied against an agent creator I think I have already responded to all three of these within the post above. If I have missed anything please let me know. My personal perspective on this is that nobody knows how the Universe got started. I respect that… because I realize that stance is held out of recognition of how ignorant humans are and how limited our knowledge is of the universe. But I do think that our knowledge, however limited, can still provide us with many “truths,” truths that we shouldn’t shy away from out of anticipation for future knowledge (which in my opinion cannot possibly contradict certain facts we know as of now- given certain rules of logic/foundational principles of knowledge, and it is these facts that I depend upon when drawing conclusions as to the issue of this thread and other issues). Asking the atheist to prove that the Universe was not "created" is somewhat disingenous, as it is effectively asking to disprove the existence of God. This is shifting the burden of proof. I responded to the burden of proof issue above… if it remains an issue of contention, I suggest we both just agree to offer positive arguments for our stances (me: that material existents/first existent requires a source; you: that material existents/first existent does not require a source- if I understood correctly) instead of spending the rest of our time in this thread arguing over who has the burden of proof. This is what I tried to do in the OP by responding to the objections but can further develop if it is not sufficient.. Please note that not all my responses in the OP touch on the burden of proof issue… so we can focus on that which does not if you agree. Thanks again for the post… always a pleasure to read your thoughts. Take care.
  3. PART 1: A SOURCE FOR THE UNIVERSE The universe must have a source (for its existence). Objection A: The universe is eternal (within time) and hence does not have a source. Response 1: There is no evidence (scientific or rational) to demonstrate that the universe is eternal. Please provide evidence if there is any. (Note: providing evidence to show that it is rationally or scientifically possible is not the same as providing evidence that it is actually eternal.) Response 2: Even if the universe is eternal within time (which would need to be proven), there still has to be a source for the matter that makes up the universe. Saying the universe is eternal just says that the matter that makes up the universe has always been in a state of change [as time is (a measure of) change/progression]. Even if the matter has eternally been in a state of change, that doesn’t mean it no longer needs a source for the matter itself. I.e. eternality within time isn’t criteria for not needing a source. Response 3: Even if the universe is eternal within time (which would need to be proven), there has to be a cause for the motion/change apparent in the matter of the universe. Even if the matter is eternal within time, there still has to be some sort of cause to set the chain of change/motion of matter into action. This first cause/mover cannot be within the universe because then the universe (or this cause within the universe) would be setting its own self into motion. This is impossible (see Response 3 to Objection B below). Objection B: The universe is its own source. It is self produced. It is the uncaused/self-existing first cause. It is thus independent and without need of a source. Response 1: There is no evidence (scientific or rational) to demonstrate that the universe is its own source, self produced, or uncaused/self-existing. Please provide evidence if there is any. Response 2: Everything that we know about material existents in the universe seems to suggest the opposite: that they each need causes and are not self-produced or uncaused. Response 3: It is not possible that the universe be its own source, or produce itself, or be its own first cause. To be such, the universe must precede itself in existence in order to bring itself into existence (which makes no sense). Nothing can precede itself in existence and still be the same thing. If an object does not yet exist, then it cannot cause itself to exist. So the universe cannot be its own source. Whatever its source is, it must be something other than the universe. It must “pre-exist” the universe. … Conclusion: The universe requires some sort of source.
  4. INTRODUCTION Salam everyone, I am interested in any thoughts/objections/critiques of the below. The below deals with an “argument” for some sort of source of the universe. Part 2 (not yet posted) deals with arguments for what this source must be like. I think it is more efficient if these two issues are discussed separately so I am only posting Part 1 for discussion for now. Please make sure your comments deal only with Part 1 type issues. Wherever you see “Objection,” it is in the atheist voice (red). Wherever you see “Response,” it is in the theist voice (blue)- as a response to the atheist objection. Please also note that each response to an objection is independent. So even if one or more responses are deemed faulty, as long as one response remains unchallenged, then it should suffice in responding to the objection. Please feel free to raise any objections that are not listed. Thanks!
  5. Sorry I don't have any fatwa from your marja' but I do have this reference where you might be able to find it: Khamene’i. “Organ Donation.” In: Rohani M, Noghani F. eds. Ahkam-e P---- Tehran, Iran: Teymurzadeh Cultural Publications Foundation 1998: 301. Ruling No. 5. It might just be easier to email your marja though instead.
  6. Yes faith can be logical, and Islamically it must be logical. There is no blind faith in Islam. I'd have to disagree with the analogy given earlier- comparing scholars and the lay to a doctor and his patients. This seems to suggest it is okay for the lay to simply put trust in the scholars in terms of their understanding of the logical arguments for faith in various core beliefs. When it comes to core beliefs, every single individual has the responsibility to justify them on their own, and go wherever the truth takes them. "Because person X said so," no matter who that is, won't be a satisfactory answer on the day of judgment when we're asked why we believed in God, His Prophets, etc.
  7. I think it's just Lebanesors sis, Inshallah lol.
  8. Ws, There's still dark areas all around the yaa'. They put the dots for the yaa' above the ain :huh: . No, I guess I'm not familiar with Arabic calligraphy. If the dot is for the yaa' why is there only one? It's Hindus that venerate cows. It was just an example, since you asked for something in English or Arabic. As I said before, seeing Ali on the moon isn't the problem. Thinking it proves something in and of itself, is, which many have suggested. That's all I've been saying. This is called a "slippery slope" fallacy in logic. I never said this sis, please see my post to sis Naynawa above if I wasn't clear with yours. Anyways, I think I've spent enough time in this thread as I find I am repeating myself, so I hope I was clear :) . Thanks for the post.
  9. Ws sis, Make sure you don't let on you or your husband are from America, to anyone, for security reasons.
  10. Ws, I was referring to the more "modern" miracles. Let me quote my post to sis faith, where there are some examples: Tc.
  11. Ws, It's clear for you, I'm sure, but probably not too clear for most other people. We're biased so it's very easy to see it if we want to. Otherwise why is this only popular among shias? The point of a "miracle" is that it, by its very nature, appeals to a cross-section of humanity, no matter what your background is; if this were really that clear, you would expect a similar reaction amongst non-Shias as well. It really isn't as clear as some are making it out to be; I doubt anyone would have noticed it on their own if it was never pointed out. And even if they did they probably wouldn't see it as "clear" if it was some other name that doesn't seem to support their own beliefs, like Confucius or Buddha or Joe-Shmoe. If I venerated cows, I'd probably be able to see the "baqara" better than if I didn't, because I want to see it. Just my opinion :) So do you consider similar type miracles of other faiths valid as well (see above post to sis faith for examples)? As for the hadith, as others have mentioned in this thread, it's not to be taken literally. If it is, we should be able to see Muhammad [p] on the sun, as others have pointed out. You're right, I'm not saying the mere fact we can make out "Ali" on the moon if we try hard enough is what's wrong. I'm saying becoming more convinced in him and his status as a result, even if the least bit (which usually it's more), is not how he would want us to recognize him. His merits are more than enough to establish that. That is what I meant- why turn to making his name out on the moon when his life gives off more light than the moon itself? We discredit him in the eyes of others, who take this less as a miracle and more as an act of "desperation" to add merit to our beliefs, which is exactly how many Muslims view reported "miracles" of other faiths as well. As for knowing Allah through His creation, you're right, but this is very different from making out "Ali" on the moon. We recognize Allah via creation because He created it; hence we can know the Creator by His works. Imam Ali didn't create the moon, so there's not much we can learn about him by gazing at the moon, other than his name maybe. Take care.
  12. Ws, Neither is "Ali." It doesn't take up all the dark space either. Btw, what's with the dot/circle outlined above it? I thought it was "ali" not "ghali." Like I said I don't think there's any problem if something in nature just reminds you of something greater. I do think many people think seeing Ali on the moon proves something. If it didn't why would there be such a fuss? Why even discuss it? If it was just a reminder like anything else we may see in the world, then one would be reminded and move on, not paste pictures of it all over the net as if it proves something. Again not everyone thinks of it this way, but it's hard for me to accept the idea that no one does, even if just a little. I don't want to repeat myself so some of my response to sis Naynawa below may be relevant :)
  13. You mean the time when he got 99% of the popular vote?
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