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Some of you may of read my previous thread(linked here), in which i asked whether unbelievers, even if they have lived good lives, would still be sent to hell by the God of Islam. I think in the end it kind of wound up inconclusive. Many people seemed to hold different views, as in, hell is a possibility OR hell isn't then they went on to rationalise why they believe such a thing. Just from the quranic evidence i have found i have a moderately strong reason to believe that as an "unbeliever" i will be sent to hell for an undefined period of time (somewhere between a little after 0 and eternity). Even if i was a good person, i would still be sent to hell because i am an "unbeliever". I don't really wish to discuss that topic any further here, if you really feel the need you can take it to the other thread. However, it did get me thinking, if i'm being sent to hell just because i simply don't believe, is it even possible to believe? Granted, i've thought about it before then but that thread gave me the drive to post it here. So, what i'm really asking is this - Is belief strictly voluntary? Think about it, the quran says (possibly) eternal hell is a punishment for not believing. So, why doesn't everyone just start believing? A lot of people seem to think they're sadly mistaken or they're doing it out of spite for God or something and even to myself this spite is hinted at in the Quran. However, i contend it is simply impossible to voluntarily change your belief at any instant in time. Let me offer several thoughts why. Obviously, going to heaven and not going to hell is what most people would want if God did exist. I'm sure we could all agree going to heaven is a fairly large reward, some would contend an infinite reward, the best reward one can ever receive and i probably agree. Hell conversely, is the very worst outcome you can get, to be subjected to the horrors of hell. It's the worst outcome. Even with infinite reward at stake and infinite motivation to do it, i still can't suddenly start *actually* believing in God. It’s important to note here that its *actual* belief. As true as you believe a circle has no edges or the sky is blue, you just *know* it. I'm not talking about some kind of self-deception or lying or a false display of belief, i mean *actual* belief. On a similar kind of vein of thought, think about this. I have a (very large) briefcase with 1 trillion dollars ( 12 zeros!) in it. What you actually want to do with the money doesn't matter, you could buy yourself fabulous mansions, build a bunch of mosques or churches, open your own library, donate heavily to charity, look after everyone you know, ect. This amount of money is so huge it's very hard for our minds to conceive but it is a huge, huge amount. It's bigger than the GDP of a lot of countries, Only 15 of the 192 countries counted have a GDP higher than 1 trillion dollars, thats the value of *all* the goods and services produced in the entire country in an entire year, so its an absolutely mind-blowing amount of money. I will give you this briefcase; you only have to perform one simple task. I want you to actually and truly believe there is a purple elephant in the corner of this room, right now, at this instant. Actually, truly, believe it. Let’s pretend i have super powers and i can look into your mind (this isn't as silly as it sounds, God can see inside your mind so he would also know if you had true belief, so it is highly applicable to my situation/argument/thought experiment) or some kind of magical machine that can read your mind. Even under such an enormous reward, you would find it impossible to choose to believe in the elephant. Its analogous to the situation about God, even though the reward is great and people understand this, just as people understand the possible severe punishment, they are still *incapable* of just suddenly choosing to believe. Again, another situation. Imagine i have taken you and your family hostage (don't worry, i'm too much of a peaceful person to ever do anything like this :) ) i will hurt or kill your entire family *unless* you can, at that instant or very soon, start to actually believe that a circle is square or that i am a dolphin. You just couldn't do it. Even it being the life or death situation it is, you still couldn't do it and truly believe it (let’s assume I’m using my magical machine again). Likewise, even if you wanted to, do you think tomorrow you could just suddenly will to exchange your belief for a totally polar one. For you Muslims out there, perhaps just decide to believe that Hinduism or Shinto is true or that there is no God. You cannot simply just start believing it and truly accept it, even if you wanted to. Same to the atheists out there, could you just wake up tomorrow and just decide to believe in a God? It seems impossible. Therefore, i contend it is impossible to choose your belief. What does everyone think about this? It seems like a fairly set case to me personally. (Just as an add-on to my hell thread, if it is as i have shown and it is impossible to choose your belief, which the quran suggests why would an all loving and all just God send people to hell for something they have no control over? If he indeed would send them to hell. If he doesn't that means you don't need to believe in him to get into heaven, so what is the point in believing? I actually summarised this in a nice little table on the very last page of the heaven/hell thread, i suggest you look at it. What i would like to suggest is this - Long as you didn't do anything grossly bad or evil or that your Good outweighed the bad, everyone will get into heaven. If you truly believed in what you believed and you thought about it, no punishment will be delivered. On the odd chance someone decided to go against God out of spite the reward or punishment might be different. However, it seems grossly unfair to punish people for something they have no control over. This isn't the purpose of the thread though, i mainly want to talk about belief here.)
Someone here asked me awhile ago why i don't believe in God and in Islam and i sent them some reasons through the messenger system here. They encouraged me to share them, i didn't because they weren't up to my standard and various other reasons with things like this but i decided to share some of them. They are far from finished though, so excuse any imperfections. Usually in these kind of arguments the burden of proof is on the person to prove something *does* exist if it is not apparently obvious, instead of comming from the default state that it doesn't exist. However, i guess i will do just that. Also note, even if you come up with arguments proving that God exists, it still doesn't negate my arguments that he doesn't. Whereas, if i come up with arguments proving he doesn't exist, it does kind of negate the arguments that he does. To start off with though, i am not very well trained in philosophy. I have only taken a handful of classes. I'd like to mention something rather profound my professor told me though... If you accept the premises of an argument(these are the things that lead to a conclusion) as logical and yet you reject the conclusion or the argument, as a whole, there is something wrong with your reasoning. You need to step back and reexamine your views. Even if one and only one of these arguments still seems logical to you (i have put a lot of thought into them as well, it does seem almost all muslims would accept my premises) then you still have a little reexamining to do. In my case here, every numbered item, except the last is a premise. If you accept each of these individually and yet, reject my conclusion, that is not logical. You must step back and reexamine what you think, with all respect intended of course. If you wish to accept this as a prerequisite for continuing then please, do read on. I have put a decent amount of time into this. As promised in the thread i will outline some of my reasons: Category A: Arguments against God The properties of God are hard to list and vary wildly. Most religions however agree that God is all loving. Reason 1: The problem of evil. If god is loving why would he allow evil to exist? I realise the Islamic view point (as far as I'm aware) is that free will is a greater gift or of greater benefit to humanity than evil. I have formulated my own counter argument however. 1)God is all loving. 2)Evil exists. 3)An all loving God would not allow evil to exist at all or would not allow it to exist without an excusing reason. 4)God allows evil to exist because to allow free will is the greater gift(the excusing reason). 5)An evil doers free will however can negate and cancel out another persons free will. 6)Allowing evil to exist negates free will in a large proportion of the time. 7)There is no great benefit to be derived in allowing evil/free will to exist. 8)Why does a loving God allow evil to exist then? 9)An all loving God does not exist. An example - People often say even if God enacts bad or evil upon us (being robbed, raped, mugged, having our house burn down) it is just a test for us in life, to judge our resolve and faith to determine where we go in the next life. It is also often said God allows evil to exist because to allow free will, rather than deny, is a greater gift. The capacity to do evil comes along with the gift of free will. Example: A little girl is walking on her way to school one day. A convicted murderer and rapist abudcts, horribly rapes and later murders this girl after several days of suffering. It is logically inconsistent to inflict such a thing upon the girl to test her faith and resolve, she is not at an age capable of logical reasoning or her deeds admitting her to heaven or hell. Some people have told me that this poor girl was treated in such a horrible fashion to test her parents, i however, find this extremely disgusting that God would create the little girl and use her as a pawn to simply test the parents. I do not want to believe in such a God and i do not think many others would. God knows all that will happen. God lets us into this earthly life so we might be judged for the next. Why create this little girl, to judge her, with full knowledge she will die before she is able to be judged. Why allow this little girl to suffer, if it is not even capable of judging her. Why bring her into the world in the first place if you know full well this will happen? Onto the free will argument for the existence of evil. People say evil exists because free will exists and free will is a great gift. Indeed it is. However, in almost all cases, the evil people exercise as a result of having the trait of free will, restricts or totally denies others the same right to exercise their free will. This is logically inconsistent. Why would God allow evil as a result of the gift of free will, when evil is used most of the time to deny another's free will. That girl was raped and murdered *against* her free will. God allowed one being to deny her free will. This is not a good enough reason for the existence of evil, when evil in itself, negates free will most of the time. That girl was killed and subsequently, her free will extinguished by the free will of another. This does not make logical or theological sense in the light of an all loving, all powerful God. Reason 2: The natural problem of evil. Ok, even if you manage to accept God allows evil to exist because free will is a great gift, this raises another problem. The natural problem of evil. Evil caused by one human onto another isn't the only kind of bad thing that exists in this world. Evil exists in nature. For example: In Africa there is a young boy who grew up in very very poor and horrible conditions, he is not yet of an age to be judged by God (according to islam). This boy, by nature of living in such horrible conditions, drinks water that is infected with a parasite. There is no other source of water in the village and no one was previously aware this water was infected. He contracts a horrible parasitic worm. This worm slowly bores into the eye of the boy. Causing extreme pain and suffering over the course of many months, followed by blindness and finally the relief of Death. 1)God is all loving and all powerful. (Premise 1) 2)Free will exists. (Premise 2) 3)Evil exists. (Premise 3) 4)Evil exists to allow free will to exist. (Premise 4) 5)A parasitic worm that bores into childrens eye sockets exists. (Premise 5) 6)This worm does not need to exist to allow free will. (Premise 6) 7)It does a bad or evil action. (Premise 7) 8)This action is not a necessary prerequisite to allow the existence of free will or the judgement by God of the child. (Premise 8) 9)Yet, God still allows such a parasite to exist. (Premise 9) 10)God either does not exist or is not all loving or all powerful. (Conclusion 1) As someone who studies biology and will go on to do a PhD i'd just like to point out the entire ecosystem wouldn't collapse if parasites didn't exist in the same way everything would fall apart if we suddenly removed plants. Parasites don't really need to exist. Even if they did (which they don't), an all powerful and loving God would be able to design an ecosystem without these creatures in the first place. All parasites invariably cause suffering to their hosts. Suffering is not a good thing. People may say parasites aren't evil, they are just natural but again, this raises the question, why did God put them here in the first place? He could of designed a world without them. Less animals and humans would of suffered because there were no parasites and yet, parasites still exist. Example 2: Another example not even entirely related to humans is thus - A baby deer wanders in a Forrest, frolicking in all its innocent wonder. Animals are not capable of being judged. Lighting strikes a tree, causing a fire and the burning tree topples over striking the deer. The deer is horribly burnt and suffers in agony for 5 days until death finally relieves it of its pain. God being an all powerful being could have control over lightning if he so wished. There is no good reason for such a thing to happen to an innocent creature who is not capable of being judged. Yet, it still does occur. Why would a good God allow such an innocent animal to suffer such horrendous pain? He could of surely prevented this horrible suffering as an all powerful and all loving being. You might say that only proves God isn't wholly (100%) good. I for one do not wish to believe that God is not wholly good or in other words, God is at least partially evil. You may believe such a thing and that is fine, i personally find such a notion abhorrent. So, in this case, we either have a God who does not care or not willing to do anything about the suffering of the deer (who is not 100% loving) OR can't do anything about it (not all powerful) OR doesn't exist/interfere in earthly life *at all* ever (why even believe/worship then). Reason 3: Poor Design As someone trained in human anatomy and biology in general this is of special interest to me. If God was all powerful, surely, he would do the best he could at designing things, the first time around as well. Humans exhibit poor design. Most other animals for example have the ability to synthesize Vitamin C whilst humans lack this trait. Lack of vitamin C causes scurvy and eventual death. There is no good theological reasoning for making humans able to synthesis so many other things (we synthesis the many building blocks needed to make hair and we can synthesise many of the building blocks for proteins crucial to health for instance) and yet, not Vitamin C. Flightless birds still have wings, this is another argument of poor design. Human females go through an external menstural cycle, that is, waste from such a process is released externally. Most other mammals do this internally (called covert menstruation - https://secure.wikim...rt_menstruation ) with relatively few health effects that human females suffer from during menstruation such as headaches or cramps. There are many other examples but i think mine shall suffice. 1)A perfectly powerful God would logically exhibit very Good design. (Premise 1) 2)Things do not exhibit very good design (Premise 2) 3)This raises problems about an all powerful God or such a God does not exist.(Conclusion) Some of our poor design plays into my second argument about natural evil. I mentioned scurvy and Vitamin C, why would an all loving God allow children to die from Vitamin C deficiency when he could of simply allowed our bodies to make it like most other animals? Why make innocent and good people suffer by simply not designing us to produce Vitamin C like most other animals do? Scurvy isn't a nice disease to have, at all, feel free to look up the symptoms and pictures if you wish. Another example of poor design is diseases. Most will say diseases are created by God to inflict upon us to test us. In muhammeds time pretty much any serious bacterial infection would of killed you, if you had any kind of cancer, you would or most likely died. The plague killed so many people. You know what would happen today if you got the plague? You would be prescribed some antibiotics and you would most likely live. Not the death sentence it used to be. So, why bother creating diseases to "test" us when we can cure such diseases anyway? Does that mean i should never take any medicine so i should be fully tested by a disease? If i do take medicine aren't i giving up on my test? I believe there will be a day where we can find proper pharmacological targets for any disease and cure them. There will be a day where most people will no longer suffer from disease. Why bother inflicting such horrible things on early humans only to have humanity now start to cure them? Why bother creating disease we will cure one day anyway? Reason 4: Contradictory Free Will God gave me free will and God is all knowing. Could i use my free will to deny God's plan, it would make me in effect, in one way, almost have power over God. Let me elaborate. IT is said that only God knows when jugement will happen and this date is set. There will be all the signs, the madhi will come, ect... all at certain set times. What if i were to construct a 5,000 very large nuclear warheads, mad scientist style. I would then take them into space and then launch them at earth. I would kill all humanity before judgement time, i would kill all humanity before the madhi arrives. I would make a liar out of the holy books. There are two options here, either, God stops me from launching these nuclear warheads but that negates my free will and if you are able to negate free will, it isn't free after all. That suggests that our free will isn't entirely free. The second option is i ended the world and stopped the god given prophecies from ever happening, even though it is clearly written they would. These events would not take place anymore. I know i do not have access to that many nuclear warheads obviously but it still is a logical argument. It is not impossible to suppose with enough initative, money and manpower that i will not be able one day to construct such a thing. You could replace it with anything really, an extremely deadly virus i engineered, ect, anything with the same philosophical nature. Category B: Arguments against Islamic conceptions Reason 1: Heaven and Hell 1)God is all loving, all fair and all just (according to Quran) [Premise 1] 2)Heaven and Hell exist according to the Quran. [Premise 2] 3)Good people would logically go to heaven and Bad people would logically go to hell. 4)A loving God would not punish someone who has done good deeds. 5)Either: A)God denied unbelievers entry into heaven but allows the believers only. This is not 100% just and not 100% loving. So, God is partially unjust and partially unloving/ partially not good, so, partially evil. B )God allows all into heaven eventually. What is the point of following Islam and not every other religion or no religion? 6)Both can not be simultaneously true. 7)Either God is unjust or unloving or there is no point in following Islam. [Conclusion] Reason 2: Heaven and Hell - Shirk 1)God(Allah) is all loving and all powerful.(Premise 1) 2)Shirk is the one sin that God can not or will not forgive ever, according to the quran.(Premise 2) 3)If God does not forgive shirk he is not all loving. (Premise 3) 4)If God can not forgive shirk he is not all powerful. (Premise 4) 5)Shirk is unforgiveable according to the quran. (Premise 5) 6)Either God is not all loving or not all powerful. (Concluson 1) That is an argument in itself. I present a totally different thing below as well. I am not 100% sure on the Islamic theology regarding this so i am not using it as an argument on its own. I am using it as an additional note to the one above. It no way superceeds or replaces or conflicts with the above. It is thus - If i grow up a Hindu polytheist, doing only Good deeds for my entire life, what is my fate? Surely it is hell for all eternity, because i comitted shirk. Yet, i only did good deeds. Why would God punish a good man, additionally, it was not my fault i was born in india into a hindu family. I had no control over it and yet God did. Why is God punishing me for the very thing he instituted upon me? I realise some say that regardless of where you are, you should still naturally find Islam. I reject this assertion. The same argument could be used for any religion. What if i monothestically worshiped Satan or a pagan God, why is that still not as bad as being a polytheist? This seems grossly unjust and unloving. Why are my good deeds as a polytheist worthless than those of a monotheistic pagan or indeed anyone else. Say i was born into a remote tribe? What of me then? This isnt the crux of my argument though, the above numbered list is. Reason 3: Argument from incompleteness 1)The quran is the complete (Qur'an 6:11-116; 7:52) and perfect document of God 2)The quran is incomplete (EG. Doesn't detail the correct method of prayer, even though you are expected to pray.) 3)The quran is Authored by God 4)God asserts the Quran is complete 5)The Quran is incomplete 6)Either God is a liar, not all powerful or the quran was not authored by God. Reason 4: The contradiction inherent in abrogation. 1)God is omnipotent (all powerful) and all perfect. 2)The quran is the literal document of God. 3)The quran is perfect, since it is designed by a perfect being. 4)The quran states verses may need to be aborogated. 5)This implies the quran wasn't written to the absolute highest, complete and perfect standard in the first place. 6)Either God is imperfect, not all powerful or the Quran is not the literal, innerant document of God. I believe you accept all these assertions as a muslim. If you accept all these assertions and yet reject the conclusion i drew from it there is some kind of problem with your reasoning and you need to step back and think. Same holds for all my other arguments. Category C: Miscellanea These aren't what i consider absolutely good or proper, flawless, arguments. They are some of my favourite though and do raise interesting questions about knowledge (epistemology), i consider them more "fun" arguments than "serious" arguments. Reason 1: Argument from Incosistent Revelations As it says over to the side, i am agnostic. 1)I and many others currently hold no beliefs with regard to religion or lack there of. 2)There must be a true religion or true idea of God out there. 3)There is a huge number of exclusively different belief systems/religions out there(Hinduism, Paganism, Wicca, Buddhism, Taoism, ect). 4)Only one or a particular group of beliefs can be true. The rest can not. 5)All religions just seem as equally as true. There is no reason to suppose hinduism or paganism look any less true or logical to an outsider choosing a religion. They all claim to be true. There is no way to establish conclusively which one is true. 6)The probability of any particular belief system being the truth is exceedinly small and a risky gamble. The probability your religion is false is much higher than the probability that it is true. See the following link for more Info - https://secure.wikim...ent_revelations There are two more miscelanous arguments which i didn't have the time to type up but you can read them here(taken from wiki): 1) "The "historical induction" argument concludes that since most theistic religions throughout history (e.g. ancient Egyptian religion, ancient Greek religion) and their gods ultimately come to be regarded as untrue or incorrect, all theistic religions, including contemporary ones, are therefore most likely untrue/incorrect by induction. It is implied as part of Stephen F. Roberts' popular quotation: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” 2) https://secure.wikim...heist%27s_Wager I have many more arguments, some are better than these but these are easier to present and i lack a lot of time to present them all. I think this provides a reasonable sample of my reasons why though. These last ones were just for fun. Again, remmeber what i said in the opening, if you accept all the premises but reject the conclusion you really need to consider what exactly you do believe. It's alright to have differing interpretations and be liberal if you so wish, its alright to believe in the literal interpretation if you so wish, long as you can find logical reasons for it. If you cant or unwilling...its a bit hard if you want to go against logic but thats up to you. I realise some of these questions might be hard or distressing to think about for some people, this is one of the reasons why i did not wish to post them, so i am sorry if i upset anyone in advance. It was not my intention. I hope you take the time to read them and consider them. I consider the first 2, the ones about evil, to be some of my very best arguments against the existence of God. They seem near bulletproof to me in a philosophical sense. Thanks for your time reading, -kingpomba
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