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Is Belief in God Morally Imperative?
... Khalid Zaheer <kzmawrid @ gmail.com>http://www.faithfreedom.org/2009/05/18/ ... mperative/
It is wonderful to see Khalid Zaheer's article in the front page of FFI and I hope he is reading FFI., Let us read it and learn from him the rule of God., or what a man thinks about what God should be..
Ali Sina Response: Dear Dr. Zaheer,
When I say that belief in God is a moral issue more than an intellectual one, my understanding can be described in the following way:
Man has an inherent moral virtue of being grateful to his benefactors. We are grateful to our parents, teachers, relatives, friends etc for what they have done for us. This inner inclination to thank and pay back to those who have helped us is universally shared so strongly that those who go against its verdict are considered ungrateful, immoral people.
If the above-mentioned premise is valid, then it should proceed from it that the one who is responsible for conferring upon us all the blessings that we enjoy, including giving us the company of the people who deserve our grateful behaviour, should be the focus of our best emotions of gratitude. I concede that, to begin with, one might ask as to why should one thank Him if there were good reasons to believe that He doesn’t exist? The intellectual thought would indeed pose a challenge to the moral impulse in man, but the latter impulse would incline him to search for the right answer far more eagerly than he would do for a question whose answer he is seeking simply for intellectual curiosity. The earnestness in the quest for God should at least be the equivalent of the eagerness of a man who is tracing his parents about whom he is not sure if they were alive or not. My question is: Have the agnostics and the atheists explored enough to claim that they haven’t found anyone who was ultimately responsible for all the blessings they enjoy? Have they earnestly prayed to Him, even without formally believing in Him, as I did? If they would say that they did and yet didn’t get any response, I would say that, at best, I am seriously puzzled because my experience has been very different. When I prayed to Him, even when I thought that I didn’t formally believe in Him, His response was overwhelming. Why aren’t these others going through the same experience in response to the same behaviour? I am honestly baffled!
The fear factor can only be a starting point for believing in God. It is a very superficial reason to believe in Him over a long time. In fact, it is no reason to believe in Him. I would suggest that it is better not to believe in God than to believe in Him for fear of His probable appearance. I don’t believe in a God who should be feared like we fear a deadly monster. I believe in a loving and caring God, who more significantly, responds to my prayers. And I am dead sure that He does. But I am no one to accuse others of not trying enough or not praying to Him sincerely. That’s why I say that I am simply puzzled. What loss would occur to those who haven’t found God if they were to pray to Him in sincere earnestness?
However, for the prayer to cause connection with God, there should be one condition satisfied: One should submit oneself humbly before Him. You might say that it’s a funny proposal for someone who doesn’t even believe in Him to humble himself before God. I would respond by saying that when we feel morally obliged to be grateful to the source that arranged for us all that we have in this life, when we find that there were reasons to believe that He exists (even if there were other reasons that lead to a contrary conclusion), and when our vulnerability causes us to be fearful for our existence, could there be a better response from us than to be humble ourselves before Him (or His supposed existence) and see what happens?
I have a feeling that the intellectual arguments of the agnostics and atheists deprive them of that all important feeling of humbleness that inspires one to look earnestly for God. But I can be wrong.
Quite often, I have observed people who claim not to believe in God deriding religion, religious people, and the concept of God. There is often a rejection of the religious concepts with disdainful sarcasm. There is a clear sense of intellectual superiority one can smell from the kind of remarks that one hears. Richard Dawkins has made strong claims in his book on the basis of scientific studies that the more intelligent a person, the more likely it is that he is going to be an atheist. My point is that what they consider to be their strength (intellect) may actually be causing their downfall by making them feel superior and thus causing them to be arrogant and therefore not humble.
Both gratefulness and humbleness are desirable virtues. Both ungratefulness and haughtiness are immoral tendencies. The one pair of attributes leads to God. The other takes away from God. That is why I am of the opinion that belief in God belongs primarily to the domain of morality; the intellectual aspect of it is much less significant than is often realized.
I am not saying that religious people can’t be arrogant. Some of them are immensely arrogant. Nor am I claiming that all atheists are arrogant. Some of them are genuinely down-to-earth. While arrogant religiosity will find no place in the mercy of God, humble atheism will, hopefully, give way to true belief in Him.
It’s always a pleasure to hear from you. I suppose by sending this article to me you expect me to respond. I will do my best.
Your arguments make sense, until one discovers that they are based on a series of logical fallacies. In other words, you have erected a pretty edifice, but on no foundation. Now watch as I blow at it to make it fall.
First you compare God to our parents and say that as good children we should seek our parents, even if we don’t know whether they are alive or dead to show our gratitude to them.
This is a wrong comparison. Our parents are real while God is imaginary and faith based. Is there any evidence that we have an intelligent maker other than the laws of the nature? Until you have not proven that, you are engaging in the fallacy of Begging the Question.
Begging the Question is a fallacy in which the premises include the claim that the conclusion is true or (directly or indirectly) assume that the conclusion is true. This sort of “reasoning” typically has the following form.
1. Premises in which the truth of the conclusion is claimed or
the truth of the conclusion is assumed (either directly or indirectly).
2. Claim C (the conclusion) is true.
This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because simply assuming that the conclusion is true (directly or indirectly) in the premises does not constitute evidence for that conclusion. Obviously, simply assuming a claim is true
does not serve as evidence for that claim. This is especially clear in particularly blatant cases: “X is true. The evidence for this claim is that X is true.”
Some cases of question begging are fairly blatant, while others can be extremely subtle.
Examples of Begging the Question
1. Bill: “God must exist.”
Jill: “How do you know.”
Bill: “Because the Bible says so.”
Jill: “Why should I believe
the Bible was written by God.”
2. “If such actions were not illegal, then they would not be prohibited by the law.”
3. “The belief in God is universal. After all, everyone believes in God.”
4. Interviewer: “Your resume looks impressive but I need another reference.”
Bill: “Jill can give me a good reference.”
Interviewer: “Good. But how do I know that Jill is trustworthy?”
Bill: “Certainly. I can vouch for her.”
As you see, your premise is wrong. Therefore, your conclusion is wrong. You took for granted that God is the creator and the provider and therefore you concluded that we should be grateful to him. However, you failed to provide any evidence to support your premise.
The other error of this comparison is that our parents are humans. They sacrifice and give us everything they have while we are helpless, until we grow and become strong. By then, they are old and frail. It is then morally imperative for us to return the favor and take care of them until they are alive. Assuming there is a God that made us, he is allegedly all powerful. Why would he need our help or even our gratitude? If he is God, it would make no difference to him whether we praise him or not. So why would he punish those who don’t thank him?
Suppose there is a rich man who decides to be generous. He goes to the street and distributes money to anyone he sees. People take the money and thank him but some don’t thank. What would you say of this generous person if he then goes after those who did not thank him, to beats them up and torture them? Would you consider such a person worthy of praise? We humans are told, that the best form of generosity is the one done anonymously and without expecting any reward and recognition. Are you saying that this god of yours cannot live even up to human standard? That he is so desperate to be thanked that he would torture people in the most excruciating way for eternity if they do not thank him? If you expect reward, your generosity is self serving. And yet the Quran is full of warning for those who do not thank Allah and his messenger. Are you sure that Muhammad did not make up the whole thing so he can be worshipped as proxy of his invisible god? Allah is a narcissist because he is the wet dream of Muhammad. Allah is what the narcissist Muhammad dreamed to become. He is a figment of the sick mind of that crazy Arab.
The truth is that there is no manna falling from the sky. We have to work hard to earn our living. If we don’t, God will not take care of us. Many people actually die of starvation and there is no god coming to their rescue. We humans take better care of our pets than God takes care of us and yet we do not expect our pets to thank us nor do we torture them if they don’t wag their tails after we feed them. Whereas Muhammad’s God will burn the disbelievers and then will make them grow new skin to burn them again ad infinitum. Does such a sadist god deserve praise? Assuming that God exists isn’t what Muhammad attributed to him blasphemy? If God exists and if he has a hell I can assure you that Muhammad is burning in the lowest pit of that hell for attributing insanity to Him.
Another fallacy in your argument is when you express your bewilderment that why when God responded to your prayer overwhelmingly the rest of us claim to not have heard any response for our prayers.
This is subjective reasoning. Assuming you witness a miracle, why should I believe you? Why should I trust you? Maybe you were hallucinating? Why God does not show his miracles to me? Should I rely on my own intelligence or on the claims of every Tom, Dick and Harry? And why would God punish me for not believing in a miracle that I never witnessed?
Let us say you are desperate for money and you buy a lottery ticket, pray to God and you win. You conclude that God answered your prayer. Is this a logical conclusion? What you forget is that millions of others also played that lottery, many of them were also needy and they prayed but they did not win. In fact a few years ago in Canada a couple of drug dealers with many crimes under their belt won a large lottery prize. Did God have anything to do with that? Meanwhile there are millions of children who don’t get enough food.
How many times we hear people who are saved in a disaster in which thousands were perished say, “it was a miracle of God that I am saved?” Why God did not perform his miracle on those thousands who perished?
You say that you do not believe in a God of feared, but a God that answers your prayers. There is no proof that God answers prayers. Religious people say that God answers only the prayers that he wants to answer. In that case why pray at all? God will do what he thinks is right anyway. Why ask from God things that may not be good for us? And why pray for things that he would give us anyway?
Religious people say sometimes the answer of God to our prayer is “yes,” sometimes it is “no,” and sometimes it is “wait.” But if you pray to a chair the result will not be any different. Your prayers will either be answered, or they will not be answered or they may be answered later. The argument that God answers prayers is nothing but a fallacy. A chair can do the same thing.
Furthermore, if you do not believe in a God that is based on fear then you have to change your religion because Islam is entirely based on fear of God. Maybe you’ll find Hinduism or Christianity more to your liking. In the Quran Muhammad talks about nothing but fear, punishment, torment in the grave, hell, Day of Judgment. How do you then reconcile your idealistic view of Allah with how Muhammad depicted this fearsome deity? Your god is better than Muhammad’s god because you are a better person than him. Your gods are figments of your imaginations. The problem is that when good people start believing in a demonic deity like that of Muhammad, they too become demonic.
Then there is another fallacy in your argument. You say that to believe in God one condition must be satisfied and that is, “One should submit oneself humbly before Him.”
This is the psychological trick that religious people play. It is the same fallacy of Begging the Question. You are asking us to believe before the evidence is given. But once we believe the evidence becomes superfluous. So you become vulnerable to believe in any lie. There are many false faiths and the followers of all those faiths have used this very methodology to arrive at what they believe. They have taken the leap of faith and have stopped questioning. But surely many of these beliefs are not good beliefs. Some of them are dangerous and evil. So it is extremely unwise to believe until all the evidence is provided.
In my book ‘Understanding Muhammad,’ I gave several examples of cults that brought death on their followers. Those victims followed your prescription. At one point they stopped questioning and decided to take the leap of faith. The result was catastrophic. My advice is that any faith that asks you to believe before providing all the evidence should be avoided. If a belief cannot provide enough evidence that belief is false.
What has been the result of believing in Islam? Many millions of people were massacred and continue to be butchered because Muslims have taken the leap of faith and have accepted Islam without asking for evidence. All the evidences they provide are subjective. But there is no objective evidence. My $50,000 prize has remained unclaimed for seven years. All I am asking for is one objective, irrefutable and solid evidence to support the claim of Muhammad. Not a single person has been able to provide that. Muslims believe without any evidence.
Now this would not be such a big thing if they kept their faith to themselves. Virtually the followers of none of the faiths can provide objective evidence to support their faith. However, Muslims are required to fight and spread Islam by force. This is why this religion is dangerous. Many religions are logically false, but they are not evil. Islam is not only false but also evil. This is what distinguishes Islam from other faiths.
Since I do not believe in God, I do not believe in Christianity, but when I look at the deeds and words of Jesus I cannot but bow my head in reverence. My personal view is that Jesus is 90% mythology and 10% a historic person. However, assuming Jesus existed and everything that is said about him in the New Testament is true, he was an exceptionally holy man. Jesus, as described in the NT, is above any normal human standard. His goodness, his wisdom at such a young age, his vision, are all super human. His teachings are all ethical and good. So what if he is a myth? He is a good myth.
On the other hand, Muhammad is evil in every sense of the word. This man was the embodiment of everything that is demonic. He was a pedophile, a terrorist, a rapist, a thief, a mass murderer, a deceiver. Muhammad was a criminal. Muslims justify all his crimes because they assume that he was a prophet of God. Now assume for a second that he was not a prophet. Don’t his actions make him the worst creature? Let us assume that Jesus also was not a prophet. Wouldn’t he be the best man ever lived on earth?
I have nothing against the belief in God. I also do not believe that atheism is any better than believing in God. As a matter of fact believers are proven to live longer and are happier. Also atheists can be just as bigoted and close minded as religious people. Do you know that some of the moderators of Richard Dawkins forum have denounced me on the ground that I am not denouncing all faiths and defend freedom of belief? Yes, that is true. These people have maligned me, even though I am an atheist, because I am not as vicious as they are in attacking all faiths. Fanaticism is an attitude. You can be ab atheist and a fanatic. Most of the crimes of the last century were perpetrated by atheists. So atheism does not make you a better person.
God makes no logical sense. But it is okay to believe in God. It is okay to believe in anything you wish. However, don’t try to force your belief on me. This is the problem with Islam. Islam is the only religion whose prophet orders his followers to wage war on non believers and force them into submission. That is why Islam is the only evil faith. You cannot escape this truth. It’s all over the Quran. The Muslim terrorists are following the teachings of Muhammad.
In your short essay, there were many logical fallacies. But the most important one is the fallacy of Questionable Cause. Muslims think that once they prove the existence of God the truth of Islam is automatically proven. This is a false reasoning. Assuming that God exists and he is the one who created the world and has sent all the prophets including Moses and Jesus, where is the proof that Muhammad was also His prophet? There is not a shred of evidence that Islam is a religion of God. In fact there is plenty of evidence that the author of the NT and the author of the Quran are not the same. The teachings of these two books are diametrically opposite. To believe that the Bible and the Quran are both the words of the same God, one has to attribute schizophrenia to God.
Then you accuse agonistics and atheists of arrogance and lack of humility. This is ad hominem. I believe the reverse is true. We are given a brain to use it. Humility is in accepting the facts. Arrogance is in denying them. It is the believers who reject the facts and believe without evidence. 2 +2 = 4. This is a fact. If you accept any other conclusion other than the fact, relying on faith you are arrogant.
I want the readers to pay attention how the believers twist everything and resort to all sorts of logical fallacies in order to defend their false belief. It is not arrogant to ask for proof. It is arrogant to believe in any absurdity without asking for proof.
Who do you think is more arrogant? The Taliban and the al Qaida terrorists who uncritically accept any nonsense because it is found in a book that they believe with no evidence to be words of God, or Richard Dawkins, Steven Hawking and Carl Sagan who refuse to believe in any gobbledygook without evidence? Those terrorists humbly accept lies while these scientists, humbly accept facts? Which is more ethical and moral?
Belief in falsehood is not moral. It’s just foolish and being foolish is not a moral thing.
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