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Tuesday 24th of May 2022
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THE RESURRECTION AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF CREATION

THE RESURRECTION AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF CREATION

Seventh Lecture
The Resurrection and the Philosophy of Creation

Many people might ask: Why did God create us?

Sometimes they go beyond this and ask: What is the philosophy of the creation of this world?

A gardener plants trees to reap their fruits later on. A farmer plows the ground and plants seeds. Why has the Gardener of Creation created us?

Did God have any shortcomings and wanted to make up for them by creating us? If so, He would have been in need of something, however, being in need would not be compatible with God’s magnanimity and infinity.

In answer to such questions, many views have been propounded. Here we will try to give an answer to them in a few sentences:

Our greatest error occurs when we compare God’s attributes with those of ours. Since we are limited beings we engage in a lot of activities to satisfy our needs. We study to compensate for our lack of knowledge. We work hard so that we might not be in need. We practice hygiene and seek medical treatment to ensure our health.

But since God is infinite and without need in every respect, then we must seek the objective for anything He does outside His being. He would not create to His benefit, rather, He wants to show His Generosity towards His servants.

God is a sun with endless rays. He sends out His rays all around Him without being in need of any sort. He desires for everyone to benefit from His rays. It is in His very Nature to help mankind proceed towards perfection.

Our creation from nothing was a step forward to our perfection; the mission of the prophets and the revelation of Divine Books - the Holy Qur’¡n and others, each had their effect on our perfection. “As Imam `Al¢ has said in the famous narration called al-Duny¡ Mazra`at al-ªkhirah in the Nahj al-Bal¡ghah:

“This world is a great university and we are its students, a ready field and we are its farmers, a lucrative business center and we are its businessmen.”

How could we not imagine an objective for man’s creation when we see that every tiny creature is created for a special function?

In the amazing construction of our bodies, no organ is created without a specific purpose: even our eyelashes and the arch in the soles of our feet have a special aim behind them.

How is it possible for every cell of our being to have an aim, but for our whole body to lack such? Then let us look around ourselves: every system has a specific objective. The sun shines for a specific reason; so does the rain that pours down; how is it possible for the whole world to lack specific objectives?

The fact is that inside this gigantic world it seems there is a big signboard which shows the ultimate objective for its creation; however, due to its huge size we are not able to grasp it at the moment we look at it. These words are written on that board: “education and perfection.”

Now that we are familiar with the objectives behind our creation, let us ask this question: could our short lives, with all their hardships and failures, be the ultimate objective of creation?

Suppose I lived sixty years in this world and worked all day to earn my living and came back home tired and miserable at night and ate several plates of food and drank several liters of water and tried hard to provide myself with a shelter and finally I left all and passed away. Was it worth all these troubles?

Those who do not believe in the Resurrection and life after death would consider life here as absurd and pointless. It is commonly heard in their speech that life here has no specific objectives, some of these people at times try to commit suicide because they are tired with what they call “a boring life.”

What gives life an objective and makes it meaningful is to consider this life as a prelude to another eternal life. If we assume this second life to be true all our endeavors here become meaningful.

We will present here an example we offered in a previous section: If an unborn child were told that there would be no other world than this embryonic life, it would complain, saying, “Why should I be imprisoned here in this dark space? Why should I be confined to this terrible place after which nothing exists? What was the Creator’s objective for this creation?” But if it became certain that this period of nine months was a transitory interval to prepare it for a better world, a world in which there was light and glory, in which there were possibilities of all kinds, it would then be convinced that its embryonic life had a special flavor and then it would be tolerable. The Holy Qur’¡n, states: regarding this,

وَلَقَدْ عَلِمْتُمُ النَّشْأَةَ الأُولَى فَلَوْلاَ تَذكَّرُونَ؟

And certainly, you know the first growth, why do you not then mind? [Qur’¡n 56:62]

In sum, this world clearly proclaims that there is another world after it, or else it would be worthless.

Let us listen to the Holy Qur’¡n for a moment:

أَفَحَسِبْتُمْ أَنَّمَا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ عَبَثاً وَأَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْنَا لاَ تُرْجَعُونَ؟

What! Did you then think that We had created you in vain and that you shall not be returned to Us? [Qur’¡n 23:115]

This refers to the fact that if the Resurrection which is indicated by the words “a return to Allah” did not exist man’s creation would be an absurdity.

To conclude: the philosophy of creation tells us that there should be a world after this one.


THINK AND ANSWER

Why can’t God’s Attributes be compared with those of man?

Why were we created?

Could the life of this world be the ultimate objective of creation?

What could we learn from a comparison of the embryonic life with this life here on the earth?

How does the Holy Qur’¡n use the creation of this world to confirm life in the other world?


Eighth Lecture
The Continuity of the Soul as a Sign for the Existence of The Resurrection

Nobody knows when man began to think of his soul. The only thing we might say is that man could see a difference between himself and other creatures from the very beginning of his creation. He could observe himself in comparison to stones, wood, the mountains, the desert and the beasts.

Man observed the status of his sleep and the death of others and noticed that both sleep and death occur to man with no drastic changes. From there he could realize that he had a jewel, called a soul at his disposal.

He could observe, as well, that he was different from the animals in that his decision-making was based on his free will whereas the life of animals was based on instincts and compulsory behavior.

Man could see that there was a mysterious force at work when he dreamt during his sleep and while his organs were silent at night. He then called this mysterious force the “soul.”

When thinkers established philosophy, the idea of the “soul” became a significant philosophical issue. Since then all philosophers have been discussing this to the extent that according to some Islamic scholars, there have been a thousand theories concerning the soul and other related issues.

Now, let us try to answer the following: Is the soul material or non-material? In other words: Does it exist on its own or is it a chemical or physical property of the brain or of the nervous system?

Some materialistic philosophers insist that the soul and mental phenomena are material and that it is the function of brain cells. They think the soul dies away as soon as the body dies in the same way that a watch ceases to work as soon as we strike it with a hammer.

Opposed to the material philosophers are the divine philosophers and a small number of materialistic philosophers, as well, who believe in the independence of the soul; for them the soul stands on its own and does not vanish with physical death.

To prove the independence of man’s soul, these scholars have offered numerous complicated reasons. Here we will deal with them, using simple language so that the reader could benefit from them:

1. We Cannot Place a Gigantic World Inside a Tiny One

Suppose you are sitting on the shore of a huge sea surrounded by lofty mountains. The turbulent waves strike at the rocks on the shore and furiously return to the sea.

The blue sky, dominates these mountains and the sea, and shows its glory at nighttime. We look at this magnificent scene closely for a while, and then we close our eyes and try to visualize the scene.

No doubt, such a mental mapping needs a huge storage space because there is no space to store such a huge picture inside the tiny cells of our brain that is to say, a huge map cannot occupy a small dot, nevertheless we do visualize such a huge, magnificent scenery in our minds.

This will show that, besides brain cells, there is a jewel inside us which can reflect any map no matter how huge it might be. For sure, such a jewel should transcend material nature. This is because there could never be such a phenomenon in nature.

2. The Ability of the Soul to Reflect the Outside World

There are many physical and chemical reactions inside us. The functions of the stomach and heart are physical in nature, but the effects of the salvia and the stomach juices are chemical in essence.

Why are our souls and thoughts so different from those other bodily traits that are physical and chemical in nature?

Our thoughts and soul connect us with the world outside our bodies. But the chemical properties of saliva and stomach juices and the physical movements of the eyes, tongue and heart lack the capacity to connect us with the world outside.

In other words, we feel we are connected with the world outside our bodies and are familiar with what goes on there. Is it the outside world that enters our bodies? Definitely not. Then, what is going on?

The map of the world appears to us and through the capacity of our souls to reflect the outside word we are able to recognize the world outside us. This characteristic does not exist in any of the physical or chemical phenomena of our bodies.

Let us look at it another way: In order to recognize items that exist outside our bodies we should have some sort of domination over them. This domination however cannot be exerted by means of the brain cells for brain cells themselves are influenced by external factors, in the same way that other body cells are.

This difference shows there is something other than physical or chemical changes at work in the body which will make us dominate over the external world. This cannot be anything except for our soul, it is a reality beyond the world of matter.

3. Empirical Reasons for the Fundamentality and Independence of the Soul

Fortunately, scientists in recent years have proved the fundamentality and independence of the human soul and have accumulated significant data to fight against those who deny its existence or those who attribute physical properties to it.

1. Hypnotism is one proof that confirms these recent findings. Here we will give a short description of this phenomenon.

By using scientific procedures the hypnotist puts the subject into a trance and the latter becomes susceptible to his suggestions. During this induced sleep, the hypnotist communicates with his patient, and can even engage in a dialogue with him.

The hypnotist could send the subject’s soul to different places to bring back news or become informed of the things he did not know earlier.

Sometimes subjects speak a foreign language they were not familiar with and even solve difficult mathematical problems when under the trance.

2. Clairvoyance or relations with souls after death is another sign of the fundamentality and independence of the soul.

There are now groups of scholars all over the world who are doing research work on the spirit or the soul. According to Far¢d Wajd¢, the famous Egyptian scholar, there are nearly three hundred magazines and newspapers published in the world that deal with this delicate issue. Famous people take part in their sessions and in their presence make connections and communicate with souls as well as see extra-ordinary things occur.

There are, of course, a lot of swindlers who, with no scientific ways to communicate with souls, pretend to know this knowledge and in this way, rob people of their money. But this fraud does not force us to abandon such a branch of knowledge altogether which deals with communication with souls.([1])

3. The dreams we experience while we are asleep, the sceneries we see in our dreams and the predictions of future events which become known to us in advance all refer to the real and independent nature of the soul.

Most people tell us about dreams that have become true and the outer manifestations of those dreams. This shows that our souls connect with other worlds while we are asleep. Under those conditions, we could pre-view coming events.

All these discussions clearly show that the soul is not material, neither is it the result of the physical or chemical reactions of our brains, rather, it is a reality beyond physical nature. It is a supernatural being which does not vanish with the death of the body. Thus, this notion paves the way for the acceptance of the Resurrection and life after death.


THINK AND ANSWER

Concerning the issue of the soul, what is the difference between the divine philosophers and materialistic philosophers?

What is meant by the following expression with respect to the fundamentality of the soul?

“We cannot put something gigantic in a small space.”

What do you know of hypnotic sleep?

What is meant by connecting with souls?

How could real dreams (those dreams which come true) be taken as reasons for the fundamentality and independence of the soul?



([1]) For further information refer to “The Return of the Souls” and “Resurrection and the World after Death.”

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