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All Traditional Arguments For God's Existence

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Essentials of the Islamic Faith

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  • Everything is contingent, for it is equally possible that they will exist or not exist. Anything can exist any time and anywhere, in any form, and with any character. Nothing or no one has a role in determining the way, time, and place of its coming into existence, or its character and features. So, there must be a power that chooses between a thing's existence and non-existence, and that gives it unique characteristics. This power must be infinite, have absolute will and all-comprehensive knowledge. Necessarily, it is God.
  • Everything is contingent, for it is equally possible that they will exist or not exist. Anything can exist any time and anywhere, in any form, and with any character. Nothing or no one has a role in determining the way, time, and place of its coming into existence, or its character and features. So, there must be a power that chooses between a thing's existence and non-existence, and that gives it unique characteristics. This power must be infinite, have absolute will and all-comprehensive knowledge. Necessarily, it is God.
  • Everything changes. Therefore it is contained in time and space, meaning that it begins and ends. That which has a beginning needs a beginningless one to bring it into existence, for it cannot originate itself, as this would require an infinite regression of originators. As reason cannot accept such a situation, an originator who is infinitely self-existent, self-subsistent, and immune to change is needed. This original originator is God.
  • Life is a riddle (scientists cannot explain it with material causes or discover its origin) and transparent (it displays a creative power). Given this, life declares: "God created me."
  • Everything that exists, and the universe as a whole, display a magnificent harmony and order in themselves and in their interrelationships. The existence of one part necessitates the existence of the whole, and the whole requires the existence of all parts for its own existence. For example, a deformed cell may destroy an entire body. Similarly, a pomegranate requires the collaborative and cooperative existence of air, water, soil, and the sun, as well as their mutual and well-balanced cooperation, for its existence. This harmony and cooperation point to a creator of order, who knows the relationships and characteristics of everything, and who can order everything. The creator of order is God.
  • All of creation exhibits an overwhelming artistry of dazzling worth. Yet it is brought into being, as we see it, with great ease and speed. Furthermore, creation is divided into countless families, genera, species, and even smaller groups, each of which exists in great abundance. Despite this, we see nothing but order, art, and ease in creation. This shows the existence of one with an absolute power and knowledge, who is God.
  • Whatever has been created has a purpose. Take the example of ecology. Everything, no matter how apparently insignificant, has a significant role and purpose. The chain of creation up to humanity, its last link, is clearly directed to a final purpose. A fruit-bearing tree's purpose is to yield fruit, and its whole life is directed toward that goal. Similarly, the "tree of creation" yields humanity as its final and most comprehensive fruit. Nothing is in vain; rather, every item, activity, and event has many purposes. This requires a wise one who pursues certain purposes in creation. Since only humanity can understand those purposes, the wisdom and purposiveness in creation necessarily point to God.
  • All living and non-living beings cannot meet almost none of their own needs on their own. For example, the universe can operate and maintain itself only by such universal laws as growth and reproduction, gravitation and repulsion. But these so-called "natural laws" have no actual external, visible, or material existence; they are nominal. How can something nominal, completely devoid of knowledge and consciousness, be responsible for such a miraculous creation that requires absolute power and absolute knowledge, wisdom, choice, and preference? So, one who has all of these attributes has established these "natural laws" and uses them as veils to cover His operations for a certain purpose.
  • Plants need air and water, as well as heat and light, to survive. Can they fulfill their own needs? Humanity's needs are infinite. Fortunately, all of our essential needs, from our beginning in the womb to death, are met by someone who is able to meet them and chooses to do so. When we enter this world, we find everything prepared to meet all the needs of our senses and intellectual and spiritual faculties. This clearly shows that one who is infinitely merciful and knowledgeable provides for all created beings in the most extraordinary way, and causes all things to collaborate to that end.
  • All things in the universe, regardless of distance, help each other. This mutual helping is so comprehensive that, for example, almost all things, among them air and water, fire and soil, the sun and the sky, help us in an extraordinarily prearranged manner. Our bodily cells, members, and systems work together to keep us alive. Soil and air, water and heat, and bacteria cooperate with each other to benefit plants. Such activities, which display knowledge and conscious purpose, by unconscious beings show the existence of a miraculous arranger. That one is God.
  • Before humanity began to over-pollute the air, water and soil, the natural world was cleansed and purified continually. Even now, it still preserves its original purity in many regions, mostly where modern life has not yet taken hold. Have you ever wondered why nature is so clean? Why are forests so clean, even though many animals die in them every day? If all files born during the summer survived, the Earth would be covered completely with layers of dead flies. Nothing is wasted in nature, for each death is the beginning of a new birth. For example, a dead body decomposes and is integrated into the soil. Elements die and are revived in plants; plants die in the stomachs of animals and people and are promoted to a higher rank of life. This cycle of death and revival is one factor that keeps the universe clean and pure. Bacteria and insects, wind and rain, black holes and oxygen in organic bodies all sustain the universe's purity. This purity points to one who is all-holy one, whose attributes include cleanliness and purity.
  • Innumerable human beings have lived since Adam and Eve were created. Despite their common origin-a sperm and ovum, formed from the same foods consumed by parents-and their being composed of the same structures or elements or organisms, every person has a unique countenance. Science cannot explain this miraculous uniqueness. It cannot be explained by DNA or chromosomes, since this difference dates back to the first differentiation of individuals in the world. Moreover, this difference is not only in countenances; all human beings are unique in character, desire, ambition, and ability, and so on. While members of animal species are almost the same and display no difference in behavior, each human individual is like a different species that has his or her own world within the larger world of humanity. This obviously shows one with an absolutely free choice and all-encompassing knowledge: God.
  • We need about 15 years to direct our lives and to understand what is good and bad. But many animals have such knowledge very soon after they are born. For example, ducklings can swim as soon as they hatch, and ants start digging nests in the ground when they leave their cocoons. Bees and spiders quickly learn how to make their honeycombs and webs, respectively, which are marvels of handiwork that we cannot reproduce. Who teaches young eels born in the waters of Europe to find their way to their home in the Pacific? Is the migration of birds not still a mystery? How can you explain such astounding facts other than by attributing them to the teaching or directing of one who knows everything, and has arranged the universe and its inhabitants in a way that every creature can direct its life?
  • Despite enormous scientific advances, we still cannot explain life. Life is the gift of the Ever-Living One, Who "breathes" a spirit into each embryo. We know little about the spirit's nature and relation with the body, but our ignorance does not mean that the spirit does not exist. The spirit is sent here to be perfected and to acquire a state appropriate for the other life.
  • Our conscience is the center of our inclinations toward right and wrong. Everybody feels this conscience occasionally, and most people are inclined to turn to God on certain occasions. For us, this inclination and belief in Him are intrinsic. Even if we consciously deny God, our unconscious belief in Him occasionally shows itself. The Qur'an mentions this in several verses:

It is He Who enables you to travel on the land and the sea; and when you are in the ship, and the ships run with a favorable wind and they rejoice in it, there comes upon them a strong wind, and waves come on them from every side and they think that they are encompassed. Then they cry unto God, making their faith pure for Him only, (saying): "If you deliver us from this, we truly will be thankful." (10:22)

Then [Abraham] broke them [the idols] into pieces, all except the large one, so that they might turn to Him. [When they returned and saw this] they said: "Who has done this to our gods? Surely it must be some evildoer." They said: "We have heard a youth talk of them; he is called Abraham." They said: "Then [at once] bring him before the eyes of the people, so that they may testify." [When Abraham was there] they said: "Is it you who has done this to our gods, O Abraham?" He said: "Nay, their chief has done it, so ask them, if they can speak." At once they turned to themselves and said: "You, you are the wrongdoers." Then they were utterly confounded, and said: "O Abraham! You know that these do not speak." Abraham said: "Do you then worship, besides God, those things that cannot profit in anything at all, nor harm you? Woe unto you, and all that you worship instead of God! Do you not use your intelligence?" They said: "Burn him (immediately) and protect your gods, if you are doing anything." (21:58-68)

So, the human spirit and conscience are a strong argument for the existence of One God.

  • Human beings are innately disposed to good and beauty, virtue and moral values, and are adverse to evil and ugliness. Therefore, unless corrupted by external factors and conditions, we naturally seek universal good and moral values. These turn out to be the same virtues and morality promulgated by all Divine revealed religions. As history witnesses, humanity always has had some kind of religion. Just as no other system has superseded religion in human life, the Prophets and religious people always influenced us the most and have left indelible marks on us. This is another irrefutable proof for the existence of One God.
  • We feel many intuitions and emotions that are messages from immaterial realms. Among them, the intuition of eternity arouses in us a desire for eternity, which we strive to realize in various ways. However, this desire can be realized only through belief in and worship of the Eternal One Who inspired it. True human happiness lies in satisfying this desire for eternity.
  • If a few liars come to us several times and tell us the same things, we may, in the absence of reliable information, believe them. But when tens of thousands of Prophets who never lied, hundreds of thousands of saints, and millions of believers, all of whom have adopted truthfulness as a most essential pillar of belief, and then agree on God's existence, is it reasonable to reject their testimony and accept the individual reports of a few liars?
  • The proofs for the Qur'an's Divine origin are also proofs for God's existence. [1] The Qur'an teaches with great emphasis and focus, as indeed do the Bible's Old and New Testaments, the existence of One God. In addition, tens of thousands of Prophets have been sent to guide humanity to truth. All were justly renowned for their truthfulness and other praiseworthy virtues, and all gave priority to preaching the existence and Oneness of God.

Arguments For Divine Unity [2]

  • Everything that exists displays God's Unity. For example, of the innumerable arguments for His existence and Unity, consider life: He makes everything out of one thing and makes one thing out of many things. He makes an animal's countless bodily members and systems out of a fertilizing sperm-bearing fluid and water. One who can do this must be an Absolutely All-Powerful One. One Who transforms with perfect orderliness all substances contained in innumerable types of vegetable or animal foods into particular bodies and bodily parts, weaving from them a unique skin for each, is surely an All-Powerful and Absolutely All-Knowing One.
  • Air displays His Unity. A marvelous conductor, it conducts innumerable sounds, voices, images, and many other things simultaneously, without confusion, and without one hindering the other. This shows that there is One, without partner, Who created, controls, and administers all things according to His Wisdom.
  • The universe resembles a tree that has grown from a seed containing a comprehensive program for its life cycle. Everything is closely interrelated. For example, a particle in the eye's pupil has relationships with and duties toward the eye, as well as with the head; the powers of reproduction, attraction, and repulsion; veins and arteries; motor and sensory nerves that circulate the blood and operate the body; and with the rest of the body. This clearly shows that the whole body, including every particle, is the work of an Eternal, All-Powerful One, and operates under His command.

An air molecule may visit any flower or fruit and work within it. If this wandering molecule were not subjugated and obedient to the Absolutely All-Powerful One's command, it would have to know all the systems and structures of all flowers and fruits, and how they are formed, right down to their peripheral lines. Thus, this air molecule displays Divine Unity like a sun, as do its counterparts in light, soil, and water. And, as we know, science says that the building blocks of everything are hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen.

The seeds of all flowering and fruit-bearing plants are composed of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen. They only differ due to the program deposited in them by Divine Destiny. If we put several kinds of seeds in a flowerpot filled with soil, which has its own particular elements, each plant will assume its unique wonderful form and shape. If their particles were not subjugated to and directed by One Who knows each thing's features, structures, life cycles, and conditions of its life; One Who endows everything with what is suitable and necessary for it; and to Whose Power everything is subjected without resistance, there would be quite a problem.

Put simply, without God's activity, each soil particle would have to contain "immaterial factories" determining all plants' future lives. It also would need to have as many workshops as there are flowering and fruit-bearing plants, so that each could bring each unique item into being. Or, each plant would have an all-encompassing knowledge and power so that it could create itself. Thus, in the absence of One God, there would have to be as many deities as there are soil particles. Such a belief is untenable.

Each particle contains two further true witnesses to the Maker's necessary existence and Unity. First, a particle can perform many significant activities, although it is absolutely powerlessness. Second, by acting in conformity with the universal order, each particle displays a universal consciousness although it has no life. Each particle testifies through its own impotence to the necessary existence of the Absolutely All-Powerful One, and by acting in conformity with the universal order to His Unity.

  • Each person is a miniature universe, a fruit of the tree of creation or the universe, and a seed of this world, for each of us contains samples of most living species. It is as if each person were a drop distilled from the universe, having the most subtle and sensitive balance. To create such a living being and to be its Lord requires having total control of the universe.
  • Given this, we understand that the following things represent stamps unique to the Creator of all things, the All-Majestic Lord of the universe: making a honeybee a small index of most things; inscribing most of the universe's features in humans; including the program for a fig tree's life cycle in a tiny fig seed; exhibiting the works of all Divine Names manifested throughout the universe in the human heart; and recording in our memory, located in a lentilsized place, enough information to fill a library, as well as a detailed index of all events in the universe.
  • All life is a symphony of mutual helping. Just like a living body's members and organs, systems and cells, all parts of the universe support and help each other. For example, air and water, soil and the sun, work together so that a single apple can come into existence. Like a factory's components or a palace's building blocks, creatures support and aid each other, and cooperate to meet each other's needs in perfect orderliness. Joining efforts, they serve living beings. Elements in the soil aid plants by helping them come into existence and survive. Most animals live on plants, and people live on plants and animals. Thus, elements form the basic foundation of a living being's physical constitution.

By obeying Acting this rule of mutual assistance, which is in force throughout the universe-from the sun and moon, night and day, winter and summer, to plants helping needy and hungry animals, animals helping humanity, nutritious substances helping infants, and fruits and food particles helping the body's cells-they demonstrate that they are acting through the power of a single, Most Munificent Upbringer, and at the command of a single, Most Wise Administrator.

  • The universal providence and favor of this universal wisdom are clearly apparent in everything's purposeful creation. This, along with providence's comprehensive mercy and the universal sustenance required by that mercy to provide all living beings with food, form a seal of Divine Unity so brilliant that anyone can see and understand it.

All beings, especially those that are alive, must satisfy their demands and needs to remain alive. This is true whether the being in question is universal or particular, an individual or a species. But they cannot fulfill even their smallest need. Rather, all their requirements are met in an unexpected way and from an unexpected place, with perfect order and timing, in a suitable fashion, and with perfect wisdom. All of this shows the existence of an All-Wise Nurturer of Majesty, an All-Compassionate Provider of Grace.

  • Consider the sun. From planets to drops of water, glass fragments, and sparkling snowflakes, a radiant effect particular to the sun is apparent. If you do not agree that the tiny suns seen in these innumerable things are only reflections, you must accept the existence of a sun in each drop of water, glass fragment and transparent object facing the sunlight. Is this not absurd?

If such images or reflections are not attributed to the sun, you must accept the existence of innumerable suns in place of the one sun. Is this logical? Similarly, if everything is not attributed to One God, the Absolutely All-Powerful One, you must accept that there are as many deities as there are particles in the universe. How can you believe such a thing?

  • During spring and summer, God raises to life countless plant and animal species, each member of which is unique. The process is so ordered that there is no confusion despite infinite intermingling. He "inscribes" on the Earth's face individual members of countless species without fault or forgetfulness, mistake or deficiency. Everything is done in a most well-balanced well-proportioned, well-ordered, and perfect fashion. This points to One of Majesty, an All-Powerful One of Perfection, an All-Wise One of Grace and Beauty, One who has infinite Power, all-encompassing Knowledge, and a Will able to govern the universe.

Consider what happens during spring and summer. The amount of Divine activity during those seasons is absolutely miraculous in terms of extent, speed, and liberality, as well as in terms of generosity and order, beauty and creation. Only One with an infinite knowledge and boundless power could own such a "seal." That seal certainly belongs to One Who is everywhere although He is nowhere, all-present and all-seeing. Nothing is hidden or difficult for Him, and particles and stars are equal to His Power.

• Seeds sown in a field show that both the field and the seeds belong to their owner. Likewise, the fundamental elements of life (e.g., air, water, and soil) are universal and present everywhere despite their simplicity and same nature. Plants and animals are found everywhere, despite their essentially similar nature vis-à-vis the diverse conditions of life.

All of these are controlled by a single miracle-displaying Maker. Every flower, fruit, and animal is a stamp, a seal, or a signature of that Maker. Wherever they are found, each proclaims in the tongue of its being: "The One Whose stamp I bear made this location. The One Whose seal I carry owns this place. The One Whose signature I indicate wove this land." In other words, only the one who holds all elements in His Power can own and sustain the least of creatures. Anyone can see that only One Who exercises Lordship over all plants and animals can own, sustain, and govern the simplest of them.

Truly, in the tongue of similarity to other individuals, each individual being says: "Only one who owns my species can own me." In the tongue of spreading over the planet with other species, each species says: "Only one who owns the planet can own us." In the tongue of being bound to the sun and of its mutual relationships with the heavens, the Earth and the other planets say: "Only one who owns all these can own me." If apples were conscious and someone said to one of them: "You are my work of art," that apple would retort: "Be quiet! If you can form all apples, rather if you can dispose freely of all fruit-bearing trees on this planet and all gifts of the All-Merciful One coming from the treasury of Mercy in shiploads, only then can you claim to own me."

Since each fruit depends on one law of growth from one center, it is equally easy and cheap to produce one or many fruits. In other words, for multiple centers to produce one fruit would be as hard and expensive as equipping the tree, and to produce the equipment necessary for one soldier would require all the factories needed to supply an army. The point is clear: When a single result related to numerous individuals depends on multiple centers, there are as many difficulties as there are individuals involved. Thus, the extraordinary ease seen in all species arises from unity.

The correspondence and similarity in basic features and forms seen in all members of a species, and within all divisions of a genus, proves that they are the work of a single Maker, for they are "inscribed" with the same Pen and bear the same seal. The absolute ease observed in their coming into existence necessarily and inevitably requires that they be the work of One Maker. Otherwise, it would be so hard to bring them into existence that genus and species in question would not exist.

To conclude: When attributed to Almighty God, all things become as easy as one thing; when attributed to causes, one thing becomes as difficult as all things. As a result, the extraordinary cheapness and ease observed in the universe, as well as the endless abundance, display the stamp of Unity. If these abundant and cheap fruits were not owned by the One of Unity, we could not purchase them even if we gave the whole world. How could we pay for the purposeful and conscious cooperation of soil and air, water and sunlight, the sun's heat and the seed, and many other things that make a pomegranate's existence possible? All of these factors are unconscious and controlled by a Single Maker, Who is Almighty God. The cost of a single pomegranate or any other fruit is the whole universe.

  • Life, which manifests Divine Grace, is an argument and proof for Divine Unity, as well as a sort of manifestation of It. Death, which manifests Divine Majesty, is an argument and proof for Divine Oneness.

For example, bubbles on a river's surface show the sun's image, light, and reflection, as do all transparent objects. These facts testify to the sun's existence. Despite the bubbles' occasional disappearance (e.g., when they pass under a bridge), the splendid continuation of the sun's manifestations and its light's uninterrupted display on successive bubbles proves that the sun's images (which appear, disappear, and are then renewed) come from one enduring, perpetual sun manifesting itself from on high. Therefore, the appearance of these sparkling bubbles demonstrate the sun's existence, and their disappearance displays its continuation and unity.

In the same way, beings in continuous flux testify through their existence and life to the necessary existence and Oneness of the Necessarily Existent Being. They testify to His Unity, eternity, and permanence through their decay and death. Beautiful, delicate creatures that are renewed and recruited, along with the alternation of day and night, as well as seasons, and the passage of time show the existence, Unity, and permanence of an elevated, everlasting One with a continuous display of beauty. Their decay and death, together with the apparent causes for their lives, demonstrates that the (material or natural) causes are only veils. This decisively proves that these arts, inscriptions, and manifestations are the constantly renewed arts, changing inscriptions, and moving mirrors of an All-Beautiful One of Majesty.

  • Obviously, the perfect design and adornment of a perfect palace indicate a master builder's perfect acts. This starts the following series of relationships: Perfect acts show the builder's perfect titles (which specify his or her rank), which shows the builder's perfect attributes (the origin of his or her art), which show master's perfect abilities and essential capacity, which show the perfection of the master's essential nature.

In the same way, the faultless works and art in all well-ordered beings point to the perfect acts of an Effective, Powerful Agent. This fact starts another chain: Such perfect acts point to that Majestic Agent's perfect Names, which point and testify to the perfect Attributes of the Majestic One known with the Names, which points and testifies to the perfection of the essential capacity and qualities of the Perfect One qualified by those attributes, which points to the perfection of the One having such capacity and qualities that all the types of perfection in the universe are signs of His Perfection, hints of His Majesty, and allusions to His Beauty. They are pale, weak shadows in comparison with His Perfect Reality.

[1] On the Qur'an's Divine authorship, consult M. Fethullah Gülen, Questions This Modern Age Puts to Islam 1 (London: Truestar, 1993), 53-97.

[2] Adapted from the Second Station of Said Nursi, The Words, "The Twentysecond Word" (Izmir, Turkey: Kaynak, 1997).