Why there cannot be any doubt regarding God?
God is totality of ‘Being’ and thus no one escapes from God
Post by on Wednesday, July 6, 2022
In this article we will try to briefly highlight some of the most important features of Traditional Wisdom in order to make possible a fruitful engagement between theists & atheists. Any debate on the so called proving/disproving ‘existence’ of God should proceed from initial definition of key terms. The first thing to note is that God is not to be defined in narrow simplistic terms. We find in all traditions, a careful registration of two aspects of divine, and that is the Transcendence and as well as the Immanence. What confuses atheists most of the times is that they buy into a narrow popular notion of God as some super-cosmic policeman sitting on clouds who needs to be proved/disproved. Rational metaphysics has anyway shown that such a notion can neither be proved nor disproved or both proved and disproved to no effect as Kant showed.
But if we access deeper truths in religion, then one learns that God is defined as the very ground of Reality with two important aspects; one is the immanent/apparent aspect of reality which is in-front of us (i.e. az-zaahir) which no theist/atheist can deny and the other aspect is transcendence (al-baatin) part which is not any abstract notion but simply represents the deep mystery element of this very manifest reality in-front of us- i.e. for example the ultimate “whyness” of anything and everything. This hidden/transcendent part refers to source/origin/ultimate nature of existence/reality from which everything comes to be which is even conceded by science as a mystery. This elusive mystery element (what Quran calls “gaib”) is accepted by both atheists and theists as no linguistic/theoretical/conceptual/scientific framework captures Reality and its naked “isness” in its essence. Thus, understanding God this way as an all encompassing Reality is impossible to reject. Understood this way, the Quran thus asks “afillahi shaqqun” (can there be any doubt regarding God?). Quran defines God as “al-Haqq” which means “whatever truly is” (i.e. whatever is truly “Real” in ultimate sense is what God means in Quran) which no one can deny or hide from. Whatever “is” in ultimate sense, the most truest of Truths is how God is defined i.e. al-Haqq (the ultimate Truth). Now, everyone pursues Truth (whatever it is in its essence); no one chases falsehood so to speak and thus everyone is in search of God (al-Haqq). Therefore no one can reject Truth/God. We are all anyway brought back to “God” willy-nilly as Quran says.
One ancient tradition defines God as “Sat” which again means whatever “really” is, is God. No one escapes the very being/wajood or “real” or “isness”. No one can deny being/wajood or himself. Same ancient tradition defines another aspect of God as “aananda” which means the ground of bliss. All our pursuits for truth, beauty and joy is nothing but search for the ultimately real, the ground of joy/bliss. Again no theist or atheist can reject being driven by beauty, joy or truth.
One of the ninety nine names of God according to Islamic tradition is “al-jabbaar” which can be translated as “the irresistible” (the one who subdues). Similar connotation is in al-qaahir and other “jalaali” names. No one can “resist” God when Reality/life itself is nothing but various manifestations of God. God is not one finite/contingent ‘object’/being amongst other beings/objects that one may doubt, rather he is the very “beingness” of being, the very ground of being as Paul Tillich would say or “Qayoom us samaawaat wal arz” the one who holds or supports or sustains being. He is “samad” as Quran says rather than any object like other objects in existence. Different people are exposed to life through different channels and thus no one escapes God as Reality itself is God’s face turned towards us; everyone tastes/touches/accesses something of life/Reality and thus “condemned” (rather awarded) to witness God. As Plato would say, that God catches most of us through the net of beauty. When an atheist “loves” he is in fact knowing/accessing God. We get exposed to something of God through his manifestations/Reality (which Quran calls “aayaat” i.e. signs of God); however, the essence of God always remains hidden, un-dissolved, un-mastered and unexhausted i.e. the Transcendent or what Muslim tradition calls “tanzih”.
This balance between Transcendence and Immanence (understood as Tanzih and Tashbih in Islamic tradition) is so crucial that if not understood, causes unnecessary confusion. Transcendent God or more precisely the “absolute”/the infinite (i.e. the mysterious ground/source of Being which is abode of all possibilities) contains the possibility of descending down, so to speak, and talk to human being as a person (because human being is a personality) but “personhood” does not fully exhaust God. God as a person is the face with which the Absolute (God head) turns towards human being. God as absolute, however, is ‘Beyond Being’ and therefore cannot be arrested within anthropocentric categories like personhood or anything like creation. It is the Absolute that is to be fore grounded. Absolute (the source of being) comes first and then universal manifestation of God as person. It is the absolute that Quran calls ‘laysaka mislihee shay’ i.e. there is nothing like him or completely “ahad”. It is the absolute which is the source of all being.
Therefore, Reality understood this way fully solves the notorious debate of atheists and theists- only if the meaning of God is properly respected. God as transcendent as source/origin/essence is mystery which everyone accepts (i.e. the ultimate mystery of wajood/existence accepted by all camps) and then this transcendent shines forth as manifestation of multiple divine names which is the creation infront of all of us i.e. az-zaahir/the apparent part which again no theist or atheist can contest. God is totality of ‘Being’ and thus no one escapes from God.
(Author is pursuing masters in philosophy from JNU, Delhi. Email: email@example.com)