Drawing the line between good and bad

Question:

When you talk about why the world has so many problems you keep referring to good and bad messages, good and bad thoughts, and good and bad actions. Whose ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are you referring to? Should we all accept your definition of what is good and what is bad? What if I have different ideas on what is good and bad? Who is to say you are right and I am wrong?

Answer:

Your question is indicative of two common misperceptions among people in these modern times. First, the concept of egalitarianism has generalized to many aspects of life, in this case to the validity of beliefs. That misconception could be stated thus: since all people are to be considered equal therefore all people’s ideas must be equal. That is, of course, a logical fallacy. The second misconception is the commonly held belief that absolutes do not exist therefore we exist in a state of moral relativism.

You ask why my idea of what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is any better than your idea of what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The reality is that all beliefs are not equal. The belief about what is good or bad from either you or I are not equal, one belief is superior to the other. To determine which of our beliefs is superior our beliefs would have to be measured against the absolute truth of the nature of good and bad. The only one who truly knows what is good and what is bad is Allah (God). Only Allah possesses the absolute truth regarding any matter. Therefore, what is good and bad for you and what is good and bad for me are exactly the same, regardless of what beliefs we may hold. You may well not accept what I have said, but the truth is the truth no matter whether or not you know it to be true or whether or not you will accept it as true.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Drawing the line between good and bad

  1. ilmiacs

    I accept completely the first paragraph of the answer. Also, I accept the statement about the existence of absolute truth, which I would like to elaborate on.

    Absolute truth exists, but where do you know from, that Allah in fact does dictate what is good and what is bad? How can you be certain about the existence of Allah at all? (You probably are going to answer me, that there is this scientific proof of the existence of god presented by Prof. Mohammed Al’Mahdi. Well, then did you check carefully all of his logical steps that led to that conclusion? Or do you just believe in what he said? In fact, his argumentation contains flaws and the proof is wrong. This of course does not mean, that Allah does not exist, it simply shows, that we can not yet state with certainty, if he exists. Thus it not clear whether God is within the framework of what we call the absolute truth, and his existence is a matter of belief. (If someone here is interested, I could elaborate on what is wrong in the proof.))

    Furthermore, assume there would be a proof of the existence of God. How then you know, which god it is? How could you be certain, that Allah is that god and the Qum’ran is his word?

  2. [from Man in Black http://www.islamic-world.net/forum/index.php?forumID=12&ID=620%5D
    You are a good example of why it is important that every person in the world embrace Islam, the only true and perfect system of religious belief. If we have non-muslims believing wrongly as you do and acting on those wrong beliefs then we are going to continue to have a world with all the many terrible problems which we see today. For those who are not yet Muslim you have no idea how Islam rightly practiced could not possibly result in anything but a world where every problem existing today would cease to exist, and where every aspect of human life would be lived in such a way that it always leads to the greatest success and happiness for the individual and for society.

    Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to believe me just because I say Islam is the perfect answer to fix everything wrong with the world, but you should at least be willing to consider the possibility it is the truth. So much of the world today is so bad it must be described as horrible, that is no way for human beings to live. If Islam really offered a world good and right in every way as I say it does and as I firmly believe it does wouldn’t we be foolish to ignore that is the reality of our existence.

  3. ilmiacs

    Thank you for your answer. Let me explain myself. As you say, I should be willing to consider the possibility of the truth of your statements. And believe me, that is exactly what I am doing. I am in fact considering the possibility that islam really offers a much better world. (I fully agree that there are many terrible problems in the world.) And you are right, IF islam really were the true answer, THEN it would be foolish to ignore that it is the reality of our existence. But this is not what I am doing. I do not ignore that it could be true. I really consider the possibility. (Else I would not ask you those questions.)

    So this is exactly what I am trying to find out, is it true or not. And this is why I asked the questions in my first comment. But still all those questions are left unanswered. So if you are so deeply convinced, that islam is the solution to all those problems, you must have a way to convince me, and to give answer to my questions. I am willing to listen to your arguments and to let me convince. If all the arguments are convincing, then I am surely about to convert to islam, since I am in search of the real truth.

    So would you be kind and try to give answer to my questions?

  4. One method most widely used as proof is the consistency of Islam with science, especially the one on embryonic development and cosmology (you can read Harun Yahya’s writing here: http://www.harunyahya.com/the_Quran_leads_the_way_to_science05.php)

    Another is the personality of the Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon hiim). The fact that he was illiterate yet managed to bring the Qur’an is no easy feat other than through divine intervention.

    Also to be considered is the possibility that Islam brings about a comprehensive system for the best of mankind, whether it ibe spirituality, economics, social and environment.

    I hope that helps. Of course, I didn’t give any arguments deductively. Hopefully the Caliph will do so.

  5. I see I might need to write a few more forum posts about your ‘ideas’. Obviously I am not going to try to answer a question that requires me to,”prove that God exists” because it would take a book’s worth of writing to answer such a question. But I am confident that a fairly good proof of the existence of God does already exist and is quite scientifically correct and logically sound. It is the proof that you spoke of by Prof. al’Mahdi. I am not some weak minded devotee of the great guru al’Mahdi who hangs on his every word and thinks nothing but the greatest pearls of wisdom could ever come from his lips.

    I evaluate whatever he says very critically. I would assume that in some of the things he says he is less than perfectly correct, although I don’t have any major points of disagreement but maybe I feel a few questions have not yet been answered well enough. Still, I think that the ideas of Prof. al’Mahdi are the best formed argument by far I have ever seen for the existence of God. And that generally his whole theoretical framework in the understanding of the reality of our existence is the most comprehensive, coherent, and cohehive explanation that presently exists. I have checked many of the facts he speaks about in his proof of the existence of God on the internet and when I get the chance to talk with physicists and I have never found an error yet. I have some knowledge of this area myself and his arguments satisfy me so far. Also I have been at talks where he has presented his ideas to large numbers of professors in the various related fields of science and they have never said any of his facts are incorrect. I think though that to be fair I would have to say that not all of those professors who accept his facts also accept all of his conclusions.

    Obviously the existence of God is going to bring up much debate and even attract much refutation and criticism just because it is perhaps the greatest of all possible questions. You say regarding Prof. al’Mahdi’s proof of the existence of God that, “In fact, his argumentation contains flaws and the proof is wrong.” I would be very happy to know about those flaws in the argument and how the proof is wrong. I promise I will consider them objectively and give my response in this forum. If there are truly any flaws in the facts or the logic I would be very glad to find this out because I don’t want to believe something which is not true, but I believe you have a bias in your thinking and sometimes such a bias leads one to think they have found some special knowledge (in this case flaws in a very good argument) that satisfy your bias but do not satisfy the rigors of objective science and logic. So come on with the facts of your assertion that the scientific proof of the existence of God is wrong and we will see how good your thinking process is. Please don’t back out now.

    The Man in Black

  6. In further response to earlier post: You say, “I really consider the possibility. (Else I would not ask you those questions.).”
    I say there are literally thousands of reasons you might ask those questions other than that you do so because you “really consider the possibility.” So lets not be too free and easy with the semantics OK?

    In your post there were four questions, these being, “Who says what is wrong and what is right? How do I know, he (Allah) exists at all? Why can someone make financial profit? Who says, they have no value?

    1. Q. Who says what is wrong and what is right? A. If God exists it would ultimately be God who says what is right and what is wrong. If God did not exist it is likely there could be no absolute answer to what is right and wrong.

    2. Q. How do I know, he (Allah) exists at all? A. This is like asking for a proof of the existence of God which is beyond the scope of a forum post. But it is my assessment that probability highly favours the existence of God over the non-existence of God. If you will not accept the scientific proof offered by the Khalifah Institute then it will be very hard to convince you. There are other logical reasons that are supportive of the existence of God but they would not be considered sufficient on their own without the backup of the scientific proof. The reality is that when many facts and areas of knowledge fit comfortably within a body of knowledge which includes the existence of God that gives some sort of internal or inherent validity to the conclusion without actually proving the conclusion.

    3. And (4). Q. Why can someone make financial profit? Who says, they have no value? A. I don’t really want to deal with these questions as it would require me to delve into the evils of capitalism and I don’t think they are critical to the discussion about what can be known to be true.

    Still waiting to see the reason you say the “Scientific Proof of the Existence of God” is flawed

    Man in Black

  7. ilmiacs

    Hello Man in Black,

    thank you for your response and your interest. I would like here to reduce my attention to what I think is the most serious and most relevant flaw in the “Scientific proof of God’s existence.” There are some other inconsistencies, but to discuss them is more delicate and would require more place. So let me concentrate on that one most important flaw. But before, let me shortly recite the major parts of the proof as I understood them from the video I found on google, which is the only source of the proof I have and which ultimately is the only thing I would like to discuss about. The logic of the proof is as follows:

    We would like to use a modification of the ‘watchmaker-argument’, which states, that if we accept, that from the existence of the watch we can infer the existence of a more complex and more intelligent watchmaker, then we also have to accept, that from the existence of the universe we can infer the existence of a more complex and more intelligent being, which we in turn may identify with god. Prof. Al’Mahdi notes, that Rousseau’s ‘logical-recurrence-argument’, that then we could infer the existence of an even more compex and more intelligent maker of god, is invalid, since the watch=>watchmaker conclusion is ‘inside’ space and time and is causal in nature, and the argument thus can not be applied to infer god’s creator, since god stands ‘outside’ of space and time.

    In the second part of the proof, light (i.e. the electromagnetic field) is identified to have the four attributes associated with god in the world-religions: eternity, omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience. The identification of the first three attributes is quite correct (and very elegant, in my opinion), there is however something to note about the fourth argument. It is true, that light in a certain sense stores all the information (e.g. in our brain) and transfers the information (e.g. between brains), however, this does not in itself imply intelligence of light. A book for example may contain a lot of information, which does not mean that the book has intelligence. it merely stores the knowledge, and, in a sense, ‘knows’ about the information in it, without of being intelligent. Thus the last argument in itself shows the omniscience of light in a rather limited sense.

    However, the proof is completed by identifying light with the ‘creator’ of the universe from the ‘watchmaker-argument’, which has to be intelligent. (This fits the observation of contemporary physics, that in an early stage of the universe light was present without of matter, and subsequently matter got created by a process called nucleosynthesis.) This identification in turn gives the last attribute of god the meaning we commonly would understand, namely that god is omniscient with the common implication of an intelligent entity that ‘actively’ knows, rather than merely ‘knowing’ by storing or including information. This completes the proof.

    Now let me come to my critique of the proof. Subdividing the proof into three parts, according to the three paragraphs above, my argument identifies a flaw in the first part of the proof, disvalidating the third part, while leaving the second part untouched.

    The key observation is already hinted to by Prof. Al’Mahdi himself: There is a difference between logical implication and causal implication. (He uses this differentiation to point out the invalidity of Rousseau’s argument.) This difference is an important one. Philosopers as well as physicists use the two kinds of implications in a quite similar way and sometimes confuse them. the difference becomes especially important if one is concerned with physical phenomena lacking causality. Thus it is worth to reconsider the arguments in the proof with emphasis on this distinction.

    So first we have to decide, if we want the implication of the existence of the watchmaker from the existence of the watch to be of causal nature or logical nature, i.e. does the existence of the watch imply the existence of the watchmaker only in a setting of space and time, where causality is given, or does the existence of the watch logically imply the existence of the watchmaker, irrespective of the causal setting. Assume first, that we choose the second possibility, and accept that the implication is logical. Then, by using the ‘watchmaker-argument’ evidently the mere existence of god would logically imply the existence of a god-maker, and Rousseau’s argument, that we then could repeat the step indefinitely clearly shows, that the assumption must be wrong. Thus we have established, that ultimately the existence of the watch can imply the existence of the watchmaker only causally, i.e. inside the framework of space and time. This is of course nothing else than what Prof. Al’Mahdi states, but now we clearly worked out the neccessity of the reduced validity of the assumption.

    Now we are ready to state what is the flaw in the proof. As Prof. Al’Mahdi points out, light is timeless, i.e. time did not exist without of matter. This implies that the creation of matter (by means of nucleosynthesis out of light or by means of the will of god, which would be synonymous, if we would accept the validity of the proof) was NOT a causal process. This in turn implies, that we can NOT transfer the watchmaker-conclusion (which we accepted to be causal) to the creation of matter. Thus we can NOT infer light to be the ‘intelligent designer’ of matter in our universe, we are built out of. This shows that the proof, as presented by Prof. Al’Mahdi is inconsistent.

    One could argue, of course, that in fact the creation of matter WAS a causal process. This would be in accord with today’s scientific knowledge about the early universe. It is also part of today’s scientific knowledge, however, that light in fact IS part of spacetime, which is a neccessary condition nucleosynthesis to be a causal process. Then, however, nothing would prevent us to apply the ‘causal’ watchmaker-argument to light itself again, i.e. the mere existence of light would (causally) imply the existence of a more complex and more intelligent ‘designer’ preceding light itself, leading to a causal-loop-argument á la Rousseau.

    At this point it may be worthwile to note, that the requirement, a watch would need a more complex and more intelligent designer (be it a logical or causal one), is just an assumption, which has to be true in order the “proof of the existence of god” to be valid. Prof. Al’Mahdi assumes this assertion to be evidently true, or to be common sense, without of furhter considering it. However, research conducted in the recent past shows how it is possible, that a system evolves, beginning from a simple state, into a more complex one. There is no creator of the complexity of the system besides the system itself. Such phenomena regularly appear in nature, can be reproduced in the laboratory or on the computer, and are refered to as self-organizing. (The idea itself is not new, though. A Google-search for ‘selforganization’ could provide much more detailed information on this.) Thus, modern science contradicts the assumption at the basis of the watchmaker argument, i.e. the existence of a watch does NOT imply (neither logically nor causally) the existence of a watchmaker. (This may sound weird, since evidently in any known case a watch is causally preceded by a watchmaker.) However, selforganization is yet a controversial field of research and one should try to avoid arguments based on it. But certainly it would be wrong to simply accept the validity of the assumption.

    As mentioned in the beginng, there are other objections, regarding facts from contemporary physics used in the proof, which could lead to lengthy discussions. But I think the things mentioned so far are sufficient to show that a scientific proof of the existence of god is not within reach yet and certainly can not be achieved in the manner Prof. Al’Mahdi tried to.

    ilmiacs

  8. ilmiacs

    A short quote on:

    “”” In further response to earlier post: You say, “I really consider the possibility. (Else I would not ask you those questions.).”
    I say there are literally thousands of reasons you might ask those questions other than that you do so because you “really consider the possibility.” So lets not be too free and easy with the semantics OK?”””

    Well, if I pose a question regarding the truth of assertion A, then I do so, because I am interested in finding out, whether A is true or A is not true. Thus I am considering the possibility of ‘A is true’ as well as the possibility of ‘A is not true’. That’s what I meant. Of course, one could pose a question without of actually being interested in the answer. I just wanted to point out that this is not the case here.

  9. To the forum poster who said. “Well, if I pose a question regarding the truth of assertion A, then I do so, because I am interested in finding out, whether A is true or A is not true. Thus I am considering the possibility of ‘A is true’ as well as the possibility of ‘A is not true’. That’s what I meant. Of course, one could pose a question without of actually being interested in the answer. I just wanted to point out that this is not the case here.”

    I am very glad to hear you question the Proof of the Existence of God because you are really interested in the answer. I was at first worried you might have a major flaw in your logic system. If you had asserted, “I really consider the possibility (of the proof being true). (Else I would not ask you those questions.) as a logical proposition in the form – If I really consider the possibility therefore there could be no other reason for me to ask the question – I would worry if we could have a logical discussion as to the accuracy of the scientific proof of the existence of God, but from your statement it is evidence your logic is fine.

    I apologize it might take me some time to make a good response to your objection to the proof of the existence of God as it involves many factors which deserve a well thought out answer. But there is one important issue you might find significant. Even though Prof. al’Mahdi did discuss the “Watchmaker” argument in some detail in his proof of the existence of God his proof is not actually of the Watchmaker class of arguments, nor is it from the new more sophisticated “intelligent design” class of arguments. It is a completely different form of argument, but a number of the points you raised are still relevant and I will soon attempt to fairly address them.

    Man in Black

  10. For ilmiacs and others;
    As I mentioned in my previous short post in reference to your assertion that Prof. al’Mahdi’s argument for the existence of God is flawed, his argument is not a variation of the watchmaker argument nor is it even an argument from intelligent design. This of course makes it rather difficult to answer many of the objections you raised since they are based on objections to variations of the watchmaker argument. Still I will make some comment on those parts of your objection to the proof of the existence of God since I think the watchmaker argument still stands as a fairly good logical proof. By the way Prof. al’Mahdi’s argument for the Existence of God would be considered an argument by direct observation of an existing factual situation.

    I have now discussed these points at length with Prof. al’Mahdi and I agree with him that since most of your points refer to the Watchmaker argument I do not need to address most of those points you raised because in no way is his proof of the existence of God an argument in the ‘watchmaker’ class. But still we found much of interest in your post.

    One of the most interesting points is your reference to self organizing systems which can go from utter simplicity to unbelievable complexity. I have known about this for 20 years or more from Mandelbrot sets and Chaos theory, but I would have to admit I had never considered the fact that it might be a successful refutation of the ‘watchmaker’ argument. Several issues must then be considered, one of those being that although we must admit to the existence of self organizing systems it it possibly true that there are a class of phenomena which can arise from self organizing systems and a class of phenomena which can not, or could all phenomena arise from self organizing systems. For example I personally could not imagine a wristwatch having its origins in a self organizing system, although strangely a universe seems more likely to be within the possible range of phenomena whose origins are in self organizing systems.

    But whatever the truth may be in regard to that issue there seems to be nothing to preclude what we see as being self organizing systems in actuality being our observation of the workings of Allah, which according to Prof. al’Mahdi’s ideas include all activity in the universe that is usually referred to as being ‘natural’, such as the four basic laws of physics, the strong and weak nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity. Of course that would be difficult to prove from the watchmaker argument and may well draw one into tautologies.

    Then on to the issue of ‘omniscience’. If we accept the common definition of omniscient as, “possessed of universal or complete knowledge” there is actually nothing in that definition to specifically require an intelligent understanding of that knowledge. Of course omniscience without intelligence could be seen as somewhat meaningless, but it might be that omniscience and intelligence are two closely related concepts but not causally linked. Additionally, Prof. al’Mahdi’s concept of the omniscience of light includes much more than a book unthinkingly storing all the knowledge of existence, his concept of omniscience says that light stores AND transmits all knowledge, which is vastly more than mere storage alone.

    Just a slight but extremely important semantic distinction: in the Proof of the Existence of God light does not create the physical universe; Allah creates the physical universe using His Created Light as the medium to do so.

    An interesting point about causality, time, and God is that while light does not exist in time, we are less that sure whether God, who is eternal and therefore timeless, also exists in time because God is of a totally different category of existence than light, and we have had it revealed that there is nowhere that God is not. So the question remains, is the action of an eternal God causal in the physical existence. No answer to this yet, but something to think about.

    In very few words Prof. al’Mahdi’s argument for a Proof of the Existence of God is this; when Einstein gave us our first opportunity to look objectively beyond the limits of space, time, and matter with his Special Theory of Relativity, it is of great significance under the concept of necessary logical implications that when we finally get that first glimpse outside of our relative physical existence into the absolute spiritual (non-material) existence, where we could have found literally anything, that the thing we do actually find existing there is exactly the four primary attributes of God as accepted for thousands of years without proof by all of the world’s major religions. This is a VERY powerful, and probably much more than sufficient, argument for a Scientific Proof for the Existence of God.

    Man in Black

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