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On proving God – II

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In elaborating proofs for God’s existence, oriental and occidental philosophers alike did not necessarily intend to instil faith in those who were lacking it. When he wrote chapter 1 of Knowing the Spirit, which deals exclusively with this very question, Ostad Elahi was well aware that none of the arguments he presented could actually prove anything to those who didn’t believe in God. About arguments that could be made to prove the existence of God to someone who did not believe in Him, he replied: “No such argument can be made. Let’s say that you present this person with all the conceivable arguments possible… in the end, he will say, ‘Fine, show me; show me God’. Everyone should reflect and deliberate on this matter and refer to their own heart as well, until they come to believe in the Source.” (Words of Truth, Vol. II, Saying 285).That’s why at the end of our first article the question was raised as to the relevance of such arguments. Why should several pages of a work intended to be concise be dedicated to demonstrating the existence of God in vain?

It is hardly legitimate for the reader of a book to claim access to the intention of the author, unless it is stated clearly by the author himself. But it is possible for the reader to examine the effect that the book has on him or her and to assess if it has been useful or not. A careful reading of the arguments presented by Ostad Elahi in Knowing the Spirit leads us to detect two major effects.

  • The first and more obvious effect consists in showing the believer that faith is not opposed to reason. Historically, faith has often been perceived as irrational. Belonging to the heart itself, it can only impress those who lack reasoning powers, or possess the capacity to conveniently stifle their reason. This is a hackneyed ditty all of us have heard. But let’s face it, believers happen also to be endowed with reason, which is exercised by a good many of them with great dexterity. Reason suffers from being belittled, and when believers realise that a number of rational statements can be put forward in favour of their beliefs—reconciling faith and reason, heart and mind—they rejoice. They are relieved of the general feeling of uneasiness caused by the indiscriminate common idea that a believer should give up being clever; they can freely vent their feelings without having to silence their reason.
  • The second effect, not as immediately discernible but yet vital, consists in favouring a connection of some sort with the Divine. A careful reading of those arguments should lead us to reflect on some of God’s attributes: the Necessary Being, the Origin of all that is or could be, the Almighty Mover of all created things, etc. We are thus given the opportunity to ponder concepts we usually skim over when saying our prayers. Abstractions that seemed unrelated to our situation become relevant and the resulting insight gives rise to a strong feeling of connectedness, as if each of those attributes were a window opening onto the presence of the Divine, as though a careful examination of the chain of arguments could gradually establish an emotional bond with that same Divine. This also explains why such concepts are found in Ostad Elahi’s prayers: there is considerable elation in mentally retracing all phenomena, external or internal, to the original Cause of causes that is necessary by virtue of Itself. The mind-boggling process of working back from the effect to the cause stimulates the spirit, urging it on in search of the Source until it reaches a no word’s land, where reason is overwhelmed by wonderment.

These two effects demonstrate how humans, capable of both reason and emotion, are likely to have their minds set at ease by arguments that can stir their emotion while reassuring their reason. Such arguments probably appear irrelevant to those who refuse to “reflect and deliberate on this matter and refer to their own hearts”, but for those who are prepared to think about it and turn to their own souls, the same arguments can provide a rewarding opening towards an understanding of the Divine.


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4 comments

  1. msmrangidan Nov 25, 2010 6:15 pm 1

    Thank you for all your efforts to keep reminding the way of theology and deism and after all above that is the most important point “It is necessary to know God is with you everywhere”.

  2. quicklyzitron Nov 26, 2010 8:23 am 2

    Another effect for me in this book: it helps me to understand better the concept pf resurrection.

  3. ls Nov 30, 2010 8:39 am 3

    I am so moved by this text, especially the last paragraph. I had come to talk to someone who could not put faith and reason together. Instead of making myself angry and saying that he was “irrelevant” himself, I began to see his perspective and start searching for the answer myself. I suddenly realized how much his perspective had opened the doors for me and widened my capacity of understanding. From my own experience, I very much agree with what is written here.

  4. Peter Windsor Dec 03, 2010 4:36 pm 4

    A very helpful reminder that the enormity of our concept of God nonetheless has a direct bearing on our everyday lives. “The All-Merciful; the Compassionate” are not just words…

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