Thursday, December 29, 2005

Miracles Debunked

Miracles are overrated.

That is a statement destined to incur the wrath of many a devout Muslim, self-proclaimed and authentic alike. Most, if not all of them subscribe to the notion that every extraordinary phenomenon that occurs around them involves a direct divine intervention. Case in point: an unfortunate lad who is seemingly possessed by some evil force lying in bed helplessly, is magically healed upon the recital of some Quranic verses by a skilled shaman. If God does not intervene firsthand, then nothing else does.

But what if there is no such intervention in the first place? What if the explanation lies in the forces of nature acting within the realm of space-time continuum and is bound by the laws of physics? What if all the answers to the mysteries of the universe, including the aforementioned exorcism, can be found in a single process called evolution?

And what if miracle is nothing but an empty nomenclature mankind uses to describe something that it fails to fathom?

These issues are hardly a novelty. They have been debated, debunked, proved and disproved countless times by religious thinkers and science advocates throughout history. Every effort to reconcile these opposing camps has so far proven futile, and judging by the current situation, it is highly unlikely things will improve any time soon.

But why should the common ground between the two be so elusive? If anything, science helps to reinforce the existence of God. Since God exists outside of our physical confinement, mankind needs an avenue other than physical means on which God can be reached. That avenue is the humand mind, and science is at its highest echelon.

But just because the answer has thus far eluded scientists does not mean that God cannot be reached through scientific reasoning. Perhaps we have been looking at the problem from the wrong angle. Maybe the elusiveness is the price have to pay for our refusal to merge religion and science, something which we are meant to achieve in the first place. Or can it be due to the false religious practices we have incorporated into Islam, which have, for centuries, been miscontrued as being part of the religion, when in reality they are the bane of our religion that is responsible for the deterioration of Muslims worldwide?

The differences in viewpoint between men of science and men of faith can best be demonstrated by a common scenario, in which a strange phenomenon occurs that offers no explanation.

A man of faith will have no problem attributing it to the works of God, while at the same time marvel at His infinite power and wisdom. More often that not, he will not even be bothered by why and how it happens in the first place. It is surreal enough as it is, so it must be God's doing.

A man of science on the other hand, will be extremely intrigued and fascinated by this and attempt to analyze and hypothesize the phenomenon, even if it means delving into the extremely intricate workings of the DNA or nanoparticles. Most scientists even go to the extent of denying outright any divine involvement in the phenomenon. After all, it is not scientific to attribute any paranormal observation to the works of a supernatural being.

Nowadays, it is no longer possible to read the news without coming across the latest developments in the struggle between the advocates of evolution and creationism (or "intelligent design", in the latter's desperate attempt at rebranding). What if both both parties do in deed have a point, and that we can merge the two viewpoints to produce something more powerful and potent that will help to explain all of the mysteries of the universe? What if evolution is in fact, God's instrument in governing the world, one which He set in motion the moment He uttered, "Be, and it is"? After all, this universe would not be that fine a design if He had to constantly intervene in all aspects of our lives, just as we would not call a piece of automation carefully designed if it requires a great deal of human intervention.

Islam is a religion of reason that encourages science and technology. Think about why Muhammand did not perform any supernatural acts apart from the inspiration that he received. He did not raise the dead, heal the sick nor cure the blind. Perhaps during his time, mankind was sophisticated enough in its thinking that it did not need any miracles to confirm the existence of God, unlike what his predecessors had to go through. Maybe it all goes to show that all we need in order to reach God is an analytical and open mind. Maybe if we do just that, we may one day be able revive the glory Islam used to enjoy.