I would first like to thank you for your eye-opening response to my question regarding the alleged ‘reductive disintegration’ of morality when material rewards are distributed for the performance of good deeds. I hope that your response to the question I pose here would also demonstrate that I need to deliberate on religious matters more thoroughly.
If I understand the third piece1 evidence for Islam’s claim to divine truth correctly, its weight lies in its confirmation of inherent, true concepts, values, facts, and so forth. Thus, for example, the Qur’an deserves to be listened to because it confirms, reiterates, applies, extends basic, universal moral and ethical values in a variety of contexts. Islam’s teachings are of the nature of a reminder of such embedded, albeit often forgotten, truths.
A few questions follow:
It seems to me that there is not much room for disputing the inherence and validity of basic, universal moral and ethical values such as honesty, justice, compassion, etc. However, I do not see where the Qur’an shows that the concepts of God and the Day of Judgment are internally knowable. In addition, I think the idea that these latter two concepts are inherent is highly disputable because of the fact that many laymen, writers, scholars, philosophers, ethicists, poets of various cultures, historical epochs have introspected to discover that God (as one example) is an inherent concept while many have introspected to find that God is not an inherent concept. Many have conceived of ethical systems that include God while many have devised systems that are entirely secular in nature. I think to dismiss the claims of people who have introspected as carefully as theists but have come to negative conclusions about God and the Day of Judgment as “deviations” or “aberrations” from “the norm,” (as if most human beings believed in God, another contestable idea), is offensive and naive. Do you think that these two concepts are inherent? If so, what is the evidence for their inherence?
Even if it can be shown that God and the Day of Judgment are internally knowable concepts, why does this lend credence to the Qur’an, which reminds us of them? That is, how is it that the mere fact that the Qur’an has reminded us of something we already know render it divine revelation? If I brought a book of mysterious origin which proclaimed universal moral values and then said it was from God, why should my listeners not be more ready to believe that the book is my production?
I am extremely sorry for not being able to understand your first question relating to the inherence of the concept of Hereafter in the human nature. In fact, I do not remember having said that the concept of a Final Day of Judgment is inherent to man. However, I interpret Al-Aa`raaf 7: 172 to imply that the concept of God is indeed inherent to man, according to the Qur’an.
As for your second question, I do acknowledge that the nature of the teachings of the book is not a sufficient evidence to believe that it is revealed by God. However, on the contrary, it can serve as a sufficient negative evidence to disregard a book as one based on divine revelation. Thus, the third stated evidence should be seen as a supporting rather independently sufficient evidence.
I hope this helps.
January 15, 2003
- Evaluating Islam as a Religion Based on Divine Revelation [↩]