Rational Basis for Religion

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Soulveda |  June 30, 2017


Many people are under the impression that religious truths cannot be proved scientifically. But inferring truths from things, as religion does, is the very reasoning which scientists employ in their everyday deductions.

In ancient times water was just water. Then, in the 19th century, the microscope was invented. When water was looked at under a micro­scope, it was discovered that water was not just water; it also contained countless live bacteria. In the same way, man used to think that there were no more stars in the sky, than those which can be seen with the naked eye. But in modern times, the sky has been examined with tele­scopes and many more stars, than can be seen with the naked eye, have been discovered.

These two examples show the difference between ancient and modern times. Modern research has shown, with certainty, that there are many more realities than man had previously thought when he was limited to the sphere of simple observation. But these new discoveries so excited those who were making them that they made another claim: that reality is that which can be directly observed; that which we cannot experience or observe is mere hypothesis, and does not exist.

In the 19th century, this claim was made with great enthu­siasm. It was the most damaging to religion. Religious creeds are based on belief in the unseen; they cannot be directly observed or experienced. For this reason, many people came to think of religion as hypothetical and unreal.

20th century research has completely changed this state of affairs. Advanced study has shown that there is more to life than meets the eye: all the great realities of life lie beyond our comprehension.

According to Bertrand Russell, there are two forms of knowledge: knowledge of things and knowledge of truths. Only “things” can be directly observed: “truths” can only be understood by indirect observa­tion, or, in other words, inference. The existence of light, gravity, magnetism and nuclear energy in the universe is an undisputed fact, but man cannot directly observe these things. He knows them only by their effects. Man discovers certain “things” from which he infers the existence of “truths”.

This change in the concept of knowledge, which occurred in the 20th century, changed the whole situation radically. Man was forced to accept the existence of things, which he could not directly see, but only indirectly experience. With this intellectual revolution, the difference between seen and unseen reality disappeared. Invisible objects became as important as visible objects. Man was compelled to accept that indirect, or inferential argument, was academically as sound as direct argument.

This change in the concept of knowledge has, in the present age, made divine reasoning truly scientific. For instance, the greatest argu­ment for religion is what philosophers call the argument from design. 19th century scholars, in their zeal, did not accept this reasoning. To them, it was an inferential argument which could not be accepted academically. But in the present age, this objection has been invalidated. Nowadays, man is compelled to infer the existence of a designer of the universe from the existence of a design in the universe. Just as he accepts the theory of the flow of electrons from the movement of a wheel.