Throughout the course of its intellectual upsurge, mankind has borne different whimsical conceptions, beliefs and impulses, one of which is atheism. Debating the existence of God has been a topic of great interest among intellectual elite, philosophers and scientists. However in the long run, the defiance of God has proven so senseless and odious that according to Newton, it never had many professors.
Attributed as the “saint of Science” and the “priest of Nature”, Newton was also considered as an acute, insightful and erudite theologian by his contemporaries. According to him, this most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, was not a law of chance but could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an Intelligent Being.
This Being governs all things, not only as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all. For him, the Supreme God is eternal, infinite and absolutely perfect. Newton saw God as the masterful creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation. He wrote many works that would now be classified as occult studies and religious tracts dealing with the literal interpretation of the Bible.
In his Principia, Newton has frankly admitted that he had in mind the promotion of belief in the Deity among “considering men.” He also maintained the conventional line that the arrangement of the solar system bore witness to God’s wisdom and power and more particularly, that various features of the cosmos had been “fine tuned,” as we would now say, to the advantage of its human inhabitants.
In relation to his own gravitational theory Newton was conscious that the stability of the solar system was threatened by the cumulative mutual attractions of the planetary bodies and comets, and he believed that divine intervention would be necessary to keep things on track. There was a single-minded moral seriousness that drove Newton’s investigations, whatever their aim and objective.
He wrote considerably more on God than on any other idea which highlights his turmoil with the subject. Most of us don’t know that he had more than 30 versions of the Bible and had studied them meticulously. He did a genuinely deep study into finding out the truth about God.
He had been indeed concerned about this stuff more than he had been about the Physics, the natural world and Mathematics combined. Yet this vast legacy lay hidden from public view for two centuries until the auction of his nonscientific writings in 1936. This is because our world has always suffered from extremism.
Newton was risking everything by holding these beliefs since otherwise he could have ended up in prison or being dead. And this would have kept us devoid of many of his enlightenments. Einstein too had once clarified that, "I am not an atheist".
Einstein believed in a cosmic religion that orchestrated the orderliness and sublime beauty of a great universe. A scientist from a generation before Einstein, William James, thought that our brains may be too small and there might indeed be a God out there whom we just can’t pick up with the radar we have got.
There is a sense of the awesomeness of the universe that even atheists and materialists feel when they gaze up at the Milky Way. Similarly the agnostics may not believe in a personal God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings, but their conscious does confirm to Him through the cosmic orderliness.
Not only from the realm of science but also from the dominion of philosophy itself, has the idea of atheism been countered with great conviction. Nietzsche, the proponent of “death of God”, wanted to express the idea that the scientific enlightenment had killed the possibility of belief in God or any gods having ever existed. Iqbal while hitting back at Nietzsche, had said
Agar hota wo majzoob firangi iss zamane mein
Tou Iqbal usko samjhata maqame kibriya kya hai
Only a poor level of knowledge or confidence can make us accept uncritically the disbeliefs of the other side. Nietzsche was not merely an atheist but more properly an anti-theist.
When an atheist proudly claims that God can be disproven, he ignores the human imagination. All science and philosophy is due to human imagination and not the vice-versa. Now when Nietzsche and many like him don’t exist anymore, GOD still exists and has existed since all eternity.
Though atheists can be appreciated for offering us impressive proofs that specific and inflexible gods do not exist, nevertheless it is hardly the same thing as successfully proving that no single god could possibly exist. The human imagination will, in all likelihood, forever outrun reason, logic and scientific facts.
To further appreciate the magnitude of the task of disproving the existence of GOD, compare it to the task of proving that no extraterrestrial life exists. Scientists who were skeptical about it some time back are now supposing that such life has a fair probability of existing somewhere else out in the vast universe. Can atheists therefore bear the burden of proof to conclusively eliminate the possibility of God?
Resting purely on agnostic lines only leads to doubts, suspicions and verbal subtleties but only a beautiful blend of science and religion has brought forth many clarifications. However at the same time, there is a dire need of restoring simplicity to both religion and science for them to be adorable.
Dr. Qudsia Gani, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Govt. College for Women M.A. Road Srinagar