Answers to the claims of Deism

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The claims of the philosophy of deism can be summarized in following two articles:

1. Allah exists. He has created the universe. However, He set up a system which operates by itself with the influence of the natural laws. He has never intervened in the universe or interfered with the human since He set up this system.

2. The only guide which leads to the truth is the reason. Human reason can discover all the truths which the religions, prophets and holy books have discovered. Reason can discover and legislate moral and administrative laws which are necessary for the social order. As a result, you do not need religions, prophets and holy books.

Deists have no evidence

Before starting to refute the misguided ideas of the philosophies of Deism, let’s first say the following:

Those who defend this philosophy do not present any evidence to prove their claims. What they say are just comments. In other words, they believe however they wish to believe.

This situation is really baseless, irrelevant, false and ridiculous. This philosophy was born out of the political, religious, cultural and economic conditions of 16th century Europe. It was a reaction against the use of corrupted Christianity as a means of oppression by the clergy. Can you imagine that this philosophy, which does not depend on evidence, can also spread in the 21st century in the countries of Islam which cannot even be compared to Christianity with regards to fundamentals and particulars?

The fact that a philosophy like this, which does not have any evidence and has many contradictions and irrelevant notions, is able to spread especially among the youth shows that there are a variety of reasons which have caused it to spread and be accepted.

Deism sounds good to those addicted to sins

The human self (nafs) wishes to live free, unrestricted and however he wishes. This philosophy promises a complete liberty and independence for the human nafs which does not like any rule, regulation, law and enforcement. This philosophy, which accepts the existence of One God but rejects believing in any religion and prophet – thus releasing people from the obligation and trouble of obeying the commands and prohibitions of religions – can unfortunately have influence on some youth who are used to living a life in comfort with money and even are addicted to such a lifestyle.

In the last twenty years, enormous developments and revolutions have been seen in the technology of communication and news. The world has become like a village especially with the internet taking its central role in life. Information has begun to be spread and shared at a magnificent speed. This condition has unfortunately brought about a lot of great troubles along with all of its benefits to humans. Certain emotions which are not or cannot be satisfied in real life have had the opportunity to be satisfied in virtual world. Using social media wrongly and in an uncontrolled way as if it is a virtue, a generation is seen today who has become addicted to being liked, formed a habit of hypocrisy and is insensitive to real life and events. Due to the internet and smartphones, loads of sins are just one touch away. For this reason, the lofty feelings which turn a human into the perfect human being have been shaken up. It has become such that  happiness equals a smart phone with full battery or a computer with internet connection. A fake and virtual life of paradise has been presented to the human being. Having become captivated by pleasure, enjoyment and entertainment, the lower selves have been cut loose from their reins.

In parallel with all these negative effects of information, communication and correspondence technology, purchasing power has increased. Life standards have improved. There has been an incredible increase in the number of individuals who have opened their eyes to a comfortable life and have never suffered financial difficulty or impossibilities.

Material development, progress and economic welfare are of course great causes which all the societies want and agree upon to achieve. However, while struggling to achieve this goal, as a result of the destruction of the spiritual and moral values, the worst, most grave and terrible result of the modern life ensued: a generation who is egotistical, self indulgent, crazy about speed and pleasure and seduced away from the real life and the realities of life.

A current nourishing Deism: the Project of Qur’anic Muslim

One of the reasons which paves the way for the idea of Deism and encourages people to adopt it is the misguided idea that names itself as “Quranic Muslim” or “Quranic Islam”. This project has completely exposed itself especially for the last 10 years.

The representatives of this project, of which the source is abroad and the proxies exist within the Muslim community, aim at first discrediting the Sunnah of our Prophet (pbuh) and denying it completely later on.

For those whose minds have become confused with this misguided idea and have been filled with doubts, the point where some Muslims will reach is the denial of the Sunnah. In terms of religious law a believer has to love and respect the Prophet (pbuh), should not hate anything about him, and see his every behaviour beautiful (The 23rd Letter, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi). However, a believer whose mind is confused with doubts due to such ideas of misguidance unfortunately loses his deep respect and love for the Prophet and falls to a very low degree like a person who falls from a high tower but cannot find anything to hold onto and finally crashes to the floor.

This is such a situation that after a while the next step would be the denial and disdaining of the Sunnah in a reckless and arrogant manner.

At the end of the day, if Deistic ideas are indoctrinated to a person who has lost his respect and love of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in conjunction with the effect of the psychology of escaping from responsibility and the burden of worship, it is not unbelievable that his nafs will prefer Deism which denies religion, prophet, book and religious law.

By not  obeying revelation, “reason” becomes the cause of oppression and denial

One of the claims of Deism is that reason is the only yardstick for the discovery of the truth. That is, reason is enough for uncovering the truths which reach us through the prophets and holy books (i.e. revelation). Reason itself can come up with and set up rules of morality for the happiness and order of humanity. For this reason, there is no need for religions, prophets and holy books.

History refutes these claims of the Deists. In his Epistle on Self, Imam Bediuzzaman says that there have been two chains since the Prophet Adam (pbuh) until today. One is the chain of prophethood and religion, and the other is the chain of philosophy and wisdom. Whenever the latter obeys and follows the first in history- that is, whenever reason acts in the light and guidance of revelation- humanity lives a life in security, justice and peace. On the other hand, whenever reason gives up following the guidance of  revelation, which is as bright as the sun, rebels and relies on its own dim light, all the goodness, beauty and perfection gather around prophethood and religion while all the evil, deviance and wickedness gather around philosophy and wisdom.

The Abbasid, Andalusian and Ottoman times set good and striking examples for the truth that humanity lives a happy worldly life with reason’s obedience to revelation.  17th and 18th century Europe on the other hand, when the reason denied the guidance of the revelation and acted on its own, is a striking example for the truth that when reason and revelation are separated from each other, all the evil, ugliness, deviance and oppression gather around philosophy. Yes, by denying revelation, reason denied all the divine religions, divine revelation and holy books and brought forward the philosophy of materialism and nature. It declared matter and nature to be the creator. All the values of morality have been ignored as a result of this philosophy. Power and powerful people were raised to the level of a deity. The entire world has been virtually turned into colonies and millions of innocent people have been oppressed and slaughtered to that end. And this is still continuing.

Moreover, in the interregnum when no prophet was sent and the minds and hearts were not enlightened with revelation, that is the period between Prophet Isa (Jesus, pbuh) and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the fact that humanity completely followed idolatry and a lot of misguided ideas entirely disproves the claims of the Deists.

Reason is incapable of comprehending the justice

In the philosophy of Deism it is claimed that reason can come up with and set up rules which can secure justice and peace for the happiness of humanity. Imam Bediuzzaman refutes this claim in his Isharat-ul I’jaz (The Signs of Miraculous Exposition) as follows:

“Allah has created the human being with exceptional capability and equipment as different from other beings. For this reason, limitless inclinations and countless wishes are aroused in the human. The human being, by nature, desires the most beautiful, most outstanding, most perfect things when it comes to living, eating, accommodation, clothing and other needs. If humans were to meet these needs by themselves, without any help, they would not be able to meet even one millionth of them. This is because they have to have a lot of knowledge, crafts and skills in order to meet all these needs. Therefore, humans have to get help from others in order to meet these limitless needs to some extent. Everybody should supply for one need and make production that the needs can be met to a certain extent through exchange.

This means that as a civilized being, a human has to work shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand with the principles of the division of labour and the distribution of tasks among his fellows.

Right at this point, however, a trouble and crisis comes up: Allah has not limited any of a human being’s feeling, emotion, power and capability (such as desire, intellect, and anger) by nature. In this way, a human can freely advance and progress through the levels of spiritual perfection. This fact is the cause of oppression, evil, crime and violations that arise among the people who should actually stand shoulder to shoulder and collaborate with the division of labour, the distribution of tasks and helping each other.

For this reason there is need for justice in the transaction among people and in the distribution of service and products produced together. Since the understanding of justice and capability of every person is different from one another, justice cannot be established.

In this case the human mind is incapable of comprehending justice. So there is need for a general mind which can only be in the form of codes, as a code comes to exist passing through the sieve of a lot of minds and experience.

And the law which can have the most influence on the lower self, mind, heart, spirit and behaviour of people and can have the power of sanction is the shariah which is the Divine law.

And there is need for an authority, a master to execute and make the rulings of the shariah influential; and this authority is the prophet.

And that respected person who is the prophet needs a material and spiritual loftiness and privilege in order to have influence over and command the minds, hearts, selves and souls. Similarly, he needs evidence in order to show his level of contact and relation with the Creator. This evidence is the performance of miracles.

Moreover, there is need for establishing in minds the magnificence, power and greatness of Allah in a firm and unshakable way in order to guarantee the obedience to Divine commands and prohibitions. And this can be achieved only through the tenets of faith, that is, through teaching the truths and rulings of faith. Reinforcing and developing these truths and rulings of faith is possible with various forms of worship which are renewed and refreshed as they are performed repeatedly.”

If we pay attention, this great explanation of Imam Bediuzzaman does not only refute the claim of the Deists – which is “reason can come up with and set up rules that will secure justice and peace which are necessary for the happiness of humanity” – it also proves the existence and necessity of the Divine revelation and law, the prophets, miracles and worship with rational and logical evidence which are as clear as the sun.

We see that reason and logic prove and present the necessity of the existence of the religious law, prophets, miracles, fundamentals of belief and worship; but how can some people with the same reason and logic claim that these things are not necessary? There is a big contradiction here. A reality cannot turn into and become its opposite. In this case there is a demagogy here. Otherwise, sound minds would reach the same result.

Feelings get ahead of reason

Another evidence which disproves the Deists’ claim the reason is enough to discover the truth is the following reality which Imam Nursi explained in the Damascus Sermon:

There are two awesome conditions at this time. The first: Human feelings are blind. They cannot see and estimate the end of a thing; its consequence, in other words. The feelings are also in love with ready benefit. They can turn down great pleasures of the future just for the sake of a small pleasure of the moment. Today these feelings, which are blind and in love with ready benefit, prevail reason. Muslims unfortunately do not live a lot of truths which they never doubt. They knowingly and willingly abandon the pleasures of the hereafter which are valuable as diamonds just for the sake of worldly illicit pleasures which are like ordinary pieces of glass. They escape from the burden of worship, which is only like the bite of a fly, but accept the horrible end, which is like the bite of the snake, in the grave and hereafter.

This is a total abdication of reason. We understand from here that pure reason is not enough to live these truths. If human beings were made of only reason, the claims of the Deists would count for something. However, there are thousands of feelings of the human being and there is a lower self who desires to live however he wishes and does not like rules and regulation at all. These desires and feelings do not listen to the mind when they boil over. Therefore, reason is not enough for the happiness, safety and peace in the world.

The mind cannot reach some high truths

It is not possible that the mind can know the Divine realities, the conditions of the hereafter and the matters of the unseen worlds without accepting the guidance of the revelation. The mind cannot even know a lot of things about this material universe, which is perceived through our senses and feelings. So it can know the realities unseen to the human being only through the report of the Divine revelation. For instance, the mind can know and find by reason that the existence of a creator of this universe is necessary, but it cannot know why the creator has created the universe and beings without the guidance of revelation. Only the prophets, who are the announcers of the Divine revelation, can answer awesome questions with satisfying, reasonable and acceptable explanation such as “What is a human? Where does he come from? Where is he going?” the answers of which all people wonder about. Moreover, the mind and philosophy cannot know without the teaching of revelation, the mystery of nonstop activity, which is constant and amazes the human being who asks, “why do these nonstop events never stop”?

Knowing the existence of something and knowing its essence are totally different. For instance, although we know very well, by conscience and reason, that we have a will which is completely free, we cannot know by reason the nature and essence of the will. For example, although the mind can discover the existence of the “natural laws” by way of sciences, it cannot know the essence of these laws by reason. Without Divine revelation and its announcement by the prophets, who are both announcer and interpreter of the revelation, the mind declares these laws as the agent and goes astray.

There are many examples of this. All these examples show that the mind cannot reach the truth without the teaching and discipline of revelation. It either attributes the results to the causes in the cause and effect relationship, or to existence by themselves, or to the “natural laws”- ascribing divinity to the nature, thus going astray.

A mind which does not follow the real religion results in a hellish life

A mind which is not enlightened with the light of the true religion, does not feed on spiritual realm, does not walk on the great road that revelation illuminates, and thus turns worldly life into hell for its owner. This is because the human being is connected through the mind with experiences from the past and concerns for the future. The past of a person is full of troubles, calamities and illnesses he had; it is filled with events which makes him sad, sorry and in a state of pain as they are remembered. The same past is also like a grave for the enjoyable, joyful and beautiful memories. We inherit the sorrow of the end of those enjoyable, joyful and beautiful days and memories, which we cannot bring back from the past. The future is also full of unknown things. There are a lot of unknown elements in future life such as “what is ahead in the future for me? What kinds of troubles, calamities and illnesses will I have to face? How will my living and comfort be? How and why I will die”? These unknown things give human beings anxiety and fear.

Not enlightened by light of the true religion, a human being cannot understand the goals of life, assuming his life imprisoned by the merciless hands of the natural laws, believing that he lives idly in a mechanical universe and established order, seeing everything as an enemy and stranger to himself, not knowing where he comes from and where he will go, considering death as nonexistence, believing that he will be separated from all of his beloveds by death, thinking that the end of his life as nothingness. Such a mind feels pain, sorrow and worry from his past, and anxiety and fear for his future and thus ruining his present joys. Such a mind, which can make a human being a perfect human with the fundamentals of the true religion and the lights of guidance and which is like a key to unlock the mysteries of the universe, turns into an accursed and troublesome faculty by bringing pain, sorrow, worry, fear and anxiety from the past and future.

These truths, which are explained in the Fourth Droplet of the Nineteenth Word, the Sixth Word and the Eighth Word of Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, show and prove that the mind cannot find the reality and attain happiness without the true religion. By itself, it therefore must live a hellish life.

Belief in Allah requires the belief in the Prophets and Holy Books

Deism only accepts the existence of Allah; it rejects the other articles of faith. This and other ideas of Deism, which are not based on any evidence, are disproved by Imam Bediuzzaman in various parts of Risale-i Nur:

Just as we cannot think of a lightless sun, divinity cannot be without manifestation. That is, the existence of Allah absolutely necessitates a teacher, a messenger, a prophet who tells, describes and announces the evidences for the existence of Allah, the mysteries of His wisdom, the divine purposes of His creating and the meanings of His creatures which are each perfect works of art. And this is only possible through the sending of prophets.

As you would accept, an incomprehensible book is just a bunch of meaningless papers if there is no explainer and a teacher to teach. Allah (swt) has created the universe like a book; it is such a book that the knowledge of thousands of books is hidden on every page, thousands of pages of information is written in every paragraph, thousands of paragraphs of secrets are put in every sentence and thousands of sentences of truths are hidden in every word and letter. Of course such a book cannot be without teachers and lecturers. And these teachers and lecturers have to be from among ourselves so that we learn from them and accept them as our guides and teachers. In this case, since there is a universe, there are prophets too.

Why have human beings been created? Who are the most honourable of the creatures with the most blessings and have the most perfect faculties? What are their duties? What is expected from them? How to attain the pleasure of the Creator? How to obey Allah? How to be servants of Him? There must be somebody who answers these questions by his living among us and being one of us. These perfect guides are the glorious prophets, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) being in the first place.

Likewise, the lordship of Allah (swt) over all the creation necessitates a general servanthood. That is, our Lord nurtures all the creatures He created by meeting all their needs, removing the obstacles before their reaching perfection, clearing the way for them and helping them. Being manifest on the entire universe and living beings, this nurturing requires a response of general worship. And this can only be possible with the messengers – who are our representatives in the presence of Allah and envoys of Allah among us – declaring the existence and oneness of Allah to the people.

Without a doubt, Allah (swt) creates by knowing all the beings, disposes with wisdom, regulates by seeing everywhere and nurtures by knowing and seeing everything; He places the wisdom, purposes, benefits, intentionally on everything.

Since the maker knows, then of course the one who knows will speak. Now that He will speak, He will of course speak to the ones who have intellect, thought and consciousness and ones who can speak. Seeing that He will speak to the intelligent and conscious beings, He will of course speak to the humankind who is the most preeminent and has the most general consciousness among the intelligent and conscious beings. Now that He will speak to the humankind, He will of course speak to the people who are the most worthy of being addressed and the most perfect among them. And these people are, no doubt, our masters, the prophets, who have the miracles in their hands as signs of affirmation, who are the stars of humankind and the exemplars of merit.

As mentioned above, since the maker knows, then of course the one who knows will speak. He Who speaks to the beings which He creates has obviously the attribute of “kalam” (speaking). As a consequence of this attribute, He has spoken to the messengers He has chosen through revelation and the divine books He has given to some of them.

Existence of Allah necessitates the existence of the Hereafter

Deists accept only the existence of Allah; they deny the second life, or, in other words, the resurrection. Imam Bediuzzaman proves the existence of the Hereafter and the Resurrection as clear as the sun in many epistles such as the 10th Word, the 29th Word and The Flashes. Some examples are as follows:

If a sultan does not give rewards to the obedient and punishment to the rebels, his kingdom starts to shake and collapse. There should be grace and mercy on his right side, and torment and discipline on his left. Reward is required by his mercy. Discipline necessitates punishment. And the places for the reward and punishment are the destinations named Paradise and Hell.

One of the Divine Names of our Lord is Al-Adl. That is, our Lord has absolute justice. Complete justice necessitates punishing those who violates the rights of others and reinstating these rights to their owners. However, when we look at this worldly life, we see that the oppressors get away with their tyranny and the oppressed pass away without getting their dues. Death comes and takes both the oppressor and the oppressed. This injustice draws attention to this point. Therefore, it is understood that their trials are postponed to a supreme court where the oppressors will be called to account and sentenced, and the oppressed will be recompensed and rewarded. In other words, there is no negligence but delay. Therefore, the absolute justice of our Lord necessitates Hell for the oppressor and Paradise for the oppressed and innocent. Otherwise, far be it from Allah, that there would be injustice. Our Lord is excluded from such oppression.

Similarly, there have to be feast tables befitting the limitless wealth and endless generosity and love of giving of our Lord Who is the Owner of endless wealth and endlessly Generous and loves offering. This is because the wealth, generosity and love of offering require offering abundantly and pleasing those who are offered. The place where these eternal feast tables will be set is in Paradise. Those who benefit from these feast tables in Paradise have to stay there for eternity. This is because the treasury is eternal and the Person Whose treasury is eternal is eternally generous and loves offering.

Finally, an eternal beauty does not consent to a temporary adorer. In other words, our Lord, Whose beauty is eternal, does not consent to temporary, mortal and transient lovers. Beauty wants a lover. If there were no lovers who see, like and fall in love with a beauty, this beauty would be nothing but meaningless. Now that our Lord has endless and unique beauty, of course it is necessary that there will be lovers to adore this eternal beauty in the land of eternity, Paradise.

Allah interferes with the universe every moment

One of main claims of Deism is that Allah has created the universe and established a mechanical order by means of natural laws, and He interferes with neither the universe nor with human beings. A natural result of this claim is that they attribute creativity to the natural laws. The present order and arrangement of the universe are referred to as the natural laws. And the human being becomes an idle and aimless being under the rule of merciless natural laws.

Being far away from reason, logic and truth, this claim is based on no evidence. This philosophy is the final reliance and shelter of those who are addicted to sins but had to accept the existence of Allah after seeing the wonderful order and art in the universe. It means “Allah exists, but He cannot interfere with me and my life,” which is said by those who are addicted to illicit worldly pleasures and sins in order to find relief and consolation.

First of all, we should ask the following question to those who claim this: “Why wouldn’t Allah interfere in the universe after creating it and establishing an order? Why would He refer the management of the universe to the hands of merciless, unintelligent, deaf, blind, unconscious laws of nature in a mechanical system? Why would He will to do so?”

As a matter fact, we see the manifestations of the Divine will, wish, intention and volition everywhere and in every corner of the universe. The fact that the face of each and every human is different from one another, that every snowflake has a different crystal structure, that every cell and atom is different from each other and many examples like these show that there is a will that does not make anything it creates similar to another thing. A Director manages the universe – Who is the Owner of a will and intention and makes everything different from one another. This is because being able to make a thing different from all of the previous things is only possible with the knowledge of all of them and with volition.

For instance, when they are at the embryo phase, a formless group of cells start to take the shape of human body although there are numberless possibilities. From then on, all the atoms which come from outside and enter the structure are connected to each other in a way to form a human body. We can see the same example in other animals. This amazing situation shows the will and intention of an Owner of eternal power as clear as the sun.

If the order of the universe were by itself under the effect of the natural laws as the Deists claim, those unique and particular qualities, beauties and arts seen on everything would not come into existence. This unique and exclusive variety and difference of the beings would not appear; it would be just like the same products of a factory or a printing house.

Each of all the works, blessings and arts are results. These results cannot come to existence without well-directed and timely actions. And these actions cannot exist without an Actor Who has attributes like life, knowledge, will and power. Therefore, those who see the art, beauty and motif but refer them to unintelligent, unconscious, blind and deaf causes and natural laws should understand how they are far away from reason and conscience.

In Risale-i Nur, Imam Bediuzzaman presents very strong, reasonable and logical evidence which destroys and annihilates those baseless claims.

Natural laws are not creators!

Let us have a look at the following example from the Epistle on Nature in order to understand what the natural laws are – which are supposed as effective by Deists –in this magnificent and perfect order of the universe:

An exceptionally ignorant man enters an army’s military encampment, where he sees the training exercises and orderly manoeuvres that they undertake together. He observes that with the movement of a single soldier, a squadron, brigade and battalion stand up, sit down, march and they fire their weapons with a single command of “Fire!” However, this man’s barbaric and naive mind does not perceive the notion that a single commander is directing the manoeuvres, in accordance with the state’s system of regulations and the laws of the King. He imagines that the soldiers are tied together with rope. He thinks how miraculous that imaginary rope is, and becomes quite astonished.

Similarly, all the natural laws discovered by science are the laws which come from Allah’s attribute of “will”. That is, our Lord has had the will to set up some rules and laws in order to establish a perfect order among the beings. He enforces these laws in the universe through His power. These laws do not have a material existence created by Divine power.  They are scientific norms which come from the attribute of will and are implemented by His power. They are called “the laws of Divine rules and practices” or “natural law”.

For instance, an object the weight density of which is less than the weight density of water does not sink in water. We witness a power and the effect of this power within certain rules. The power which is attributed to the water and is named the ‘buoyancy of water’, is nothing but the manifestation of Divine power. The rules that can be formulated by means of this manifestation are the laws which come from the Divine will. These laws are scientific norms; they do not have material existence.

The constitution of a nation is also a good example. As it is understood, a constitution is a set of laws made by the attribute of the will of people who are influential and authorized. A constitution (i.e. laws) cannot rule a state. A state administration can only be possible with a power as an executive organ, in other words with a government.

As a matter of fact, it is the same for all the rules, principles and laws. The rules and principles followed in a small workplace are also set up by its owner and applied by his power.

So it means that the laws, which are wrongly named as ‘natural laws’ and are understood as influential in the existence and order of the beings, are in reality nothing but scientific rules and principles. It is the Divine power that enforces these scientific rules and principles. These laws are not independent powers that have influence; they are scientific norms which come from the Divine will but do not have material existence. They cannot be creators.

Humans cannot be purposeless

The purposes, benefits and wisdoms seen on all of the beings in the universe indicate that Allah has endless wisdom and there are lofty aims in His creating all things.

According to the secret of the saying, “Every owner of beauty and perfection desires to see and show their own beauty and perfection,” our Lord has created the universe and every being in it to see and show His own beauty and perfection. Having no need of anything, our Lord has not created this universe out of His need but as a necessity of His wisdom, Names and attributes with countless aims. Everything, from subatomic particles to galaxies, is employed for Divine purposes within the scope of the plans designed for them and by keeping track of their duties.

As the most honourable of the creatures, created as the best equipped and the most talented, humans cannot of course be living without purpose and wisdom among their neighbours (i.e. other beings) in this universe. They have countless duties based on the faculties and blessings they have.

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