UI – Part 104 – Revelation & Reason
Revelation is the revealing of something previously hidden or secret, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary. When it comes to faith or a religion it is God showing or revealing what is believed to be divine will or truth.
Reason is an explanation or justification for something or a cause that explains a particular phenomenon – both definitions from Webster’s. There are more – Reason is the power of being able to think in a logical and rational manner, the ability to think clearly and coherently, and from a philosophical point of view reason, the ability to think logically is regarded as a basis for knowledge, as distinct from experience or emotions. Reason enables anyone to consider information and use it to reach a conclusion in a logical way. It can be used to persuade using rational arguments.
The Islamist, the Islamic fundamentalist, primarily the Arab Muslim, world has grown-up since the 800-900’s on the theory promoted by Al-Ghazali, that all answers are from an ‘uncreated’ Quran. Revelation from Allah has provided all truth. As a result philosophy and science are unnecessary and questioning the theology is heretical. The program is a simple one – Obey Allah.
For the Christian God made man in his image, provided a mind that was to be used and useful in revealing natural laws that then could be used to make improvements for all humans. Revelation from God is at the foundation of all truth. God’s Creation and everything in it was for humans whose responsibility was to ‘subdue’ the world, take charge and conduct themselves in such a way to make peace and progress possible. “The Christian does not abandon the intellect.” (a quote from Tabletalk, article: Anselm by R. C. Sproul, pg. 6, May 2011, Ligonier Ministries, Lake Mary, FL)
From a Biblical perspective God created the world, the cosmos, and made man in his image. God was the First Cause – uncaused and eternal in his own right. Then man was given responsibility. He was charged with the role of making what God created functioning for all – to include plants, animals, food stuffs, fish, water and the environment, all for the benefit of humans. God reveals himself through the inspired Word of God – the Bible. Man can know God. God’s revelation engendered an opportunity for man to get to know, to develop a personal relationship, with God. The Truth God revealed provided man the means to know Him. Timothy 3:16 – Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
Man is inspired by God to go forth and preach the Word of God to all nations. Given the gift of a mind and conscience, man can rationalize the Word of God, interpret and understand God’s desire for man to make the world a peaceful, loving, caring and safe place for all mankind. There resulted in God’s creation a divine-human connection, a relationship. God’s revelation is in the created universe and the mind, the conscience of man which embodies human nature. All was orchestrated by God – providentially.
Psalm 19:1- 4: “…The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork. 2 Day after day it speaks out; night after night it reveals his greatness. 3 There is no actual speech or word, nor is its voice literally heard. 4 Yet its voice echoes throughout the earth; its words carry to the distant horizon….”
Romans 2:14: “For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves. 15 They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them.”
Paul was a man who had the best-reasoned religious education of his day. It was built squarely around sound theology – about who God is and what God wanted of His people. However, this training missed the element of revelation knowledge. Then God entered into Paul’s life with revelation knowledge on the Damascus road, and Paul followed up this initial experience with an additional three years of private tutoring by the Holy Spirit, alone in the Arabian Wilderness – most likely at Mount Sinai (Gal. 1:17,18). There was much to be learned about God, to fill Paul’s mind and make him aware through his ability to clarify and understand, such as God’s Beloved offspring, born of Mary and the seed of God, and the way provided by which all mankind could benefit by the gifts God made available and the saving Grace offered all sinners.
Paul then compared the two kinds of knowledge he had received – first with reasoned, theological biblical understanding, and then with knowledge that came from revelation and intimacy and from the Spirit of God. He said that he counted his first rational education as rubbish (Phil. 3:1-10) when compared with the value of knowing (ginosko) God (having intimacy and revelation knowledge from God). Righteousness comes from God, knowing His Beloved, on the basis of faith, knowing the power of His Resurrection.
Any training that centers on God, the heart and divine revelation will be God’s knowledge. IT can only be learned through Reason. “We do not come to a rational understanding of God’s revelation before we are able to believe; rather we must first put our trust in that revelation in order to see its coherence, ” wrote R. C. Sproul (pg. 7, Tabletalk, Anselm, May 2011)
Man created in God’s image suggests a similarity between man and God. This gives rise to the certainty of an ability to know God. God created man, not in man’s image, but in God’s. How could God otherwise as the First Cause engender an image of an image, and not an image of what God knows, himself, his Being, his own image. To create man in man’s image, man had to be first created.
Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them (humans, male and female) rule….’ This is quite a statement suggesting with the terms ‘Us’ and ‘Our’ a plurality of the Oneness of God. His majesty may have been represented in the concept of the Trinity, the Father, His Beloved offspring and His Spirit at the outset, at the time of creation. All this taking place creating the perfect man, Adam, moral like God. When Adam sinned his moral likeness was lost. However man’s natural likeness (his image) of intellect, the mind and conscience, the ability to reason, emotions and his will (free will) was kept.
The use of Logos is important in the Christian world (Judaism too). Man’s Logos is the receptacle for understanding God. Logos is Christ as divine wisdom. Christ is the Word of God, the purification of the wisdom of God (Encarta Dictionary), and divine wisdom as the means for human salvation. For the Jew Logos is the divine wisdom of the Word of God.
Love of God is born out in God’s unconditional divine love for the man he created. God’s association with man, man embracing God, brings unity to the family of believers, completeness in knowing God and being empowered with his Holy Spirit.
God’s creation continues today with the birth of a child, the ever expanding universe, the allowance for discoveries of God’s design, and the engagement of the mind in further understanding what God has revealed; that enables man to better serve each other. From the philosopher Rene Descartes, Cogito Ergo Sum, “I think therefore I am” proved to him the existence of God. The ability to reason, a gift imparted making man unique among all the animals in God’s creation, “was evidence of an all-powerful, an absolute, creator God.”
Study, philosophize, explore, evaluate the cause of an outcome, advance scientific discovery, debate your theology, be free to make decisions and judgments and draw conclusions. Consider the good in all you do as a reasoned person. In the process you will understand and get to know God better.
The Fundamental Qur’anic Perspective
There has been more than one school of thought on interpreting the life, writings, and revelations received by Muhammad. Recorded after his death by Companions of Muhammad the Quran became the basis (once a final copy was agreed upon – whether done so peacefully or forcibly – differing copies destroyed) along with Muhammad’s writings (recorded by third parties) describing his life and his statements, to include judgments. This suggests a document created, yet the Islamists argue, emphatically and with a destructive nature towards those in disagreement, that the Quran is uncreated; just as Allah is uncreated.
There are many tribes, clans and schools of scholarly thought in the Muslim World. The Sunni dominate the Arab contingent followed closely by the Shiite. In fact Sunni followers dominate the world map where Muslims populations exist, the Arab strain only 20% or so of the total. Shiites are located principally in Iran, parts of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey andYemen.
From reading it appears the greatest influence on Sunni thinking, or lack thereof, is Abu-Ghazali (1058-1111). Al-Ghazali is for many Muslims the second most powerful figure since Muhammad. He argued against philosophers and scientists and any consideration of a rational world seeing only Allah and Revelation as the be all and end all. In summary his espoused and followed belief is that “nothing certain can be known by reason.” He countered the logic of Greek philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato to conclude reasoning is imperfect, inconclusive and not helpful. Man must not think as it is unnecessary as all has been or will be Revealed by Allah. This may not make sense to you, but this is the fundamental Islamic Truth. I find it a bit constraining and completely irrational. For Islam to become a progressive ideology, however, this way of thinking, expecting all to be revealed, just wait, can in no way support a growing world, let alone a world solely comprised of Sunni Muslims as they would die. This would then be viewed as the Will of Allah.
Are the Muslims trying to eliminate themselves as in a world without Muslims all would come crashing down for who is it today that has provided the advancements that feed the world, make the railroads run, produce electricity, and have examined and determined the distance from the sun to the earth, among other important progressive and necessary facts?
Research of this topic brought to light the Ash’arite doctrine. Blind obedience to Allah is required as evidence of those whose faith is correct. The rules are irrational, yet according to Robert R. Reilly, “irrational rules are more efficacious in bringing man into submission” to Allah. Resistance to the Christian idea of knowing God is made clear as it suggests to the Islamists that inherent in man is “something corresponding to the divine”. The Bible does say man is made in God’s image, which is blasphemy for the orthodox Sunni.
There is no Logos is Islam.
Love is another factor (discussed in Blog – UI – Part 89 – Christian Love, Islamic Love). God loves man. Allah only loves if man loves Allah, favoring man only when man obeys Allah. Allah does not need the love of man to be complete; he is all there needs to be.
Has What Is Always Been?
Has the world always existed? In my book, The Proven God, the concept of the Big Bang is discussed. From nothing the cosmos was created and the world we know formed. It started as the tiniest spec conceivable, and less, God’s first cause, expanded and continues to expand. For me there is ‘certitude’ in this concept. It is not God ever changing, but creation continuing. Man is used by God for God’s purposes; the mind of man engaged to fulfill the request of God to tend His garden, be productive, and subdue the earth – understand, improve and thru continual discovery God is revealed – all so man may know Him. The natural laws are one of God’s mysteries revealed each day. Man has the keys to unlock the mysteries and must use them wisely.
The fundamentalists of Islam [Al-Ghazali followers and subsequent voices in support to include Sayyid Qtub, Hassan Al-Banna (Muslim Brotherhood founder – 1926), Maulana Maududi] see the world as always existing. Philosophy, Greek philosophers especially need not be considered. The Islamists see every second as a miracle of Allah and in the next instant who knows what will happen. The water being poured from a full glass may suddenly change to oil, or stop and be air. Don’t even think about it; Allah is in control. It is all at Allah’s command. Wait and see. The result, outcomes are Allah’s Will; there is no need to consider the cause. The inventor as man cannot do what Allah Will’s. If man be creative, using his mind and ability to be rational, to consider factors, then man competes with the divine. For the Christian man was made in the image of God for a reason; he can think and can manage God’s Creation. The product of man’s ingenuity, according to the Islamist, is Allah alone; neither inspired, learned or employing the gift of the mind; it is a First Cause, every event. Causes cannot be compounded to produce an expectation, a result that is foreseen. Each event is without cause other than Allah.
How can man not consider what is before him; its cause; its existence, and the how and why of its presence. Quoting Tolstoy, “The impulse to seek causes is innate in the soul of man.” Is a Muslim man? If so, then the Muslim seeks causes or has no soul. Are we not always left to question, ‘Why?’ Is the question’Why’ the key to knowledge, to wisdom? On an Islamic Excel spreadsheet has the function If, Then been removed. If not, then reason is a component of Islamic thought; how can it otherwise be denied. Has Allah Willed the If, Then function and now demonstrated to the Muslim world umma the truth that cause and effect, reason itself, is allowed?
For the Islamist humans are reduced to obey the master. It is only to obey. To speak when asked to speak. To pray what you are told to pray (and when). To respond to the call to prayer, the Adhan, as if a bell is rung for food. To never question Allah. Humans are reduced to subjects, prisoners, guarded by the ulema that dictate the line to be followed to avoid being a non-Muslim – an apostate. It is an irrational practice. It is a conditioned reflex, not a thought process. It is, in my opinion, demeaning.
To Those Who Have A Rational Mind
To anyone that has a rational mind, who believes they can think, can make decisions as to foods to eat, music to hear, make political choices, have opinions, then why not have a mind for God. Challenge Allah. Challenge God. Do not be afraid. How often did Christ say those words to his followers, “Do not be afraid!” Challenge the ulema that reduce Muslims to only respond to their master’s voice. Allow the bell of freedom to ring, be heard by all people and let their opinions be expressed, their questions raised, their doubts confronted, and receive answers that make sense. Changing the Islamist mind would be simple, it only required opening the Islamist mind to the fact they can love, not just hate. It is not a world for an Islamist Allah as it questions Allah as god. The Islamist Allah is a tool used to deny humans their humanity. That is more satanic than godlike. Humans are not animals. They are humans. Muslims are humans too, captured by fear of what would happen if they left their traditional irrational ideological religion. They need to act and be treated with fairness, with freedom to think, enabling them to use their mind, the rational mind of man gifted to all humans by the Holy One.
As a Christian I see only the good that God instilled in man. The Evil is a reflection of the ever present temptations of Satan. When Satan consumes the human, erases their mind, dictates their will, then chaos can only result. The victories of Satan verses God will ebb and flow. The Evil we see in the minds of the terrorist, their hate for all they see as rational, the mindless endeavor to give no credence to cause and effect, the destructive nature of the Islamist can only create a cemetery for the remains of a dead society that will be the outcome of any success they enjoy.
Come Let Us Reason Together
We pray for the freeing of the Islamists mind, and the willingness of the more moderate Muslim to either emancipate those trapped thinking they should not think to think, find a scholar for their religion that will allow for the cause of the modern world, to embrace reason, love of neighbor and pluralism, accompanied of course with accepting equality and human rights, or find a new path all together. Maybe Islam is the wrong road to follow, Allah’s heaven is not heaven at all, and the real eternal kingdom lies elsewhere. I believe that is the case. Think about it. Has all been Revealed? “Come now, and let us reason together.” If there is no rational explanation or ability to question, then there must be a rational avenue that allows a voluntary love for God to prevail. Praise be to the Lord.
Grace and Peace,
 The Proven God, Thomas W. Balderston, Tate Publications, Mustang, OK, 2010, pg. 117 (available at Amazon.com, also at TomBalderston.com and Tate’s website)
 The Closing of the Muslim Mind, by Robert R. Reilly, ISI Books,Wilmington,Del., 2010, pg. 119 (paperback edition – 2011)
 Ibid., pg. 115
 Ibid., pg. 109
 The Proven God, Thomas W. Balderston, Tate Publications, Mustang, OK, 2010 – available at Amazon.com, also at TomBalderston.com and Tate’s website.