Guiding Principles in Understanding Nature
By: Professor Mahdi Golshani
We have already said the Qur’an is not a book of natural science but a book of guidance and enlightenment, and wherever there is reference to the natural phenomena, it is meant to guide humans through them. We also explained God has gifted man with mental faculties so through their own endeavours and God’s help they can gradually come to understand the universe as well as their own selves and in this way get nearer to the Creator of the universe.
According to the following glorious verses: “...and we have revealed the book to you explaining clearly everything and as a guidance and mercy and good news for those who submit.” (16:89)
“...we have not neglected anything in the Book...” (6:38)
The Qur’an undertakes the guidance of human beings in all stages of life. One, therefore, can expect to derive the guiding principles for researches done in natural sciences from the Qur’an. By inference from the Qur’an we believe, in addition to the principles of logic, such as the principle of “non-contradiction,” the following principles should be also used as the guidelines for scientific research.
1. Faith in the Principle of Divine Unity (al-Tawhid)
According to the Qur’anic verses, God is the only Creator and Ruler of the whole universe. Everything originates from Him and ends in Him. All creatures praise Allah, as the purpose behind the creation of man was to approach Allah through worshipping Him: “And I have not created the jinn and the human except in whom they would serve Me.” (51:56)
Hence, every step one takes should be aimed at gaining His consent and approaching oneself to the Almighty. The search for the discovery of nature is no exception to this rule. Observance of the grandeur in the Divine deeds, and making use of the possibilities therein for humans to attain the eternal happiness should be given priority.
The Qur’an does not approve of such cognitions which aim at nothing except satisfying one’s own curiosity. On the way to understanding of nature, one should not busy oneself with the means and forget the ultimate End. If the researcher realizes God is Infinite in all respects, his attention to this infinite source keeps him moving on without hindrance, and he will be able to find more and more about the magnificence of creation. This is the surest way of attaining proximity to the Creator of the universe.
The understanding of nature should lead us along the road covered by Prophet Ibrahim, i.e. to commence from the beginning of the string of causes and reach the end – the Lord of the universe.
“So when the night over-shadowed him, he saw a star, said he, ‘Is this my Lord?’ So when it set, he said, ‘I do not love the setting ones.’ Then when he saw the moon rising, he said, ‘Is this my Lord?’ So when it set, he said, ‘If my Lord had not guided me I should certainly be of the erring people.’ Then when he saw the sun rising, he said, ‘Is this my Lord? Is this the greatest?’ So when it set he said, ‘Oh my people, surely I am clear of what you set up (with Allah). Surely I have turned myself, being upright, wholly to Him who originated the heavens and the earth, and I am not of the polytheists.’” (6:76 – 79)
As a result, Ibrahim (a.s.) was led to see the spiritual dimension of the heavens and the earth: And thus did We show Ibrahim the spiritual dimension of the heavens and the earth and so he might of those who are sure. (6:75)
And this is the way which all researches have been invited to follow: “Do they not consider the spiritual dimension of the heavens and the earth and whatever things Allah has created?” (7:185)
A firm belief in monotheism arms the researcher with a comprehensive view of nature, and they no more see it as a bundle of isolated pieces; rather, they observes their inter-relations and their common origin. He sees a unity behind this multiplicity. Experiences of past generations show scholars in the past always endeavoured to find a model according to which they could describe the whole nature. The Greeks had their designs for the explanation of the whole universe. In the Islamic world, too, different schools tried in different ways to discover a pattern for relating together various components of nature.
After the Renaissance, Newton tried to explain the celestial and terrestrial movements by the help of a series of laws. Then Einstein tried to take a step further than Newton in relation to natural issues. In recent years, too, the main effort of theoretical physicists has been to derive all the natural forces from one source. In all these stages it is quite apparent in which scientists have been trying to find suitable patterns by the help of which they could interpret the natural phenomena. They have been trying to generalize the result of an experiment carried out on the earth and apply it to the whole physical world.
This character of seeking for unification has been noticed among all scientists (whether materialists or non-materialist), and seems to be intrinsic. The difference between the two groups is the formers come to stop as soon as they reach the appearance, while the latter seek for the Co-ordinator of this harmonious system. Here we cite two glorious verses from the Qur’an. The first refers to the first group, while the second reveals the opinion of the second: And they say, “There is nothing but our life in this world, we live and die and nothing destroys us but time, and they have no knowledge of this, they only conjecture. (45:24)
He created the heavens and the earth in truth, highly exalted be He above what they associate (with Him). (16:3)
An important point, which is greatly emphasized in the Qur’an, is the existence of order in natural phenomena, harmony among the various elements of nature, and a purpose in nature: And there is a measure with Him of everything. (13:8)
And who created everything then ordained for it a measure. (25:2)
You see no incongruity in the creation of the Beneficent Allah, then look again, can you see any disorder? (67:3)
He it is Who made the sun a shining brightness and the moon a light, and ordained for it mansions which you might know the computation of years and the reckoning. Allah did not create it but with truth, He makes the signs manifest for a people who know. (10:5)
The existence of this order and design has been pointed out as a sign of monotheism, the unity of the Almighty: If there had been in them any gods except Allah, they would both have certainly been in a state of disorder. (21:22)
...and never was there with Him any (other) god; in which case each god would have certainly taken away what he created, and some of them would certainly have over- powered others. Glory be to Allah above what they describe. (23:91)
...the handiwork of Allah who has made everything thoroughly... (27:88)
Belief in this principle is an important factor in encouraging scholars in their discovery of the laws of nature. In principle, any attempt to discover inter-relations in various aspects of nature without admitting order would look futile, as it would not acquire a universal validity but would remain a local and temporary one.
A belief in this principle makes us realise in whatever we failed to find the order in a natural phenomenon during our study, it would be due to the insufficiency of our knowledge rather than the disorder or rule of chance in nature. During the early years of the second quarter of the 20th century, when quantum mechanics was appearing, some of the pioneers of the theoretical physics rejected the idea of the existence of order in the atomic domain. Einstein, though unable to present a successful theory against it, was able to reject it through relying on the principle of order in nature. In his letter (b. December 1926) he wrote:54 “Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the ‘old one.’ I, at any rate, am convinced he is not playing the dice.”
In another letter (b. September 1944) he wrote, “We have become Antipodean in our scientific expectations. You believe in God who plays dice, and I, in complete law and order in a world which objectively exists, and which i, in a wildly speculative way, am trying to capture. I firmly believe, but I hope someone will discover a more realistic way; or rather a more tangible basis than it has been my lot to find. Even the great initial success of the quantum theory does not make me believe in the fundamental dice game, although I am well aware our younger colleagues interpret this as a consequence of senility. No doubt the day will come when we will see whose instinctive attitude was the correct one.”
Despite their disbelief in monotheism, some philosophers believe in the existence of order in nature. But from our point of view, order, unity, and co-ordination in nature can only be accounted for through the principle of monotheism (God’s Oneness).
Another conclusion drawn from the principle of monotheism in the researcher, by observing the relation between the various aspects of nature, finds a unity among different branches of science and considers everyone of them as a description of one dimension of the whole reality, and, therefore, does not reject any of them on the ground of his own unfamiliarity with it.
2. Belief in the Reality of the External World
From the Qur’anic viewpoint, there is a real external world, independent of our mind: And in the earth there are signs for those who are sure, and in your own souls (too). Will you then not see? (51:20 – 21)
Certainly the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of the men, but most people do not know. (40:57)
Glory be to Him Who created pairs of all things, of what the earth grows, and of their kind and of what they do not know. (36:36)
Glory be to Him Who created pairs of all things of what the earth grows and of their kind and of what they do not known (36:36)
He Who made the earth a resting place for you and made in it ways for you so you may go aright. And He Who created pairs of all things, and made for you of the ships and the cattle what you ride on. (43:10, 12)
And Allah has brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers – you did not know anything – and He gave you hearing and sight and hearts... (16:78)
The verses like: And you might think awake while they are asleep, and We turned them about to the right and to the left, while their dog (lay) outstretching his paws at the entrance; if you looked at them you would certainly turn back from them in flight, and you would certainly be filled with awe because of them. (18:18)
And you see the mountains, you think them to be sailing and they shall pass away as the passing away of the cloud. (27:88)
And most of them do not follow (anything) but conjecture; surely conjecture will not avail against the truth. (10:36)
These verses indicate there exists other realities other than an independent of our minds. If our mental image of a certain object does not correspond with the external reality, our mental image is not more than a fancy or imagination, which cannot lead us to reality.
Moreover, had there not been an external world, the Qur’an would not have so emphatically recommended the study of nature: Say, “Travel on the earth and see how He makes the first creation...” (29:20)
Do they not consider the spiritual dimension of the heavens and the earth and whatever things Allah has created?(7:185)
Belief in the reality of the external world is the basis of all researches in empirical sciences and without it any scientific research would be only a mental exercise. As Einstein puts it in his commemorative paper (1431) on Maxwell,55 “The belief in an external world independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all natural sciences.”
3. Faith in Supra-physical reality and Limitation of Human Knowledge
We learn from the Qur’an certain principles in this regard, which are discussed below:
A. Human Knowledge is Limited
...And you were not given aught of knowledge but a little. (17:85)
Glory be to Him who created pairs of all things of what the earth grows, and of their kind and of what they do not know. (36:36)
And (He made) horses and mules and asses in which you might ride upon them and as an ornament, and He creates what you do not know. (16:8)
B. There are many things we cannot get through our senses
Allah is He Who roused the heavens without any pillars in which you see, and He is firm in power... (13:2)
C. We should believe in the occult, for example, in the super-natural realties
C. We should believe in the occult, for example, in the super-natural realties56
This book, there is no doubt in it, is a guide to those who guard (against evil). Those who believe in the occult and keep up prayer and spend out of what We have given them. (2:2 – 3)
The faith in the limitation of human knowledge and the metaphysical realities lead us to the following corollaries:
1. Not limit our mental activity to the sensory stage.
2. Never to think we have discovered everything. Of course, this by no means a human will not be able to discover any of the truths in the world, but we should not claim to have a full understanding of a natural phenomenon at a certain time. Sayyid Qutb in his interpretation of the verse 3 in chapter al-Baqarah says,57 “Faith in the supra-physical is a stage by attaining which a person rises above the level of animality – at which perception is confined to the domain of external senses – and reaches the stage of humanity, a much larger and more spacious domain beyond the limited domain of external senses opens up before them. The transference to this new stage brings a radical change in a person’s view of the reality of the existence in general, and their own self in particular, and they perceive hidden powers in the universe; how, they are greatly affected by a new feeling and can perceive in the creation the Power and Wisdom at work behind it.
“This transference affects the realities between a person whose life is entrenched in the limited span of sensory perception and the one whose soul and insight take them to the vast kingdom (of higher realities) where he can hear and feel the mysterious music and inspiration gushes out of the depths of their heart. They feel the extent of the universe is too great for them to comprehend during their short span of life. They realize beyond the seen and unseen universe of existence, there exists a truth much greater than existence and He is the Creator and the Preserver of it. This truth is not visible to human eyes and is not discerned by human wisdom alone.
“This feeling (knowledge of the immensity of the unknown) safeguards the limited human faculty of thinking and does not let it go astray and waste itself in the areas which it has been created.”
4. Believe in the Principle of General Causality
The principle of causality says every event requires a cause. This principle has two important corollaries:
a) The Principle of Determinism: Any cause requires an effect, and without a cause it is impossible to have an effect.
b) The Principle of Uniformity of Nature: Similar causes entail similar effects.
These two corollaries are inseparable from the principle of general causality, and any violation in them will be the violation of the principle of general causality:58
A. In the Qur’an we have many verses which talk of unchangeable patterns (sunan) of Allah in the Universe: (This is Our) course with regard to those of Our apostles who We sent before you, and you shall not find a change in our course. (17:77)
(Such has been) the course of Allah with respect to those who have gone before, and you shall not find any change in the course of Allah. (33:62)
There is no harm in the prophet doing which Allah has ordained for him, such has been the course of Allah with respect to those who have gone before, and the command of Allah is a decree which is made absolute. (33:38)
Allah desires to explain to you and to guide you into the ways of those before you and to turn to you (mercifully) and Allah is all knowing. (4:26)
We find many examples of these patterns in the Qur’an itself: Most surely Allah does not change the condition of people until they change their own condition. (13:11)
“And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress...” So We destroy it with utter destruction. (17:16)
Allah has promised to those of you who believe and do good in which We most certainly make them rulers in the earth. (24:55)
And be not infirm and be not grieving and you shall have the upper hand if you are believers. (3:139)
And it did not beseem your Lord to have destroyed the towns tyrannously, while their people acted well. (11:117)
“...then as for the scum, it passes away as a worthless thing and as for which profits the people, it tarries in the earth...” (13:17)
“...and the evil plans shall not beset any save the authors of it. Then should they wait for aught except the way of the former people? For you shall not find any alteration in the course of Allah and you shall not find any change in the course of Allah.” (35:43)
B. Some of the Qur’anic verses indicate both the creation and the course of events in nature follow a certain measure, and every natural being has a definite and precise life span: “The sun and the moon follow a reckoning.” (55:5)
And there is not a thing but with Us are the treasures of it, and We do not send it down but in a knowing manner. (15:21)
“...and there is a measure with Him of everything.” (13:8)
Do they not reflect within themselves, ‘Allah did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between them but with truth and (for) an appointed term?’ And most surely most of the people are deniers of the meeting of their Lord.” (30:8)
C. Some verses mention the mechanism and special course of certain events in nature: “And certainly We created man of an extract of clay, then we made a small life germ in a firm resting place.” (23:12 – 13)
And (Who) sends down rain from the cloud, then brings forth with it subsistence for you. (2:22)
...Ibrahim said, “So surely Allah causes the sun to rise from the east. Then make it rise from the west.” Thus he who disbelieved was confounded. (2:58)
And the sun runs on to a term appointed for it, which is the ordinance of the mighty, the knowing. And (as for) the moon, We have ordained for it stages until it becomes again as an old dry palm branch. Neither is it allowable to the sun it should overtake the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day, and all of them float through space.” (36:35 – 40)
And Allah has sent down water from the cloud and therewith given life to the earth after its death. (16:65)
“And of the fruits of the palms and the grapes, you obtain from them intoxication and goodly provision.” (16:67)
“And We send the winds fertilizing...” (15:22)
Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace and assist you against them and heal the hearts of a believing people. (9:14)
These verses show certain definite laws rule over the universe. This, however, is meaningful only if the principle of general causality is valid. In this case, every event stands in its definite place, i.e. every event appears under definite conditions and at a definite time and place. This does not imply events are independent of the Almighty’s Will and Order, but it means in this system, everything is realized by God’s Will, but through a special channel. Verses of the following type confirm this view: And as for the good land, its vegetation springs forth (abundantly) by the permission of its Lord, and (as for) this which is inferior (its herbage) comes forth but scantly.” (7:58)
...Indeed, there has come to you light and a clear book from Allah. With it Allah guides him who will follow His pleasure into the ways of safety and brings them out of utter darkness and into light by His will. (5:15 – 16)
The first verse indicates although God’s Will is necessary for the growth of plants, yet the suitability of the land is also a condition. Not every sort of plant can be raised in every piece of land. With the suitability of the land God makes it possible for the plant to grow.
It can be also deduced from verses 15 – 16 of the chapter of Ma’idah (food) only those seeking God’s consent would enjoy His guidance in the Qur’an.
Some well known Muslim theologians, particularly Asharite school, on the basis of verses like: Say, “Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the One, the Supreme.” (13:16)
And Allah has created you and what you make. (37:96)
Surely His is the creation and command. (7:54)
The commandment is wholly Allah’s (13:31)
Have you considered what you saw? Is it you which causes it to grow or are We the causes of growth? (53:63 – 64)
which attributes creation and governance of the universe to Allah, and verses like: We said, “Oh fire, be a comfort and peace to Ibrahim.” (21:69)
which are indicative of the possibility of miracles, have rejected the law of causation in the physical world and say physical means have no role in the realization of a phenomenon. The cause of any occurrence is God’s Will, except it is God’s way to create what we call “effect” after what we call “cause,” without any relation between them which necessitates the effect to follow the cause. They say, “It is not fire which causes the cotton to burn, rather, it is Allah who makes the cotton burn and turns it into ashes, and of course, if God does not want, the fire will not burn the cotton.” Al-Ghazali, a chief representative of Ash‘arism, in al-Ghazali, a chief representative of Ash‘arism, in “Tahafut al-Falasifah” says,59
“According to us, the connection between what is usually believed to be a cause and what is believed to be an effect is not a necessary connection. In the case of two things which are not identical and the affirmation or negation of one is not implied in the affirmation or negation of the other, neither the existence, not the non-existence of the one necessitates the existence or the non-existence of the other. For example, the satisfaction of thirst does not imply drinking, nor satiety, eating, nor burning, contact with fire, nor light, sunrise, nor decapitation, death, nor recovery, taking of medicine, nor evacuation, the taking of a purgative, and so on for all the empirical connections existing in medicine, astronomy, the sciences and the crafts.
For the connections in these things are based on a prior power of God to create them in a successive order, though not because this connection is necessary in itself and cannot be disjoined; on the contrary, it is in God’s power to create satiety without eating, and death without decapitation, and to let life persist notwithstanding the decapitation, and son with respect to all connections. The philosophers, however, deny this possibility and claim it is impossible to investigate all these innumerable connections would take too long, and so we shall chose one single example, namely the burning of cotton and through contact with fire, for we regard it as possible in which the contact might occur without burning taking place, and also the cotton might be changed into ashes without any contact with fire, although the philosophers deny this possibility.
It is God who made the cotton burn and made it ashes either through intermediation of angels or without intermediation. For fire is a dead body which has no action and what is the proof in which it is the agent? Indeed, the philosophers have no other proof than the observation of the occurrence of the burning, when there is contact with fire, but observation proves only simultaneity, not causation, and, in reality, there is no other cause but God.
This theory is rooted in the idea in accepting a decisive order in the world and require the denial of God’s power. Muslim philosophers reject the Ash‘arite view and say,
a) The co-incidence of two causes operating on a single object is impossible only when the two causes operate transversally, whereas the longitudinal operation of two causes on the same object is quite possible.60 If we believe in the longitudinal system of causes, we could relate every occurrence to God, because He gives existence. This emanation, however, takes place through special channels. This is the reason why God attributes the regulating of affairs sometimes to Himself and sometimes to the angels: ...He regulates the affairs from the heaven to the earth... (32:5)
...By those who regulate an affair... (79:5)
He also attributes taking of souls to Himself or to angels: Allah takes the souls at the time of their death... (39:42)
Say, “The angel of death who is given charge of you shall cause you to die.” (32:11)
b) In the case of material bodies, what is commonly called “cause” is not the efficient cause but it is an intermediary or preparing cause which prepares the ground for God’s bounty. These causes are materialistic and preparatory requirements for an event to occur, and are sometimes interpreted as the transversal system of causes. So, one can say God is the cause for everything, but He makes everything under certain terms and through certain means, and of course, all these means and ways are the objects made by the Almighty Himself. Sadr al-Din Shirazi explains Muslim philosophers’ view in the following way:61 “Another group of philosophers and some elite among our Imamiah scholars say objects vary in their acceptance of existence from the Origin. Some do not yield to existence unless another being precedes them, in the same way accident should follow substance. Thus, the Creator, whose power is unlimited, grants the existence according to the possibilities through a particular order and in consideration of its various capabilities. Some other directly from Him, some through an intermediary or intermediaries. In the last form, nothing can come into existence unless its means and pre-requisites come into reality. God Himself is the Cause without a cause.
“Requirements for existence are not the result of deficiency in the Almighty’s power, but due to weakness in the receiver of emanation. How can one imagine any need or deficiency in the Creator, while means and ways are all originated from Him? Therefore, the Glorious God does not need any help in the creation of anything.”
Thus, verses of the following type: Have you considered what you saw? Is it you which causes it to grow, or are We the cause of growth? If We pleased, We should have certainly make it broken down into pieces, then would you begin to lament. Surely We are burdened with debt. Nay, We are deprived. Have you considered the water which you drink? Is it you which sends it down from the clouds, or are We the senders? If We pleased, We would have made it salty; why do you not then give thanks?” (56:63 – 70)
which have been used as the basis of reasoning by Imam Fakhr al-Din Razi62 in the rejection of the system of cause and effect do not indicate the negation of intermediary means in the occurrence of natural phenomena, but they indicate we should not stop at the channels of emanation and should not remain unaware of the main cause who is the Commander (Ruler) of the whole universe, life giver to all, and He who is at the head of the longitudinal system of all causes, nor should we thing these are self-activating. As martyred Dr. Behshti puts it,63 “The fact is the Holy Qur’an wants to guide humans from this end of the cord, i.e. sensible, to the other end of the cord which is Allah. It wants humans not to stop at intermediary causes and fail in reaching the Origin. In all of the verses there is a voice which says, ‘Be alert,’ while you are studying this world, don’t slip into a ditch, take care not to leave the cord, do not drown yourself in the world of matter or contingents... It is true for agriculture you make preparations, which you should, but do not imagine the cord is fully in your hand. Do you not see at times you find a green sapling suddenly dies and fades despite the utmost care and with all the modern and old means which you employ to make it grow?
“Thus you, with all the means which you have at your disposal, are too insignificant to have the end of the cord. It is true you are drinking water which comes down from the clouds, but do not let your keen eye linger on the cloud saying the water in the cloud is pure. The Qur’an says, “It may rain, but the rain might be so badly contaminated or bitter and distasteful one could not drink a drop of it. So, the end of the cord of your drinking water is not in the hand of the cloud, but in the hand of the WISE Omnipotent, Who has created clouds and hundreds of other agents which work under his command and furnish people with fresh, tasty water.”
In the case of miracles, too, considering the invariability of Divine patterns in nature, we do not find it necessary to look for the exceptions in the laws of nature, because if we find a deviation from a natural law, this does not necessarily means the law is not correct or the law of Causality is violated, because it is possible to make one law ineffective by the help of another in the universe. If a body falls because of the gravity, this force may be neutralized by the use of another force. Therefore, on the observance of a suspended body in the air, we should not immediately suppose there is no such law as gravitation; rather, we can assume there is another force besides the force of gravity. Martyred Mutahhari puts it,64 “Neither do the laws of creation yield themselves to exceptions, nor are miracles exceptional deeds in the laws of creation. If we observe certain changes in the patterns of the universe, it is because of the interference of other patterns or laws, which, too, have general validity under their own special conditions. That is, one law does not change without the effect of another law. In the universe, all the laws, courses and patterns are invariable. If a dead (person) comes back to life, it follows a law of its own, if a son is born without having a father (as in the case of ‘Isa bin Mariam), this, too, is not against Allah’s course or the law of the universe; the problem is people do not know all the patterns and laws of the universe, and what they know as a law, in many cases has the appearance of a law and is not a real one.”
After the appearance of the quantum theory in physics, and the presentation of the principle of uncertainty by W. Heisenberg in the early years of the second quarter of the present century, some of the founders of this theory denied the existence of causal system in the world of particles and permitted the rejection of the principle of determinism, and gave a statistical status of the laws of micro-physics. Most of the physicists, with the exception of some prominent ones like Planck and Einstein, raised their voices in favour of the new theory and more or less accepted its orthodox interpretation, a situation which is still going on, although the lapse of time has increased the number of opponents.
Einstein and his colleagues rejected the theory because they could not accept the probabilities were ruling over the universe. From the viewpoint, the objective of physics should be to explain all natural phenomena according to absolute laws. The reason why we stick to statistical laws, or dealing with innumerable particles make us stick to statistical mathematics for the sake of simplification. As Einstein put it in his lecture in 1933,65 “I cannot but confess I attach only a transitory importance to this interpretation. I will believe in the possibility of a model of reality – which is to say, of a theory which represents things themselves and not merely the probability of their occurrence.”
In a letter addressed to Born in April 1924 Einstein wrote, “...I should not want to be forced into abandoning strict causality without defending it more strongly than I have so far. I find the idea quite intolerable in which an electron exposed to radiation should choose of its own free will, not only its moment to jump off, but also its direction. In this case, I would rather be a cobbler, or even an employee in a gaming-house, than a physicist. Certainly my attempts to give tangible form to the quanta have foundered again and again, but I am far from giving up hope. And even if it never works there is always this consolation which lack of success is entirely mine.”
In recent years we come across some Muslim scholars66 who have revived the forsaken theory of the Muslim theologians, citing the quantum theory as a proof for their claims. To answer them, we are going to quote Dirak, who was one of the founders of quantum physics. In a recent paper (1979) he said,67 “It seems clear the present quantum mechanics is not in its final form. Some further changes will be needed, just about as drastic as the changes which one made in passing from Bohr’s orbits to quantum mechanics. Someday, a new relativistic quantum mechanics will be discovered in which we do not have these infinities occurring at all. It might very well be the new quantum mechanics will have determinism in the way which Einstein wanted.
This determinism will be introduced only at the expense of abandoning some other pre-conception which physicists now hold, and which it is not sensible to try to get at now.
“So under these conditions I think it is very likely, or at any rate quite possible, in the long run, Einstein will turn out to be correct, even though for the time being, physicists have to accept the Bohr probability interpretation – especially if they have examinations in front of them.”
Finally, in confuting those who deny the validity of the principle of causality in the atomic and sub-atomic domain, we say:
a) If we deny the validity of the principle of causality in the atomic and sub-atomic world, this would mean defacing this principle in relation to the whole world, because causality brings the whole world together. As Sheikh Shabistar’i puts it, “If you remove a single particle out of its place, the whole world tumbles down.”
b) The generalization of the results of a limited number of experiments in the form of general laws and scientific theories become meaningful only in the light of the principle of causality, because in accepting something as a law we also accept:
1. every effect has a cause
2. the relation between cause and effect is indispensible
3. similar causes entail similar effects
In practice, no one can be sure of considering all the relevant factors and parameters. Therefore, generalization cannot be of absolute validity. This limitation, however, arises from the deficiency in our information. In any case, we believe faith in the existence of absolute laws can be meaningful only if the principle of uniformity of nature is valid. As Planck puts it,68 “Of course it may be said the law of causality is only after all a hypothesis. If it be a hypothesis, it is not a hypothesis like most of the others, but it is a fundamental hypothesis because it is the postulate which is necessary to give sense and meaning to the application of all hypotheses in scientific research. This is because any hypothesis which indicates a definite rule pre-supposes the validity of the principle of causation.”
c) Should the principle of causality turn out to be invalid, nothing would be the result of proof, because the proof is the cause of our knowledge of the desired result, and if the tie between proof and result be non-essential, the proof may not end in the result. In such a case nothing would be the result of proof, and any proof might lead to any result, and there would be no difference between producing a proof and not producing it. This is why even those who reject the principle of causality accept it implicitly, because they admit their proof will undermine our faith in the principle of causality.69
d) As Martyred Professor Murtada Murtahhari and Martyred Ayatullah Mohammad Baqir Sadr have pointed out,70 the impossibility of prediction in atomic domain arises from our ignorance about the deterministic laws governing atomic phenomena rather than ineffectiveness of the principle of causality and its corollaries in the atomic world. This in itself is due either to the deficiency in the means of experimentation or due to the immeasurability of the effects of the experimentalist on the experiments. In any case, we should note our failure in the discovery of a cause does not mean its non-existence, and we have no proof to say modern science has discovered all the factors therein. As Einstein puts it,71 “Therefore, the fact in science we have to be content with an incomplete picture of the physical universe is not due to the nature of the universe itself but rather to us.”
In short, the denial of the principle of causality is the denial of scientific laws as well as the negation of reasoning. Science has to accept the principle of causality with all its inseparable corollaries, so its existence could be meaningful.
54. Einstein, A centenary Volume, Edited by A.P. French, p. 275.
55. Ideas and Opinions by Albert Einstein, Trans. Sonja Bargman New York, Crown Publications, Inc. p. 266.
56. M.H. Tabataba’i, al-Mizan, vol. 1, pp. 45 – 46.
57. Sayyid Qutb, Fi Zilal al- Qur’an, vol. 1, p. 40.
58. M.H. Tabataba’i, Usil e-Falsafah, vol. 3, p. 183.
59. Abu Hamid Ghazali, Tabafut alpFalasifah, pp. 234 – 240.
60. M.H.Tabataba’i, al-Mizan, vol 7. p. 298.
61. Abu Hamid Ghazali, Tabafut al-Falasifah, pp. 234 – 240.
62. Fakhral-Din Razi, Tafsir al-Kabir, vol. 2, pp. 110 – 111; vol. 14 pp. 194 – 195, vol. 30, p. 53; Sadr al-Din Shirazi, Asfar vol. 9, pp. 153 – 158.
63. M. H. Beheshti, Guftar e-Mah vol. 3, p. 114.
64. Murtada Mutahhari, ‘Adal e-Ilahi, p. 62.
65. Einstein, A Centenary Volume, Edited by A.P. French, p. 314.
66. Dr. Ismail R. al-Faruqi, The Causal and Telic Nature of the Universe, paper presented at the International Conference on Science in Islamic Polity, Nov. 1983. Fateh Ullah Khan, God, Universe, and Man (Lahore, Wajidalis Limited, 1982) pp. 251 – 267.
67. Some Strangeness in the Proportion, edited by harry Woolf (Addison – Wesley Publication Co.) p. 65.
68. Max Planck, The New Science (Greenwich Editions, 1954), p. 104.
69. Ibn Rushd, Tahafut al-Tahafut, translated by S. Van den Bergh (London, 1954), pp. 319 – 319; M. Babir, Sadr, Falsafatuna (Beirut, 1400 A.H.), pp. 308 – 309; M. H. Tabataba’i Usul e-Falsafah, vol. 3, p. 217 (Mutahhari’s footnote).
70. M. H. Tabatabi’i, Usul 3-Falsafah vol. 3. p. 218 (Mutahari’s footnote); M. Bagir, Sadr, Falsafatuna, pp. 314 – 315.
71. Max Planck, The New Science (Greenwich ed., 1959) p. 10.