I am neither a philosopher, nor do I claim any wisdom. I am just an ordinary old man of 74 born to a staunch Muslim [Middle Class] family, read the Holy Quran with meaning and, have, like everybody else, pondered on the matters in the title. I intend sharing my thoughts with you, if you wish.
As children, we were told to believe in God unquestioningly, to obey his injunctions, be good because if we did, we would go to Heaven when we die and, if we weren’t good, we would go to Hell. And, that life itsenl was merely a period of trial to qualify you for Heaven or Hell; which was the real beginning of whatever we were intended for.
God is the creator. All present, all knowing, all powerful. He alone is perfection. All humankind can do, is to try living in accordance with his charter.
I think it was in my teens that questions arose in my mind. I came across a philosopher’s writings, who claimed that God didn’t create humankind, it was humankind that created God, because there was too much incomprehensive about life. This is where I began to try to understand. I have yet not understood but here are my thoughts.
If God created mankind and selected to whom that particular being was born and his/her circumstances and God knew what that person would do, why should the being be punished for whatever he/she did? And if God is all powerful, could He not prevent what shouldn’t happen? Why would He need threats of punishment for humankind to obey him?
Why should God punish an Angel by turning him loose to tempt humankind towards evil? Why not punish Satan [Shaitan] by sending him to Hell? Why put His own creation under trial? If liquor is forbidden, why should it be available [as a temptation] in Hell? Why could humankind be on a constant trial throughout life?
True Beleivers contend that we are not fit to question God’s being, His wisdom is incomprehensible to the Human. Instead look at the perfection He has created. Take the human body. It is perfect. Every part serves its own function and every part functions, not only in isolation, but also as supplentary and/or complementary to other parts. Amazing. Could anything other than God have created it?
Take just one organ: the mouth. It is perfect for ingestion of solid or liquid. Liquid goes into the mouth and is swallowed. Solids can be cut by the front teeth or the molars, after the tongue has accepted the taste of the morsel, saliva softens it, molars chew it, enabling the swallow. Absolutely perfect.
But, then why should God also create beings which are grossly imperfect? Why should their being be subjected to greater trials [even torture] than others? Why is humankind unequally endowed by circumstances, health, and opportunities? God’s will?
On the other hand, if humankind is a result of evolution, as Darwin has concluded, that too makes reasonable sense. Nature has been improving on the products of nature and finally, it has produced the perfect being.
But, hold on. Nature has also produced perfection in all other beings. The dog is a perfect dog, as are all animals and birds, and plants, vegetables, fruits, etc. Each perfect in itself. Okay, they too have evolved but why? Each of them serves a purpose in the interest or against the interest of humankind and/or other products of nature. Is it possible that all this utterly confusing but interlinked system could exist without a guiding hand-God?
However, philosophers including Darwin and his followers are unable to provide the answer to one question; what is the meaning; the real purpose of life? Is it merely a period of time allotted in varying time spans, for any being to exist, improve on things, reproduce and die? Does this cycle ever end, if so, when and why?
It is this question that really begs an answer. Religions have all provided an answer in the concept of afterlife. Sceptics of religion and God claim that the inability to answer this question has forced Humankind to believe in concepts of God and religion. But, without God, or an afterlife which rewards or punishes, as deserved, based on his/her performance life is meaningless; an endless drudgery. We might never know all the answers. I don’t.