The Purpose of Creation
20 Nov, 2005
What is the Purpose of Creation? According to Islam and other monotheistic religions, is to know God and to worship Him.
"I did not create Jinn and Men except that they may worship me" (Q.51:56)
Inspired by this Islamic concept, even Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Baha'i Faith has incorporated in his daily prayer this verse: "I witness oh my God that thou hast created me to know thee and to worship thee..." stating clearly that the purpose of creation is to know god and to worship him. As the consequence if one fails to know him and worship him he is screwing the whole purpose of creation.
As a mater of fact knowing God is so crucial that if you fail he is not going to forgive you ever. Anything else can be forgiven, but attributing partnership to him will not.
"Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeedl" (Q.4: 48)
In other words God would eventually forgive Hitler, Ayatollah Khomeini and Saddam Hussein or any other mass murderer but would not forgive, e.g. Gandhi because the latter was a Hindu which according to Muslims is a polytheistic religion.
One of the stumbling blocks for the religious people to give up the notion of a personal God is the concept of creation. They ask how this world could come into existence without a creator and for what reason?
Let us take a close look at this subject and see if it is reasonable to believe that the creation of this universe is teleological and if God by creating it intended to ultimately create people to know him and to worship him.
We know that humans separated from the chimps
about four to six million years ago. But it is about one hundred
thousand years that we became homo sapience (thinking people). Since
then we started to use tools and adapt our environment to suite our
needs. Until 10,000 years ago the evolution of our consciousness was
probably very limited. During the last 10,000 years we gained a
sense of self. We became aware that we are different. If you compare
the evolution of humans to the growth of a single person, this
period represents the stage when a child learns to speak and become
curious of his environment. That is the time when he asks questions.
He wants to know why and how. Then it comes the age of adolescence.
That is the time when he is proud, he seeks power. He wants to
assert his independence. He becomes rebellious and bullies others.
Only at the age of maturity he acknowledges that he is part of the
society and must act responsibly.
At present and in this phase of our evolution, we humans are just growing out of our adolescence and entering the age of adulthood. Relatively speaking we have started to use our brain very recently. There are many questions we still don’t know. We haven't found what are the right answers. We mostly know what are NOT. For example, we know for certainty that the Earth is not flat but still there are many mysteries about our planet that we don’t know. We are absolutely sure that the universe did not start 6000 years ago. We know certainly that all these animals including humans were not created in one day as the stories of Bible and Quran narrate. We know that everything has evolved. But we don’t know the mechanism of this evolution quite well. It is only during these last 200/300 years that we have started to ask proper questions and find the right answers. During this short period of time, we have learned a lot, but there is more to learn.
There are many theories about how we were created. These are scientific theories. They are based on paleontology, genealogy, archaeology, and many other related sciences. As we discover new things our theories about our evolution also evolve. But we will never go back to the primitive idea of creation, just as no matter how many new things we discover about the Earth, we shall never find out that it is flat. Our ignorance of the things that we don't know dose not invalidate our knowledge of the things that we know.
The next question we ask ourselves is why were we created. Religions have their own answers. But the real answer is that we don’t know! One thing we know is that the purpose of our creation is not to know any deity or worship any god, as Muhammad said and his followers believe. The reason is simply because it does not make sense for a perfect God to create such vast universe in order to put in a tiniest of its planets a semi intelligent primate just to know him and to worship him. This idea becomes even less plausible especially when we see that he never presented himself to his creatures and plays hide and seek. If knowing him and worshipping him was so important to him as his messengers want to make us believe, and that this was the main purpose of the creation, then it is logical to expect that he would take this matter a little bit more seriously. Hiding behind the clouds of secrecy and communicating to his creatures through another person of dubious intention is a lame way of making himself known and worshipped. No wonder he has failed so miserably to make his wish known by everyone. There are so many religions and so many sects. All those who follow these religions are sincere. But certainly not all those ways are from God. At most only one of these ways are the right way that he has prescribed for his people. But when you see that only a tiniest fraction of people follow any one of these myriads of religions and sects you know that God has failed to guide people clearly enough so they do not go astray.
It is a pity that God create such a vast universe and then only in a very tiny planet called Earth, he implants the humans, and of these humans only a tiniest fraction knows him and worships him. The rest who fail, do so not out of contempt but because of the amount of the confusion that there is in the religions. If the purpose of the creation of this universe was to create intelligent beings so that they may know God and worship him, I can say for certainly that God has failed in his purpose. Something is wrong with the design of this universe, which is certainly his own fault.
This universe is about 15 billion years old. Humans have come to the scene very recently but Adam who was the first man and prophet according to Quran is only 6000 years old. What was god doing for these billions of years when there was no one to know him and to worship him? Must have been very lonely.
One may question why God NEEDS to be known
and worshiped anyway? Any need is a sign of a defect. This
characteristic is more befitting of a narcissist dictator who craves
for recognition and adulation, who orders his executioners to punish
anyone who dares not to bow in front of him. It is not befitting of
an almighty God.
If God was so desperate to be known and worshiped, why he did not make himself more manifest? Does it make sense for a supper wise god to cover himself behind the clouds of secrecy, them send an illiterate man to call humanity towards him, failing to arm him with proper miracles for the benefit of those to whom he directly spoke and any rational arguments for the benefit of those who have to read his writings hundreds of years later?
Muhammad, as is demonstrated in many verses of Quran, always refused to perform miracles. In fact one would expect that a person who knows everything and has seen the next world, as he claimed, would at least be able to read and understand what is written in his own language. Yet Muhammad remained illiterate all his life and he bragged about it claiming it as the proof that his knowledge is of divine origin and not leaned from the books written by men. This is a clear indication that he performed no miracle at all. He rouse as an illiterate man, ignorant of the world around him and died illiterate just as ignorant as before he made his claim. There is no proof for us to believe that he was a messenger of God on the basis of what is left of him in writing. The only book that he left, and boasted to be a “miracle” is full of errors. Quran is a book, which is scientifically, historically, logically, and grammatically wrong. It is amazing that despite all the evidence, Muslims still rehash the nonsense claim of Quran’s miraculous nature. If there is any miracle is in the mind of people who are so eager to fool themselves.
Another question is, if the only propose of creation is to know God, why God’s message is not logical? Why it goes against human reason? Why should he give us a brain and expect us to forgo its use when it comes to such an important thing, as knowing him? Isn't this what his messengers told us to be the very raison d'être of our creation?
Okey, I hear some of you say by now, let us give you the benefit of the doubt and let us assume you are right and the purpose of the creation is not to know God and to worship Him. So can you please tell us what you think it is?
In response I am afraid, as I said before; it is easier to know what the truth is not than what it is. We don’t know why the universe has come to be, and we may never know. Yet because we are humans, we like to find out; and when we cannot find out, we like to speculate. Primitive people thought that since everything has a maker, this universe must be the handiwork of a deity too. That is an speculation and cannot be proven logically. What I will tell you here is also my speculation. It may not be right, or at best it may be partially right. You may have a better understanding. But since neither you nor me can prove what we say, you may also be as much wrong as I am.
I believe that this universe is the natural manifestation of a higher reality. That reality is the Single Principle underlying the creation. Love is one of the aspects of that Principle. There may not be a purpose to the creation at all. It is there. Things in universe don’t happen for a purpose. What is the purpose of rain falling on the ocean? What is the purpose of billions of pollens carried by the wind that do not fall to fertilize the female flower? What is the purpose of the planets that are uninhabited, i.e. do not support life? What is the purpose of the moon? Why some planets have more moons and some none? As you see things happen apparently without a reason. If God was the designer and the creator of this universe, then he is a sloppy creator. If a chimp sit behind a typewriter pushing the keys his rate of success in writing words that make sense are better than God’s rate of success in creating life. Billions of sperms go to waste for one of them to fertilize an egg. Thousands of small turtles die or are eaten by predators for one of them make it into adulthood. Scientists believe that less than one in a million of the planets in our galaxy and other galaxies may be able to support life. Look at our own solar system; out of the nine planets only one is habitable. This is a poor performance by an almighty god. If the ultimate purpose of creation was to have a two-legged creature to prostrate in front of him and satiate his self-aggrandizing ego, why he failed to populate other planets?
There are many indications that point to the
fact that the evolution is not teleological. There is no one sitting
up there deciding on everything. But everything happen governed by a
principle. There is order in the universe. This Order, this Cosmic
Law, is undeniable. We see the order, but we cannot understand the
nature of it. It is the Principle underlying the creation. Love is a
manifestation of this Principle. May be all that there is, is the
natural expression of love. May be that is how the universe has come
to be. But who knows?
I believe this world, i.e. the physical world that you and I see and live in it, is the womb for our soul. Just as the fetus grows in the womb of it’s mother acquiring a physical body that may not be even useful to him while still in the womb, but it would be disastrous if he is born without a well developed organ or limb, so is our soul acquiring a spiritual body that will serve us when we depart from this world and are born into the next. Love may be the purpose of life. We have to grow in love. Express our love to all members of human family, to all animals and plants and to all living beings. May be this is the meaning and the purpose of life. To help someone in distress, to alleviate someone’s burden, to sooth someone’s pain and to put a smile in someone’s face. I cannot see any purpose loftier in life, than loving my fellow human beings. Can you?
Ali Sina is the editor of Faithfreedom.org. He is has contributed in 'Beyond Jihad - Critical Voices from Inside Islam'. His latest book is Understanding Muhammad: The Psychobiography of Allah’s Prophet.