Causal Thinking

Atheists did a good job of selling the idea of “If you believe in God, you should not ask how the God is doing his affairs. Believing in God and being a scientist cannot go together”. But as a Muslim, I found that’s not what Quran suggests, and that’s not what we think.

Let’s first define Causal Thinking. In Wikipedia, it’s defined as following:

The scientific approach is built on the assumption that any development may be represented by an alternating sequence of causes and effects, where the last effect is the cause of the next effect.

That definition is actually the definition of “Believing in the God”, because for any development we end up having a chain of infinite causes and effects. But why it is another term for “Believing in God”, you may ask.

In fact, attributing an act to the God simply means that we know everything has a cause and there is a chain of infinite consecutive causes and effects. One side of this chain is in our hand and we try to discover everything link by link, and the other end of that infinite chain there must be an infinite being which we call it The God or Allah. You may say “What’s wrong with having an infinite chain of causes and effects, without believing in an infinite being?”. Actually nothing, as long as you know you are dealing with infinity. But very soon you realize we are finite beings and it’s not in our capacity to deal with infinity. So to make things simpler for ourselves, we model that infinity with an infinite being in our mind. It’s the same as when we define infinite number in mathematics and show it with ∞. Do we know how much ∞ is when we write that symbol? Obviously not. But that’s the only way we can write an infinite number on paper. The same analogy applies to the infinite chain of causes and effects. Modeling that infinite chain with one infinite being is the only way we can handle it.

By attributing something to Allah or the God, however, we are trying to discover the immediate cause in the chain, we know that chain of causes ends up to an infinite being. By stressing on this, we try to practice causal thinking and avoid superstitions. Failing to do so, simply means to not be causal, and ends up in believing in superstitions like A can cause B, and B can cause A.

You can find lots of modern physics theories which are the result of such non-causal thinking. Just to bring an example, I can name the theory of creation of virtual particles in Vacuum. According to that theory, particles can come to existence for no cause, which is modern equivalent to Spontaneous Generation theory.

Shortly, it does not mean we should stop thinking how the God does his work. On the contrary, it means that by discovering each link in the chain of causes, we are one link closer to the infinite being: Allah. So, in fact it’s a godly attempt to discover more.

You can hardly find a modern scientist who simply dares to express the phrase ‘I Do Not Know’. They do their best not to express this phrase, and they come up with innovative ways to find a subtle equivalent which is not as humble. Phrases like ‘we need more tests or evidence’ or ‘our theory is not proven wrong, yet’, is just a euphemism for ‘I Do Not Know’.

When Muslim scholars want to say they do not know something, they stress on the part that they know for sure. First it must be causal, and second at the end of chain of causes, there is an infinite being. So by attributing that to the God, they commit themselves to do causal thinking and show they are interested in finding the answer.

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