As part of their Discover Islam Week, iERAs Hamza Tzortzis was invited by the Cardiff University Islamic Society (ISOC) to deliver a lecture entitled: ‘God: Delusion or Simple Conclusion?’ at Cardiff University.
Hamza spoke about metaphysical first principles and the argument from dependency also referred to as the argument from contingency. These type of lectures usually focus on delivering information, however, Hamza wanted to give the students conceptual tools and enhance their ability to think. He started the lecture by raising the question of first principles.
Every field of enquiry has first principles, including science. Science presumes nature is uniform. This means that causes work uniformly in the physical world. In other words, the same causes come into play in related situations and these causes are predictable. For example, science assumes that the gravitational forces at work on a falling tree are related to those at work on other falling objects. These first principles are the lenses in which we use to further our knowledge and understand reality. Without them, we are intellectually paralysed. Hamza continued to discuss the Islamic first principle of the fitrah; the innate nature or primordial state.
After the discussion on first principles, Hamza introduced the argument from dependency by explaining that the mark of a rational mind is to question that which did not have to be. This point is the intellectual motivation for the argument. The summary is as follows: the universe and everything that we perceive is independent, necessary and eternal; dependent on something else dependent; or, dependent on something independently, necessary and eternal. The most rational conclusion is that the universe and everything we perceive must be dependent on something independent, necessary and eternal—which makes sense of God. To understand this argument further please register for our online training courses.
Hamza ended the lecture on why God is worthy of worship and it focussed on gratitude and praising God by virtue of His perfect names and attributes. There is something in your life that you receive freely, yet you do not earn it and do not own it. There is no good reason to believe that you deserve it either. This thing is this moment, and the next moment, and all of the moments of your existence. This is exactly why in popular culture we call life a gift. That’s why we all consider it is to be so precious. You do not own these moments because you do not have the capacity to bring anything into existence; you cannot even create a fly. You do not deserve another moment of your existence because it is not yours; you do not have the ability to produce life, even for a second. Therefore, nothing that you do can be deserving of something that you can never acquire by yourself. In light of these basic truths, you must always be in a state of gratitude, because you always receive something that you neither earned, nor own, nor deserve.
Therefore, everything that we say, do, use and acquire is fundamentally dependent on God alone. It inevitably follows—if one is sane and moral—that we must be thankful to God, and acknowledge that all gratitude belongs to Him alone. Thankfulness and gratitude are a key aspect of worship. However, the concept of worship in the Islamic tradition is not restricted to gratitude, it is quite comprehensive. Worship entails that we must love, know, and obey God, as well as dedicate all acts of worship to Him alone. Acts of worship in Islam include prayer, repentance, supplication, purifying our hearts from their spiritual diseases and praise.
God also deserves worship by virtue of His perfection. God’s names and attributes are perfect and to the highest degree possible. They have no deficiency and flaw. If we can praise people due to their sporting skill, sporting ability or amazing voice—and these attributes are not perfect and deficient in some way—then imagine how we must praise God, the Sublime, the worthy of all praise!