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The Fitrah (Innate Disposition) Expressed by Atheist Richard Dawkins
Posted by Abu.Iyaad, Editor in Articles on Thursday, April 10, 2014

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Acknowledging the fitrah

In his Fixed-Point debate at the University of Alabama (2007) with John Lennox, Richard Dawkins states:

I think that when you consider the beauty of the world and you wonder how it came to be what it is, you are naturally overwhelmed with a feeling of awe, a feeling of admiration and you almost feel a desire to worship something. I feel this, I recognise that other scientists such as Carl Sagan feel this, Einstein felt it. We, all of us, share a kind of religious reverence for the beauties of the universe, for the complexity of life. For the sheer magnitude of the cosmos, the sheer magnitude of geological time. And it's tempting to translate that feeling of awe and worship into a desire to worship some particular thing, a person, an agent. You want to attribute it to a maker, to a creator.

What Dawkins has described with his words, "naturally overwhelmed", "almost feel a desire to worship something", "I feel this", "its tempting to translate that feeling of awe and worship..." is the fitrah (innate disposition) that is implanted within every soul. Ibn al-Qayyim said, "Whoever reflects upon the whole universe, its upper and lower and all of its parts will find it bearing witness to the affirmation of its maker, originator and owner." (al-Madaarij 1/82). The Prophets and Messengers were sent to corroborate and perfect this inescapable feeling, this fitrah and to protect it from corruption and violation through false, corrupt reason and false religion which includes worship and devotion to created things, superstitious belief and practice, worship of the elements, nature, forces, saints, believing in omens and so on. The fitrah is Islaam and it is to single out the creator and maker with the devotion and worship that one naturally feels inclined to just by simple reflection upon the universe and what it contains of marvels and wonders. Scientists feel and perceive this, even staunch atheist scientists can't escape it, by their own admission. This is the "seed" which is planted in the soil and if left (in the right conditions) will grow and develop into a plant, eventually giving fruit. This is what the Prophets and Messengers were sent to corroborate and perfect, the fitrah, which is implanted in every soul (see this article: Humans May Be Primed to Believe in Creation). Hence, the primary appeal of the Messengers was to this innate faculty, (قَالَتْ رُسُلُهُمْ أَفِي اللّهِ شَكٌّ فَاطِرِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ), "Their respective Messengers said, 'Is there any doubt about Allaah, the Originator (Faatir) of the Heavens and Earth?'." (14:10).

The following verse in the Qu'ran is a reference to the fitrah (innate disposition) which recognizes, through simple observation and reflection, that the Earth and heavens and whatever is between them, have a creator, a maker.

وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَنِي آدَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتَ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُواْ بَلَى شَهِدْنَا أَن تَقُولُواْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَذَا غَافِلِينَ

And (remember) when your Lord took (created) the offspring of the Children of Aadam (through the seed) of their loins and made them to testify as to themselves, "Am I not your Lord?" They said, "Yes, we testify," lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection: "Verily, we have been unaware of this." (Al-A'raf 7:172)

The Scholars and Exegetes of Islam have explain this verse along the following lines:

Allaah creates the offspring of the Children of Aadam (through the designed mechanism of reproduction) and makes them to propagate, generation after generation, being the product of each other (male and female) and they testify through the tongue of disposition (in addition to the tongue of speech) - on account of what they witness around them of signs, wonders and marvels - that there is a maker and a creator who is the originator of what they observe and witness.

This innate disposition (fitrah) is an intrinsic knowledge-based faculty which upon simple observation and reflection reaches the conclusion that the universe has a creative power and force behind it and the soul is naturally inclined towards it. From here, it is a simple step to an axiomatic truth, which is that this creative force and power is one that possesses knowledge, will, power, wisdom and choice and that none shares or is a partner to this entity in its essence or its attributes - and recognizing the absurdity of the belief that nothing creates something, or that things are created in the absence of knowledge, will and power.

Covering and Rejection of the fitrah Through Kibr (Arrogance) and Dhann (Conjecture)

Whilst Dawkins freely discusses what he and others are made to feel upon observation and reflection, he proceeds to express what the Qur'an refers to as kufr (disbelief) (which literally means to conceal). A concealment and drowning of the fitrah. This is done through the claim that Science has emancipated humans from that impulse.

What Science has now achieved is an emancipation from that impulse to attribute these things to a creator. It was a supreme achievement of the human intellect to realize there is a better explanation ... that these things can come about by purely natural causes ... we understand essentially how life came into being.

He is wrong on numerous counts.

First: The majority of humans, overwhelmingly, still believe in a creator, even if the majority of them worship with false religion through setting up partners in worship with the maker and creator. Something they would have shunned had they remained true to what their fitrah necessitates from them. So the impulse is still present and humans are primed to believe in creation, because it is the natural default (see article). The Prophets and Messengers came to corroborate and perfect this innate disposition. However, their followers, over the passing of time and with the distortion and alteration of the message, departed from the fitrah and took to worship of false deities, superstition, worship of the elements, attribution of divinity to humans or animals or inanimate things and so on, all of which is a revilement of intellect. In the Qur'an, (وَمَا يُؤْمِنُ أَكْثَرُهُمْ بِاللّهِ إِلاَّ وَهُم مُّشْرِكُونَ) "And most of them believe not in Allaah except that they attribute partners unto Him." (Yusuf 12:106)

Second: The specific science Dawkins is referring to is founded upon a prior metaphysical assertion of naturalism (only "natural causes" exist) which in turn demands that all phenomena be explained through "natural causes" only. [Note that Muslims do not have problems with "natural" explanations of what is observed, since Allaah is creator of all causes and effects (refer to two important articles here and here)]. But, upon this definition of science (only natural causes exist and thus only natural explanations), Atheists like Dawkins, wrongly think they have eliminated (by pure definition and word play) the originator and creator of natural causes and their effects and they proceed to provide pure conjectures (for origin of the universe and origin of life scenarios) and pretend they are certainties. This is from the greatest of their doubts and their deceptions in that they use the scientific method (first definition of science) to make discoveries through studying natural phenomena (which have been created and designed to be the way they are) and thereafter they claim that because they have identified mechanisms and how things work, their maker, designer and creator is no longer needed in explanations. This is word play and you would do well to read these two articles carefully to see through this deception: Ibn Taymiyyah on the Affirmation of Natural (Material) Causes and the creed of the Naturalists - (see here) Ibn Al-Qayyim on the Affirmation of Material Causes, Forces, and Inherent Properties of Things - (see here).

Third: As for the claim of Dawkins, "...we understand essentially how life came into being" then this is great and fanciful lie, and it is why Dawkins is considered a charlatan by factions of the scientific community. He is a rigid believer in the "modern synthesis" (neo-Darwinism) which claims to explain all diversity in life through the mechanism of random mutations and Natural Selection, which is now known to be false and impossible. As a result, evolutionists don't have anything credible on the table and they are trying to formulate a new "extended synthesis." For this reason, Dawkins is often criticised for his cavalier attitude and not being in touch with actual science. Dawkins peddles lies such as this one "...we understand essentially how life came into being" - in reality, neither Dawkins, nor any other person on this planet, knows the mechanism through which life first came to be. All studies in this field (abiogenesis) have caused confusion and bewilderment and all that remains is pure, wild speculation and fancies and cravings of the soul that are not backed by empirical evidence.

Fourth: In opposing the fitrah, Dawkins and his likes make a prior assumption of naturalism (because there is no other possibility once you deny the obvious) which requires the laughable conviction that nothing creates something or matter creates itself and intelligently organizes itself - in the face of which all intelligent people and those whose innate dispositions have not been corrupted will laugh. However, upon this belief they have constructed their science, and it is this prior belief that forces them to bring a second rigged definition of science. This belief comes first and then science is defined and narrowed down to confirm to that belief only. It is not that their science tells them only natural causes exist. It is that their prior conviction in naturalism and materialism forces them to operate upon a second, rigged definition of science (read this article). Because the actual definition of science (using the scientific method, testing, observation, hypothesis, retesting) the empirical science that is, this will never prove that nothing creates something or that matter creates itself and intelligently organizes itself or that design comes about through random, undirect processes (the entire human industrial and technological enterprise falsifies that and makes it laughable and renders it the statement of the insane). Rather, all that they can gather from this empirical science is an understanding of how things work and this empirical science can only function upon the assumption of design in the universe and in life. So there is no escape. Their reality is like the one who studies the engine, knowing it is designed, and through empirical study, explains how it works and then claims since we have explained how a car is able to move in light of purely natural causes and explanations, invoking a maker is not necessary. This is futile reasoning and is arrogance as is clear to everyone of sound mind. This is the actual reasoning they are using, be not deceived by their objections or counter-arguments, whereby they say, "these things are obviously designed beacause it is seen and observed that humans designed them." These are fallacious counter-arguments and they require a separate article to demolish them. In short, the fact that gaps are being made smaller and smaller between industry, technology and biological systems, is a proof that these types of arguments are false and cannot hold.


These are some twitter comments:

Response: Dawkins says "you are naturally overwhelmed with a feeling of awe, a feeling of admiration... it's tempting to translate that feeling of awe and worship..." - he acknowledges that awe and worship are feelings that are produced, he then says he is tempted to direct them to something specific and says "You want to attribute it to a maker, to a creator..." - it is this want, this feeling, this disposition that is being spoken of, which Dawkins clearly affirms.

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