Can a Muslim prove to an atheist or an infidel that God actually exists?
As far as I know most atheists will argue that since they can't hear, see or feel God then He doesn't exist.
If there was a clearcut incontrovertible proof that was acceptable to everybody (like say a mathematical proof) then this life wouldn't be a test. It wouldn't be a test of someone's submission to God, it would be a test of whether they have the brains to accept logic or not. And the whole point of this life is to test whether we are humble and accepting of God's Lordship over us, or whether we are arrogant and reject and deny Him. So my contention is that such a proof cannot exist. God says that if He had wanted, everyone would have believed. This is one such way of having everyone believe - but then what's the point?
Then the question becomes - what kind of proof does exist? And before we get into that, we have to take a step back and define the parameters of what constitutes proof. In the scientific world (and this is perfectly fine) it requires physically proving something. It requires a hypothesis and then an experiment to falsifiably prove something (vastly oversimplifying here). So the only evidence considered in scientific experiments is somewhat restricted.
The problem comes when one tries to take the scientific method and apply it to things it wasn't meant for, like philosophy or religion. In Islam we accept divine revelation as a source of proof as well because we believe in the truthfulness of the Messenger (saws) to deliver the message of God.
Even if you don't believe in divine revelation, the Qur'an itself commands humans to ponder over Creation and to reflect over it, and to let that guide them to Allah. It even provides arguments against atheists. For example, in Surat Toor and other places. There is another place where Allah offers 4 possibilities for the provenance of Creation - will update the answer if I find it.
Lastly, if you apply Bayes Rule to find the probability that everything came into being just on its own and try to find the posterior probability of every single coincidence and complexity and start multiplying them together, you have a vanishing probability of everything just happening on its own. You can make it as small as you like when you keep adding events to the chain. This is a probabilistic proof so it doesn't count as an absolute proof.
No, you cannot prove the existence of God to an atheist. The reason is simple. Whenever you present any evidence to an atheist, they can either say "there's a scientific explanation for this", or "there's no scientific explanation now, but at some point in the future, science will have advanced sufficiently to be able to supply an explanation". These two options are available to the atheist, no matter how compelling the evidence might be.
For example, suppose God wished to make His presence unambiguously known to everyone in the world. So, he decided to paint large multi-coloured semi-circles across the sky, in order to tell everyone that there's an intelligence "up there" who can create such things. (Note that He only does this on days when rain is falling and the sun is shining). Immediately, scientists started seeking an explanation for these semi-circles; one that doesn't require any kind of Divine Agency. Eventually, they came up with an explanation - something about light being reflected off the backs of raindrops, and splitting into separate colours as it passes through those raindrops. And a very convincing explanation it was, too. And suddenly, what was once a "miracle" now fits entirely within the realm of physics.
My point is, that for atheists to convert to Islam (or any other religion), they need to encounter a phenomenon that they believe is outside the scope or ability of science. This will prompt them to look for other world views. If they are blessed, they will chance across Islam, and be sufficiently motivated to learn more. The question for the atheist is "how great a miracle would you have to observe, to be convinced that some Divine Agency is responsible for it".
I understand that to post an answer here, I should be citing some kind of source. My source for this analysis is my own personal experience, as a recent convert from atheism. I had had enough conversations with other atheists to believe that I was typical of them. For me, the phenomenon that I eventually came to believe was outside the scope of science (and would forever be outside of that scope) was the miracle of human consciousness. I am also lucky to have a very kind and patient Muslim friend, who has indicated a willingness to help me on a journey towards Islam.
But there is no proof of God that you can show to an atheist. Verses 2:15 to 2:20 of The Qur'an indicate as much. But if you have a particular atheist in mind, and they are anything like I was, I beg you to be patient and understanding towards them.
The best thing you can do is to convey Allah's message and stay back.
As others have stated the Quran's perspective seems to be that even the Prophet himself (let alone an ordinary Muslim) cannot guide another person independent of how much effort he puts into it and this includes providing a "proof" (verse 28:56):
Or in verses 2:6 2:7 it says:
(It is very interesting to me since this seems to be very similar to what you described in the question, i.e. "they can't hear, see or feel God" though Quran doesn't mean the usual senses by these.)
On the other hand, Quran says that there is no doubt that God exists, e.g. verse 14:10 says:
(The following verses contains the reply given by the prophets to them.)
So from Quran's perspective there is no doubt about the existence of the God who has created the earth and the skies.
(Usually people don't have much problem with accepting some force that has caused the universe to exist as long as it is something abstract. I should add that the recent forms of atheism might be a little bit different from the old ones since the new atheists feel they have reasonable ways of explaining how universe become to exist without anything before it but this will go beyond what is asked in the question.)
Firstly all who reject existence of God do not know what is God. God is not a man in sky. God is not material at all. using "he" for God does not mean he is a man. but it is only to we can communicate and talk about God. maybe reading sermon 1 here is a good start to know what is God.
this article containing interesting debates about God with some of who reject God is also useful for atheists:
There are many different methods for finding God. some find God by philosophy. but the better way is seeing and meeting God which in by Irfan method (here and here). this method is very hard but you can spritual things like angels and meet God. such people have power of miracle and controlling the universe. in fact by this method a human becomes like God and dissolves in God like a drop of water fallen in ocean. they can die whenever they want and go (by their soul) and see what they want like paradise, hell, angels, future, God ,.. then back to their body in this world. they have servants from Jinn who work for them. Jinns are not limited in time and place and can quickly go from one side of earth to other side and bring news or deliver a letter or do other works. they can go from one place to other place in one moment (by their physical body) using Tay al-Arz power granted by God. Nature is under their control. they can convert a stone to gold only by looking it.
when you meet God then you will not need proof for its existence.
Method of Irfan is very difficult and in fact few can practice it to final steps. although many claim to practices this method successfully to collect some followers like most of sufi people.
Mulla Sadra is the great scholar who combined Islamic Philosophy and Islamic Irfan to find and know and meet God. his method is known as "the four travels" which is the name of his book in this subject. most of current twelver shia scholars use this method to meet God. also many of scholars can not understand what he says and accuse him and who teach his works to apostasy because who finds powers of Intuition in Irfan can see spiritual things like angels, other universes, can see future or other things never seen in our physical universe and so who have not seen such things think he is saying nonsense.
Greater than Mulla Sadra is Mir Damad who rare people can understand his books. when Imam Khomeini wanted to teach works of him in Hawzeh for scholars and who study in Hawzeh of Qum saw Mir Damad in dram (maybe Intuition because they usually keep their Intuition power secret and call it only dream) that said: "do not teach my works". Imam Khomeini said I think it was because no one could understand what he says and they will call him and me apostate and will lead in insulting Mir Damad. so I decided teach the "the four travels" (Asfar Arba'e) of Mulla Sadra instead.
In Islamic philosophy only logic and reasoning is used.
These translated book are useful for who is interested:
however God has promised in Quran:
This means if an atheist is a real truth seeker and do his strive for finding truth then God will show him some miracles and proofs and evidences to he be guided. but most of atheists I have talked do not have to do ENOUGH research and strive. Internet is full of anti Islam and anti shia websites full of propaganda and claims of refuting everything Islam says. but claim of refute is different of really refuting. all of such so called refute are answered by Islamic scholars but they jump to Google and search and believe the first site they find. unfortunately websites refuting such refutes have not good SEO!
Anyway finding truth is not easy and needs real strive for it. in fact they are mostly lazy in research and prefer having an enjoyable life and when see a truth do not accept it and find a justification to avoid accepting it and continue their enjoying life.
This is not directly a continuation of my previous post, hence, a new post:
First. Can an atheist proves that God doesn't exist? No! How can then they conclude "if there is no proof for existance of God so there is no God"? At least they should consider both the probabilities that God exists and God doesn't exist. Even this much honesty will change their ways of living entirely.
Second. See if these two proofs suffice:
Also there are other reasonings in Shia literature, but the two above should suffice God Willing, specifically the first one I guess.
Actually there are some proofs for the existence of God, Allah. But as anything to be proved should first be defined so let me define Allah as follows: God is the perfect existence. Note that although it's right that we can never fully understand Allah but we can always judge if something/someone else can be God or not, and such judgments implicitly imply we have a definition for God based on which we can study who can and who cannot be a God, can He have a body or be incarnated in flesh or not, can he begotten or be a father or not, and many other judgments that we have committed before and would commit here after. The definition is so easy, but also very functional, it can be used to prove both His existence and uniqueness.
Existence. A requirement of being perfect is being independent, such that nothing can affect its being, no other existence can give it the existence (birth) or draw for it an end (death). Thus from perfectness one can easily conclude God not having a cause for His existence (although we should first prove that He exists!). Now let return to our own universe. We have the causality principle, it is more intellectual than observational and is founded more on logic behind this universe than our epistemic knowledge of the universe (it is logically wrong that some happening be thought as not having a cause), also it is one of the very few cornerstones of any science so that our discussion would remain scientific if we use it! Well, anything and any happening in this universe has its own cause, its cause on its own would be a thing or an event in the same universe, so it will have its own cause, and continue the trend this way. Now there are two possibilities, that the chain just produced would never end, or that it will have an end. Obviously the chain cannot have end in the same universe as everything and every event in this universe has a cause but it is possible that the chain ends out of this universe where the causality principle fails to exist, God can be an existence in that outer universe! But what about the other possibility, that the chain has no end? If the chain has no end, it would be continued to infinity, some state this by its own is impossible but let us assume it still valid, however, if I look at this whole infinite universe still it is universish, I mean in its intrinsic nature, and needs cause for its existence and that's contrary to the assumption that there would be no uppermost cause for the chains. Use something like the Zorn's lemma to put it more precisely and scientifically, if required.
Uniqueness. This Cosmological Argument proved the existence of God but not His uniqueness. For the sake of proving the God's uniqueness we should return to our definition of God, that he is perfect and, thus, independent. If there are Gods instead of one God, then according to the God's definition none of them can prevent the others from what they Will to do, remember that none of them can be affected by any other existence and preventing a will is not possible unless one would affect the other. Therefore, Gods would exist without any inter-relation between them. But then we come to this side and see there are universe(s) created (say, caused) by these Gods, their Wills are independent, so definitely there would arise a chaos and this reasoning is stated by Allah Himself:
Actually the collocation argument about God is more about to prove His uniqueness than His existence.
Note that God as an existence which will never be affected by any other existence would then be uncreated and immortal, so everlasting from both sides (how wouldn't be Him? the Creator, cause, of time). Also according to this He would be one single notion not having parts, as otherwise, He will need His parts to remain existed and this would be contrary to his perfectness. And etc.
Anyway, there is yet some other proofs for Existence of God that I strongly suggest you study them, one is called the "truthfuls argument" (one of the strongest proofs I have ever seen) and others are "the dispensable and dispensable beings argument" and "the poor being argument". Also see this. Sorry for these last references all being in Persian, maybe you can use some translators to be able to read them.
PS. About the trutfuls argument, honestly I din't find any source in English for further reading. But to say in short, it is much more philosophically and logically precise and detailed than any other argument I have seen for proving the existence of God. Actually it tries to prove the existence of God inspired by these three verses of Quran: "... Is it not sufficient as regards your Lord that He is a witness over all things?"[41:53] and "Allah bears witness that there is no god but He ..." [3:18] and "He is the First and the Last and the Appeared Outside and the Hidden Inside, and He is Cognizant of all things." [57:3]. Indeed, the argument is based on nothing from the sensed world, be it motion or its collocation and etc., but on the very notion of existence, the Being. It starts from the trivial statements that there exists something, that there exists many things, then generate a chain of existences of which the first ring is the one being not owing its being to any other being. To do so it has a rather long algorithm-alike set of logical statements, declared axiomatically. To read more about this I would rather suggest reading this, this and to download this booklet in pdf, again all in Persian. For Arabic sources you may like to study the leading books written by Avicenna, Mulla Sadra and some others.
Also I had been told about another kind of "truthfuls argument" which was totally different from the one cited above, maybe the name is wrong as I din't find anything about it now. It doesn't proof the existence of God on its own, to be honest, but rather proves why we should believe in God's existence! I have heard and read two different kind of proofs for this:
So to conclude that "believing in God" irrespective of his real existence is an intellectual must, although be a weaker statement compared to the proof of existence of God.
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Let me answer this from the position of an atheist, and scientific rationalist that I am.
No, Muslim cannot "prove" to an atheist that the God exists.
The reasons are the following:
There are many things that we cannot hear (we do not hear ultrasound, yet we use it to examine the baby in mother's womb), see (we do not see the x-rays and yet we use it to diagnose a fractured limb) or feel (we do not feel magnetism, yet we use it in MRI to diagnose a cancer or brain aneurism) and yet they exist and are the products of science, not religion.
(Please note that the atheism is not a worldview. It is a label given by religious people to the opposed group. However, most atheists are scientific rationalists, and that is in most cases our position. That means that we do not accept anything that cannot be scientifically proven.)
Of course, the rationalist knows that not everything is or can be proven, and yet we do not see any alternative because we are more interested in material facts then in our eternal soul.
If a scientist cannot explain some phenomenon he will not jump to conclusion that the phenomenon is supernatural. He will try to explain it scientifically again, and again and again until he succeeds. If the scientist fails to explain the phenomenon, it is still OK for him to say "I don't know", when he does not, in contrast with various religious authorities who usually claim to know all.
The science is a world view incompatible to religion and it is governed by diametrically different set of rules.
It is possible that an atheist becomes a believer. Has happened numerous times before. That does not mean that someone proved to that atheist that the god exists by exposing him to Quran or the Bible.
Scientist does not just accept. For believing something to be the truth, he requires objective evidence.
As I said before, Quran, in the scientific eyes, is not considered as objective evidence in favor to God's existence, let alone the definitive proof.
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Quran having no conflict with correct science is one way. but firstly studying history of 1400 years ago and learning about the established scientific beliefs of 1400 years ago are needed. for only one example Arabs of 1400 years ago believes stars and angels are daughters of God and worshiped them. they made each idol as a symbol of related star or angel and worshiped the idol that was in fact worshiping the related angel or star that they believed those stars and angels can intercession for them by God. they had 360 idols praying them in Kaaba.
They made idols from dates and other things. An arab poem from that times which now is recorded in history books says:
That means: the hanifeh tribe eaten their God. they did not fear their God and did not fear from the result of this action.
They selected a stone as God and worshiped it. later they found a more beautiful stone and left the past stone and worshiped the new. if they did not found any stone for worshiping they collected some soil and mixed some milk of sheep and made an idol and worshiped it by turning around it.
The there are thousands of silly (for us living now) beliefs accepted as correct by Arabs of 1400 years ago. they had make and female Gods. for example sun was a female God that Arabs worshiped her. they called female Gods الهه or ربه. Quran talks about if Quran was human made such beliefs would be found in Quran. but Quran is not only absent of such beliefs but against such beliefs and so rulers of that time at Mecca (Abu Sufyan ,...) tried to kill prophet SAWW and made different wars against Muslims to kill them for such beliefs that threaten their power and huge incomes of their State and pilgrims of different cities for visiting and worshiping idols in Kaaba.
Quran has every science. but the perfect knowledge of Quran is only with The Fourteen Infallibles and Tafseer writers explain Quran based on their own limited (and possibly partially wrong) knowledge. only interpretations of the fourteen infallibles are correct surely.
The link http://answering-islam.org/ is full of lies and false claims about Islam. each claim of it can be disproved. but it needs to be asked one by one. each claim can be asked in separate question. Quran has no conflict with science. also please distinguish between shia and sunni Islam. I defend only twelver shia Islam to be truth. and please note all the hadith considered as authentic by sunni Muslims are not authentic in shia Islam. there are different hadith collections in shia and sunni. shia Islam has no conflict with science.
Reference and more study:
I was thinking about this today, and wanted to write down my thoughts here.
(This is my personal view)
I think it is nonsensical to try to prove existence of a being such as god. Because, searching for proof is act of the mind. And, mind's area of interest is material world and it finds it hard to accept what is unseen. For example, consider a person wants you to prove you love it. Can you really prove such unseen phenomena in a way that is acceptable for mind? You can obviosly treat that person in a good way, you can write that person poems etc. But whatever you do, you are not really proving your love, you are just showing things that point to your love. However, those pointers can easily be interpreted as other things. For example, you may be interested in that person's wealth and that is why you seem to love that person, or that person is about to die, and you want that person to be happy etc. In this regard, whenever a person say this is the evidence of god, any person can interpret said evidence in another way. Allah says (translation of meaning)
Al-Baqara 2-3 (Sahih International)
So Allah says that one of the feature of those conscious of Allah is their belief in unseen. Therefore, we believe (act of hearth) not know (act of mind).
I can break this down pretty simply:
When we refer to scientifically proven evidence, what we're actually talking about is collectively verified observation. e.g. if i make an observation about the acceleration of gravity at sea level, you can verify this observation if you have similar means.
Collectively verified knowledge is considered a superior form of knowledge because it's subjected to the objections of multiple observers.
Religions like Islam typically rely on subjective knowledge. Everything debated in this domain relies on the axiom that factual information was revealed to messenger and proofs have to contort around around that assumption.
You cannot collectively verify Islam unless someone has informed the observer what to believe. In the case of the acceleration of gravity at sea level, I can ask you to find a way to measure it before I give my observation in order to increase the weight of the observation. This cannot be done for religions since as far as I know, no one has come to the same conclusions that Islam comes to without some sort of cultural programming.
Some people talk about the misapplication of the scientific method but I think this is flawed logic. Collectively verified knowledge is on a higher order than subjective knowledge because you have multiple actors involved. There is no type of knowledge that is exempt from the rigor that comes with collective verification- least of all philosophical.
We cannot prove to an atheists the existence of Allah. In fact we cannot prove the existence of Allah to anyone. We can at most find evidence to support our claims, but in the end it comes to "belief".
An analogy occurs in mathematics, where people ask, can we prove all the correct statements? The answer is no and it is proven by Godel's incomplete theorem. That an axiomatic system capable of arithmetic is either complete or consistent. In plain words there are always statements that are true but we cannot prove.
To believe in Allah is to take as an axiom the existence and uniqueness of Allah. It is the basis upon which we do rational reasoning, and we donnot do reasoning on that, if you already chose your axiom.
But then of course different people choose different axioms. An atheist's axioms are by definition different. Therefore Quran itself is a miracle, but only if you believe so. Just like
If you believe so, then it becomes correct. If you don't, then it becomes incorrect for you, and it is still consistent.
That being said, of course, Muslims believe that Allah alone decides the truth and it is (at least its complete version is) above human understanding.
Therefore we are the people who accept these axioms, and they are the people who reject these axioms. We cannot prove to them, but merely show evidence to them of what we believe, just like they cannot prove us but show evidence to us of what they believe.
And Allah knows the best and may him guide those who go astray like how he guided me.
Atheism is irrational. One can compare the atheist to a man who is born blind and refuses to acknowledge the existence of light because he cannot perceive light. This blind man's very existence depends on light, yet his inability to perceive it allows him to deny what is so obvious to the sighted. No amount of rational argument, evidence, facts and proof will convince him because he has limited himself to trusting in his faulty perception. To expand on this example, the human being is incapable of perceiving reality in its entirety. For instance, we must rely on the opinions of theoreticians to understand what our limited perceptions cannot perceive as atoms, neutrons, protons, and the mysterious properties of matter and energy which quantum physics explores. The opinions of these theoreticians are often accepted without question, because their theories seem to explain the nature of the universe that we can perceive. So, science divides the universe into the 'seen' (perceptible) and the 'unseen' (imperceptible) in order to account for existence and substance. Islam has stated the case for the imperceptible universe long before Western theoreticians offered their ideas on the subject. Islam explains that both the perceptible and the imperceptible universe were created in one act. Q 21:30: "Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water? Will they not then believe?" From Surah ArRahman, we know that the heavens are divided into one perceived universe and 6 imperceptible universes or heavens. In other words the perceptible and the imperceptible are different states of the same substance/essence; the imperceptible being progressively more refined as it moves away from the perceptible. Isn't that what quantum physics is now discovering? In Islam, the ultimate imperception is the uncaused cause or Allah who is totally removed from the creation because He caused creation and, therefore, is not part of it. Allah is the ultimate reality, the ultimate refinement and the ultimate truth. Quran has promoted the information regarding the perceptible and the imperceptible states of existence for 1400 years. If we live long enough and are really patient, maybe the world of science will conclude what Muslims have known for a millennium and a half.
salam ale kum
please read the lecture "the amazing quran" by Dr Gary miller and
see lecture nouman ali khan lecture on this topic
Challenging the Existence of God 1 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVLu0Jq64jA
Challenging the Existence of God 2 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2TZOAENUhs