The Rationality of Believing in God — Part 2

In Part 1 we examined the basic arguments for God’s existence, the concept of the fitrah – otherwise known as ‘intuition’ – and how it works.[1] In this part we will elucidate the justification behind the intuition’s existence, how evidence is not always necessary, and how belief in God is intuitively justifiable.

Does the Fitrah Actually Exist?

The philosophical support behind the intuition is based on the recognition that: (1) there are such things as ‘reality’ and ‘knowledge’, and (2) that human beings can grasp both at a normative level of cognition. In regards to the first, without acknowledging these concepts, then there would be no point to intellectual discourse at all. The author of this treatise would be wasting his time and his words would ultimately have no real meaning. Likewise, the reader would have no real reason to disagree or agree with the points herein and would suffer from a terrible conflict of apprehending something that he or she doesn’t even believe is possible to apprehend. As such, I suspect that no one would dare attempt to refute the first of these points, lest they wish to succumb to absurdities.

As to the second point, to have any real grasp of the external (and internal world of the human mind), there needs to be an immutable, consistent grounds of comprehension. In other words, there needs to be a foundational component which makes ‘reality’ and ‘knowledge’ have any real meaning at all. If our cognitive functions were always in flux, then it would be impossible to grasp anything, because the interpretation of ‘anything’ would never be fixable at any given point – time itself would become so relative that it literally would not be understood to exist. Therefore, to negate this construct in the affairs of human understanding leads to the consequence of negating reality and knowledge itself. And while it can be easily admitted that the human mind is limited and cannot grasp reality to its fullest extent, it is necessary that some foundational interpretative abilities exists so as to be able to even grasp it in-part.

However, even if one were to agree with the above arguments they may suggest that the intuition is “not fully reliable” and cannot possibly interpret reality with a high degree of accuracy due to the phenomenon of the errors of initial impressions. In other words, the experience of illusions counters the idea of any sort of normative interpretative abilities.

Although this contention may be considered ‘conventional wisdom’, and is the hallmark argument of avowed anti-intuitionists, it has two flaws which undermine its conclusions entirely. Firstly, it is incorrect to assert that ‘initial impressions’ and ‘intuition’ are the same thing. This has been a major misunderstanding throughout the history of philosophy and science. As discussed earlier, initial impressions only constitute one part in a cycle that makes up the intuition. Secondly, and more importantly, initial impressions are only wrong when there is not enough data to support the existence of an alternative impression. For example, if a person is walking through the desert and comes across what he thinks to be water, he is in all likelihood justified for believing what he sees as water. Why? Because he has no other reason to suspect otherwise. Now, if prior to this experience he had direct or indirect knowledge of mirages, then and only then would he have reason to be skeptical of seeing water. Therefore, it is a gross error to suggest that an incorrect initial impression amounts to the intuition being unreliable.

The anti-intuitionist may then retort, “Okay, I agree that data plays a role in how things are perceived, however, the mirage in question still looks like water, even if the person experiencing it knows that it is a mirage!”

But this is not as clever as it may appear. In response to the fact that a mirage still looks like water: there is a vast difference between how things seem and what they mimic. In other words, there is a vast difference between what we think something is and what we think something looks like. The fact that we know something is a mirage cancels out any possibility of it being water regardless of appearances. Likewise, the fact that we know something is a manikin cancels out the possibility of it being a human being. Likewise, the fact that we know something is a cloud cancels out the possibility of it being a rabbit, turtle, or any other hosts of animal forms, etc. In essence, the fact that we can differentiate between what a thing is and what it mimics is enough to counter the aforementioned retort; it is additional data alone which makes this differentiation possible. Initial impressions are just that – initial. To suggest that this makes up the totality of our intuition is simply a strawman.[2]

However, perhaps more damaging of anti-intuitionism is the fact that illusions even exist to begin with. In other words, the very idea of an ‘illusion’ is only possible if we are aware of the reality that is being obfuscated. To suggests that being tricked by an illusion demonstrates the unreliability of intuition is self-refuting – how can something so “unreliable” be able to correct itself? The very concept of ‘unreliability’ does not allow for the possibility of being reliable enough not to be unreliable!

Inferior-Mirage (1)

Figure 1.
How a mirage works.

Perhaps a fairer challenge to the concept of intuition is the fact that mutually exclusive beliefs are held across humanity. Why are there so many ideologies, religions, political views, economic views, cultural values, etc.? The first and primary reason, much akin to the response to the issue of illusions, is that people form their beliefs on the amount of data that they have at hand. Given the limitations of what people are able to experience within their lifetimes and the environments in which they live it is not surprising that many diametrically opposing views exists.

This why the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) made clear that the normative intuition may be used by a child’s parents – “who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian [or Zorastrian]”[3] – to foster incorrect beliefs, and that Allah had to send Prophets to remind humanity of the truth. Thus, according to Islam, the amount of available data is a necessary condition towards belief formation.

That said, there are two other reasons that explain differences in beliefs throughout the world. The second reason is known as cognitive dissonance, or the wilful suppression of what a person knows to be true due to some emotional or material gain. While it is commonly perceived that people choose their beliefs because they desire to find truth, in actuality, most choose beliefs based on convenience (e.g. economic gain, political gain, social status, etc.). This is highlighted in the concept of kufr, which literally means “to cover”. This is why the Qur’an often mentions certain people as kuffar (s. kafir): it is directing its condemnation specifically at those who are knowledgeable of the truth, but refuse to accept it for less-than justifiable reasons. In other words, Allah takes into account the difference between ignorance and the willful suppression of reality – the former is innocent, whereas the latter is guilty.

The third and final reason as to why people have different worldviews is that they may have certain mentalizing deficits; meaning, they are not part of normative society. Although still very much human and endowed with rights and privileges from Allah, mentally abnormal individuals don’t possess the same capacity of contemplation as everyone else and thus may – more often than not – form false and delusional beliefs. Naturally, this is no fault of their own and we must have compassion for such people, although it explains why some find it difficult to assimilate into society and form certain beliefs. For instance, in the context of this article, there have been a few scientific studies which have found a strong link between autism and atheism, the most recent of which states:

Religious believers intuitively conceptualize deities as intentional agents with mental states who anticipate and respond to human beliefs, desires and concerns. It follows that mentalizing deficits, associated with the autistic spectrum and also commonly found in men more than in women, may undermine this intuitive support and reduce belief in a personal God.[4]

And while it is certain that the majority of atheists are not autistic, these sort of studies suggests mental deficiencies as one major cause behind lacking belief in God.

Is Evidence Always Necessary?

The inevitable trump card of many atheists reads like this: “I won’t believe anything you say unless a peer-reviewed article in a scientific journal supports your conclusions!”. Apparently, after having said these magic words, the discussion ceases to be and the victor graduates from Hogwarts. In other words, the mere mention of something not having scientific evidence waives away any possibility of it being a reasonable explanation at all. And while it is tempting to assume that a consensus among the scientific community – or research output from supposedly objective donors (i.e. Monsanto)[5] – is all that is needed to prove a point, such reasoning is invalid if not shallow at best.

However, the qualification that scientific evidence is a necessary condition for any belief rests on a more foundational premise: the assumption that everything requires evidence to begin with. As such, prior to discussing the limitations of science, it is pertinent to make clear when evidence is necessary by focusing on the very thing that triggers that need: doubt.

In the philosophical community there is a sharp distinction between what is typically considered the activity of ‘doubting’ and the ideology of Skepticism. The former is a common phenomenon which every normal human being experiences countless times throughout their life. The essence of being doubtful is not an extraordinary gift endowed to a select few (i.e. atheists, scientists, etc.) conjured up after every experience, like some super power endlessly tapped into for the mere pleasure of it. Rather, it is an automated response triggered by an unexpected or contradictory intake of data (anomalies). For instance, when I walk outside and see a tree I don’t have much reason to be doubtful of what I’m seeing. However, if for some reason the tree begins to ‘behave’ or appear in a way contrary to what would otherwise be considered ‘normal’, then and only then would I have sufficient reason to doubt. In other words, human beings do not begin their journey of discovery by willing themselves to doubt[6], rather this is the natural response to confusion. As philosopher Peter Klein rightly notes:

The point here is that…in all ordinary cases of incredulity, the grounds for the doubt can, in principle, be removed. As Wittgenstein would say, doubt occurs within the context of things undoubted. If something is doubted, something else must be held fast because doubt presupposes that there are means of removing the doubt…That is, we think our general picture of the world is right—or right enough—so that it does provide us with both the grounds for doubt and the means for potentially removing the doubt. Thus, ordinary incredulity about some feature of the world occurs against a background of sequestered beliefs about the world. We are not doubting that we have any knowledge of the world. Far from it, we are presupposing that we do know some things about the world. To quote Wittgenstein, “A doubt without an end is not even a doubt”.[7]

The “doubt without an end” mentioned by the famous philosopher of mind, Ludwig Wittgenstein, refers to that which is distinguished from normal doubt: the ideology of Skepticism. Unlike doubt, which assumes reality and then works through a trial and error process to reach a coherent understanding, Skepticism is an assumption of unreality which seeks to find truth by requiring validation for every experience and claim. The skeptic believes that they are doing a service to knowledge and their own integrity by implicitly asserting that everything is illusionary. However, by doing so, they unintentionally undermine any means towards comprehension by forgetting to include their own foundational assumption into the equation! In other words, by assuming that everything is illusionary, they must also logically conclude that their means towards finding truth (evidence) is also an illusion – thus rendering their own methodology self-refuting.

Perhaps the best example of Skepticism may be found in the movie The Matrix. The story behind this pop-culture classic revolves around the idea that ‘reality’ is a computer program which projects false images into the collective mind of humanity so as to distract us. All of this is generated by a malevolent species of machines for the sake of harvesting us for energy. The few humans that know the truth of this are only capable of doing so because the program isn’t perfect and can be hacked by others born in the “real world”, briefly allowing those imprisoned to see behind the façade. However, while the overall environment of the movie is representative of Skepticism, the actions of the people who have freed themselves from the matrix reflect the proper understanding of what it means ‘to doubt’ – they were only able to become free because of perceived anomalies.


Figure 2.

On the other hand, a good example of normal doubt are the court justice systems across the globe. The belief that people normatively desire good is manifested in the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty” (right before wrong/reality before unreality) and is itself a paradigm. Anomalies which disrupt this are acts of crime, which must be determined whether or not fit within the paradigm’s boundaries. For example, if a person is suspected of committing murder (causing doubt regarding their ethical behavior), the courts are triggered to find evidence as to whether the individual has violated ethical norms or has a valid excuse (i.e. self defense). In the event that it is proven that a murder has indeed been committed, the presumption of the individual’s innocence is overturned. Whereas, if we were to follow the skeptic’s understanding of doubt and evidence, the presumption of “innocent until proven guilty” would itself be suspect and ultimately invalidated.

So when is evidence necessary? Following the aforementioned discussion, it is clear that evidence is predicated on doubt, which in turn is predicated on the existence of anomalies. When evidence is called for, the supposed anomaly is either incorporated into the paradigm or forces it to change. In other words, evidence is ultimately a response to data that challenges what we think we know; it is not the way we know. There is no need for evidence in every instance of data intake, because the reason we construct our worldviews (paradigms) is entirely for the sake of making our collective experiences coherent. Our understanding of the world does not present itself like a story-book progressing from the first chapter to the last. On the contrary, we have to make up the story as we go along, and it is the intuition (fitrah) that allows us to do this.

The Limitations of Science

Most atheists who believe that everything requires evidence are blissfully unaware that their own criteria cannot be validated – there is no evidence for the claim that “everything requires evidence”, much less that scientific evidence is superior to all others. Neither is the retort that “science works” a fail-safe since it is not immune to the context of ‘everything’. To play on the words of Wittgenstein: “evidence without an end is not even evidence”. Likewise, the concept of ‘falsifiability’ suffers the same fate, which is why most philosophers of science abandoned it long ago, including its most loyal proponent, Sir Karl Popper.[8]

Commenting on the true nature of scientific theories, the philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn, had this to say:

Discovery commences with the awareness of anomaly, i.e., with the recognition that nature has somehow violated the paradigm-induced expectations that govern normal science. It then continues with a more or less extended exploration of the area of anomaly. And it closes only when the paradigm theory has been adjusted so that the anomalous has become the expected. Assimilating a new sort of fact demands a more than additive adjustment of theory, and until that adjustment is completed-until the scientist has learned to see nature in a different way — the new fact is not quite a scientific fact at all.[9]

In other words, science operates on the basis of normal doubt, not Skepticism. Theories are produced so as to make coherent all the available data. When something is encountered that does not fit within a theory, the latter is restructured so as to accommodate for it. As anomalies become more problematic, the theory eventually begins to ‘swell’ and becomes unreasonably convoluted. At this point a ‘shift’ begins to occur and an alternative theory is constructed that better explains the data at hand.

Perhaps the best example of how this works may be found in the shift from Geocentricism to Heliocentricism. When the latter was eventually adopted over the former, it was not due to the fact that someone had directly experienced the sun being at the center of our galaxy; rather, the idea was formulated as a result of the Earth-centric model not being able to adequately accommodate anomalous information. That said, unlike most atheists’ perceptions of science – where theories are “discovered” after a progressive accumulation of data due to some arbitrary initiating of doubt – irregularities trigger a natural tendency to doubt which then lead us to construct more coherent narratives. As the philosopher of science, Willard Quine, explained:

Physical objects are conceptually imported into the situation as convenient intermediaries – not by definition in terms of experience, but simply as irreducible posits comparable, epistemologically, to the gods of Homer. Let me interject that for my part I do, qua lay physicist, believe in physical objects and not in Homer’s gods; and I consider it a scientific error to believe otherwise…The myth of physical objects is epistemologically superior to most in that it has proved more efficacious than other myths as a device for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience.[10]

Quine’s input sheds light on another matter as well: the scope of science. While many atheists are busying themselves asking for scientific evidence for every claim and experience known to man, they forget to entertain the possibility of their method’s limitations. Science can only deal with the realm of the physical. As such, discussions regarding metaphysical or supernatural entities are outside of its purview. Despite the obviousness of this however, many atheists have insisted otherwise, claiming that nothing can escape the assessment of scientific inquiry. The late Victor Stenger was one such atheist who went so far as to say that ‘God’ was a “scientific hypothesis” meant to “explain the natural world”.[11] Although perhaps an attempt to counter young Earth creationists, nevertheless Stenger’s reasoning is theologically and scientifically naïve.

Atheists may retort by suggesting that because God intervenes in creation – through miracles, revelation, etc. – He then becomes part of the natural realm and can be “discovered”; much like the footprints of an animal prove the existence of said animal. And although this may be a tempting argument to accept, it suffers from one glaring flaw: signs are no indication that something exists, rather their existence is predicated on the very thing they’re pointing to. In other words, footprints presuppose the existence of the feet that put them there to begin with. Street signs pointing towards a city presuppose the existence of that city, and so on. Thus, it is fallacious to claim that God is a “scientific hypothesis” that can be tested simply by virtue of supposed signs of intervention.[12]

Regardless of the above, it is difficult to believe that many atheists aren’t already aware of these limitations given their commitment to Naturalism, or the view that “an accurate, adequate conception of the world does not…include reference to supernatural entities or agencies.”[13] As a logical consequence of this, the only way we can truly understand reality is through contemporary scientific reasoning. Taken even further, the only way that a conception of reality can have any meaning at all is by reference to the natural world. In fact, this is the very argument proposed by atheist philosopher George Smith:

Naturalism has the priority over supernaturalism, not because it is the more economical of two explanations, but because it is the only framework in which explanation is possible…the contest between naturalism and supernaturalism is not a battle between two rival modes of explanation…Naturalism is the only context in which the concept of explanation has meaning.[14]

These sort of conclusions are perhaps why many atheists commit the category error of comparing the concept of God with mythological creatures such as fairies, unicorns, and the like. For an atheist, it is difficult to understand that scientifically unverified phenomena are any different from each other. Thus, atheists struggle to differentiate between imagination and conception. The former is simply being able to meaningfully picture something in your mind, whereas the latter is understood in a purely abstract manner. It’s like the difference between viewing a painting and interpreting what it means – understanding its form is not the same as understanding its significance.

Take for example the myth of “fairies”. Fairies are not complicated things to imagine, because they’re just a composite of shrunken human forms with insect wings; all we need to do is combine two naturally experienced phenomena to construct these storybook creatures. And why are they mythological? Simply put: we expect things that can be imagined to be empirically verifiable. However, conceptions like ‘love’, ‘ethics’, ‘loyalty’, and ‘truth’ are not possible to imagine, much less experience in full – but we know that it’s rational to believe in their existence in that they ultimately define our humanity.[15] The things that we can’t imagine are just as real as those we can. However, atheists fail to understand the rationality of believing in God or anything else comparable because they’re too busy only believing in things that can be reduced to their perverse understanding of scientific inquiry. This might also explain why every atheist I’ve ever accompanied to an art gallery had such poor tastes – but I suppose that’s for another essay.

Figure 3. "Pardon of Brittany" by Gaston de la Touche

Figure 3.
“Pardon in Brittany” by Gaston de la Touche. My favorite work of art which has  significance beyond its form.

However, it is not only a limitation of Naturalism that it must reduce meaning to the cold barren existence of the physical — it is also the reason that it is incorrect. If Naturalism is true, then it should be impossible to conceive of anything meaningful beyond its context. In other words, the very fact that we can even think of things like ‘God’ and believe in them proves Naturalism to be false – whether advocated dogmatically or by methodology:

1) Given Naturalism, explanations can only have meaning within the context of Naturalism.

2) As such, no amount of experience of the natural world should allow for the possibility of conceiving meaningful explanations beyond the context of Naturalism.

3) However, our experiences do allow for the conception of meaningful explanations beyond the context of Naturalism (i.e. God).

C) Therefore, Naturalism is false.

The Rationality of Believing in God Without Evidence

The famous atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins once wrote, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose”.[16] He would confess the same later in a debate with the Christian mathematician, John Lennox:

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 is 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 science has now achieved is an emancipation from that impulse to attribute these things to a creator and it’s a major emancipation because humans have an almost overwhelming desire to think that they’ve explained something by attributing it to a maker.[17]

Likewise, Michael Shermer, the popular atheist and editor of Skeptic magazineclaims the following based on his own personal experience and contemporary scientific research:

We believe in the supernatural because we believe in the natural and we cannot discriminate between the two. We create gods because we are natural-born supernaturalists, driven by our tendency to find meaningful patterns and impart to them intentional agency. The gods will always be with us because they are hard-wired into our brains.[18]

Similarly, there are many atheists who have given accounts of not being able to rid themselves of the ever-present interpretation that God actually exist.[19] And while this inability to remove such a notion is not evidence for God’s existence, naturalistic explanations for why it is there to begin with are neither evidence for His non-existence. To make an argument either way is simply a genetic fallacy, or an invalid form of reasoning which seeks to support a conclusion on the basis of where it came from.[20]

However, what such a notion does prove is that theism is more rational than atheism. How is this the case? Given the aforementioned discussion, the intuition is the very means by which knowledge is acquired and interpreted. As such, there can be no such knowledge or interpretation that undermines it, because it would be undermining itself. Impressions of reality are ultimately derived from the mind’s in-built commentary of the external and internal world. In other words, the reason we understand reality the way we do is because the mind is projecting how it sees itself on to everything else; a mirror image. And because the mind is the only way by which we comprehend, it is impossible for us to seek any alternatives to this projection.

The concept of God is not some innate belief, but is inferred from the mind’s own inner workings, which are not bound by the constraints of natural laws – that is why we are able to ‘see’ beyond direct observations and conceive of abstract notions (theories) which make them coherent. The very enterprise of science is predicated on the mind’s ability to project its own coherent structure on to the external world, otherwise known as ‘cognitive translation’.

When we perform introspection, we see certain attributes like ‘love’, ‘morality’, ‘intelligence’, ‘agency’ etc. We then project these same attributes on to our collective experience and then further infer a holistic understanding of reality, which then interprets these attributes as being superseded by something greater than our minds can possibly imagine. In other words, we naturally and meaningfully conceive of something greater than ourselves without limits (i.e. God) which makes coherent the very projection in question; it runs full circle and offers us validation that our minds are reliable interpreters of reality. On the other hand, the worldview of Naturalism creates an unnecessary dichotomy between the mental and the physical, reducing the former to the latter. The avowed atheist does this without even realizing that the inner realm of the mind is the only source by how reality should be perceived and not the external world which is received by it!

Now atheists the world over may cheer in victory that their belief “God is man made” has been validated, thus proving theism “irrational”. However, this would be a naïve conclusion to reach. Not only is God not “man made”, but the very fact that God is a projection of the intuitive experience actually runs counter to accusations of irrationality. Firstly, no human being wills the projection of God – it is simply a natural exercise of the mind. Secondly, as noted earlier, the fact that such a conception is even possible – under the supposed constraints of a purely natural world – undermines the atheistic narrative. And thirdly, considering the rational nature of doubt, theism is more justified than atheism. This is made evident in the following two arguments:

1) Impressions are rational if and only if they cohere to the intuitive experience.

2) Evidence is only necessary to validate impressions if anomalies appear to disrupt their coherency.

3) Anomalies do not appear to disrupt the coherency of the impression ‘God’.

C) Therefore, the impression ‘God’ is rational and evidence is not necessary for its validation.

1) Impressions are rational if and only if they cohere to intuitive experience.

2) Evidence is only necessary to validate impressions if anomalies appear to disrupt their coherency.

3) The impression ‘God’ is an anomaly which appears to disrupt the coherency of the impression ‘No God’.

4) No evidence has been provided to validate the impression ‘No God’.

C) Therefore, the impression ‘No God’ is irrational.

And it is with this understanding that belief in God is rationally grounded and in no need of evidence to support it. And while there may be disagreements as to the true nature of the unseen realm, these are issues for which the atheist is excluded on the basis that they defy the rational grounds for such a discussion to begin with. Hence, it is unnecessary to go further than the points mentioned here.

Concluding Remarks

After having elucidated the proper understanding of the fitrah, how it works, the arguments in support of it, and the flaws of counter arguments, I now wish to conclude with two clarifications.

The first clarification is in regards to the source of my ideas and whether or not I have borrowed them from other individuals, such as Hamza Tzortzis and his article “Denying God, Denying Reality: Why we Don’t Need Evidence for God”.[21] Although I believe that all ideas are ultimately derived from a collective pool of musings (then reconfigured into ingenuity) and have tremendous respect for Br. Hamza, I must state that none of my views have been taken from him. That is to say that I did not ‘steal’ his ideas. This is evident in the fact that not only are my arguments much different, but also because I have been entertaining these ideas far longer than Br. Hamza. For instance, you can see atheists attempting to attack my arguments as early as 2010.[22] The arguments displayed here were also the subject of my Master’s thesis,[23] though heavily modified since then. Although a newcomer to the dawah circuit, it should be of no surprise that I am writing about this subject given my experience with it over the years.

The second clarification is in respect to my understanding of science. I am in no way attacking science in this essay, rather I am simply explaining how it works and its limitations. I have great respect for the scientific enterprise as well as many scientists. In fact, one of my favorite popularizers of science was the late evolutionary biologist, Stephen J. Gould. The reason for me being so vehemently opposed to many atheists’ understanding of science is because they clearly don’t know what it is and are simply using it to fulfill their own agenda. This is also why I will not accept from any atheist “scientific proofs” opposed to the arguments in this article because I don’t believe one can construct a proper philosophical explanation or refutation purely by means of empirical phenomena. Telling me “this scientifically peer reviewed paper says X” does nothing to refute my arguments because it betrays the context and theorizing from which those scientists are deriving their conclusions. And it is with great confidence that I say that most scientists don’t have the faintest idea regarding the implications of their own research. In other words, let us philosophers do our job and let the scientists do theirs.

With that, I wish to say that I am grateful to my readers for their curiosity and sincere devotion towards understanding and finding Truth. May Allah guide you and bless you for your efforts. I only ask that you make dua for me that Allah forgive me of my sins and allows this work to bring good to the world. If I am wrong in anything it is because of my own limitations, and if I am correct, it is by the Grace of Allah.

Jazak’Allah Khaira.



[2] A strawman fallacy is a term used to describe an invalid form of refutation which misrepresents an opponent’s arguments (whether intentionally or not). The reason it is called a “strawman” is in reference to how farmers create human figures out of straw to chase birds or other pests away from their crops. In other words, it’s a “fake argument”.

[3] Sahih Muslim, Book 33, #6423


[5] Monsanto is a controversial pesticide and bioengineering firm which has caused harm to the environment and public health. It is well known that they provide a substantial amount of funding towards research grants – and the scientists behind them – to manufacture studies and conclusions that relieve them of any responsibility from the damages their products cause.

[6] It may be proposed that people do in fact will themselves to doubt when trying to overcome their biases. However, I argue that people are only able to supress doubt – through cognitive dissonance – and must cease doing so for their natural tendencies to take effect. In other words, when someone “wills doubt” they are simply allowing their mind (intuition) to perform as it typically would if uninhibited.


[8] Popper, K. (1972) Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach, Clarendon Press, Oxford, p. 40, n. 9.

[9] Kuhn, T. (1996) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions 3rd Ed., Chicago University Press, Chicago, pp. 52-53.

[10] Quine, W. (1961). “The Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” From A Logical Point of View: Logico-Philosophical Essays, Harper & Row, New York, p. 44.

[11] Refer to Stenger, V. (2007) God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, Prometheus Books, New York.

[12] As a controversial addition to this discussion, this is likewise a problem for theists who think they can prove the existence of God based on scientific reasoning, which is frankly why using the Teleological Argument (Design Argument) alone is a weak persuasive method for other than the already initiated. This is especially the case for Muslims given that the Islamic perspective substantiates that signs are merely guides, not proofs of existence (Al-Qur’an, 41:52-53). Further, Allah states that He is the Creator and Facilitator of all things (Al-Qur’an, 39:62), thus making it clear that it is impossible to differentiate between what can and cannot be evidence for design.


[14] Smith, G. (1979) Atheism: The Case Against God, Prometheus Books, New York, pp. 233-234.

[15] A contention may be raised that we can imagine things like ‘love’, etc. by referring to instances where such concepts manifest themselves in human action. However, this is fallacious because such actions are merely signs of these conceptions and are not fully understood. Further, there are other examples that can be given which support this point, such as the idea of a ‘thousand sided shape’. It is rational to believe in this idea, despite not being able to imagine or experience it in full.

[16] Dawkins, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, p. 1.







[23] Al-Andalusi, A. (2014). Islamic Intuitionism: The Case Against Atheistic Evidentialism [Master’s Thesis], Kuala Lumpur: IIUM.

9 Comments on “The Rationality of Believing in God — Part 2

  1. I have to disagree with your characterization of atheism as less rational than theism. For instance, the natural intuition of humans that lead us to conceptualize deities is certainly evidence of something superior beyond our comprehension, but what we can call the “Absolute”, for lack of a better term, doesn’t necessarily have to be a god with personhood. It instead can be as impersonal and unconscious as a rock like some interpretations of Plato’s Form of the Good. I certainly agree with you, but is it really more irrational to believe in an impersonal ultimate cause of reality, rather than a personal one?

    • Any event that occurs as a utility for someone or something necessitates that it be a product of a conscious will, the beholder of which is well aware of the needs of the recipient.
      If some one says that it may not be so, then he is either negating his ability to recognize mercy, thereby any need for a causer or he is making an illogical claim that, it isn’t necessary for the causer of the event to be well aware of the needs of the recipient. Both of which signify ingratitude (Kufr). It is the recognition of mercy which is hard-coded within us, and is manifested with our dealings with people that grants one true understanding of Islam.

  2. Bacab,

    If there has to be an Ultimate Cause of reality, I failed to see why he is dead (impersonal) rather than living.

  3. Typical atheist responses I foresee:

    “lol u totilly didnt understand the atheist position”


    “you dont get sceince”

    “so u believe in a flying spagetti monster? LOL”

    “you didnt give any reasons to believe intuition is right haha fail”

    ….and so on.

  4. Some questions:

    1) Do anti-intuitionist consider intuition to be essentially dissimilar from deliberate thoughts? Or do they accept that both draw from the same pool of memories and undergo the same thought process, only that one is subconscious and/or instantaneous, while the other is self-observable and steerable by the conscious mind? Kinda like autopilot vs manual control.

    2) by saying: “Anomalies do not appear to disrupt the coherency of the impression ‘God’.”

    Did you mean “there exist no anomalies that can disrupt a set of coherent impressions of God”. I.e a robust definition of Godhood would adequately address atheistic arguments like Problem of Evil, Who Created God, His unfalsifiability, and Occam’s Razor? I.e. everything that is otherwise perceived as anomalies would be accounted for in the correct impression of God.

    3) re category error of comparing God with fairies etc i am not so clear on how Imagination vs conception resolves it. Can you explain further?

  5. Good Job on these articles. I find myself pretty amused on why a smart man like yourself can debate with these Atheists People like Sam Harris give so much red herrings and strawmans without people even finding out. I challenged him on Twitter two weeks ago on where he said Islam is violent and talking about Isaac Newton creating Calculus and he was not inspired by God. Reza Aslan did not catch it and I hate it when Liberal Muslims who do not practice their deen extensively, debate with top Athiests. I want you to keep up doing the good work. Moreover, I told Harris give me a verse that says “Muslims are told to hate non-believers”. Guess what. He muted me and I reassured myself that this man does not want people to know the truth. Please debate with these people because they are spreading mischief. Hamza Tzortzis is the best so far, but he sometimes keeps repeating the same arguments over and over again. I hope to see you destroy these people with Allah’s guidance.

    Salami Alikum

  6. Lol yeah ok. So first of all skepticism is not regarding everything as illusory. It is simply adopting an attitude of doubt towards something incredulous(God). Second of all, No, belief in God is not intuitive and not part of the shaped mental model that a child adopts as he navigates the world. If a child is not exposed to religious dogmas and doctrines, he will never adopt God into his coherent world view. The world will still be a mysterious place for him to explore and adore, but he will never give up his sense of wonder to pray 5 times a day or to visit Kabba. And third of all, the “religious experience” that atheists seem to have is not a submission to Allah. It is simply the sensation of being overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. It is an inspiration for creative spark which has produced so many great thinkers, poets, musicians without anyone needing to seek blessings from Allah. All your points are refuted. Your post was a waste of time.

    • Yes, you amazingly refuted all my arguments with a run on paragraph of unsubstantiated assumptions.

      I’m so impressed I think I’ll just never write again and concede the day to you for having provided such an erudite rebuttal. Surely, all my academic references from academic philosophers etc. have been trampled by your genius argument.

      Note the sarcasm

  7. Hi, fun article. Some criticism that might be useful:

    First, let us grant the following so that we have a common starting point:
    1) Reality exists
    2) Some part of Reality can be known (knowledge)
    3) Intuition exists and there is a general intuition in humans towards believing in God or some higher power that governs reality. (these assumptions are not rigorously outlined but should be clear despite any later nuances)

    Section 1:
    The first section of your argument attempts to refute the claim that intuition is unreliable because of a problem of ‘first impressions’. You then go on to say that a lack of data makes first impressions inaccurate, not the intuitive “cycle”. This implies that more knowledge can make the intuitive claim more accurate in terms of correctly describing reality. Your analogy about the mirage in the desert illustrates this point; if the proposition we are examining is ‘there is water in this desert’ (which is a statement about reality), and knowledge of mirages helps us to avoid the erroneous conclusion that some mirage is real water, then additional knowledge has made the ‘cycle’ of intuition more reliable. Therefore, you have argued that the accuracy of intuitive claims is correlated with the amount of relevant knowledge to inform our intuition. At this point we should probably agree; however, you then go on to say:

    “However, perhaps more damaging of anti-intuitionism is the fact that illusions even exist to begin with. In other words, the very idea of an ‘illusion’ is only possible if we are aware of the reality that is being obfuscated. To suggests that being tricked by an illusion demonstrates the unreliability of intuition is self-refuting – how can something so “unreliable” be able to correct itself? The very concept of ‘unreliability’ does not allow for the possibility of being reliable enough not to be unreliable!”

    At this point it looks like you are making a false dichotomy. You initially wanted to refute the claim that intuition is “not fully reliable” and now you are arguing against people who say that intuition is not reliable at all. This might be your intention, but I believe it is obvious that intuition is at least sometimes right. You have not presented a case on how often our intuition is right. All you have argued for is that more knowledge can make intuition more right – which suggests intuition needs a companion, namely a method that generates knowledge.

    The rest of your section on intuition addresses various biases (cognitive and otherwise) that can cloud intuition and lead to inconsistent beliefs. I think the tendency here that is a bit misleading is trying to isolate intuition from ‘first impressions’ and the cognitive biases you have listed (such as cognitive dissonance). These are not independent of intuition; and one’s intuition could be made more accurate if they were aware of and addressed these biases (this is the implication of your argument in this paragraph).

    As a side, I do not believe there is any evidence for the claim that “While it is commonly perceived that people choose their beliefs because they desire to find truth, in actuality, most choose beliefs based on convenience (e.g. economic gain, political gain, social status, etc.)”. A misunderstanding of pop psychology is the claim that people ‘choose beliefs’ in the sense that I can choose to lift my cup off the table. This is a myth.

    The conclusion of the first section is: intuition can be unreliable if it is based on a lack of relevant knowledge, or if it is clouded by biases. But this does not tell us anything about how reliable intuition is and more importantly, if intuition can be clouded by these kinds of biases then the claim that it is not fully reliable is true by your own admission.

    Section 2: Is Evidence Always Necessary?

    We can dismiss the claim that only scientific evidence can validate a belief because of true mathematical statements.

    On the general question of ‘do we need evidence’ you state:

    “So when is evidence necessary? Following the aforementioned discussion, it is clear that evidence is predicated on doubt, which in turn is predicated on the existence of anomalies.”

    This is fine; however, you then state:

    “When evidence is called for, the supposed anomaly is either incorporated into the paradigm or forces it to change. In other words, evidence is ultimately a response to data that challenges what we think we know; it is not the way we know. There is no need for evidence in every instance of data intake, because the reason we construct our worldviews (paradigms) is entirely for the sake of making our collective experiences coherent.”
    In the previous paragraphs you use an example of not doubting the existence of a tree when we go outside. The mistake here is that you are not considering that the reason we do not doubt the tree’s existence is because we have already accumulated enormous data on trees throughout our entire lives (possibly genetic memories also?). We don’t assume the tree is a tree; we have experienced trees and witnessed other humans experience trees so much that we enormous evidence to assume the behavior of the trees we see outside. You are correct to say that if a tree started to talk then we would have doubts as to 1) is that a tree? 2) is my understanding of trees missing something? But that only happens because we have so much experience with trees. In other words, the data our intuition uses begins to form as soon as we have sensory input from our surroundings and so we always have ‘evidence’ for our intuition; whether that evidence is good or bad is a different question!

    Section 3: Limitations of Science
    Let’s start off with the opening remark, which is really a continuation of the previous section:
    “Most atheists who believe that everything requires evidence are blissfully unaware that their own criteria cannot be validated – there is no evidence for the claim that “everything requires evidence”, much less that scientific evidence is superior to all others.”
    I believe there is a subtle strawman here, or at least some unpacking that should be done if one wants to be chartable. “Everything requires evidence” (a claim held by not just atheists) usually intends to mean that a belief is rational if and only if it is substantiated by some reasons. So, for any belief, the reasons held for that belief are basically the evidences, or ‘premises’, and the conclusion is the statement that is trying to be ‘proven’. This should sound familiar as ‘everything requires evidence’ is just the definition of an argument in logic. Scientific experiments are arguments whose premises we know to be true only probabilistically (i.e., they may be 100% true but we can only be confident up to a probability). So, yes, there is a circularity in asking for evidence for every claim, but that circularity is essentially just the circularity of assuming the laws of logic. If we do not assume the laws of logic, then we could dismiss your article on the onset.

    Furthermore, you state:
    1) Given Naturalism, explanations can only have meaning within the context of Naturalism.
    2) As such, no amount of experience of the natural world should allow for the possibility of conceiving meaningful explanations beyond the context of Naturalism.
    3) However, our experiences do allow for the conception of meaningful explanations beyond the context of Naturalism (i.e. God).
    C) Therefore, Naturalism is false.
    This requires an in-depth discussion, but it is not obvious supernatural is a coherent concept as you are using it. In any case, for this article I’d ask that you show that God is a member of the set supernatural and why this set is meaningful in the context of ‘limitations of science’.

    Section4 The Rationality of Believing in God Without Evidence
    1) Impressions are rational if and only if they cohere to the intuitive experience.
    2) Evidence is only necessary to validate impressions if anomalies appear to disrupt their coherency.
    3) Anomalies do not appear to disrupt the coherency of the impression ‘God’.
    C) Therefore, the impression ‘God’ is rational and evidence is not necessary for its validation.
    Premise 1 & 2 have not substantiated and premise 3 has not really been discussed.


    Intuition is only as reliable as the information that it is based on and the presence/absence of biases. Humans may have a natural inclination to ‘see’ God when they look at the universe; however, as discussed above, intuition could be muddled with biases and misinformation. The problem that you have not addressed is how do we know when our intuition is right or when it is wrong? When we see ‘God’ how do we know there is not a cognitive bias that is leading our intuition astray? Humans invented experiments and controls to eliminate the biases that cloud our intuition; such is the scientific method. Intuition is a good starting point, and as you said, it helps us paint narratives, but to verify our intuition is something that lies in the field of scientific inquiry (if it’s about the natural world) or logic (if it concerns reasoning).

    What I want to finish with is that you could stop at God is intuitively the best explanation for all that is. For some that is convincing. For atheists, that intuition is not enough and they may require something that is validated more substantially; this is the nature of skepticism I suppose and why some are more skeptical than others. Maybe atheists are narrow minded and maybe some theists are too open minded to their intuition. What I would suggest for you to do is re-assess your position that disbelievers are choosing to rebel against God. There are good reasons to be skeptical and there might be good reasons to believe, but it isn’t some obvious truth – one way or the other! How that squares with your religious beliefs is up to you.

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