January 2, 2009
A Question–Religious Impulse?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I had a discussion with a non Muslim friend of mine on a rather interesting quetion:
Is there an intrinsic human impulse to believe in a religion or God?
She argued that in times of desperation, it is a natural human quality to turn to something for comfort (family, God, money, etc.). There is also the universal need of security and intimacy (which can be found in religion, people, oneself, an object, etc.) and that above all, human beings have the impulse of the nature to want everything to be explained why existence came to be, which religion and the existence of God can explain. (Sounds a bit God-of-the-gapsish, no?)
The problem I saw with her argument was that it did not address the question. God can be an answer to other impulses, but is there an impulse for God (or religion)? Human beings may have the need to want something, but it does not necessarily have to be God.
I argued that from an Islamic perspective (note: it is subjective) that in Islam, whatever we turn to IS a person’s god (ilah) be it money, people or the actual Allah. So with the definition that whatever we seek intimacy, security and purpose with is one’s religion and God, then, yes, in Islam, there is a belief in an intrinsic human impulse.
But on the objective field (without any presumptions) is there an innate impulse? History could suggest it from human behavior, but human behavior has many, MANY factors to explain it (including random variables), so it would not be a legitimate source. The “God-gene” has not been discovered yet and that leaves us with no substantiated methods of evaluating that question from an objective standpoint. (Keyword: objective.)
I found it to be an interesting question that I wanted to share, but at the same time, I do not have an answer. I do not even know if there is an answer that can be proven properly. But one thing that people need to think about is that even if we do not know the answer now or that we may never find the answer, that doesn’t stop the answer from existing.It is often a mistake people think–if we cannot prove it, it must not exist. If a blind person can’t see, does it stop the idea of visiual stimulus from existing?