The Qur'an and the Nature of Life
3. The Origin Life and the Divine Will
Here it is essential to discover the reason why ordinarily the theists refer to the origin and beginnings of life when relating life to the Divine will, and to discover as well the reason why the Noble Qur’an has never taken this path in its effort to affirm monotheism, considering as it does life and biological developments absolutely the direct result of God’s will, without making any distinction whatsoever between the beginning of life and its continuation.
The truth is that this difference arises from a more fundamental difference between the logic of the Qur’an and all other approaches. It lies in this that a group of theists ordinarily see God from the negative, not the positive, aspect of their knowledge. That is, when faced with a failure to overcome something unknown, they bring in God. They always seek God amid the mass of things unknown to them. That is, they always go after things whose natural causes are unknown to them. When in a certain case they encounter something whose natural cause is unknown to them, they immediately proclaim: “This was brought into existence by God’s will.” Inevitably, the more the number of things whose natural causes are unknown to them, the more their evidence of God’s existence, and the more the number of things known and explained, the lesser evidence they seem to have for God’s existence. For a group of theologists and adherents of monotheism, the supernatural realm is a storehouse of their unknowns. Whenever they fail to understand and know something and to discover its natural cause, they immediately relate it to the supernatural. They see the role of the supernatural as lying in, what appears to them as, exceptions to the natural order and violations of the course of nature. When they do not find a natural cause in a certain case, they substitute it with a supernatural one, unmindful of the fact that, firstly, the supernatural realm has its own order and law; secondly, they forget that if a cause takes the place of a material and natural cause, the substitute cause must itself be a material and natural cause on a par with matter and nature. It does not remain a supernatural cause. The natural and supernatural exist on separate planes and not the same plane. Neither a natural cause can take the place of a supernatural cause, nor a supernatural cause the place of a natural cause.
The Holy Qur’an never relies for the evidence of the existence of the One God on cases where the system of natural law and order appears to have been violated. It relies in this regard on cases whose preliminaries and natural causes are known to the people, and it cites this order itself as a testimony to God’s existence.
In the case of life, the logic of the Qur’an rests on the view that life is absolutely an emanation (fayd) higher and above the horizon of the physical and the sensible. Whatever the character of the laws involved in it, its source lies on a plane higher than that of sensible matter. Hence, the developments of life are the developments of creation. From the viewpoint of this logic, it makes no difference whether life was created instantaneously, in a single moment, or in the form of a gradual evolution, with one creation following another.
This logic rests on the principles that sensible matter is essentially devoid of life and that life is a light and emanation that must come from a higher source. Hence the laws of life, whatever form they may have, are the same as the laws of creation.
The difference between the existential degrees and planes of matter and life is a scientific and proved principle. Should we want to discover the supernatural source of life through the difference of existential planes between matter and life, it has to be on the basis of the positive aspects of our knowledge, not its negative aspects. Thereby we would be searching for God in what is known to us, not in what is unknown to us. Then we would not be compelled to bring down the supernatural from its plane as a substitute for a natural cause that we may fail to discover. Rather, we would assume that a natural cause is definitely involved though the frontiers of scientific knowledge have not yet reached it.
Sadr al Muta’allihin (Mulls Sadra), in the part of his book al ‘Asfar concerning the soul, severely attacks Fakhr al Din al Razi precisely for this reason. He says:
“I am amazed at this man and the likes of him who, whenever they want to prove the doctrine of tawhid or some other religious doctrine, look for instances where the natural cause involved has not been recognized and where according to their belief the order of the world has been violated and laws have been broken.” 1
1. See Usul e falsafeh wa rawish a riyalism, iii, 220.