July 4, 2017
The Koran strongly recommends pondering and meditating the Creation to find the Creator. Hence, the so-called “cosmological verses”, which are frequently quoted as one of the many miracles in the Koranic text. The exploration of the world is encouraged, provided the explorer is wise enough to recognize that the harmony that is present in the cosmos originates in God.
By looking at the cosmos, the intelligence He put in us constantly meets His intelligence. Several Koranic verses draw the reader’s attention to the numerical order that is present in the cosmos. The cosmic regularities which are a consequence of God’s will, can thus be qualified as “mathematical regularities.
The esoteric doctrines of Islam go one step further. According to the views of the Akbarian school, funded after the work of Muhyi-d-din Ibn Arabi (1165 — 1240), the Creation is God’s self-disclosure of Himself through the veils and signs of the creatures.
The things “are” not, since only God is. They only own a given preparation to receive being and qualities from God. The (relative) stability of cosmic phenomena is rooted in God’s (absolute) immutability. However, the status of the cosmos is paradoxical, between absolute Being, God Himself, and absolute nothingness. As a consequence, we cannot expect to reach clear-cut statements about the fundamental reality of the world.
According to the Islamic theology, God does not act by fixing the laws of physics and the initial conditions and letting the world evolve mechanistically. As a matter of fact, there is nothing like secondary causes, simply because God, as the “primary” cause, does not cease to create again the world at each instant. In this continuous renewal of creation, the atoms and their accidents are created anew at each time.
The regularities that are observed in the world are not due to causal connection, but to a constant conjunction between the phenomena, which is a habit or custom established by God’s will. This principle of the Islamic theology apparently contradicts the views of modern science, which of course stipulate the existence of secondary causes. But we must understand the negation of causality by the Islamic tradition as an emphasis on the metaphysical mystery of the continuous validity of the laws. This questioning on causality is not an obstacle to our scientific investigation of the cosmos. On the contrary, it prompts us to reflect upon the way God acts, and shows His signs “upon the horizons” (Koran, 41:53).
In the Middle Ages, the distance to God’s throne was “measured” by the Arab astronomer al-Farghani to 120 million km, under simple assumptions on the properties of the planetary spheres in the paradigm of the Ptolemaic cosmology. The renewal of creation taught by the Islamic doctrines also means the continuous appearance of new creatures. At each level of the cosmos, there are always new things. God is infinite and “self-disclosure never repeats itself”. So God’s self-disclosure is endless. What appears in the Creation exactly corresponds to the flow of possible things.
This is why, according to al-Ghazali (1058 – 1111), “there is nothing in possibility more wondrous than what is”, because what is actually reflects God’s desire to show to us. This helps us understand the Prophetic saying: “Curse not time, for God is time.
The production of an infinite number of “patches” of the physical universe described by chaotic inflation, reflects God’s eternal self-disclosure. The appearance of “emerging properties” at all levels of complexity, and particularly the appearance of life and intelligence, is another aspect of this continuous self-disclosure. This is why Ibn Arabi comments:
This is why Ibn Arabi comments:
God does not become bored that you should become bored.