“THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ARGUMENT”
Now take the psychological argument, which holds that far from being a reality, the concept of God and the life hereafter is a myth, a mere fiction, a stretching of the human personality and human wishes to the cosmic scale. I fail to understand what possible basis there can be for this claim. Moreover, if I were indeed to claim that human personality and human wishes did, in fact, exist on a cosmic plane, I doubt if my antagonists would have sufficient factual data to refute my claim.
If we are to talk of scales, let us see what is happening at the atomic level, where we are dealing with infinitesimally small distances. According to the Bohr theory, an invisible atom possesses an internal structure similar to our solar system, with electrons revolving around a nucleus in the same way that planets revolve around the sun. How vastly different the scales, for in the solar system, distances are measured in millions of miles. Yet, in spite of the scales being so different as to boggle the imagination, the systems are exactly the same.
Would it be any wonder then if the consciousness, which we as human beings experience existed on a cosmic scale but in a totally perfect form? As an intellectual exercise, it is no more difficult to accept this, than to accept the notion that genes, although only microscopic elements in the human embryo, control the growth and development of a six-foottall man. Might not the human and natural desire for a world immeasurably vaster than our own be an echo—spiritual and otherworldly—of a world already existing in this universe in a form invisible to human eyes?
Psychologists are right in holding that sometimes ideas are repressed in our minds during childhood, which erupt at a later stage in an extra-ordinary form. But to infer that it is this very characteristic in humans which has given birth to religion is to jump to wrong conclusions. It is a misinterpretation, if not an actual distortion of a perfectly ordinary fact. It is as if observing a potter designing an image of clay, I deduce that it must be he who has created human beings. Image making and the creation of the human body differ from each other in so qualitative a fashion that to draw any parallels with God’s creativity would be utterly preposterous. It is only minds which see fit to make such analogies which look upon religion as a result of the inchoate ramblings of mentally deranged individuals.
It is a general weakness of modern thought that it jumps to extraordinary conclusions on the basis of facts which carry no weight from the logical point of view. An emotionally disturbed individual may babble abnormally under the influence of thoughts repressed in the unconscious, but how does this prove that the knowledge of the universe revealed to the prophets is also a ‘babbling’ of the same nature—a ‘miracle’ of the unconscious? It is possible to accept incoherence in sleeping and in waking as the result of mental disturbance, but to assert that this is the true source of divine revelation is to descend to illogical and unscientific argument.
It merely shows that those who reason in this way are hard put to find any other criterion by which to judge the extraordinary words of the prophets. It does not follow that because agnostics possess only one yardstick by which to measure reality, there exists, de facto, one and only one such yardstick.
Let us suppose that a group of creatures, who possessed the faculty of hearing, but not that of speech, landed on earth from a distant planet. On hearing the conversation and discourses of human beings they started to investigate sound. What was it, and where did it come from? In the course of their research, they came across a tree whose branches, being interlocked, produced grating, squeaking noises because of the friction accidentally created by sudden, squally winds. As soon as the wind stopped blowing, the noise stopped too. This phenomenon was repeated with each gust of wind.
Now an ‘expert’ from amongst them, on careful observation of this phenomenon, conveyed telepathically that the secret of human speech had been discovered, namely, that the teeth in the upper and lower jaws in the human mouth were responsible for producing sound. When the upper and lower teeth came close together – causing friction – a sound was produced called human speech. The friction between two objects does, in fact, produce sound, but just as it is incorrect to explain the origin of human speech by referring to this friction, it is likewise ludicrous to explain prophetic words as garbled utterances welling up from a deeply troubled unconscious.
The thoughts suppressed in the unconscious mind are mostly those reprehensible wishes which could not be realized for fear of social and familial castigation. For instance, if someone felt a desire to have incestuous relations with his sister or his daughter, he should repress such feelings, lest their expression should bring down upon him the full weight of social censure. Similarly, if any one felt inclined to commit murder, the fear he would have of being put behind bars and the ensuing feelings of frustration would very likely cause him to repress his initial impulses.
In other words, the wishes, suppressed in the unconscious, are mostly such evil designs as could not be realized for fear of punishment and/or social ostracism. Now, if the subconscious part of the mind of a mentally disturbed person begins to find an outlet, what is likely to come gushing out of it?
Obviously the afflicted person will talk incoherently while attempting to give expression to those same hostile feelings and evil desires, which had remained suppressed in his subconscious. And, if we are to think of him as a prophet, it will be as a prophet of evil, certainly not of good. Religious thoughts expressed in prophetic diction are, by comparison, virtue and purity par excellence. The true prophet is, himself, the epitome of virtue and his purity in thought, word and deed has no parallel. His ideas, moreover, exercise such a powerful influence upon people that the very society from which, at one time, the prophet had initially to conceal his ideas – out of fear – is now so greatly attracted towards them, that even after a lapse of centuries together, it still steadfastly adheres to them.
From the psychological point of view, the unconscious mind is actually a vacuum. In it, nothing initially exists. It receives all impressions through the conscious part of the mind. This implies that the unconscious stores only those experiences to which people have been exposed at one time or the other. The unconscious can never become a repository for facts which have not been experienced. But, surprisingly, religion as proclaimed by the prophets, contains truths which were previously unknown to them and for that matter, to the entire human race. It was only with the advent of the prophets that certain facts could be propagated. Had the unconscious been the repository on which they drew, they could not have become the purveyors of great, but unknown truths which they were.
To be continued, Insha Allah…
THE LIMIT OF SCIENCE