Human senses are limited in their capacity to see, feel, or measure objects. Thus, they constrict the domain of human knowledge. Be it the reality of an atom or what lies beyond this universe, these are the facts that are beyond the human capacity to perceive. It can merely be based on guess or speculation. Help could be sought from the rules that govern the natural phenomena. Thus, one could be partly successful in explaining the metaphysical phenomena arguing from these physical phenomena. Even the physical world carries several hints about the metaphysical domain. Without this, even this world would perhaps be much more mysterious place. Inherent in the physical phenomena is the fact that there exists a great source of metaphysical power, which pulls the string all over the vast universe. And these metaphysical realities could only be perceived and proved through argument, which clearly lies in the ambit of philosophy.
It must be understood here that partial realities of the physical world could act as a set of premises in proving the existence of the Almighty God, His creative prowess, sustenance, omnipotence, and omniscience. Scientific facts can, however, only play a marginal role; the larger principles have to be deduced at the philosophical level. Thus scientific facts clearly points to the existence of a creator and a sustainer for the entire universe. The modern physics, rather than the ancient one, bear clearer references to the reality of God. Writings of the noted scientists Sir Arthur Eddington and Sir James Jeans could be a guide. Every speck of this universe testifies to this reality. The Qur’an says:
“On the earth are signs for those of assured faith, as also in your own selves. Will you not see then?” (59: 2)
The Qur’an, therefore, invites man to ponder over phenomena of universe and unravel the mysteries embedded in them, which carry metaphysical insights and lessons for humanity. Some scientists were clear in their perception that at the root of the entire physical system lies the ultimate reality of a truly universal mind or self which is far from being mechanical. Newton said:
“The business of natural philosophy to argue from phenomena … and to deduce causes from effects till we come to the very first cause which certainly is not mechanical.”
Science was never rebellious against religion while it was nurtured by the Muslims or in the Islamic ambience. However as the baton of scientific discoveries was passed on to the Europe, it began to assume materialistic contours. Lack of foresight by the church and the Christians contributed immensely to this development. This precise study does not afford any discussion here.
Materialist philosophy began to influence the human mind around the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the wake of the emergence of new scientific concepts. They were in the nature of explaining the creation of the universe from purely material perspective. This unleashed an avalanche. There were no holds barred. Materialists had then no qualms in likening the entire universe to a machine, which once put into place, went on its own force producing a whole lot of physical forces. Even human beings were interpreted as machines where choice and instincts had no role. It went even further. Matter and energy were held as eternal and indestructible. Matter was nothing but a bundle of compressed atoms, which were bonded together with gravitational force. Universe had no beginning and was eternal. Some even went to the extreme of declaring that once the universe came into being, it needed none to sustain it; belief in God is redundant. It is like bidding farewell to the creator of the universe after due thanks. Sir James Jeans describes the materialistic philosophy that emerged between seventeenth and nineteenth centuries in the following words:
“The final establishment of this law as the primary guiding principle in nature was the triumph of the seventeenth century, the great century of Galileo and Newton. Apparitions in the sky were shown to result merely from the universal laws of optics; comets, which had hitherto been regarded as portents of the fall of empires or the death of kings, were proved to have their motions prescribed by the universal law of gravitation. ‘And’ wrote Newton would that the rest of the phenomena of nature could be deduced by a like kind of reasoning from mechanical principles.
“Out of this resulted a movement to interpret the whole material universe as a machine, a movement which steadily gained force until it’s culmination in the latter half of the nineteenth century. It was then that Helmholtz declared that ‘the final aim of all natural science is to resolve itself into machinist’”.
This mind-set led to the belief that human life and the brain too were subjected to mechanical action. The fact is that all those claims that were advanced on the basis of the materialistic theories were rooted in the Maxwell and Newton’s assumptions and laws of motion, whereas the twentieth century discoveries have amply disproved them by the theory of relativity. Similarly the quantum theory has made the mechanical concept of the law of causation redundant. On these same lines, the theory of atom being indivisible or indestructible has been rendered obsolete due to the discovery of the elementary particles. Moreover, the fact that the matter has been proved to be ‘solid energy’ has put the seal of verification over extinction of matter. Consequently, matter could be converted into energy and vice versa, given the discoveries in the twentieth century. Likewise, the second law of thermodynamics has invalidated the law of conservation of energy. It is widely known today that stars are continually losing their body mass due to radiation.
In fact until the culmination of the nineteenth century the world of science was unanimous in its acceptance of the three major conservation laws, those of the conservation of matter, mass, and energy. They meant that matter and mass could never be annihilated and would remain in some form or the other ceaselessly. The energy, that is electricity, light, steam, sound, and magnetism too was eternal but the findings of the twentieth century have rendered them invalid as it has been fully substantiated that they are only the different forms of one single entity. Today, matter is frozen; energy is ‘fluid matter’. They are interchangeable too. Thus, following the discovery of elementary particles, matter is no more solid, and has been proved to be composed of electrical waves or radiations. These radiations are continuously spreading out in the space and dissolving themselves. As a result, stars are losing their mass through constant radiation.
Modern physics had its beginning in 1895 when X-rays were discovered. In this context, noted Philosopher C.E.M Joad writes:
“Ultimately, therefore, the fate of the universe is to dissolve into radiation; there would be neither sunlight nor starlight but only a cool glow of radiation uniformly diffused through space.”
It is therefore, estimated that the sun radiates nearly 250 million tons of energy a minute. Hence the ‘death’ of matter is in reality the death of materialism. Inherent in these scientific facts is the reality that the age of materialism is over. It has several insights for us, yet some materialists are hell bent upon the orthodox theories.