Is Seeing God Enough to Believe?
What would happen if we could see God? Would it bring an end to all doubt about His existence and unite human beings into one religious family? Would it herald the start of a utopian society on earth? Imagine the average individual was able to see God. How long would they need to see Him to be convinced? Would they need to talk to God? Would other people believe that they had seen Him? And after seeing God, how can we be sure their mind would not play tricks on them and they would begin to doubt again? Would they sometime later need to see God again?
Do We Need to ‘See’ to ‘Know’?
‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ is a dismissive statement that we say when we are not convinced of the ‘it’ under discussion. We don’t need to ‘see’ in order to believe. We are perfectly capable of being convinced by being given the right proof, and if this was not the case our lives would be chaotic.
For example, before setting out on a trip, people check the weather and traffic conditions. If the most direct route is gridlocked, they would happily take a longer route. They do not need to ‘see’ the traffic to be convinced and change plans according to the information available.
In the same way, in every aspect of our lives, from working to socialising, we act according to the information available. We connect with other human beings without ‘seeing.’ We don’t need to have a video chat or see visual proof of our online colleagues, though we might be curious about them. We don’t doubt they are real because although we don’t see them, we see evidence like their mail, texts and documents.
The same point was made eloquently by a Bedouin in Arabia, when he was asked how he could be convinced of God when he had never seen him.
He replied: “Camel dung indicates camels, donkey dung indicates donkeys and footprints indicate travel. So the sky, with its constellations and the seas with its waves, do not these indicate the All-Knowing, the All-Powerful?”
The analogy may be simple – maybe even crude, but the point is profound. As humans, we are amazed by our own advancements in all spheres of knowledge, be it in architecture, technology or creativity. But we never ascribe our achievements to chance or a natural process. We accept our inventions all have inventors or manufacturers. Yet despite all advancements, they are insignificant when compared to the wonders of the ‘natural world.’ The tallest structure cannot compare to the tallest mountain; the brightest light is insignificant next to the sun; and the mighty civilisation is miniscule compared with the mind-blowing vastness of the universe.
If we cannot accept small creations could come into being spontaneously, is it not unreasonable to suppose the mountains, the sun and all of the universe does not have a powerful creator?
The Proof of God is All Around Us
The Quran tells us:
“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day, and the [great] ships which sail through the sea with that which benefits people, and what Allah has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every [kind of] moving creature, and [His] directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heaven and the earth are signs for a people who use reason.” [Noble Quran 2:164]
We have proof of an all-mighty Creator all around us. The Quran invites us to use our greatest faculty of reason to see the evidence of a Creator in His creation. Without seeing God, we can be firmly convinced of His existence.
Take any part of our world or the universe that fascinates you and you will not fail to find proof of the existence of God. From the harmonious functioning of the universe to the complex process that occurs in our own bodies. From the depths of the ocean to the clouds in the sky. From diversity of human language, food and culture to the world of animals that are perfectly designed for their specific environment. The evidence does not show any accidents or evolutionary adaptations taking place but rather it shows a carefully planned, designed, sustained and beautiful universe by a Supreme Creator. In other words, in the creation, we can ‘see’ God.
Our Innate Nature Knows God Exists
A belief in the Supreme Creator of all that exists is ingrained in human nature. Even if we choose not to see God in the evidence that is around us, our true nature cannot deny it. At times of distress and disaster in our lives, our true nature shines through; when we are faced with the imminent prospect of our own death or of our child or other loved one, even the hardest atheist is forced to cry out to God. Despite all our advancements, we cannot control life and death, or control the rainfall or the wind, let alone alter any part of the revolving universe even by a tiny fraction. In the face of our own limitations, when we deny that God exists, we fumble for a word to describe the Power and wisdom of God that we can see and feel. We resort to words like ‘mother nature,’ ‘laws of nature,’ ‘natural process’ or even ‘order of the universe.’ It is a reluctant acknowledgement that there is a power controlling the universe.
The Quran asks those who don’t believe:
“Or were they created by nothing, or were they the creators [of themselves]? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Rather, they are not certain.” [Noble Quran 52:35-36]
“Is Allah better or what they associate with Him?” [More precisely], is He [not best] who created the heavens and the earth and sent down for you rain from the sky, causing to grow thereby gardens of joyful beauty which you could not [otherwise] have grown the trees thereof? Is there a deity with Allah? [No], but they are a people who ascribe equals [to Him].” [Noble Quran 27:59-60]
In the face of all the evidence around us and within us, it is entirely reasonable to believe in the existence of God and being firmly convinced of His power and wisdom without ever having seen God.
But I Still Want to See God
A person may be convinced that God exists but they may still ask: ‘Why can’t I see God?’
How can the believer not marvel at the creation and power of God and desire to see God himself?
In the Quran, we are told the story of Prophet Moses and how he asked to see God. He had no doubt about the existence of God, but since he had been given an appointed time and place to speak to God, Prophet Moses assumed that he would see God too. The Quran states:
“And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said,
“My Lord, show me [Yourself] that I may look at You.” [Allah] said, “You will not see Me, but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.” But when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious. And when he awoke, he said, “Exalted are You! I have repented to You, and I am the first of the believers.” [Noble Quran 7:143]
We Are Physically Incapable of Seeing God
When God appeared to the mountain, it shattered into pieces, because He is not similar to anything that we know and we are unable to comprehend and see Him.
“Vision perceives Him not, but He perceives [all] vision; and He is the Subtle, the Acquainted.” [Noble Quran 6:103]
“[He is] Creator of the heavens and the earth. He has made for you from yourselves, mates, and among the cattle, mates; He multiplies you thereby. There is nothing like unto Him, and He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” [Noble Quran 42:11]
What we know is our world and it is in this world, with certain condition that we are able to survive. If those conditions change, such as atmosphere, gravity, temperature, then we could not survive on this planet.
Belief In The Unseen
The limits to abilities we face are imposed on us by God. He did not give us the ability to see Him, but He did give us the capacity to know that He exists. There will, however, come a point when the unseen will become known to us – a point where God will give us the ability to see what we previously could not. We will then see the unseen such as death, the grave, the angels, the day of judgement and the afterlife.
Those who believed in the unseen, without having seen, and acted according to God’s commands as they were revealed to His prophet Muhammad will be supremely successful.
It is these successful ones who will ultimately ‘see’ God. They will be given the ability to see God without shattering like the mountain. It will be a beautiful confirmation of what they always knew.