Chapter 4: Matter or God
In the previous chapter1, we reached the conclusion that the highest and most primary principle of the universe or the world in general is a cause necessary in essence, to which the chain of causes leads. Now, the new question is this: 'Is that which is necessary in essence and which is considered the first source of existence matter itself or something else beyond the limits of matter?' Putting this question in a philosophical form, we say: ' Is the efficient cause of the world the same as the material cause, or it is not?'
For the purpose of clarification, we take the chair as an example. The chair is just a specific quality or form produced by a specific organization of a number of material parts. That is why the chair cannot exist without a matter of wood, iron or the like.
Because of this, the wood is called a material cause of a wooden chair, since it is impossible for the wooden chair to exist without it. But it is very clear chat this material cause is not the real cause which is responsible for making the chair. The real agent of the chair is something other than its matter. it is the carpenter.
For this reason, philosophy gives the carpenter the name 'efficient cause'. The efficient cause of the chair is not the same as its material cause, be that wood or iron. Thus, if we are asked about the matter of the chair, we answer that it is the wood. If, (p. 988) on the other hand, we are asked about the maker of the chair (the efficient cause), we do not answer that it is the wood. Rather, we say that the carpenter makes it with his tools and by his own methods.
Therefore, the difference between the matter and the agent of the chair (philosophically speaking, between the material cause and the efficient cause) is fully clear. Our main purpose with respect to this issue is to show the same difference between the world's primary matter (the material cause) and its real agent (the efficient cause).
Is the agent or maker of this world something external to the limits of matter and different from matter, as the maker of the chair is different from the wooden matter; or is it the same as the matter of which the existents of this world are composed? This is the issue that will determine the last stage of the philosophical conflict between theology and materialism. The dialectic is nothing but one of the unsuccessful attempts that materialism makes to unite the efficient cause and the material cause of the world, in accordance with the laws of dialectical contradiction.
In keeping with the procedure of this work, we will discuss the present issue in a philosophical study of matter in light of scientific facts and philosophical rules, avoiding philosophical depth in the discussion and details in the presentation.
There are two scientific notions of matter that scientists have investigated and studied for thousands of years. One of these notions is that all the material things that are known to exist in nature are composed of nothing but a limited number of simple matter called 'elements'. The other notion is that matter is formed (p. 334) of very small or minute things called 'atoms'.
The first notion was accepted by the Greeks in general. The common view was to consider water, air, earth and fire as simple elements, and to reduce all composite things to them, since these elements are the primary matters of nature.
Later, some Arab scientists tried to add to these four elements three more elements: sulfur, mercury and salt. According to the ancients the properties of the simple elements are marks that distinguish these elements from one another. Thus, no simple element can change to another simple element.
As for the second notion - namely, that things are composed of small atoms - it was the subject of disagreement between two theories: the theory of discrete matter [or the atomistic theory] (an-nazariyya al-infisaliyya),2 and the theory of continuous matter (an-nazariyya al-itisalliyya).3 The disjunctive theory is the atomistic theory of the Greek philosopher Democritus. It asserts that a body is composed of small parts permeated by void.
Democritus called these parts 'atoms' or 'indivisible parts'. The continuum theory is more predominant than the disjunctive theory. It was adopted by Aristotle and members of his school. According to the claims of this theory, a body does not have atoms, and it is not composed of small units. Rather, it is one solid thing that can be divided into parts, separated by division. It is not the case that prior to division it has such parts.
After this, modern physics played its role [with regard to this issue]. It studied scientifically the above two notions in light of its discoveries in the atomic world. Basically, it confirmed the two notions, the notion of simple elements and the notion of atoms. But it disclosed new facts in the sphere of each of them that were unattainable earlier.
Regarding the first notion, physics discovered around one hundred (p. 335) simple elements of which the primary matter of the universe or nature in general is composed. Thus, even if the world appears at first sight as a stupendous assembly of realities and various species, still this varied, stupendous mass is reduced by scientific analysis to this limited I number', of elements.
On the basis of this, substances4 are divided into two kinds: (1) a substance5 which is simple, consisting of one of those [simple] elements, such as gold, brass, iron, lead or mercury; (2) a substance6 composed of two [simple] elements or of a number of simple elements, such as water, which is composed of one atom of oxygen and two atoms of hydrogen, or wood which, on the whole, is composed of oxygen, carbon and hydrogen.
With regard to the second notion, modern physics scientifically proved the theory of discrete matter, and that simple elements are composed of small or minute atoms, such that one millimeter of matter involves millions of atoms. The atom is the minute part of an element. The division of such a part leads to the disappearance of the properties of that simple element.
An atom has a central nucleus and electrical charges that move around the nucleus at a great speed. These electrical charges are the electrons. An electron is the unit of a negative charge. Also, the nucleus has protons and neutrons. A proton is a small particle. Every single proton unit carries a positive charge equal to the negative charge of an electron. A neutron is another kind of particle also contained in the nucleus, and it carries no electrical charge.
In light of the clear difference in the wave length of the rays (p. 336) produced by the bombardment of chemical elements by means of electrons, it was noticed that this difference among the elements had occurred just because of their difference with respect to the number of electrons that their atoms have.
Their difference in the number of electrons also requires their difference in the quantity of positive charge present in the nucleus. This is because the electric charges of the atom are equal. The positive charge of the atom is of the same quantity as that of its negative charge.7 Since an increase in the number of electrons in some elements over the number of electrons in some other elements means an increase in the units of the negative charge in the former elements, the nuclei of such elements must also contain a corresponding [increase in] positive charge. On this basis, numbers in an ascending order were assigned to the elements.
Hence, the atomic number of hydrogen is 1. Thus, in its nucleus, hydrogen contains one positive charge carried by one proton and around which revolves one electron having a [unit negative charge. Helium is situated higher than hydrogen in the atomic table of elements, since fits atomic number] is equal to 2; for it contains in its nucleus twice the positive charge which is centered in the hydrogen nucleus. That is, the helium nucleus contains two protons around which orbit two electrons. The number 3 is assigned to lithium.
The atomic numbers continue ascending until they reach uranium, which is the heaviest of all elements discovered to the present day. The atomic number of uranium is equal to 92. This means that its central nucleus contains 92 units of the positive charge. Also an equal number of electrons - that is, units of the negative charge surround its nucleus.
The neutrons in the nucleus do not seem to have the slightest effect on this chain of atomic numbers, since they do not carry any charge. Rather, they affect the atomic weight of elements, for they are equal in weight to the protons.
Due to this, the atomic weight of helium, for example, is equal to the weight of four hydrogen atoms. This is because the helium nucleus contains two neutrons and two protons, while the hydrogen nucleus contains only one proton. (p. 387)
One of the truths that science was able to determine is the possibility of the transformation of the elements into one another. Some processes of such transformation occur in nature, while some others occur by scientific means.
It has been observed that the element of uranium produces three types of rays: alpha rays, beta rays and gamma rays. When Rutherford8 examined these types, he found that alpha rays are composed of small particles to which negative electrical charges are attached. As a result of scientific tests, it became evident that alpha particles are nothing but helium atoms. This means that helium atoms proceed from the uranium atoms. In other words, the element helium is produced from the element uranium.
Similarly, after the element uranium emits alpha rays, beta rays and gamma rays, it changes gradually into another element, which is the element radium. Radium has a lighter atomic weight than that of uranium. In turn, radium undergoes a number of elemental transformations, until it reaches the element lead.
After chat, Rutherford made the first attempt to transform one element into another. He performed this by colliding the nuclei of helium atoms (alpha particles) with the nuclei of nitrogen atoms, thus producing neutrons. That is, a hydrogen atom was produced from a nitrogen atom, and the nitrogen atom was transformed into oxygen. Moreover, it was shown that it is possible for some part of the atom to change into another part. Thus, during the process of atomic division, a proton can cut into a neutron, and via versa.
Thus, the transformation of elements became one of the basic processes in science. But science did not stop at this. Rather, is began an attempt to transform matter into (p. 338) pure energy - to strip the element completely of the quality of materiality, in light of an aspect of the relativity theory of Einstein, who asserted that the mass of an object is relative and not fixed. It is increased with the increase in velocity.
This was confirmed by the experiments chat scientists of atomic physics made on the electrons that move in a strong electrical field and on the beta particles that are emitted from the nuclei of radioactive substances. Since the mass of a moving body is increased by an increase in the motion of that body, and since motion is nothing but-one of the manifestations of energy, the mass which is increased in that body is that body's increased energy.
Therefore, there are no two distinct elements in the universe as scientists had believed earlier, one of which being sensible matter which is represented to us in a mass, and the other energy which is invisible and has no mass. Rather, it became known to science that mass is nothing but concentrated energy.
In his equation, Einstein says that energy is equal to the mass of muter times the velocity of light squared (E = mc2 where E is energy, m mass, and c velocity of light). The velocity of light is equal to 816,000 miles per second. Also, the mass is equal to the energy divided by the velocity of light squared (m= E/c2).
With this, it became established that the atom with its protons and electrons is nothing in reality but concentrated energy that can be analyzed and reduced to its primordial state. Thus, according to the modern analysis, energy is the substratum9 of the world. It is manifested in various shapes and in numerous forms, whether sonic, magnetic, electrical, chemical or mechanical.
In light of this, the duality between matter and radiation, between particles and waves, and between the appearance of electrons sometimes as matter and some other times as light was no longer strange. (p. 339) Rather, it became somewhat understood; since all these phenomena are [but] forms of one reality, namely, energy.
Experiments confirmed in practice the soundness of these theories, since scientists were able to change matter into energy and energy into matter. Matter changes into energy by way of the union between the nucleus of the hydrogen atom and the nucleus of the lithium atom. The result of this is two nuclei of helium atoms plus energy, which is in fact the difference between the atomic weight of two helium nuclei and the atomic weight of a hydrogen nucleus and a lithium nucleus.
Energy also changes into matter by way of the transformation of gamma rays (this is the kind of ray chat has energy, but is weightless) into material particles of negative electrons and positive electrons which, in turn, are transformed into energy, if the positive particles among them clash with the negative ones.
The mightiest explosion from [any known] substance that science has been able to effect is that which the atomic and the hydrogen bombs can achieve. By means of these two explosions, a part of matter is transformed into enormous energy. [The key] concept [behind] the atomic bomb rests on the possibility of the destruction of matter having heavy atoms, such that each of these atoms divides into two or more nuclei of lighter elements. This is accomplished by the destruction of the nucleus in some isotopes of the uranium element (uranium 235), as a result of the collision of the neutron with the nucleus.
The idea of the hydrogen bomb rests on the union of the nuclei of light atoms; so that, after their fusion, they become nuclei of atoms that are heavier chart the light atoms [they originated from], such chat the new mass of these nuclei is less than the initial formative mass. It is this difference in mass that appears in the form of energy.
One of the methods for [reaching this result] is to fuse four (p. 340) hydrogen atoms by means of incense pressure and heat to produce a helium atom plus [some] energy, which is the difference in weight between the resulting atom and the atoms that were fused.10 This [corresponds to] a very small fraction [of loss] in atomic weight.
The scientific fact presented above lead to a number of conclusions.
The original matter of the world is one reality common to all things existent and all phenomena of the world. This common reality appears in different shapes and takes on various forms.
All the qualities of material compounds are accidental in relation to the primary matter. Thus, the quality of the fluidity of water is not essential to the matter of which water consists. Rather, it is an accidental quality. This is evidenced by the fact that water, as we have learned earlier, is composed of two simple elements that can be separated from each other, and thus return to their state of vapor. At that point, the character of water completely disappears. It is clear that the qualities that are removable from a thing cannot be essential to that thing.
The qualities of the simple elements themselves are not essential to matter either, let alone the qualities of composites. The scientific evidence for this is the previously mentioned transformation of some elements into some other elements, and the transformation of some atoms of these elements into some other atoms, whether naturally or artificially.
This shows that the qualities of the elements are only accidental qualities of matter, which is common to all simple elements. The qualities of radium, lead, nitrogen and oxygen are not essential to the matter represented in these elements, since it is possible to transform them into one another. (p. 341)
Finally, in light of the above-mentioned facts, the quality of materiality itself also becomes accidental. It is nothing more than a kind or form of energy since, as mentioned, it may substitute this form for another; thus, matter changes into energy and the electron into electricity.
If we take these scientific conclusions into consideration, we must explore them philosophically in order to know whether or not it is possible to assume that matter is the first cause (the efficient cause) of the world. We do not hesitate to assert that the philosophical answer to this issue is absolutely in the negative.
This is because the primary matter of the world is a single reality common to all the phenomena and beings of the world. It is not possible that one reality has various effects and different actions. Scientific analysis of water, wood, earth, iron, nitrogen, lead and radium leads, in the final analysis, to one matter which we find in all these elements and in all those composites. The matter of every one of these things is not different from the matter of the other.
That is why it is possible to transfer the matter of one thing to something else. How then can we ascribe the variety of things and the difference in the movements of things to chat primary matter that we find in all things? If this were possible, it would mean that a single reality may have contradictory manifestations and different orders.
But this will definitely overthrow all the natural sciences with no exception; for all these sciences are based on the idea that a single reality has the same specific manifestations and laws. This was studied in detail in the previous chapter of the present investigation. We had said that the natural scientist's experiments are carried on specific subjects only. (p. 342) In spite of this, the natural scientist postulates his general scientific law, which applies to anything whose reality is concordant with the subjects of the experiments.
This is only because the subjects to which he extended the applicability of the law involve the same reality that he studied in his particular experiments. This amounts to saying that a single, common reality cannot have contradictory manifestations and different effects. If any of this were possible, it would not be possible for the scientist to posit his general law.
From this we know that the material reality which is common to the world, as science has shown, cannot be the agent or efficient cause of the world, due to the fact that the world is full of different phenomena and various developments.
The above treats one point. Another point is this. In light of the above scientific conclusions, we learn that the properties or qualities that matter manifests in the various spheres of its existence are accidental to the primary matter or the common material reality. The properties of composites, for example, are accidental to the simple elements. Also, the properties of simple elements are accidental to the atomic matter.
Further, the property of materiality itself is also accidental, as has been stated. This is made evident by the fan that it is possible to remove every one of these properties and to detach the common reality from them. Thus, matter cannot be dynamic and an essential cause of the acquisition of these properties or qualities.
Let us for a short while inquire about those who glorify experimentation and scientific understanding, and who declare with full pride that they do not adopt any view unless confirmed by experiments and demonstrated empirically. (They continue saying) that since the theological position is concerned with invisible things beyond the limits of the senses and experimentation; we must case it aside, concentrating on the truths and knowledge that can be grasped in the experimental field.
We would (p. 343) ask the experimentalists, 'What do you intend by "experiment", and what do you mean by rejecting every doctrine not confirmed by the senses?'
If what is meant by their words is that they do not accept the existence of anything except if they have direct sense perception of chat thing, and they reject any idea except if they grasp its objective reality by one of their senses, then this will be a blow to the whole scientific edifice and a falsification of all the major truths that are demonstrated by the experiments they glorify. A demonstration of a scientific truth by experimentation does not mean a direct sense perception of that truth in the scientific field.
When Newton, for example, put forth the law of general gravity in light of experimentation, he had not perceived this gravity force by any of his five senses. Instead, he discovered it by way of another perceptible phenomenon for which he found no explanation except by supposing the gravity force. He noticed that the planets do not move in a straight line. Rather, they have a circular motion.
According to Newton, this phenomenon could not occur had there not been a gravity force. The reason is that the principle of essential deficiency (mabda' al-qu,,rur adh-dhatiyy) requires chat a body move in a straight direction unless another manner [of movement] is imposed on it from an external force. From this, Newton obtained the law of gravity that asserts that the planets are subject to a central force, which is gravity.
If these experimentalists who advocate and glorify experimentation intend the same method by means of which the forces and secrets of the universe are discovered scientifically - namely, the study of a fixed perceptible phenomenon by experimentation and the rational inference of another thing from that phenomenon as the only explanation of the existence of that phenomenon - then this is exactly the method of demonstrating the theological position. Empirical and scientific experiments have shown chat all the qualities, developments and varieties of primary matter are not essential; (p. 344) rather, they are accidental.
This is exemplified in the motion of the solar planets around the center. As the motion of these planets around the center is not essential for them - indeed, they naturally require a straight direction of motion, in accordance with the principle of essential deficiency - so also are the qualities of the [simple] elements and composites [not essential to these elements and composites]. Further, since the motion of the planets [around the center] is not essential, it made is possible to demonstrate an external force of gravity.
Similarly, the variation and difference in the qualities of the common matter also reveal a cause beyond matter. The result of this is that the efficient cause of the world is other than the material cause of the world. In other words, the cause of the world is different from its raw matter that all things share.
In Chapter 2 of the present investigation, we discussed the dialectic and pointed out the main errors on which it rests, such as its discarding the principle of non-contradiction, and the like. Now we wish to prove that it failed once again to solve the problem of the world11 and to form a sound view of the world, without attention to the errors and negligence in the principles and fundamentals of the dialectic.
According to the dialectic, things are the result of motion in matter, and the motion of matter is an essential product of matter itself, since matter contains contradictions that undergo internal struggle. Let us examine this dialectical explanation by applying it to the scientific truths that we have already learned about the world, so that we can see the consequence.
Simple elements are of different kinds. Every simple element has an atomic number that pertains to it. The higher the element, the larger is its number. This goes on until the progression reaches uranium, which is the highest and most superior element. Science has also shown that the matter of these (p. 345) simple elements is one and common to all [of them]. That is why it is possible to transform these elements into one another. But then how did the numerous kinds of elements arise in that common matter?
On the basis of dialectical change, the answer can be summed up as follows. Maser developed from one stage to a higher stage, until it reached the level of uranium. In light of this, the hydrogen element must have been the starting point in this development, since it is the lightest of simple elements. Hydrogen develops dialectically by virtue of the contradiction that is involves internally.
By means of the dialectical development, it becomes a higher element - that is, the helium element which, in turn, contains its contradictory. Thus, the struggle between negation and affirmation, the negative aspect and the positive aspect, ignites once again, until matter enters a new stage where a third element is produced. This is how matter continues its progression in accordance with the atomic table.
With regard to this issue, this is the only explanation that the dialectic can offer as a justification of the dynamism of matter. However, it is very easy to see why this explanation cannot be adopted from a scientific point of view. If hydrogen were to contain its contradictory essentially and to develop due to this fact, in accordance with the alleged dialectical laws, then why is it that not all the hydrogen atoms were completed? [In other words], why did the essential completion pertain to some atoms and not to others?
Specification is foreign to essential completion. If the factors that lead to development and progression were present in the innermost nature of the eternal matter, the effects of these factors would not be different, or would they be limited to a specific group of hydrogen [atoms], transferring them into helium, while leaving aside other hydrogen [atoms].
If the hydrogen nucleus (the proton) were to carry within itself its own negation, and if it were to develop in accordance with this, until it becomes two protons instead of one, water would have been completely eradicated from the face of the earth. This is because if nature loses the nuclei of the hydrogen atoms, (p. 846) and if all these nuclei become nuclei of helium atoms, it will not be possible to have water after this.
What then is the cause that makes the development of hydrogen to helium limited to a specific quantity [of hydrogen atoms], while setting the rest free from the fetters of this inevitable development?
The dialectical explanation of composites is no more successful than the dialectical explanation of simple elements. If water had come into existence in accordance with the dialectical laws, this would mean that hydrogen can he considered as an affirmation, and that this affirmation produces its own negation by its production of oxygen.
Later, the negation and the affirmation come together in a unity that is water. We can also reverse the consideration, thus supposing oxygen as an affirmation, hydrogen as a negation, and water as a union that involves both the negation and the affirmation, and that emerged as a progressive product of the dialectical struggle between the two. Can the dialectic show us that if this dialectical progression were to come about in an essential and dynamic form, why then is it limited to a specific quantity of the two elements, and does not occur to every hydrogen and oxygen [atom]?
By this, we do not mean to say that the invisible hand is what starts all the natural processes and varieties, and that there is no room for natural causes. Rather, we believe that such varieties and developments are the product of natural factors which are external to the essential content of matter. These factors run in a chain until, in the final philosophical analysis, they reach a cause beyond nature and not matter itself.
The conclusion is that the unit of the primary matter of the world which, on the one hand, science demonstrates and, on the other hand, shows that its different varieties and tendencies are accidental and not essential, discloses the secret of the philosophical position and shows that the highest cause of all these varieties and tendencies does not lie in (p. 347) matter itself; rather, it is a cause outside the limits of nature. All the external natural factors that cause variety in, and determination of, the tendencies of nature are attributed to that highest cause.
In our demonstration of the theological position, our starting point was matter, in the scientific sense, whose common and accidental qualities in relation to it were proved by science. Now, we wish to study the theological position in light of the philosophical notion of matter. For this purpose, we must know what matter is, and what its scientific and philosophical notions are.
By 'the matter of a thing', we mean the principle of which the thing is constituted. Thus, the matter of a bed is wood, the matter of a robe is wool, and the matter of paper is cotton, in the sense that wood, wool and cotton are the things of which the bed, the robe and the paper are constituted. We often specify the matter of a thing, and then go back to that matter, trying to know its matter - that is, the principle of which it is constituted,. In turn, we take up this principle, and also discuss its matter and principle.
Thus, if we are asked about the constituents of a village, we answer that they are a number of buildings and yards. Therefore, the buildings and yards are the matter of a village. The question then is repeated as to what the matter of those buildings and yards is. The answer is that they are composed of wood, brick and iron. Thus, we posit a matter for everything, and then we posit a principle for that matter out of which that matter is constituted. In this progression, we must stop at a primary matter. This is the matter for which no matter can be posited.
Due to this, the question arose in philosophical and scientific circles as to the primary and fundamental matter of the world at which the analysis of the principles and matters of things stops. (p. 348) This is considered one of the most important questions in human thought, whether scientific or philosophical.
By 'scientific matter' is meant the most primary matter discovered by experimentation. It is the most primary principle [attained] in scientific analyses. By 'philosophical matter', on the other hand, is meant the most primary matter of the world, whether or not its appearance in the experimental field is possible.
We have already discussed scientific matter. We learned that the most primary matter attained by science is the atom with its nucleus and electrons that are a specific density of energy. In the scientific sense, the matter of a chair is wood, and the matter of wood is the simple elements that constitute the wood. These are oxygen, carbon and hydrogen.
The matter of these elements is the atoms. The matter of the atoms is their specific parts of protons, electrons and other [subatomic particles].12 This atomic assembly, or dense electric charges, is the most primary scientific matter that science demonstrated by experimental methods.
Regarding philosophical matter, let us see whether the atom is in reality the most primary and the simplest matter of the world, or whether, in turn, it is also composed of matter and form. As we learned, the chair is composed of matter that is the wood, and form that is its specific shape. Also, water is composed of matter that is oxygen and hydrogen atoms, and form that is the quality of fluidity that occurs at the point of the chemical composition between the two gases. Thus, are the minute atoms also the philosophical13 matter of the world?
The common philosophical view is that philosophical matter is more primary than scientific matter, in the sense that the former matter in scientific experiments is not the most (p. 349) fundamental matter from the philosophical point of view. Rather, it is composed of a matter simpler than it, as well as of a form. This simpler matter cannot be demonstrated by experimentation; but its existence can be demonstrated philosophically.
In light of what has preceded, we can know that the Democritean atomistic theory, which asserts that the primary principle of the world is nothing but indivisible fundamental atoms, is two-sided: one side is scientific and the other philosophical. The scientific side is that the structure of bodies is composed of small atoms permeated by void.
Bodies are not continuous masses, even though they may appear as such to our senses. Those small units are the matter of all bodies. The philosophical side is that Democritus claimed that those units or atoms are not composed of matter and form, since they have no matter that is more primary and simpler than they. Therefore, those units or atoms are the philosophical matter - that is, the most primary and the simplest matter of the world.
These two sides of the theory were confused by many thinkers. It seemed to them that the atomic world discovered by modern science through experimental methods demonstrates the soundness of the atomistic theory. Thus, after the new atomic world was revealed to science, it was not possible to find Democritus at fault in his explanation of bodies, as earlier philosophers believed, even though modern scientific thought differs from chat of Democritus with regard to the estimation of the size of the atom and in portraying its structure.
However, the fact is that modern scientific experiments concerning the atom demonstrate only the soundness of the scientific side of the Democritean theory. They show that a body is composed of atomic units permeated by void. The body, therefore, is not continuous as sense perception indicates. This is the scientific aspect of (p. 350) the theory. Experimentation can disclose this aspect. Philosophy has no say in this subject, since, from a philosophical point of view, a body may be continuous as it may involve a void permeated by minute parts.
As for the philosophical side of the Democritean theory, it is not at all touched by scientific discoveries, nor is its soundness proved by them. Rather, the issue of the existence of a matter simpler than the scientific matter remains the responsibility of philosophy. This means that philosophy can take the most primary matter that science attained in the experimental field (namely, the atom and its specific aggregate), and prove that it is composed of a simpler matter and of a form. This is not incompatible with the scientific facts for this type of philosophical analysis and synthesis cannot be displayed in the experimental field.
As these thinkers erred in claiming that scientific experiments demonstrate the soundness of the whole theory, even though such experiments are only concerned with its scientific side; so also did a number of ancient philosophers err in rejecting the philosophical side of the theory - thus extending the rejection to the scientific side as well. They claimed without any scientific or philosophical evidence that bodies are continuous, and rejected the atom and the void in the interior of bodies.
The position that we must hold with respect to this issue is one of accepting the scientific side of the theory, which insists that bodies are not continuous and that they are composed of extremely minute atoms. Atomic physics disclosed this side with certitude. But we reject the philosophical side of the theory, which asserts the simplicity of those units that are disclosed by atomic physics. The reason is that philosophy proves that regardless of the minuteness of the unit disclosed by physics, it is nevertheless composed of form and matter. We call this matter (p. 351) by the name of philosophical matter, since it is the simplest matter whose existence is demonstrated by a philosophical and not a scientific, method. It is time for us to study this philosophical method.
Since the issue under consideration is philosophical and to some extent sensitive, we must move carefully and slowly in order for the reader to follow our move. That is why we will begin first of all with water, a chair and the like, so that we know why philosophy is correct (in asserting) that such things are composed of matter and form.
Water is represented in a fluid matter. At the same time, it is receptive to being a gas. The basis of this receptivity is not the fluidity, for the quality of fluidity cannot be a gas. Rather, this basis is the matter contained in the fluid water.
Therefore, water is composed of the state of gas and of a matter characterized by this state. This matter is also receptive to being a gas. Again, the chair is represented in certain wood given a specific shape. It is also receptive to being a table. It is not the shape but the matter of the chair that is receptive to being a table.
From this, we learn that the chair is composed of a specific shape and of a wooden matter that can be a cable, as it had the capacity to be a chair. The same is true in every field. If one notices that a specific being is capable of receiving the contradictory of its proper quality, philosophy proves by means of this that that being has a matter, which is the thing receptive to the quality that is contradictory to its proper quality.
Let us explore our issue in light of this. We had learned that science has shown that a body is not a single thing. Rather, it is composed of primary units swimming in a void. Since these units are the remainders at the end of the scientific analysis, they are not, in turn, composed of atoms that are smaller than they; otherwise, they will not be the ultimate units (p. 352) of matter. This is true.
Philosophy gives science full freedom in assigning the ultimate units that are not permeated by a void and that have no parts. When science assigns these units, it becomes time for philosophy to play its role. Philosophy proves that such units are composed of form and matter, which are simpler than [the unit]. We do conceive a discrete material unit, for if such a unit were not truly continuous, it would be similar to a body in having a void permeated by parts.
The meaning of a unit is that it is continuous; it cannot be a real unit without continuity. At the same time, it is also receptive to division and separation. But it is clear that that which is receptive to division and separation is not the same as continuity which is essential to the material unit. This is because continuity cannot be characterized by separation, as it is not possible for fluidity to be characterized by gaseousness.
Therefore, the unit must have a simple matter which is receptive to division and separation. This leads to the consideration of the unit as composed of matter and form. Matter is that which is receptive to division and separation that are destructive of unity. Similarly, matter is also receptive to continuity that holds the unit together. The form, on the other hand, is this very continuity without which no material unit can be conceived.
The problem that faces us at this point is this: 'How can philosophy determine that the primary units of matter are receptive to division and separation, and is there a way to this determination other than through scientific experimentation?' But scientific experimentation has not proved the receptivity of the primary units of matter to division and separation.
Once again we stress the necessity of not confusing scientific matter with philosophical matter. This is because philosophy does not claim that the division of the unit is something accessible to the scientific tools and methods available to human beings. Such a claim is the sole prerogative of science. Rather, philosophy proves that every unit is receptive (p. 353) to division and separation, even though it is not possible to attain this division externally with scientific methods. It is not possible to conceive a unit without the receptivity to division; that is, it is not possible to conceive an indivisible part.
The issue of the indivisible part is not a scientific issue. Rather, it is purely philosophical. From this, we realize that the scientific methods and facts adopted for responding to this issue and for demonstrating the existence or non-existence of indivisible parts are not at all sound. We will now point out some of these unsound methods and facts.
a. The law of proportions that Dalton14 put forth in chemistry for the purpose of explaining that the chemical union of elements occurs in accordance with specific proportions. Dalton15 based this law on the idea that matter is composed of small, indivisible particles.
It is clear that this law operates only in its special field as a chemical law. It is not possible to solve a philosophical problem with it, for the utmost it shows is that chemical reactions and combinations cannot take place except among specific quantities of elements and under specific circumstances and conditions. If there are no specific quantities and proportions, there will be no reaction and no combination.
However, this law does not show whether or not these quantities are as such receptive to division. We must, therefore, distinguish between the chemical aspect of this law and the philosophical aspect of it. With respect to the chemical aspect, it affirms that the property of chemical reaction occurs among specific quantities and cannot occur among smaller quantities. With respect to the philosophical aspect, on the other hand, the law does not affirm whether or not those quantities are indivisible parts. This has no relation at all to the chemical aspect of the law. (p. 354)
b. The first stage of atomic physics in which the atom was discovered. It seemed to some that physics at that point had put an end to disputation concerning the issue of the indivisible part, since it disclosed this part by scientific methods. But in light of the above, it is clear that this disclosure does not confirm the indivisible part, in the philosophical sense. The fact that scientific analysis arrived at the atom that it cannot divide does not mean that the atom as such is indivisible.
c. The second stage of atomic physics which, contrary to the first stage, was considered as absolute evidence for the non-existence of the indivisible part. This is because at the second stage, science was able to divide and split the atom. With this, the idea of the indivisible part disappeared. This stage was the same as the previous one in that it was not related to the issue of the indivisible part from the philosophical point of view.
The reason is that the division of the atom or the destruction of its nucleus changes nothing except our idea about the part, but does not completely overthrow the theory of the indivisible part. The atom, which cannot divide, in the sense inconceivable to Democritus, or in the sense on the basis of which Dalton16 posited the law of proportions in chemistry, has disappeared as a result of the splitting of the atom.
This does not mean that the problem has ended. The primary units in the material world (that is, the electric charges, whether in the form of atoms or material bodies, or in the form of waves) are subject to the philosophical question as to whether or not they are receptive to division. (p. 355)
Thus, our study has made it clear that the problem of the part must be solved by a philosophical method. Philosophy has many methods for demonstrating philosophically that every unit is receptive to division, and that there is no indivisible part. One of the clearest methods is to draw two circles like a stonemill, one of which is inside the other, with the middle point of the stonemill being the center of the two circles.
Then we put a point at a specific place on the circumference of the big circle and a point parallel to it on the circumference of the small circle. It is clear that if we move the stonemill, the two circles also move. Let us move the stonemill, making the point which is placed on the big circle move in accordance with that movement. But we do not allow, this point to move except as much as one of the material units moves.
Then we observe the parallel point on the small circle, asking whether it has crossed the same distance that was crossed by the parallel point on the big circle -namely, one whole unit. Or has it just crossed some of that distance? If it has crossed the same distance, this would mean that the two points moved the same distance. But this is impossible, because we know that the more remote a point is from the main center of a circle, the faster is the speed of its movement. That is why in every turn, it crosses a longer distance than that which a point closer to the center crosses in the same turn.
Therefore, it is not possible for the two points to cross an equal distance. If, on the other hand, the closer point crosses a part of the distance that is crossed by the remote point, this would mean that the unit crossed by the remote point may be divided and separated and is not an indivisible unit.
This makes it clear that those advocating the indivisible unit are in a difficult position, for they cannot consider the remote (p. 856) and the close points either as equal or as different in the quantity of motion. The only thing that remains for them is to claim that the parallel point on the small circle was at rest and motionless. But all of us know that if the circle close to the center was at rest when the big circle moved, this would necessitate the dismantling and breaking of the parts of the stonemill.
This proof shows that any supposed material unit is receptive to division. The reason is that when the point chat is remote from the center traverses this unit in its motion, the close point would have traversed a part of it [only].
If the material unit is receptive to division and separation, it is, therefore, composed of a simple matter which is the center of the receptivity to division and of continuity which is constitutive of its unity. Hence, it is clear that the units of the material world are composed of matter and form.
When the philosophical notion of matter, which requires that matter be composed of matter and form, is crystallized, we know that the philosophical17 matter cannot itself be the first cause of the world, since it is composed of matter and form. Further, neither matter nor form can exist independently of the other. Therefore, there must be an agent prior to the as of composition that ensures the existence of the material units.
Put differently, the first cause is the first point in the chain of existence. The chain of existence must begin with that which is necessary in essence, as we learned in the previous chapter of this investigation. Thus, the first cause is that which is necessary in essence. (p. 857) Being so, the first cause must need nothing else in its being and existence.
As for the primary units of matter, they are not without need in their material being for an external agent, since their being is composed of matter and form. They require both, matter and form together, and each, matter and form, requires the other for its existence. The result of all this is the knowledge that the first cause is external to the limits of matter, and that the philosophical matter of the world, which is receptive of conjunction and disjunction, is in need of an external cause that determines its continuous or discontinuous existence.
Matter is in continuous motion and constant development. This is a fact on which we all agree. Further, matter requires a cause that moves it. This is another fact admitted with no disputation. The most basic issue regarding the philosophy of motion is this. Can the matter in motion be the cause or agent of its motion? In other words, that which moves is the subject of motion, while the mover is the cause of motion. Can the same thing in the same respect be simultaneously a subject of motion and a cause of it?
Metaphysical philosophy responds to this question by insisting that the multiplicity of that which moves and the mover is necessary. This is because motion is a gradual development and completion of a deficient thing. A deficient thing cannot by itself develop and complete itself gradually, for it cannot be the cause of completion.
On the basis of this, a dual principle of the mover and the moving thing was posited in the philosophical notion of motion. In light of this principle, we can know that the cause of the developmental motion (p. ?358) of matter is not at heart and in substance matter itself, but a cause beyond matter that provides matter with continuous development, and that emits to matter linear motion and gradual completion.
Dialectical materialism is the contrary of this. it does not admit a duality between the moving matter and the cause of motion. Rather, it considers matter itself as a cause of its own motion and development.
Thus, there are two explanations of motion. In the dialectical explanation, which considers matter itself as a cause of motion, matter is the most primary source of the development of completion. This imposes on the dialectic the view that matter essentially involves the stages and completions that motion attains in its renewable march.
The secret behind the fact that the dialectic is required to adopt this view is [its need to] justify the material explanation of motion, for the cause or source of motion cannot but essentially involve development and completion chat it provides and extends to motion.
Moreover, since, according to the dialectic, matter is the cause of its own motion and the driving force behind matter in the field of development, it becomes incumbent on the dialectic to acknowledge that matter has the properties of causes or agents, and to consider it as essentially involving all the contradictions that motion gradually attains; so that it can be a source of completion and a primary provider of motion.
That is why the dialectic admitted contradiction as a necessary consequence of its philosophical progression. It rejected the principle of non-contradiction and claimed that contradictories always come together in the internal content of matter, and that by virtue of this internal resource, matter is a cause of motion and completion.
As for the theological explanation of motion, it begins with an inquiry about these contradictories which the dialectic alleges to be contained in matter. Are all these contradictories in matter in actuality, (p. 359) or are they in it in potentiality? The former option is completely rejected, for contradictories cannot, due to the principle of non-contradiction, come together in actuality. If they come together in actuality, matter will come to a standstill and rest.
There remains the latter option: namely, that these contradictories are [in matter] in potentiality. By 'their potential presence' is meant that matter has the capacity to receive gradual developments, and the possibility for linear completion by motion. This means that the internal content of matter is empty of everything other than receptivity and capacity.
In light of this, motion is a gradual departure from potentiality to actuality in the field of continuous development. Matter is not the cause behind motion, for matter is empty of the levels of completion attained by the stages of development and motion, and has nothing but the possibility and capacity for these levels of completion. It is, therefore, necessary to search for the cause of the substantial motion of matter and for the primary source of this motion outside the limits of matter. It is also necessary that this cause be God, the exalted, Who contains essentially all the ranks of completion.
Our position regarding nature, which is rich in evidence for intention, purpose and governance, is similar to the position of a worker who discovers in his excavations sensitive systems hidden in the earth. This worker will not doubt that there is an artistic hand that put those systems together with all precision and care for the purpose of realizing certain aims by means of them.
The more this worker knows new facts about the precision with which these systems were made, and the signs of art and innovation in them, the more highly does he think of the artist who constructed them, and the more appreciative of that artist's brilliance and intellect does he become. Similarly, we take the same position that human nature and sentiment suggest with regard to nature in general, seeking from (p. 360) the secrets and signs of nature inspiration about the greatness of the wise Creator Who created it, and about the sublimity of the intellect from which it proceeded.
Nature, therefore, is a marvelous artistic portrait, and the natural sciences are the human instruments that uncover the types of innovation in this portrait, that raise the curtain to show its artistic secrets, and chat supply the general human heart with one evidence after another for the existence of the governing and wise Creator, and for His greatness and perfection.
Whenever these instruments achieve a victory in their various fields or disclose a secret, they supply metaphysics with a new force and provide the human race with a new evidence for the innovative, creative greatness that created and organized this eternal portrait with what calls for astonishment, wonder and glorification.
Thus, the facts declared by modern science leave no room for doubt concerning the issue of God, the omnipotent and the wise. If the philosophical proofs fill the mind with certainty and acceptance, modern scientific discoveries fill the soul with confidence and faith in the divine providence and the metaphysical explanation of the first principles of existence.
Take, [for example,] the human physiology with its astonishing facts. You see in it the Creator's greatness and precision in all the details that this physiology reveals and the secrets that it shows. The digestive system, for instance, is the greatest chemical factory in the world for its various methods of analyzing chemically the different nutrients in a manner that brings wonder, and for justly distributing the proper nutritive elements to billions of living cells of which the human body is composed.
Every cell receives the amount of nutrients it needs. These nutrients are then transformed into bone, hair, teeth, nails, nerves, (and so on,] in accordance with a given plan for the functions imposed on these cells in a system no more precise than which, or greater than which, is known to humanity. (p. 361)
One glance at these living cells, which carry the secret of life, fills the soul with astonishment and wonder over the cells' adaptation to the requirements of their position and circumstances. It is as if every cell knows the structure of the organ whose preservation it sustains by the help of other cells sharing with it that organ, and comprehends that organ's function, and how that organ must be.
The system of the visual sense, which is small and insignificant in size, is no less beautiful and precise than the digestive system, and it is no less of a sign of a conscious will and a creative intellect. It is composed with full exactitude. Sight cannot be attained in the absence of any part of this system.
The retina, for example, on which the lens reflects the light is composed of nine separate layers even though it is no thicker than thin paper. The last of these layers is also composed of thirty million rods18 and three million cones.19 These rods and cones are organized in an accurate and magnificent manner. However, the light rays are represented on the retina in an inverse position. That is why the creative Providence willed that the visual system behind the retina must be provided with millions of nerve sacs that are responsible for some chemical changes that finally lead to grasping the image in its proper position.
Can this colossal planning, which ensures that the act of vision falls among the best acts of matter, be without guidance and purpose, even though the mere discovery of it requires strong intellectual efforts?
Now, consider biology, or the science of life. You will find another great divine secret: namely, the vague secret of life, which fills the human heart with confidence in the theological notion and with solid conviction about it. In night of the science of life, the theory of self-procreation collapsed. (p. 362) This theory prevailed in the materialistic mentality and was accepted by the superficial and the vulgar in general.
They illustrated this theory by many examples of insects (sic], such as the worms that are formed in the intestines or in a piece of meat subjected to air for a while, as well as other examples inspired by the naiveté of materialistic thinking. Such things, according to them, appear to be reproduced by themselves under specific natural circumstances, and without proceeding from other living beings. However, decisive scientific experiments proved that this theory is false, and that worms are reproduced by the germs of life that are contained in the piece of meat.
Materialism attempted once again to establish the theory of self-procreation when Anton van Leeuwenhoek20 invented the first composite microscope. By means of this microscope, Leeuwenhoek discovered a new world of small organisms. This microscope succeeded in showing that a raindrop has no germs. Rather, the germs are produced after the raindrop touches the earth.
The materialists raised their voices and rejoiced in the new victory in the field of microbiology, after they had failed to discount the sperm, and to establish the theory of self-procreation with regard to animals visible to the naked eye. Thus, they returned to the battleground, but [this time, their disputation was] on a lower level.
The debate between the materialists and others concerning the formation of life continued up to the nineteenth century, when Louis Pasteur put an end to his conflict. By his scientific experiments, he proved that the germs and microbes that live in water are independent organic beings that come to water from the outside, and then reproduce in it.
Once more, the materialists tried to cling to a thread of illusory hope. (p. 363) Thus, they abandoned the fields in which they failed and moved to a new field: namely, the field of fermentation. In this field, some of them attempted to apply the theory of self-procreation to the microscopic organic beings that are the cause of fermentation.
However, soon enough this attempt, like those before it, was also shown to be a failure at the hands of Pasteur, when he showed that fermentation does not take place in matter if matter is kept by itself and in isolation from the outside. Rather, fermentation occurs due to the transmission of specific organic beings to it and their reproduction in it.
Thus, in the final analysis, it was shown to be true of all kinds of animals, including the minute animals that were recently discovered and that cannot lx seen by the regular microscope, that life does not proceed except from life and that it is the sperm, and not self-procreation, which is the general law that prevails in the realm of living beings.
The materialists are in a difficult position with regard to this decisive conclusion. The reason is this. If the theory of self-procreation is dropped, in light of scientific research, how then can they explain the arising of life on the face of the earth? Further, would there be a way for the human heart after that to shut off its eyes in the light and to overlook the clear, divine reality that trusted the secret of life to the primary cell or cells? If this were not so, why then did nature turn away forever from the act of self-procreation?
This means that if the materialistic explanation of the primary cell of life by self-procreation were correct, how could materialism then explain the non-recurrence of self-procreation in nature with the tong passage of tune? Indeed, this is a perplexing question for the materialists.
It is curious that the Soviet scientist Obern,21 responds to this question as follows. [Even] if the production of life by way of along material interaction is still possible in planets other than ours (the earth), there is no room for it on this planet, since reproduction here (p. 364) began to occur at a faster and a shorter [rate than that of production of life by way of material interaction], this being human reproduction by way of marriage. The reason is chat the new interaction replaced the biological and chemical primitive interaction, rendering it unnecessary.22
This is Obern's complete answer to the question. It is indeed a strange answer. Reflect on how he judges that nature has no need for the operation of self-procreation, since this operation became unnecessary once nature found a faster and a shorter way for reproducing life. It is as if he speaks of a conscious rational power that abandons a difficult operation after its attainment of the goal was made available to it by means of an easier way. But when did nature abandon its decrees and laws for this purpose?
Further, if self-procreation took place at first, in accordance with certain laws and decrees, as water is produced due to a certain chemical composition between oxygen and hydrogen, it becomes necessary for it to be repeated in accordance with those laws and decrees, as the existence of water is repeated whenever certain chemical factors are present, whether or not water is necessary; for necessity in the natural sense is merely the necessity produced by the laws and decrees of nature. What then made those laws and decrees different?
Let us leave this issue to genetics, which captivates human thought, and to which mankind bows with respect and admiration. It is rather astonishing to know that the whole organic heritage of an individual is contained in living nuclear matter (protoplasm)23 of the reproductive cells, and that all the inherited traits are produced by very small microscopic segments [of this matter]. (p. 365) These are the genes which are contained in that living matter with precision and order. Science has shown that this matter is not produced from bodily cells, but from the protoplasm of the parents, grandparents and so on.
In light of this, the Lamarckian24 illusion collapsed. On the basis of this illusion, Lamarck established the theory of evolution and progress. This theory states that the changes and traits acquired by the animal during his life - whether as a result of experience and training or as a result of interaction with the environment or a certain kind of nourishment - may be transferred by heredity to his offspring.
This is so because, on the basis of the distinction between bodily cells and reproductive cells, it was proved that acquired traits cannot be inherited. That is why the defenders of the theory of evolution and progress were obliged to denounce almost all the Lamarckian principles and details, and to offer a new hypothesis in the field of organic development. This is the hypothesis that species develop by means of mutations.
As to the present day, scientists do not have scientific support for this theory other than the observation of some manifestations of sudden change in a number of cases. This called for the assumption that animal species develop from mutations of this sort, in spite of the fact that the observed mutations in animals did not reach the point of forming the various basic changes, and that some of the sudden changes were not inherited.
We are not concerned with discussing this kind of theory. Rather, our purpose is to point out the precise hereditary system and the astonishing power in the minute genes, which gives direction to all the cells of the body and provides an animal with its personality and traits. Is it possible, according to human sentiment, that all of this occurs haphazardly and by chance? (p. 366)
Finally let us examine psychology for a moment, in order to overview another field of divine creativity. In particular, let us pay attention to one of the psychological issues, namely, that of the instincts that light the animals' way and guide their steps.
These instincts are clear signs in the heart that the providing of such instincts to animals is the action of a wise governer and is not a fleeting coincidence. If this were not so, then who taught the bee to build hexagonal beehives, the shark to build river dams, and the ants to do marvelous things in setting up their homes? Indeed, who taught the eel not to lay her eggs except in a certain spot at the bottom of the sea, where the ratio of salt is almost 35 percent, and the distance from the surface of the sea is no less than 1 200 feet? The eel makes sure to deposit her eggs on such a spot, since her eggs cannot grow except when the above two conditions are met.
An interesting story is told about a scientist who made a specific system which he supplied with appropriate heat, water vapor, and other conditions necessary for the natural process of producing chicks from eggs. He placed in this system some eggs that could give him chicks, but he did not obtain the desired result. He learned from this that his study of the conditions of natural reproduction was not complete.
Thus, he carried out further experiments on the hen when incubating the eggs. After very careful observations and tests, he discovered that, at specific times, the hen changes the position of the eggs and switches them from one side to the other. Once again, he performed the experiment in his specific system, accompanying it with what he learned from the hen. The experiment then was met with splendid success.
By your conscience, tell me who taught the hen this secret that is concealed from this (p. 367) great scientist? Or who inspired her with this wise act without which reproduction cannot occur?
If we wish to study instincts more profoundly, we must exposit the most important theories, interpret and explain them. There are many such theories.
The first theory is chat animals were led to instinctive acts after many trials and experiences. They became addicted to them; thus, such aces became inherited habits transmitted from parents to children, without there being room in learning them for supernatural providence.
This theory consists of two parts, the first of which is that animals, to begin with, reached instinctive acts by way of trial and experience. The second is chat such acts were transmitted to successive generations, in accordance with the law of heredity.
But neither part can be accepted. The first is incorrect, because the animal's discarding of an erroneous trial and his adoption and retention of a successful one means that he comprehends the success of the latter and the erroneousness of the former. But this is something that cannot be granted to animals, especially if the success of a trial does not appear except after their death, as is the case with butterflies reaching the third stage of their lives. [Before this stage,] they lay their eggs on green leaves in circles.
The eggs only hatch in the third season. They come out in the form of small worms at a time when the mother has already died. How it is possible for the butterflies to comprehend their success in what they have done and know that by their actions they have prepared a large source of nourishment for the young, even though the butterflies did not witness that? Add to this that if instincts were the product of experience, this would necessitate the development, completion and strengthening of animal instincts (p. 368) in light of other trials and experiences throughout history. Yet, none of this has happened.
The second part of the above theory is based on the idea that asserts the transmission of traits acquired by heredity. But this idea collapsed in the face of new theories in genetics, as we remarked earlier. But suppose that the law of heredity covers acquired habits. How then can the instinctive acts be inherited habits, even though some of them are performed by animals only once or a few times in their lives?
The second theory begins where the first one also begins. It supposes that animals were led to instinctive acts by repeated trials. Such acts were transmitted to successive generations, however, not by means of heredity, but by means of a kind of instruction and teaching accessible to animals.
The objection we raised to the first part of the previous theory is also applicable to the theory under consideration. But the objection that pertains to it exclusively is concerned with its claim concerning the transmission of instinctive acts by way of instruction and teaching. This claim is inconsistent with reality, even if we grant animals the power of understanding. This is because a number of instincts appear in animals at the beginning of their formation; [that is,] before there is any opportunity for teaching them. Indeed, young animals may be born after their mothers' death; nevertheless, they enjoy the same instincts enjoyed by their species. Take the eels, for example.
They emigrate from various pools and rivers to the unfathomable depths in order to lay their eggs. In their migration they may travel thousands of miles just in order to choose the appropriate spot. Later, they lay their eggs and then die. The young grow up and return to the shore from which their mothers had come. It is as if they fully study and scrutinize the world map. At whose hand did the young eels receive (p. 369) geography lessons?
The third theory was advocated by the behavioristic school of psychology that attempted to analyze animal behavior in general into units of reflexive action. It explained instincts as complex compounds of such units - that is, a chain of simple reflexive actions. Thus, an instinctive [act] is something like the withdrawal of the hand when pinched by a pin, or the contraction of the eye when encountering a strong light. But these two acts are simple and reflexive; while an instinct is composite and reflexive.
This mechanical explanation of instincts cannot be adopted either. The reasons are many, but there is no room for elaborating them here. One of these reasons is that a mechanically reflexive movement is produced by an external cause only, as in the eye contraction that is caused by the intensity of light.
However, some instinctive acts have no external cause. What is it, for example, that causes animals at the beginning of their existence to search for their food and to make an effort to find it? Add to this that the mechanically reflexive acts cannot involve comprehension and awareness, while observation of instinctive acts gives us decisive evidence of the comprehension and awareness involved in them.
One piece of such evidence is an experiment performed on the behavior of a hornet that builds its nest from a certain number of beehive cells. The experimenter had expected that the hornet would complete its work at a certain beehive cell. At that point, the experimenter pinched that cell with a pin. If the hornet returned to make another beehive cell and found that a human being had spoiled his work, he went back and fixed it. Thereafter, the hornet moved to make the next beehive cell.
The experimenter repeated his experiment a number of times. He then realized that a succession of performing instinctive behaviors is not mechanical. He noticed that when the hornet came back and found that the completed beehive had been destroyed, it made a certain motion and emitted certain sounds that indicated the anger and despair it felt. (p. 370)
After discounting this materialistic theory, two explanations of instinct remain. One of them is that instinctive acts are the product of intention and awareness. However, the purpose of animals is not the accurate benefits that result from such acts, but the direct pleasure in these acts themselves, in the sense that animals are composed in such a way that they derive pleasure from performing such instinctive acts, which at the same time give them the greatest utility and benefits.
The other explanation is that an instinct is a mysterious, divine, supernatural inspiration. Animals were supplied with it as a substitute for the intelligence and mind that they lack.
Whether this or that explanation is true, the signs of intention and management are clear and evident to the human heart; otherwise, how does the complete correspondence between the instinctive acts and the most accurate benefits that are hidden from animals occur?
We stop here, but not because the scientific pieces of evidence for the theological position have been exhausted. Not even large volumes can exhaust them. Rather, we stop in keeping with the procedure of the book.
After this presentation of all the evidence in the heart for the existence of the creative, wise power, let us turn our attention to the material hypothesis in order to see the extent of its naiveté and triviality in light of such evidence.
When this hypothesis asserts that the universe, including its wealth of mysterious order and beauty of creation and formation, was produced by a cause that does not enjoy a bit of wisdom and purpose, it exceeds thousands of times in its naiveté and oddity [the naiveté and oddity of] him who finds a large divan25 of the most beautiful and the finest poetry, or a science book full of mysteries and discoveries, and then claims that an infant has been playing with a pencil on paper, thus, the letters happened to get organized and formed a volume of poetry or a book of science.
We shall show them our signs in the horizons and in themselves, so that it becomes clear to them that this is the truth. Is it not sufficient that your God is a witness to all things?26
- 1. This chapter deals with the question 'Is it matter or God that is the ultimate source of the universe?' Neither the outline at the beginning of the book in the section titled 'The Nature of the Work', nor the present title makes it clear that the discussion in this chapter is intended to center on this issue. However, as soon as one reads the first paragraph of this chapter, it becomes clear that this is exactly what is intended
- 2. Literally, the discrete or disjunctive theory.
- 3. Literally, the continuous theory.
- 4. Text: al-ajsam (bodies)
- 5. Text: jism (body).
- 6. Text: al-jism (body)
- 7. This is so because the atom has the same number of positive and negative charges, and so is electrically neutral.
- 8. Ernest Rutherford, British physicist and chemist (1871-1937). In 1908, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry. Rutherford studied radioactivity, and decided that the rays emitted by radioactive substances are of various kinds. He called the positively charged rays 'alpha rays' and the negatively charged rays 'beta rays'. He also showed that the radiations that are not affected by a magnetic field consist of electromagnetic rays. He called them 'gamma rays'. Rutherford is known for developing the theory of the nuclear atom. According to this theory, the atom has a small nucleus at the center. The protons, the positively charged particles that give the atom its weight, are in the nucleus. The electrons, the negatively charged particles that are light and that constitute no barrier to the alpha rays, lie outside the nucleus. It is obvious that this theory is in disagreement with the Democritean view of the atom as indivisible. Finally, it should be mentioned that Rutherford was the first to transform one element into another and the first to show that an artificial nuclear reaction can be made.
- 9. Text: al-asl al-'Ilmi (the scientific foundation).
- 10. i.e., the initial atoms that were originally unfused.
- 11. That is, the problem of the first cause of the world.
- 12. Such as the neutrons.
- 13. Text: al-madda al-'ilmiyya (scientific matter).
- 14. Text: waltun. Even though there is an Irish physicist by the name of Ernest Walton (1903- ) who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1951, the physicist intended here must no doubt be Dalton and not Walton. The theory of proportions in chemistry discussed here was introduced by Dalton and not by Walton.
- 15. Text: waltun.
- 16. Text: waltun.
- 17. Text: al-'ilmiyya (scientific).
- 18. A rod is one of the rod-shaped sensory bodies of the retina used in dim light.
- 19. A cone is any of the sensory bodies of the retina used in color vision.
- 20. Anton van Leeuwenhoek, Dutch biologist and microscopist (1682-1723). He is best known for constructing many microscopes, for discovering the one-celled animals tailed 'protozoa', and for being the first to see the bacteria.
- 21. Obern: we are unable to identify this scientist.
- 22. Qissat al-Insan p. 10.
- 23. Protoplasm is a complex of protein, organic and inorganic material, and water that constitutes the living nucleus of a cell.
- 24. Text: Darwinian. "Progress" is not part of Darwins theory of evolution nor is "inheritence of acquired traits". Darwin himself wrote extensively against these 2 notions to refute them in his "Origin of species". Therefore what is obviously being referred to here by Ayatullah as-Sadr is instead Lamarck's theory of evolution which preceded Darwin's. Ayatullah Baqir As-Sadr accidently wrote "Darwin" instead of "Lamarck" here.
- 25. In Arabic, diwan (divan) is a collection of Arabic or Persian poems. This word is used in several senses, such as 'council chamber', but it is obvious that here it is used in the sense indicated above.
- 26. Al-Quran, XLI, 58.