by Navid Zaidi
In order to grasp the meaning of existence I must be in a position to study some privileged case of existence which is absolutely unquestionable and gives me assurance of a direct vision of Reality.
Fortunately, I am in possession of such a special case: Myself.
Now, my perception of the universe is superficial and external; but my perception of my own self is internal, intimate and profound. I do not merely observe humans, I am human. It follows, therefore, that my own conscious experience of myself is that privileged case of existence in which I am in absolute contact with Reality, and an analysis of this privileged case is likely to throw a flood of light on the ultimate meaning of existence.
What do I find when I fix my gaze on my own conscious experience?
“Two things fill me with constantly increasing admiration and awe, the longer and more earnestly I reflect on them: the starry heavens without and the Moral Law within.” – Immanuel Kant
I am always haunted by the idea of a kind of behavior I ought to practice, I may call it fair play, or decency or morality. It tells me what I ought to do. In other words, when I deal with Nature, something else comes in above and beyond the actual facts. I have the facts (how I behave) but I also have something else (how I ought to behave). In the rest of the universe there need not be anything but the facts. Electrons and molecules behave in a certain way and that may be the whole story. But I behave in a certain way and that is not the whole story.
Consequently, as explained by C.S Lewis (Oxford and Cambridge Scholar), the Law of Right and Wrong is a real thing, not made up by myself. It is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of my behavior and yet real- a real law that none of us made but I find it pressing on me. I am always forced to follow the Moral Law and believe in a real Right and Wrong, whether I like it or not.
So, the creature called human has this Moral Law. Everyone knows it by nature and does not need to be taught it.
Nature is subject to various laws, gravitation, motion, laws of physics and chemistry but there is a great difference. A stone cannot choose whether it obeyed the law of gravitation or not, but a human can choose either to obey the Moral Law or to disobey it.
We cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking the Moral Law. Humans all over the world have this idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. In this regard, we compare the moral teachings of ancient Egyptians, Hindus, Greeks, Chinese and Romans, they are all strikingly similar to one another and to our own nowadays.
The Moral Law tells me that there is a Something behind the universe which appears in me as a law urging me to do right and making me responsible and uncomfortable when I do wrong.
‘Something unknown is doing we don’t know what. That is what our theory amounts to.” (Sir Arthur Eddington, expressing the quantum theory).
And consider these words of the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Max Planck (the father of quantum theory) as he accepted his award for his study of the atom:
“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear-headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together…..We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
I have to assume it is more like a Mind than anything else behind the Moral Law. That is to say that this Universal Mind is conscious, and has purposes, and prefers one thing over another. This conscious Mind has placed the Moral Law into my mind and is intensely interested in right conduct- fair play, unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness.
C. S. Lewis: Mere Christianity
Allama Iqbal: The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam
Francis Collins: The Language of God
Paul Davies: The Mind of God
Wayne Dyer: The Power of Intention