The fall of Atheism and the Rise of Faith
Before looking at Islam's world-wide growth, we must examine another critical development: the collapse of atheism and the rise of faith. Almost everyone who has studied human history, particularly its philosophical and social aspects, will agree that the nineteenth century was an important period, for it was during those years that the first steps were taken toward the future spiritual collapse. Its most important characteristic was the growth of atheism (i.e., rejecting God's Existence) as opposed to theistic beliefs and religion, which had been generally dominant in the world until then.
Although atheism has existed from ancient times, the rise of this idea actually began in eighteenth-century Europe, with the spread and political effect of the philosophy of some anti-religious thinkers. Materialists such as Denis Diderot (1713-84) and Baron d'Holbach (1723-89) proposed that the universe was a conglomeration of matter that had existed forever and that only matter existed. In the nineteenth century, atheism spread even further afield. Such thinkers as Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-72), Karl Marx (1818-83), Friedrich Engels (1820-95), Friedrich Nietzsche (1884-1900), Emile Durkheim (1859-1917), and Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) applied atheist thinking to different fields of science and philosophy.
The greatest support for atheism came from Charles Darwin (1809-82), who rejected the idea of creation and proposed the theory of evolution, which gave a supposedly scientific answer to the question that had baffled atheists for centuries: How did human beings and living things come to be?
This theory convinced a great many people that there was a mechanism in nature that animated lifeless matter and produced millions of different living species from it.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, atheists formulated a worldview that "explained" everything: The universe had not been created, for it had no beginning and had existed forever. They claimed that it had no purpose, that its order and balance were the result of chance, and that Darwin's theory of evolution explained how human beings and other living things came into being. They believed that Marx and Durkheim had explained history and sociology, and that Freud had explained psychology on the basis of atheist assumptions. However, twentieth-century scientific, political, and social developments disproved these views, for ongoing discoveries in astronomy, biology, psychology, and social sciences nullified the bases of atheist suppositions.
In his book God: The Evidence, The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Postsecular World, American scholar Patrick Glynn of the George Washington University writes:
Science, which has been presented as the pillar of atheist/materialist philosophy, turns out to be just the opposite. As another writer puts it: "The strict materialism that excludes all purpose, choice, and spirituality from the world simply cannot account for the data pouring in from labs and observatories."3
In short, atheism suffered a sudden collapse in the last quarter of the twentieth century at the hands of the very scientific and sociological concepts from which its adherents had hoped to receive the most support. In this chapter, we will look at its collapse in the areas of cosmology, biology, psychology, medicine, and sociology; later sections will discuss how this has prepared the foundation for Islam's rise.
Cosmology: The Collapse of the Concept of An Eternal Universe and the Discovery of Creation
The first blow to atheism from twentieth-century science was in the field of cosmology. The idea that the universe had existed forever was discounted, for scientists discovered that it had a beginning. In other words, they proved scientifically that the universe had been created from nothing.
This idea of an eternal universe came to the Western world, along with materialist philosophy, from classical Greek civilization. It stated that only matter exists, and that the universe comes from eternity and goes to eternity. In the Middle Ages, when the Catholic church dominated Western thought, materialism was forgotten. However, in the modern period Western scientists and philosophers became consumed with curiosity about these classical Greek origins and revived an interest in materialism.
The first person to propose a materialist understanding of the universe was the renowned German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), even though he was not a materialist in the philosophical sense of the word. Kant proposed that the universe was eternal and that every possibility could be realized only within this eternity. With the coming of the nineteenth century, it became widely accepted that the universe had no beginning and that there had been no moment of creation. Adopted passionately by such dialectical materialists as Marx and Engels, this idea found its way into the twentieth century.
This idea has always been compatible with atheism, for accepting that the universe had a beginning would mean that God had created it. Thus the only way to counter this idea was to claim that the universe was eternal, even though science did not support such a claim. Georges Politzer (1903-42), a dogged proponent of this claim, became widely known as a supporter of materialism and Marxism in the first half of the twentieth century through his book Principes Fondamentaux de Philosophie (The Fundamental Principles of Philosophy). Assuming the "eternal universe" model to be valid, he opposed the idea of creation:
The universe was not a created object. If it were, then it would have to be created instantaneously by God and brought into existence from nothing. To admit creation, one has to admit, in the first place, the existence of a moment when the universe did not exist, and that something came out of nothingness. This is something to which science cannot accede.
By supporting the idea of an eternal universe, Politzer thought that science was on his side. However, very soon thereafter, the fact that he had alluded to by saying "if it is so, we must accept the existence of a creator," that is, that the universe had a beginning, was proven. This proof came as a result of the "Big Bang" theory, perhaps the most important concept of twentieth-century astronomy.
The Big Bang theory was formulated after a series of discoveries. In 1929, the American astronomer Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) noticed that the galaxies were continually moving away from each other and that the universe was expanding. If the flow of time in an expanding universe were reversed, the whole universe must have come from a single point. While assessing the validity of Hubble's discovery, astronomers were faced with the fact that this single point was a "metaphysical" state of reality in which there was an infinite gravitational attraction with no mass. Matter and time came into being through the explosion of this mass-less point. In other words, the universe was created from nothing.
On the one hand, some die-hard materialist astronomers have tried to resist the Big Bang theory and maintain the idea of an eternal universe. Arthur Eddington (1882-1944), a renowned materialist physicist, summed up their view quite well when he said: "Philosophically, the notion of an abrupt beginning to the present order of Nature is repugnant to me."5 Despite this repugnance, however, the Big Bang theory continues to be corroborated by concrete scientific discoveries. In their observations made in the 1960s, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detected radioactive remains of the explosion (cosmic background radiation). These observations were verified in the 1990s by the COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) satellite.
Confronted with all of these facts, atheists have been squeezed into a corner. Anthony Flew, an atheist professor of philosophy at the University of Reading and author of Atheistic Humanism, makes this interesting confession:
Notoriously, confession is good for the soul. I will therefore begin by confessing that the Stratonician atheist has to be embarrassed by the contemporary cosmological consensus. For it seems that the cosmologists are providing a scientific proof of what St. Thomas contended could not be proved philosophically; namely, that the universe had a beginning. So long as the universe can be comfortably thought of as being not only without end but also without beginning, it remains easy to urge that its brute existence, and whatever are found to be its most fundamental features, should be accepted as the explanatory ultimates. Although I believe that it remains still correct, it certainly is neither easy nor comfortable to maintain this position in the face of the Big Bang story.6
An example of the atheists' reaction to the Big Bang theory is seen in a 1989 article by John Maddox, editor of Nature, one of the best-known materialist-scientific journals. In his article, entitled "Down with the Big Bang," Maddox wrote that the Big Bang is "philosophically unacceptable," because "creationists and those of similar persuasions … have ample justification in the doctrine of the Big Bang." He also predicted that it "is unlikely to survive the decade ahead."7
However, despite Maddox' hopes, the Big Bang theory continues to gain credence, and new discoveries continue to prove that the universe was created.
Some materialists have a relatively logical view of this issue. For example, the English materialist physicist H. P. Lipton "unwillingly" accepts the scientific fact of creation. He writes:
I think … that we must … admit that the only acceptable explanation is creation. I know that this is anathema to physicists, as indeed it is to me, but we must not reject a theory that we do not like if the experimental evidence supports it.8
Thus, modern astronomy proves and states that time and matter were brought into being by an eternally powerful Creator, Who is independent of both of them. The eternal power that created the universe in which we live is God, the possessor of infinite might, knowledge, and wisdom.
Physics and Astronomy: The Collapse of the Idea of A Random Universe and the Discovery of the Anthropic Principle
A second atheist dogma rendered invalid by twentieth-century discoveries in astronomy is the idea of a random universe. The view that all matter in the universe, the heavenly bodies, and the laws that determine the relationships among them is no more than the purposeless result of chance has been undermined dramatically.
For the first time since the 1970s, scientists have begun to recognize that the universe's physical balance is adjusted delicately in favor of human life. Advances in research have enabled scientists to discover that the universe's physical, chemical, and biological laws, as well as such basic forces as gravity and electro-magnetism and even the very structures of atoms and elements, are all ordered exactly as they have to be for human life. Western scientists have called this extraordinary design the "anthropic principle": Every aspect of the universe is designed with a view to human life.
The universe's four physical forces (i.e., gravitational force, weak nuclear force, strong nuclear force, and electromagnetic force) are all at the necessary levels for an ordered universe to emerge and for life to exist. Even the tiniest variations in these forces (e.g., one in 1039 or one in 1028; that is—crudely calculated—one in a billion billion billion billion), the universe either would be composed only of radiation or of hydrogen.
Many other delicate adjustments make Earth ideal for human life: the size of the Sun, its distance from Earth, water's unique physical and chemical properties, the wavelength of the sun's rays, the way that Earth's atmosphere contains the gases necessary for respiration, and Earth's magnetic field being ideally suited to human life. (For more information on this topic, see Harun Yahya's The Creation of the Universe, Al-Attique Publishers: 2001)
We may summarize its basic characteristics as follows:
The speed of the universe's first expansion (the force of the Big Bang explosion) was exactly the velocity that it had to be. According to scientists' calculations, if the expansion rate had differed from its actual value by more than one part in a billion billion, the universe either would have recollapsed before reaching its present size or splattered in every direction in a manner that it could never be reunited. In other words, even at the first moment of its existence there was a fine calculation of the accuracy of a billion billionth.
This delicate balance is among the most striking discoveries of modern astrophysics. Paul Davies, the well-known astronomer, writes in the last paragraph of his The Cosmic Blueprint: "The impression of Design is overwhelming."9
In an article in the journal Nature, the astrophysicist W. Press writes that "there is a grand design in the Universe that favors the development of intelligent life."10
Interestingly, the majority of the scientists who have made these discoveries were materialists who came to this conclusion unwillingly. They did not undertake their scientific investigations hoping to find a proof for God's Existence. But most, if not all, of them, despite their unwillingness, arrived at this conclusion as the only explanation for the universe's extraordinary design.
In his The Symbiotic Universe, the American astronomer George Greenstein acknowledges this fact:
How could this possibly have come to pass [that the laws of physics conform themselves to life]? … As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency—or, rather Agency—must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?11
By beginning his question with "Is it possible," Greenstein, an atheist, tries to ignore the plain fact confronting him. But many scientists who have approached the question without prejudice acknowledge that the universe has been created especially for human life.
Materialism is now being viewed as an erroneous belief outside the realm of science. The American geneticist Robert Griffiths acknowledges this when he says: "If we need an atheist for a debate, I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn't much use."12
In Nature's Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, which examines how physical, chemical, and biological laws are amazingly calculated in an ‘‘ideal'' way with a view to human life's requirements, well-known molecular biologist Michael Denton writes:
The new picture that has emerged in twentieth-century astronomy presents a dramatic challenge to the presumption which has been prevalent within scientific circles during most of the past four centuries: that life is a peripheral and purely contingent phenomenon in the cosmic scheme.13
In short, the idea of a random universe, perhaps atheism's most basic pillar, has been proved invalid. Scientists now openly speak of materialism's collapse.14 God reveals the falsity of this idea in the Qur'an: "We did not create heaven and Earth and everything between them to no purpose. That is the opinion of those who disbelieve…" (Qur'an, 38: 27), and science confirmed that truth in the 1970s.
Quantum Physics and the Discovery of Divine Wisdom
One area of science that shatters the materialist myth and gives positive evidence for theism is quantum physics.
Quantum physics deals with matter's tiniest particles, also called the "sub-atomic realm." In school, everyone learns that matter is composed of atoms. Atoms are made up of a nucleus and several electrons spinning around it. One strange fact is that all of these particles take up only some 0.0001 percent of the atoms. In other words, an atom is something that is 99.9999 percent "empty."
Even more interestingly, further examination shows that the nuclei and electrons are made up of much smaller particles called "quarks," which are not even particles in the physical sense; rather, they are simply energy. This discovery broke the classical distinction between matter and energy. It now appears that only energy exists in the material universe, and that matter is just "frozen energy."
There is a still more intriguing fact: Quarks, those packets of energy, act in such a way that they may be described as "conscious." Physicist Freeman Dyson, when accepting the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion (2000), stated that:
Atoms are weird stuff, behaving like active agents rather than inert substances. They make unpredictable choices between alternative possibilities according to the laws of quantum mechanics. It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom.15
In other words, there is information behind matter, information that precedes the material realm. Gerald Schroeder, an MIT-trained scientist who has worked in both physics and biology and authored The Science of God, makes a number of important comments on this subject. In his more recent book, The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth, Schroeder explains that quantum physics—along with other branches of science—is the tool for discovering a universal wisdom lying behind the material world. As he puts it:
It took humanity millennia before an Einstein discovered that, as bizarre as it may seem, the basis of matter is energy, that matter is actually condensed energy. It may take a while longer for us to discover that there is some non-thing even more fundamental than energy that forms the basis of energy, which in turn forms the basis of matter.16
John Archibald Wheeler, professor of physics at Princeton University and recipient of the Einstein Award (2003), explained the same fact when he said that the "bit" (the binary digit) of information gives rise to the "it," the substance of matter.17 According to Schroeder, this has a "profound meaning":
The matter/energy relationships, the quantum wave functions, have profound meaning. Science may be approaching the realization that the entire universe is an expression of information, wisdom, an idea, just as atoms are tangible expressions of something as ethereal as energy.18
This wisdom is such an omniscient thing that it covers the whole universe:
A single consciousness, a universal wisdom, pervades the universe. The discoveries of science, those that search the quantum nature of subatomic matter, have moved us to the brink of a startling realization: all existence is the expression of this wisdom. In the laboratories we experience it as information that first physically articulated as energy and then condensed into the form of matter. Every particle, every being, from atom to human, appears to represent a level of information, of wisdom.19
This means that the material universe is not a purposeless and chaotic heap of atoms, as the atheist/materialist dogma assumes, but instead is a manifestation of a wisdom that existed before the universe and that has absolute sovereignty over everything that exists. In Schroeder's words, it is "as if a metaphysical substrate was impressed upon the physical."20
This discovery shatters the whole materialist myth and reveals that the visible material universe is just a shadow of a transcendent Absolute Being. Thus, as Schroeder explains, quantum physics has become the point at which science and theology meet:
The age-old theological view of the universe is that all existence is the manifestation of a transcendent wisdom, with a universal consciousness being its manifestation. If I substitute the word information for wisdom, theology begins to sound like quantum physics. We may be witnessing the scientific confluence of the physical with the spiritual.21
Quantum is really the point at which science and theology meet. The fact that the whole universe is pervaded by a wisdom was revealed in the Qur'an 14 centuries ago. One verse reads:
Your god is God alone, there is no god but Him. He encompasses all things in His knowledge. (Qur'an, 20:98)
The Natural Sciences: The Collapse of Darwinism and the Victory of "Intelligent Design"
As stated earlier, one of the main supports for atheism's rise to its zenith in the nineteenth century was Darwin's theory of evolution. By asserting that the origin of human beings and all other living things lay in unconscious natural mechanisms, Darwinism gave atheists the scientific guise they had been seeking for centuries. That time's most passionate atheists adopted his theory, and such atheist thinkers as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels made its elucidation the basis of their philosophy. The relationship between Darwinism and atheism born at that point in time has continued until our own time.
But, at the same time, this core belief of atheism is the very one that has received the greatest blow from twentieth-century science. Discoveries in paleontology, biochemistry, anatomy, genetics, and other scientific fields have shattered the theory of evolution (See Harun Yahya's Darwinism Refuted). We have dealt with this fact in far more detail elsewhere. However, in short, we can say the following:
Darwin's theory rests on the assumptions that all species come from a single common ancestor and that they diverged from one another over a long period of time by means of small gradual changes. Supposedly, the required proofs will be discovered in the fossil record or the petrified remains of living things. But fossil research conducted during the twentieth century presents a totally different picture, for no fossil of a single undoubted intermediate species, one that would substantiate this theory of gradual evolution among species, has been found. Moreover, every taxon [an animal or plant group having natural relations] appears suddenly in the fossil record, and no trace has ever been found of any previous ancestors. The phenomenon known as the Cambrian Explosion, which scientists classify as a period of time that occurred 540 to 490 million years ago, is especially interesting. In that early geological period, nearly all of the animal kingdom's phyla (major groups with significantly different body structures) appeared suddenly. The sudden emergence of many different categories of living things with totally different body structures and extremely complex organs and systems (e.g., mollusks, arthropods, echinoderms, and, as recently discovered, even vertebrates) rendered the theory of evolution invalid and proved creation, for as evolutionists also agree, a taxon's sudden emergence implies purposeful design, and this means creation.
Darwin elaborated on his theory by relying upon examples of how animal breeders produced different dog or horse varieties. He extrapolated the limited changes he observed to the whole natural world, and proposed that every living thing could have come from a common ancestor. But Darwin made this claim in the nineteenth century, when the level of scientific sophistication was low. In the twentieth century, things changed greatly. Decades of observation and experimentation on various animal species have shown that variation in living things has never gone beyond a certain genetic boundary. Darwin's assertions, like: "I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale"22 actually demonstrates his great ignorance. On the other hand, observations and experiments show that mutations defined by Neo-Darwinism as an evolutionary mechanism add no new genetic information to living creatures.
Darwin spoke about a common ancestor, but never mentioned how this person came to be. His only conjecture was that the first cell could have formed as a result of random chemical reactions "in some small warm little pond."23 But those evolutionary biochemists who sought to close this hole in Darwinism were frustrated by the fact that all of their observations and experiments showed that no living cell could arise within inanimate matter by means of random chemical reactions. Even the English atheist astronomer Fred Hoyle expressed that such a scenario "is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein."24
Scientists who study cells and their molecules, along with the cells' remarkable organization within the body, and the bodily organs' delicate order and plan are faced with proof that evolutionists strongly wish to reject: The world of living things is permeated by designs too complex to be found in any technological equipment. Intricate examples of design, including our eyes that are far superior to any camera, the wings of birds that have inspired flight technology, the complexly integrated system of the cells of living things, and the remarkable information stored in DNA have vitiated the theory of evolution, which regards living things as the product of blind chance.
By the end of the twentieth century, all of these facts had squeezed Darwinism into a corner. Today, in the United States and other Western countries, the theory of intelligent design is gaining ever-increasing acceptance among scientists. Those who defend it say that Darwinism has been a great error in the history of science, and that it came to be so by imposing materialist philosophy on the scientific paradigm. Scientific discoveries show that there is a design in living things, which proves creation. In short, science proves once more that God created all living things.
Psychology: The Collapse of Freudianism and the Acceptance of Faith
The representative of nineteenth-century atheism in psychology was the Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). He proposed a psychological theory that rejected the soul's existence and tried to explain humanity's whole spiritual world in terms of sexual and similar hedonistic motivations. But Freud's greatest assault was against religion. In his The Future of an Illusion, originally published in 1927, Freud proposed that religious faith was a kind of mental illness (neurosis) that would disappear completely as humanity progressed. Due to the primitive scientific conditions of the time, his theory was proposed without either the requisite research and investigation or any scholarly literature or possibility of comparison. Therefore, its claims were extremely deficient.
After Freud, psychology developed on an atheist foundation. Moreover, the founders of other schools of psychology were passionate atheists. Two of these were B. F. Skinner (1904-90), founder of the behaviorist school, and Albert Ellis (1913- ), founder of rational-emotive therapy. The world of psychology gradually became the forum for atheism. A 1972 poll among the members of the American Psychological Association revealed that only 1.1 percent of psychologists in the country had any religious beliefs.25
But most psychologists who fell into this great deception were undone by their own psychological investigations. The basic suppositions of Freudianism were shown to have almost no scientific support. Moreover, religion was shown not to be a mental illness, as Freud and some other psychological theorists declared, but rather a basic element of mental health. Patrick Glynn summarizes these important developments:
Yet the last quarter of the twentieth century has not been kind to the psychoanalytic vision. Most significant has been the exposure of Freud's views of religion as entirely fallacious. Ironically enough, scientific research in psychology over the past twenty-five years has demonstrated that, far from being a neurosis or source of neuroses as Freud and his disciples claimed, religious belief is one of the most consistent correlates of overall mental health and happiness. Study after study has shown a powerful relationship between religious belief and practice, on the one hand, and healthy behaviors with regard to such problems as suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, divorce, depression, even, perhaps surprisingly, levels of sexual satisfaction in marriage, on the other. In short, the empirical data run exactly contrary to the supposedly "scientific" consensus of the psychotherapeutic profession.26
Finally, as Glynn says, "modern psychology at the close of the twentieth century seems to be reacquainting itself with religion,"27 and "a purely secular view of human mental life has been shown to fail not just at the theoretical, but also at the practical, level."28
In other words, psychology also has routed atheism.
Medicine: The Discovery of How "Hearts Find Peace"
Another branch of science affected by the collapse of atheist suppositions was medicine.
According to results compiled by David B. Larson and his team at the National Institute for Healthcare Research, a comparison among Americans in relation to their observance of religious duties yielded very interesting results. The risk of arteriosclerotic heart disease for men who attended church frequently was just 60 percent of that for men who were infrequent church attendees; among women, suicide was twice as high among infrequent as among frequent church attenders; smokers who ranked religion as very important in their lives were over seven times less likely to have normal diastolic pressure readings than were those who did not.29
Secular psychologists generally explain such phenomena as having a psychological cause. In this sense, faith raises a person's morale and contributes to his or her well-being. There may be some truth in this explanation, but if we look more closely, we see something much more dramatic: Belief in God is far stronger than any other influence on one's morale. In comprehensive research on the relationship between religious belief and physical health, Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School came up with some interesting results. Although he has no religious faith, Benson concluded that faith in God and worship had a far more positive effect on human health than could be observed in anything else. Benson concludes that he has "found that faith quiets the mind like no other form of belief."30
Why is there such a special relation among faith, the human spirit, and the body? Benson, a secular researcher, stated that the human mind and body are "wired for God."31
This fact, which the medical world is slowly beginning to notice, is a secret revealed in the Qur'an: "Only in the remembrance of God can the heart find peace." (Qur'an, 13:28) The reason why those who believe in God, pray to Him and trust in Him are physically and mentally healthier than others is that they behave in harmony with their nature. Philosophical systems opposed to human nature always bring pain, sorrow, anxiety, and depression in their wake.
The basic source of religious people's peace is that they act in order to gain God's approval. In other words, this peace is the natural result of listening to the voice of one's conscience. People who live the morality of religion simply "to be more at peace" or "to be healthier" cannot live according to the morality of religion; those who act with this intention cannot find peace in its true sense. God well knows what people store in their hearts and what they reveal. Peace of mind comes only by being sincere and attempting to gain God's approval. God commands:
So set your face firmly toward the [true] religion, as a pure natural believer, God's natural pattern on which He made mankind. There is no changing God's creation. That is the true religion—but most people do not know it. (Qur'an, 30:30)
In light of these discoveries, modern medicine is starting to become aware of this truth. As Patrick Glynn says, "contemporary medicine is clearly moving in the direction of acknowledging dimensions of healing beyond the purely material.32
Society: The Fall of Communism, Fascism, and the Hippie Dream
The collapse of atheism did not occur only in astrophysics, biology, psychology, and medicine; it also happened in politics and social morality.
The collapse of communism may be considered one of the most important examples of this. Communism may be considered the most important political result of nineteenth-century atheism. The founders of this ideology, Marx, Engels, Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924), Leon Trotsky (1879-1940), or Mao Zedong (1893-1976), all adopted atheism as a basic principle. A primary goal of all communist regimes was to produce atheistic societies and destroy religious belief. Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's Communist China, Kampuchea (Cambodia), Albania, and some Eastern bloc countries applied immense pressure on Muslims and other religious people, sometimes to the point of committing mass murder.
Yet, amazingly, at the end of the 1980s, this bloody atheist system collapsed. When we examine the reasons for this dramatic fall, we see that what collapsed was actually atheism. Patrick Glynn writes:
To be sure, secular historians would say that the greatest mistake of Communism was to attempt to defy the laws of economics. But other laws, too, came into play … Moreover, as historians penetrate the circumstances of the Communist collapse, it is becoming clearer that the Soviet elite was itself in the throes of an atheistic "crisis of faith." Having lived under an atheistic ideology—one that consisted of lies and that was based on a "Big Lie"— the Soviet system suffered a radical demoralization, in every sense of that term. People, including the ruling elite, lost all sense of morality and all sense of hope.33
An interesting indication of the Soviet system's great "crisis of faith" was President Mikhail Gorbachev's (1931- ) attempted reforms. Ever since he became general secretary of the communist party (1985-91) and assumed the Soviet presidency in 1990, Gorbachev was interested in moral problems as well as economic reforms. For example, one of the first things he did was to initiate a campaign against alcoholism. In order to raise Soviet society's morale, for a long time he used Marxist-Leninist terminology. But seeing that this was of no use, he even began to mention God in some of his speeches, although he was an atheist. Naturally, these insincere words of faith were of no use, and the crisis of faith in Soviet society continued to worsen. Finally, the gigantic Soviet empire collapsed in 1991.
The twentieth century documented not only the fall of communism, but also that of fascism, another fruit of nineteenth-century anti-religious philosophy. Fascism is the outcome of a philosophy that may be called a mixture of atheism and paganism, and is intensely hostile to theist religions. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), who may be called the father of fascism, extolled the morality of barbarous idolatrous societies, attacked Christianity and other monotheistic religions, and even called himself the "Anti-Christ." His disciple, Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), was an avid Nazi supporter, and the ideas of these two atheist thinkers gave impetus to the terrifying savagery of Nazi Germany. The Second World War, which caused the death of 55 million people, is another example of the calamity that such atheist ideologies as fascism and communism have brought upon humanity.
At this point, we must recall Social Darwinism, another atheist ideology that helped cause both world wars. In his Europe Since 1870, Harvard history professor James Joll states that behind each of the two world wars lay the philosophical views of Social Darwinist European leaders who believed in the myth that war was a biological necessity and that nations developed through conflict.34
Another social consequence of atheism appeared in Western democracies. In the present day, there is a tendency to regard the West as the "Christian world." However, since the nineteenth century, a quickly growing atheist culture has held sway with Christian culture, and today there is a conflict between them in what we call Western civilization. And this atheist element was the true cause of Western imperialism, moral degeneration, despotism, and other negative manifestations.
In his God: The Evidence, American writer Patrick Glynn draws attention to this matter and, in order to compare the God-fearing and atheist elements in the West, takes the examples of the American and the French revolutions. The American revolution was realized by people who believed in God. The American Declaration of Independence states that all men "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." Since the French revolution was the work of atheists, the French Declaration of Human Rights was different, with no reference to God and full of atheist and neo-pagan notions.
The actual results of the two revolutions were quite different: In the American model, a relatively more peaceful, tolerant environment was created, one that respected religion and religious belief; in France, the fierce hostility to religion drowned the country in blood and unleashed a savagery that had no equal in French history up until that time. As Glynn says, "there is an interesting historical correlation between atheism, on the one hand, and moral and political catastrophe, on the other hand."35
Glynn notes that attempts to turn America into an atheist country also have harmed society. The fact that the sexual revolution, for example, that spread during the 1960s and 1970s caused immense social damage in terms of traditional moral values is accepted even by secular historians.36
The hippie movement was a demonstration of this social damage. Hippies believed that they could find spiritual emancipation through secular humanist philosophy, eastern philosophies, and by such things as unlimited drugs and sex. These young people who poured into the streets with romantic songs—like John Lennon's Imagine, released in 1971 and in which he spoke of a world "with no countries, and no religion too"—were actually undergoing a mass deception.
In fact, a world without religion actually brought them to an unhappy end. The hippy leaders of the 1960s either killed themselves or died from drug-induced comas in the early 1970s. Many other young hippies shared a similar fate.
Members of the same generation who turned to violence found themselves on the receiving end of violence. The 1968 generation, which turned its back on God and religion and imagined they could find salvation in such concepts as revolution or selfish Epicureanism, ruined both themselves and their own societies.
The Movement Toward Religious Morality
The facts given above clearly show that atheism is undergoing an inevitable collapse. In other words, humanity is—and will be—turning toward God, and not only in the scientific and political communities. From prominent statesmen to movie stars and pop artists, those who influence opinion in the West are far more religious than they used to be. Many people have seen the truth and come to believe in God after having lived for years as atheists. (Patrick Glynn, from whose book we have quoted, is one of these ex-atheists.)
Interestingly, the developments contributing to this result also began in the second half of the 1970s. The anthropic principle first appeared in the 1970s, and scientific criticism of Darwinism started to be loudly voiced at the same time. The turning point against Freud's atheist dogma was M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled. For this reason, Glynn, in the 1997 edition of his book, writes that "over the past twenty years, a significant body of evidence has emerged, shattering the foundations of the long-dominant modern secular worldview."37
Surely, the fact that the atheist worldview has been shaken means that another worldview is rising, which is belief in God. Since the end of the 1970s (or, from the beginning of the fourteenth century according to the Muslim calendar), the world has seen a rise in religious values. Like other social processes, because this develops over a long period of time instead of all at once, a majority of people may not notice it. However, those who evaluate the development a little more carefully see that the world is at a major turning point in the realm of ideas.
Secular historians try to explain this process according to their own principles. However, given that they are in deep error with regard to God's Existence, they also are greatly mistaken about the course of history. In fact, as the following verse reveals, history moves as God has determined: "You will not find any changing in the pattern of God. You will not find any alteration in the pattern of God."(Qur'an, 35: 43) It follows, then, that history has a purpose and unfolds as God has commanded. And God's command is to perfect His light:
They desire to extinguish God's Light with their mouths. But God refuses to do other than perfect His Light, even though the unbelievers detest it. (Qur'an, 9: 32)
In other words, God has sent His light to humanity through the religion that He has revealed: Islam. Those who do not believe want to extinguish this light by their "mouths"— intimations, propaganda, and philosophies, but God will finally perfect His light and give dominion to religious values.
We are living at an important time. Atheism, which people have tried for hundreds of years to portray as the "way of reason and science," is proving to be mere irrationality and ignorance. Materialist philosophy, which sought to use science for its own ends, has been defeated by science. A world rescuing itself from atheism will turn to God and religion. But, to what religion will it turn? With God's permission, that religion will be Islam. As we will see in subsequent chapters, this process began long ago.
Clearly, Muslims have important duties in this period. They must be aware of this major change in the world's way of thinking, interpret it, make good use of the chances and opportunities provided by globalization, and effectively represent the truth along this road. They must know that the basic conflict of ideas is between atheism and faith. It is not a struggle between East and West, for both of these contain believers and atheists. For this reason, faithful Christians and faithful Jews are allies of Muslims. The main divergence is not between Muslims and the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), but between Muslims and the People of the Book on the one hand, and atheists and pagans on the other. Of course we must not show hostility to such people; rather, we must view them as people who need to be rescued from their error.
The time is fast approaching when many people who are living in ignorance with no knowledge of religious morality will be graced by faith in the impending post-atheist world.