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Dāiyah

Teleological causality

 

TELEOLOGICAL CAUSALITY


TELEOLOGICAL CAUSALITY

In the above verse, there are important signs related to causality.Persons who study philosophy should know that discussions about causality necessitate a philosophical background.

Have you not seen how your Lord lengthens out the shadow? He could have kept it motionless had He liked. Then We made the sun a proof for it. (25:45)

At the time of the descent of the Quran, there was not a single treatise that dealt with philosophy or causality in the region in question. It is noteworthy that the Quran emphasizes an issue of extreme importance, causality, in a region where ignorance prevailed among the Bedouins. Most philosophical commentaries considered important were improvements on philosophies inherited from the past. Whereas the statements of the Quran, not based on any heritage, are evidence of its authority.

God says that the shadow He created was not the necessary consequence of the sun, but was created because God willed it so. In the verse, the causality between the shadow and the sun is acknowledged, but the said causality is created on purpose. The pattern laid down by the Quran differs from the one offered by skeptics like Hume, who is skeptical about causality, and from the viewpoints that try to explain the universe based on the determinism of causal principles that have come into existence by pure coincidence.

Causality is one of the basic tenets of science. It is the relation between two events or states of affairs in which one brings about the other or produces it. That is, it connects everything existing in the universe. It stops our world from turning into chaos by establishing relationships between cause and effect. Had there been no relation between cause and effect, understanding our world would have become even more complex than a dream. Sciences like physics and chemistry take causality for granted. The manufacture of airplanes, satellites and televisions is the result of reliability of the cause and effect relationship. David Hume was skeptical about causality, but like all men, he could not help basing himself on the principles of causality. For nobody can go on living while denying causality. For instance, had Hume not taken into his head to write, he could not have produced the Treatise of Human Nature because writing was the cause to produce a book! Gazali’s inquiry into causality was not meant to deny it. His opposition resulted from the attempts at replacing it with God’s will. The famous example he gave about the burning of cotton purported to postulate causality as a created system, to which we refer as teleological causality.

These may seem absurd to those who are not familiar with the deliberations that the issue of causality has given rise to in philosophy. The reason why I am trying to give such explanations is the place occupied in the history of philosophy by extremists’ opinions that deny “causality.” Natural sciences have already gone beyond such contentions, while certain philosophers remain irresolute.

The Quran acknowledges causality. Causal relationships, referred to in many a verse by the attribute of “sunnettulah” (God’s system), are valid throughout the universe. As we shall be seeing in the coming chapters, the Quran points to the mathematical order reigning in the universe. This means the functioning of the cause and effect relationship in a mathematical order. The statements of scientists who translate the principles of causality by having recourse to physical and chemical formulas in the universe and those of the Quran are in perfect conformity.

Although the Quran acknowledges causality, it defines its purpose as a teleological argument. Although, in causal relationships, the cause precedes the effect, the latter’s design precedes the cause. The causality chain, as expounded in the Quran, functions within God’s knowledge and means, and cannot be creative. While it acknowledges causality, the Quran is against the idealization of causality. The existence of shadow is not a necessary consequence of the sun. The Creator of the sun has foreseen the shadow’s existence as a consequence of the creation of the sun. What the Quran propounds is the universal model based on “created causality.”

 

PROTEIN’S PROBABILITY AND TELEOLOGICAL CAUSALITY

Probability calculations provide us with objective data of a mathematical nature that let us see whether the alternative of intelligent design or the one of coincidence is more credible. In particular, the fact that Hume’s criticism of the analogical version of the “argument from design” was generally accepted in philosophy circles has been one of the reasons for the rise to prominence of the probabilistic version of the “argument from design.” The structure of proteins makes the application of probability calculations possible. Every living cell is made up of proteins. Both as far as the enzymes and as far as their other functions are concerned, proteins are the basic units that run the activities of cells. In the comparison between cells and a factory, the proteins correspond to the factory’s machinery. Proteins are made up of a succession of amino acids. In a living organism, a protein is made up of 20 amino acids. The fact that these 20 amino acids should be placed in a certain order, and that the proteins should have a threedimensional shape, are absolute requisites for a protein. There is a very great difference between the proteinoids, which are formed by a coincidental succession of amino acids, and the proteins, which have a special function within a cell. Amino acids come in two kinds, left-handed amino acids and right-handed amino acids. While proteinoids, which are a result of a coincidental union of amino acids, are made up of both kinds of amino acids, proteins include only left-handed amino acids. What is more important, proteins have to be set up in a certain order if they are to be able to carry out specific duties. The probability that amino acids will turn into proteins just because they have been subjected to energy is the same as the probability that a stack of bricks, which have been blown up in the air with dynamite, will fall back down and form a house.

In living organisms, alongside relatively short proteins like ferrodexin (found in clostridium pasteurianum), which is made up of a succession of 55 amino acids, there are also long proteins like twitchin (found in caenorhabditin elegans), which is made up of a succession of 6049 amino acids. As an example for our probability calculations, let us consider the medium sized serum albumin protein, which can be found in the human body and which is made up of 584 amino acids. The probability that the amino acids in this protein would be made up only of the left-handed kind, can be calculated in the following way:

The probability that an amino acid should be of the left-handed kind: 1/2
The probability that two amino acids should be of the left-handed kind: 1/2 x 1/2
The probability that three amino acids should be of the left-handed kind: 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2
The probability that 584 amino acids should be of the left-handed kind: (1/2 )584

In addition to this, all amino acids have to form a peptide bond, which is necessary for tying up with the other amino acids in the protein chain. There are also many other kinds of chemical bonds that can be formed in a natural environment, among amino acids; the probability of a peptide bond forming is roughly equal to the probability of other kinds of bonds forming. Within the serum albumin, made up of 584 amino acids, 583 peptide bonds are required. The probability of these forming is as follows:

The probability that two amino acids should bond with a peptide bond: 1/2
The probability that three amino acids should bond with peptide bonds: 1/2 x 1/2
The probability that four amino acids should bond with peptide bonds: 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2
The probability that 584 amino acids should bond with peptide bonds:(1/2)583
The probability that the amino acids of a single protein should be all left-handed and that they should be connected with peptide bonds is:

(1/2)584 x (1/2)583 = (1/2)1167 = (1/10)351

We realise that this probability is a practical impossibility from a mathematical point of view, by means of the following reasoning. If we add the 1080 protons and neutrons (total of all protons and neutrons in the universe) to the all photons and electrons in the universe, we obtain a number smaller than 1090. The life span of the universe, 15 billion years x 365 days x 24 hours x 60 minutes x 60 seconds = 473.040.000.000.000.000, expresses the time that has elapsed since the creation of the universe. We could say approximately that this number is equal to 1018. If we multiply the two numbers, the number we get is 1090 x 1018 = 10108. This number expresses the number of attempts made, if all the protons, neutrons, electrons and photons in the universe had each made an attempt, every single second of the existence of the universe. If we assume that attempts made in a second by each of these are with the highest chemical speed 1012 (one trillion), it makes 10108 x 1012= 10120; but even the probability of two simple events like the formation of a protein with 584 amino acids with only left-handed amino acids and the formation of its peptide bonds is 1 in 10351. This shows us that even if all the protons, neutrons, electrons and photons in the universe had turned into one of 20 amino acids in living creatures and that even if they had made 1012 attempts in each second since the creation of the universe, it would not have been enough even to ensure that the amino acids of a single protein like the serum albumin should be left-handed and that they should be connected with peptide bonds.

This conclusion is indeed very interesting. Following the discoveries of Copernicus, the earth lost its central position in the universe; however, even mobilising the entire matter in the universe could not ensure the coincidental creation of a single protein, which exist in thousands in living organisms that we can see only by means of a microscope.

It is vitally important that the succession of the amino acids in proteins be in the correct order. We can show the probability calculation for the serum albumin protein in the following way:

The probability that an amino acid should be in the correct position: 1/20
The probability that two amino acids should be in the correct position: 1/20 x 1/20
The probability that three amino acids should be in the correct position: 1/20 x 1/20 x 1/20
The probability that 584 amino acids should be in the correct position: (1/20)584 = (1/10)759

If we multiply this number with the 1 in 10351, which we have already calculated, we get the probability that a given protein should be made up only of left-handed amino acids and that it should form peptide bonds and that the succession of amino acids should be in the correct order. This corresponds to a probability of 1 in 10351×10759=101110, which practically means that it is impossible (Generally in mathematics all probabilities less than 1 in 1050 are considered impossible). It could be said that only a certain part of the succession of amino acids in proteins is active and that changes in the amino acids outside this part could be tolerated. This would mean that the actual probability was higher than we calculated; but, on the other hand, if we include the probabilities also of things like the necessity that the protein should happen to be in the correct position within the cell and also that it should exist in the required quantity, then the probabilities decrease.

Those who deny that the causes were created target-oriented have succumbed to mathematics. This calculation of probability was made on the assumption that amino acids are the ones that are used in the living organism, that the three-dimensional folding of the protein has been realized and that after the formation of the protein the functions have been frozen. Supposing that all these stages had been added to the probability- what was impossible would be even more impossible. However, the figure mentioned indicates this impossibility for those who are versed in mathematics. This serum albumin protein whose formation cannot be coincidental is being produced in the millions by our body.

According to the “blind coincidentalist” materialist view, serum albumin is a fortuitous formation. According to the believer, this protein is a target-oriented creation. This example about the formation of the protein can be stretched to cover many things, from the functions in our body to those in other animals and plants, from the phenomena occurring in our world to space. In all these domains the principles of causality function within a teleological framework.

WHAT CAN BE THE CAUSE OF THIS CAUSALITY?

The absence of causality would rule out all mental functions. Whether a universe would be possible without causality is a different matter, but the fact is, we could not understand the world. Our getting hungry is a cause. Our opening the door of the refrigerator with a view to getting the food in it is a cause; so is our reaching for food. The fact that the meal we have before us is subject to gravity and the fact that what we swallow goes down to our stomach are causes and all these causes are simultaneously the effects of prior causes. The principles of causality govern us in understanding all that is created in the world. Our study of the universe, that contributes to our understanding of God’s magnificent artistry and the omniscience of God, is also based on causality. We understand the principles of causality thanks to our mental capacity, God’s gift. We reason based on causality. Our ratiocination is based on causality. Had the causal relationships been simpler, many of us might not have given the creation its due. Had the creation been more complex than it actually is, and had we been unable to solve the mysteries of causality, we could not be in a position to understand the universe. In the existence of the universe, the cause and effect relationship is a consequence of God’s perfect design.

The great blunder of atheists is their attribution of the effect merely to the cause, since they are convinced that the causes in the principles of causality owe their existence to coincidences. The irrelevance of coincidences is shown in the simple instance of a protein. If one concludes that in the cause and effect relationship, the cause is not a fortuitous act, one can derive from this that all effects are but God’s doing. The materialist atheism that considers causality not to be a created process, but the cause’s own making, idolizes matter and the causality principles immanent in it. Once the idea of coincidence is ruled out, all the creatures in the universe automatically become the consequence of an Infinite Knowledge and Infinite Power. Assumptions of coincidental formations in the concept of time in which the stages of creation take place have prevented atheists from conceiving of the Creator. Once the concept of coincidence is dealt with, all knowledge is promoted to the Eternal Existence. Those who assert that an object or knowledge is the product of coincidences establish a connection to a process in time. Once coincidences are ruled out, the existent becomes the outcome of the wisdom of the Eternal Being. This leads to the understanding of the universe as the result of a process, the product (within the principles of causality) of a process, the work of the Eternal Being.


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