One of the characteristics of self-evident truths is that they are intuitive. Such truths are just there in our minds without being taught. For instance, no one ever teaches children that the past is real, no one ever explains that past did really happen, we just know that it happened. Such intuitions are not just necessarily true but also most sensible and comprehensible understanding of reality. To deny a self-evident truth is to deny the reality.
There are studies that show that the human belief in God is intuitive and a lot more than just a social construct. Many Psychologists have done research and concluded that the concept of a creator, a God or a higher being is “intuitive, a natural (by-)product of the human mind”.
A paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology states:
“2007 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life(2008) found that 92% of Americans believe in God, with 71%holding this belief with “absolute certainty” (p. 163).
Worldwide,estimates suggest that approximately 88%–93% of the population believes in a God or gods (Zuckerman, 2007).
Some have argued that belief in God is intuitive, a natural (by-)product of the human mind given its cognitive structure (Bering, 2011; Bloom, 2005;Boyer, 2001; Guthrie, 1993; Preston & Epley, 2005) and social context (Atran, 2002; Wilson, 2002).
More specifically, humans may have a number of early-developing, and possibly innate, cognitive tendencies that support belief in God and other super- natural entities. These include the overattribution of intentionalcausation and purpose to events (Dennett, 1989; Guthrie, 1993;Kelemen, 2004; Kelemen & Rosset, 2009; Waytz, Cacioppo, Epley, 2010) and the tendency to posit the existence of disembodied minds (Bering, 2006; Bloom, 2004, 2007; Gray, Gray, & Wegner, 2007)”.
This proves that the belief in God is also a self evident truth. To deny God is just like denying past, or denying our existence and many other self evident truths. The point I am trying to make is that it’s not necessary that we always answer the question that does God exists. Rather we should ask the ones who deny his existence to provide the evidence that He doesn’t exist.
Doesn’t make sense? Let’s make it more simple. Suppose someone tells you that the past isn’t real and nothing has ever happened before today or say 200 years ago. What would you do? Start proving every single thing that happened in the past? That is not a rational approach and you simply can’t do that. Instead a rational person would ask that person to prove that past isn’t real because the principle states that the onus of the evidence lies on the one who makes the claim. The one who rejects a self evident truth has to give evidence that our intuitions are false. The reality of God is as real as the reality of past, reality of our existence and reality of undeniable self-evident truths around us.
For us as Muslims, belief in Allah is based on fitrah i.e. natural disposition of human beings. We don’t always need evidences to prove ourselves. All we need to do, while talking to atheists or agnostics, is to explain why God is a self-evident truth, an intuition that is the only rational understanding of universe. Just like denying past would raise many problems and questions, denying the Creator too does the same.
Imam Ibn Tammiyah (May Allah bless him) sums it up beautifully when he wrote: “Affirmation of a Maker is firmly rooted in the hearts of all men….it’s from the binding necessities of their creation”.  Allah Himself has asked similar questions and pointed out how irrational it is to deny God:
“Can there be doubt about God, creator of heavens and the earth” (14:10)
“Were they created by nothing? Or were they themselves the creators? Or did they create the heavens and the earth? Nay, but they have no firm Belief.” (52:35)
“Do they not see that We have created for them of what Our Hands have created, the cattle, so that they are their owners. And We have subdued them unto them so that some of them they have for riding and some they eat.” (36:71-72)
Allah knows best, May He guide us to His path. Peace and blessings be upon his Messenger.
- Amitai Shenhav, David G. Rand and Joshua D. Greene, “Divine Intuition: Cognitive Style Influences Belief In God.”, Journal Of Experimental Psychology: General, 141.3 (2012), 423-428 <https://doi.org/10.1037/a0025391>.
- Taqiuddin Ahmad Ibn Taymiyyah, Dar At-Ta’arud Al-‘Aql Wan-Naql, pp. 482/8.