Simple V Complex: Ramadan Reflections

Many lovely muslims say to me, a Christian, your beliefs about God are complex. Ours are simple. Therefore ours must be true.

I say to the lovely muslim “must be – how so?”

They profer – God would not give us something complex to understand about himself when we would struggle to understand it. He would give us something simple so it could be understood.

This is an attractive piece of reasoning based on the idea that God would be committed to presenting simple things about himself so that we would understand them.

But I am not so sure. Surely God would and does reveal truth to us – in his mercy and condescension toward his creatures. If God is complex, high above us, surely we might encounter something of that in his presentation of Himself to us.

complexityComing back to the idea that Simple is obviously truer than complex, I would venture that the simple understanding of the God as put forward in Islam is not necessarily true simply based on that idea. I find the Buddhist notion of One (everything is one, there is no divisibility – all divisibility is but an illusion – all is One) to be immensely attractice and immensely simple. The most simple idea in metaphysics that there is. But I actually don’t believe it is true. And complexity versus simplicity does not play a part at all in my judgement of Buddhism versus Christianity (versus Islam). But for the Muslim who insists I should abandon my One God who is Three (Complex) for their One God who is One (simpler) simply based on those grounds needs to be consistent and surrender to buddhistic One (simplest of all).

I am not advocating that Muslims renounce Islam and become Buddhists. What a waste of renouncement that would be. As a christian of course I want lovely muslims (and the unlovely ones too) to renounce Islam and embrace the Jesus of the New Testament – the Saviour & LORD. (He actually came to save the unlovely and rebuke the so called lovely). But some muslims and many particularly converts to Islam cite this reduced complexity of ideas about God as a major factor in their conversion. It is interesting that it becomes for many a master concept, a deal breaker – worth using emphatically to persuade others to embrace Islam. As a master concept it needs to carry them further – to Buddhism. If it doesn’t then it needs to fadeaway and become an incidental finding on the road having embraced a particular worldview. But for many it is more than this – not just something spotted on the arrival at a destination but a driver directing some towards Islam. I simply say that as a driver it’s work is unfinished when you arrive at Islamville. Buddhaville is 40 clicks down the road and is the simplest destination of all.

So why am I not a buddhist? Because as I journey through life I have found myself arriving at the God who is Three (One God, eternally existing as Father, Son and Spirit) not because I crave simplicity or complexity for that matter but truth. It may turn out to be untrue. But that won’t be because of it’s complexity.

I hope to say something about the proposition that Islam is simple and Christianity is complex another time but for now this has been another Ramadan Reflection.

Peace and blessing of Christ be upon you and your family.