The desire to play God remains as strong as ever. We still see depictions of those who believe in their own divinity, although they might not use that exact word. We see ordinary people confer their adoration upon sports and political figures, movie and television stars, and successful people in general. These people are rewarded with honors, praise, applause, and other forms of approval that encourage them to strive for even more of our gratitude and devotion.
There have always been people who have sought, in their own way, to actually become Gods equal. Today, this usually does not take the crude form of actually being worshipped as deities, devising specific rituals, and promulgating new doctrines and paths of salvation. This desire has become far more subtle, for it sometimes assumes the form of trying to help people. In this issue, we mention two groups of people who are tempted by this path: scientists and self-help experts.
For many, science has made life far easier and more comfortable than it was for our grandparents. We are healthier, better fed, better educated, and now take for granted many things that our grandparents grew up without. But some scientists continue to dream of actually creating new life. All of us know about the debates raging over such issues as cloning animals and humans, genetic engineering of food and animals, choosing a babys sex, and so on.
But what many of us do not know about, unless we are familiar with science fiction books and movies, is the relatively new field of nanotechnology. This involves the development of microscopic robots that can be inserted into your body to heal it by repairing its diseased parts, or maybe even those that are simply aging in accord with nature, so that life will continue perhaps indefinitely.
In the self-help field, many self-proclaimed experts repackage common sense and ideas from various Far Eastern non-monotheistic religious and philosophical systems and present them as breakthroughs that will enable you to realize your deepest desires. Underlying all of these, however, is the assumption that the individual is in control of his or her life. But is this really the case? Can we control every situation in our lives that has a role in our achievements?
We might be able to control some aspects, such as acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills, and contacts. But what about the other factors: the air and food necessary for life, the proper functioning of our brains and bodies, not to mention the continued beating of our hearts? Do we control these factors? The self-help experts never mention such facts, thereby encouraging us to take them for granted and deny any role in them to our Creator. And so we drift farther and farther away from our Creator and toward our own ego, thereby, perhaps unconsciously, joining the Pharaohs in their mistaken belief that they controlled everything.
For those of us who try to follow the path of Prophethood, as exemplified by Prophet Muhammad, such subtle attitudes must be recognized for what they are. While scientists and self-help experts have achieved remarkable things, we must not forget who made their achievements possible. Could it have been anyone other than God, Who gave them life, a brain with which to think, a desire to acquire knowledge and skills in order to benefit others, and everything else that enabled them to live long enough to be of service to others? We may appreciate their accomplishments, but our devotion and gratitude should be directed only to God, for without God they would not have accomplished anything.