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Article appeared Friday, December 6th, 2019 in The News Today, Bangladesh

The Revelation (599) yousuf mahbubul Islam, PhD


Do we reflect on the intelligent life that we lead? For example, why are we the only
species that can read, ask questions, reflect, do scientific research and come to
conclusions – all efforts towards finding the truth? Alison Gofnik explores this thought in
her website {1} article titled 2002: what is your question? Why?
“We all take for granted the fact that human beings ask questions and seek
explanations, and that the questions they ask go far beyond their immediate
practical concerns. But this insatiable human curiosity is actually quite puzzling.
No other animal devotes as much time, energy and brain area to the pursuit of
knowledge for its own sake. Why? …is it a deeper part of human nature?
Developmental research suggests that this drive for explanation is, in fact, in
place very early in human life. We've all experienced the endless "whys?" of
three-year-olds and the downright dangerous two-year-old determination to seek
out strange new worlds and boldly go where no toddler has gone before. More
careful analyses and experiments show that children's questions and
explorations are strategically designed, in quite clever ways, to get the right kind
of answers…Human children are equipped with extremely powerful learning
mechanisms, and a strong intrinsic drive to seek explanations. Moreover, they
come with support staff, — parents and other caregivers — who provide both
lunch and references to the results of previous generations of human
researchers.” {1}

Young children have an in-built drive to ask questions and know! This fact can lead to
other questions, like, why do children need to ask questions? Where does this insatiable
desire to ask questions come from? In what way is the human species different? Paul
Slone {2} partly answers these questions by tying questions to learning.
“Children learn by asking questions. Students learn by asking questions. New
recruits learn by asking questions. Innovators understand client needs by asking
questions. It is the simplest and most effective way of learning. People who think
that they know it all no longer ask questions – why should they? Brilliant thinkers
never stop asking questions because they know that this is the best way to gain
deeper insights.” {2}

Learning takes place when questions are linked to appropriate answers. Having linked
questions to human learning, consider the question, do newly born honeybees need to
ask questions to learn how to build a honeycomb? Human beings, on the other hand,
would have to go through a lot of questioning and learning to make anything that vaguely
resembles a honeycomb! Here lies the difference, other species are instinctively
knowledgeable and in contrast, human beings have to ask the right questions to learn
and become knowledgeable.

Moving on from this point, can we ask a searching question regarding the creation of
“knowledge” itself? Could knowledge as we know it exist before the Big Bang, i.e.,
before the universe came into being? For example, could the concepts of friendship,
love, marriage, creator, creation, sons, daughters, etc., have existed before the universe
came into being? How did these concepts come into existence? For a concept to come
into being, a minimum of two things is necessary. First the concept must physically or
virtually exist or be created, and then a label or name must be attached to it. But wait, as
the concept and label are initially independent, how would a human connect the name to
the concept? Both the concept and the name must be somehow linked in our brains for it
to be meaningfully understood, communicated or discussed. So, when the name for a
concept is heard for the first time, where and how does the human brain link to the
concept? The only way is for the brain to ask questions and link with concepts that
already exist in the brain. How can concepts already exist in the human brain? How
does knowledge exist in the honeybee’s brain?

When we Google the question, how is knowledge created? a number of interesting ideas
{3, 4, 5} are presented. Answers range from practice, action, interaction {3} to creation
of new concepts {5}. The nearest answer to what we have been discussing is by
guessing and criticism {4} of the answers. Eliot Temple {4}, does not venture into asking
how is it that the human brain can guess? Where do the guesses come from in the first
place? The only acceptable guess is that a highly intelligent Being has not only created
knowledge, but is responsible for pre-loading both the human brain and the bee’s brain –
but to be utilized in distinct ways. How can we know for sure that what we are thinking is
along the right lines? The Qur’an in fact confirms these thoughts.
“And He taught Adam the nature of all things…” [2.31]

“And your Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills on trees and in (men's)
habitations;” [16.68]

Adam was taught the “nature of things” or concepts while bees are taught “how to build”!
How is it that the Qur’an can confirm what humans can only guess? The Qur’an also
answers this question.

27.1 “Ta Sin. These are verses of the Qur'an, a Book that makes (things)
clear;”
The compilation that we know as the Qur’an was revealed in groups of verses from a
Book that confirms or clarifies things that we would want to know.
“We have made it a Qur'an (a reading) in Arabic that you [41.44] may be able to
understand (and learn wisdom). And verily it is in the Mother of the Book in Our
Presence high (in dignity) full of wisdom.” [43.3 – 43.4]

The main book is with God. God revealed verses from there from time to time, as and
when needed. Is it therefore likely that “Ta Sin” is a reference from where the following
verses were revealed?

27.2 “A Guide; and Glad Tidings for the Believers”


Who is a believer?

27.3 “Those who establish regular prayers and give in regular charity and
also have (full) assurance of the Hereafter”
A believer fears accountability of the Day of Judgment.

27.4 “As to those who believe not in the Hereafter We have made their
deeds pleasing in their eyes; and so they wander about in distraction.”
The task of humans during the temporary life on earth is to seek the truth through asking
the right questions and analysis. Those who cannot be bothered or think they know it all
or even think that there are better things in life to attend to will be in trouble with the
Creator.
“What is the life of this world but amusement and play? But verily the Home in
the Hereafter that is life indeed if they but knew.” [29.64]

27.5 “Such are they for whom a grievous Penalty is (waiting): and in the
Hereafter theirs will be the greatest loss.”

27.6 “As to you the Qur'an is bestowed upon you from the presence of One
Who is Wise and All-Knowing”
Who better to learn from than the One who has created knowledge? Do we have any
questions?
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{Notes}:
{1} https://www.edge.org/response-detail/11928
{2} https://innovationmanagement.se/imtool-articles/ask-questions-the-single-most-important-habit-for-innovative-
thinkers/
{3} http://www.knowledge-management-tools.net/knowledge-creation.html
{4} https://fallibleideas.com/knowledge-creation
{5} https://medium.com/@stangarfield/creation-process-knowledge-creation-invention-and-innovation-e3d6741d391a