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Durham e-Theses
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Saīd Nursi’s Arguments
for the Existence of God
in Risāle-i Nur

GOK, HAKAN (2015) Saīd Nursi’s Arguments
for the Existence of God
in Risāle-i Nur.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF (PhD Thesis) - Accepted Version


This dissertation examines the philosophical and theological writings of Saīd Nursi (1877–1960) entitled Risāle-i Nur (Epistles of Light), and presents a critical analysis of his arguments for the existence of God. Although certain aspects of Nursi’s writings have been studied at various academic levels, his ways of arguing for the existence of God, and defending his position against the sceptics have not been studied at doctoral level. Therefore, the objective of this study is to understand Nursi’s arguments, then try locate him among other philosophers and scholars and bring out into light his original viewpoints in this context.
The thesis consists of six chapters. Chapter 1 presents the historical background and the overview of main theistic arguments from the Christian, Islamic and Jewish points of views concerning God’s existence. The theistic arguments analysed are: the ontological arguments, the cosmological arguments, including the kalām cosmological arguments, the teleological arguments, which are also known as arguments to or arguments from apparent design, the arguments from morality and conscience, and, finally, the arguments from miracles and religious experience. Counter-arguments to the theistic arguments posed by the sceptics are also examined such as problem of evil, the problem of Hell, and the poor design arguments. In this chapter, we also aim to sum up some of the chief arguments in order to prepare some basis for this study. These arguments are analysed from Nursian viewpoint in later chapters.
Chapter 2 provides an overview of the life and thoughts of Saīd Nursi and explores how and why his discourse changed from political activism into that of intellectual and spiritual life. Certain terminologies that have been developed by Nursi are discussed here.
The Ensuing four Chapters, from 3 to 6 analyse four different arguments employed by Saīd Nursi’s for the existence and the unity of God (tawḥīd). The first argument, ‘the great book of the universe’, which is, in modern philosophy, the equivalent of the design argument is discussed in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 examines the second argument which Nursi calls the argument from prophethood (nubuwwah), with a particular focus on Prophet Muḥammad. Chapter 5 deals with the third argument, i.e. from Scriptures (waḥy), with the Qur’ān as the main focus. Finally, Chapter 6 discusses Nursi’s fourth argument that is conscience (wijdān) and the primordial human nature (fıṭrat-ı bashar).
In addition, the critics posed specially by the atheist and the sceptics are subjected to an evaluation from Nursi’s perspective. Darwinian theory of evolution as an alternative to creation, criticisms to the Qur’ān and the Prophet Muḥammad, and philosophical issues such as the problem of evil and hell are among the challenges to which Nursi responds.
The thesis concludes that Nursi’s first three arguments i.e. the design argument, the argument from prophethood and the argument from scriptures, despite certain different interpretations by Nursi, seem to be a continuations of the traditional argument. However, Nursi’s originality lays in his moral argument or the argument, namely, the argument from primordial human nature.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Saīd Nursi, Risāle-i Nur (Epistles of Light), Existence of God, theism, atheism
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:25 Feb 2015 09:30

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