Review of Yuval Noah Harari’s
“Sapiens” and “Homo Deus”

The books definitely deserves praise due to the amount of details they contain and the way they are presented. One surely has to laugh aloud several times while reading and gets amazed about the quantity of information collected, as if the author wants to convince one of his point of view by the sheer weight of his arguments. Unfortunately, not all information presented are based on facts, although he proudly proclaims that he “observes reality as it is”!

His basic creeds can be summarized as following:

  • Life evolves and therefore cannot possibly be created.
  • Human life is not more precious than any other life. Man got an edge over the other animals during the cognitive revolution, when the ability of thinking abstractly and generating stories enabled humans to cooperate in huge numbers.
  • Creating myths and stories (like belief in God and his commandments; belief in nations and their laws, or belief in limited liability companies, money and so on), enabled humans to cooperate efficiently, though it had its negative side effects.
  • There is no God, there is no soul and there is no meaning in life. All just popped up and evolved by chance.
  • Man is not just one self, an in-dividual, but a dividual with many different selves or rather many data-processing algorithms.
  • Thanks to science, imperialism, capitalism and humanism, the world reduced drastically famine, plagues and wars. More people nowadays are dying because of obesity than of famine; more people are committing suicide than be killed in war or by criminals.
  • Modern man is in a rat race, where human live gets meaningless (as belief in Gods and destiny evaporates) and faster and faster, thanks to globalisation and technical progress. An average of 80% of the people will allegedly lose their jobs in the next years to robots and artificial intelligence and will have to reinvent themselves every ten years, which of course is impossible.
  • Humankind is therefore without future and will “vanish”. It will either give way to a few SuperHuman-Gods (as getting enhanced to god-like status is not possible for all people but just a few “elected ones”), or to the “Internet-of-all-things” (although the average reader may not really grasp what that this is supposed to be). This technical progress can only be stopped by a nuclear war or other catastrophes of similar scale: “In the 21st century, those who ride the train of progress will acquire divine capabilities of creation and destruction, while those left behind will face extinction!” So divine attributes like mercy and compassion seem to be absent from the new gods.

While reading Sapiens the reader might have been interested in what Yuval exactly means by saying: “A multi-ethnic elite is joining the new empire” and “there is nothing more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who do not know what they want”. Many would have guessed that the conclusion would be that there must be an empire in order to control the new Gods and get all things in good order. Without an empire, things would fall into chaos. In order to prevent the lower class to revolt against the elite and becoming non-operational, it will be made “very happy” by changing its body chemistry.

But Homo Deus takes a different turn where it is said that becoming a God cannot be satisfying because one creates one own will, and therefore will itself becomes a product. The new emerging religion would be dataism, the worship of data and the creation of the “Internet-of-all-things”. Of course, nobody can fathom what that should be. We could still understand “Inter-Brain-Net” but not an entity where individualism dissolves. Somewhat shocked by his own findings and “research”, which leads to utter nihilism, Yuval asks the reader his final questions:

  1. Are organisms really just algorithms, and is life really just data processing?
  2. What is most valuable – intelligence or consciousness?
  3. What will happen to society, politics and daily life when non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than ourselves?

Well as a Muslim I may answer you:

  1. No, of course they are not! But it was you who said so, didn’t you?
  2. Neither of them! Most valuable is faith and living analogue to absolute reality using both intelligence and consciousness for that very purpose.
  3. It will end in a nightmare, where else? But do not worry, the dream of becoming Homo Deus or creating the Internet-of-all-things will get destroyed sooner as you might think, as you said, by nuclear war or similar catastrophe.

Man - just data processing algorithms?

Now let me help you out of your nihilistic dead end road by pointing towards the first mistake you make albeit your 15 years of meditation: Your faith in objectivity and the constructs of your own mind. You say “Consciousness may be a kind of mental pollution produced by the firing of complex neural networks. It doesn’t do anything. It is just there. This is the best theory of consciousness that contemporary science has to offer!”

A very poor theory indeed! And your highly praised science actually proves otherwise. Prof. Dr. Lanza explains, that life creates the universe instead of the other way around. In this new paradigm, life is not just an accidental by-product of the laws of physics. ‘What you see could not be present without your consciousness,' says Lanza. 'Our consciousness makes sense of the world.' In summary, space and time are 'simply tools of our mind.' Lanza cites the double-slit test to back up his claims. When scientists watch a particle pass through two slits, the particle goes through one slit or the other. If a person doesn't watch it, it acts like a wave and can go through both slits simultaneously. This means its behaviour changes based on a person's perception! There are also other experiments showing the same, like the so-called Quantum-Zeno-Effect, an effect of quantum theory in which a deterioration process (e.g., a radioactive atom) can be prevented by mere observation. Also the theory of quantum entanglement shows that without consciousness, time would not exist.

Consciousness shapes reality - proven by the double-slit experiment

So our consciousness is not “just there” as Harari puts it, it shapes our very reality! Harari himself pointed out to this truth several times in his book when he tells us that the belief in myth created such things as money, companies and nations. In fact, the consciousness shapes everything!

Besides, the mind cannot fathom paradoxes. Harari says, theist religions are nonsense, because if God would be good, He could not possibly create evil. But if you use such logic, you could also say, that if light is a beam, it cannot possibly be a wave. Similar, while Muslims agree with Harari, that there is nothing actually like a “free-will” because everything is created by Allah (This is naught else than a reminder unto creation, Unto whomsoever of you willeth to walk straight. And ye will not, unless [it be] that Allah willeth, the Lord of Creation. [at-Takwir]), nonetheless one gets Hell or Heaven for one’s decision! So how can one be responsible for something which is not in one’s own power? This excuse will be put forward by the disbelievers on the Day of Judgement, on which Allah will reply: “You have no knowledge thereof!” The mind simply cannot grasp the nature of true reality!

So how then distinguish between truth and falsehood, between myth and real faith?

Ultimately only “the heart” can judge about it (in which Harari does not believe and is mocking about), while the mind has the role of the prosecuting attorney and the lawyer. There is always a pro and a contra in any case from a rational perspective.

Harari believes in evidence derived from observation, like that antibiotics cure whether you believe in them or not. Well, Muslims have no objections, but obviously the mind cannot fathom absolute truth and paradoxes, so the mind simply cannot be the only yardstick for “truth”.

How can Harari for example believe that everything just popped up and evolved by pure chance? Is this rational?

Just take the incredible fine-tuning of the universe. Evidence shows that the constants of physics have been finely tuned to a degree impossible for human engineering to achieve, never mind a random event. One such example is the Cosmological Constant. The Nobel Prize winner and Professor of Physics, Steven Weinberg, made the following calculation with regards to the Cosmological Constant: “One constant does seem to require an incredible fine-tuning. The existence of life of any kind seems to require a cancellation between different contributions to the vacuum energy, accurate to about 120 decimal places.” If not: “the universe either would go through a complete cycle of expansion and contraction before life could arise, or would expand so rapidly that no galaxies or stars could form.”

To put it another way, if this constant differed by one part in 10120 then there would have been no chance for life in the universe. This degree of fine-tuning is difficult to imagine because such accuracy represents an incredibly sensitive balance.

The following analogy should make it easier to visualise: imagine if every grain of sand on earth, from every beach and desert that exists, was collected together and placed in a gigantic container. Now take just one of these grains, paint it red and mix it back with the rest of the sand. Blindfold a friend and ask them to pick out the red grain. What are the odds that he will be successful? Yet you would have to believe in such a feat, to believe that the fine-tuning of the universe came about by chance. The Cosmological Constant is just one example. There are many others including the ratio of electrons and protons, ratio of electromagnetic force and gravity, and mass density of the universe. These have similar degrees of fine-tuning. Together they form a delicately balanced system, virtually nothing of which can be altered without either preventing the universe from existing or making it unsuitable for any form of life to exist. This would be similar to painting one of those grains of sand blue, one green and one yellow and picking them out in that order after the red grain! Isn’t it much more reasonable to conclude that the universe and life are a result of wilful intelligent design? Such fine-tuning throughout the laws of physics demonstrates the wisdom and power of the creator of the universe. The Qur’an engages its audience by inviting us to ponder some rational, logical questions which we can use to arrive at a conclusion, not only about our origin, but the origin of everything that exists in the material world: in other words, the entire universe.

So if we now listen to the prosecuting attorney who says: “All just by chance and has no meaning”, and then the attorney says, the chances that all developed accidently are one against 10120, how would we judge? Of course that it cannot be possibly happened by pure accident! That is the most rational conclusion!

But the mind is not the only contributor to knowledge. As Harari explains himself, knowledge comes also from experience and sensitivity. Strangely enough, he allows such knowledge only in the realm of the material world. He cites the example that when we become sensitive about tea, we can taste that the tea was fertilized by panda-dung. How about all the spiritual experiences people make? I wrote a whole book telling about my spiritual experiences when I was walking for thousands of kilometres without money, passport and baggage. Just fantasies? How about experiences one makes while doing Ruqyah (exorcism)? All just hallucinations and placebos?

If we look at the sky and the clouds, the rivers and the forests, the sea and all the creatures around us and how beautiful and wonderful it is, and then we say: “Just pure chance”, what does that tell about our own sensitivity? Some try to appear very clever by pounding us with tons of “knowledge” but the simple truth in front of their own eyes they perceive not!

“And when it is said unto them: believe as the people believe, they say: shall we believe as the foolish believe? Are not they indeed the foolish? But they know not. Deaf, dumb and blind; and they return not.” [al-Baqarah]

There was no prophet among the prophets, who has not been given miracles, through which the people had security or faith, but what has been given to me is the divine revelation that God has revealed to me. So I hope my followers will be more than of the other prophets on the Day of Resurrection. [Bukhari, Vol. 9, No. 379]

Allah orders us to use our mind and heart to find out the truth. Kindly enough, Harari states that there is indeed scientific evidence that the Qur’an comes from Muhammad s.a.w. He just would have to thoroughly examine if such a book can possibly written by an illiterate in the 7th century. Sadly, instead he tells things about Islam which are simply untrue.

Just for the record and to put one of the many false things straight he tells about Islam, because I love animals very much: That Islam would say that only humans have a soul and therefore animals could be treated like goods. And he explains us that it is scientifically proven that also animals have emotions and consciousness.

Islam never said otherwise! In fact, according to a narration of the Prophet s.a.w. somebody was given hell because she mistreated a cat until the cat died. And somebody else got paradise because she gave a thirsty dog to drink! If we plant a tree, whatever any creature eats from it, is counted for us as almsgiving. The Prophet s.a.w. and his companions used to get angry if a beast of burden got loaded too much and made suffer, which would have not been the case if they would have considered animals without consciousness. There are Surahs in the Koran named after bees and ants, the two species who are organized like humans.

Hell and heaven however are not assigned to animals, not because they lack a soul or feelings or consciousness, but because they did not eat from the tree of good and evil and are therefore not responsible for their deeds. Only an idiot would try to sue a pig or a monkey for stealing his potatoes or bananas! Although they have a consciousness, they cannot handle abstract ideas of right or wrong or justice in a way that would qualify them for judgement. That is why eternal hell or heaven is reserved for humans. It does not mean that animals just dissolve in oblivion. We only know that they go back to Allah, whatever that may mean.

The story of Adam and Eve is a tool for the human mind just like the theory of gravity is a tool for the mind too. Both are not absolute truths. The story of Adam and Eve helps man to understand why he is responsible for his deeds and animals are not, and the other serves for constructing an airplane. They are both analogies. If a tool is not analogue to truth, it simply does not work. But both may not be taken as “the reality”. Harari writes that “the Islamic zealots don’t really understand the world of the 21st century and have nothing relevant to say about the novel changes and opportunities that new technologies are generating all around us!”

If he means with this statement the CIA / Mossad founded ISIS, then he might be right. But when he says that “their scriptures don’t have anything to say about genetic engineering or artificial intelligence”, then he is wrong!

A Muslim does not need to know how to build an atom bomb or how to modify genes, as both is haram and blasphemy! Exactly what is stated in the Qur’an comes true now: “Then Satan whispered to them that he might manifest unto them that which was hidden from them of their shame, and he said: Your Lord forbade you from this tree only lest ye should become angels or become of the immortals.” Harari exactly tells about humans becoming immortals now and with an angelic status, just like Satan promised Adam and Eve, if they would eat from the tree of knowledge! How could people thousands of years ago possibly predict that technology based on rational knowledge would enable man to become immortal? What other proof do you still need?

If you still require more proofs, then please, go ahead and check again rather than telling lies and mocking about something you did not understand properly!

God says that he created some of his slaves so powerful that nobody except Himself can defeat them. We know that we neither can compete with your godless Gog & Magog world order nor with Dajjal, the Anti-Messiah. We cannot compete with your nuclear bombs and all the other rubbish you concoct. But we don’t have to, God Himself will take care of you!

Board the train of progress or get extinct!

If you still like to board this “train of progress” and leave everybody else to destruction, no problem, just go ahead. But this train’s final destination is not “Homo Deus” or the “Internet of all things” but hellfire! Instead of blindly following your mind, which you do not understand, you should try to figure out who is Satan, “the light bearer”!


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