Matter and Motion

Matter is in continuous motion and constant development. Can the same thing be simultaneously a subject of motion and a cause of it?

Metaphysics insists on the multiplicity of the mover and the moved, because motion (i.e. growth) is a gradual development and completion of a deficient thing. A deficient thing cannot be the cause of its own completion. In the light of this, the cause of developmental motion is not matter itself, but a cause transcending matter that imparts to matter linear motion and gradual development. Here it should be noted that al-Sadr does not attempt to distinguish between different kinds of motion, such as simple mechanical motion and organic growth.

Dialectical materialism, on the contrary, does not recognize this duality between the mover and the moved, and considers matter itself as the cause of its motion and development. From the viewpoint of theology, there are no actual contradictions contained in matter. The internal content of matter is empty of everything except receptivity and capacity. Motion is a gradual departure from potentiality to actuality. Matter is not the cause of motion, for it is devoid of the levels of completion attained in the various stages of development. It is, therefore, necessary to search for the cause of the substantial motion of matter outside its limits.

It is also necessary that this cause be God, the Exalted, Who encompasses essentially all the ranks of completion and perfection.

Al-Sadr then calls our attention to the digestive and circulatory systems which provide proper nutrients to every one of the billions of cells in the body. In the same way, he calls attention to the eye and the apparatus of vision as a proof of the design of a supreme intelligence.

He points out that experimental biology has failed to explain the origin of life upon the earth. He asks whether the astonishing work of the genes, which control the character of every cell and bestow particular traits to an organism, could be products of haphazard chance. He discusses various theories of animal instinct and finds all of them in- adequate in explaining the wonderful behaviour of the bee, the shark, the ant, the hen and the eel. The only adequate explanation is that instinctive behaviour is the result of a mysterious, divine, supernatural inspiration. The marvellous order underlying nature bears testimony to the presence of an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent intelligence.