They have forsaken the Lord (Part 8) – James’ Reply

James: I rewrote my initial response to you reply because as I re-read your reply, I decided that its claims were not adequately addressed. Before you read any further, I feel compelled to tell you that when one is trying to understand, strengthen or critique an idea or assertion, it’s possible to use common errors—deliberate or not—found in reasoning. We call these logical fallacies: arguments that come up frequently but are wrong in specific ways and are typically used to mislead someone into accepting a false conclusion (although sometimes they are just honest mistakes).
Robert, you commit many logical fallacies throughout your response. Not only is this really hard to ignore but when someone communicates in this manner it is hard to take the person’s arguments seriously because of the inherent invalidity of the argument. So while I admire your passion and would love to engage in future dialogue I feel obligated to suggest that any future dialogue conform to the accepted rules of logic. I think you will agree that this request is reasonable.

Robert: For the sake of clarity, can you start a new post altogether that specifically identifies what’s left that we are debating?  I’m getting lost with all these replies the way they structure gmaill, so we need a simpler format.  Besides, I’m also very busy debating “fellow” Muslims on the issues of Jihad and Peace…and I just got back from a weekend of Quran studying, so today my head is spinning….

James: I like the line by line format and do not think this format is complex. Going line by line assures me that I did not forget to any relevant points that were made (as you did in many of my past responses).

Robert: Bringing the heat huh James? 🙂

James: Actually we call it The Sword. 😉

Robert: I take offense to the idea that I am some sort of “Muslim apologist”, I have nothing to apologize for in regards to Islam, as my thoughts and beliefs are what I believe are what Islam teaches.  These are the conclusions I came up with when I began my study almost seven years ago and they are the same conclusions today.

James: Robert, unfortunately you have committed a logical fallacy specifically called a semantic etymological fallacy. An etymological fallacy is a linguistical misconception based on the idea that the etymology of a word or phrase is its actual meaning. An apologist is someone who defends a belief; it is not someone who apologizes.

James (said in a previous post): It’s funny that you mention this. You do know that the Qu’ran actually puts biblical scripture on the same level with the Qu’ran (see Sura 6:115, Sura 6:34, Sura 10:64, Sura 3:3 and others). If Muslims believe the Qur’an is true in its statement that nobody can change the words of God then errors in the Bible prove that the Qur’an is not from God and / or Muhammad endorsed an erroneous book. Also, everything in the Qu’ran would have to be viewed in light of biblical scripture since obviously the revelation of biblical scripture predates that of the Qu’ran. This is a serious logical problem for Islam and the implications of the above are huge when you consider that the bible and the Qu’ran, substantially, are diametrically opposed to one another.

Robert:  I don’t mean any harm, but I have seen this argument from Christians before.  It never truly makes sense to try and legitimize ones scripture using another, because you almost always come up in error.

James: I am not trying to legitimize the Bible by using the Quran as you suggest. If you refer back to my original statement you will see that I’m actually demonstrating that the Quran is not true using propositional logic.

Consider the following:

Proposition: The Qur’an is true in its statement that nobody can change the words of God and that the Bible (Torah + Injil or gospel) is the word of God

Sura 6:115 The words of thy Lord are perfect in truth and in justice; NONE can change His words: For He is the one who heareth and knoweth all.

Sura 6:34 There is none that can alter the words of Allah. Already hast thou received some account of those messengers.

Sura 10:64 There is no changing the words of God; that is the supreme triumph.

Sura 3:3 Qur’an confirms that Torah, Zabur (Psalms) and Injil (gospel) are words of God. “It is He (God) who sent down to thee the Book in truth, attesting to (the truth of) what IS between its (his) hands (the Bible), and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel before this as a guide to mankind.” Or using Yusuf Ali: It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).

Statement: Islam claims that the Bible has been corrupted.

Conclusion: Since purportedly according to Islam the bible has been corrupted, then the Quran is false in its claim that nobody can change the words of God.

Robert: For instance:  6:115 refers to Muhammad (saw), 6:34 legitimizes the Prophet (saw) by reinforcing the point that God has sent messengers to every community and specifically recalling accounts of some earlier Prophets (saw) and alluding to others, 10:64 I don’t see your point in this ayah, 3:3 actually nullifies your point:
3:3 Step by step has He bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, setting forth the truth which confirms whatever there still remains [of earlier revelations]: for it is He who has bestowed from on high the Torah and the Gospel

James: Sura 3:3 does not nullify my point, it strengthens it. Refer to my statement above.

Robert: One of the name of the Quran is the Fuqran which means the Criterion.  It’s a firmly held belief that the Bible as we know it is corrupted and while there is truth in it, there is much falsehood, we believe the Quran is the only perfect revelation and use it as the measure to weed out truth from falsehood.

James: Since you can properly identify a corrupted bible then certainly you must have the original uncorrupted bible, otherwise you should not expect anyone to take your claim seriously. My question for you is: when exactly do you believe that the Bible was corrupted and by whom? This question is important because it is actually quite easy to demonstrate to a Muslim that when Muhammad recited the Qur’an, he made clear statements which show that he did not believe that the Bible was corrupt at that time. The Qur’an calls on Christians to adhere to the Scriptures that they possessed. There are also verses in the Qur’an which state that John the Baptist and Jesus were taught the Torah by Allah. If this is the case, then the Torah was still intact (according to the Qur’an) during the first century. Add to this the fact that we have in our possession the Dead Sea Scrolls which predate John and Jesus’ birth by some 200 years. Therefore, it is easy to demonstrate (for anyone willing to examine the facts) that according to the Islamic worldview and the manuscript evidence, it is impossible for the Bible to have been corrupted.

There are many more logical inferences one can arrive at based upon your assertion above. For instance, and adapting the summation from another site, the only possible conclusion from a thorough exegesis of the Qur’an is that “copies of the true Torah and the true gospel were present in Mecca and Medina at the time of Muhammad. Furthermore, since no Muslim has brought forth from one of the great Islamic libraries an ancient manuscript of a different Torah or a different Gospel, and since no archaeological discoveries have shown any carved quotations which differ from the Torah and Gospel present with us now; I am firmly convinced that the books which were available in Mecca during the lifetime of Muhammad were identical to the torah and the gospel which we read today.”

Robert: The reference to the Torah and Injeel (Gospel) only alludes to the fact that there was such a thing revealed, however the Quran often reminds us that there is no such 100% accurate thing in existence today.

James: How does the Quran do this? Even so, this can only strengthen my proposition above regarding the falsehood of Quranic claims.

Robert: Hence the mention of the Quran first being revealed over a period of time (23yrs) that confirms what truth is left in the Bible and also pointing out what isn’t truth in the Bible.

James: What? How does the mention of the Quran first being revealed over a period of 23 years confirm what truth is or is not in the Bible? What specifically is false and what specifically is true?

Robert: The last part bear witness to the fact that the same Originator Originated the message.  The preservation of the earlier was left to man and they failed, the latter God said He would protect Himself, also in the Quran.

James: How did man fail? Which verse(s) got corrupted? What were they originally? To use an analogy, it is unreasonable for one to claim that a dollar bill is corrupt or fake unless the person can actually and specifically demonstrate why the dollar bill is in fact not valid.

Robert: So in light of Islamic theology, I don’t understand your point.  We just bear witness that there were Prophets before and was revelation before, but it’s oft repeated in the Quran that much of that message and history has been distorted.

James: Where does the Quran say this? Keep in mind that such alleged verses have been addressed in the link I provided above (What the Qur’an Says about the Bible).

If you are conceding the Quran contradicts itself then we are in agreement, otherwise you must explain why the Quran gives the bible credence and then supposedly takes this credence away in a book that is non-chronological.

Robert: It would be foolish for one who is truly Muslim to accept the Bible whatever version you pick, and say it is all true, when the Quran specifically says it was tampered with.  Using that reasoning, I might as well have pork chops for dinner tonight!

James: It would be foolish for one who is truly Muslim to not accept the Bible as true especially because the Quran say that the words of God cannot be tampered with. If the Quran also said that the bible was tampered with then this would obviously be a contradiction. Besides, the Quranic verses you presumably refer to never imply that the bible was ever changed, altered or corrupted (See sections E,F,G and H). But even if the opposite were true, it would only underscore what many scholars have concluded, namely, that the Quran is riddled with unmistakable contradictions.

Robert:  Modern context, is my allusion to the constant chain of revisions.

If it was correct the first time, there would be no reason for new versions.  Overly simplified is an allusion to pre-set doctrines and dogmas by denominations that pick and choose the scriptures from the church members and tell them how to read the Bible versus actually learning Greek, Latin, Hebrew, etc. and seeking out the original texts and formulating an individual position.  What I meant by “western concept” was the allusion to the myriad of differences in Christianity some very stark in contrast to Eastern Churches and philosophies at times.

James: A couple of things; first, I’m afraid that you are using the words allude and allusion incorrectly. Traditionally, an allusion is really a literary device and therefore would commonly only refer to a piece of literature, a film, a piece of art, or even a real event; my point is, the referent should be tangible and not vague like “constant chain of revisions.” In addition, when you allude or make an allusion, you reference something indirectly but the expectation is that the reader has enough information to be able to understand the allusion. For instance, if I say Robert don’t tell anyone that Islam is full of contradictions and you replied “mum’s the word” you would be alluding to a certain scene in the Shakespeare play called 2 Henry VI.

Sometimes, writers don’t understand that an overt or direct “allusion” is really a misnomer for what is simply a reference. In your case, even in the most liberal sense of the word(s), “modern context” does not “overtly” or “covertly” refer to a “constant chain of revisions” (at least without making an unwarranted presupposition). Therefore, based on the denotative (and connotative) definition of allusion, I do not see a way that “modern context” could ever truly allude to a “constant chain of revisions.”  Incidentally, the same criticism applies to your other uses of the word “allusion.”

Secondly, your statement above (“If it was correct the first time, there would be no reason for new versions”) is a logical fallacy. There is at least one other reason why new versions would exist apart from the first version being incorrect. For instance, if version one of a book used archaic words and version two used contemporary equivalents of the archaic words in version one. Incidentally, your logical fallacy assumes that the bible was incorrect the first time, this contradicts the claim you made earlier that the bible was originally correct and then later corrupted; just something for you to think about.

Thirdly, your statements above regarding “constant chain[s] of revisions” betray a severe lack of knowledge in regards to the history of the bible. There have been several editions but no revisions. You are confusing changes based on the printing conditions of 1611 and the maturation of the print press for actual changes in the meaning of words or their substance. The bible has never changed (at least in the way you mean) and we have the manuscripts to prove it. If you would still like to claim that the bible has been revised please provide one example. Incidentally, You should really consider dropping this particular line of argument from your arsenal. It does more to hurt your cause than help it.

Finally, the strength of Christianity does not lie in dogmas or denominations; it lies in the word of God which is defensible using manuscript evidence, archaeological evidence, predictive prophecy, and the statistical improbability of fraudulent authorship. The Quran, unfortunately, falls short in every one of these areas.

Robert:  Highly controversial to whom?  A:  The Hadith by all Islamic Fiqh’s are man-made recollections and are not considered holy in any regard.  The only true source of Al-Islam is the Quran.  No scholar disputes that, so we can play the Hadith game all day, Fiqh normally determines which are acceptable and which are not anyway.  Show me in the Quran where preservation is refuted and then we would have a debate.  Most scholars only use Hadith to clarify points, there are some collections that are considered “authentic” but what you will find from Muslim to Muslim is that reliance on Hadith is varied.

James: I am not putting the Hadiths on the same level as the Quran, but I see that you are still trying to marginalize their importance. If the Hadiths are truly only for “clarification” why even acknowledge them over any other book written regarding Islam? I’m not sure but aren’t the hadith collections the most important source for the Sunnah?

Your claim that the Hadith is not considered holy in any regard and that no scholar disputes this appears to be false. For example, Prof. Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah Ph.D., D. Litt., a world-renowned scholar of Islam and International Law from Pakistan states: “the Quran and the Hadiths … both are based on divine inspiration.” (Introduction to Islam, pg 23)

Robert: When I say the Bible has been “whitewashed” or revised, I meant exactly that.  We can talk Early Christianity and NT all day, but the mere facts and history bear witness to the truth that there was no such thing as Bible in either Jesus (saw) or the disciples time. The first book(s) of the NT didn’t even appear in some of their lifetimes.  No one knows the authors minus Paul of course and then you have some books thrown in or out depending on the authority of the various Churches of the time until the matter was “settled” of course.  There are many Christian scholars like Paula Fredrikson and Bart Ehrman who have wrote extensively on the subject and are considered giants in this field.  I’m just a student, however based on research and study, it becomes quite obvious that after about a century of manuscripts being edited, revised, retranslated, thrown in, thrown out, that the only thing that one has left to believe that the original message and history survived is faith.  The oldest book Mark wasn’t even written until 80-100 CE and some suggest that it’s actually a part of a book called “Q”.  The other synoptic Gospels are based off of the Markan narrative, with the author of Luke actually admitting in the first chapter that he is recounting events as they were told to him (i.e. not witnessed himself) for emperor Theophilis, if of course I remember correctly….I could have my Christianity Professor contact you for more info if you want, and btw, she’s a Christian in case you think I have something up my sleeve….

James: To my recollection, no ever stated that there was a ‘bible’ during Jesus time. Robert, what you are doing here is called building a straw man. Straw man is a ‘red herring’ type of logical fallacy. As the “straw man” metaphor suggests, the counterfeit position (in this case, the argument that there was a bible in Jesus day) that is attacked in a Straw Man argument is typically weaker than the opponent’s actual position (actual examples of the “white washing” phenomenon you refer to), just as a straw man is easier to defeat than a flesh-and-blood one. Of course, this is no accident, but is part of what makes the fallacy tempting to commit, especially to a desperate debater who is losing an argument.

If you would like to shine the light on Christianity, I’m happy to respond just as long as you admit that you have made concessions in regard to my initial assertions regarding Islam and would like to move on to Christianity. Meanwhile, everything else you’ve said above amounts to utterly confused ramblings and lies without making an effort to substantiate anything.

Robert: My point is my sources are completely Christian when it comes to the history of the Bible, surely you can’t in your study say that the version of the Bible you use is exactly the same as a Christian of another denomination?  Last I checked the Catholics (correct me if I’m wrong) have more books than included in say the KJV or NIV.  I don’t know what version you use, so my statement is broad obviously.

James: Before I answer you question, you must answer my prerequisites. Do you know the difference between the Alexandrian line of codecs and the Antioch line? Secondly, if even the most loosely “translated” or “interpreted” bible condemns you as a sinner without the blood of Jesus Christ as your covering what is the significance of more conservative “interpretations” or “translations” in existence? I get a funny feeling that you may even be confusing interpretations of the bible with revisions of the bible; I can’t put this blunder past you based on your previous conjecture. Keep in mind that there is nothing barring me from coming out with my own interpretation of the Quran tomorrow and if I decided to do so, certainly this would not be considered a revision of the Quran. Robert, you need to be more careful with the logic of your assertions.

James (in a previous post): Your assertion is loaded so my response will be loaded. There are over 5000 extant manuscript artifacts (also called codecs) of the bible; on the other hand, we don’t know how many total manuscripts of the Koran exist or whether they differ from the Qu’ran we have today because any manuscript evidence is hidden for unknown reasons; I mean, what’s to hide? If the Qur’an truly is uncorrupted, why does the Muslim world not publish the oldest Qur’an manuscripts? Why not start with the Topkapi and the Taschkent manuscripts? Incidentally, you could destroy every bible on earth and because of the redundancy of manuscripts available, we would still be able to arrive at the bible we have today with little effort so I’m not sure what you mean when you say that the “contextual arguments would be the same.” Nothing has changed in the Bible. When I want to understand a verse in the Old Testament or Tenakh, I simply refer to my Hebrew Lexicon since I have the original Hebrew per the manuscripts. Similarly, when I want to exegete any passage in the New Testament, I simply refer to my Greek lexicon.

Robert:  I like loaded. 🙂  There are over 5000 manuscripts I agree, which are which?  Are they all repetitions of the KJV?  Do they include books like the Gospel of Thomas, Philip, etc.?  If not why?  Better yet, why aren’t those in the modern Bible?

James: Why are those not in the modern Bible, you ask? For the same reason why my 9th grade essay on bumble bees is not included in the modern bible, namely, because it is not inspired. The irony is that many of the “lost books” advocates make the point that “these [rediscovered] books” like the so-called Gospel of Thomas or Philip, were missing because the church fathers “suppressed” them, which is another way of saying the early Christians threw them out or trashed them. This accusation is actually true. They did. Skeptics think this strengthens their case. It doesn’t; it destroys it, because it proves that these books were simply not accepted by the church fathers as authentic because they failed the prerequisites for inspiration.

Perhaps, I should extend you an invitation to our couples bible study; there you can learn all the answers to your questions regarding the composition of our manuscript evidence and biblical history. Then again, if you aren’t going to do the research but instead spew banal arguments that have been refuted ad naseum then the invitation may not really do you any good.

Robert: As far as the Quran your right we don’t know who many Qurans exist, but we know where the oldest reside….In Turkey.  And all Quran’s from the oldest in Turkey to a copy I recently bought a year ago are in the same exact language as has always been: Arabic.  There is no difference in any Quran on the globe!

James: That there is no difference in any Quran on the globe is false. See Textual Variants of the Qur’an for more details.

Robert: Takes alot to say that, but find a Muslim that would say otherwise.  That is why it is so easy for little old me to refute say someone in Saudi Arabia , because we have the same scripture letter for letter.  Our only difference is of course translation.  Arabic doesn’t translate into English well, so English translations vary from author to author, but all have the original Arabic on the right or left side of the page and footnotes to explain why they translated the way they did vice another author, however, If I were to learn Arabic completely then there would be no problems from Quran to Quran.  Arabic is still a spoken language and the tradition of Hafiz is still alive and well.  Now before you go there…certainly there is faith involved, Muslims can only physically prove that what we have as Quran today is the same as the time of Uthman and earliest copies exist from as early as the 640’s to 800’s, but none deny that every Quran in existence today is an exact copy of those.  So that gives skeptics roughly about a period of 50 years (and that’s being very generous) to suggest that somehow in the recording process something went wrong.  It’s interesting to note that all those present in the recording process was actual companions of Muhammad (saw) who were hafiz, i.e. memorized the entire Quran.  Furthermore, historians bear witness that the ability to memorize texts was a reliable source of communicating information that Arabs had mastered during that time and many Muslims master even today.  Most Mosques won’t even hire an Imam unless he is a Hafiz or a least has half the Quran committed to memory and can recite it verbatim.

James: Again and unfortunately, your claims above regarding the similarity of all Qurans are without substance. To understand why, refer to Textual Variants of the Qur’an.

Robert: Now, can any of the same be said of the Bible?  Is there such a thing as those that have the Original Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc. memorized?  If so, what texts?  From what time(s)?  Were any of the compilers of the NT companions of Jesus (saw)?  Were any even eyewitnesses?

James: Your questions demonstrate that you need a serious lesson in biblical studies (and preferably from a non-biased source). Also, I’m not sure what memorization has to do with scripture authenticity.

Robert: My point is this, the margin of skepticism of the Quran spans at tops 50 yrs, the margin of skepticism for the Bible at minimum, is several centuries.  Add to the facts the lack of known authors, no eyewitnesses, no definitive text to compare to, etc….well you get the point…

James: Actually no one gets the point because you are guilty of a logical fallacy called “One Sidedness” or “Card Stacking” where one side distorts, suppresses or oversimplifies facts and evidence. There were eyewitnesses; there are definitive texts to compare; and the lack of known authors is insignificant especially because you do not provide the author-less books in question.

Robert: Even if we were to say that the oldest Quran is dated around 1000 CE (and it’s not btw) I could still take my 114 Surahs in Arabic and match them against those from 1007 years ago and get a complete match.  If you took all the books included in the KJV for example and compared them to ??? 1007 years ago what would you get?  Was there even a definitive cannon then?  Is there even one now that all Christians around the world accept?

James: If you are trying to make a point, I missed it. You should familiarize yourself with our codecs if you wish to start matching books from the KJV with their corresponding manuscripts; although, if you were familiar with Desiderius Erasmus and his work you would not have to do so. The books that comprise the true words of God have always been definitive. You would know this if you really cared to understand the derivation of the bible. Why do all Christians around the world need to accept a certain bible? Would this give that bible more credence? Of course, not!

Robert: As you can see, I take great “issue” with your “nothing has changed” comment, history bears witness that a great, great, great, deal has changed, while the Quran love it or hate it has not.  That is why for the most part when Muslims debate one another we have to interpret and contextualize based of examples of previous Muslim societies including the Prophet (saw) and rely on history to discern between us, because we are reading the exact same scripture.

James: The “history” you refer to is unknown to serious scholarship. I fear that your musings regarding biblical history juxtaposed with Quranic history are truly absurd. It is a historical fact that an exponentially larger amount of scholarship has been exhausted on the bible. Now I know that this doesn’t necessarily prove anything about the bible but it does demonstrate that the bible is the most scrutinized book in history, and it has stood up to the test time and time again. No serious scholarship effort can be directed toward the Quran for obvious reasons (lack of chronology and context). Unfortunately, your claims concerning Christianity are so trite and outdated they can only be meet with laughter.

Robert: So almost every division in Islam has nothing to do with composition of the Quran, but merely politics and interpretation.  That is why Sunni, Shia, and others still pray in mixed congregations because while our views may differ our text is the same.  When was the last time a congregation of Baptists attended Mass on the regular?

James: You are just full of logical fallacies tonight aren’t you? 😉 This informal logical fallacy is called is a Faulty Analogy. Look it up playa! These unlearned assumptions you continue to make regarding Christians and Christianity are baffling. Baptists do not believe in the denotations of “Mass” (i.e. Transubstantiation) so why would they ever attend Mass, especially on the regular?

By the way, it is rather pretentious of you to appeal to the “mixed congregations” of the Sunni and Shia especially when they keep killing one another in large numbers.

Robert:  I would argue that is purely an opinion.  You are missing the point.  The rules of scholarship/readership is different because we are talking about two different animals.  There is no deflection, the truth of the matter is, our religion cannot be discerned properly without looking at the Quran and Sunnah.  All scholars of Islam have to rely on the original Arabic and contextualize it based on Islamic history, because that is the nature of the revelation.  Some verses are allegorical, theological verses, some reference previous revelation and figures, some verses reference present history at the time, and some refer to future events.  So in order to decipher the Quran you have to have knowledge of the previous revelation ( i.e. Bible), you have to have knowledge of Islamic history at the time of Muhammad (saw), and the rest is faith i.e. belief in the day of judgment and ideology like God is One, etc. etc.

James: Regardless of the language, the rules of reading and comprehension are the same, after all, at the end of the day we are just talking about literature. The meaning of any sentence in literature is determined or influenced by its context or lack thereof. Furthermore, any form of communication loses its power if the words used to communicate can not be expected to convey an unchanging meaning based upon the rules of the language. I also don’t buy the whole “you must know Arabic to truly understand the Quran.” There are an abundance of Arabic scholars and lexicons that make that requirement pointless.

Robert: The problem is you keep comparing apples and oranges and calling them the same.  Yes, the are both fruit, but apples have their own specific make-up and so do oranges and that’s what makes them different.  Would you give a chimpanzee an autopsy to learn more about human composition just because they share a great deal of DNA that is similar?

James: Your faulty analogy is logically fallacious. I do not compare apples to oranges as you claim. The Quran must adhere to the rules of comprehension for the language in which it is rendered, just like any other book. You are told to interpret the Quran differently only because it lacks the prerequisites that all reasonable literature should have chronology and context. Since you did not care to answer my previous statement concerning the difficulties of interpreting the Quran, I will include it here again: Anyone reading the Quran without any outside influences (with the exception of the social context of that day) would arrive at the same conclusions that I and number of people have. This is the reason why your explanations of the controversial verses are not that evident. It’s not that we don’t understand to selectively apply historical context; it’s that the text does not necessitate that type of exegesis. For example, there is nothing in scripture that tells us we must understand or limit the rules concerning the role of women in the church in terms of the historical context. Therefore, if I were to say that it only applies to the women of Paul’s day, this would be called eisegesis, since the text does not call for that. So, while I admire the fact that you have an answer for the controversial verses, the fact that your interpretation is not the most obvious for someone of my educational background is slightly worrisome.

Robert: Even Christians that rely on the Jewish texts fall into debate with Jews who say the Christians don’t understand their text.  Go to to see my point in action.

James: I’m sure you wrote this sentence to prove a point but I’m afraid it does not convey anything to me or our audience. Your tangents are severely out of order. If in fact a group of Jews maintain that Christians don’t understand their text, what has that to do with the problems in ascertaining the message of a book (the Quran) that does not really mean what is says? This is a logically fallacious way of arguing. By the way, just because some Jews use the same excuse as Islam (i.e. I know what it says but it doesn’t really mean that) doesn’t make them right. At least, one can challenge those Jews based on the context in the literature; I can not say the same for Islam.

Robert:  Are you talking about 3:7?  If so, your reading it wrong.  The verse coveys the opposite, that one must be learned to grasp the entire text.  Because there is more going on than pick and choose a verse, that’s what many Muslims have been trying to say all along.  You have to know Arabic, Islamic history, etc. etc. in order to grasp the meaning of the Quran.  That is what the Quran says itself!  That is why Muslims are taught to seek ILm (knowledge) from the cradle to the grave.  And all Muslims are taught to learn Arabic.  The truth of the matter is without Arabic knowledge, or a very good translation with footnotes (and then not even) you can never truly understand the book.

James: I’m sorry but this is just an excuse to explain to the world why the Quran does not really mean what it so clearly says. There are many Arabic writings that have clarity and context, just not the Quran. There is almost no context in the Quran. I mean, the book has no semblance of chronology. It is very disorderly. The reason that controversy swirls about the Qur’an is because it’s so poorly written. It may be the only book in existence that is jumbled without contextual or chronological ordering. As such, it must be read in conjunction with the other sources just to make sense. And as such, it could never have been divinely inspired. The God who created the ordered universe has to be able to express Himself more clearly and orderly than does the Qur’an.

Robert: That’s just the nature of the game and religion.  Then and only then can you properly exegete and even then you still need to be versed in Islamic history.  That is why this verse points out that there are two types of people who have knowledge concerning the Quran:  Those who actually study the Islamic sciences and those who may not but believe in the whole of the text knowing that it is consistent and needs to be studied.  The third person mentioned are the non-believers who pick and choose and ignore the composition, context, and necessary rules of the book and instead opts to arbitrarily decide what the Quran means, instead of listening to the book itself and actually enjoining in the Islamic Sciences that one needs.  This was my major point:  You have to be pretty much an Islamic scholar, seeking to be one, or relying on those that already are to understand the book.  That is why we have such councils and bodies that issue Fatwa’s and make rulings, for those that aren’t scholars.

James: This is a damning weakness on the part of the Quran. Why is the Quran written in a way where only “scholars” can truly understand? Was Mohammed bias toward non-scholars? Even in elementary schools this is called poor communication. When you write in such a way where only scholars can decipher the meaning how can you expect anyone to take the book seriously. No one wants to laboriously search through commentaries just to find the true meaning of a verse that claims:

“O People of the Book! ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Torah, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from Your Lord.(Surah 5:69)”

If that’s what it says then that is what it should mean (baring the presence of literary devices or archaic words)

Robert: But for the Christian it is not commonly taught to go seek out 5000 plus manuscripts, to learn several languages, read the works of the early church fathers, etc.

James: The fact that you think it is necessary to do so underscore several severe deficiencies in the subject of biblical provenance. The biblical text in most cases is very clear when understood in context and the context is provided in the text. It’s called the perspicuity of scripture. Look it up Holmes.

Robert: Many actually believe that what they have in English is the original complete work and that is so far from the truth.

James: You have not demonstrated why they should not believe this so your statement is irrelevant. We have copies of the original, complete work in fact, we have over 5000 extant manuscripts of the original. If you are not familiar with the certainty that redundancy provides, feel free to ask and I will break it down for you. This is perhaps one of the strongest strengths of Christianity. There is virtually no way we could not have the “original complete work.” Therefore all of your claims are unfortunately without merit. You bring up these tangents as if they introduce uncertainty (i.e. calling into question the authorship of biblical books which have been authenticated with exponentially-more-rigor than the Quran) when; in fact, they are some of Christianity’s greatest strengths.

Robert: Scholarship is not promoted (for good reason in my opinion) and many are taught to just believe.  Up until a couple of years ago, many Christians still believed Jesus (saw) spoke 15th century English until Mel Gibson came out with the “Passion” and even more still don’t know where the title of the movie originated.  Still many more believe that Leonardo Da Vinci’s relative is what Jesus (saw) actually looked like!  On and On and On…

James: Your paragraph above, in addition to being logically fallacious, is what I must call a lie. Not only is there more scholarship on the Bible than any other book in history, this scholarship is usually touted in sermons, bible studies and seminaries. I would advise you not repeat this claim in the midst of an educated crowd; they will just mock you and perhaps brand you as uninformed. More advice; your “Mel Gibson” and “Leonardo Da Vinci” statements have no argument value and in the future should be discarded. Why would it matter that a certain number of Christians believed Jesus spoke English especially when you don’t provide any numerical precision for significance? “Many” could mean 10 Christians. However, even if “many” turned out to be 10 million Christians that’s still less than 10 percent of the born-again Christian population in the US; on the other hand, there are credible polls that show 33% of born-again Christians in the US believe that if a person is good enough they can earn a place in Heaven, despite the fact that this is completely antithetical to biblical soteriology. Hopefully by now you know understand why your “Mel Gibson” and “Da Vinci” statements are utterly meaningless. You and these logically fallacious arguments!

Robert:  Well your disagreement is noted.  You don’t believe me ask any Muslim scholar of your choosing and you would get the same formula:  Arabic + Islamic History.  That’s the course curriculum for Islamic Studies in actuality.  How would you know how to associate 9:29?  Islamic Studies.  No you don’t have to be a Sahabbah, but you have to know who they were and about them.  How can you claim the context is rooted in the book?  Because the book says so itself, see 3:7 again.  It clearly states the nature of the book.  The Bible doesn’t require such prerequisites?  Well, that’s your opinion, depends on the Christian scholar your talking to.  Most I read, say that you have to understand the history, language, and people to discern the Bible properly.  If not, there wouldn’t exist such Biblical Studies fields, two of which I’m pursuing: NT and Early Christianity.

James: the nature of the book (Quran) and context of each verse are two different words and concepts. One of the worst examples of intellectual dishonesty is equivocation that is, switching the meaning of a single word part-way through an argument. If I knew you were this confused about the two words (nature vs. context) I probably would have gone into more detail, but then again, I shouldn’t have to.

Also, that the NT and Early Christianity biblical study fields would not exist without the prerequisites you discuss is a logical fallacy. Consider your fallacious argument below:

(if p then q): If one is to properly discern the bible then the NT and Early Christianity biblical study fields must exist.

(q) The NT and Early Christianity biblical study fields exist

(p) Therefore one can properly discern the bible

This is a fallacy called “Affirming the Consequent.” When someone makes an argument that suffers from “affirming the consequent”, they are assuming an extra step, namely that there is only one possibility. The problem with your logic is that there is an implicit assumption that the only way to properly discern the bible is through biblical study fields, namely, NT and Early Christianity, when instead we could think of many other possibilities. For instance, suppose I was trained at home by my mother who is very knowledgeable and discerning concerning the bible. We can immediately see that there is at least one more way that I could attain the ability to properly discern the bible, so your argument fails.

Robert: I know your not suggesting that one can simply read the KJV or even the NIV, etc. and fully discern what a people who didn’t even speak English meant?

James: That is exactly what I’m suggesting. However, and just for the record, my argument is not that you don’t have to understand the history or language or culture to discern the bible; my point is that any English interpretation of the bible (i.e. KJV or any bible based on the textus receptus) takes these prerequisites into consideration (i.e. the context emanates from the text) and is superior for doing so. When reviewing the literature of any faith we must be mindful that context comes in three forms. There is the context of historical chronology where we are introduced to the circumstance, place, people, and time. The narrative and chronological Hadith compiled by Ishaq and Tabari were required to provide the Qur’an with the context of circumstance, time, and place that it otherwise lacked. There is the context of adjacency: the proximity of related words or verses and thoughts within the writings themselves. Thirdly, context can be topical; in this case similar themes can be brought together and organized by subject. All forms of context provide clarity.

Unfortunately, the Qur’an fails its faithful on all three counts. The book lacks any semblance of chronology. It is deficient when it comes to providing the required context of place, people, and time. Adjacent verses are usually unrelated and often contradictory. Yes, there are themes, and they are repetitive, but they are not presented in cohesive groupings. The Qur’an’s failures in this regard make it unsuitable in providing a decisive and unchanging message. This is precisely the reason why you can look at a verse that says one thing and take it to mean something else. As long as there is no textual context the verse can mean anything I want it to mean.

Robert:  That’s your opinion, but I listed them based off my belief and understand of the actual coherency of the text, maybe that’s why I’m a Muslim.  But if you can prove otherwise, I would love to see….

James: Coherency of the text? If mostly everything in the Quran does not really mean what it say how can you call the Quran coherent? It is very hard to attain coherency when one abandons the textual context (which is absent) for the historical context which is not obvious.

Robert:  I’m not the one confused about the Book I base my faith off of.  What the Author is trying to achieve is best left up to the Author.  I have yet to meet a Muslim who didn’t think the Quran is clear.  We may differ on what that clarity means, but the root is consistent:  Belief in One God without partners or associates, submit to His will, live righteously and you will enter into paradise, live otherwise and taste the hellfire.  Seems pretty clear to me.  See 3:7…theres a part about searching for it’s “hidden meanings” what are you looking for?  Muslims would some the Quran up as clear as I have just did with the addendum that we are to believe that Muhammad (saw) is the seal of the prophethood and the messenger of God.

James:  Robert, unfortunately the way you argue is weak. By this, I mean you cannot argue using fallacious logic and expect someone to take your points seriously. In your paragraph above you are guilty of a logical fallacy called “Appeal to Popularity”; this fallacy is committed whenever one argues for an idea based upon an irrelevant appeal to its popularity. The problem here is that the number of people believing in an idea has no impact on its truth whether they are Muslim or not. By the way, The Qur’an is “clear Arabic speech” in Surah 16:103, yet “none knows its interpretation, save only Allah” in Surah 3:7 but then later on in Surah 3:7 (the same verse) we learn that contrary to what was said earlier in the verse, actually, “men of understanding” also “grasp it.” This verse is just one example of the so called clarity that every Muslim agrees is evident in the Quran.

Robert:  Please show me your proof.  For every scholar with a “beef” most likely non-Muslim, there is a Muslim scholar with a counter.   I would love to see the fundamentals of Islam that are fodder.  Show me what’s so refutable about belief in the One God of Abraham (saw), belief in Muhammad (saw) as His messenger, belief in prayer, belief in charity, belief in fasting, and belief and pilgrimage?

James: Again, I would suggest that the entire aggregate of Islamic knowledge is fodder for refutation including the fundamentals. No Islamic dogma has gone unscathed. Many skeptics have done so meticulously and I also have provided some examples below:

Fodder for refutation:

  1. How can one believe in the Quranic God of Abraham who in Sura 29:27 states that all prophets came from Abraham’s seed. But 16:36 claims that Allah raised messengers from among every people. Maybe there are two gods; one god of who raised all prophets from Abraham and one god who raised messengers from among every people?

  1. How can one believe in Muhammad as his messenger when we don’t know if it’s the Muhammad who should get paid or the one who shouldn’t?

  1. How can one believe in Islamic prayer when the Quran says that all Muslims will go to hell?

  1. How can one believe in fasting when Muhammad fasted because he saw Jews fasted and someone explained it to him. He didn’t know about it before this incident, and there is no indication that Allah had sanctioned it.

  1. How can one believe in pilgrimage when according to Sahih Bukhari 2.596, the Prophet said, “Whoever performs Hajj for Allah’s pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.” Yet in the book of Psalms 51:5 we are told that we are born sinners.

Robert: You may dissent our way of doing these things, you may dissent against our Prophet (saw), however these are the fundamentals or pillars of our faith i.e. on these things is the belief of the Muslim held up.  I would love to see you or the scholars you refer prove to me 100% why I shouldn’t believe in the One God of Abraham (saw), Muhammad (saw) as His messenger, etc. etc.  Should I believe in many gods, not pray, fast, give charity, or go on pilgrimage?  Why?

James: I never asked you to believe in many gods, not pray, fast, or give charity, so your assertion that I did is obviously false and by continuously arguing this way you have demonstrated to all reading these email threads that you have a propensity to posit fallacious logic. I am saying, however, that the Quran is not trust worthy.

Robert: OK, What evidence are the skeptics in this [thread] willing to accept as proof?

James: Wow, finally we are back to the main point of this email thread. It only took about a billion tangents and unrelated assertions. However, going through my responses, I think by now you already have an idea of this. If not, let me know.

Robert: What I meant by predisposed belief was the idea that there is much that m[a]y never be “proven” to the non-Muslim no matter what I say…it’s a form of pessimism.  If I weren’t somewhat true, you would be Muslim, and we wouldn’t be having this dialogue, although you and I both know, our disagreements won’t stop us, because this type of thing is like crack to us!

James: Once again you commit a logical fallacy by assuming the truth of your notion of “predisposed belief” and it’s relation to the fact that I’m not a Muslim, therefore, your argument is invalid. Remember, validity is independent of the truth or falsity of the premises or conclusion.

James (summation): Throughout this email dialog you have been guilty of numerous logical fallacies, the most blaring being the fallacy of “Changing the Subject”. This fallacy includes the use of irrelevant information to support an argument and is sometimes referred to as the red herring fallacy. The fallacy is easy to recognize because the unsolicited information is usually distracting and unrelated, for example you said (paraphrase):

The Bible has been “whitewashed” or revised (this is of course your premise); the mere facts and history bear witness to the truth that there was no such thing as Bible in either Jesus (saw) or the disciples time. The first book(s) of the NT didn’t even appear in some of their lifetimes.  No one knows the authors … and then you have some books thrown in or out depending on the authority of the various Churches … There are many Christian scholars … who have wrote extensively on the subject and are considered giants in this field … based on research and study, it becomes quite obvious that after about a century of manuscripts being edited, revised, retranslated, thrown in, thrown out, that the only thing that one has left to believe that the original message and history survived is faith (here, you restate your premise but nothing you’ve said in between is related to whitewashing or revision). The oldest book Mark wasn’t even written until 80-100 CE … The other synoptic Gospels are based off of the Markan narrative, with the author of Luke actually admitting in the first chapter that he is recounting events as they were told to him (i.e. not witnessed himself) … surely you can’t in your study say that the version of the Bible you use is exactly the same as a Christian of another denomination?  Last I checked the Catholics (correct me if I’m wrong) have more books than included in say the KJV or NIV.

As you can see, nothing you have stated gives details about the revision or whitewashing you referred to in your premise. The fact that your responses so far are rife with logical fallacies is somewhat disturbing. You should keep in mind that logic and reason are far from being incompatible with matters of faith. Rather, they are essential. Without them it is impossible to deduce anything from the propositions that we put forth (especially in this thread).

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