How would you respond?

A friend asked:

 Just curious, how would you guys respond to the comment below:

Skeptic:

Religious people are the ones making claims, and thus the burden of proof are on their shoulders.What I’m pointing out, or at least have been trying to point out is that we have very different understandings of the words “valid evidence”. The reason why I point out the similarities in the arguments between different religions, is that you can’t exactly go and say that XY and Z is proof that YOUR God exist when the other corner does exactly the same thing with the exact same ‘evidence’ to prove that THEIR God is real.

If we’re in court, and you’re trying to prove me guilty of breaking into a house, it’s going to be hard for me to prove that I’m not guilty with the exact same evidence you bring to the table to prove that I am. One of us must be mistaken about what the evidence actually points to, or we’re both wrong in even thinking that it’s evidence (for or against) to begin with. Continue reading

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They have forsaken the Lord (Part 10) – James’ Reply

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.

Robert:
What I like is how you string together philosophical ideas and string them together to somehow make my points or ideas mute.  Like your consistent usage of the term fallacy and your addition of the term etymological.  Neat.  I tend to speak in more “common” terminology.  If I were to sum up my dialogue with you it’s more of a debate on epistemology.  I get where your going with “apologist”, however what you didn’t analyze is that specific term actually does have more than one perceived understanding in exactly the same context that you used.  An apologist can either make excuses like they are trying to cover something up (what I thought you implied), or they can defend a belief (what you clarified as your true implication).  Nevertheless, our “debate” isn’t completely about semantics…is it?

From Wikipedia:

Today the term “apologist” is colloquially applied in a general manner to include groups and individuals systematically promoting causes, justifying orthodoxies, (your implication) or denying certain events, even of crimes. Apologists have been characterized as being deceptive, or “ whitewashing” their cause, primarily through omission of negative facts (selective perception) and exaggeration of positive ones, techniques of classical rhetoric. (my initial understanding of what I thought you were impliying) When used in this context, the term often has a pejorative meaning. The neutralized substitution of “spokesperson” for “apologist” in conversation conveys much the same sense of “partisan presenter with a weighted agenda,” with less rhetorical freight.

Moving right along….

James:
Before “moving right along”, perhaps you should learn how to take defeat constructively. You used the word “apologist” incorrectly (and in a logically fallacious way); when you play these semantic games with your audience you are indirectly insulting our intelligence as we all have dictionaries at our disposal. For the last time, the word “apologist” does not have the meaning you ascribe to it. The fact that you refused to acknowledge this transgression underscores the type of apologist you are (i.e. your characteristics as an apologist) and makes this “debate” all the more difficult for any opponent who argues according to the rules of diction, grammar, logic, etc.

I mean, without these rules of grammar and semantics, without structure, I can say anything I want in response to any claim you make and still walk away feeling justified and victorious because without rules there is no way to objectively evaluate or constrain any assertion. Welcome to intellectual anarchy. By the way, you asked if our debate was “completely about semantics” to which I must respond, of course! If we can’t agree on the meanings of the words we use then why are we even having this conversation?

There is in fact, no objective lexicon, dictionary, nor authoritative source that will help you justify the way you tried to misuse the word “apologist.” Normally, I would not be so pedantic about such a seemingly insignificant offense; in fact, I would have ignored it were these types of mistakes not so pervasive in your responses so far. The mere fact that you chose to quote Wikipedia as a proof text (which is not just unsubstantiated and unverified but demonstrably unreliable as anyone can add to or edit any Wikipedia entry) shows that you do not intend to seriously look at the objections brought before you. Now don’t get me wrong, Wikipedia has it’s uses, in fact, I too in the past have used Wikipedia as a means to an end; however, anyone quoting Wikipedia had better be sure that what ever information they reference can be corroborated by an authoritative source.

Everyone reading your response knows that if I was truly wrong about your careless misuse of the word “apologist,” you could have easily countered my claim by providing a “dictionary definition” and that would suffice. Instead, you chose to quote “Wikipedia” because you know that you are wrong and hoped that by finding a source that was deemed somewhat official (unfortunately only by the misinformed) you could introduce ambiguity to the definition of a word (apologist) whose meaning is not.

If you can misrepresent the meaning of the word “apologist” and even after objective correction you defiantly refuse to admit that you have done so, how can I have assurance that you will not misrepresent the rest of your arguments (as you have manifestly done so far) and (despite sound rebuttals) refuse to acknowledge your transgressions? Why should I spend anymore valuable time engaging in further dialogue when you do not respect the rules of logic or grammar? Wouldn’t any additional effort on my part truly be a waste of time? Any reasonable person would probably advise me to abandon this discourse as you have given no assurance that you have the aptitude for objectivity.

Now, for grins and giggles, let’s look at your Wikipedia reference.

Apologists have been characterized as being deceptive, or “ whitewashing” their cause, primarily through omission of negative facts (selective perception) and exaggeration of positive ones, techniques of classical rhetoric…”

Who cares that apologists have been characterized as being deceptive or “whitewashing” etc. Lawyers and preachers have also been characterized likewise; yet, their definitions do not change. Word definitions stand independent of any “characterizations” that may exist about the word. Hopefully, it is now evident that even this quasi-official source does not bolster your attempt to misuse the word “apologist.” Incidentally, you have misrepresented “apologist” at least twice now, as your first usage (someone who apologizes) differs from the one you wish to now embrace based on the Wikipedia excerpt (someone who is characterized by deception etc).

Robert, it is not my intention to embarrass you or to be petty; I simply would like to know that if I am to continue in this conversation I do so with a partner who is willing to yield when established authority (i.e. logic, dictionary, grammar …) demands so. Yet, judging by your responses, you seem to have a disdain for order and reason.

To go off on a related tangent, it is somewhat ironic that this misfortune (failure to acknowledge and adhere to structure and order) should befall you especially because this is primarily the reason why the Quran is not taken seriously.  As mentioned earlier, the Quran has no context, no chronology, it is not topical, and it is very disorderly. Yet, when these accusations are brought up, instead of addressing them with appropriate and relevant rebuttal, all you do is repeat the same counter attacks (against Christianity) you have said before and usually in a way that disobeys sound logic.

I would like to think that the main purpose of any debate is ultimately to learn how to better defend a position. The purpose of a debate is not to defend a position at any cost (i.e. even at the cost of losing one’s credibility to be objective) If you are willing to admit to your fault above, I will take that gesture as your intent to engage in discourse that is objectively verifiable and continue to dissect the remainder of your response. However, if you continue to defiantly refuse to admit that you used the word incorrectly, I will be compelled to spend my time more wisely.

In his grip,

James

They have forsaken the Lord (Part 9) – Robert’s Reply

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.

Robert: What I like is how you string together philosophical ideas and string them together to somehow make my points or ideas mute. Like your consistent usage of the term fallacy and your addition of the term etymological. Neat. I tend to speak in more “common” terminology. If I were to sum up my dialogue with you it’s more of a debate on epistemology. I get where your going with “apologist”, however what you didn’t analyze is that specific term actually does have more than one perceived understanding in exactly the same context that you used. An apologist can either make excuses like they are trying to cover something up (what I thought you implied), or they can defend a belief (what you clarified as your true implication). Nevertheless, our “debate” isn’t completely about semantics…is it?

From Wikipedia:

Today the term “apologist” is colloquially applied in a general manner to include groups and individuals systematically promoting causes, justifying orthodoxies, (your implication) or denying certain events, even of crimes. Apologists have been characterized as being deceptive, or “ whitewashing” their cause, primarily through omission of negative facts (selective perception) and exaggeration of positive ones, techniques of classical rhetoric. (my initial understanding of what I thought you were impliying) When used in this context, the term often has a pejorative meaning. The neutralized substitution of “spokesperson” for “apologist” in conversation conveys much the same sense of “partisan presenter with a weighted agenda,” with less rhetorical freight.

Moving right along….

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 can’t quite understand where your getting this from, so it’s best I just go Ayah by Ayah yet again in an attempt to clarify your understanding. Let me start by saying that the Quran in no shape or form puts Biblical scripture on the same level with the Quran. Furthermore, yes the Quran says that no one can change the words of God and no one can, but the Quran specifically says that the Bible isn’t the literal word of God but a production of man, hence man is only changing a man made document. The Quran only acknowledges that Prophets mentioned in the Bible received revelation i.e. Moses (Torah), Jesus (Gospel), may the peace and blessings of God be upon them all. Neither of these two had anything to do with writing either work as accepted by either Christian or Jew. So who wrote it? The Quran simply says that these two among others received revelation, but others interpreted it and wrote down what they wanted to having no direct knowledge yet claimed it came from God. While they may have gotten some of it right, it isn’t complete because God didn’t have a direct dealing in it, nor did the Messengers. That is why we have a Furqran or “Criterion” another name for the Quran to weed out what remains of the truth and to set right to borrow one of your words “fallacies” in what we have today as “Bible”.

6:115 for, truly and justly has thy Sustainer’s promise been fulfilled. [102] There is no power that could alter [the fulfilment of] His promises: and He alone is all-hearing, all-knowing.

Note 102 (Quran Ref: 6:115 )

When related to God, the term kalimah (lit., “word”) is often used in the Qur’an in the sense of “promise”. In this instance it obviously refers to the Biblical promise (Deuteronomy xviii, 15 and 18) that God would raise up a prophet “like unto Moses” among the Arabs (see surah 2, note 33).

6:34 And, indeed, [even] before thy time have apostles been given the lie, and they endured with patience all those charges of falsehood, and all the hurt done to them, till succour came unto them from Us: for there is no power that could alter [the outcome of] God’s promises. And some of the histories of those apostles have already come within thy ken. [23]

Note 23 (Quran Ref: 6:34 )

Lit., “some of the information concerning the apostles has already come to thee”: a reference to the fact that only a few of the earlier prophets and their histories have been specifically mentioned in the Qur’an (always in connection with a particular moral lesson), while the great majority of them are only alluded to in a general manner, in support of the divine statement that no community or civilization has been left without prophetic guidance.(Quran Ref: 6:34 )

10:64 For them there is the glad tiding [of happiness] in the life of this world [85] and in the life to come; [and since] nothing could ever alter [the outcome of] God’s promises, this, this is the triumph supreme!

Note 85 (Quran Ref: 10:64 )

Le., the happiness born of the feeling of closeness to God and, hence, of spiritual fulfilment.(Quran Ref: 10:64 )

For context:

10:63 they who have attained to faith and have always been conscious of Him.

10:64 For them there is the glad tiding [of happiness] in the life of this world and in the life to come; [and since] nothing could ever alter [the outcome of] God’s promises, this, this is the triumph supreme!

10:65 And be not grieved by the sayings of those [who deny the truth]. Behold, all might and glory belong to God alone: He alone is all-hearing, all-knowing.

3:3 Step by step has He bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, [2] setting forth the truth which confirms whatever there still remains [of earlier revelations]: [3] for it is He who has bestowed from on high the Torah and the Gospel

Note 2 (Quran Ref: 3:3 )

The gradualness of the Qur’anic revelation is stressed here by means of the grammatical form nazzala.(Quran Ref: 3:3 )

Note 3 (Quran Ref: 3:3 )

Most of the commentators are of the opinion that ma bayna yadayhi – lit., “that which is between its hands” – denotes here “the revelations which came before it”, i.e., before the Qur’an. This interpretation is not, however, entirely convincing. Although there is not the least doubt that in this context the pronominal ma refers to earlier revelations, and particularly the Bible (as is evident from the parallel use of the above expression in other Qur’anic passages), the idiomatic phrase ma bayna yadayhi does not, in itself, mean “that which came before it” – i.e., in time – but, rather (as pointed out by me in surah 2, note 247), “that which lies open before it”. Since, however, the pronoun “it” relates here to the Qur’an, the metaphorical expression “between its hands” or “before it” cannot possibly refer to “knowledge” (as it does in 2:255), but must obviously refer to an objective reality with which the Qur’an is “confronted”: that is, something that was coexistent in time with the revelation of the Qur’an. Now this, taken together (a) with the fact – frequently stressed in the Qur’an and since established by objective scholarship – that in the course of the millennia the Bible has been subjected to considerable and often arbitrary alteration, and (b) with the fact that many of the laws enunciated in the Qur’an differ from the laws of the Bible, brings us forcibly to the conclusion that the “confirmation” of the latter by the Qur’an can refer only to the basic truths still discernible in the Bible, and not to its time-bound legislation or to its present text – in other words, a confirmation of whatever was extant of its basic teachings at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an: and it is this that the phrase ma bayna yadayhi expresses in this context as well as in 5:46 and 48 or in 61:6 (where it refers to Jesus’ confirming the truth of “whatever there still remained [i.e., in his lifetime] of the Torah”).(Quran Ref: 3:3 )

Now I don’t know what translation you are using to justify your position regarding the Quran, but I use Muhammad Assad as opposed to Yusef Ali, Maulana Ali, or Pickhall because Assad unlike the former broadens his translation to capture more of the Arabic in context, whereas the former translated their works to suit the English speaking audience specifically by using English similar to the KJV version of the Bible, now I actually own all of them minus Pickhall and all are considered “good” translations by most Islamic scholars, my reasoning is simply that both Ali’s have their commentary in the actual books or in a concordance, not readily available online so it would require a lot of flipping back and forth, plus the English is a “little” archaic to me and not as clear, I don’t personally care for ancient English, however all translators agree that the central theme here in these verses is the Arabic word Furqran “criterion”. In it’s usage in the Quran it implies that the subject being called Furqran sets the standard between right and wrong. Both Moses and Aaron (saw) were called Furqran to explain that they were bringing the truth to Pharoah, Jesus (saw) was called Furqran to explain how he was clearing up the falsehood present in the teachings of his day, the Quran is called Furqran to explain it’s relevance compared to present books, and Muhammad is called Furqran to explain his relevance to the Pagan Arabs of his day and the world.

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: Hopefully, I have clarified my position using the Quran in displaying that your logic is faulty not in intention, but in mistranslation and/or understanding of what the Quran is actually saying as it relates to the Bible. My major point I’m trying to stress is that the Quran in no shape or form is calling the Bible the word of God, in fact how could it, considering at the time of Muhammad (saw), we can only speculate as to whether or not there was a definitive collection called “Bible” during that time as the oldest remaining compilation of the Bible dates to the 8th century. While there were Bible’s in existence in the world during the time of Muhammad (saw) even then, there was no definitive authoritative text that we know as Bible today, there were only various codex’s in existence at the time none of which completely accepted until the 16th century at the council of Trent. Now it’s interesting to note that you mentioned the Dead Sea Scrolls at one point, as a side note the scrolls which were discovered during the mid 20th century only contains fragments of various writings many of which you will find in the “OT” but none are complete, furthermore, even the Jewish canon wasn’t adopted until around 100 AD/CE. But that’s another topic. My point is, the Quran couldn’t possibly legitimize or insinuate about a book as we understand it today, that wasn’t even in existence at that time, unless of course, God was referring to a future time and even still, the Quran says there is error in the man made collection called Bible.

Refuting your claim about the Quran being against propositional logic, you make several false assumptions even based off the translations of the Quran you used.

1: You say that the Quran states that nobody can change the words of God, which is a declaration of faith we both believe, using that logic, you follow through that the Bible is the word of God, which of course is your belief, not Muslims. The Bible according to Christians consists of roughly (depending on sect) 66 books. The Quran doesn’t mention anything about 66 books, the Quran specifically says Torah, Injeel (Gospel), and Zabur (Psalms) as previously revealed. Now depending on who you ask, the Torah consists of 5 books, Psalms 1 book, and the Gospels 4 books, no where near 66. So even if you insisted that the Quran says these exact books are the exact word of God, which it doesn’t say, your proposition already falls short by equating the entire Bible as equal to roughly 10 books, therefore saying the Quran is saying the other 56 are the word of God. Furthermore, I have been specific and the Quran has been specific in saying that it (Quran) only acknowledges that those revelations were given, so I ask again, did Moses, Jesus, or David (pbut) definitely write those books?

2. Then you make the statement that the Quran says the Bible has been corrupted, which it does, and I believe history bears witness to the fact that man has been involved with the Bible from the beginning for centuries and is far removed from anything directly descended from God, however you obviously disagree with that, because as an article of faith, you believe the Bible has never changed. My question to you is where is the original Bible to compare notes with? Who were the authors? Did Moses, Jesus, or David (pbut) write it themselves? Did any of their followers even write it? How can we be sure that the 3rd parties who never met any of them got the story right?

3. Based on the loopholes in your proposition in my statements 1 and 2 I truly see faulty logic or an “illogical fallacy” on your part when you arrived at your conclusion, as the Quran would say in an arbitrary manner.

“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.”

So, 1+1 does not equal 2 in your proposition and there is no smoking gun. Since the Quran doesn’t in any fashion call the Bible the word(s) of God.

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?

Robert: Obviously not, nor can you or anyone else because it simply doesn’t exist! Using the language of NT scholars, it’s probable based on the actual history of Biblical recording, the unknown authors, the lack of eyewitness to Biblical events, among other things.

There are over 5,600 Greek manuscripts containing all or part of the New Testament. Most of these manuscripts date to the Middle Ages. The first complete copy of the New Testament, the Codex Sinaiticus, dates to the 4th century. The earliest fragment of a New Testament book is the Rylands Library Papyrus P52 which dates to the mid 2nd century and is the size of a business card. Very early manuscripts are rare. No two manuscripts are identical, except in the smallest fragments and the many manuscripts which preserve New Testament texts differ among themselves in many respects, with some estimates of 200,000 to 300,000 differences among the various manuscripts. According to Bart Ehrman (NT Author and Scholar),

“Most changes are careless errors that are easily recognized and corrected. Christian scribes often made mistakes simply because they were tired or inattentive or, sometimes, inept. Indeed, the single most common mistake in our manuscripts involves “orthography,” significant for little more than showing that scribes in antiquity could spell no better than most of us can today. In addition, we have numerous manuscripts in which scribes have left out entire words, verses, or even pages of a book, presumably by accident. Sometimes scribes rearranged the words on the page, for example, by leaving out a word and then reinserting it later in the sentence.”

Some familiar examples of Gospel passages thought to have been added by later interpolators include the Pericope Adulteræ (John 7:53 – 8:11), the Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7–8), and the longer ending in Mark 16 (Mark 16:9-20).

So for these and many other reasons, I can in no way believe that the hand of man and not God was involved in the creation of the Bible and if this were not true, there wouldn’t be so much history of changes, additions, textual criticism, etc. Especially, when viewing the Quran on the same basis, whether we agree about what is inspired or not, one thing is for certain, as just a book of text, the Quran remains unscathed by the various problems found when you textually criticize the Bible. The History of the Quran is a lot clearer, in my humble opinion because of many factors like no variance in texts, language still spoken by majority of adherents, complete early texts exists today and can be verified against copies in circulation. To me, the mere fact that I can do an Arabic word for word with any Quran in the world today no matter the age is a tremendous feat, and makes the argument that it’s more probable that the Quran is in it’s original form compared to the Bible in which you cannot compare a complete text against an ancient complete text, because in the case of the latter none exists, just thousands of manuscript fragments, scholarly assumptions, and textual criticism still occurring today. The Bible exhibits many qualities of a changing text unlike the Tanakh or the Quran which for the most part in the case of the former, but definitely in the case of the latter, exhibits the qualities of a static unchanging text. So, from a theological opinion if one was to be the word of God that is unchanging, it just makes sense, at least to me, to pick the text that is actually unchanging, for me that is hands down, the Quran.

James: 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.

Robert: Such as?

James: 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.

Robert: More “illogical fallacies” on your part. The Quran tells Christians to adhere to the truth of which was revealed to them. The Quran illustrates the theological principle that God judges based on niyyah (intention) and actual action. Therefore, the only way to arrive at truth is primarily through the furqran (criterion) which is the Quran, however the Quranic principle of justice dictates that God will judge according to what you have. That is why that Quran can make statements that suggest that Christians and Jews will also go to paradise, even if they don’t have the Quran, because a merciful God judges one based off what they have and know. That is why the Quran says on the day of Judgment, Moses, Jesus, etc. (pbut) will be present to bear witness of the truth of which they actually taught and whether or not their followers are in fact truly that.

By saying that John the Baptist and Jesus (saw) were taught the Torah by God, doesn’t imply anything other then the fact that those two knew it. That has nothing to do with whether or not it existed in print form or not and at what time in history, that is all conjecture. As far as the Dead Sea Scrolls, your making dogmatic conclusions based primarily on your faith.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of manuscripts found at Qumram that contain many fragments of works some of which are included in the current OT, some in the Tanakh, and others that are not. Even if the DSS contains scriptures which you obviously exegete fortell the coming of John or Jesus (saw), that is simply a statement of faith, I’m certain the Jews would obviously disagree. So, all your proving is that you have faith in the exegete that formulates the dogma you subscribe to about the “prophecy” concerning these two figures, and you back that faith up by saying the books from which you exegete have an ancient counterpart. So what’s your point?

Furthermore:

“According to carbon dating, textual analysis, and handwriting analysis the documents were written at various times between the middle of the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD. At least one document has a carbon date range of 21 BC–61 AD. ” source wikipedia

I find it funny that this blurb mentions “carbon date range” considering you told me in person, correct me if I’m wrong, that carbon dating is unreliable. Nevertheless, Important texts include the Isaiah Scroll (discovered in 1947), a Commentary on the Habakkuk (1947), the so-called Manual of Discipline (Community Rule), which gives much information on the structure and theology of a sect, and the earliest version of the Damascus Document. The so-called Copper Scroll (1952), which lists valuable hidden caches of gold, scrolls, and weapons, is probably the most notorious.

The fragments span at least 800 texts that represent many diverse viewpoints, ranging from beliefs resembling those of the Essenes to those of other sects. About 30% are fragments from the Hebrew Bible, from all the books except the Book of Esther and the Book of Nehemiah. About 25% are traditional Israelite religious texts that are not in the canonical Hebrew Bible, such as the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, and the Testament of Levi. Another 30% contain Biblical commentaries or other texts such as the Community Rule, also known as “Discipline Scroll” or “Manual of Discipline”), The Rule of the Congregation, The Rule of the Blessing and the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness (also known as the “War Scroll”) related to the beliefs, regulations, and membership requirements of a Jewish sect, which some researchers continue to believe lived in the Qumran area. The rest of the fragments (about 15%) remain unidentified.

Frequency of books found:

Psalms 39, Deuteronomy 33, 1 Enoch 25, Genesis 24, Isaiah 22, Jubilees 21, Exodus 18, Leviticus 17, Numbers 11, Minor Prophets 10, Daniel 8, Jeremiah 6, Ezekiel 6, Job 6, 1 & 2 Samuel 4.

So, I don’t know what the DSS example is supposed to prove other than there were books currently in the OT and Tanakh in print form at that time. Does that make them the originals i.e. written by the original people described in the text? Are we certain we have exact copies of even these works, considering they are just fragments and not complete manuscripts? There’s still no solid evidence of scriptural consistency. All your showing is that many fragments exist of a so-called complete text. My consistent question is how do you know your text is complete when you have nothing complete to verify it against? I guess the reverse question would be how do I not know it’s complete and the answer to both would be faith. However, I would venture to say that my faith that it is not complete is based off of historical evidence, and so would you, but I believe the burden of proof is on you. Show me an ancient copy of 66 books exactly as you have it today, and I will shut up and then we can debate authorship later. But right now, all you can point to is the fact that thousands of pieces exist and using that to validate your assertion. If I were to assume that everytime I met a black person that they are from Africa based on the color of their skin, and the fact that the majority of black skinned persons originate from Africa, would that make my assumption fact? That’s what your doing. You have a book that you say is complete. While you maintain it’s complete, you have nothing complete in antiquity to compare it to. You have similar texual origins and histories, but they are two different texts, with different lengths, compositions, structure, etc. etc. while it’s likely that there are similar commonalities and origins, that doesn’t automatically make it the same. Every black person isn’t from Africa just because they may or may not, have a common anscestry. But, I’m losing myself, so I hope you get my overall point. If not, I’m certain we will revisit this issue.

James: 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.

Robert: I beg to differ. With that type of history, I would love to see how you can illustrate “impossible” without the pre-resequite of faith. With so many hands involved, languages, historical evidence of additions, subtractions, revisions, etc. with no complete texts available only things like “the Lord……love…….forever” manuscripts, I find it truly fascinating your position. Someone had to fill in the blanks, piece together, translate, revise, etc. etc. who did it? How are you certain their motives were genuine? How are you certain they were “perfect” in there attempts at recollecting events they were not present at or histories they were not privy to belonging to? It’s all conjecture, mixed with faith, moreso in man than God Himself.

James: 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: That’s almost hilarious! First, you quote www.answering-islam.org who by the way, get beat up on every debate by the www.answering-christianity.com team. Which in both cases are extremely biased sources obviously. Second, once again you utilize what you accuse me of “illogical fallacies” in your attempts that saying because the Quran says Torah or Injeel, that if must be saying that both physically existed in Mecca and Medina. Now we can debate that all day, even though there is no physical evidence either way, then that also proves that there is no physical proof that what we have today that you call Torah and Gospel are exactly the same as what may or may not have existed in Mecca and Medina. It doesn’t add up yet again. Your conjecturing that what you have today is an exact replica of what “might” have been in Arabia, based off of what? Furthermore, your scholars from answering Islam neglected to mention in their weak argument, that even if physical “somethings” called Torah and Gospel, existed in Arabia, then the Quran says that even those were already corrupt! Lastly, no Muslim has to produce a different Torah or Gospel, to prove our point about corruption, we are the ones making the accusation that none exists in the first place! We firmly believe that since you guys can’t produce anything consistent and complete, that it’s obvious that it’s man-made! Prove us wrong, why don’t you produce or the answering islam team produce a complete text that is exactly the same as what you have today as 66 books, you can’t. Heck, you can’t even agree if there should be exactly 66 books or not more or less. Which is our point: How can you claim divine origin and perfection to a work that has changed ever century more or less since the 1st century, with nothing to go on put scraps of manuscripts some the size of a business card? I mean it is our position (Muslims) that if the Bible is what many of you say it is, then we should be able to go read for ourselves a complete copy of the 66 books exactly as you have them today. But we all know we cannot, not even if we added two more hundred years to the 1st century will we ever find a complete copy of 66 books that all Christians agree upon and all Bibles in existence today match. The only book that can make such claims is the Quran. Every Muslim agrees that there are 114 Surahs of the Quran in the Arabic text and language and there are complete copies on display right now from the 7th through 9th centuries that all Muslims can compare against. And there hasn’t been one council to date to dispute that fact, or to challenge any of the textual composition. Can you say the same?

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: You and I both know this is a foolish question. It’s one based on faith. We believe our book trumphs yours in consitency, accuracy, and truth based on many things like textual consitency standing up to time, proof that the Bible exists in fragments with men arbitrarily piecing it together and using conjecture to decide what really happened. One can never assertain faith in something, one can only debate it. We both believe Jesus (saw) walked on the water, can either of us truly prove it with physical evidence? As far as what is true or not in the Bible is also a declaration of faith, that’s the whole point of all this writing, to show why we believe what we believe. I believe the Quran is true about what it says about the Bible based on physical, historical fact. Naturally, if I believe the Quran is the literal, untouched, perfect word of God, then if it says that the truth of the Quran clears the falsehood of the Bible, then I believe. If the Quran says that Jesus (saw) didn’t die on the cross, then I obviously disagree with the parts of the Bible that suggest otherwise. The Quranic argument is that if either opinion is in doubt, produce your proof if you are truthful? Can either of us truly prove whether or not Jesus (saw) died on the cross physically? Of course not, that is why the Quran calls it vain conjecture and then asks why put the central theme of your faith based on events that you can’t prove actually happened? The Quran follows with belief in One God Alone is sufficient vice debating for centuries the events of something that may or may have not happened, relying on zero eyewitness. So the Quran calls us (Muslims) to agree on at least this much concerning Jesus (saw) that he lived, was raised up (exhalted), and will come again. Which to us doesn’t carry much weight since he was a creation of the Creator whom we should all submit to in the first place. This is just one example.

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: Likewise, it is unreasonable for one to believe that the dollar bill is not corrupt and real unless the person can actually and specifically demonstrate why the dollar bill is in fact valid.

I think I have provided sufficient evidence that there exists no original “dollar” to compare to the current “dollar”, to not to mention the actual history and evidence of changes in the paper materials used, the color of the ink, the value, the size, and exchange rate, which is fluctuating even today from person to person.

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).

Robert: You and the author are guilty of “illogical fallacies”. So the Quran says that the Torah was known by Mary, Jesus, John, etc. etc. peace and blessings of God be upon them all, how exactly does that prove that what you have today is the same as what they had? The Quran makes no such statements, it actually makes the opposite. You guys are looking for contradictions that are not there. The Quran is very clear that Jesus (saw) came to clear the falsehood of those at the time, then the Quran is very clear that those after Jesus (saw) corrupted even his message. In the case of the former, Jesus (saw) got the revelation directly from God and was able to guide people, when he left, the people corrupted his guidance, so now we have the Quran to clear the falsehood of those people and guide mankind aright. By making declarations that Jesus and others were true in their day (pbut), that has absolutely nothing to do with those whom we accuse of being of those who corrupted the message. Unless of course you can provide a copy of the Good News that either Jesus (saw) or his actual disciples wrote and compare it to what you have today. The same goes for Moses and David (saw). None of them actually wrote the texts they are mentioned in the Bible, and no one even knows who wrote those texts in the first place. So it’s nothing more than conjecture and a lot of faith to say you know for a fact that Jesus, Moses, or David (saw) for example, said any of those things. So our position is either true or false, take it or leave it. Not much to debate really.

James: 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: illogical fallacy, illogical fallacy, etc.etc. etc. why is that so hard to see? If I said Donald Trump drives a car and said but we don’t know what kind or color he drives, does that mean I’m agreeing that he drives a silver Bently? The problem is your position is you are saying that you know for a fact that he drives a silver Bently, even though neither of us can physically prove it. When I say that neither of us can physically prove it unless we were to go his home, you say you don’t need to go to his home because your cousin who knows about cars told you, even though even he hasn’t been to his home but heard it from somebody else and therefore told you.

Likewise, The Quran says there was a Torah and an Injeel that was known and taught by Moses and Jesus (saw), however what evidence we have of such today can’t be compared to what was then, because the originals don’t exist nor is there any writings from the prophets themselves. However, you say that well what others have said concerning the events even though they were not there themselves is just as credible against things that don’t exist.

You say well I know whats in the Torah and Injeel because I have a copy, I say you have a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy, etc. with no original insight. You say prove it, I say show me the original. Neither of us can, and there’s the dilemma… The difference being that all your faith is in the copy that has no original and mine is not. Can either of us prove that Trump drives a silver Bently? Not really, I will just be content in saying that he drives a car, you can rely and believe in your cousin who has never been to Trumps house who says that it is.

Kind of like this:

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1-4)

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: Same article, same faulty logic.

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.

Robert: Now I know that somehow you thought that a diatribe about the words “allude” or “allusion” would throw me off and mix in a couple of philosophical terms and “walla” you have stumped the Muslim! Let’s be clearer, there is no original Bible. There are thousands of fragments of varying degrees that have been complied in various ways over a millinium and is now called Bible. We have no complete text to compare today with yesteryear, at best all we can do is conjucture that our pieces match other pieces. But those pieces once belonged to something, we can only make educated guesses as to what that something was. My point is that it’s unreasonable to call an educated guess no matter how educated that guess perfect. The Quran says the same that the Bible of today and that which existed among the Christian and Jews of Muhammad’s (saw) time, was nothing more than conjecture. The Quran merely states that “something” existed called Torah and Gospel, Moses and Jesus (saw) had it, but what was present then and now, while it goes by the same name only resembles some of the original “something” but also contains “something” else, and since no one can produce the original “something” it’s safe to assume that no one can assertain what parts are the original “something” and which parts are the “something else”, therefore the Quran says it is the criterion to distinguish the difference, nothing else, and wherein there is dispute, produce your proof. Show us the original “something”. But bear witness that what you have today is a collection of somethings but there really is no way to know how much of those somethings is equal to the original somethings and how much is something else. Which is why to this day, NT/OT scholars are combing the pieces of somethings, trying to arrive at and piece together a “more accurate” version of they hypothesized original something that doesn’t exist anymore in the first place, but must have existed, hence the evidence of pieces of somethings.

Having a tire from a car doesn’t mean you can with 100% certainty say that you know the year, make, model, or color of the car is. You can make educated guesses based on the size of the tire, the thread, and rim. You may find a piece of a spoiler, or headlight, taillight, etc. which will help you out more, but to me, it seems illogical to claim you know the car is a 1998 Red Chevy Corvette.

That’s the difference. Muslims say based on the tire we know it belongs to a car that it’s original owners and drivers knew the make/model/year/color, many Christians including yourself say based on the tire you know it was a 1998 red chevy corvette, even though you don’t have the car. Muslims say that’s ridiculous, come to terms with us, let’s at least agree that the tire belongs to a car and the manufacturer of the car knows best, so let’s be content in his wisdom. Christians say no, we know what the car is, believe what the car is, and can tell you where the owner used to go in that car, because there is dirt on the tire and we believe that color dirt is only found in the desert, so we must believe it has to be that the owner drove this 1998 red chevy corvette in the desert, because this tire came from that car!

I know, I know, I kid, I kid….

James: 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: Watch this: Finally the strength of Islam does not lie in dogmas or denominations; it lies in the word of God which is defensible using manuscript evidence, archaelogical evidence, predictive prophecy, and the statistical improbability of fraudulent Authorship. The Bible, unfortunately, falls short in every one of these areas.

See how this epistemological argument remains circular as a dog who chases his tail? Is it not better to say “Lakum deenukum waliya deen” To you be your way (religion) and to me my way (religion)?

Now I can and have attempted at explaining my perspective in this epistemological round table. Using the last statement you made and I copied I would say:

The manuscript evidence, linguistical consitency, textual consitency, present in every Quran in existence is congruent and differs not depending on sect, location, or even interpretation. I could also add, that archaelogical evidence shows that the oldest complete Qurans are exactly the same as the one in my briefcase which is the same as the one in my house even if they are different translations, because the Arabic is exactly the same, I can go to Africa, Asia, Iran, Japan, and match word for word, character for character every Alif, Ba, tau, etc. we all in turn can go to Istanbul, Turkey and compare ours to centuries old Uthmani Qurans. I could also say that the prophecy in the Quran that says that God will personally ensure that the text of the Quran stays the same as it was revealed to Muhammad (saw) 1400 plus years ago and it is in fact that way today, proof of predictive prophecy that has been fulfilled, I could also say that using the same methods, that the statistical improbability of fraudulent authorship is so low that there is not ONE religious text that can compare. The Quran was memorized word for word in that day and even today. The first memorizers and transcribers were actual companions (sahabbah) of Muhammad (saw) as well as his wives and family members, may God reward them, every Quran since then is an exact replica of those first Qurans, minus the translations (which aren’t called Quran btw). So show me a similar example concerning the Bible.

Is your 66 book Bible exactly the same as the one they use in Russia or Ethiopia?

Can you match that text of those 66 books exactly the same with the above?

Can any of you speak today the original language of the 66 books?

Can you even learn it?

Is there a complete 66 book Bible on display maybe at the Vatican that is exactly the same as yours from the 1st, 2nd , or even 3rd century to compare against?

What predictive prophecy can you indicate has been fulfilled that’s not a statement of faith?

Are the authors of the 66 book Bible the same people mentioned in the text?

Are they even related or at least eyewitnesses?

Can you prove it?

On and On and On, I’m certain you get my point.

How then are you so sure, outside of faith?

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 on 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?

Robert: I can see where your going with this and it’s almost sad. Hadith collections are accepted or rejected based on probability and likelihood of having actually happened, kinda like how NT scholars examine the texts in reference to “Q”. As far as Sunnah, the most important source is the Quran itself, those Hadith that are accepted vary from fiqh to fiqh and are only important to the adherents of said fiqh. However, the difference is that all Muslims agree that they are man made and capable of error, so why they are used for guidance in some things, they are not definitive guidance for all things, especially in matters of faith primarily in God.

James: 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: OK, so you found one, find another if you want. He’s world renowned yet I have never heard of him, nor does he have any influence on my or my specific community. BTW, I have some real estate to sell you in Florida.

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) 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. J Meanwhile, everything else you’ve said above amounts to utterly confused ramblings and lies without making an effort to substantiate anything.

Robert: a lot of vanity in that there post, I will let God decide who is who, and let the readers perceive what they will as you obviously have and decided the matter for all of us already.

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.

Robert: Of course I do. What’s your point? Now you are saying that because they say something similar it must be the same. I’m saying why is it that it isn’t the same period and how can you call something perfect if it varies in any form? Perfect and Vary no matter the severity, is not the same.

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 books” that were “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: Ahhh, but that’s my point. Back to epistemology. Who says it is not inspired? Who says it is? What makes either right? Can we truly know? Yes, some were accepted and some were not, that’s my point! Why is that? Who’s to say what was thrown out is actually right and what remained isn’t. My point in context is your faith is wrapped up in the idea that these guys whomever they were got it right without error. My faith doesn’t rely on the things man creates or the choices man makes, but only from God. Big difference.

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: Same source as the others, I can’t only say it in about three languages that I don’t agree with their “scholarship”.

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: Your probably right, you know these colleges and authors these days are too biased in their historical presentations. Memorization…..well I will save that for later….

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 authorless books in question.

Robert: Who were the eyewitnesses? Surely not the author of Luke, whomever that is for example. Therefore, just as easy as you say it is to believe in a text simply because you have it, it’s just as easy for me to question authenticity when the author tells of events he heard about from an unverifiable source. Insignificance, is obviously in the eye of the beholder, but let me state again for the record. To me it makes more sense to believe a “story” from an eyewitness than a “story” from one who informs me upfront they are not.

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: I perceive more vanity in your post yet again, I will let God decide. I could also say are you familiar with the works of Bart Ehrman or Paula Fredricksen? Would that make me more credible? “True words” of God being always definitive? That’s the crux of my entire argument. If that were the case, then why are you Christian and I’m a Muslim? Unity of faith/religion does give credence to the religion. Otherwise, how can I take you any more serious compared to say a Catholic or Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, etc. when you can’t even agree on central things like how many books are actually in the perfect true word of God Bible?

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. J

Robert: I fear that vanity is overriding dialogue that God would actually approve of when you begin to look down your nose as dismissively are you are appearing to do so. I ask you, what is the measure of “true” scholarship? What makes your research any better than mine accept with the addendum that yours you use to support your arguments and mine is use to support mine?

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 concept 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: Ahhh! Using big philosophical terminology again to dismiss the dumb unread Muslim yet again are we? There’s a point in there, had you not let arrogance get in the way, you would have seen it. The point is that religious text for the most part has an effect on the adherent(s), the more uniform the action of the adherent(s) the more probable the understanding, unity, and consistency of the text. Hence, because Muslims the world over agree on central themes and practice, it is statistically safe to say that at least to them, the text is consitent. However, in the case of Christians, this is not the case as various practices by individual denominations can often conflict with another denomination’s acceptance of “true” practice based on the text. For those that believe in cause and effect, the argument makes much sense.

Speaking of which, when it comes to Sunni/Shia who are the “they” that keep killing one another and what’s “large numbers”?

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: False.

Context

1. the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect: You have misinterpreted my remark because you took it out of context.

2. the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.

In order to properly contextualize anything, one must understand the nature of that anything, whether it be words, events, situations, etc. To not pay attention to that original nature would be to in fact ignore context. The rules of comprehension state that in order to comprehend you must at least attempt at understanding the subject. If you don’t’ understand or comprehend the subject, how can you seriously contexualize anything regarding the subject?

Hence the terms exegesis or tasfir in the case of the Quran. There are rules in place to govern such. There is a difference in the rules of exegesis of the Bible, verses tasfir of the Quran. Without going into detail, that is because the books in of itself are different. You can’t apply the same rules and logic to everything. That is why in religious studies in general linguistics are so important, because the rules change. Look up tasfir for more information. My point is you can’t assume that contextual analysis and comprehension rules are the same when describing two entirely different things. Is an apple and orange the same, because they are both fruit?

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: Read the parts in bold: bold 1 = opinion, bold 2 = opinion, a translation isn’t called the Quran that is why the rules of comprehension are only seriously considered in Arabic following static rules of the original text. Bold 3 = opinion, who says what is or isn’t “reasonable” literature? Bold 4 = that’s my whole point: it’s not evident, the Quran says so itself 3:7, exegesis won’t work in the Christian or non-Muslim understanding, only through the understanding of Tasfir can one arrive at clear explanations, which is why it’s best to not pick up the text and try to figure out meanings in an arbitrary fashion or the way one is used to, also in 3:7. It just makes more sense to actually ask a Muslim. Bold 5 = hint of vanity, we don’t know your educational background and should it matter in this discourse other then to throw around titles and implications? What’s worrisome is the notion that one can tell another what they believe regardless of their refutation to what they actually believe, dismiss it, and then in the end tell them they are wrong either way. I started this dialogue just explaining the Quran from and actual Muslim perspective, then was told in essence that non-Muslims know better than the actual Muslim, seems pretty vain to me.

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: But your doing the exact same thing. The difference is I’m not arguing apples and oranges. Im acknowledging that most eat apples one way and oranges another and treat each as such.

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: Your continuous opinions, don’t make them true.

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: If it were that easy, then why did God make us all different? I mean why not make us all black or white, why not make us practice the same religion and speak the same language? In other words, as Muslims oft say, God Alone is the best knower! It appears to me that soon your going to say you know the meaning of life.

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: Very clear to whom? Then why are there different Christian denominations? I ignored the rest, pretty much the same accusations, opinions, and vain diatribe.

James:

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?

Robert: Notice the key difference in those verses; even in the English one says “prophets” and the other “messengers” now I know you don’t believe Arabic is relevant in this case, but the word for prophet in Arabic is Naboo and Messenger is Rasul. So in 29:27 God is saying that the Prophethood was established through Abrahams seed Issaac and Ishmael (pbut), but His mercy extends to all mankind by giving them guidance in the form of messengers big difference. That is why in the Quran Muhammad (saw) is called both a Prophet and a Messenger oftimes in the same verse. Prophet distinguishes lineage, messenger distinguishes purpose. i.e. He was a Prophet in the line of those that came before him, and a messenger to the people of his time….nevermind…

  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?

Robert: This is comical. Without even disputing the Hadith they put forward, or even the Quran, one can easily see the old bait and switch tactic as they read along. The verses he presented at first show that no profit was to be made off of declaring the word of God, which is true and makes sense as even he noted. Then he quotes hadith and Quran that supposedly show that Muhammad (saw) accepted money. Ahhhh! But the difference is in the details. One talks about accepting money for the message, the other talks about accepting money from conquest. Two different topics indeed. The rest is just more diversion tactics. James you should know better.

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

Robert: For one, he uses a translation I surely never heard of, I wonder why. Rather than refute it, here are the actual verses and notes, which should clear up this falsehood on its own.

19:71 And every one of you will come within sight of it: [55] this is, with thy Sustainer, a decree that must be fulfilled.

Note 55 (Quran Ref: 19:71 )

Lit., “none of you but will reach it”. According to some of the classical authorities, the pronoun “you” relates to the sinners spoken of in the preceding passages, and particularly to those who refuse to believe in resurrection; the majority of the commentators, however, are of the opinion that all human beings, sinners and righteous alike, are comprised within this address in the sense that all “will come within sight of it”: hence my rendering.(Quran Ref: 19:71 )

19:72 And once again: We shall save [from hell] those who have been conscious of Us; but We shall leave in it the evildoers, on their knees. [57]

Note 57 (Quran Ref: 19:72 )

I.e., utterly humbled and crushed by their belated realization of God’s judgment and of the ethical truths which they had arrogantly neglected in life.(Quran Ref: 19:72 )

  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.

Robert: James, this is concerning the fast of Ashura a specific holiday, not the Islamic pillar of swam during the month of Ramadan.

Volume 4, Book 55, Number 609:

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:

When the Prophet came to Medina, he found (the Jews) fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ (i.e. 10th of Muharram). They used to say: “This is a great day on which Allah saved Moses and drowned the folk of Pharaoh. Moses observed the fast on this day, as a sign of gratitude to Allah.” The Prophet said, “I am closer to Moses than they.” So, he observed the fast (on that day) and ordered the Muslims to fast on it.

Fasting during Ashura is an added blessing because the Prophet (saw) did, but it is not a pillar of our faith.

  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: That’s a silly question. What does Psalms 51:5 have to do with the Quran? Oh that’s right you believe Muslims are supposed to believe in the book of Psalms, hence original sin, hence Jesus (saw) as attonement for such right?

I almost feel embarraced to even refute your claims of proof! Talk about illogical fallacies. It would be best to leave this debate alone. Believe what you will and I will do the same.

Peace

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 www.jewsforjudaism.com 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).

They have forsaken the Lord (Part 7) – Robert’s Reply

Robert:
OK, now that I have a little time, without going line to line, let me address a major theme of our recent debate:  Does the Quran validate the Bible hence invalidating itself in the process?

Well, I didn’t write the response, another brother did, so to save me sometime, since it’s already been addressed and this is one of the talking points many Christians oft address to Muslims, I figured it would at least clear the air on what Muslim believe about the Bible.

The Noble Quran came to confirm Truth that exists in the Manuscripts in the different canons and to filter out Truth from falsehood in them.  Allah Almighty never claimed that the bible is fully and 100% Divine.  Islam is a witness on the Bible.  It filters out the truth from falsehood and corruption in the Bible. The Noble Quran only recognizes the Bible as a HISTORY BOOK with errors and man’s alteration in it. Anything that agrees 100% with Islam is valid, and anything else that has even the slightest disagreement with Islam is discarded:

Those who follow the apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),- in the law and the Gospel;– for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper. (The Noble Quran, 7:157)

“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 be tween right and wrong). (The Noble Quran, 3:3)

“To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what God hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If God had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to God; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute; (The Noble Quran, 5:48)

“That which We have revealed to thee of the Book is the Truth,- confirming what was (revealed) before it: for God is assuredly- with respect to His Servants – well acquainted and Fully Observant. (The Noble Quran, 35:31)

That is why we Muslims believe in only the parts of the Bible that agree with the Noble Quran.  The parts that contradict the Noble Quran are not the Truth:

“That they rejected Faith; That they uttered against Mary A grave false charge;  That they said (in boast):  ‘We killed Christ Jesus The son of Mary, The Messenger of Allah.’  But they killed him not, Nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. Nay, Allah raised him up Unto Himself; and Allah Is Exalted in Power, Wise.  And there is none of the people of the book (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him  (Jesus) Before his death; And on the Day of Judgment He (Jesus) will be a witness Against them. (The Noble Quran, 4:156-159)

“Know they not Allah Knoweth what they conceal and what they reveal? And there are among them illiterates, who know not the Book, but (see therein their own) desires, and they do nothing but conjecture.  Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: ‘This is from Allah,’ To traffic with it for a miserable price! Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby. (The Noble Quran, 2:77-79)

“O Apostle! let not those grieve thee, who race each other into unbelief: (whether it be) among those who say “We believe” with their lips but whose hearts have no faith; or it be among the Jews,- men who will listen to any lie,- will listen even to others who have never so much as come to thee. They change the words from their (right) times and places: they say, ‘If ye are given this, take it, but if not, beware!’ If any one’s trial is intended by God, thou hast no authority in the least for him against God. For such – it is not God’s will to purify their hearts. For them there is disgrace in this world, and in the Hereafter a heavy punishment. (The Noble Quran, 5:41)

“Say: ‘O People of the Book (i.e., Jews and Christians)!   Come to common terms as between us and you:  That we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah.’  If then they turn back, say ye: ‘Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah’s Will).’ (The Noble Quran, 3:64)


Narrated Ubaidullah:
“Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Why do you ask the people of the scripture about anything while your Book (Quran) which has been revealed to Allah’s Apostle is newer and the latest? You read it pure, undistorted and unchanged, and Allah has told you that the people of the scripture (Jews and Christians) changed their scripture and distorted it, and wrote the scripture with their own hands and said, ‘It is from Allah,’ to sell it for a little gain. Does not the knowledge which has come to you prevent you from asking them about anything? No, by Allah, we have never seen any man from them asking you regarding what has been revealed to you!” (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Holding Fast to the Qur’an and Sunnah, Volume 9, Book 92, Number 461)

Granted, I don’t expect you to believe as we do about the Bible, that’s obvious, but I wanted to clarify your assertion that by the Quran mentioning the Torah and Injeel (Gospel) that somehow it validates the Bible is false by Islamic standard.  You will find no such statement in the Quran validating the Bible no matter which edition/version/etc. one may believe in.   The Bible differs from Christian to Christian at times and certainly during the time of Muhammad (saw).  The Quran just bears witness that Moses and Jesus (pbut) were given revelation, what happened to it after they got it, the Quran says their followers altered it.  Seems clear to me and other Muslims…

Now as far as your not changing the words of God commentary, once again, the Bible to us isn’t the word of God, but a book that contains the word(s) of God, all the rest is “filler” if you will added by man.  So the word of God wasn’t changed, the recording of such did.  That is why Muslims believe that there is truth in it (Bible) but the only way to extract it is through the Quran, which we view as the Only preserved word of God, or as the other name of the Quran, Fuqran suggests.  Fuqran means criterion in Arabic, the Quran is oft called Fuqran Kareem, or Noble Criterion, we believe the Quran is the measure between truth and falsehood and through it we can extract the truth that remains in other books such as the Bible.

As far as the Bible’s history….

I think we can agree that out of those thousands of manuscripts there are many (hundreds) of books that weren’t included in some Bibles.  The reasons are numerous from “inspired” or not, apocrypha, or gnostic, etc.  My point being is, well who decided and why?  Is it not a matter of faith, doctrine, dogma, denomination, etc.?  If so, then obviously there is no one discernable Bible that all the worlds Christians agree upon with an exact number of books, verses, etc.  Why the variance?  My point was that is not the case with the Quran.  No matter your sect, movement, Fiqh, etc.  we all use the same Quran in the same arabic script period.  It’s one thing to debate exegete, it’s another to omit books, verses, altogether.

Now proof?  Well we can start with history:

Mark the oldest of the Gospels was changed:
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%2016:9-20;&version=31 ;
Now my concern to this corruption and ‘answer-the-problem-away’ statement is that what are those so-called “reliable early manuscript(s)” and who are the “ancient witnesses”?

“Serious doubts exists as to whether these verses belong to the Gospel of Mark.  They are absent from important early manuscripts and display certain peculiarities of vocabulary, style and theological content that are unlike the rest of Mark.  His Gospel probably ended at 16:8, or its original ending has been lost.  (From the NIV Bible Foot Notes, page 1528)”

The Book of Acts:

“Although the author does not name himself, evidence outside the Scriptures and inferences from the book itself lead to the conclusion that the author was Luke.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 1643)”

So who really wrote it?  And are we to assume the writer of the NIV made a good guess at it?

Gospel According to Luke:

“The author’s name does not appear in the book, but much unmistakable evidence points to Luke.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 1529)”

Again, we don’t know for sure whether it was Luke or not who wrote the “Gospel of Luke” since his name doesn’t appear in the Book. The Gospel itself seems to be a compromising one to the Word of GOD. Let us look at the following:

“Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, (Luke 1:3)”

Few problems with this Gospel from the quote above:

1- The author was not inspired, and knew for sure that he was not inspired by GOD Almighty to write the Book since he didn’t mention about any divine inspiration, and he said “…since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning…” Where do we see GOD’s inspiration in this?

2- The author wrote it for the purpose of “his most excellent Theophilus.” Since when we compromise GOD Almighty and document His Holy Words for the purpose of other higher (in rank) human beings?

The following is from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

http://newadvent.org/cathen/14625b.htm

http://newadvent.org/cathen/14625a.htm

If Theophilus existed in either the 2nd or the 4th centuries then how could the writer of this gospel be the same Luke who is supposed to be with Jesus in the 1st century.

Maybe he lived to about 200 years.. 🙂

Also for the Catholic Encyclopedia:
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14530a.htm#IV
“IV. TRANSMISSION OF THE TEXT

No book of ancient times has come down to us exactly as it left the hands of its author–all have been in some way altered. The material conditions under which a book was spread before the invention of printing (1440), the little care of the copyists, correctors, and glossators for the text, so different from the desire of accuracy exhibited today, explain sufficiently the divergences we find between various manuscripts of the same work. To these causes may be added, in regard to the Scriptures, exegetical difficulties and dogmatical controversies. To exempt the scared writings from ordinary conditions a very special providence would have been necessary, and it has not been the will of God to exercise this providence. More than 150,000 different readings have been found in the older witnesses to the text of the New Testament–which in itself is a proof that Scriptures are not the only, nor the principal, means of revelation. In the concrete order of the present economy God had only to prevent any such alteration of the sacred texts as would put the Church in the moral necessity of announcing with certainty as the word of God what in reality was only a human utterance. Let us say, however, from the start, that the substantial tenor of the sacred text has not been altered, not withstanding the uncertainty which hangs over some more or less long and more or less important historical or dogmatical passages. Moreover–and this is very important–these alterations are not irremediable; we can at least very often, by studying the variants of the texts, eliminate the defective readings and thus re-establish the primitive text. This is the object of textual criticism.”

Lets just go through that again – “No book of ancient times has come down to us exactly as it left the hands of its author–all have been in some way altered.”  All have been in some way altered! In view of this blatant admission, how can anyone expect me, or any muslim, to believe that the Bible is not in it’s original form?

The Book of Hebrews:

“The writer of this letter does not identify himself, but he was obviously well known to the original recipients.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 1856)”  So because the guy was supposedly “well known (which we don’t really know that for sure anyway)”, then would that give us the right to consider his words as the Words of GOD Almighty?!  I am sorry, but I don’t really see the logic behind this!  The Book of Hebrews is one of the highly used Books among Christians.  I hear references from it a lot when listening to Christians preaching.   Yet, no one really knows who wrote it!.

The Gospel of John:

“The author is the apostle John, ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ (13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20,24). He was prominent in the early church but is not mentioned by name in this Gospel–which would be natural if he wrote it, but hard to explain otherwise.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 1588)”

They claimed that it was John who wrote the Gospel, but yet, his name was not signed on his Gospel! How is it possible for us to be absolutely sure that it was indeed John who wrote the so called “Gospel of John” when “his name is not mentioned in this Gospel” so we can then take it as a 100% True Error-free Word of GOD Almighty?

When one reads this gospel, he would immediately notice that it was not written by John himself.  Let us look at the following verses from the gospel:

“And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?  (From the King James Version Bible, John 1:19)”

“John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;  (From the King James Version Bible, John 1:26)”

“For John was not yet cast into prison.  (From the King James Version Bible, John 3:24)”

etc…

Whoever wrote the gospel, was he appointed or inspired by GOD Almighty?  If yes, then who is that man?  It can’t be John for it is quite obvious from the above verses and many more throughout the gospel that John wasn’t the original author.  One has to be ridiculously biased and blind in faith to deny that.

So now, what about these most popular verses:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  (From the King James Version Bible, John 1:1)”

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  (From the King James Version Bible, John 3:16)”

These verses were obviously written by mysterious men and not by any of Jesus’ original disciples.  It is quite possible and highly probable that some church wrote the so-called “Gospel of John” from excerpts that they found.

The Gospel of 1 John:

“….Unlike most NT letters, 1 John does not tell us who its author is.  The earliest identification of him comes from the church fathers…(From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 1904)”

“The letter is difficult to date with precision….(From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 1905)”

and we can go on and on about the NT minus the Pauline books of course and would have to ask “who wrote them and where did they come from”?

Consider the following few examples that consist of historical contradictions in the Bible:

2 Samuel 10:18 talks about David slew the men of 700 chariots of the Syrians and 40,000 horsemen and Shobach the commander.
I Chronicles 1:18 says that David slew the men of 7000 chariots and 40,000 footmen

2 Chronicles 9:25 says that Solomon had 4000 stalls for horses and chariots.
I Kings 4:26 says that he had 40,000 stalls for horses

Ezra 2:5 talks about an exile Arah having 775 sons.
Nehemiah 7:10 talks about the same exile Arah having 652 sons.

2 Samuel 24:13 So God came to David, and told him, and said unto him, shall SEVEN YEARS OF FAMINE come unto thee in thy land? or will thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue. thee?
I Chronicles 21:11 SO God came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee. Either THREE YEARS OF FAMINE or three months to be destryed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee;

How did Judas die?
“And he cast down the pieces of silver into the temple and departed, and went out and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:5)
“And falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all of his bowels gushed out.” (Acts 1:18)

2 Samuel 6:23 Therefore MICHAL the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.
2 Samuel 21:8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of MICHAL the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.

2 Kings 24:8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother’s name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 36:9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.

26th year of the reign of Asa I Kings 16:6-8
36th year of the reign of Asa I 2 Chronicles 16:1

How old was Ahaziah when he began to reign?
22 in 2 Kings 8:26
42 in 2 Chronicle 22:2

Who was Josiah’s successor?
Jehoahaz – 2 Chronicle 36:1
Shallum – Jeremiah 22:11

Also, your original scriptures are all doubtful according to the Bible’s own theologians and historians.  It’s quite hilarious that even the Bible itself admits that it has been tampered with and corrupted by man’s garbage:

“`How can you say, “We [the Jews] are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,” when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?’ (From the NIV Bible, Jeremiah 8:8)”

The Revised Standard Version makes it even clearer: “How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us’? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.  (From the RSV Bible, Jeremiah 8:8)”

And regarding who wrote the books and gospels of the Bible, as I quoted above, here is a sample of what the NIV Bible’s theologians and historians wrote:

“Serious doubts exists as to whether these verses belong to the Gospel of Mark.  They are absent from important early manuscripts and display certain peculiarities of vocabulary, style and theological content that are unlike the rest of Mark.  His Gospel probably ended at 16:8, or its original ending has been lost.  (From the NIV Bible Foot Notes, page 1528)”

“Although the author does not name himself, evidence outside the Scriptures and inferences from the book itself lead to the conclusion that the author was Luke.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 1643)”

“The writer of this letter does not identify himself, but he was obviously well known to the original recipients.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 1856)”

“The letter is difficult to date with precision….(From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 1905)”

“It seems safe to conclude that the book, at least in its early form, dates from the beginning of the monarchy. Some think that Samuel may have had a hand in shaping or compiling the materials of the book, but in fact we are unsure who the final author or editor was.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 286)”

“Although, according to tradition, Samuel wrote the book, authorship is actually uncertain.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 322)”

“The date of the composition is also unknown, but it was undoubtedly during the monarchy.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 322)”

“The author is unknown. Jewish tradition points to Samuel, but it is unlikely that he is the author because the mention of David (4:17,22) implies a later date.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 360)”

“Who the author was cannot be known with certainty since the book itself gives no indication of his identity.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 368)”

“There is little conclusive evidence as to the identity of the author of 1,2 Kings.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 459)”

“Whoever the author was, it is clear that he was familiar with the book of Deuteronomy.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 459)”

“According to ancient Jewish tradition, Ezra wrote Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah (see Introduction to Ezra: Literary Form and Authorship), but this cannot be established with certainty.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 569)”

“Although we do not know who wrote the book of Esther, from internal evidence it is possible to make some inferences about the author and the date of composition.  (From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 707)”

“The unknown author probably had access to oral and/or written sources….(From the NIV Bible commentary, page 722)”

“Regarding authorship, opinions are even more divided….(From the NIV Bible Commentary, page 773)”

etc…

Heres another good site for Historical NT stuff:

http://www.maplenet.net/~trowbridge/canons.htm

As far as the Tanakh is concerned, while some names of books are shared, the content differs at times compared to the “OT” as well as some books are not in the Tanakh alltogether.  Even the “OT” is different from Protestant, to Catholic, to Eastern Orthodox, to Syriac, etc. etc.  So which OT is right?  Guess it depends on what sect you belong to.

My point is not to discredit Christianity, but to elaborate on why I feel the Bible has been changed and is not the same from Christian to Christian.  For one to say it’s the complete word of God, then there should be textual consistency across the board no matter if your Protestant, Catholic, or otherwise.  However, what one finds as they dig, is not only are the texts inconsistant, but the number of scriptures included or not varies, and at times verses were added or deleted i.e. John 5:7-8 depending on where you stand…

You asked me to provide proof of change in the Bible and this is a very short exposition.  Personally, I don’t really care either way. Lakum deenukum waliya deen “unto you your religion and unto me mine”.

My question to you is can you come up with at least a paragraph of similar issues with the Quran?  Because all I’m seeing on my side is debate about interpretation of the Quran from a Christians perspective, who A: doesn’t read or write Arabic, B: doesn’t study Quran or Islamic history, C: uses exegesis that one would use on the Bible to interpret the Quran.  Which in my opinion is just going to continue the debate forever.  Primarily, because I’m the actual Muslim, and kinda have a clue what I believe about Islam (not saying you are saying I dont).

At any rate, a long answer to a short question, I don’t believe the Quran validates anything of what you call Bible, but merely says that Jesus and Moses peace be upon them, received revelation.  Furthermore, the Quran asserts that what you have as Bible is not the original revelation they received, but does have some of that “in” it, and Muslims like myself believe that to be a true statement based on some of the examples I presented in this email.

Robert: OK, now that I have a little time, without going line to line, let me address a major theme of our recent debate:  Does the Quran validate the Bible hence invalidating itself in the process?

James: 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 responses). I would also disagree that this is the major theme, looking back at our earlier posts; it appears that you like switching topics without answering the original question(s). This is a logically fallacious way of addressing my premise.

Robert: Well, I didn’t write the response, another brother did, so to save me sometime, since it’s already been addressed and this is one of the talking points many Christians oft address to Muslims, I figured it would at least clear the air on what Muslim believe about the Bible.

James: The really bad thing about this rant from your friend is that he is very confused about a lot of Biblical facts and yet you appeal to him as if he has knowledge regarding biblical history that you lack.

Robert et al: The Noble Quran came to confirm Truth that exists in the Manuscripts in the different canons and to filter out Truth from falsehood in them.  Allah Almighty never claimed that the bible is fully and 100% Divine.  Islam is a witness on the Bible.  It filters out the truth from falsehood and corruption in the Bible.  The Noble Quran only recognizes the Bible as a HISTORY BOOK with errors and man’s alteration in it.  Anything that agrees 100% with Islam is valid, and anything else that has even the slightest disagreement with Islam is discarded:

James: None of the proof text that your friend provides validates his assertions. For the millionth time, the problem with Islamic text is that one cannot expect to evaluate it the way you would evaluate any other writing. Islam wants to play by different rules than every other writing. The Quran wants to say one thing, and then when confronted regarding that specific thing the Quran likes to claim that it means something else. It is impossible to have a logical discussion with people if there is no agreement on meanings of words, or with those who are dishonest with their terminology.

Robert et al: Granted, I don’t expect you to believe as we do about the Bible, that’s obvious, but I wanted to clarify your assertion that by the Quran mentioning the Torah and Injeel (Gospel) that somehow it validates the Bible is false by Islamic standard.  You will find no such statement in the Quran validating the Bible no matter which edition/version/etc. one may believe in.

James: Oh really? I thought I just spent the last two responses providing proof of the Quran validating scripture. The Quran commands people to believe the books of the Bible, namely the Torah, the Psalms and the Gospel. But then the Quran proceeds to contradict the message of these books. How much proof do I have to provide in order for you to read and acknowledge it? Ok, Ok, here’s another one…

The Quran asserts that the revelation given to Moses is similar and equal to the Quran. Consider the following passage:

Now that the Truth has come to them from Us, they are saying: “Why is he (Muhammad) not given the like of what was given to Musa (Moses)?” Have they not rejected that which was given to Musa before? They claim: “These (Torah and Qur’an) are the two works of sorcery complementing each other!” And they say: “We believe in neither.” Ask them: “Bring a Book from Allah which is a better guide THAN THESE TWO, I will follow it, if what you say be true!” Surah. 28:48-49 Malik

Robert et al: The Bible differs from Christian to Christian at times and certainly during the time of Muhammad (saw).  The Quran just bears witness that Moses and Jesus (pbut) were given revelation, what happened to it after they got it, the Quran says their followers altered it.  Seems clear to me and other Muslims…

James: I did not include the rest of your friends email because it was refuted in the link I sent you two responses ago. I’ll include it again so that perhaps this time you will decide to read it.

The Bible As Seen By The Qur’an And The Muslim Traditions

They have forsaken the Lord (Part 6) – James’ Reply

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: An apologist is someone who defends a belief; it is not someone who apologizes.

James: (in a previous reply) 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 it’s 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. Some more logic for you; 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?

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 they fail? Which verse(s) got corrupted? What were they originally?

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: 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 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. Besides, the Quranic verses you refer to never imply that the bible was ever changed, altered or corrupted. But even if this were not the case, it only underscores what many of 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. An allusion is a literary device; when you allude or make an allusion, you reference something indirectly. 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 play of Shakespeare called 2 Henry VI. What you are doing above is really called “referring.”

Secondly, 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 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. 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: No one is 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 worthless why even acknowledge them?

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) 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 oblige just as long as you admit that you have made concessions in regard to my initial assertions. J Everything else you’ve said above amounts to confused ramblings without making an effort to substantiate anything. The only other thing I will say is that the bible has never changed and we have the manuscripts to prove it. The onus is on you to prove the bible has changed.

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? If even the most loosely “interpreted” bible condemns you as a sinner without the blood of Jesus Christ as your covering what is the significance of more conservative “interpretations” 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 reply)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: For the same reason why my 9th grade essay on bumble bees is not included in the modern bible, namely, because it is not considered inspired. BTW, You have asked another loaded question. Perhaps, I should extend you an invitation to our Wednesday couples bible study; there you can learn all the answers to your questions regarding the composition of our manuscript evidence.

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: Unfortunately, your claims above are without substance. See the same link I showed you earlier.

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?  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…  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?

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: 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 while no serious scholarship effort has been directed toward the Quran for obvious reasons. 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. I know that we should stay away from religion name calling but 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 a Faulty Analogy. Look it up playa!

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

James: Yeah, dude you lost me on that one, but then again that’s been par for the course. I’ll have to answer the rest of your dialog on Monday. I assume we will chat this weekend.

It has been interesting.

They have forsaken the Lord (Part 5) – Robert’s Reply

Robert:
Bringing the heat huh James? 🙂
I guess I’m going to “bite” your format…

James: What or which apologist comment?

Robert: ” I do think that our dialog is fruitful as you have helped demonstrate that there are Muslim apologists that try to defend Islam intellectually rather than physically through terror.”

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: 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.  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

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.  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.  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.  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.

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.  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: Modern context? Overly simplified? I’m really not sure what you are trying to say here but giving an example of the “…western concept and by it’s [sic] design is made to look easy” comment might help me respond intelligently.

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: Obviously, your claim of Qu’ranic original preservation is highly controversial; in fact, the Hadiths refutes this claim in many places; if you were interested I could corroborate this statement. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why you are more comfortable with marginalizing the Hadiths than some of your scholarly peers. You imply that the Bible has been “whitewashed” or revised; I would like to think that I’m somewhat knowledgeable about biblical history; can you give examples of this white washing?

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.  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….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: 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?  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!  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.

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?  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…  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?

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.  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: I would argue that you are conveniently attributing historical events to Quranic verses to deflect the arbitrary nature of the verses. Ultimately, you have no rebuttal since unlike the Bible, the Quran fails to identify the historical context for the verses in question or for that matter most of the Quranic text.

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

James: The verse you provide seems to convey that we should be able to read the Quran plainly without commentary, but obviously this is not the case. 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: 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.  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.  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.  Many actually believe that what they have in English is the original complete work and that is so far from the truth.  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: I disagree with your assertion here; it’s impossible for a Muslim to arrive at your interpretations without extra-Quranic text. How would I know to associate Surah 9:29 to “the time when the early Muslim community was at war with the Pagan Meccans?” I mean, if I have to be a “sahabi” (companion of Prophet Muhammad) to properly understand any of the Surahs (as many Islamic scholars claim) then how can you claim that the context of the book is rooted in the book itself? The bible does not require such prerequisites.

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.  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: Every one of the eight items you listed is not necessarily coherent in the Quran but it is not my intention to go into details unless provoked to do such. My point in saying this is to simply dissent regarding the clarity of such theology in the Quran.

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: Your first three sentences are very confusing; what are you trying to say? How is the context relative? What is a “standard of reasoning” and why should it differ unless the author of the Quran is achieving something special by using a non-chronological presentation? Also, you highlight a major weakness in the Quran, namely, its non-chronological presentation. Most literature that is displayed in such a way usually does more to confuse the reader than inform them. Order is essential to facilitate clarity, conversely, disorganization promotes confusion. Even movies directors that use the non-chronological format to mystify a trite plot have to eventually bring everything together in the end otherwise the presentation never truly conveys the intended and entire message. What scriptural method do you apply to the Quran than is different from the scriptural method of the Bible? Your very last sentence does not reinforce your previous sentences; in fact, it is really a “straw man”, as to my knowledge, no one in this thread has suggested that you should apply your knowledge of one scriptural domain to ascertain the meaning of another.

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: Unfortunately, I must dissent. In fact, 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 am willing to provide these refutation if asked or provoked to do so.

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?  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: You still have not asked the question I recommended. Before providing all the details you have presented, it would have helped (and probably still will) if you asked the skeptic what evidence he/she is willing to accept as proof. What do you mean by “predisposed belief?” I will reiterate that I think our dialogue has been fruitful regardless of whether we know where to go from here or not.

Robert: OK, What evidence are the skeptics in this email willing to accept as proof?  What I meant by predisposed belief was the idea that there is much that my 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!