Thursday, July 09, 2009

Christian and Muslim Explanations Contrasted

This is a forum post I made on Urban Philosophy sometime recently. For purposes of documentation, I am reposting it here on Epagonizesthai, with some modifications.

I would contend that Christianity is superior to Islam because Christianity can explain Islam's origins, whereas Islam cannot explain Christianity's origins.

Think about it this way: Islam claims that Jesus never claimed to be God/Son of God, and that he did not really die on the cross. Islam bases this claim on a holy book that was written approximately six centuries after Jesus walked upon this earth. This is in stark contrast with the New Testament, which was completed within seven decades of the events that are mentioned therein.

The Qur'an denies that Jesus ever died on the cross, as evidenced by Surah 4:157. The common theory is that someone else made to look like Jesus was nailed in his place. There is also a less common theory that Jesus was in fact crucified, but that he had fainted from exhaustion on the cross and was revived in the tomb. The problem with this theory is that it does not explain why Jesus' disciples thought He had risen from the dead. If Jesus had not died on the cross, surely He would've informed his disciples, rather than leave them with a false idea of what had happened. From this perspective, either God and Jesus lied, or they failed to preserve the truth. Neither case is acceptable for Christians or Muslims.

Also, it doesn't help that Jesus predicted His own death multiple times (eg. Mark 10:45, to name just one example). All three Abrahamic faiths agree that for a prophet to be true, what he says must come to pass. Now, if Jesus did not die on the cross, then He must be considered a false prophet, which neither Christians nor Muslims can accept. If, however, Jesus did die on the cross, then the Qur'an is proven false in its claim that He had not. Of course, Muslims may deny that Jesus actually predicted His death, but as I had mentioned before, the Gospels preceded the Qur'an by centuries, and thus are much more reliable witnesses to the events.

Even worse, the Qur'an misrepresents Christian doctrine. In Surah 5:116, it is claimed Christians worship Jesus and Mary as gods besides Allah. As a result, some Muslims have concluded that the Trinity is father, mother and son (proof). Thus, we see that the Qur'an either misunderstands or deliberately misrepresents the Trinity. Interestingly enough, Muhammad has apparently never actually read the gospels, and that God relayed knowledge of what it contains to him via His angel. Would God present him with such a misunderstanding/misrepresentation? One common explanation I have heard is that Muhammad encountered a heterodox marian group known as the Collyridians, and was critiquing them rather than orthodox Christianity. The only problem with this explanation is that there is no evidence that the Collyridians were extant in Arabia by the seventh century. Even if they were, it is quite glaring that the Qur'an had time to address this little heterodox sect but not orthodox mainstream Christian beliefs about Jesus.

By contrast with this, Christianity can explain the existence of Islam perfectly well. Did Muhammad encounter an angel that supposedly gave him God's final revelation? Well, he probably did see what he thought to be an angel. But it is not necessarily so, since from the Christian perspective, Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), and even angels can bring a false gospel (Gal. 1:8). Funny enough, much Qur'anic content is dedicated to denying the Christian faith (Surah 4:157, 5:116, 112:3, etc.). Christianity can explain a religion coming along 6 centuries later and denying its core tenets, but can the same be said for Islam attempting to explain Christianity? I honestly don't think so.

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