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REPLY #86a TO
This is the first of a four-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.
(R) I was somewhat late to reply your answers because of my studies in graduate school.
(MB) Not a problem. I don't give extra credit points for faster responses...*grin*
(R) I am writing these answers solely to draw your attention to the consistency and wealth in believing one God, not to argue to disprove you. I believe that faith is an eternal light (nur) which is inspired by God in our hearts after sincere search for truth.
(MB) I would say that it's more important for one to live a life that is directed by a consistent system of personal morality and ethical behavior. Such a life does not require its tenets to be handed down or enforced by any sort of deity. There are many systems of belief where moral codes gain authority by the effects they produce and where truth is discovered on its own merits. Such systems have no need for any arbitrary dictates from any ethereal realm.
I've seen everything through my own eyes and not through any others. I'd be interested in hearing your reasons for declaring Christianity to be a corrupted religion.
(R) What I meant is that you probably grew up in a Christian Community.
(MB) Indeed, I did. I grew up in a Lutheran (Missouri Synod) family and community. Needless to say, it failed to impress me.
(R) Although originally Christianity was a true religion, since the Bible was not written immediately when it is revealed, the principles of the religion could not be conserved.
(MB) There are two problems here. First, the majority of the Bible is found in the Old Testament -- which is a Jewish, rather than Christian, work. Second, the Gospels of the Christian New Testament and the Book of Revelation are claimed to have been written as they were revealed through divine inspiration. The main problem with the conservation of the original version of Christianity is that it has become muddled through the power-broking of its human leadership over the past two millennia. The same effect can be observed, to a lesser degree, in the practice of Islam.
(R) As an example, the false doctrines such as Trinity was implemented from paganistic cultures.
(MB) Almost *everything* in Judeo-Christian tradition can be traced back to previous pagan and religious beliefs, cultures and rituals. The only significant break with those earlier traditions was Jewish monotheism. Even then, they acknowledged the existence of other deities. Their religion just said that Yahweh was #1 and that he is their only God.
(R) Besides, a lot of verses in the original Bible was lost or changed, including the ones foretelling the Propethood of Muhammed (peace be upon Him).
(MB) There is little doubt that significant portions of the Bible have been lost, corrupted, mistranslated or otherwise changed from the original manuscripts (none of which still exist). There are also many other books which were written but not accepted into the "official" Biblical canon. Finally, the ravages of time on history tend to erode and blur the original meaning and significance of many Biblical passages. The final result is that almost anybody can "prove" almost any claim they wish by picking and choosing appropriate verses from the modern translations of the Bible.
(R) The Gospel of Barnabas, which is claimed to be worthless by many Christian scholars, explain the truth obviously.
Jesus Explains Who He Is(MB) The Gospel of Barnabas is not only considered to be worthless by many Christian scholars, but by many Islamic scholars, as well. For example, Muslim scholar Cyril Glassé writes:
As regards the "Gospel of Barnabas" itself, there is no question that it is a medieval forgery. A complete Italian manuscript exists which appears to be a translation from a Spanish original (which exists in part), written to curry favor with Muslims of the time. It contains anachronisms which can date only from the Middle Ages and not before, and shows a garbled comprehension of Islamic doctrines, calling the Prophet "the Messiah", which Islam does not claim for him. Besides its farcical notion of sacred history, stylistically it is a mediocre parody of the Gospels, as the writings of Baha'Allah are of the Koran. -- The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Harper & Row, 1989, p. 64In addition, there are numerous internal and external problems with the GoB including contradictions between it and the Qu'ran. Here is a listing of some problems.
Do you really wish to base your beliefs upon something like the Gospel of Barnabas and claim that it "obviously explains the truth"?
(R) And for a detailed discussion of the "corruptedness" of the books of Christianity and Judaism, please see the book "The Bible, The Quran and Science" by Maurice Bucaille, who is a famous Christian French physician. There you will see that all of these three religions have very great common points (like the oneness of God), but the only one whose original sources are extremely well-conserved is the last one, namely Islam.
(MB) This is primarily because it is the youngest of the three major Yahvistic religions and has not suffered as harshly from the ravages of time and societal change.
There's another point to be made here (and please correct me if I'm wrong). It is my understanding that no Earthly copy of the Qu'ran can be considered to be either original or perfect since the only such copy is found in heaven. It is also my understanding that no copy of the Qu'ran which is published in any language other than Arabic (the language of Allah) can be considered to be anything more than a paraphrase. That being the case, it will be difficult to advance the argument that any quotations from the Qu'ran are definitive and are correctly translated or interpreted.
We see similar problems with translations of the original Hebrew Biblical manuscripts. Fundamentalist Christian apologists claim that the originals are inerrant and accurate in all details and that any errors found in later translations are to be blamed on copyist errors or other reasons. However, since the original manuscripts no longer exist, it is impossible to verify the claims of the apologists and, indeed, there can be no supporting evidence for such claims in the first place. Given the nature of the Qu'ran, inerrantist claims on its behalf must also be impossible to demonstrate.
This, of course, is the same sort of argument advanced by those who promote the holy books of many different religions. They all uphold the superiority of their own preferred book(s) and claim that all others are flawed. However, it should be obvious that no more than one of them can be right and that it is possible that *none* are right. The religious community will have to conclusively solve the problem of which of them has the market cornered on truth before those of us who are non-believers will accept any of their arguments.
(R) No, it is not obvious that no more than one of them can be right. Because rightness is not an issue of 0-1 logic for religions.
(MB) Not for all issues, certainly, but this is certainly the case for major points of doctrine. Either God is part of a Trinity or God is one alone. Either Jesus is his son or he was a mortal prophet (or he was a madman). Either Muhammad received the Qu'ran or he made it up. Either one's prayers are heard by Vishnu or they are not. Either one can be reincarnated and eventually attain Nirvana or he can not. Either Valhalla awaits heroic warriors or it does not. And so on, ad infinitum...
If any of these proposals are true, then all religions which do not include them are automatically wrong and only the one which upholds it is true. If none of them are true, then no religion is true. Either one religion is right, or all religions are wrong. There is no other answer.
(R) All religions agree on some points (like the existence of a wider world than conceived by five senses, morality, etc.) and especially the Abrahamic religions agree on a lot of main points like the unity of God and existence of an afterlife.
(MB) Most people forget that the triumvirate of Yahvistic religions are not the sum total of the world's beliefs. One must also consider the great Eastern religions and philosophies which are upheld by a few billion people and have nothing whatsoever to do with Jehovah/God/Allah. Then, there are also the vast number of Native American and African tribal religions as well as those of Aboriginal and Amazonian peoples. The only general statement that can be applied successfully is that there is nothing which is universally agreed.
(R) As I said before, we Muslims believe that Moses and Jesus are prophets of God. And the books revealed to them were from God.
(MB) Except, of course, that no books were revealed to Jesus. He wrote nothing himself and no books were written about him during his lifetime. The Gospels contain only the briefest tales of Jesus' activities and there is much confusion between their accounts.
(R) But as the time went on, due to historical events and social causes these two religions went astray. Since their books were not written down in the period of revelation, a lot of different versions of the supposedly holy books came out.
(MB) Here, I am in agreement with you. Of course, the doctrine of Christianity holds that the Gospels were divinely-inspired so it wouldn't make any difference to believers that they were authored many years after the events which they report.
(R) This is why Allah sent His last messenger Muhammed(pbuh) to humanity. After all, the main theme behind all these religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) is the same: Faith in One God and the Hereafter.
(MB) Christianity seems to think that it's more important to believe that Jesus is the Savior. Also, the Jewish ideas of life after death seem to be limited to heaven only. They didn't seem to have any belief that people could be condemned to hell.
(R) Indeed the similarities in the basics of these religions of very distant origins show conclusively that they are revealed by the same God, namely Allah.
(MB) Actually, that's not true. All that can reliably be said is that they all have their origins in the same original set of beliefs -- which, itself, is very likely to have been derivative of those practiced by the Hebrews' neighbors. Those beliefs have obviously followed divergent paths as the original tribes of Israel have dispersed over thousands of years. There is only the most tenuous and strained support for Allah having been the Big Kahuna right from the very start.
(R) Finally, as an answer to your question, all of them contain the truth, but the absolute and perfect truth is the true religion, Islam. The proof is the holy book Qur`an which does not contain any contradictions either in itself or with scientific facts.
(MB) Once again, I must point out that this is the same argument advanced by believers in practically every major religion. Since I'm sure there is little doubt that you would believe any Christian, Jew, Hindu, or Buddhist who would say such things in favor of their own beliefs, one must wonder why your own should not be viewed with the same skeptical eye.
Now, as to whether or not the Qu'ran is inerrant in all respects, you may wish to examine and comment upon this collection of contradictions.
(R) Besides, since it was written down by special clerks immediately after it is revealed (you can find original papers in various places, like Topkapi Palace in Istanbul), all of its verses are conserved as original words of Allah. This is also a miracle since it is told in the Qur`an that:
[al-Hijr 15:9.5] We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).
(MB) This is hardly a "miracle". Arab and Muslim culture has a long history of preserving important documents -- both secular and religious. Indeed, we have them to thank for the preservation of copies of many important documents that would otherwise have been lost forever as a result of various Christian rampages through Alexandria, Greece and other centers of learning in the Mediterranean region.
However, there is compelling evidence that the Qu'ran is *not* a book which has not suffered from corruption and change over the years. You may wish to examine and comment upon this compilation of some of the evidence.
How would that work? The science of physics is continuously accumulating evidence to show that such a Creator is unnecessary and has uncovered absolutely no evidence to support the existence of any such Creator -- much less one specific version of that Creator.
(R) How can "scientific process of obtaining knowledge about the universe" show that something beyond the scope of its investigation or understanding is non-existent? Best of what it can do is to understand the mechanism of creation!
(MB) That is what science is currently doing. Once this mechanism is fully understood, what support will there be for any claim that it is beyond science's scope?
Furthermore, any proposed existence of God (in any form) is well within the scope of science. Science is study based upon observation. Anything which exists and which has any effect on any part of the universe can be observed. Anything which does not exist has no such effects and, therefore, can not be observed. If God is claimed to exist, then he or his effects *must* be observable. Therefore, such a God would fall within the scope of science.
(R) If you can understand how God creates the universe does it mean that you can exclude Him? There is no logical way to disprove the existence of God by scientific findings.
(MB) Science's purpose is not to disprove the existence of God, nor is it under any obligation to do so. God's believers are the ones who bear the burden of proof in favor of demonstrating that he does, in fact, exist.
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