Much like my post here, this was written mostly for the benefit of the Muslim reader. I’ve seen this arguments used so many times that I’ve begun to wonder if Islamic apologetics are simply behind Christian apologetics by perhaps about ten years. Half of them I can only imagine are used to earn points on the Muslim side, as I’ve never seen a Christian (at least a semi-knowledgeable Christian) wowed or won over by any of them. I’m not writing this to mock or condemn, but hopefully to at least make the discerning Muslim think a little harder or argue a little better.
I often call this the “declaration fallacy.” This is an incredibly popular argument to make (mostly thanks to Ahmed Deedat), which is unfortunate because it is one of the most fallacious to make, and for a few reasons:
- We are told that Jesus never said the exact words, “I am God.” Well, neither did He ever say “I am a prophet,” nor “I am just a messenger” either. Therefore by the Muslim’s own standards Jesus is neither God, prophet nor messenger.
- The mere statement “I am God” would not have to be given to prove that Jesus was divine. This would be like saying Hitler wasn’t racist because he never said the exact words “I am racist.” It’s essentially inventing a scenario and then demanding the other person respond.
- Even if Christ did say “I am God,” those words alone would not make it true. If I wrote a blog entry where I simply said “I am God,” would that mean Muslims had to worship me? I don’t think so, yet this is the kind of logic being presented.
As I’ve said before, the old saying goes, “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a ducks, and swims like a duck, then it must be a duck”…but according to some Muslims that duck would never be considered a duck unless it stopped quacking and said “I am a duck.”
There are textual variances for every piece of literature before the invention of computers – that does not necessarily denote corruption. According to this logic, even accepted works of antiquity such as Plato’s Republic are considered untrustworthy (although the New Testament is certainly far more trustworthy in terms of closeness to the authors and number of comparable manuscripts).
The variances within the New Testament itself is more a grammatical and spelling issue than theological. I often tell people to pick up a copy of the NASB and NKJV (two translations based on manuscript traditions several centuries apart) and show me any major theological differences between the two. One will not find any (unless you’re a wild-eyed KJV-Onlyist).
Furthermore (and contrary to popular Muslim belief), there exist textual variances throughout the history of the Quran. While it is popular for Muslim scholars and laymen alike to claim there exist no variances in the Quran (mostly because they do not like even talking about the possibility), this is simply not the case. However, I would never use this as an excuse to say the Quran was untrustworthy, mainly because I believe in remaining consistent. Despite this, I have run into Muslims who will declare the Bible corrupt even if the variances are minor, yet will declare the Quran free of corruption because the variances are minor. This is a gross double standard.
There are no original manuscripts of many works of antiquity, but I doubt most Muslims (at least the learned ones) will deny we don’t know what they say. No one says that Plato’s Republic is untrustworthy simply because we don’t have the original copy writtten by Plato himself; likewise, no one will say that Caesar’s Gallic Wars is untrustworthy simply because we don’t have the first edition as those who first read it would have known.
The other problem with this argumentation is that it again presents a double standard – there does not exist an original copy of the Quran as held in the hands of Mohammad himself. Partially this is become the Quran only stopped being written after Mohammad died (thereby ending the continual revelations). This is also because, as sahih (“trustworthy”) hadith sources say, all the originals were burned by Uthman when he made his “standard” Quran for Muslims to use. Therefore, according to this argumentation, even the Quran itself cannot be trusted! Once again, a self-defeating argument.
This argumentation goes either one of two ways. Either…
Muslim: “Mohammad never did anything bad.”
Non-Muslim: “What about what he said and did here?”
Muslim: “Oh! That’s a hadith! You can use that!”
Non-Muslim: “I think the Quran is saying this in that verse.”
Muslim: “Actually, according to this hadith, this is what it meant.”
Non-Muslim: “But this other hadith clarifies that and contradicts your whole point.”
Muslim: “Oh! That’s a hadith! You can’t use that!”
The most common argumentation lobbied in favor of this objection is, “Well, there’s a scholarly way of showing what hadith sources are trustworthy and which aren’t.” My response is usually then, “Yes, I’m well aware of that, could you please show me then how these sources cannot be trusted using that criteria?” At that point, they can’t answer. The whole argument is simply a non sequitor meant to distract from the damning evidence found within the hadith.
The fact is, many hadith sources are accepted by several Muslim scholars and many are even used for teachings on the daily Muslim lifestyle and theology. Many more are used to explain confusing beliefs found in the Quran. Like it or not, the hadith sources are an intricate aspect of Islamic theology. If a Muslim wishes to use this kind of argument, they had best be a Koran-only Muslim so that they can at least remain consistent. Otherwise, the whole thing will simply appear foolish.
There is not a shred of evidence that the Bible was collected at the Council of Nicaea, let alone that time period. Those who wish to contest this point may quote me which section of the Council of Nicaea dealt with the Bible. Otherwise, it is not worth mentioning.