Friday, September 24, 2010

Comparing the Bible and the Qu'ran

According to John Loftus, critiques of other religions either simply quote the Bible as an authority, thus begging the question, or else, in their analysis of the other religions, they operate from the perspective of methodological naturalism with respect to the other religions while failing to employ that same methodological naturalism in dealing with the Christian Bible. That is why Christianity fails the outsider test for faith.

No doubt critics of Christian apologetics will take issue with some of the claims put forth in this comparison. But I don't think the case can be made that the author is employing a different standard for the Bible and for the Qu'ran. Nor does this comparison support Loftus' claim that any analysis of the Qu'ran either presupposes the inerrancy of Scripture or is methodologically naturalistic.

I would like to see some evidence to support Loftus's claims that Christians employ methodological naturalism when they critique other religions. It seems howlingly false to me.

21 comments:

steve said...

As far as Islam is concerned, there's no reason not to quote the Bible as an authority inasmuch as Muhammad treated the Bible as an authority. He made that the yardstick to measure his own prophetic claims.

Robert Gressis said...

In my experience, many Christians are happy to say that members of other faiths were inspired by demons. That's not methodological naturalism.

Manuel Labor said...

Hi Robert,
As a Catholic I have never heard that argument or method when addressing people of other faiths.

I had read that Islam, being on the outskirts of the Roman Empire, could very well have elements of arianism impacting the development of the faith in the late 7th century.
With the Church councils of Nicea and Constantinople stating that in no way is the Arian view to be followed/believed/expressed it might make sense that those sympathetic to that view would be on the outsides of the empire that was becoming more and more Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox.


But back to your comment: what is "many" and what is "happy"?

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

Assuming the facts in this article are correct, I discovered that I had quite a few misconceptions concerning the Koran - most especially, I thought we had original (Mohammed-era) manuscripts of the text. I was quite surprised to learn that the earliest copies were centuries after his time.

I do agree with the writer that most of the NT (to include the Gospels and Acts) is most likely dated to the period prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. If they were composed subsequent to that date, I would expect those events to have a far greater prominence than they do in the actual texts.

Alex Dalton said...

I don't tend to think about Islam all that often. I just got around to starting the Koran and am reading _Isalm: A Very Short Introduction_ in the Oxford University Press very short intro. series.

I have always had this question though: How exactly would a Christian *refrain* from attributing the Koran and Islam to demonic/Satanic influence of some sort? From what I understand, the Koran specifically denies one of the most pivotal aspects of the Old Testament -- the covenant is established with Isaac, not Ishmael. It also denies several pivotal aspects of the New Testament as well -- the divine sonship of Christ and the atonement. Were Satan to inspire a false religion, it seems that broad similarity, with denial of certain essential doctrines, would be the way to go.

Walter said...

I have always had this question though: How exactly would a Christian *refrain* from attributing the Koran and Islam to demonic/Satanic influence of some sort? From what I understand, the Koran specifically denies one of the most pivotal aspects of the Old Testament -- the covenant is established with Isaac, not Ishmael. It also denies several pivotal aspects of the New Testament as well -- the divine sonship of Christ and the atonement. Were Satan to inspire a false religion, it seems that broad similarity, with denial of certain essential doctrines, would be the way to go.

One could reverse that and say that Satan corrupted the true religion of monotheism with the doctrines of orthodox Christianity, which led God to reveal himself to Muhammad to correct these mistaken beliefs about him. IIRC, that is close to what the Muslims claim.

John W. Loftus said...

And you are being extremely disingenuous Vic, to the point of lying (yes, lying. You are at least lying to yourself).

Look at Walter Martin's book on the cults. Listen, I am not stupid. You are. Martin and all others assume there is a natural explanation for every other religion but their own.

I have never seen such utter stupidity before.

I am not subscribing. Anyone with a brain can read Martin's books or Geisler's or McDowell's.

Listen, if you wish to engage me take a basic primer in apologetics.

Sheesh. Is this the level or ignorance it takes to believe?

I think so, and that's why I want nothing to do with it. I am a thinking person. Critique this all you want but with such a buffoonish post as this it is MORE obvious than the nose on your face.

Anonymous said...

Bob prokop writing:

John, the origins of Islam are open to interpretation. I've always been rather intrigued by St. Paul's interesting comment at the beginning of Galatians - "But even if we, or an angel from Heaven, should preach to you a Gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed." Sounds suspiciously like Mohammed (or Joseph Smith, for that matter) to me.

So you see, there's no need to go off the Deep End over this.

Walter said...

But even if we, or an angel from Heaven, should preach to you a Gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.

This sounds like Paul is just trying to prop up his own authority by proclaiming curses on anyone who dares to disagree with his "revelation."

Walter said...

From the link above:

We must also know that the Bible is unique? Consider: Here is a book written over a 1,500 year span (about 40 generations), by more than 40 authors, among whose number were found: kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars, a herdsman, a general, a cupbearer, a doctor, a tax collector, and a rabbi. It was written on three continents: Asia, Africa, and Europe, and in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Its subject matter includes hundreds of controversial topics, yet from Genesis right on through to Revelation the authors all spoke with harmony and continuity on the theme of the unfolding story of "God's redemption of humanity."

Ugh! I have heard that lame apologetic most of my life. I find the bible to be far from harmonious.

Alex Dalton said...

Walter - right. I just meant *given* that someone is a Christian.

Alex Dalton said...

Walter: This sounds like Paul is just trying to prop up his own authority by proclaiming curses on anyone who dares to disagree with his "revelation."

Alex: Well, it is strong rhetoric. Paul's concerned with people (namely Jewish Christians) tacking on extra obligations/requirements to the gospel (circumcision, food restrictions, etc.).

Alex Dalton said...

Walter: Ugh! I have heard that lame apologetic most of my life. I find the bible to be far from harmonious.

Alex: Yes, same here. Very lame. I think I heard this in church a couple weeks ago, and my pastor has a M.Div. Makes me shake my head and chuckle. Hard to believe people who have studied the Bible for some time would make such a bold and vague assertion.

David said...

Every time you mention JWL in your post I wonder how many comments will appear before he comments and then how many sentences in his comment before he calls someone a name. This time it is 6 and 0, a little better than average.

Above average because finding flaws in the outsider test with John is about like calling someone's wife a whore--dems fightin' words.

Sorry to be so easily amused.

John W. Loftus said...

David, I said I wasn't subscribing but I did check back. The verbal abuse is because this is stuff fit for an idiot. And yet Vic claims to be my philosophical superior.

Again. Child's play. Anyone with a brain can see right through it.

So verbal abuse is all I can do at that point. If Vic cannot see how terribly wrong he is then he's beyond help. I cannot reason with such a delusional person except to tell him in no uncertain terms that's what he is. And he is. This is never more shown to be the case than right here, right now. My goal is to slam him upside the head to awake him from his dogmatic slumbers. If this post of his and my comments here do not do it then he's left his brain at the door to faith. There is no reasoning with him despite the fact that he heralds the AFR he cannot reason. Oh, but I already knew that.

And in case anyone wants to know. I actually like Vic quite a lot. That's why I'm providing an intervention to his brainwashed mind.

Anonymous said...

Bob Prokop writing:

John,
You never responded to my post of several weeks back, in which I admitted to FAILING the OTF (during my brief stint as a Protestant - I ended up being so uncomfortable with various cultural and historical issues, that I went joyously back to the Catholicism of my birth.) But the point I was trying to make was, to be blunt, "So what?". I have honestly tried to understand why I should care, but I can find no reason to do so. The test had zero impact on my reasoning, my beliefs, with the way I conduct my life. None, nada, zippo, nichego, null set.

I think you're giving this OTF thing way too much attention.

Joshua Blanchard said...

So far Loftus has failed to present evidence of a double-standard, even in the sources he cites. Is everyone paying attention to this?

There are enough silly people in the world - surely someone can find a Christian apologist somewhere who has advocated for naturalistic critiques that undermine his or her own beliefs.

To help Loftus find an example, let's keep in mind what this would look like: Christian apologist X rejects Islam, because it posits spiritual beings, contrary to naturalism. Yet Christian apologist X accepts Christianity, which posits spiritual beings, contrary to naturalism.

Loftus needs to find an example of an apologist doing this. He makes sweeping generalizations on this topic. Can he find one example? So far he has named some apologists, but their names don't constitute examples of a philosophical error being made. It could be that Loftus does not know what constitutes providing evidence for a claim - this would go a long way in explaining his widely noted inability to respond to direct engagement by qualified interlocutors. He may think that by identifying some people who are, in virtue of their profession, candidates for making the alleged error, he has thereby provided an example of the error occurring. If any of Loftus' former tutors are reading this, hopefully they can contact him and fill this gap in his education. It's not fair to demand from Loftus a kind of response which he is not equipped to make.

Joshua Blanchard said...

It is also important to note that, typically, when Christian apologists use standard evidential procedures, they claim that opposing religious views fail where Christian views succeed. So for example, the case for the resurrection of Jesus might be compared to the case for the ascension of Muhammad. But applying the same standards to both and claiming that only one of them succeeds is not a "double" standard, nor does it adopt a methodology contrary to the alleged victor in the argument. Nor does it rely on a theology of the Bible, as claims in both religious texts are the very things being compared.

David said...

John,
I read blogs like yours and this one not so much because I am interested in the ideas, but because I am interested in how people try to persuade each other (my business depends on persuasion). I have become less interested in ideas of late either because of intellectual laziness or because I am trying to sort out much more pressing issues in my life. I guess I find places like this on the internet a relief from those troubles.

Even though I don’t find you persuasive, I usually find you interesting. I actually like reading your, “slam him upside the head” comments at times because it shows your passion and humanity. I am unpersuaded to leave my faith by your arguments because I see Christianity as an identity more than just a belief. It is more like being a father, a husband, or an American than being an Empiricists or Calvinist, which means it does contain ideas and beliefs, but also experiences, relationships, and community. I have been persuaded to change beliefs within my faith (I am no longer a fundamentalist for example), but usually work, sometimes in vain, to work into my faith the things I have become persuaded of. Sometimes I just live with contradiction or tension, knowing there’s more to learn and I don’t have the energy, intellect, or desire to make all my ideas and experiences fit neatly together without that tension.

I find the Outsider Test interesting but, in all honesty, I do not believe I am capable of taking it. I could no more take the OT for the faith than I could for my marriage. Again, because Christianity is more than a collection of ideas, it is my identity, an identity I took on in my early twenties and has changed my life in almost every way for good.

I do however admire your tenacity in thinking and writing and posting and usually like reading what you have to say.

terri said...

I find the Outsider Test interesting but, in all honesty, I do not believe I am capable of taking it. I could no more take the OT for the faith than I could for my marriage. Again, because Christianity is more than a collection of ideas, it is my identity, an identity I took on in my early twenties and has changed my life in almost every way for good.

Freaky...I was just thinking this same thought as I sat in church today and struggled with how much of the creed I was reciting I actually "believed" in a literal sense.

Victor Reppert said...

We do have other aspects of our lives besides the intellectual aspect. We make practical decisions. We are not simple epistemic creatures, nor should we be. Different people have different intellectual needs.