Monday, December 9, 2019

New Book - Where to Start with Islam

My book has been published! This book will help Christians know where to start with Islam in the key areas of what it means to love everyone, understanding what Islam teaches about Christianity, how to share the gospel with a Muslim, the incarnation, Trinity, salvation, and the cross. It assesses Muhammad as a prophet, answers the Muslim claims against the Bible, and gives you the relevant history to get started.

The premise of the book is that if you don’t start in the right place you may make little progress, and your Muslim friend may be more than ready to lead the way. I share my experience of starting in the wrong place and point the way forward.

The book is written for all Christians, whether you just want an introduction to Islam, or want ideas for Christian-Muslim dialogue. A strength of the book is that, for the first half, it does not require you to remember lots of details about Islam but instead shows how the Bible and Christian doctrine speak to Islam.

Australia & the Asia Pacific
https://matthiasmedia.com.au/products/where-to-start-with-islam

U.S. Global
https://matthiasmedia.com/products/where-to-start-with-islam

U.K.
https://www.10ofthose.com/uk/products/25786/where-to-start-with-islam

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Pensacola Terror Attack Connected to Fort Hood Massacre, Al-Qaeda

Shortly before he opened fire at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani (a Saudi Air Force officer) tweeted a message to the American people. In his tweet, he quoted both Osama bin Laden and Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki (of al-Qaeda fame). Since the al-Awlaki quotes were taken directly from al-Awlaki's "Message to the American People," Alshamrani clearly read about Major Nidal Malik Hasan's attack at Fort Hood.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Messianic Convergence in the Gospels: A New Way to Frame the Argument from Old Testament Fulfilment

Image result for messianic prophecyAnyone who has spent considerable time studying the gospels can tell that they are literally saturated with Old Testament fulfilment and allusions. Indeed, the early church used two primary lines of argument to establish the Messianic credentials of Jesus of Nazareth -- the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and Messianic prophecy. How useful is fulfilment of Messianic prophecy in the person of Jesus to the purposes of contemporary, twenty-first century apologists? In this article, I explore a way to frame the argument in a robust and objective way. First, I will summarise my argument and then I will dig into the details.

A Summary of the Basic Argument

When it comes to the origins of the gospel narratives, there are three contending hypotheses for explaining their origin. These are:

(1) The gospel authors deliberately fabricated the events that they narrate.

(2) The gospel authors were honestly mistaken in their reporting of the events that they narrate.

(3) The gospel authors faithfully recorded actual events.

Of course, those options could in principle be correct either individually or in combination with one another. When we discover striking correlations between the gospel narratives and the Old Testament texts (on a level that is unlikely by mere coincidence), then we have evidence against the hypothesis that the gospel authors were honestly mistaken -- that is to say, we have positive evidence for design, either on the part of the human authors manipulating the story to impose conformity to the Hebrew Scriptures, or on the part of God supernaturally orchestrating the history. The question then becomes, what is the locus of the design?

The first of the above hypotheses -- that is, that the gospel authors deliberately fabricated the events that they narrate is significantly undermined when we discover points of historical confirmation of the gospels (a subject that I have written, lectured and debated extensively about elsewhere). I have contended publicly elsewhere that numerous historical points in the gospels can be historically verified and confirmed (e.g. here). This gives rise to an inductive argument for treating the gospel documents as a whole as trustworthy. The numerous points of historical confirmation in the book of Acts, moreover, builds us a picture of the pedigree of its author Luke (who also happens to be the author of the third gospel), and thus offers us additional reason to trust what he writes in his gospel. I (and others) have developed that case extensively in various venues and to argue this is not the primary purpose of the present article.

Having shown the first two of the three options to be improbable, therefore, it is possible to provide evidential support for the third contending hypothesis, namely, that the gospel authors faithfully recorded actual events, and the locus of the design is supernatural divine orchestration of the events to result in convergence between events in Jesus the Messiah's life and foreshadows written of in the Hebrew Bible. In syllogistic form, this argument can be presented as follows:

Premise 1: The correlation between events recorded in the gospels and Hebrew Scripture is either the product of human design or divine design.

Premise 2: It is not the product of human design.

Conclusion: Therefore, it is the product of divine design.

One can of course make the inductive argument I just described for taking the gospels as a whole to be highly reliable. The case, however, is lent even greater force when we can point to specific instances of details in the gospels that are subject to historical confirmation which also correlate with the Hebrew Bible in some way. We can model this argument probabilistically using Bayesian analysis.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

What is Bayes’ Theorem, and What Does It Have to Do with Arguments for God?

Image result for diceThe strength of the evidence for a proposition is best measured in terms of the ratio of two probabilities, P(E|H) and P(E|~H) -- that is, the probability of the evidence (E) given that the hypothesis (H) is true, and the probability of E given that H is false. That ratio may be top heavy (in which case E favors H), bottom heavy, or neither (in which case E favors neither hypothesis, and we would not call it evidence for or against H). Bayes’ Theorem is a mathematical tool for modelling our evaluation of evidences to appropriately apportion the confidence in our conclusions to the strength of the evidence.

To take an example, suppose that P(E1|H) = 0.2, but P(E1|~H) = 0.04. Then the ratio P(E1|H)/P(E1|~H) has the value of 5 to 1, or just 5. If there are multiple pieces of independent evidence of the same sort, their power accumulates exponentially. Five such pieces would yield a cumulative ratio of 3125 to 1. If the initial ratio were 2 to 1, ten pieces of independent evidence would have a cumulative power of more than 1000 to 1. By expressing it in mathematical terms like this, hopefully you can see how small pieces of evidence, no single piece by itself of very great weight, can combine to create a massive cumulative case.

The equation given below represents the odds form of Bayes theorem, which is used in developing cumulative cases. Translated, it states that the posterior probability of your hypothesis (H) given the available evidence (E) is equal to the prior probability (defined as intrinsic plausibility) of the hypothesis being true (expressed as a ratio) multiplied by the ratio of the evidence given the hypothesis against the probability of the evidence given the antithesis.


Dividing the probability of the evidence given the hypothesis by the probability of the evidence given the antithesis gives you what is referred to in probability theory as the Bayes Factor. The Bayes Factor is a measure of the strength of the evidence, and indicates how many times more likely it is that you will observe this evidence given that your hypothesis is true than if it were false. For instance, a Bayes Factor of one hundred indicates that your evidence is one hundred times more likely if your hypothesis is true than if it were false.

This form of reasoning is used routinely in the discipline of forensic science. For instance, the presence of a defendant’s finger prints on a murder weapon may be taken as evidence for the hypothesis of guilt over the hypothesis of non-guilt because the probability of the defendant’s finger prints being on the murder weapon is much higher on the hypothesis that the defendant is guilty than on the hypothesis that he is not guilty.

How might we make a powerful case for the existence of God based on what we have just learned about Bayes Theorem? We can begin by giving an estimate of the probability of the evidence given theism and the probability of the evidence given atheism, in order to calculate the Bayes Factor.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Was Aisha really only Nine?

Introduction
Sometimes you will read that there is debate over Aïsha’s age and that she may have been much older than nine when she married Muhammad.[1] Some of these claims are very strongly worded.
Recent researches have established beyond doubt that the age of ‘A’ishah (rta) at the time of the consummation her marriage with the Prophet (sws) was around nineteen or twenty. The Ahadith which report her age to be eight or nine years at the time of marriage are absolutely baseless.[2]
People can “debate” what they like; but this is not an issue among scholars. Aïsha’s age on her wedding day is one of the best-attested facts of Muhammad’s life. All the early traditions state that she was nine,[3] except for Ibn Hisham, who says she was “nine or ten.”[4] This suggests that Ibn Hisham was not sure and so wrote an approximation. Aïsha herself was completely sure. To be precise, she was nine years and three months, plus or minus five weeks.

Friday, October 4, 2019

What is Sharia Law?


George Brahm and Tara Macarthur:

Hello, Miss MacArthur, before we begin, I’d like to give you a few moments to introduce yourself.

Hello, Mr Brahm. I’m an ordinary university graduate who knows something about research methods. I live with my family, go to work, go to church and socialise with my friends. Most people don’t know about my secret life as a researcher and writer.

When I write about Islam, I use the name “Tara MacArthur,” which is Irish for “Asma bint Marwan”. This was the name of a real Arabian poet who once wrote a poem about Muhammad. He didn’t like her poem and so he killed her. I chose my pseudonym in her honour.

Tara does nothing except write about Islam. I keep her in a box and only bring her out on occasions like this one. She writes to encourage and inform the important conversation that we need to have about the origins of Islam.

Tara has written a biography of Muhammad and a three-book series on the lives of his wives. The biography, Unsheathed – The Story of Muhammad, is free, so as to make it accessible to everyone including people in countries where it might be dangerous to buy it. It is available in PDF and MP3 audio format from http://www.answeringmuslims.com/2018/09/tara-is-free.html, and on Amazon for those who like paper and Kindle versions. Amazon is the best place to leave a review if you’d like to write one. The audio version is currently available through Castbox or Soundcloud.


The issue that we will be discussing today is sharia law and its effects on society. So as an introduction, what exactly is sharia law and what are the sources from which it is derived?

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Christology of the Old Testament




In this video I discuss Christology (the doctrine of Christ) in the Old Testament with Dr. Jonathan McLatchie.  Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah or the Christ or in Arabic, al-Masih. However, while Jesus is given the title of Messiah in the Qur’an, the Qur’an shows no knowledge of the meaning of this word. One of the reasons is that the messianic office of Jesus in the Qur’an is obscured and the title of Messiah appears to be just another name for Jesus. The background to  who Jesus really is, and what He has done, is the Old Testament itself.  Jesus taught that the Old Testament pointed to Him,

"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself…Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures"  (Luke 24:27, 44-45).

Many of the teachings found in the New Testament concerning the deity of Christ, the Triune nature of God, and the distinction between the Persons of the Trinity, are all found in embryonic form in the Old Testament. This is the reason why the Old and New Testaments compliment each other and are organically connected.



Thursday, August 29, 2019

Australian Debates

I have these events coming up soon in Perth. If you are in the area you are welcome to come. I value your prayers too.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Has the Text of the Qur'an Ever Been Changed? The Manuscripts of the Qur'an Say Yes




For many years since I can remember, I would hear many Muslim apologists say that unlike the Bible, the Qur'an has been perfectly transmitted and preserved. They would repeatedly affirm that the Qur'an that we have in our hands today is the very same Qur'an that existed in the time of Muhammad and that not a letter, not a word, not even a sentence has gone missing or has been changed. Many academics and Christian scholars / apologists have always recognized and argued that this claim was false and merely Islamic propaganda. The very fact that the third Caliph Uthman had to standardize the text of the Qur'an demonstrated that about 20 years after Muhammad's death in 632 A.D. there were competing readings in the various copies of the Qur'an throughout centers of the Islamic Empire. Our Muslim friends like to say that this has to do with the 7 different recitations or ways of reading the Qur'an in various dialects, but if this was the case this would not explain Uthman's order of the wholesale destruction of the actual manuscripts of the Qur'an. Many Muslims are upset when the Qur'an is disrespected by being torn or burned, yet Uthman had copies of the Qur'an burned, and therefore destroyed! In this sense, the first to burn the Qur'an was the Caliph Uthman! Uthman ordered that all surviving copies of the Qur'an in the Empire be collected and burned and that a standardized version of the Qur'an authorized by him become the "authorized version" for the whole Islamic world.


One of the major problems is that we have none of these Qur'anic manuscripts that come from the Caliph Uthman. One would think that with the Islamic view of preservation and guarding sacred texts that at least some of these manuscripts from Uthman's time would survive to this day, but alas, there are none. Where is the actual standardized Qur'an of Uthman's day? Why has not  even one survived? The only manuscript copies of the Qur'an that have survived are post-Uthmanic, i.e., they come after Uthman and they are filled with different readings called textual variants. In Dr. Daniel Brubaker's new book Corrections in Early Qur'an Manuscripts: Twenty Examples, he demonstrates that the surviving copies of the manuscripts of the Qur'an are riddled with textual variants. In some cases, new words like "Allah" are added in 9 different manuscripts in places where Allah's name does not appear in the original text.. This is strange indeed for how can a Muslim scribe forget to add what is considered the holiest name of all in Islam, namely, Allah? In other cases Dr. Brubaker shows how entire sentences are taped over and written over with a new script. In other cases we see manuscripts of the Qur'an that have been erased called palimpsests and a new script is written on top of the erased script. With ultraviolet lighting scholars are now able to read the underlying text and Brubaker has found that the reading that was erased differs from the reading that was written over it. In some cases, pronouns are changed from "he" to "they". This work by Brubaker includes photographs of the various manuscripts. The subtitle of the book suggests there are 20 examples, but there are 2 extra examples which brings the number up to 22. This book is only a starter as Brubaker will be writings a more extensive book on this subject. According to Dr. Jay Smith, Brubaker has found more than 4000 variants in the manuscripts of the Qur'an.


Manuscripts don't lie. The transmission of the Qur'an has suffered the same textual corruption as all handwritten texts including the manuscripts of the Bible. Christians have always been open and honest about the textual variants in the biblical manuscripts unlike our Muslim friends who continue to repeat the same mantra over and over "the Qur'an has never been changed!" and "we have the exact same Qur'an today that was given to Muhammad".  They have been forced to say this because the Qur'an makes some lofty claims about itself such as this verse, "We have, without doubt sent down the Message [the Qur'an]; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)" (Qur'an 15:9; Yusuf Ali). These claims have been shown to be false by scholarship and the witness of the manuscripts of the Qur'an demonstrate this, that there has indeed been textual corruption. It's time our Muslim friends put this mythological claim of an unchanged Qur'an to bed. I would highly recommend Dr. Brubaker's book to all interested in outreach to our Muslim friends. I would also invite our Muslim friends to read this book and to be consistent by following the truth wherever it leads them.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Muslim Husband and Wife Leave Islam to Follow Christ!

Joseph Colden converted to Islam shortly after leaving college. After marrying a Muslim wife, he began studying Islam's most trusted sources. Joseph and his wife eventually left Islam and are now Christians.


Click here for Joseph's original video.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

"American Taliban" Terrorist John Walker Lindh Released from Prison, Living in Virginia

John Walker Lindh, an American convert to Islam who fought for the Taliban, joined al-Qaeda, met with Osama bin Laden, and has praised ISIS, has been released from prison after completing 17 years of his 20-year sentence. Lindh (also known as Yahya, Sulayman al-Faris, and Abu Sulayman al-Irlandi) will be living in Virginia.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

How the Dead Sea Scrolls Vindicate the Reliability of the Bible


The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 was a revolutionary discovery in the area of biblical studies. When they were first discovered there was a lot of questions and suspicion about the content of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Now, 72 years later research has helped us discover the community behind these Scrolls and what they believed. The Dead Sea Scrolls made a huge contribution towards the area of Old Testament studies as it has vindicated and verified the textual transmission of the Old Testament text. It has also shed light on the New Testament as well including the view of the Messiah. This is important in light of outreach to our Muslim friends who argue that the Bible has been corrupted. The Dead Sea Scrolls refute these notions.

If you know any pastors in the area of Carlisle, Pennsylvania or its surrounding areas please let them know about this event and you are most welcome if you are in the area. Please note this is a pastors' luncheon and geared specifically for men.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Does Truth Matter to You? 15 Most Provoking Questions - Coming to Toronto May 11, 2019



"What is truth?" Pontius Pilate asked Jesus (John 18:38). Is there such a thing as objective truth or is truth relative? Why is there is so much talk in our media about postmodernism, political correctness, white privilege and sexual identity and gender? Why do we hear of Islamophobia, homophobia, but never about Christophobia? I will be addressing these questions and many more in Toronto, Canada on Saturday May 11, 2019 at a free all day conference. To register please click here.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Cyber Jihad Group Gets Christians Banned from Facebook

Recently, Sam Shamoun, and Al Fadi, and I were all temporarily banned by Facebook. Is this a coincidence? Not at all. A Muslim group called "Cyber Jihad" has been reporting random posts by critics of Islam, flagging the posts as hate speech, nudity, harassment, etc. And it's working. Following the New Zealand mosque attacks, the social media purge has dramatically accelerated. How can Christian apologists and critics of Islam survive on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Patreon, when groups of cyber jihadis are flagging their content? Let's take a look.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

New Zealand Mosque Leader Blames Jews for Christchurch Shootings

Following the New Zealand mosque attacks in Christchurch, mosque leader Ahmed Bhamji claimed at the "Love Aotearoa, Hate Racism" rally that Mossad (Israel's national intelligence agency) was behind the NZ shootings, and that local Jewish businesses were funding terrorist Brenton Tarrant.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Discussing the Virgin Birth of Jesus on Alhorreya TV


I had the pleasure of joining my good friend and brother in Christ, Pastor Thabet Megaly to discuss the topic of the virgin birth of Christ on an Arabic Christian program called Alhorreya TV. While I addressed the topic in English, Pastor Thabet translated into Arabic. If you know any Arabic speaking Christians or Arabic speaking Muslims please pass this on to them. While the virgin birth of Jesus is accepted by both Christians and Muslims, the Christian view differs radically from the Islamic one. In fact, the story of the birth of Jesus in the Qur'an, is taken from a late apocryphal gospel called the gospel of Pseudo-Matthew which is more fictional than historical. This text is not regarded as historically sound by any serious scholar when it comes to the historical Jesus. In other words, the story of the birth of Jesus in the Qur'an is copied from an earlier source which has no historical basis.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

A New Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus

Image result for resurrectionI recently developed a new argument for the resurrection of Jesus. I ran it past a few qualified experts, all of whom thought that the argument sounded robust. The purpose of this blog article is to set out the argument as a contribution to the scholarly discussion of the historicity of Jesus' resurrection, and to hopefully provoke some discussion. My argument hinges on the Premise that there are three alternative explanations for why the apostles claimed that Jesus had risen from the dead and had appeared to them:
  1. They were honestly mistaken that Jesus had appeared to them (e.g. they experienced an hallucination).
  2. They were deliberately setting out to deceive people.
  3. Jesus really did rise from the dead.
What follows will argue against the first of those alternatives, leaving the latter two for us to adjudicate between.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Twitter Declares War on Ex-Muslims

Jack Dorsey's Twitter recently banned the Apostate Prophet for a tweet that stated indisputable facts about Muhammad, the Quran, and Islam. Should social media platforms be banning ex-Muslims and critics of Islam, who are under Sharia death penalties for apostasy and blasphemy?