Sadly, I do not see the same care on the Muslim side. Whenever Islam2009 responds to anything, I feel like I need to do four or five posts just to begin to address his errors. This is the pattern:
(1) I say something.
(2) Islam2009 responds to it. In his response, he makes four or five clear errors.
(3) I and others respond to the four or five errors.
(4) Islam2009 then posts an unimaginably long response, with dozens of errors.
(5) I try to respond to one or two at a time.
(6) For every error I respond to, Islam2009 replies with several more errors.
(7) Soon, there are so many errors on a single page, it would take all day and night to even begin to refute them.
For every error we refute, several more spring up. I feel like I'm fighting the Hydra of Lerna, which, according Greek myth, was almost impossible to stop, since, whenever one of its heads was cut off, two more would grow back in its place. Truly, it would take the mighty Hercules to stop Islam2009's many-headed error monster. It seems that the new Muslim methodology is to overpower us with their limitless ignorance.
But we must try, my friends. While it is impossible to respond to all of the errors of the Muslims on this blog (due to the sheer volume of their output), we can nevertheless respond to some, in hopes that Muslims will eventually recognize that their heads are filled with all kinds of false ideas. Perhaps they will then search for the truth. (We can only hope.)
Yesterday, Islam2009 made one of the most absurd claims anyone in history has ever made. He claimed that there were first century disputes over which books should be part of the New Testament. I asked Islam2009 to produce evidence to support his claim, knowing full well that there is no evidence to support his claim. My goal was for him to acknowledge that he invents things out of his own mind. Did he do this? No. Instead, he decided, once again, to completely misrepresent the New Testament, and to avoid even the most basic principles of careful reasoning. He begins:
How do we know there were disputes over different books in the 1st century?
A couple very telling verses come to mind:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all.”
Now that’s sounds like a dispute to me!
Now where is that early 1st century Gospel of the Galatians that Paul so hated, David?
I woud just LOVE to read about what they had to say.
In fact its remarkable that you even ask for proof of major 1st century disputes given that many of Pauls letters- such as that to the Galatians- are written in the very face of them.
Paul isn’t exactly writing to all these churches to say “Hey guys, your all doing great! Keep up the good work!” Is he? Its just one big apologetic effort to try and convince his fellow Christians to accept “MY GOSEPEL” as he says in 2 Tim 2:8.
How is Islam2009's response flawed? Let me count the ways.
(1) He's appealing to Galatians as evidence of first century disputes over which books would be included in the New Testament. With the possible exceptions of James, 1 Thessalonians, and the Markan Passion Narrative, none of the books of the New Testament had been written. Moreover, we have no evidence that anyone in this period was even thinking of putting together a Christian canon. Thus, it's difficult to understand how anything at the time of Galatians could be considered a dispute over canonical books.
(2) The false "gospel" that Paul referred to had nothing to do with a book. This is a misunderstanding Muslims get from Muhammad (who obviously had no clue what the word "gospel" meant). The word "gospel" (euangelion), in Greek, simply means "good news." It referred to the proclamation of a great victory or to the rise of a new emperor. Thus, when a new Caesar would rise to power, a herald would go out proclaiming the "good news." Muslims, however, base their understanding of "gospel" on Muhammad's misunderstanding. According to Muhammad, the "gospel" of Jesus was a book. This, as everyone knows, is false. The Gospels in the New Testament were called "Gospels" because they contained "the Gospel," i.e. the message about Jesus' death, resurrection, and deity. Hence, the dispute in Galatians has nothing to do with a dispute over books (let alone a dispute over which books should be considered canonical).
(3) Islam2009 says he wishes that he could read about this other Gospel. Well, he can--in Galatians (where Paul responds to this false gospel) and in the book of Acts (where the early church leaders respond to this false gospel). What was this false gospel? According to Islam2009, it's a complete mystery. But it isn't. In the early church, there was a disagreement over how much of the Old Testament Law the gentile believers had to follow. Some in the Christian community believed that gentile believers had to go through the whole process of becoming Jews, e.g. circumcision, numerous eating regulations, and so on. Paul (and all of Jesus' apostles) rejected this view. So do we have any evidence here of a dispute over canonical books? None whatsoever. All we have is a Muslim misunderstanding based on Muhammad's ignorance of basic facts of history (which, by the way, is exactly what we would expect from a seventh century false prophet).
(4) Would anyone like to see a bit of deception on Islam2009's part? Watch how sly he is! In his comments, he originally said that there were first century disputes about books. I asked him to produce evidence of disputes over which books were authoritative. Now he says, "In fact its remarkable that you even ask for proof of major 1st century disputes given that many of Pauls letters- such as that to the Galatians- are written in the very face of them." Here Islam2009 deceptively shifts the discussion from disputes over books to disputes of any kind. True, Paul's letters were written about disputes. But these disputes had nothing to do with books or canonical issues. Have Muslims no shame? I challenged Islam2009 to give me an apple; he tossed me an orange and said, "There's your apple!"
(5) Islam2009 attacks Paul because Paul referred to his message as "my Gospel." Again, Islam2009 is looking at Christianity through the eyes of Muhammad (who, once again, had no clue what he was talking about). "My Gospel" doesn't mean "my book." Paul never wrote a biography of Jesus. "My Gospel" simply means "the Good News that I preach," "the proclamation I bring," etc. Only a Muslim who is absolutely desperate to attack Paul would ever see anything sinister in Paul's reference.
Not content with these errors, Islam2009 continues:
And what about this:
“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
Now where are those "many" 1st century "accounts" that Luke spoke of and used, and do they all agree with your Gospel? How do you know?
One of them is almost certainly Mark’s Gospel. What about the others?
Many NT scholars say Q, that Mathew also used, which doesn’t mention the Crucifixion or resurrection.
Regardless of whether you believe in Q David, where are these ‘many’ pre-Lukan accounts and please sure me how you know they all agree with your ‘gospel’?
Let's look at some of the many flaws in Islam2009's response.
(1) As evidence that there were first century disputes over books, Islam2009 points to Luke's comment that many had written about the life of Jesus. But is there anything in this passage about a dispute? Not a word! Luke states that many people had written about Jesus; he gives no indication that these books were wrong, or that they contained some different gospel in which Jesus didn't die, rise from the dead, or claim to be divine. So we still have no evidence of a dispute over books. It's simply a matter of fact that most books of antiquity didn't survive, because papyrus didn't last long. (For example, we have roughly one-fifth of Aristotle's writings.) Books would only survive if people were constantly copying them. Interestingly, this supports the reliability of the New Testament books. The early Christian church would have most frequently copied the books that they believed were most authoritative, or which had the strongest connection to Jesus' apostles. Which books survived through constant copying? The four Gospels!
(2) Since Islam2009 really seems to think it's a problem that Christians once had books that no longer exist, I simply have to point out his inconsistency. Muslims during and before the time of Ibn Ishaq wrote biographies about Muhammad. For instance, Urwa Ibn Az-Zubayr wrote his "Tract of Seerah." Where are these books? Should we conclude, since we do not have them, that Muslims deliberately destroyed them in an effort to cover up their disputes? We would, of course, have some reason to believe this, since we know that Muslims would not hesitate to burn evidence to cover up disputes. Nevertheless, it would never occur to me to say that, since Muslims didn't preserve all of their books, this must be due to disputes over the authenticity of the books. This would be absurd, and yet it's exactly the sort of reasoning Muslims apply to Christianity!
(3) While we're on this issue, notice that Muslims weren't able to preserve a single biography of Muhammad from the first century, while Christians were able to preserve four. And yet Islam2009 attacks us for not having more, despite the fact that his fellow Muslims couldn't preserve a single one! Christians were being persecuted and killed, and yet they managed to preserve a number of writings. Muslims had a huge kingdom, and yet they preserved practically nothing. If our case for Jesus is weak because we only have four first century biographies (along with numerous other first century texts), how much weaker is the case for Muhammad, which can't produce a single first century biographical source! Islam2009's ability to be inconsistent knows no bounds!
(4) This one is hilarious. Islam2009 criticizes us based on the fact that Q didn't contain reports of Jesus' crucifixion or resurrection. But what was Q? If it was a document at all, it was a collection of Jesus' wise sayings! Would a collection of Jesus' wise sayings contain reports of his death and resurrection? Not at all! This would be similar to me saying, "Hey! There are all kinds of things in Sahih al-Bukhari that aren't in the Qur'an!" Well, there would be, wouldn't there, since they're two completely different types of literature? And yet this is somehow a problem for us.
Ah well. We've only begun to touch Islam2009's errors, but we've discussed some of the basic flaws in fact and logic. (Notice how long it takes to respond to a very short passage written by Islam2009.) We'll see how he responds. If I have time and he doesn't heap up several dozen more errors, I'll go through his absurd "refutation" of my last post, where he made even more mistakes than he made here. And so the battle will continue: Me trying to spread the facts using valid logic, and Islam2009 trying to overpower everyone with his endless supply of errors.
Just to review, Islam2009 claimed that there was a first century dispute over the books of the New Testament. I asked him to provide evidence for his obviously false claim. What was his response? (1) Paul records a dispute in Galatians (nothing to do with a dispute over books), and (2) not all first century books about Jesus survived (not a shred of evidence for a dispute). At this point, a man of integrity would apologize for spreading falsehood and wrongly criticizing Christianity. Is this what Islam2009 will do? I suppose that anything is possible. But given the fact that he called Nabeel a liar when Nabeel said something completely true, then admitted that Nabeel was right and yet refused to apologize, I wouldn't get my hopes up. Indeed, based on what I know about Islam2009 right now, I fully expect him to offer us a long series of comments, full of additional errors, misrepresentations, distorted passages, and faulty logic, in yet a further effort to wear us out.