Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Debate Is Set!

My debate with Robert Spencer on Muhammad's existence is set for this Monday, 8:00 P.M., on ABN. For our last debate, Robert and I teamed up against Anjem Choudary and Sheikh Omar Bakri (click here to watch the debate), and we showed that two Muslim apologists couldn't defend the existence of their prophet. However, Choudary and Bakri relied on a backwards, archaic, absurd methodology ("The Qur'an says it, so it must be true!"). Can a more sophisticated argument show that Muhammad existed? Only one way to find out.


If you haven't read Robert's new book yet, you can purchase the book here.

25 comments:

Dave Online said...

[First comment!] I'm glad I haven't missed this. I tried looking for it via the ABN link here and at jihadwatch, but couldn't find it.

Looking forward to it!

Zack_Tiang said...

been looking forward to it since last month!

GreekAsianPanda said...

Woo! Go David! =)

Derek Adams said...

It's about time!

I really want to see this debate, as I haven't yet made up my mind. It seems Robert might have the stronger case of the two, but I can see all kind of loopholes David could poke.

Derek Adams
www.AnsweringAbraham.com

Jesusisthetruth said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fO60rakc2Uo#!

Here anjem choudary says that sharia allows to take hostages.

Michael Schueckler said...

David, David he's our man, if no one can defend Mohammad's existence, nobody can!

Haecceitas said...

Have you decided the topics for the shows yet? It isn't easy being European and watching shows live on American prime time, so I can probably watch just one of the two shows live if I don't want to totally mess up my sleep pattern. Therefore it would be good to know the topics beforehand so that I could watch live the show that happens to have the more interesting topic.

Haecceitas said...

Oops, obviously my previous comment was intended on the other post about new Jesus or Muhammad shows. Sorry.

mikeyh428 said...

David, you're going DOWN man! Go Robert! Go Robert! ;-)

(Hey, someone needs to cheer for Robert on here!) =)

Haecceitas said...

Robert may have enough of a case to establish that the historicity of Muhammad isn't as secure a conclusion as most people have thought. But in order to win the debate, presumably he would have to prove that it is more probable than not that Muhammad didn't exist. I doubt that he can prove that.

dstewart said...

It's funny how the reasons I personally believe Muhammad existed are the very same things that assure me that he can't be a prophet of God. All his suspiciously self-serving revelations, his goof-up with Miriam/Mary and the Christians calling him out on it. Some of the stories are all too believable.

I MUST see this debate...

crujjy said...

I have Robert's book, and I think he makes some good points, but I'm quite convinced that at least some Muhammad existed. Kick his butt David! Then go kick Islam's butt like you've been doing!

Moris said...

Cant wait to watch it but David you will have hard time to prove it since Robert did not realy deny that Muhamad existed ( not in the book anyway only in interviews)

David Wood said...

I'm not sure what book you're reading.

Zimri said...

The book "Did Muhammad Exist?" was agnostic about whether Muhammad existed. Its aim was to raise reasonable-doubt.

I reviewed DME? at the Blogmocracy. I took the position dstewart seems to be taking. In my opinion, the stuff Tertullian termed "ineptus" - absurd - proved the case for Jesus's existence; the same criteria also prove the case for Muhammad's existence.

So it might not be possible to throw out Muhammad without, also, throwing out Jesus. Rejecting the Dissimilarity Principle (and Tertullian) would make Christian apologetics... harder.

[I am an Ehrman-ist on both questions, Jesus and Muhammad. Apologies in advance for my heathenism! :^)]

I *have* noted that Spencer has adopted a more assertive position in his subsequent speeches and debates, though. Perhaps that is just meant to hold the audience's interest. One hopes that Spencer will dial it back, some.

dstewart said...

"So it might not be possible to throw out Muhammad without, also, throwing out Jesus."

That might be true if the criterion of embarrassment was the ONLY one used to prove Jesus' existence, but it's not quite as easy as that. Thankfully, there are plenty more reasons to be assured that the gospel accounts show an accurate picture of Jesus.

David Wood said...

Zimri,

There's no positional difference between Robert's speeches and his book. You seem to be confused by his claim, in the final chapter of his book, that Muhammad may have existed. You're taking this as an avowal of agnosticism with respect to Muhammad's existence.

It isn't. Robert distinguishes between two basic concepts of Muhammad. One is a vague monotheistic prophet who lived among the Arabs and may have lived into the mid or late 630s (long after Muhammad supposedly died). This Muhammad had nothing to do with the compilation of the Qur'an and nothing to do with starting a new religion. According to Robert, such a person may have existed.

Then we have the traditional view of a prophet named Muhammad, born around 570, dying around 632, delivering the Qur'an to his followers, fleeing Mecca, setting up camp in Medina, conquering Mecca, etc. According to Robert, this Muhammad almost certainly didn't exist.

So, just to clarify, Robert and I aren't debating the existence of some random monotheist named Muhammad. We're debating the existence of the Muhammad that most people believe in (not just Muslims).

Zimri said...

Mr Wood:

Thank you for clarifying your standpoint. Unfortunately I missed your 4:38 PM post. As a result I did not have access to *your* understanding of the debate's terms at the time the debate started.

I liveblogged the debate here. (I wrote everything down in real-time, and the site is almost certainly not your cup of tea, so keep that in mind if you read it . . . so, scroll to the #127 "Zimriel" post.)

On the terms you have laid out here, in my opinion Spencer won the debate. "The existence of some random monotheist named Muhammad" seems the (historically) safest route at this point.

-With some asterisks. "Mahmet" is the earliest Semitic spelling to which we have access and "Qutham" seems the fellow's most likely original name. (Qutham's the name Spencer was thinking of at the end. I'd be flattered to think he'd heard it from my review, but it's more likely he'd heard it from Ibn Warraq.)

-Also, Mahmet was a merchant before he was a prophet. And he had something to do with Madina. And - given the Arab obsession with tribal genealogy - he was related to 'Ali, the Umayyads, and the Zubayrids via the Banu Qusay of the Quraysh.

I strongly recommend that you find a copy of Robert Hoyland's "Seeing Islam as Others Saw It".

pax vobiscum
Z

crujjy said...

I'm not sure what I believe now. I'm pretty certain he existed, but Islam itself may have very well been an evolution. I think the only way to truly settle this would be to open up Islam to the textual criticism and archaeological examination that all other religions are subjected to. There's too much embarassing evidence to consider Muhammad nonexistent, and there's decent evidence against Islam beginning fully formed that I think it warrants full-scale archaeological and textual investigation to find a third factor that makes one or the other reasonably certain. He probably existed though. Though there might very well be a lot of legend around him.

dstewart said...

I think if there had been more time, David Wood would have produced many more of the embarrassing stories covered on Jesus or Muhammad. It's not that there are SOME stories that can be explained, but that there are CONSISTENTLY embarrassing stories, and that the same themes keep popping up such as the self-serving nature of the revelations.

Having said that, Robert Spencer did get me to seriously doubt Muhammad's existence, and unfortunately, some of the reasons I have to not believe Muhammad is a real prophet with it... not that I'm going to lose sleep over it!. LOL

gabriella oak said...

Fabulous debate.
You two should find more points of disagreement to parry back and forth in the future, as its a great learning tool for people like me.

Derek Adams said...

Here was my experience with this debate, show and ABN

Ivan Omara said...

I personally think it was a tie, they both gave convincing points. Mainly the absence of evidence in a certain period of time (Robert) and the criteria of embarrassment (David. Scholar/historians take both seriously.

Ivan Omara said...

One thing I noticed in the Debate. David made a good point to the fact that many followers of Muhammad did not really care about him hence they accepted Islam for their own benefits. Robert Noted that for 60 years the name Muhammad had not been mentioned, yet later on we see they were coins with the name Muhammad on it. However he states that on the other side of the coin there is a picture of a cross. Now their can only be two conclusions , Robert believes that the name Muhammad was used for Political Purposes, meaning that people just invented some figure and enshrined the name Muhammad and a picture of a cross . However it gets a little curious how the name Muhammad is enshrined onto a coin. Could it be that the very fact the name is there proves Muhammad's existence and to my other point what David was Saying about Muhammad's followers. If David's right about how Muhammad's Followers were doing it all for the wealth, the money and the power then wouldn't it make sense that they would or at least some them,could use the name Muhammad for their own personal Gain. Robert States that Islam denies the cross which is true but again if the followers did not care about what Muhammad said or did you wouldn't expect them to be accurate would you. So my conclusion Is If Roberts Right then the people who created Muhammad did a very bad job,they deliberately contradicted and created all sorts of problems for their new "religion" but if Davids right then it would make more senses since many of Muhammad followers were in it for the wealth,booty and power. Knowing the kind of Man they were "following" they followed his footsteps and conquered lands shaming his name like the crusaders.

Damon Whitsell said...

Hi David, ABN has the debate up now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkW3c7--DjQ