Yahya Snow recently reviewed my debate with Osama Abdallah on whether or not Muhammad is prophesied in the authentic Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. It is the view of Muslims that Surah 7:157 of the Qur’an is a declaration from Allah that Muhammad is a true prophet whose identity and description can be found in the Torah and the Gospel that Christians and Jews have with them. This view was on trial in the debate and came up wanting, so Yahya set aside a month during which he worked on doing some major damage control for the Islamic cause.
Still Prevailing Until the Day of Resurrection
As we would expect, towards the beginning Yahya tells us that “upon reflection and scrutiny Osama Abdallah won this debate,” which makes Yahya the second of two people who thinks so, Osama being the other one; but we quickly learn that this is only true “after post-debate scrutiny and an appeal for consistency – things which Osama offered little [sic] in the actual debate…” Later in the review Yahya makes the following remark: “I think to the unbiased lay audience member….the Christian position would have seemed stronger concerning whether Prophet Muhammad was mentioned in the modern day Bible.” In short, according to Yahya, Osama “offered little in the actual debate” and “the Christian position…seemed stronger”. What these remarks amount to is an admission, in the only way Muslims who always claim victory know how to admit it, that in terms of the debate itself, i.e. when judged on the basis of what actually happened in the debate by people who are not biased, Osama lost. This begrudging admission is worth the price of the review. But Yahya’s review is a gift that keeps on giving.
If we didn’t have what is tantamount to an admission that Islam did not prevail in this debate, the fact that Yahya also said the debate made him “uncomfortable,” “annoyed” him, and was “hard” for him to watch, and also the fact that he seeks to dissuade other Muslims from watching the debate would point in the same direction. If I might be permitted to read between the lines and summarize what is going on when he says such things, Yahya does not really believe this debate was a victory for Islam, so much so that he hopes no one will watch and see that for themselves. He is hoping that his co-religionists will just take his word for it that Islam came out on top and that no one will watch the debate and find out otherwise. As an aside, it is interesting to note that Osama also was not happy with his in-debate performance. That is why he produced an edited copy of the debate providing some “post-debate scrutiny” of his own. It is to this version of the debate that Yahya links at the end of his article rather than to the unedited debate that we provided.
As if all that were not damning enough, Yahya speaks of Osama’s “poor verbal presentation” and “lack of fluidity, coherence…and continuation.” He says Osama’s case was “lacking structure” and “difficult to follow.” Several times over he tells us that at various junctures in the debate Osama “missed an important appeal to consistency,” “misses an opportunity,” and that he “made a crucial mistake.” In contrast to this he said: “The Christian…was much more fluent and generally was clear in his presentation.” At one point Yahya even tries to blame Osama’s failure on me, saying that because Osama did not argue in a certain way, this gave me an “unfair advantage” or the upper hand.
Yahya tries to prop up the serious defects in Osama’s presentation by saying he was debating too many people in a short period of time and thus was unprepared. For my part I don’t think the problem was that Osama chose to debate too many people in a short period of time, especially since Osama has been writing and debating on these issues for over a decade, and three of the four people he debated had very little debate experience and just as little time to prepare for the debates. I think the problem is that Osama agreed to debate at all, something he should never do at any time. Ever. He should follow Yahya’s lead and stay as far from debating as possible, especially if he is trying to defend something as indefensible as Islam. (Although, Yahya has been leaving people with the false impression that he has debated me before. His dissembling in this matter even caused him to be labeled the Ergun Caner of Islam. The truth is I have written a number of replies to Yahya’s material over the years, each of which proved him to be a one-hitter quitter, and he has never accepted even one of my numerous debate challenges, the most recent of which can be viewed here.)
While the Qur’an is not at all from the true God, Yahya really should have taken to heart its pronouncements that the true followers of Jesus would prevail until the day of resurrection (S. 3:55, 61:14). As much as he desperately tried to say otherwise in his review, he ended up saying in one way after another that my argumentation seemed stronger and would unnerve Muslims, just like it did him.
For all of Yahya’s criticisms of Osama being disorganized it is interesting just how disjointed his review happens to be. Quite often Yahya inadvertently changes topics or brings up something that has little to no relevance to what precedes or follows it in his review. In an attempt to tidy things up I will deal with all these tangential issues first before coming to the more pertinent stuff.
At one point in his review where Yahya started off making some comments about Deuteronomy 18, he suddenly makes a comment about something else I said when discussing Osama’s overreaching and misguided zeal that leads him to see Muhammad even in passages such as Isaiah 7:14. Later in the debate Osama claimed he never taught such a thing, and eventually he actually acknowledged the possibility that such a view might have been expressed on his website by one of his writers in the past. Ignoring Osama’s half-hearted admission that this view might have been endorsed on his website, which makes him at least partially responsible for the propagation of this view, Yahya tries to get mileage out of the fact that Osama at first feigned ignorance of it, saying:
Anthony’s poor researching was further highlighting [sic] by a blunder where he attempted to impugn his opponent for writing Isaiah 7:14 was about Prophet Muhammad – it turned out Osama Abdallah had no knowledge of this alleged claim!
Actually, it turns out that Yahya has only exposed his own failure as a researcher and his readiness to follow the say-so of a Muslim to his own chagrin. As it turns out, this view was taught on Osama’s website (*), so he hardly had “no knowledge of this alleged claim,” and as I said in the debate, if Osama does not agree with this outlandish idea which he eschews being the author of, then he has an obligation to take it down from his website and not perpetuate such a patently false idea. Otherwise he gives credence to the idea that he himself supports it, and he has no basis to complain if others call him out on it. It is also a good idea to take it down if for no other reason than that it is so farfetched that even Yahya couldn’t believe that it could possibly be true that this is taught on Osama’s website, a fact that caused Yahya to prove that he is a “poor researcher” who attempts to impugn me for a “blunder” that he alone is responsible for because he was too gullible and believes whatever comes down the pike from a fellow Muslim.
This should help other Muslims see why they should watch the debate instead of just listening to Yahya. It was this just-listen-to-what-I-say-and-don’t-bother-to-check-out-the-facts approach that Yahya followed when he took Osama’s word for it instead of checking out the facts like a good researcher ordinarily does.
The Charge of Interpolation
At another point in his review Yahya said: “In the middle of the debate he starts to interpolate his own bits into the Bible…” Yahya never tells us just what I am supposed to have interpolated into the Bible relevant to this debate. Instead he brings up an unrelated issue, misrepresenting me in the process, in what can only be considered an attempt to maliciously and fallaciously poison the well, which is an informal logical fallacy. According to Yahya Snow:
Anthony Rogers is one who has a history of interpolating his own bits and meanings into Biblical texts as shown by his belief that an angel in the Old Testament is God (last I checked on this guy he believed an angel in the Old Testament was God).
Yet, I have not at any time said that an angel is God. What I have pointed out, as Yahya very well knows since I wrote four blog posts against his misrepresentations in the past that he never replied to (1, 2, 3, 4), is that the Hebrew word, Mal’ak, a word that is sometimes translated “angel,” which itself is just a transliteration (not translation) of a Greek word with the same basic meaning, really only means “messenger”. As such the term has more of a functional than an ontological meaning, and it does not therefore always refer to the order(s) of spiritual creatures that inhabit heaven, hymn God’s praises, and carry out his will. Such beings certainly serve as messengers when God chooses, but so do other beings. In fact, not only can humans sometimes bring a message and thus be called messengers, but God Himself can also act in this capacity, particularly since God is not a uni-personal being. That is, one person of the Godhead can send another, and that other person can carry out the role or function of a messenger on behalf of the other members of Godhead.
To quickly illustrate this point: in the book of the prophet Malachi, whose name actually means “my messenger,” a fact in itself that should show all but the most implacable obscurantists that the word does not always refer to heavenly creatures, we find the following prophecy:
Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)
This prophecy speaks of two “messengers,” the first of whom will prepare the way for another. The second “messenger” is variously called “Me,” “the Lord,” and “the messenger of the covenant.” In all such cases the word “messenger” is a translation of the Hebrew word mal’ak, the word often translated as “angel.” But it is evident that the messengers in question here are not part of the created angelic host. In fact, in several ways the second messenger clearly appears to be God Himself. Since God is the one who is speaking, when it says that the first messenger will prepare the way before “Me,” it is obvious that the second messenger is Yahweh Himself. This also appears from the fact that the second messenger is called “the Lord,” ha adon, a title only used for God in the OT, and it is even said that this second messenger will “suddenly come to his temple,” which can only mean the temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem. In the New Testament this passage is interpreted as a prediction of the coming of John the Baptist (the first messenger) to prepare the way for Jesus (the second messenger). In both the Greek translation of the Old Testament (LXX) and in the Greek New Testament the word used to translate the Hebrew word mal’ak is angelos. This should be sufficient to debunk yet again Yahya’s poor and unscholarly attempts to discredit what I said in the debate, but for those who wish to read more on this issue, you may consult the blog posts linked above and the more detailed articles I wrote for Answering-Islam.org: The Malak Yahweh: Jesus, the Divine Messenger of the Old Testament – Part 1, 2, 3a, 3b. You can also see the following debate I did on the subject: The Trinity in the Old Testament? Anthony Rogers vs. Ijaz Ahmad.
If bringing up unrelated issues that he misunderstands is somehow relevant to the debate review, then surely turnabout is fair play, and I am justified in pointing out that Yahya has quite a perverted side (one that he shares with other Muslims).
The Qur’an and Science
After saying that “The debate veered off to the topic of science and the Quran,” without pointing out that it was Osama who tried to get us lost in space here and that I was the one who had to insist that he find his way back to the subject we were supposed to be debating, Yahya takes issue with my backhanded dismissal of Osama’s irrelevant appeals to the Qur’ans supposed scientific insights.
Because Osama brought up science and alleged that the Qur’an reveals advanced knowledge of scientific matters, I pointed out that while it is not directly relevant to the subject of our debate, the Qur’an actually contains numerous scientific errors, even one of which is sufficient to refute the idea that the Qur’an is from God (S. 4:82).
In this connection I briefly pointed out two errors: 1) the Qur’anic teaching that shooting stars serve the purpose of keeping unwanted angels from prying into Allah’s secret counsel; and 2) the Qur’anic teaching that sperm originates between the backbone and the rib.
Yahya tries to respond to the first error by telling us: a) the shayatin/jinn are not angels; b) stars move very quickly; and c) “Anthony believes angels came down from Heaven and had sex with human women…”
My responses to these points are quick and easy: a) the jinn are a subset of angels (*, *); b) so what, the roadrunner also moves quickly, just ask Wile E. Coyote; and c) Christian and non-Christian scholars interpret Genesis 6 in many different ways (q.v. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., More Hard Sayings of the Old Testament [Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992], p. 33ff.) and Yahya has no idea which view I take on the matter. As well, even if it were the case that I endorse the angelic interpretation of “the sons of God” in Genesis 6 the fact would remain that saying angels were able to take on human form in the past would supply no basis for the belief that shooting stars are a form of cosmic angel repellent.
Yahya’s response to the second Qur’anic error I mentioned was not any better. He first says I am relying on a “shoddy internet-hate site,” and then he turns around and posts a link to his own shoddy internet hate-site. I will let the reader compare what Yahya’s link says to what our “hate-site” says on the matter: Qur’an and Science.
On Wearing the Right Attire
Since there is no other place to really put it, I will conclude my response to Yahya’s miscellaneous nonsense with the following.
For no obvious reason Yahya includes a picture in his review of an Islamic T-Shirt that says “Keep Calm and Discover Islam.”
Since we are sporting our casual wear, here is a T-Shirt picture someone sent to me after my debate with Osama that is more relevant to the subject of the review. Those who watched one of Osama’s other debates that took place the day prior to my debate with him, i.e. the debate he did with Dr. Edward Dalcour, and heard Osama repeatedly refer to Spaghetti, the aroma of which was still in the air during our debate, will see the humor in it.
Yahya should really be embarrassed for the exceedingly terrible stuff he churns out in defense of Islam. I think Osama should tell Yahya that he can do a bad job all on his own.
There is a lot more to come. Stay tuned for part two…
There is a lot more to come. Stay tuned for part two…