Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Facebook Debate Pits the Bible vs. the Qur'an

In a recent Facebook discussion, a profoundly Christian writer has been insisting on the superiority of the Christianity Bible over the Islam Qur’an. 

For example, he wrote:  “The Quran is written as a manifesto commanding its believers how to act and suppress those who don't believe a religion based on force and judgment.  The Bible however is written as a collection of writings from many prophets, kings, disciples, and apostles divinely inspired by God with the Old Testament (before Christ) & the New Testament after further being validated by external sources such as the Dead Sea Scrolls showing the texts and messages haven’t changed for thousands of years.”


For starters, the Bible and the Qur’an both claim divine inspiration. Any such claim simply verifies a bias.  Not having a direct line to God, I can’t determine which book, if either, has any divine inspiration in it.  I also can’t tell if the Mormon text and multiple other books claimed by other religions are divinely inspired either. 

Given their inherent contradictions and divergent claims, I suspect none are.

In addition, the Qur’an provides a formula for living a better life, with recommendations that nonbelievers be encouraged to follow.  The Bible does exactly the same thing.  In that text, whole tribes of people are massacred simply because they don’t believe.  Those who challenge Moses are swallowed by the desert.  Force is a significant component of the Bible. 

Also, despite the claim of my Facebook friend, all the books have changed over the years.  The Dead Sea Scrolls, found in 1947, contained all but one book of the current Old Testament, the Book of Esther.  It also contained multiple versions of each now-sacred book and lots of now not-sacred books.

von Tischendorf
The New Testament has been strenuously altered.  In 1844, Lobegott Friedrich Constantin von Tischendorf, the leading biblical scholar of his day, found the oldest known version of Mark.  He also found that the older text contained thousands of differences from the version he knew.  As every biblical scholar knows now, the Gospels were all heavily edited as well as the Epistles and Acts.

As for the Qur’an, Muslims for years insisted there was only one version.  That vanished in the 1990s when a second version was found. 

Besides, no one knows how many changes were made from Muhammad’s original pronouncements and publication of them about 30 years later.  At least the time element is close.  The Old Testament ranges over 1,000 years with much written down long after events could have happened.  The New Testament books were first recorded at least two generations after Jesus and further edited for at least another 300 years. 

That’s why the Roman Catholic Church no longer claims the holy books reflect history.  They are simply “the belief of the authors.”

The idea that the book is somehow the exact word of God dates from the 1800s and would have been scoffed at by early Church fathers, just as it is by anyone who has actually studied the texts and their multiple internal contradictions.

Modern version of Noah's ark
My Facebook friend goes on to say that “the Bible's historical accounts have never been refuted and has led to many discoveries thousands in archeology.”

That is, simply, hogwash.  The Bible history has been constantly refuted, so much so that the field of Biblical Archaeology, founded to support biblical writing, no longer exists. Just for starters, archaeology has fully proven that the Passover account in Exodus cannot be remotely accurate.  In fact, even literalists in biblical research accept that everything in the Bible before the time of David is mythology.

And, no, despite my Facebook friend's claims, Noah’s ark has not been found.  It can’t be; it never existed. There never was a worldwide flood. All existing animals could not have fit on a single boat.  Don't even ask about food for them. Somehow, my Facebook friend really thinks that the profound discovery of such an artifact has been ignored by the world media and only recorded in obscure websites created by devout believers.

In his Christian-centered world, my Facebook friend continues: “the morals set in the Bible as a code of ethics have set the foundations of civilization today, being the inspiration of our very own Constitution and freedoms.”
Native Americans practiced democracy.

In that claim, he ignores the Indians, whose profound view of democracy, helped create our country.  He also pretends that Western civilization is the only civilization, shunting aside Asian and Indian cultures as well as Greek and Roman societies that generated the morals to begin with. 

He then tops off his comments with this wonderful irony:  “I find it amusing when I see people of one faith (be it Atheist, Muslims Hindus, Christians, Creationist, Evolutionists, Global Warming etc.) put down another’s faiths without even understanding.”

Which is, of course, exactly what he’s doing.

Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history.  He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at www.williamplazarus.net.  He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion.  His books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers.  He can also be followed on Twitter.

You can enroll in his on-line class, Comparative Religion for Dummies, at http://www.udemy.com/comparative-religion-for-dummies/?promote=1

No comments:

Post a Comment