Why I am not a muslim

February 4, 2011

These are just a few of my thoughts. It’s not going to be possible to write everything on this massive topic in a single post.

I don’t dispute that if God wanted to could have had the the Koran dictated to Mohamed, or taken him on the night journey. And for that matter (being a Christian) I don’t dispute that God could carry out what’s described in the Bible. The question is did he really or didn’t he? The Koran and the Bible make seemingly conflicting claims – even about ordinary things, such as whether Jesus was crucified – and so both can’t be right.

When you look at the evidence though, it is on Christian side. All of the early sources say that Jesus was crucified. Even Tacitus says so, not to mention the many early Christian writings. I really don’t see any reason to believe the Koran – particularly not when it conflicts with the early evidence.

The way the Koran and the Bible were transmitted is very different. The various writings in the Bible started out separate, being copied out to the fledgling churches. It was a decentralized process. Very quickly you had a situation where there are independent copies, translated into many different languages spread around from Ethiopia across the Roman empire even into Persia. Point being that you have not one, but many different sources, and spread so widely that it was basically impossible for someone to make the wholesale changes needed for Islam’s claims to be true.

The opposite happened for the Koran. The third Caliph, Uthman, collected together the Koran, and burnt or boiled any variant readings of it. Seemingly though some variant readings have survived (such as the Sana’a manuscripts). The Koran was centrally controlled after that.

So I guess for me personally, I find it easier to trust the many early sources which corroborate each other than one many centuries later which has a past I don’t really trust.

I guess it’s easy to point out many small things in the Koran which seem like basic mistakes. For example, in Surahs 3 and 19 Mary (mother of Jesus) is described as the brother of Aaron and the daughter of Imran. To me it seems like a pretty simple mistake – that Mary (mother of Jesus) has been mistaken for another Mary (sister of Moses and Aaron) who lived one and half thousand years beforehand.

It’s things like this that make it very difficult for me to believe that the Koran is dictated by Gabriel to Mohamed. Divinely dictated texts, in the way Muslims claim the Koran was, shouldn’t contain mistakes that a person would make. There’s many instances of things that would be perfectly explainable if it was Mohamed (and all his cultural baggage), not the angel Gabriel writing the text.

For example, there’s a story of Mary and the Palm tree (Surah 19:23-27). This story is not contained in the Bible or early Christian sources, but they are not original to the Koran either. It comes from documents which were common at Mohammed’s time in Arabia, such as Pseudo-Matthew (not to be confused with the much earlier gospel of Matthew) – which appears for all the world to be a forgery. Another example, just nearby, is Jesus and pigeons (found in the Arabic Infancy Gospel among others). This repeating of common stories exactly what you’d expect from an intelligent person, Mohamed, not knowing which texts were early or authentic but trying to make sense of them. I can respect that Mohamed was intelligent and even well meaning – but it’s not something that I can believe is dictated by God.

I’m not an expert on any of this – and so I apologize if I have written wrongly or disrespectfully to anyone – but these are my genuine thoughts and I thought that you might appreciate them.

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5 Responses to “Why I am not a muslim”

  1. Jetson Says:

    So – even though you have decided to trust the Bible over the Koran, and you find some of the writings in the Koran to be “mistakes”, you don’t find it possible to imagine that rising from the dead, talking snakes, men living inside the belly of a fish, and talking donkeys to be completely fictional?

    Not every Christian takes everything in the Bible as literal, but many do. And even though modern science knows for certain that humans cannot come back to life, nor can they survive in the stomach of a fish, nor can donkeys actually speak a human language, many Christians cannot seem to accept this.

    As an atheist, I see all religions and god claims as mythology, which fits the evidence perfectly! In my very human mind, I am incapable of leaping across modern knowledge and logic to conclude that somehow, back before science, and before quality recordings of history were possible, all of these things happened, and everyone back then must be right.

    For example, it is so obvious that Christianity was a split away from Judaism, using the OT as input to the NT, and attempting to fulfill prophecies so as to make Christianity more palatable to the average person. To me, this is a perfectly valid explanation as to why and how Christianity took off as it did.

    P.S. Got your blog link from WWGHA!

  2. Chucky Says:

    Welcome! I guessed from the tone of your comment where you are from. I think everyone accepts that Christianity split from basically Jewish roots.

    Personally, I think that the context of the Bible is important for deciding what type of literature it is, and how it should be interpreted. I see a lot of very one eyed views from atheists, and a lot of similarly one eyed views from young earth creationists. I think both miss the point.

  3. jetson Says:

    Indeed, after reading the Bible, I have most definitely failed to see “the point” And yet, I am a college educated, modern human, with access to all translations. I can read the book, but for some reason, I can’t walk away from it accepting that it is something divinely inspired. Rather, I walk away seeing it for the mythology that it is.

  4. Chucky Says:

    I had a similar view at one point. Considering where you say you’re from – I am not surprised we disagree.

  5. Soundgod Says:

    What if you look at it from a different perspective? What if the beings they are calling god is actually an alien & all of those conversations were actually contact from beings from another world?
    What if, the Hindu gods that lived here on earth were different species of aliens that lived in different regions of the earth?
    Regardless, they all seem to say that they will be back to destroy us in the end. You gotta ask yourself, does that sound like something that an all knowing being would do?
    What do you think is fixing to happen??


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