Saturday, June 16, 2012

Why the Koran must be true?

By jonmc

In this article I intend to look at “Why the Koran must be True” from the Islamic viewpoint and some of the consequences and conclusions that flow from this position from a more sceptical viewpoint.

The transmission of the Koran

According to Islam the Koran is the literal word of “the god” i.e. Allah. The version we have today is the “Uthmanic recension” compiled by Caliph Uthman about 20 years after Mohammed’s death. To Muslims, this compilation (and its fore-runners) are all perfectly accurate recordings of the ‘revelations’ received by Mohammed during the 23 years of his ‘prophet-hood’.

But let me take you back to the beginning …

‘A’ishah bint Abu Bakr (Mohammed’s favourite and youngest wife) is recorded in the Hadith of Muslim as giving the following narration of that most significant event in the Muhammad’s life as follows:

Muslim Bk 1, Number 0301:

A’isha, the wife of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him), reported: The first (form) with which was started the revelation to the Messenger of Allah was the true vision in sleep. And he did not see any vision but it came like the bright gleam of dawn. Thenceforth solitude became dear to him and he used to seclude himself in the cave of Hira’, where he would engage in worship for a number of nights before returning to his family and getting provisions again for this purpose. He would then return to Khadija and take provisions for a like period, till Truth came upon him while he was in the cave of Hira’. There came to him the angel and said: “Recite [or: read]”, to which he replied: “I am not lettered.” He [the Angel] took hold of me and pressed me, till I was hard pressed; then he let me go and said: “Recite.” I said: I am not lettered. He then again took hold of me and pressed me for the second time till I was hard pressed and then let me go and said: “Recite”, to which I replied: “I am not lettered.” He took hold of me and pressed mefor the third time, till I was hard pressed and then let me go and said: “Recite in the name of your Lord Who created, created man from a clot of blood. Recite. And your most bountiful Lord is He Who taught the use of pen, taught man what he knew not.” (Koran 96:1-4)

Thus the first verses of the Koran that were ‘revealed’ were Sura 96 verses 1-4.

Throughout the ‘revelation’ of the Koran it is the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) who is assumed to have transmitted Allah’s words to Mohammed, who then recited them back to the Angel to prove he had got it correctly memorised before reciting it to his Sahaba (“companions”) who in turn learnt it and recorded at least some of it in writing.

Thus, to put it in Islamic terms we have the following “chain of narration” (Isnad or Sanad): Allah ? Gabriel ? Mohammed ? The Sahaba ? the written Koran.

Let me consider the reliability of each step in the Koran’s Sanad.

What we know about the god of the Koran is contained in the Koran. Islam defines the “ninety nine beautiful names” – the ‘names’ (more accurately attributes) of Allah. Many of these are interesting in their own right, but the ones I wish to consider are: Al-Khaaliq,The Creator; Al-Bari’, The Maker; Al-’Aleem, The All-Knowing; As-Samee’, The All-Hearing; Al-Baseer, The All-Seeing; Al-Khabeer, The Aware and Al-Haqq, The Truth.

Thus the Allah of the Koran is declared to be the aware, all-knowing (seeing, hearing, etc.) creator who is The Truth.

This latter-most is important: Allah isn’t merely “truthful” he is “The Truth”. Therefore the Koran declares that Allah is “100% pure truth” so to speak. Therefore, every word that Allah says MUST be true. Allah cannot tell a lie.

However, merely “not lying” does not give the full picture: If someone tells me that “the earth is flat” and I know no better, then if I tell you the same, it can be argued that I am not lying – as far as I know I am telling the truth and therefore my honesty is not imperilled.

But Allah is also claimed to be the creator (of the whole universe), aware, all knowing etc. then there can be no excuse of ignorance or misinformation (like the fact that the earth orbits the Sun, not vice-versa), what Allah says MUST be true in an absolute sense (i.e. he has no excuses for “getting it wrong”).

Therefore, Islamically speaking, the source of the Koran is the literal Truth, Allah, and the first step in the “Isnad” is quite unimpeachable.

According to the Islamic view Angels are are heavenly beings who have no free will, (unlike humans or jinn) and can do only what God orders them to do. Thus if Allah gives the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) a revelation to take to Mohammed, Gabriel will do so – flawlessly.

Thus there can be no question of any falsehood or error creeping in here.

Mohammed himself is the next step in our Sanad and so we must assess his character from the Islamic viewpoint.

There are many stories about Mohammed that aim to show his good character, but we need not trouble ourselves, because the Koran itself, the ‘true word of Allah’ settles the matter: “Your companion (Muhammad) has neither gone astray nor has erred. Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is nothing but revelation sent down to him.”(53:2-4) neither can Mohammed forget it: “And truly, this (the Quran) is a revelation from the Lord of All, which the trustworthy Angel [Gabriel] has brought down upon your heart (O Muhammad) that you may be (one) of the warners”.

These verses state clearly that what Mohammed is preaching is “revelation” and that Mohammed has not erred in his transmission of said ‘revelation’.

Thus – Islamically speaking – we can rest assured that the Koran, as recited by Mohammed is a completely accurate transmission of the words of Allah as recited to him by Gabriel.

Passing on to the Sahaba

No-one claims that the Sahaba are more than human. Therefore, at first blush, it seems possible that there could be mistakes made in the transmission or remembering of the ‘words of Allah’. However, once again Allah assures that this did not and indeed could not happen: “Verily, we have sent down the Reminder [the Koran], and, verily, we will guard it.”(13:9). Again: “No falsehood could enter it, in the past or in the future; a revelation from the Most Wise, Praiseworthy [one].” (41:42) Again: “This is an honourable Quran, in a protected book. None can grasp it except the sincere. A revelation from the Lord of the universe.” (K.56:77-80)

Thus we see that the Sahaba also fulfilled their role in the transmission of the Koran perfectly, if only because Allah was guarding this ‘revelation’ and protecting it from any error they might have made.

The final step is the compilation of the written Koran

Despite many Muslims’ statements to the contrary, the Islamic sources give a confused and colourful picture of this period of the transmission of the Koran. What is generally clear is that since the Muslims were perpetually at war and therefore suffering large numbers of casualties (especially at Yemana) amongst those who knew the Koran best, the fear arose that parts of the Koran would be lost “from men’s minds” unless it was written down. (Islamically speaking, we may see Allah intervening to preserve the Koran by spurring the Muslims to compile it.). This resulted in the compilation under Abu Bakr, which amounted to but a single privately held manuscript that passed from hand-to-hand until the time of Uthman. (As well as this compilation at least one other and perhaps several others in fact existed.) During Uthman’s Caliphate disagreements arose over the recitation (or reading) of the Koran (amongst other things) and so Uthman ordered a new compilation from various existing sources (including the Abu Bakr MSS, other MSS and part MSS) and this became the “offical” version. Uthman ensured that his Koran became the official one by firstly distributing his version (thus it was more than a private copy) and secondly by ordering all other versions burned.

As the final element in this story, I wish to quote the Koran again: K.5:3 states “This day I have perfected your religion for you…”, K.2:2 “This is the Book (the Quran), whereof there is no doubt…”, K.32:2-3 “ The sending down of the Book (Koran), there is no doubting it, from the Lord of all Being. They say ‘He (Muhammad SAW) has fabricated it!’ Not so! It is the truth from your Lord…”

Thus Allah states that the religion of Islam is perfect and that perfection must include the perfection of the Koran which is itself the truth and beyond doubt, Islamically speaking, that is.

The types of verse in the Koran

The Koran goes to great lengths, with over fifty statements, to state that it is a clear guide with clear and simple commandments and that Mohammed made Allah’s message plain and simple to understand. Such “plain and simple to understand “ verses are called “muhkam” verses.

However, the Koran admits in one verse:

It is He Who has sent down to you (Muhammad ) the Book. In it are Verses that are entirely clear [or: firm, or:decisive], they are the foundations [or: heart] of the Book and others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation (from the truth) they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah{}, and seeking for [the Koran's] hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings save Allah and those who are firmly grounded in knowledge. Say: “We believe in it; the whole of it(clear and unclear Verses) are from our Lord.”(K.3:7)

And in one other, the Koran goes further: “Allah has sent down the best statement, a Book(this Quran), its parts resembling each other, oft-repeated. The skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it. Then their skin and their heart soften to the remembrance of Allah. That is the guidance of Allah. He Guides therewith whom He pleases and whomever Allah sends astray, for him there is no guide.”(K.39:23)

The words underlined are in Arabic the single word “muttashabih” which is generally understood to mean both “ambiguous” (including in the senses of allegory, simile and parable) and “similar” (here in the sense of parallel or equivalent verses – “verses … oft repeated”.).

Thus, for example, when Allah says (in the Koran) “Obey Allah and the Messenger” we might regard the verse as “muttashabih” since it does not tell us who the “Messenger” is, therefore the verse isn’t entirely clear. However, as any Muslim will tell you, “the Messenger” is none other than Mohammed. With this bit of understanding we can definitively ascribe a meaning to it. (This is a somewhat trivial example, but I hope it makes the point.) On the other hand K.33:40 “Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last of the Prophets…” is “muhkam” since the verse is completely unambiguous as to whom it refers and as to what (it claims) he is.

The Koran says that the clear verses are the foundation, heart or core of the Koran, whereas ambiguous verses are misleading to those who lack understanding and lead them astray from the ‘Truth of Islam’. Thus the Koran hints very strongly that a good but unlearned Muslim should follow the clear verses and not worry over much about the ambiguous ones (ones he does not understand). Implicit is that clear verses cannot be “overruled” by ambiguous ones.

In turn this means that we must take what the Koran says in clear language to mean what it says. The clear verses hide no other meanings – they are clear – and it is these verses that form the core of Islamic belief.

The last point to be drawn out here is that the “muttashaabih” verses can be understood by “those who are firmly grounded in knowledge” (K.3:7) and it is for the exegesis of such verses that the ‘science’ of Tafseer (interpretation/commentary) was born.

The consequences for Muslims

The above means the Koran must be inerrant. That is, it must contain no errors whatsoever. If the Koran contains a single factual error, then the Koran falsifies itself and thus cannot be from a god who is “all-knowing” (al-Alim). (That said, it is important to make sure that Muhkam verses are used to demonstrate an error, a muttashabih verse won’t do, since it is open to multiple interpretations anyway).

Therefore Muslims must and will strive to show that all the verses of the Koran are compatible with fact. Muslims regard this doctrine – the Koran as being Allah’s literal word as a great strength in their religion, but it is a brittle strength as the above shows.

An Islamist must accept the doctrine of Abrogation since it is in the Koran. It is simply not according to the Koran to deny this doctrine – in principle at least.

Since the Koran itself tells Muslims to “obey the Messenger/Prophet” about fifty times then an Islamist can’t be a “Quranite” (Koran only) Muslim. Such Muslims deny the importance of Mohammed’s teaching, disobey the Koran and effectively disobey Allah as well . Therefore such Muslims are “hypocrites” according to the Koran – we might also refer to them as “pick-n-mix” Muslims since they just pick out the bits they want to follow/believe and ignore those they don’t.

Only those who are “firmly grounded in faith” as the Koran puts it and have spent a lot of time (often a lifetime) should be entrusted to interpret the muttashabih verses which can lead people astray from ‘the Truth’ of the Koran.

On the horns of many dilemmas

To Muhkam or not to Muhkam? That is the question

The absolute requirement that the Koran be “perfect” means that Islam utterly rejects any attempts at a critique of the text by any critical method that would be accepted in the wider world and indeed many Muslim writers disparage non-Muslim critics for a “lack of knowledge” (to be fair this is sometimes justified), but it is also an easy option and an ad hominem attack.

Often such “counter-criticism” revolves around the notion that the critic has a poor or non-existent understanding of Arabic (like yours truly) and thus “doesn’t understand what the Koran means”.

But all that means is that the “counter-critic” is saying “the Koran is untranslatable and can’t be understood by non-Arabic speakers.” Since there are a plethora of translations in almost all languages and most such translations are done by Muslims who speak both Arabic and the language of translation this is a hard argument to sustain, especially when the Koran says that the heart of its message is unambiguous, clear and simple to understand, if that is so the muhkam verses must be translatable. To be sure, muttashaabih verses may be “untranslatable” in the sense that it may be hard to translate all the meanings, but this cannot apply to muhkam verses because the Koran says they are clear, thus the Koran itself denies this argument.

Thus those who make this argument are falsifying the Koran by their argument.

Now is the Koran of our discontent turned to glorious Tafseer

A second counter-criticism is basically: “you have use the Tafseers (or Hadith/Sunnah) to understand the Koran verses.” But this just approaches the same dilemma from a different direction: why does a book who’s message is “clear and simple” need every verse (including, therefore Muhkam verses) “explained”? Further, many Koran translations use the most famous Tafseers in the task of ensuring accurate translation.

Since the study of all these sources would be a lifetime’s work in itself, this is really a way of saying “no one except the experts [whoever they are] can understand the Koran.” Again this argument falsifies the Koran which tells us it’s “core message” is clear. This is also an odd statement from the point of view that Islam prides itself on being a religion in which there are no intermediaries between god and man – yet this approach generates exactly that: if you can’t really understand the Koran without a life-time of study, then only those who spend their lives in Theological study can understand and interpret it, thus we have a Priesthood in all but name and hence we place an intermediary between man and god – contrary to Islamic teaching. This would be tantamount to Shirk in fact.

Of God and Men

If the Koran is the literal word of god, then it must contain within it nothing “man-made”. Much is made by some critical writers of the fact that the Koran contains stories that are derivative from other religious sources (most commonly the Bible) but this is a weak argument since Islam’s response is that the Koran “corrects” those earlier versions. Whilst many might look askance at this given the frequently debased nature of the Koran’s versions, it is a tenable position since the Koran regards itself as god’s final revelation and as such part of it’s “job” would be to correct earlier ‘errors’. Indeed the Koran claims that the earlier scriptures (the Bible) have become corrupted, hence the Koran’s “corrective” ‘mission’.

However, when the source is something that is demonstrably purely human in origin then this position is untenable. Consider the following:

Therefore the man was created singly, to teach that he who destroys one soul of a human being, the Scripture considers him as if he should destroy a whole world, and him who saves one soul of Israel, the Scripture considers him as if he should save a whole world. (Jewish Mishna Sanhedrin 4:5)

Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind. (Koran 5:32)

Excepting the Koranic substitutions and glosses the two are (virtually) identical. What is of note here is that the Koran verse says that god ordained (or prescribed, or decreed) this for Israel. This language in the Koran defines revealed “orders” i.e. Allah’s commands. The Mishna is understood by Orthodox Jews to be inspired words; that is they are not G-d’s very words, but man’s albeit expressing a religious truth, often expanding on a subject within the Torah. So how can something written by men – a “Tafseer” on the Torah in fact – be the literal word of god?

Malice through the looking glass

In the looking-glass world, left is right and right is wrong.

The Koran teaches that Muslims must “obey the prophet” and that to do so “is to obey Allah”. Islam has always understood this to mean not just Mohammed’s words, but his actions also. In modern Western societies a number of Mohammed’s actions are considered criminal as well as immoral.

Thus either Muslims must defend these actions since “to obey Mohammed is to obey Allah” and therefore these actions must be of Allah, which means that Muslims are left in the unenviable position of arguing that some immoral/illegal acts are right and proper, disparaging “mere man made laws” -which criminalise these actions- whilst insisting that the Shari’ah Law which supports them is “god-given” and thus ‘superior’; or else they must accept that Mohammed is a man of his times – not the eternal exemplar for humanity, the “Ihsan Kamel” of Islam – which rejects what the Islamic literature, including the Koran, says about Mohammed.

Both “defences” can be found within Muslim literature, sometimes in the same piece.

Logic, Logic, for where art thou, Logic?

I have already shown how Muslims are forced into some illogical positions (such as defending Mohammed’s immorality in various ways, or accepting as “from god” verses that are clearly human-authored), but I wish to pass on to a couple of specific examples of logical problems with the Koran text or illogical responses to such problems.

The “Satanic verses” in the Koran(53:19-22). Here Mohammed receives a ‘revelation’ that was acclaimed by the Quraish since it honoured their Goddesses (at the time Mo was seeking a rapprochement), but his own followers were made unhappy so these verses were declared “satanic” by Allah, who rebuked Mohammed: K.17-73: “Indeed they were near to seducing thee from that We revealed to thee, that thou might forge against Us another, and then they [the Quraish] would surely have taken thee as a friend.”

Naturally enough, some people queried this volte-face, but up pops Allah to “resolve” this problem too: K.22:52-53. “Never did We send a Messenger or a Prophet before you, but; when he did recite the revelation or narrated or spoke, Shaitan (Satan) threw (some falsehood) in it. But Allah abolishes that which Shaitan throws in. Then Allah establishes His Revelations. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise. That He (Allah) may make what is thrown in by Shaitan a trial for those in whose hearts is a disease and whose hearts are hardened. And certainly, the Zalimoon are in an opposition far-off.”

So we learn that this is something that “always” happens to Allah’s messengers.

Thus it would seem that Muslims were and are content to accept that satanic verses could be insinuated into Allah’s word – the Qur’an, that Allah could “abolish” said satanic verses, and that Allah could replace a verse of his own revelation with a similar or better verse{see note 10}. You may recall that I earlier pointed out K.41:42. “No falsehood could enter it[the Koran], in the past or in the future; a revelation from the Most Wise, Praiseworthy [one].” Quite how Muslims can truly square this with Satan getting his words into the Koran, even temporarily, I can’t say.

But there is another problem: if Mohammed could not tell that it was Satan, not Gabriel, who was speaking to him, Mohammed cannot differentiate between true revelation and satanic verses, so how do we know that Satan did not manage the same “trick” on other occasions? Certainly, the Koran tells us that Allah “guards” it etc., but the Koran is already compromised as a source since Satan managed the “trick” on at least one occasion that we know about since he was “found out”. As a second point here, it shows that Allah wasn’t that good at “guarding” the revelation if Satan could get by his guard – even temporarily.

The shape of the earth. I’m not going to restate the “flat earth” arguments nor their (attempted) rebuttals. Both these are very well known and it is up to each individual to decide on which side of the argument they wish to come down.

Rather I wish to consider the really illogical “the Koran says the earth is egg-shaped” argument. This is based on Sura 79:30 “Wal’arda ba’da dhalika dahaha”.

For the record let me state the fact that, yes, the earth is slightly oblate but it is spherical to within 0.4%. To give a context: the earth is more spherical (in gross terms) than a billiard ball.

Sadly for Dr. Naik et al, whilst the earth is a (marginally) oblate spheroid an egg is a markedly prolate and asymmetric spheroid. Simply: an oblate spheroid is bigger “around the middle” (equator – which is always a circle by definition) whereas a prolate one is bigger “north to south”. Thus even if we were to accept the apologists’ argument theshape of the world in the Koran is still completely wrong. (In fact physics makes such an earth-sized world-shape as impossible as a disc-world in our universe.)

Thus to counter the “flat earth” charge, some Muslims have adopted an apologetic stance that merely replaces one error with another and this latter is worse in that it’s linguistic basis is weak to say the least and requires substantial meaning being read into the text itself.

Hubble, bubble, strife and trouble

Samuel P. Huntingdon made his famous statement “Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards” in 1998. Whilst I am sure that there are some who would deride this as “Islamophobic”, “bigoted” and “racist”; the sad truth is that this is an accurate observation. In the ten and a half years since 9/11 (at the time of writing) -call that 4000 days- there have nearly 19,000 Islamic terror attacks resulting in death and/or serious injury.

Simple maths tells us that means that on average there have been more than four such attacks each and every day in which devout Muslims kill and maim “for the sake of Allah”. Most of these attacks take place (ironically perhaps) within the Dar-ul-Islam. We in the Dar-ul-Harb. Yet despite this we are constantly told that Islam is “the religion of peace”.

Thus the dilemma is that Muslims kill each other (as well as us) in terrorist attacks carried out in the name of Allah by people quite convinced they are doing the will of Allah, yet Islam is purported to be “the religion of peace”.

Let me state quite clearly that I do not, for one instant, believe or infer that all Muslims are violent. Far from it: a majority of Muslims clearly live quiet peaceful and peaceable lives. But this does not negate the fact that pious Islamic terrorists (and I use the phrase deliberately even though I know it offends some Muslims) carry out their terrorist attacks in the name of Allah and for the sake of Allah, quite convinced (by Islamic teaching) that they are engaged in legitimate sword-jihad against the enemies of Islam (even if they are their brother Muslims!). No other religion on Earth today behaves in this way to both it’s own and the “other”.

Apologists use various approaches to ‘resolve’ this dilemma:

Islam has been hijacked!

(Irshad Manji is particularly scathing about this) which tries to cast the Islamic terrorist as a non-Muslim, which is ironic since this is “Takfir” which is highly frowned upon within Shari’ah and these self-same Islamic terrorists to a man (or woman) believe they are doing Allah’s will in killing. A problem with this approach, apart from it’s ‘legal’ difficulties within Shari’ah, is that it is a cop-out as well as being dis-ingenuous (to be polite). It is a cop-out since it instantly absolves Islam of any responsibility and it is dis-ingenuous since it simply ignores the violent verses of the Koran.

Islam has been misunderstood!

This is the same argument that is applied to non-Muslim critics of course (which is a little ironic), but here the idea is that the violent Muslims haven’t understood the Koran. This argument is, in essence, a modification of the first and the same counter-arguments apply – except that here the apologist would have us believe that somehow early peaceful verses abrogate later violent ones in contravention to the principles of abrogation.

Don’t look at what Muslims do, look at the scriptures

This is usually followed with an appeal to the “peaceful” verses of the Koran.

Don’t look at the Scriptures, look at the peaceful Muslims!

Often when Islam critics point out the violent verses of the Koran counter-critics will respond by pointing out (rightly) that most Muslims are not violent and therefore (here comes the leap-to-conclusion) so must Islam be. Again, it is really a variant on approach 1, with all the same problems.

Muslims only fight defensively!

This version of apologia sets out a series of premises, assertions or (occasionally) arguments by which it is alleged that “the West” is at war with, or has attacked “Islam” and/or is “oppressing Islam”. Therefore, terror attacks are a defensive response to this “aggression” and that if the West only stopped it’s aggression and/or oppression then all would be peace.

The astute reader will have realised that all the arguments (except the last) I’ve outlined above are mutually contradictory, based on circular reasoning (one of the arguments above can easily lead to another), tendentious in that they simply ignore contrary evidence or eisegetic in nature.

The crux of the dilemma for Muslim apologists is this: why, if Islam is peaceful is it so violent? This violence is not only present today, it has been a feature of Islam throughout it’s history, even when Islam was the dominant power, which rather undermines #5 also. Thus none of the above arguments really provide an answer, rather they evade the question.

The Trouble with Science

One of the most curious aspects of the “Koran inerrancy” position is how Muslims have responded to modern science. This position is ‘augmented’ by verses such as 17: 12. “… And We have explained everything (in detail) with full explanation….” (see also 7:52, 11:1 and 17:89) which seems to lead some Muslims to believe that the Koran contains all possible knowledge (or at least all useful knowledge) in the Universe (this view was also held by the earliest Muslims).

In this arena there seem to be two strands of polemical approach, though as usual the same Muslim writer often employs both consecutively.

The “The Koran knew that!” argument. In this argument the science is taken as trueand the Koran text (and the root-meanings of it’s words) searched until something is found that can be taken (and often twisted) to match the science. (The example of the “egg-shaped” earth is a case in point.) Proponents of this approach usually attempt to show that the Koran exactly matches the current science (e.g. the embryology ‘debate’). This has the obvious weakness that if the science changes, this falsifies the ‘revelation’ the polemicist has ‘discovered’. Polemicists aware of this problem often switch to …

The “It’s only a Theory!” argument. In this argument the science (e.g. evolution) is dismissed as being just a (false) theory (which misunderstands the nature of scientific theory against that of hypothesis) and the Koran held up as the “ultimate truth” which “proper science” will validate in time.

Of the two, which are mutually contradictory of course, I think that the second has slightly more intellectual honesty attendant upon it in that it is at least consistent with a belief-set. The former approach simply begs the question “why, if this was in the Koran didn’t a Muslims spot this before Western science made the discovery?” To which no satisfactory answer is ever forthcoming as well as being inherently fluid and changeable – today’s ‘scientific revelation’ becomes tomorrow’s ‘interpretive mistake’.

Let me say that most “value systems” have their illogical and/or inconsistent elements, but Islam has a particular problem here since it and thus it’s value system must be inerrant. I can hardly stress this enough: since Islam insists that the Koran is the literal word of a god who is all-knowing, then it can contain no errors of any sort. If an error is found this means that either the god of the koran is a liar since he knows this isn’t the truth, or it means he isn’t all-knowing which also means he is a liar since he says he is all knowing. Thus one error in the Koran causes it to falsify itself and the Muslim deity.

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