Scrolling through my Facebook feed I came across an argument that at its heart, was about the burden of proof. A Christian argued that the Bible was the proof for his beliefs, which is nothing new obviously. It occurred to me though, in that moment, that if the revealed Word of God as contained in the Bible is the rationale for being Jewish or Christian, by the same rationale those same people should convert to Islam at once.
The first five books of the Bible (known as The Torah in Judaism): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, were revealed to Moses by God Himself. The only way anyone can know that Moses actually received this Divine communication, is to take him at his word. There is no other source material for the contents of these five books, and The Almighty chose just the one man to hear his message and deliver it to the masses. It is the nature of revelation itself that will be critical to the issue at hand, as we shall see in a moment.
In the first century, a man named Saul was traveling to Damascus. Saul was a Jewish man, so presumably believed that The Torah was the revealed Word of God. Around the same time, a unique and controversial Jewish preacher from Nazareth had developed a bit of a following, and had disturbed the Jewish hierarchy with his teachings. He was ultimately arrested, tried and convicted of treason and executed. Saul was not a follower of that particular preacher and didn’t much care for his fellow Jews who were, however that would soon change. As he traveled the road to Damascus he had a vision. A ghostly apparition appeared to him and revealed that he was the recently executed Jesus of Nazareth. Saul was convinced by this surprise visit that Jesus was a savior to all mankind and that by believing that, one could be invited to join Jesus in a heavenly paradise after death. Saul would go on to change his name to Paul, write much of what is still Christian doctrine today and spread the word of Jesus to his dying day. Like Moses before him, the only way to know that Saul actually received Divine communication, is to take him at his word. There is no other source for the information Saul/Paul would claim he was told by the visiting ghost of Jesus past.
So now we have two religions, one essentially spawned from the other, and ultimately church leaders for the latter of the two; Christianity, would combine the books of Moses with the writings of Saul/Paul and some of the Gospels along with some other pamphlets and call the collection the Bible. The Bible was then pronounced as the Word of God. Two religions, with very different belief systems, traditions and customs, both based on revelations from the same God to a couple of men.
Those who use the Bible as support for their religious beliefs, be it Judaism or Christianity, are taking the word of two Bronze Age men who claim to have gotten either telepathic communique from the Creator of the Universe, or a ghostly visit from a dead man who some claimed to be the son of the Creator of the Universe and a mortal human woman. If that is enough to convince you; if being told the Bible is the Word of God is enough to have your worldview shaped by its contents, and to pronounce it as evidence for the strength of your position, then the Quran is where you should look for the most up to date communication from The Almighty.
Muhammed, over a period of 20+ years, received Divine communication from the very same God that revealed information to Moses and Saul/Paul. Associates of his would compile the revelations which he received, and capture them in book form upon Muhammad’s death. This book forms the basis for Islam, which is information direct from God to mankind through his prophet and messenger, Muhammad. Christians should be pleased to know that in Islam, Jesus is acknowledged and revered, but as a prophet and messenger of God, not the son of God, an idea which they find quite blasphemous. Jews should be pleased to know that in Islam, Moses is acknowledged and revealed as a prophet and messenger of God as well.
What is most relevant to my point here, is that the revelations received by Muhammad were the final communication from God to humanity. Essentially, the 3rd Edition of holy books inspired by The Almighty. How do we know the Quran is the final word from God? Because He revealed it to Muhammad of course.
If revelation from The Almighty is to be accepted as a thing that has occurred, we have ourselves quite the quagmire. We now have three religions, formed from revelations received by three men from the same Almighty God. If a Jew is to hold the Torah up as evidence of God’s Word, and use it as support for his faith in Judaism as following God’s word, on what authority does he not accept the Quran, which is God’s final communication to humanity? If a Christian holds up the writings of Saul/Paul, as well as the Gospels in the Bible as evidence of God’s Word, and support for his faith in Christianity as following God’s word, on what authority does he not accept the Quran, which is God’s final communication to humanity?
If books and writings are going to be called “holy,” and proclaimed as information received from a celestial Creator Being, and the sole basis for proclaiming them as such is that three men claimed to have received telepathic communication, visions or dreams, then they all carry the same weight. No one can rightfully claim that only Moses’ revelation was really from God. No one can rightfully claim that only Saul received true communication from the Creator through His Son Jesus. No one can rightfully claim that only Muhammad received the true communication from the Almighty. All three claims are identical. If you accept one, that is if you accept revelation from God to humans as being factually accurate, you should accept them all, which means that God is waiting for you to submit to Him and follow the teachings of His final prophet, the Prophet Muhammad. You should convert to Islam at once, as the Prophet Muhammad’s revelation from God was the final one.
Something tells me that Jews and Christians who read the compelling argument I am making won’t be running to the nearest mosque. I could be wrong of course, as history has shown many Jews and Christians have converted to Islam, but my intent is not to compel anyone to do anything of the kind. My intent is to show that believing in revelations someone else claims to have received, is not a way to know what is true. If you were to come upon a man or woman on the street corner today, holding court about the revelations they have received from God, you’d likely give them a wide berth as you kept walking right by. Why would you not believe their revelations, but you put so much faith in Saul’s?
I don’t care much about what anyone believes, but I do care about bad arguments, poor logic and lousy reasoning. Some may be moved by communication from the beyond, whispered in the ear of a stranger long since dead and buried, but if that’s you, please just say it’s faith. Just admit that you believe it because you want to, because you were raised in it, or because it makes you feel good, or gives you purpose. Don’t hold up your holy books as evidence for the truth of what you believe, because revelation isn’t how we know things are true.