Monday, March 30, 2009

Easter Links

Since Easter is coming up and this is when skeptics like to take their yearly shower, put on their good clothes, and appear on TV attacking the Faith, here is a post over at Triablogue that has a great list of Resources For Easter. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Carrier on the Historicity of Christ

As many know, Carrier recently debated William Lane Craig on the resurrection of Christ. The reports coming in from all sides - atheist and theist (Christian and non-Christian) - say that Craig thoroughly routed him. Indeed, Carrier himself said: "I didn't win the debate", although he goes on to do damage control. (see here)

But all the above was just an excuse to bring up the following, which I thought I would direct people to, where an atheist wrote a very interesting blog entry on a talk that Carrier gave on the historicity of Christ. Do take a gander, it should prove enlightening. Do Not Be Quickly Persuaded

Point of Clarification (3/29/09): In case my promotional remarks above might be misunderstood, I should be up front and say I don't subscribe to all aspects of Craig's apologetic method (nor do I agree with his Social Trinitarianism (as opposed to Latin Trinitarianism) or his Molinism or his view that God became temporal at the creation of the world or a number of other things I could mention), but Craig can still be quite fun to watch, and I haven't seen any unbeliever who has been able to get the best of him in a debate.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Muslim Logic: Is Sami Zaatari Satan?

Over at Muslim Responses, Sami Zaatari has tried his hand at the commit-as-many-fallacies-as-you-can-in-a-syllogism challenge (this is an unexpressed challenge that many Muslims seem to be aware of, at least if we may judge by their actions). His attempt goes like this:

(1) -A Christian lies
(2) -The Christian clams to have the Holy Spirit
(3) -The Christian claims that the Holy Spirit works through him/her
(4) -The Christian claims that the Holy Spirit guides him/her
(5) -Therefore the Holy Spirit causes the Christian to lie
(6) -The Bible states that satan is a liar and is the father of lies
(7) -The Holy Spirit is satan

[The words are Zaatari's; the numbering is mine - SP]

This argument has two parts. The first part, where (5) is concluded on the basis of (1-4), and the second part, where (7) is concluded on the basis of (5-6).

I won't bother listing all the errors...indeed, that would take away all the fun from others who may want to find some errors on their own, but I will note here that neither (5) nor (7) follow in any wise, even if we grant that all of the premises Zaatari has supplied are true.

The conclusion that the Holy Spirit causes the Christian to lie (5) doesn't follow from the claim that a person has the Holy Spirit who guides and works through him (2-4), at least not on any normal meaning of the relevant terms.

And the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is Satan (7) doesn't follow even if we pretend that Zaatari has established that the Spirit causes a person to lie (5) when taken together with the fact that Satan is the father of lies (6), for just becase Satan is the originator and approver of all lies, doesn't mean that he is the only one who can or does lie.

Simply put: at both stages of his argument Zaatari is guilty of a non-sequitur, asserting something in his conclusion that does not at all follow from his premises.

And by the way, when a person asserts something on the basis of demonstrably faulty reasoning, it is either due to a mistake, or it is intentionally designed to deceive. If the above is chalked up to a mistake in reasoning on Zaatari's part, then it is an egregious one that not even a freshman should make (and surely Zaatari considers himself a step above freshman status); if it is a case of willful deception, then shall we conclude that Zaatari is Satan? Zaatari's reasoning suggests that we should.

Putting all this together would mean that Zaatari is "the Holy Spirit" who in turn is Satan (on Zaatari's reasoning, of course). [And wouldn't this also mean, if we grant the Muslim claim that the angel Gabriel is the Holy Spirit, that Zaatari (i.e. Satan) is the one who brought the "revelation" to Muhammad? Certainly it would.]

Monday, March 9, 2009

Allah, the Great Abstraction

Muslims are fond of pretending that they believe in "pure" monotheism. According to them this means that Allah is absolutely one, not two, not three, not anything beyond the most simple unity. Here is an example of a Muslim source that defines "oneness" or "unity" or "tawheed" in this very way:

"(3) His being is not merely One (wahid but ahad, in which there is no tinge of plurality in any way: He is not a compound being, which may be analysable or divisible. which may have a form and shape, which may be residing somewhere, or may contain or include something, which may have a colour, which may have some limbs, which may have a direction, and which may be variable or changeable in any way. Free from every kind of plurality He alone is a Being Who is Ahad in every aspect. (Here, one should fully understand that the word wahid is used in Arabic just like the word "one" in English. A collection consisting of great pluralities is collectively called wahid or one, as one man, one nation, one country, one world, even one universe, and every separate part of a collection is also called one. But the word Ahad is not used for anyone except Allah. That is why wherever in the Qur'an the word wahid has been used for Allah, He has been called Itah wahid (one Deity), or Allah-ulWahid-al-Qahhar. (One Allah Who is Omnipotent), and nowhere just wahid, for this word is also used for the things which contain pluralities of different kinds in their being. On the contrary, for Allah and only for Allah the word Ahad has been used absolutely, for He alone is the Being Who exists without any plurality in any way, Whose Oneness is perfect in every way. (Tafheemul-Quran)" (source; emphasis mine)

It is on this basis that Muslims strenuously object to the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one in essence but still personally distinct. However, if Muslims were consistent with their own definition of "pure monotheism", then they would not go on to speak of Allah having 99 beautiful names and many attributes, for this is to assert a kind of pluarlity in unity that is contrary to their proferred definition.

So which is it, do Muslims believe in the "names" and "attributes" of Allah, or is Allah an undefinable blank, a mere abstraction?

Either choice spells trouble for the followers of Muhammad.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Say Not Three Gods: A Reply to Sami Zaatari And His Counterfeit Trinity

In an article found here, which the reader is encouraged to look at before continuing with this paper, Muslim apologist Sami Zaatari thinks he has demonstrated that Christians are polytheists rather than monotheists. (Presumably that means it is open season on Christians, and the wonderful blessing of Dhimmi status may be dutifully denied to Christian’s in Muslim lands).

Whatever Zaatari thinks he has shown, I must confess at the outset,....

This article has been moved to the Answering Islam website. To read the rest of it, go
here. The comments section will remain open on this blog. Do come back and leave your thoughts.