Have We really Thought through the Consequences of Artificial Intelligence in the Work Place. -
C-SPAN offered an interesting show on Sat., Sept 30 about Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Toward the end of the show the conversation got into how people are going to earn money to pay their bills once AI is doing nearly all tasks, important and not so important. The solution offered by the discussants was simple - “grant of tax money to nearly everyone to pay their bills”.
There was no mention of the importance of work for human psychological health and for human flourishing. Additionally there was no mention of all the jobs already transfered abroad.
They did say things like “if people were better educated they would be better able to enjoy and benefit from lives of leisure”.
Of course, the only thing that was blatantly obvious was the discussants’ lack of knowledge of the natural law which has been written into man by his maker. The natural law engaged here tells men they need to perform activity that benefits themselves and others and gives a sense of having contributed to society as a whole. Such work also is important because it sends an meessage to the next generation that regular work is a good thing to seek out and do. .
........... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 10/28/2017)
Thoughts on Buchanan's Book Setting Out the Causes of the World Wars
This is a Review of Pat Buchanan’s book Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War which is subtitled How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World -
(Note: This book deals with the 31 year period between 1914 and 1945 in Europe during which two major conflicts were fought. Buchanan feels these two conflicts were just one war with a long truce in the middle. Since this is his view, he probably should have titled his book Churchill, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War.)
Putting that aside, he makes many good points about the political and diplomatic behavior of the leaders on all sides during the lead up to 1914 and during the “truce” period 1919 to 1939.
In the lead up period there were open “mutual defense alliances” and there were “secret mutual defense alliances”. These secret defense alliances were buried inside less binding “cordial entente” agreements.
This fact led Woodrow Wilson to put into his 14 points governing a truce in Europe in 1918 the requirements that in all mutual defense agreements be openly disclosed and that national boundaries reflect the local people’s preference.
Now turning to some details:
PART I - What led to the commencement of War?
In the 1900 to 1914 period there were several developments that eventually contributed to the war:
1) Germany had started to build a large Naval Fleet. They stopped this building program a couple of years before the war started, but their ability to even contemplate this alarmed Britain’s naval leadership (particularly Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty).
2) British Foreign Secretary Gray entered into a secret agreement to come to France’s aid if it was attacked. Secret means not only secret to the public but also most of the British government.. Churchill, the leader of the Navy, supported this secret arrangement.
3) Kaiser Wilhelm had demonstrated a willingness to back off in earlier crisis when a Germany show of force looked like it might trigger a wider or larger conflict. He was a cautious man leading a wealthy, growing, populous country.
4) The steps that led to war came quickly and had several steps: a) a Serbian anarchist killed the Austro Hungarian heir apparent, b) The Austro-Hungarian made demands on Serb, c) the Serbs responded but their response did not satisfy the Austro-Hungarians who declared war on Serbia, d) Russian, an ally of Serbia and a fellow Orthodox Christian county, declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire, f) Germany was an Austro-Hungarian ally, it declared war on Russia and asked France for a declaration of neutrality; however, France, an ally of Russia, declined, g) Germany declared war on France, h) the German plan of attack, (the Schlieffen Plan), required quick transit through Belgium so Germany asked for safe passage through Belgium, j) Belgium, under pressure from Britain (Churchill), declines the “safe passage” request, k) Germany invades anyway to get its troops into northern France rapidly to gain a quick victory over France (German felt Russia was the bigger long term threat and wanted France neutralized) quickly, l) Britain declares war against Germany under a 1839 treaty with Belgium and sends 120,000 men quickly to Belgium where trench warfare begins. (This 1839 treaty allowed but did not require Britain to aid Belgium.)
This conflict ended 11/11/18 when Germany signed an armistice and sued for peace having accepted provisionally Wilson’s 14 points (see attachment) as a guideline for negotiation.
PART II - The interval of years between conflicts
Turning to the period from Nov 1918 to Sept 1939 there are many important occurrences :
A) Wilson’s 14 points were ejected by France, Britain and other Allies
B) Germans are excluded from the negotiations. The Kaiser abdicates; a weak democracy is formed.
C) The blockade initiated by Churchill’s navy continues .... no food or medicine reaches Germany till 6/19. 9
D) In June 1919, the final treaty is shown to the Germans. They had to sign because blockade was causing tens of thousands of deaths in Germany
E) Treaty’s provisions included 1) separation of Germans from Germany in the east (Danzig, east Prussia, and Memel) , west (Alsace-Lorraine and Saar), and south (Sudetenland ), 2) many ethnic Germans, but not all, of these separated Germans were given the right to vote much later to rejoin Germany 3) Separation of most Austro-Hungarian areas from Austria, 4) demilitarization of the Rhine valley, Germany’s industrial heartland, from Switzerland to Holland, 5) reparation demands (beyond Germany’s ability to pay), and 6) all of the Ottoman empire is dismembered, except for the region around Istanbul, nations including Syria, , Jordan, and Iraq were created.
F) In the 1920's, America insisted that Britain break its mutual defense pact with Japan and replace it with a World Wide Naval Treaty controlling the size of major Navies. Japan begins thinking of its future needs and later begins invading its neighbors across SE Asia to gain control of resources.
G) For over ten years, the weak German democracy survives, but reparations plus the world wide depression of the early 1930's created terrible unrest in Germany.
H) A brilliant malcontent, named Hitler, gathers a following in southern Germany, is jailed for organizing challenges to local elected leaders, writes Mien Kemp, organizes a political party, and in 1932 is able to form a national government in Berlin.
I) Kristallnacht in Nov 1938 (where German soldiers broke into and destroyed Jewish businesses across Germany) was a horrible blunder by Nazi leadership. Thenceforth public opinion in western Europe hardened against Germany. From then on it was possible for European leaders to rally the populous to again fight Germany. (It appears from German archives that Goebbels, not Hitler, ordered this event.)
J) As leader, Hitler began: 1) to rebuild Germany’s military (in violation of the peace treaty), 2) he reoccupied the area along the Rhine River (in violation of the treaty). 3) He enters into alliances with Japan and Italy, 4) he stirs up a desire for union with Germany among the German speakers in adjacent areas, 5) in Austria he out foxes the Austria PM who opposes the idea to unify Austria with Germany. He gets the Germans in the Sudateenland who had been forced into the new Czechoslovakia by the Treaty to agitate for re-inclusion in German, he forces the British PM (Chamberlain) to agree to the re-inclusion of this population into Germany, and 6) he demands that Poland allow him land transit rights to and from Germany and remote German areas along the Baltic shore.
K) Poland led by Foreign Minister Beck refused to even negotiate on the corridor idea because Poland had recently signed a mutual defense pact with Britain.
L) Hitler then made an alliance with the Soviet Union and the two countries invade and divided up Poland.
M) Britain and France declare war on German. A few days later Churchill replaces Chamberlain as PM
N) Hitler captures France easily and sues for peace with Britain - Britain refuses to talk. Britain who can’t bring force to bare on forces in Poland decides to blockade and initiate bombing of German cities with their first class bomber, the Lancaster (22,000 lbs max carrying capacity).
O) Hitler responds by using his inferior bombers (5,000 lbs max carrying capacity) to bomb Britain even though Britain’s superior fighter aircraft are able to inflect huge losses.
P) Later Hitler breaks his peace pact with Russia and invades Russia; he figured in the long run Russia is the only European power that can ultimately conquer Germany.
Q) Japan, Hitler’s ally, bombs Pearl Harbor without consulting Germany. German declares war on the US.
PART III -The aftermath
Finally consider the aftermath of this long war
A) After fighting, Britain lacked the men and money to continue its colonies, They replaced the idea of colonies with an association of their former colonies called a Commonwealth.
B) America replaces the British Navy as the guarantor of safe passage on the seas, and to a lesser extent peace on land.
C) Supervision of Sunni Islam by a Caliph located in Istanbul was lost. This created the opportunity for the many cultural mutations within Islam to flower. Some of these “flowers” are quite violent and repressive.
D) Great civilizations emerged free from outside pressure to shape their futures; these include almost immediately: the Hindu civilization, the Islamic civilization, the sub-Saharan civilization, and South American civilization; ...... a few years later: the world saw the Orthodox Christian civilization, Japanese civilization, and Chinese civilization emerge as post-war occupation ended and communism imploded and/or mutated.
E) Conflicts are beginning to pop up as these civilizations defined themselves (within their region) and rub up against adjacent civilizations ; the West is far less able to provide peace keeping supervision as these process go forward and occasionally get violent.
The foregoing is the sad story of the beginning of the decline of western civilization. Whether a reversal can occur is problematic. In democracies, such change must come through a change in the peoples’ attitudes and values. Enlightened Leadership can help, but it won’t be dis-positive . Prayer is called for!
Bernard Lewis' Book "What Went Wrong" makes Interesting points about Islam's Failure to Modernize -
This book has nine sections. A few observations about each are enlightening:
Introduction - Here Lewis recounts the extraordinary history of Islam as it grew out of the Arabian desert and spread for four centuries ... to Morocco, Spain, and Portugal in the west, to Indonesia in the east, to the Russian city of Kazan (400 miles east of Moscow) in the north, and to Zanzibar on the coast of Africa in the south.
He mentioned that Christianity was always the object of particular Islamic attention because Christianity was the only other religion that seemed posed to become a world wide religion. Of course, that was exactly what Islam aspired to become.
He discusses the particular problems created by Christians: 1) the stubborn resistence of the Byzantine Empire that held Constantinople (Istanbul) until 1454 when it finally fell to Islam, 2) the Crusades that invaded and occupied for a couple of centuries various regions around Jerusalem, and 3) the re-conquest of the Iberian peninsula by Christian forces from roughly 900 until 1492 when Granada fell.
Finally Lewis discusses the great defeats Islam began to experience beginning in 1250 with the fall of Bagdad to the Mongols, to the failure of Ottoman forces to take Vienna in 1529 (which ended with Islam’s unilateral withdrawal because of other concerns), to Lepanto were a combined Christian force defeated an Islamic fleet in 1571, and again in 1683 during the Second Siege of Vienna (which ended with a rout of the Ottoman forces). After several other defeats in the Balkans, the Ottomans signed the Treaty of Carlwitz (1699). However, this was not an end of setbacks which continued for over two centuries. All this led to Islam losing control of Hungry, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, Russia, India, Armenia, Crimea, and Ukraine.
Battlefield Factors - The steady losses on battlefields following 1683 caused Islam to begin modernization of their military. Western instructors were recruited to instruct Islamic officers on modern techniques and equipment. Additionally, Islam abandoned its practice of never allying itself with non- Muslims. Thenceforth the Ottomans were prepared to ally with Christians who shared their goals. Ottomans also began using foreigners as translators and even advisors in diplomatic settings. These changes where difficult because they required religious exemptions from certain tenets of Islamic law.
There was a lot of introspection about these things. Reports were created. The most prevalent theme in these documents places a lot of blame on the country’s falling away from the “good old ways” and the basic remedy was “to a return to these ways”. These reports do not focus very much on what the enemy did right rather they focused of what Islam did wrong.
One of these noted the superiority of Christian navies. It was right. Christian shipbuilders after 1500 had the benefit of knowledge acquired building ships for and sailing ships on long ocean voyages. Additionally, Islam’s military leaders learned two lessons from the French occupation of Egypt during the French revolution. First Islam could not stop the French from coming in; and second, the occupation was ended by a different Christian country, not by Islam, getting the French out.
Eventually in the 1800's a few Islamic thinkers realized the problems in their military were caused by a much greater dysfunction of their broader society.
Trade and Industry - 1) Islam’s role as a middleman handling oriental goods (e.g. spices) going to Europe was undermined by long range shipping to and from Europe, the Far East, and the Americas, 2) Islamic religious leaders restricted travel of Muslims to Europe where they might learn new techniques, 3) religious rules dictated how inheritances would be distributed regardless of the decedent’s wishes and regardless of the needs, of say, a family business, 4) eventually the needs of the state required that Muslim be allowed to travel for specialized military and business training in Europe.
Social and Cultural Factors - 1) lack of equality and respect for the ability of women, 2) lack of curiosity about how western inventions actually worked, 3) Islam had slaves and concubines longer than other cultures (but were more willing to give up these up than they were to accept the equality of their women), 4) had a profound difficulty with non-Muslims in any position superior to a Muslim (e.g. teacher, supervisor, advisor,) in a Muslim country.
Equality & Modernization - 1) Islam did begin to give up slaves and concubines in the 1850's (even though traditionalists issued religious “fatwas” against these changes), 2) there was huge resistence to Muslim/non-Muslim marriages, 3) Islam’s first experience with European domination of a majority Muslim nation (e.g. by France in Egypt around 1800 ) was very alarming because the French treated Coptic Christians as equal to Muslims.
Separation of Church and State - 1) In Islam the two institutions never really developed separate identities. 2) there was no real distinction between civil and religious law 3) Islam doesn’t have an organized, certified clergy like Jews and Christians, 4) Islam has a very different foundational narrative from Christians and Jews (e.g. Muhammad ended his life as a successful military, political and religious leader and all his followers learn the many details of his story). On the other hand, Christian and Jews had centuries of persecution and struggle before final acceptance. And their founding figures Moses and Jesus had very difficult lives, and in Jesus’ case suffered an ignominious death.
Precision in Measurements of Time, Distance, etc - 1) Islam felt little need to insist on precision in these areas 2) time pieces were held to disrupt the traditional daily cycle revolving around the five daily calls to prayer, 3) distance was measured by the time it took to do a common task (e.g. “that village is one cigarette from here” meaning the time it took to smoke a cigarette while walking). 4) dates on documents were very uncertain - while the month and year might be accurate research has shown the actual day shown was often incorrect. 5) Muslims even today feel it is somehow undignified to worry about being on time, 6) Lewis notes that the scientific method of inquiry (e.g. scientific experiments) requires deep appreciation of measurement accuracy, including time measurements and distant measurements.
Acceptance of Cultural Change - 1) Western concepts in the visual arts (e.g. using techniques to add perspective to paintings) were accepted in Muslim lands , 2) but western techniques in music (e.g. polyphony) were not accepted, 3) the production of printed material was not finally accepted until the 1780's, 4) western translations of scientific, travel, and similar works were printed. 5) but great literature, plays, and histories from the west were not introduced until the 20th century, 6) team sports and games never caught on in the Islamic world (i.e. the teamwork skills taught by playing team sports are important because teamwork helps in democratic political processes and is essential in all large organizations), 7) today Lewis says Islam has “elections with little choice in candidates and ‘democracies’ with little freedom”
Conclusion - Bernard Lewis says Islam has not accepted modernity because of many disadvantages (some large and some small). Here are some examples:
1) the people did not use wheeled carts to increase their productivity because such vehicles were often easily expropriated by the arbitrary actions of governmental authorities, This indicated a lack of a functioning rule of law with independent judiciary.
2) goats, rather than other animals, were widely adopted, even though goats tended to kill vegetation thus converting arable land into semi-desert.
3) intermarriage within family groups (tribes) was encouraged: a) this caused DNA degradation, and b) this process also makes it difficult for individuals to see beyond the tribe to the needs of their broader society,
4) a generally felt Islamic cultural superiority inspired by:
(a) early Islamic military success indicating God’s favor,
(b) having a holy scripture transmitted “word for word” from God, and
( c) having inherited through conquest man’s early storehouses of knowledge from the Egyptians, Byzantine Greeks, and peoples of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys
All of the above naturally makes it difficult for Muslims to accept the ways of other cultures.
5) the sense that accepting Western methods of thought ....... developed at the time of the Reformation and the enlightenment (e.g. the scientific method, questioning traditional ways, separation of Church and State, etc.), ...... rather than just the accepting specific western inventions (e.g. printing press, cannon, telephone, military training techniques, etc.), ...... would change or corrupt Islamic culture and traditional ways.
Muslims are probably correct to think that accepting these new ways of thinking would inevitably change the Islamic view of things and their way of life.
6) the reduced influence of woman particularly in the formation of teenage boys and young adult men; Women tend to encourage weak men to be stronger and encourage strong men to be more moderate; This failure was brought on because women have been forced into a secondary role by Islam
7) The presence of mineral wealth and oil wealth in some Islamic countries has undercut the natural need of people to organize, to study, to work and to struggle for advancement . These natural efforts by people generally contribute to the creation of strong families and strong communities.
Finally, Lewis notes 1) Islam is being left behind economically by the rest of the world, and 2) ultimately, Islam’s future is in the hands of Muslims. They will have to decide how to adjust ...... or whether to adjust at all. ................ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 11/15/2017)
Bernard Lewis says Islam has not accept modernity because of some of these disadvantages:
1) Muslims did not adapt wheeled carts, which increase productivity, because such vehicles were easily expropriated by the arbitrary actions of governmental authorities,
2) goats, rather than other large animals (e.g. sheep) were widely adopted, even though goats pull vegetation up by the roots and thus convert arable land into semi-desert,
3) intermarriage within family groups (e.g. tribes) was encouraged with attendant DNA degradation from generation to generation.
4) there was a generally felt Islamic superiority inspired by:
(a) early military success taken to indicate God’s favor,
(b) having a Holy Scripture transmitted “word for word” directly from God, and
( c) having inherited through conquest man’s early storehouse of knowledge from Egypt, Byzantium, Greece, and Mesopotamia.
This sense of superiority caused Islam to disdain the accomplishments of non-Muslims.
5) the widespread belief that accepting Western methods of thought would corrupt Islamic culture. This resulted in the rejection of enlightenment modes of inquiry (e.g. the scientific method, questioning traditional ways, separation of politics from religion, etc.), while slowly accepting specific western inventions (e.g. the printing press, eye glasses, the telephone, modern military tactics, etc.).
6) the reduced influence of woman in the formation of teenage boys and young adult men; women tend to encourage weak men to be more confident and to encourage strong men to be more moderate; this failure was brought on because women had been forced into a secondary role by Islam.
The foregoing is a short summary of the detail analysis Lewis has set forth in his great book. .............. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 11/15/2017)
............ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/7/2017)
A Review of ......
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: a Devout Muslim’s Journey to Christ
by Nabeel Qureshi -
Introductory Note: This story recounts the conversion of a Muslim to Christianity. The author makes it clear that no Muslim would be led to consider Christianity without first experiencing the true, loving friendship of a knowledgeable Christian. The fact is Muslims are programmed from their earliest years with half truths designed to misrepresent and disparage all things Christian.
This book is divided into three main sections:
Section I - About the Author - The author, a first generation descendant of Pakistani immigrants, recounts his loving youth growing up in a deeply devout Muslim household. His maternal grandparents were Muslim missionaries in Indonesia and later in Uganda . His father, an officer in the US Navy, was a direct descendent of one of Mohammad’s closest Lieutenants.
Urdu, the Pakistani national language, was used in the home where Nabeel grew up. And he saw quite a bit of his grandmother and her sister who visited regularly.
Nabeel’s youthful days were spent practicing the religion faithfully and going to youth classes regularly. He learned his faith in some detail and familiarized himself with his father’s home library of Islamic texts.
Nabeel did not fit in at school because of his religion; so he became a bit of a loner. He had more time to study and became an honors student. Looking back he recalled that the love he received from his parents, while deep, was always conditional on his willingness to do what was expected.
His father was transferred to the US base in Scotland when Nabeel was in middle school. The UK had more Muslims. Nabeel was able to make more friends and attended a wider variety of Muslim events.
Section II - About the Author’s Involvement with Christianity - Nabeel enrolled in Old Dominion University to study pre-med. Here he met a committed Christian, a fellow science student named Dave. They were both good students, both joined the “forensics” Club, and both took a similar set of courses. They were thrown together a lot. Since religion was important in both their lives that became a regular subject of their conversations.
There were other people who played secondary roles in the back and forth between Dave and Nabeel. These secondary players were Zake, a Buddhist, Mike, a Christian history major, and a Club called the Dream Team which specialized in holding off campus discussions of a religious nature with open attendance. Even Nabeel’s father as a defender of Islam attended one Dream Team event.
There was agreement that modern logical and historic methods would be used to determine truth (or that which is “most probably true”).
Over time these are the religious questions that engaged their interest with the points made on both sides:
1) Was Jesus killed on the cross?
Nabeel held that Jesus did not die but that he pretended to die and after being buried alive, got up, pushed the stone aside with help from friends, and walked away. This explanation is a standard Muslim explanation called the “swoon theory” (i.e. Christ pretending to be dead.) .
Mike and Dave felt the Roman crucifixion process did not allow the condemned to escape death. They pointed out that a man being crucified had to push up with his feet to be able to get air in. To speed death, guards would sometimes break the condemn’s legs so they could no longer push up to get air. To check if death had occurred they would spear the condemn’s side to see if pulsing blood came out or if just a weak flow of both water and blood serum. (When a person dies his blood separates into water and blood serum (i.e. the non-water parts of the blood)).
Books were produced by Roman history scholars that explained the details of the crucifixion process. The Roman soldiers who supervised Christ’s crucifixion followed the process closely.
There was information produced about the Shroud of Turin which is a burial wrapping cloth from first century Palestine, which probably was Christ’s burial cloth, and which shows the Gospel account is correct. (e.g. blood serum had separated from water, there was an indication of a crown of thorns, there were signs of a flash energy source which sealed the shroud’s markings into the cloth. (This flash squares with the report from the guards at Jesus’ tomb who experienced a high energy event, etc.)
2) Did Jesus rise from the dead?
Nabeel’s explanation is included in the swoon theory (see #1 above). If Jesus was faking his death, all he had to do was pre-arrange with friends to come by and push away the stone in front of the tomb.
Mike, the history student, happened to be invited to debate this issue with an Islamic scholar at Regents University. Nabeel attended and noted that Mike made these points: a) there was a empty tomb otherwise the Jews would have paraded Jesus body around to discredit the apostles’ contention that Christ was raised from the dead, and b) there was testimony by disciples and even non-followers which indicated Jesus was risen. An actual resurrection is the best explanation of all this behavior. If, for instance, an actor was pretending to be the risen Jesus, the disciples would recognize the deception and walk away.
Dave and Mike pointed out that the swoon theory does not hold up. Even if Christ escaped death and got friends to get him out of the tomb, would these same friends face later persecution and martyrdom defending the reputation of a person who had arranged such a hoax.
3) Was Jesus truly God?
Muslims ask: why does God need a son? Is Jesus a demi-god, a half God and half man being? To Muslims, it doesn’t make sense ; and anyway didn’t Jesus say again and again that he was the “son of man”.
To answer this objection, David produced a mini book More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell which says Jesus creates all things including carpenters - “All things came into being thru Jesus” from John’s gospel . Also to answer the “son of man” objection David referenced the full quote from Daniel 7 “One like the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven who is worshiped by all and who sits at the right hand and would reign”. David then mentioned Ps 110 where the messiah is to “sit at my right hand”
Nabeel finally realized the Bible has to be studied as a series of stories whereas with the Koran individual verses are studied. Muslims then use commentaries to gain fuller understanding of these verses. Nabeel realized that reading individual verses in the Gospels can be misleading; the Gospels are an integrated whole. Nabeel finally began to read the Gospels. Reading John Chapter 1 hit him like a truck; here John explains how the Father and Son are one and yet are separate with different roles.
Nabeel realized that if there was not a good refutation of John Ch. 1 then God the Father and Son are one. So he told David, John’s gospel was not valid because it focuses on different things than the other gospels and is written in a different style. Perhaps John is taking about a different Jesus?.
So David produced a second 800 page book by McDowell. Nabeel wanted to see proof of divinity in the synoptic gospels. David pointed out Mark 14:62 where the Jewish high priest asked Jesus if he was God; Jesus said “I am”. This admission led to his death.
Muslims feel the earliest Christians felt Jesus was God because of Paul’s misleading epistles. Nabeel had been told that Paul was a Jew who gave up his Jewish faith to gain power in Christianity. David countered that Paul was a successful Jew and well positioned for a high position among the Jews; he gave all this up to become an itinerant traveler promoting a new religion.
(This point was particularly difficult for Nabeel because Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet but not God. For Muslims it is major heresy for someone to believe that Jesus is God.)
4) What factors tend to affirm the accuracy of the New Testament?
Historians use rules for textual criticism to rate the quality of an old text. With the Gospels, the accuracy is affirmed by the fact that the four gospels tend to support each other and that they were written within 25 to 50 years of Christ’s death, when eye witnesses were still alive to affirm their accuracy, and that some facts mentioned in the Bible are supported by non-Christian sources. For instance a character mentioned in Luke 3:1 was affirmed by archeological investigations that showed that a Lysanius lived at Abilene during Jesus’ ministry. Also a Jewish historian, named Josephus, recorded Jesus life and death albeit in an unflattering way.
The Gospels tell stories, of miracles, teachings, etc., so some differences in the reporting are to be expected. This is very common when one is receiving multiple eyewitness reports of a single event; people remember details differently. Also the gospels have been translated by many different people into many different languages. Differences in word usage and phraseology results from the preferences of these translators.
Muslims tend to focus heavily on these differences. The Koran, unlike the Bible , is composed mostly of short commands, permissions or admonitions. (Of course, throughout the Koran, there are many contradictory statements. This problem is resolved for Muslim by the doctrine of abrogation under which verses written later in Mohammad life take precedence over earlier verses if a contradiction exists.)
5) Is the Godhead composed of three persons Father, Son, and Spirit?
Here Islam is adamant. Belief in the Trinity is a form of polytheism. Nabeel had great difficulty understanding the Trinity especially since its details are a mystery. Some Christians attempt to explain the Trinity by noting that H2O can appear as steam, ice, or liquid water. This didn’t help Nabeel.
When Nabeel asked David where the Holy Spirit appears in the New Testament. David mentioned the Spirit descending upon Mary when Jesus was conceived, he mentioned the Spirit coming upon the assembled crowd on Pentecost Sunday 50 days after Christ’s death’s. Finally there is the quote from Jesus who said to the apostles I will send “my spirit”.
Later when he was studying genetics one day, he suddenly thought it might make sense to say that three perfect people share one perfect nature just as millions of imperfect people share one imperfect human nature.
6) Why was Christ’s death needed for our salvation?
Adam and Eve were the parents of all mankind. Their original sin therefore tainted all their descendants giving everyone a tendency toward sin. These millions of sins over many centuries needed to be atoned for by sacrifice if anyone was to be allowed into the perfect presence of God. Obviously one man’s atonement could not satisfy for all mankind’s sins. And so the man that came to atone was God himself. So God was born of a woman and was therefore also became a man, so the God-man, Jesus Christ entered history to atone for all sin. This act by God showed God’s great love for all mankind.
Muslims believe God keeps a log on each person’s life. These logs would show good acts and evil or sinful acts. At death, a balancing of good and bad determines whether a person gets into heaven. Sin is not atoned for it is balanced off.
7) Was Muhammad the perfect man?
This book makes clear that the filtered biographies used to instruct Muslims, either orally and in short tracts, have air brushed the prophet’s history. Examples of things air bushed out include: his early frustrations which caused urges to commit suicide, his repeated calls for violent jihad to “kill the infidel” particularly in the later verses, his marriage to a nine year old girl, and his urging of his followers to have sexual relations with the wives of the warriors they had defeated.
8) Is the Koran the unaltered word of God?
Muslim believe the Koran is the direct word of God and is correct with regard to all things from explaining salvation to human embryology. Nabeel being in pre-med was particularly well informed on how far from the mark the Koran was on the latter point. He also knew Islamic commentators got around this failure by redefining terms and/or ignoring the remaining words that still didn’t fit scientific facts.
Muslims believe the Koran has come down unaltered. However, Muslims feel the Gospels have been altered. The hadith (remembrances by others about the prophet’s life) states that Mohammad (570-632) would orally relate different verses of the Koran differently to different people. Mohammad never wrote anything down; he was illiterate. When questions arose about the differences, he’d say its “ok” to use either version. In the early years following Mohammad’s death the verses were handed down orally or in various partial or full written versions..
The caliph Uthman (579 - 656), the third caliph, ordered that a standardized Koran, written in Arabic, be assembled and that all other full or partial copies be destroyed by fire.
The Islamic commentator Mohammad al-Bukhari (810 - 870) wrote a commentary on this process of creating a standardized Koran. He noted that Mohammad had entrusted the preservation of the Koran to four followers, and each of these had recalled the holy texts somewhat differently. Because these differences where creating confusion among the faithful, the third caliph had to do what he did.
Today archeologists are finding early partial copies of the Koran that pre-date the caliph’s standardization project. So modern Islamic scholars now say God was adjusting the Koran by allowing verses to be lost or changed.
One verse was particularly troubling for Nabeel once he discovered its meaning. The Koran tells men they can have sexual relations with their wives or women that “the right hand possess”. The meaning of this latter term is generally passed over by Islamic teachers because it means men can force themselves on slave women. It also automatically authorized the immediate divorce of captured women from their defeated husbands so Muslim men could marry them forcefully.
Discovering the full meaning of this verse was a painful but enlightening benefit of Nabeel’s deep research into early sources.
Section III - Nabeel’s Time for Decision This part of the book deals with Nabeel’s process of deciding what to do with all the information he collected dealing with Dave and the others. Would Faith overcome his lingering doubt? Would rationality and revelation bring him to accept Christianity? Muslims live under an “honor/shame” paradigm which directs a Muslim’s world view. He wanted to deny his discoveries, but he could not deny truth.
He was worried about the consequences of leaving Islam. His decision would shame himself and his family. Honor killings are common because of such shame.
In Islam there is one unforgivable sin ....believing in Jesus ... so Nabeel begs Jesus to reveal himself. He finds himself praying at the Mosque asking God to reveal himself one way or the other.
He finally got a message from God in Orlando FL, where he had a vision of illuminated crosses late at night in a darkened bedroom. These crosses were projected all over one of the room’s walls. ....
Nabeel Qureshi became a Christian and finished his medical training. He was ostracized by his family. He went into Christian outreach work until he died at age 38 from a stomach cancer. ....... (prepared by Hugh Murray 12/13/2017)
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