Continuing my dialog with a Muslim man in the UK. See part 1 here and part 2 here.
5) Why do you believe in a book that has been changed many many times and has so many contradictions,absurdities, and scientific errors.
Changed? Contradictions? Absurdities? Scientific errors? You must be talking about the Qur'an. But before I go there, I will address your question.
Changed many times? Again you did not define what you mean, so I must make an assumption of what you mean. I assume you mean the standard line given by most Muslims, that we have many "versions" of the Bible. After all, you are want to quote Ahmed Deedat and this was his line of argumentation. So I assume it to be yours as well. "Christians have the King James Version, the American Standard Version, the New King James Version, the New American Standard Version, the Revised Standard Version," ad nauseum....
These are not 'changes' to the Bible but simply new translations to bring the understanding of the text into modern usage. The common meaning and definition of words changes over time in any language - Arabic as well, which is why many of the brightest Islamic scholars do not understand the meaning of literally hundreds of words in the Qur'an because the classical Arabic of the Qur'an is a lost language. But I digress. For example, 80 years ago in American colloquialism, the word 'faggot' meant the butt end of a cigarette. Today the word is a pejorative term for a homosexual. Nobody today speaks the "Kings English" of the time of King James, using words like 'thee' and 'thou' and 'thine.'
However, when scholars assembled to create a new translation, they always referred back to the most authoritative copies of the original manuscripts. In other words, one translation was not used as the basis for the next translation, which was then used as the basis for an even newer translation. No, each new translation returned to the manuscripts of the original languages of Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic.
If, however, you define 'changes' as modifications to the original manuscripts so that they say something entirely different than what the authors wrote, there is absolutely no evidence for this assertion. I challenge you to bring forth your evidence. I don't have to prove anything here because there is nothing to prove. It is a baseless claim.
As for scientific errors and absurdities, again bring forth your evidence.
Contradictions? What Muslims and skeptics usually mean by this word are instances in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, where two different books and authors relate the same incident but cite different numbers, and most of these always deal with numerical contradictions. In all of these cases it is clear that a copyist or scribe inserted an extra character or decimal place in one of the accounts. So what? What does it matter if Solomon had 2,000 chariots or 20,000 chariots, or whatever the case may be? Such minutiae have no bearing on the meaning of the text and none affects any tenet of faith or doctrine. The doctrine of the inerrancy of scripture means that the Bible is error free in the original autographs. It does not mean the Bibles we have today are error free and scholars admit that. All disputed passages are well known and with the abundance of manuscript evidence extant, we can be sure that the Bible we possess today is 99.8% accurate to the originals. The disputed texts are insignificant and affect no doctrine, belief, or tenet of the faith. Muslims and skeptics who focus on these disputed texts attempt to make a mountain out of an anthill, and their arguments are not worth the time it takes to respond.
Now, since you brought it up, let's talk about some real changes, absurdities, contradictions, and scientific error. I'll throw in historical errors as a bonus. This will be abbreviated because I have more information than I care to write here.
The Qur'an has undergone significant revision since it was dictated to Muhammad by a spirit being. Scholars all agree that the sahaba of Muhammad each had his/her own version of what they heard Muhammad recite.
Ibn Mas'ud wrote his collection prior to his death in 653 and his collection did not include Al-Fatiha or the two charm Suras (113 and 114). His became the de-facto standard Qur'an in Kufa.
Ubayy ibn Ka'b wrote his collection prior to his death in 649 and his contained an extra two suras (115 and 116). His became the standard in Syria.
Abu Musa's manuscript also contained the same 116 Suras as Ubayy ibn Ka'b's did.
In all, there were no less than 15 different versions of the Qur'an extant at Muhammad's death, from which Caliph Uthman arbitrarily chose that of Zayd ibn Thabit as the standard and ordered all collections which different to be burned.
Plenty of hadith material from Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, and others attest that significant portions of the Qur'an have simply disappeared.
Talk about changes? From Islam's own authentic sources. Bottom line: Even if Muslims truly believe the Qur'an to be the word of God, they have absolutely no assurance that the Qur'an of today is the one given to Muhammad. The evidence is undeniable.
Does Allah's day equal 1,000 human years (Sura 2:106; 16:101) or 50,000 human years (Sura 70:4)?
Was the earth created in six days (Sura 7:54, 25:59) or eight days (Sura 41:9-12)?
Is the evil in our life from Satan (Sura 4:117-120), from Allah (Sura 4:78), or from ourselves (Sura 4:79)?
If only Allah is to be worshipped (Sura 4:116, 18:110), then why were the angels commanded to bow down to Adam (Sura 15:29-30; 20:116)?
I could go on, but why?
Meteors are said to be missiles fired at demons eavesdropping on the reading of the Qur'an in heaven (sura 15:16-18, 37:6-10). How can material objects such as a meteor have any affect on a non-material spirit being??
Reverse evolution: Allah turns men into apes for violating the Sabbath (sura 2:65).
Ants talk to Solomon (sura 27:18)
The sun/moon and night/day are subject to man (sura 16:12).
And on and on and on....
- Over 20 verses describe the earth as flat, along with accompanying tafsir validating this interpretation. Numerous hadith also describe a flat earth, with the sun and moon rotating around earth. (Sura 2:22; 13:3; 15:19; 16:15; 20:53; 22:65; 27:61; 40:64; 43:10; 50:6-7; 51:48; 55:10; 71:15-20; 78:6-7; 79:7-30; 88:20; 91:5-6). Saudi Arabian Grand Mufti Sheikh Ibn Baaz: the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it. Satellite images are a western conspiracy. Source: Al-Ahram Weekly Issue 477, 13-19 April, 2000
- Suras 16:15; 21:31; 31:10; 78:6-7; 88:19 tell us that God placed (threw down) mountains on the earth like tent pegs to keep the earth from shaking. In other words, the Qur'an says mountains prevent earthquakes. Allah got it backwards; mountains are the RESULT of earthquakes!
- Semen comes from a location between the backbone and the ribcage. (Sura 86:5-7)
Again, there is more, but the point is made.
Historical Errors (Anachronisms):
- The Qur'an says the calf worshipped by the Israelites at mount Horeb was molded by a Samaritan (sura 20:85-87, 95-97). Samaritans did not exist in the 15th century BC; they came over 700 years later.
- Pharaoh threatens to crucify his sorcerers (Sura 7:124). Crucifixion was not a form of punishment during the Exodus period of Moses but came into common use several hundred years later.
- According to the Qur'an, Israel had kings before Moses (Sura 5:20). Yet the historical reality is that Israel's first king was Saul, at least 400 years later.
- Mary the mother of Jesus is confused with Mary (Miriam) the sister of Moses and Aaron, an error of 1,700 years (Sura 19:27-28).
- In Sura 28:30 God commands Haman (of the time of Queen Esther and King Ahasuerus) to build the Tower of Babel (of Genesis 11) and Pharaoh (of Moses' time) gives the order, a cumulative error of 1,700 years!
How in the world anybody can consider the Qur'an to be the words of an all knowing god with these kinds of blatant errors astounds me.
After all was said and done, his final reply to me was:
Thank you for replying to my questions. It must have taken you a while. I appreciate the effort. I will respond as and when i can to your comments and questions.
I have not heard back from him yet. I pray he is taking time to digest all the information and actually consider what it means.
Please use these responses in your own dialog with Muslims. They have many questions, but the great majority are based on either, 1) A false understanding of the Bible propagated by hyper-critical apologists like Ahmed Deedat whose scholarship was horrific, 2) Taking one verse out of the Bible and ripping it out of its surrounding context, to make the verse say something that cannot be supported by the context surrounding it, or 3) An incorrect view of what Christians believe, based on errors found in the Qur'an about what Christians believe.