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Some Muslims point out that Christian scholars have recorded 400,000 variations within the ancient manuscripts of The Bible. These Muslims say that this constitutes undeniable proof that The Bible has been corrupted and is completely unusable as a Holy Book. The sheer volume of Manuscript Variations in the ancient texts, these Muslims say, prove the total corruption of the whole text

Some Muslims go on to say that certain famous Bible Scholars have said that the original text of The Bible can no longer be determined since there are so many Manuscript Variants and the original Bible manuscripts have been lost. In this latter claim, that it is impossible to determine what The Bible originally said, certain Muslims quote the Bible Scholar, Bart Ehrman who said:

For practical reasons, New Testament scholars proceed as if we do actually know what [was in The original Bible. My view is]  we can probably get close to what the author wrote. But the dim reality is that we really don’t have any way to know for sure.

Sheer Volume

 Turning first to the claim that 400,000 manuscript variants prove that the text of The Bible has been completely lost, this claim is based on ignorance of what constitutes a Manuscript Variant.

A Manuscript Variant is defined as any variant in the text in any Manuscript such as spelling errors and  duplication of  words by copyists. Almost every single Manuscript Variant in the ancient manuscripts of The Bible fall into this category of trivial difference – differences with absolutely no effect on the meaning of the text. Of those differences which are actually real differences in wording, none of them affect the teaching or message of The Bible in any way.

As often noted, we have almost 25,000 ancient manuscripts of The Bible. If each of these Manuscripts contained 20 spelling errors we would have 500,000 Manuscript Variants, but not one of these would affect the meaning of the text in any way.

For purposes of comparison, since The Qu’ran was not originally written with vowelisation and diacritical marks, but modern editions are, this means that the entire Qu’ran, almost every single letter within it, is subject to Manuscript Variation.

Since the entire text of The Qu’ran is subject to Manuscript Variation does this prove that the Qu’ran has been tampered with and falsified in order to conceal the truth about the Deity Of Jesus or that the meaning of The Qu’ran has been completely lost without any hope of recovery ? Of course not. Why then do Muslims insist that Manuscript Variations in The Bible prove that The Bible has been corrupted and its meaning lost forever ?

Bart Ehrman

Turning now to Bart Ehrman’s statement, Muslims will be disappointed to learn that even though Bart Ehrman believes that the exact original wording of The Bible cannot now be determined, he also believes that the teaching of The Bible has never changed.

Ehrman, like the vast majority of Bible scholars, believes that no essential teaching of the Christian faith is compromised by Manuscript Variation i.e. Ehrman believes that John and Paul have always taught that Jesus is God, that the Bible has always taught that Jesus died on the cross, that Jesus is the final prophet and that The Bible has never said that a prophet named Mohammed would come after Jesus.

Ehrman does not believe that The Bible was originally Islamic or that it has been changed in order to falsify and conceal Islamic teachings or to present a false picture about Jesus or that any teaching contained in the The Bible text has been compromised, invented, concealed or fabricated.

In short, Ehrman believes in what is known technically as The Orthodoxy Of The Variants  that no Manuscript Variant changes the message or teaching of The Bible.

Says Daniel Wallace, a Bible scholar who has debated Ehrman several times:

For more than two centuries, most biblical scholars have declared that no essential affirmation has been affected by the variants. Even Ehrman has conceded this point in the three debates I have had with him. (For those interested, they can order the DVD of our second debate, held at the campus of Southern Methodist University. It’s available here.

Islamic Hadith Variants

Finally, Muslims concede that there is variation in wording of Hadith, but state, sensibly, that this variation in wording of Hadith has no affect on meaning and has no effect on the revelatory status of those Hadith with variant narrations. All Sahih Hadith are considered Wahy (direct revelation from God) even if there are minor errors in the narration of The Hadith.

From the Islamic website Islam Question and Answer:

The existence of different versions does not represent a fault in the hadeeth if the meaning is the same

The most important thing, says IslamQ&A, is meaning, not wording. Multiple narrations of the same Hadith are unimportant even if there are differences of wording between them. These Hadith are still regarded as Wahy, direct revelation from Allah

What matters in transmission of a hadeeth is that the meaning be conveyed. As for the wording, it is not the matter of worship as is the case with the Qur’aan.
For example, the hadeeth “Actions are but by intentions” is also narrated as “Action is by intention” and “Actions are but by intention” and “actions are by intention.” The reason for these multiple versions is that the meaning was narrated. The source of the hadeeth is one, namely Yahya ibn Sa’eed from Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem from ‘Alqamah from ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him). It may be noted that the meaning that is understood from these sentences is the same, so what does it matter if there are multiple reports? 

Islam Question and Answer tells us that mistakes in narration do not invalidate a Hadith since it is possible to identify the mistake by comparing one narration with another. This is exactly what Bible scholars do when comparing ancient manuscripts of The Bible. Why should a copyist error invalidate a verse in a Bible manuscript if a narration error does not invalidate a Hadith ?

One of the narrators may have made a mistake, so he narrated the hadeeth in a way that it was not narrated by others. It is possible to spot the mistake by comparing the reports with one another. This is what was done by the scholars in the books of Sunnah… Allaah guaranteed that there would always be in this ummah those who would explain it and highlight evidence against the errors of those who err and the lies of those who lie. This ummah will not agree on misguidance

So, Muslim scholars and Christian scholars agree. Mistakes in narration that do not affect the meaning of the text do not invalidate the revelation of The Holy Book.

Muslims note that The Bible used by Catholic Christians has extra books than the one used by Protestant Christians. They then claim that the inclusion of these extra books by Catholics constitute proof that the message The Bible has been corrupted. Specifically Muslims state that Christians have deliberately altered The Bible in order to conceal the truth about the supreme prophethood of Mohammed and to fabricate claims about The Deity of Jesus.

We will discuss the extra books added by The Catholics below. But, first,  Muslims have their own issues with extra and different books being accepted by the different major branches of their faith. This problem lies with the different books of Hadith Collections that are accepted by the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam.

Does the existence of different and extra books among the two major branches of Islam constitute proof that Islamic scholars have tampered with the religion of Islam in order to conceal the truth about the Deity of Jesus ? Of course not. Then why should the acceptance of extra books by The Catholics constitute proof that The Bible has been tampered with in order to conceal the truth about the prophethood of Islam ?

What Are The Hadith ?

The Hadith are collections of narrations about what Mohammed said and did and provide essential context to understanding and application of The Qu’ran. Indeed, it is impossible to practice Islam without The Hadith since it is The Hadith which describe exactly how and when to perform Salat (Ritual Prayer: five times a day for Sunni and three times a day for Shia) and all the specific instructions on how to carry out the other Pillars of Islamic faith and life.

Salat Prayer is the core of Islamic religious practice. You cannot perform Salat correctly without The Hadith. Which means that you cannot be a true Muslim without The Hadith. Yet the Shia Hadith describe the performance of Salat in a different manner to the Sunni as well as condensing the times of prayer to three instead of five. Which is correct ? Who are the real Muslims ?

Without religious knowledge derived from The Hadith it would be impossible for Muslims to accrue the necessary religious merit required to enter Paradise, since merit is only awarded by Allah for religious actions performed in exact accordance with Allah’s instructions. These instructions are found in The Hadith.

The Hadith can be summarized as What Mohammed did whereas The Qu’ran can be summarized as What Mohammed said

The Hadith Collections have the status of Holy Books in Islam. Like The Qu’ran, The Hadith are thought to originate with Allah. Both The Qu’ran and The Hadith are regarded as revelation of a kind called Wahy or direct revelation of Allah. There is no higher form of revelation in Islam. The Qu’ran is only regarded as superior by virtue of being a verbatim word-for-word revelation of Allah’s speech.

Thus, the extra and different collections of Hadith constitute extra and different sets of Holy Books used in different branches of Islam. Does this mean that Islam has been tampered with in order to conceal the truth from humanity and falsify the position of Mohammed ? If not, why should Muslims consider the extra Holy Books accepted by Catholics as proof that Christians have falsified The Bible in order to falsify the position of Jesus ?

Extra Books

While it is true that Catholics added extra books to The Bible in the year 1546 at The Roman Catholic Council Of Trent, this is not proof that the message of The Bible has been corrupted.

First, the books added by Catholics are extra books. They did not change or remove any existing books. This means the message of the existing books was never changed. All these books testify that Jesus is God and that His teaching the final revelation to humanity. None of them give any status to Mohammed whatsoever.

Specifically, there is no attempt by Catholics to conceal or remove Islamic content from the Bible. They did not remove any prophecy of Mohammed or any regulations pertaining to Salat or Hajj or Fasting; they did not invent or fabricate any teaching that Jesus is God or invent or fabricate any teaching about Jesus’ death on the cross or about receiving forgiveness by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, or invent or fabricate any teaching about His resurrection, teaching or His ascension to heaven. In other words, the specific Christian doctrines which Muslims object to in the Injeel are not affected in any way by the inclusion or exclusion by the books added to The Bible by Catholics in 1546. Nor were any Islamic doctrines excluded or concealed by Catholics when adding these books.

Catholics believed that Jesus is The Son Of God both before and after the extra books were added in 1546.

Catholics believed that Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of humanity both before and after the extra books were added in 1546.

Catholics rejected Mohammed as a prophet both before and after the extra books were added in 1546

In short the extra books of The Catholics offer no support to the Muslim claim that The Bible has been altered in order to conceal Islamic beliefs or falsify or invent Christian beliefs.

Secondly, the extra books of the Catholics were added in 1546, 1500 years after Jesus finished teaching. This makes it obvious that the extra books are not authentic teachings of Jesus.

Extra Books, Extra Hadith

For purposes of comparison, let’s consider the Hadith of Bukhari first published by him in 850 AD. At that time Bukhari rejected a huge number of Hadith as forged or unreliable, that number being either 297,00 or 597,000 depending on which tradition you accept. This means at least 98% of Hadith were considered by Bukhari to be forged or unreliable.

Now imagine if this year, which is more than 1150 years after Bukhari, I bought to Muslims a set of Hadith rejected by him more than 1000 years ago. I then say that Muslims should accept these forged or inauthentic traditions. Would they do so ? Of course not. They are obviously not valid traditions, even if they were accepted by some Muslims in previous times. Furthermore, does the existence of forged or inauthentic traditions call the validity or reliability of the authentic traditions into question ? Of course not.

Again furthermore, what if some Islamic group wished to accept the forged or inauthentic teachings ? Can we then say that all the Hadith have been corrupted and should be rejected based on the ignorance or poor decisions of the group that accepts forgeries ? Of course not.

For this same reason the extra books added by Catholics do not invalidate The Bible even if Catholics choose to accept the extra books.

Thirdly, the extra books pertain to The Old Testament only. The specific doctrines about Jesus rejected by Muslims are New Testament doctrines located in The Injeel. They are not described in these extra books added by Catholics.

Fourthly, these extra books were never referenced by Jesus or the ancient Jewish prophets or scholars. Some also contain obvious errors, such as a command to use magic. There is simply no reason to accept the extra books added by the Catholics.

Extra Books In Islam 

Returning to the comparison with Islamic Hadith we note that Sunni, Shia and Ibadi Muslims keep entirely different sets of Hadith collections. Another certain sect of  Muslims do not accept any Hadith whatsoever. Do Muslims acknowledge therefore, that the different Holy Books accepted by various Islamic groups prove that Islamic belief has been corrupted in order to conceal the fact that Jesus is God and to invent a spurious claim that Mohammed is the final prophet of Allah ? Of course not. Why then should Muslims require Christians to accept that Christian belief has been falsified based on the acceptance of extra Old Testament books by Catholics ?

Sunni Hadith

Sunni Muslims highly respect six Hadith collections and accord special status to two of them (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim). This certification process was completed in the 11th Century by Ibn Al-Qiasarani. Yet a further seventh collection is accepted by a certain school of reputable Islamic scholars as superior in status to the sixth (I speak here of the Hadith Collections of Ibn Majah and Muwatta Malik). In addition to these seven, there are an additional sixteen other Hadith collections respected by Sunnis. Thirteen of which were completed prior to 1500 AD.

Hadith are essential for the practice of Islam, describing exactly how to carry out the Five Pillars of Faith and so obtain entry to Paradise. What is the non-Islamic world to make of sixteen competing collections of Traditions, each of which is apparently guided by Allah ? What are we to make of a system of Major, Minor and Tertiary Holy Books existing alongside The Qu’ran, without which the Qu’ran cannot be implementedor understood and each of which has disputed status and competing usage ? There are even statements supposedly by Allah which are not in the Qu’ran but which appear in the Hadith collections and which are given an additional prestige above other Hadith.These are the so-called Qudsi or Royal Hadith).

Why aren’t all the sayings of Allah in The Qu’ran ? Why do Muslims need additional Holy Books beyond the Qu’ran at all ? Isn’t Allah capable of describing religious practice in The Qu’ran ? If religious practice is of supreme importance then why isn’t it described in The Qu’ran ? Isn’t this multiplication of traditions proof that Muslism have been tampering with their religion for centuries, especially since even the greatest Hadith scholar, Imam Bukhari admits to discovering hundreds of thousands of forged and inauthentic traditions ?

On what basis can a person like Imam Bukhari, who is not a prophet, become authoritative in deciding which practices are authentically Islamic and which are not ? Surely that authority properly belongs with prophet. How can a person who is not a prophet become authoritative for determining what is Islamic practice and belief and what is not ?

Shia Hadith

When we come to Shia Hadith we find that the Shi’a maintain an entirely different set of Hadith to the Sunni. Though Shia do accept some of Bukhari’s work they reject the majority of it and explicitly state that Bukhari’s acceptance of unreliable narrators has corrupted Islam. Here is an example of a Bukhari Hadith rejected by Shi’a. Both Sunni and Shia regard each other’s Hadiths (extra Holy Books) as morally unacceptable, full of false doctrine and perversions of the true nature of Islam.

The most highly regarded Shi’a Hadith comprise four Collections (Al-Kafi, Man La Yahduruhu Al-Faqi, Tahdhib Al-Ahkam and Al-Istibsar). There are twelve additional Shia collections having a secondary status, six of them completed before 1500 AD.

The Ibadis have a further two Hadith collections. These are entirely distinct from the collections of the Shi’a and Sunni.

Between these three branches of Islam we note a total of thirty books of Hadith, none of which are entirely acceptable to the other branches and most of which are regarded as mutually and totally unacceptable and false.

No Muslim would agree that Islam has become corrupted on the basis of competing Hadith Collections, even though these differing Hadith lead to distinctly different expressions of Islam. In particular, no Muslim would agree that Muslims have tampered with their collections in order to conceal the fact that Jesus is God or to fabricate the position of Mohammed within Islam.

Why then do Muslims insist that the extra books accepted by Catholics prove falsification and concealment of the persons and teaching of Jesus and Mohammed when it comes to the teaching of Christianity ?

Extra Biographies

But the problem of competing Islamic Holy Books does not end with the Hadith. Muslims also use Biographies (Seerah) of Mohammed in order to understand and apply the Qu’ran. An important third-generation Muslim, Ali bin Hussain, the grandson of Imam Ali who was the fourth Sunni caliph) would say

We were taught the Seerah of Rasool Allah like we were taught Qur-aan.

That is how important Seerah is for Muslims. They would study it like they studied Qu’ran. But there is more than one ancient Biography which is authentic for Sunni Muslims and their details do not always agree. In fact, it is freely admitted by Muslims that material of doubtful authenticity is included the ancient biographies of Mohammed as often there are no conclusive accounts of events in ancient Islamic times.

Says Abu Aamar Yasir Qadhi, a Saudi-educated scholar,

the narrations used [in the Seerah] include all the authentic and acceptable ones, along with ones with weaknesses. The reason for including these weaker narrations is in order to fill in gapes or holes in the story.

But Shi’a maintain different Seerah of Mohammed than do Sunnis and also accept additional Seerah to the Sunni, these being the Seerah of the Twelve Imams directly descended from Mohammed, beginning with Imam Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed plus Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed. These thirteen persons (plus Mohammed) are considered by Shi’a to be infallible.

As the Shi’a website Al-Islam.org puts it in relation to differences between Sunni and Shia:

The Shi’a bind themselves to refer to Ahlul-Bayt [i.e. the household of Mohammed] for deriving the Sunnah of Prophet (S) [whereas Sunni Muslims do not].

Islamic biographies of Mohammed are used by Muslims to understand and apply the Qu’ran. Sunni and Shia use differing biographies while the Shia additionally use biographies of The Twelve Imams and Fatima. These are rejected by Sunnis and constitute a further set of differering Holy Books between the two major branches of Islam.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Shunni and Shia maintain different books of Hadith and Seerah while rejecting the Collections of the other. Yet no Muslim would agree that Islam has become corrupted on the basis of competing Holy Books and Biographies even though these differing Holy Books lead to distinctly different expressions of Islam. In particular, no Muslim would agree that Muslims have tampered with their collections in order to conceal the fact that Jesus Is God or to fabricate the position of Mohammed within Islam.

Why then do Muslims insist that the extra books accepted by Catholics prove falsification and concealment of the persons and teaching of Jesus in Mohammed when it comes to the teaching of Christianity ?

Many Muslims state that the true Injeel (Gospel as taught by Jesus) is found in The Gospel of Barnabas which was later excluded from The Bible by Christian leaders who wished to put fake and corrupt teaching into The Bible. You can read a Muslim making that claim here.

The Gospel Of Barnabas is not the true Injeel. Rather, it is an obvious forgery.

In fact, unfortunately for Muslims who insist that the The Gospel Of Barnabas is the true word of God,  The Gospel was Barnabas contradicts Islam and the Qu’ran. It states that Jesus was not the Messiah when the Qu’ran says that Jesus is The Messiah. The Gospel Of Barnabas says that Maryam suffered pain in childbirth whereas the Qu’ran says Maryam did not suffer pain during childbirth. The Gospel Of Baranbas says that men are limited to one wife whereas the Qu’ran permits Muslims to four wives. Finally the Gospel Of Barnabas says there are nine heavens whereas the Qu’ran says there are seven heavens.

These contradictions alone are enough to prove that The Gospel Of Barnabas is not acceptable to Muslims or Islamic and that it should be rejected by Muslims, but that is only the beginning of its many problems.
Internal evidence from The Gospel Of Barnabas shows that it was written no earlier than the 14th Century. Additionally, it is written in Spanish. For Barnabas to be an authentic document from the time of Jesus it would need to be written in the 1st Century and in Hebrew or Koine Greek to name just two of the basic qualifications of Biblical authenticity. Barnabas is written 1300 years too late to be associated with Jesus and in the wrong language, Spanish, which neither Jesus nor his companions could write in.

Imagine if I told Muslims that I had just found the authentic Qu’ran and that the current Qu’ran that they are reading is completely incorrect. I then tell them that my new Qu’ran is written in Chinese and was written in the year 2000 (1300 years after Mohammed) and that it says that Mohammed is not the final prophet of Allah and that it contradicts all the other ancient manuscripts of The Qu’ran going back to near the time of Mohammed.

Muslims would immediately say that this Qu’ran that I have found is an obvious forgery. And they would be correct. And yet they will insist that The Gospel Of Barabas, itself an obvious forgery, must be accept by Christians.
Yet the problems of The Gospel Of Barnabas are more even than this. It contains errors of geography, locating towns in the wrong places and makes historical errors about the names of the Roman leaders at the time of Jesus.

What if my Chinese Qu’ran I discovered said that Mecca is located in Egypt instead of Arabia and that Mohammad’s tribe name was Banu Qurayza (a Jewish tribe) instead of Banu Quraysh (his real tribe) ? Muslims would immediately recognise the obvious errors and reject my Chinese Qu’ran as a forgery. And yet Muslims insist that Christians accept errors of similar magnitude from The Gospel Of Barnabas.

The Gospel According To Islam

It is apparent that the Gospel Of Barnabas is a forgery of the True Bible made by a zealous Muslim in about 1400 AD. Interestingly another Muslim, Ahmad Shafaat,created a forged Injil in 1979, calling it The Gospel According To Islam. Shafaat just took the true Gospel and rewrote it with Islamic content, even dividing up his forged Islamic gospel with Chapter divisions to make it appear like a real Bible. This shows that Muslims are willing to make forgeries of The Bible with their own hands and then pass them off as authentic. This is exactly what the author of The Gospel Of Barnabas did.

Would Muslims accept a Qu’ran created by Christian scholars which had been re-written to remove Mohammed and say that Jesus is Allah ? Of course not. Any Christian who did so, who created a fraudlent Qu’ran, would find himself in immediate danger of his life from outraged Muslims. And yet Muslim scholars feel at liberty to re-write The Bible with their own hands and claim it to be the authentic message of Jesus.
May God forgive them for tampering with God’s Holy Books and lead them to repentance.

So woe to those who write the “scripture” with their own hands, then say, “This is from Allah ,” in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn.

(Qu’ran Surah Al-Baqarah 2:79)

Commentary

I have obtained the information for this article  from Samuel Green’s excellent article on The Gospel Of Barnabas here.

Muslims sometimes say that Christians themselves admit that the Bible has been corrupted. They point to the the Preface (i.e. the scholars’ introduction) of the Revised Standard Version of The Bible produced in 1971 as proof of this. In the Preface are these words:

The King James Version has grave defects…these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision.

But Muslim scholars include identical statements about grave errors in their translations of The Qu’ran. Does this mean that The Qu’ran has been corrupted and distorted to conceal the truth about Jesus ? Of course not.

Scholars’ Introduction To The Saheeh International Translation Of The Qu’ran

As we noted above, Muslims sometimes assert that Christians have admitted corrupting The Bible by reference to the Preface of the Revised Standard Version, an English translation of The Bible produced in 1971.

Yet essentially identical notes by Islamic scholars appear in the Prefaces of Qu’ranic translations. Here are a few lines from the Preface of The Saheeh International Translation Of The Qu’ran of 1997, a highly respected Qu’ranic translation.

In recent years there have appeared a number of English translations of The Holy Qu’ran…The stated purpose behind these works has been the correction of certain errors found in previous editions…in view of the amendments made by al-Hilali and Khan in their Noble Qu’ran, there remain certain drawbacks. They concentrated their attention on corrections pertaining to aqeedah (i.e. doctrine)…It is further complicated by the inclusion of explanatory additions within the lines of the English text to the extent that a reader…often has difficulty in distinguishing one from the other.

Pages of similar “incriminating” remarks follow.

So, from the Preface to the Saheeh Translation of the Qu’ran we can find it “admitted” by Muslim scholars that there are numerous errors in previous editions of The Qu’ran as well as amendments to these editions of The Qu’ran resulting in faulty aqeedah (i.e. doctrine), in the Qu’ran and furthermore that Muslim scholars have included additional materials not found in the original Qu’ran and so confused the meaning that it is difficult to know where the translator’s explanation ends and the meaning of The Qu’ran begins.

Surely here we have proof from Islamic scholars that there has been a succession of attempts by Muslims to conceal, corrupt and distort the meaning of The Qu’ran, only now rescued by the translators of Saheeh International in 1997 ?

Of course not. The Saheeh scholars are merely saying that their own translation is an improvement on previous English translations of The Qu’ran…which is exactly what the RSV scholars were saying in their English translation of The Bible.

This article is a re-post of my original article on this blog which you can read here.

Muslims sometimes say that Christians themselves admit that the Bible has been corrupted. They point to the the Preface (i.e. the scholars’ introduction) of the Revised Standard Version of The Bible produced in 1971 as proof of this. In the Preface are these words:

The King James Version has grave defects…these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision.

Muslims find these statements by Christian scholars to be self-incriminating. For Christian scholars to say that the King James Version of the Bible has grave defects which require revision is taken as a self-evident admission that either the Revised Standard Version (RSV) or the King James Version (KJV) of The Bible or both have been intentionally distorted with the intention of fabricating false teaching.

But Muslim scholars include identical statements about grave errors in their translations of The Qu’ran. Does this mean that The Qu’ran has been corrupted and distorted to conceal the truth about Jesus ? Of course not. We will examine a Muslim scholars’ Preface to the Saheeh Translation of The Qu’ran (1997) below, but first a short note about the RSV.

Scholars’ Introduction To Revised Standard Version

The RSV is a revised translation of the King James Version of 1611. Both are English language translations. As we have seen, the scholars’ introduction to the RSV says:

The King James Version has grave defects…these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision

A Muslim writer quotes the RSV preface here and uses it to attempt to demonstrate that the Bible has been corrupted and that its original Islamic message has been lost.

The most important defects corrected in the RSV and other modern translations are the removal of the three major Manuscript Variants 1 John 5:7; Mark 16:8-20 and John 7:53-8:11. The Manuscript Variants removed from the KJV do not change what the Bible teaches. There is nothing in any variant which is not amply proved by hundreds of other verses in The Bible. Specifically, there is no indication that Islamic teaching has been removed or concealed or that any teaching of Jesus has been fabricated.

As the RSV preface say, the corrections made in the RSV were made because of the use of additional ancient manuscripts than were used by the scholars of 1611. See here.

Muslim writers usually omit the full statements of the RSV scholars in order create a false impression that The Bible has been corrupted. The complete quote of the RSV scholars is this:

Yet the King James Version has grave defects. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the development of Biblical studies and the discovery of many manuscripts more ancient than those upon which the King James Version was based, made it manifest that these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision of the English translation.

Specifically, Muslim writers often omit to mention that the reason for the defects of the KJV which is that the KJV scholars did not have access to the earliest ancient manuscripts. In short, new translations of The Bible are provided by scholars to provide more clarity in regard to the teaching of Jesus, not less. To this end, the most ancient sources are honoured more than relatively later ones.

What is proved by the corrections made in the RSV is that Christians are scrupulously open and honest in their handling of the ancient texts of The Bible, not that they are dishonest or deceptive.

It is important to understand that the KJV is not an original text of the Bible. It is merely an English translation.  Muslim writers often fail to note that the KJV is a translation in order to give the impression that Christian scholars are tampering with original texts.

The Qu’ran, like the Bible, exhibits thousands of Manuscript Variants in its ancient manuscripts and exists in multiple versions as well as an extensive number of translations. Neither the existence of manuscript variants or of translations indicates corruption or concealment of the text of either book.

Scholars’ Introduction To The Saheeh International Translation Of The Qu’ran

As we noted above, Muslims sometimes assert that Christians have admitted corrupting The Bible by reference to the Preface of the Revised Standard Version, an English translation of The Bible produced in 1971.

Muslim writers selectively quote from the RSV Preface as follows:

The King James Version has grave defects…these defects are so many and so serious as to call for revision.

Yet essentially identical notes by Islamic scholars appear in the Prefaces of Qu’ranic translations. Here are a few lines from the Preface of The Saheeh International Translation Of The Qu’ran of 1997, a highly respected Qu’ranic translation.

In recent years there have appeared a number of English translations of The Holy Qu’ran…The stated purpose behind these works has been the correction of certain errors found in previous editions…in view of the amendments made by al-Hilali and Khan in their Noble Qu’ran, there remain certain drawbacks. They concentrated their attention on corrections pertaining to aqeedah (i.e. doctrine)…It is further complicated by the inclusion of explanatory additions within the lines of the English text to the extent that a reader…often has difficulty in distinguishing one from the other.

Pages of similar “incriminating” remarks follow.

So, from the Preface to the Saheeh Translation of the Qu’ran we can find it “admitted” that Muslim scholars have made numerous errors and amendments concentrating on faulty aqeedah (i.e. doctrine), that the Qu’ran has been amended and furthermore that Muslim scholars have included additional materials not found in the original Qu’ran and so confused the meaning that it is difficult to know where the translator’s explanation ends and the meaning of The Qu’ran begins.

Surely here we have proof from Islamic scholars that there has been a succession of attempts by Muslims to conceal, corrupt and distort the meaning of The Qu’ran, only now rescued by the translators of Saheeh International in 1997 ?

Of course not. The Saheeh scholars are merely saying that their own translation is an improvement on previous English translations of The Qu’ran…which is exactly what the RSV scholars were saying in their English translation of The Bible.

My Muslim friends and acquaintances frequently tell me that The Bible is not a reliable document because the Family Names of the Gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are unknown. Because we don’t know their last names, their argument runs, it is impossible to know who these people were, hence their credibility is not established, hence their testimony to the life and teachings of Jesus is unreliable.

A Muslim teacher, Khalid Yasin, is shown making this argument here, along with a large number of very serious and obvious errors which I will detail at a later time.

My Muslim friends also say that it can be shown by internal evidence in The Bible that that neither Matthew, Mark, Luke or John were eyewitnesses to the life and teaching of Jesus, hence their testimony, and therefore The New Testament, is unreliable.

This post will demonstrate that the Gospels were written by  companions of Jesus who are eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus and compiled from eyewitness testimony, that the identity of the Gospel writers is known  and that their testimony is reliable.

Jews Did Not Use Family Names In First Century Israel

First, though, the simple reason that the Gospel writers did not use family names is that  Jewish societies of that time did not use Family Names at all. Jews typically identified by Patronymic or Matronymic names (Son Of or Daughter Of).

Jews only began to use Family Names when forced to by Gentile authorities in the nations to which they were dispersed after being evicted from Israel by invading armies. The use of surnames amongst Jews only began to appear in the 10th Century.

Consequently the assertion of Muslims that the identity of the Gospel writers is unknowable since they did not state their family name is based on ignorance of Jewish naming conventions

If Muslims wish to state that the lack of a Family Name makes a person’s testimony unreliable, they will have to take this argument to God who chose to deliver the Tawrat, Zaboor, Injeel (i.e.Torah, Psalms and New Testament) and all books of the Jewish prophets to people who did not have Family Names and yet wrote Holy Scripture.

While Jews were often named by Patronymics, they could be named in a variety of ways as this article describes. Jews could be named by Tribe, Occupation, Place Of Birth, Place Of Residence, by Reputation, by Title (e.g. Jesus Christ) or by a descriptive honorific. An example of the last is the Gospel writer John who with his brother James were called Boanerges (Sons Of Thunder) in description of their personality  or Richard, King of England named Richard Lionheart in honour of his courage.

Sometimes a new name, different to one’s birth name, could be bestowed on a person by a teacher or by their community, or taken upon oneself to indicate a change of destiny, circumstances or attitude. Furthermore a Jew in First-Century Israel might be known by two names, a Hebrew name given to them at birth and also a Greek name which was adopted by them to function more easily in the Roman-dominated society of that time and place.

These sorts of naming conventions were used all over the Ancient Middle East and in many places in ancient times. There was simply no need for Family Names in many societies and even where Family Names were used these many other ways of identifying a particular person could be used and functioned as unique identifiers i.e. names.

So the names of the Gospel writers are:

Matthew; Levi Son Of Alphaeus Mark 2:14 (New name adopted or bestowed)

Mark; John Mark Acts 15:37 (Jewish/Greek names combined), cousin of the Apostle Barnabas Colossians 4:10 who was the Companion of Paul The Apostle Acts 14:14 (further identification by reliable companions)

Luke The Beloved Doctor Colossians 4:14 (Named by profession)

John Son Of Zebedee Matthew 4:21-22 (Patronymic)

But even these names are not required to identify the Gospel writers as they are known by the greatest honour of all, that of being the writers of the Gospel accounts and Companions of Jesus, or trusted servants and students of the Companions Of Jesus.

So it is when someone mentions, for example, Matthew in the context of The Bible, all people know that the reference is to the Matthew who was a Companion Of Jesus. This is how Matthew was identified amongst the earliest followers of Jesus from the very start. Matthew The Disciple and Companion Of Jesus is, fundamentally, the name of the Gospel writer, which identifies him uniquely amongst all other Matthews.

When someone mentions Matthew or Mark in the context of the Gospels. There is only one Matthew or Mark they can possibly mean: Matthew, Companion Of Jesus or Mark Companion of Peter, Companion of Jesus.

One name is sufficient because the context is so obvious.

This fact is proven by an unbroken chain of reliable testimony from the time of Jesus as we will see below in the section entitled The Identity Of The Gospel Writers Is Validated By Reliable Testimony.

In the Qu’ran, Mohammed is regularly mentioned without his family name. Would Muslims seriously say ‘Which Mohammed do you mean ?’

The Qu’ran Teaches That The Bible Is Reliable

Muslims are, in fact, faith-bound to accept that the New Testament is reliable because no less authority than the Qu’ran asserts that The New Testament (or Injeel as it is known to Muslims) is reliable.

Surah Yunus 10:94 instruct Muslims to verify the truth of the Qu’ran by checking it against the Injeel (i.e. New Testament) and the Tawrat (i.e. Torah or Holy Books given to Moses). Obviously if the Injeel were unreliable it would be impossible to verify the Qu’ran against the Injeel, yet this is what Muslims are told to do. Hence the Qu’ran teaches that the New Testament is reliable. Surah Yunus 10:94 says:

But if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those who read the Book before you; certainly the truth has come to you from your Lord, therefore you should not be of the disputers.

Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:47 instructs Christians to live according to the New Testament. Of course this would not be possible if  the New Testament were unreliable. Yet this is what the Qu’ran commands Christians to do.  Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:47 says

Let the People of the Gospel judge by that which Allah hath revealed therein. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are evil-livers.

A large number of further Ayahs (i.e. verses) from the Qu’ran could be adduced to this list to further show that the Qu’ran absolutely testifies to the reliability of Gospel writers and The Bible as a whole.

The Identity Of The Gospel Writers Is Validated By Reliable Testimony

This section relies heavily on the article Who Wrote the Gospels? Internal and External Arguments for Traditional Authorship by Keith Thompson.

The identity of the Gospel writers is given in The Bible and is validated by the testimony of early Christians of Jesus who knew Jesus and the twelve companions of Jesus (i.e. twelve disciples or twelve Apostles)  who were directly taught by Jesus.

This means that the authorship of the Gospel writers is attested by reliable testimony back to the original source in exactly the same way that Muslims state the the Hadith (i.e. Islamic Traditions) are attested. 

The identity of Matthew is given in the following Bible verses: Mark 2:14, Luke 5:27-29, Matthew 9:9 and 10:3. This authorship is attested by early followers such as Papias of Heirapolis, who said of Matthew

Matthew compiled the sayings [logia of Christ] in the Hebrew language

Papias of Heirapolis, who lived from approximately 70 AD to 163 AD goes on to say that he obtained his information by those who directly knew the Twelve Companions of Jesus

If, then, any one came, who had been a follower of the elders, I questioned him in regard to the words of the elders — what Andrew or what Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the disciples of the Lord, and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say.

For I did not think that what was to be gotten from the books would profit me as much as what came from the living and abiding voice.

In short, Papias says that the Gospel of Matthew was written by Matthew, one of the Twelve Companions of Jesus, and that he got this information from people that directly knew Matthew and the Companions of Jesus, such persons including Aristion and John The Presbyter.

If the preceding two quotations from Papias were an Islamic Hadith it would read like this:

Papias said that Ariston said that Matthew was taught directly by Jesus. Papias also said that Ariston said that Matthew wrote down the teachings of Jesus in the Hebrew language.

I will leave it to the reader to consult the Thompson article to perform the same proof of validation of the authorship of the Gospel Of John who was the other gospel writer who was one of The Twelve Companions of Jesus, an eyewitness of his life, death and resurrection and directly taught by Jesus.

In short, the authorship of the Gospel writers is validated by an unbroken chain of reliable witnesses going back to the original source. Since this is the way that Muslims validate their own traditions, they must accept the same validation for Christian traditions.

And as we have shown above, the argument given by some Muslims that the Gospel writers are unreliable witnesses because they didn’t give their Family Names is based on ignorance since traditional Jewish society didn’t utilize Family Names, instead typically using Patronymics.

In any case The Qu’ran itself testifies to the reliability of the Injeel (New Testament) which makes acceptance of the reliability of The Bible mandatory for Muslims.

Mark and Luke Not Companions

Muslims are correct to state that the Gospels of Luke and Mark were not written by Companions Of Jesus. Nevertheless these Gospels have the same authority as the other Gospels as they were written under the supervision of Companions to Jesus who lived with Him and bring us the teaching of The Holy Injeel Of Jesus.

In addition, though Mark was not a Companion of Jesus, it is probable that Mark was a disciple of Jesus in his outer circle, lived in Jerusalem and was a eyewitness of Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion. I detail this below.

The Gospel Of Mark was written by Mark under the teaching of Peter, who was one of the Twelve Companions of Jesus. Peter lived with Jesus and was taught directly by Jesus. Mark became an assistant to Peter and lived with Peter while Peter taught the message of The Injeel. John The Presbyter, who knew the Twelve Companions Of Jesus, told Papias that Mark had accurately written down the teaching of Peter, who himself had received them from Jesus

This also the presbyter said:Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, whatsoever he remembered of the things said or done by Christ

If this were an Islamic Hadith it would say

Papias said that John The Presbyter said that many of the Twelve Companions said that Mark accurately wrote down the teachings of Peter who received them from Jesus.

So, the Gospel of Mark has reliable attestation to Jesus through Papias. Muslims are therefore obliged to accept the reliability of  The Gospel Of Mark because it is reliably attested to the original source in the same way that Islamic Hadith are attested.

Mark: Disciple and Eyewitness

As a further note, while Mark himself was not a Companion Of Jesus, it is probable that he was an eyewitness to certain important facts in the life of Jesus including his arrest, trial and crucifixion.  I make this claim based on the identification of Mark as the disciple who was seized by guards at Jesus’ arrest but who escaped and ran away.

Based on this identification, Mark lived in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ life and Jesus’ visits to Jerusalem and was able to personally  witness the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus as well, it is logical to presume, many other things that Jesus did.

As a resident of Jerusalem, Mark was also therefore personally knowledgeable about many things about the History of Jesus such as how the general public responded to Jesus teaching and claims and events in the city.

The Authority And Reliability Of The Gospel Of Luke

The authority and reliability of The Gospel Of Luke comes about because Luke was a student of Paul who was directly taught by Jesus.

Muslims assert that Paul  cannot be considered reliable because he didn’t know Jesus. In this they contradict God’s Holy Books.

The Injeel (New Testament) says that Paul did know Jesus and was directly taught by Jesus after Jesus’ ascension to Heaven.

Jesus did this by directly and personally appearing to Paul, teaching Paul by direct revelation. Paul later submitted his teaching to The Twelve Companions Of Jesus who verified that Paul’s teaching was correct, did come from Jesus and that Jesus should be regarded as a Companion (i.e. Apostle) of equal standing with them, qualified to teach the inspired and Holy Injeel. These events are recorded in The Bible in Galatians 1:13-2:9, Acts 9, 1 Corinthians 15 and 2 Peter 3:14-16.

Since The Twelve Companions Of Jesus accepted Paul as an Apostle and affirmed his teaching as being the teaching of The Holy Injeel to us and all God’s people, we therefore accept Paul’s teaching as reliable.

These statements expressed as an Islamic Hadith would be

Peter The Companions of Jesus, John The Companion Of Jesus and James The Companion Of Jesus said that Paul teaches the true and Holy Injeel of Jesus with the same authority as they themselves do.

The Bible teaches in many places that Luke was a student of Paul. Again I refer the reader to the Thompson article for confirmation.

As for the other Gospels, the Gospel Of Luke is attested by reliable testimony back to original sources. Iranaeus, for example, affirms the Gospel of Luke saying

Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him.

Iranaeus was a student of Polycarp who himself was a student of John The Companion Of Jesus. Hence the previous quotation if put into the style of an Islamic Hadith would read

Iranaeus said that Polycarp said that John The Companion Of Jesus said that Luke the companion of Paul, who was the Companion Of Jesus, recorded the teachings of Jesus in a book.

Once again we see that the attestation of the Gospel of Luke is provided by reliable testimony back to the original sources by an unbroken chain of transmission. Since this is how Muslims authenticate and accept Hadith then Muslims must accept the same attestation when it applies to The Bible.

Summary

Muslims say that the Gospel writers are unreliable witnesses since they did not include their Family Names in their writings. This means, they go on to say, that their identity cannot be verified and hence they must be regarded as unreliable.

This argument, made by Muslims, is invalid and based on ignorance. In fact, Jews of the First Century did not use Family Names. They instead typically used Patronymics. If Muslims wish to state that the lack of a Family Name makes a person’s testimony unreliable, they will have to take this argument to God who chose to deliver the Tawrat, Zaboor, Injeel (i.e. Torah, Psalms and New Testament) and all books of the Jewish prophets to people who did not use Family Names and yet wrote Holy Scripture.

Muslims further state that the Gospel writers cannot be regarded as reliable as they were not eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and teaching. In fact two of the Gospels were indeed written by eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and the other two were written by students of those who were eyewitnesses, directly taught by Jesus and were His Companions.

The reliability of the Gospels is authenticated by an unbroken chain of testimony of reliable witnesses going back to the original sources. Since this is how Muslims authenticate and accept Islamic Hadith then Muslims must accept the same attestation and proof when it applies to The Bible.

Many people believe that in 1985-87, when Negative Gearing was abolished in Australia by the Hawke/Keating government, that rents rose, and rose dramatically.  This is certainly the assertion of the Turnbull government as part of its 2016 Federal Election campaign strategy in which the spectre of massive rent rises coupled with a  dramatic fall in housing prices is daily utilized as a scare campaign.

In fact, during that period 1985-1987, while rents did rise in Sydney and Perth as NG was abolished, they fell in Adelaide, Hobart and Brisbane and remained steady in Melbourne. In other words there was no relationship between the abolition of Negative Gearing (NG) and rental prices in that period.

The predominant reason that rents increased in Sydney and Perth during that time was tight rental vacancy rates. Sydney, in particular had very low vacancy rates (less than 1%).

If the abolition of Negative Gearing leads inevitably to rent increases it should have done so in all cities during 1985-1987.

It did not.

This alone is enough to disprove that abolition of Negative Gearing has a dramatic influence on rents.

Even the recent (March 2016) BIS Shrapnel report which modelled a particular set of assumptions about Negative Gearing and which has been used by the Turnbull Government to forecast general economic disaster should Negative Gearing be abolished, agrees that rents did not rise during 1985-1987. It says

neither rents nor dwelling prices displayed any notable change of behaviour or deviation from trend during 1985-87 [when negative gearing was abolished]

The CEO of the Commonwealth Bank, Ian Narev, whose bank owns a $400 Billion property portfolio says that Negative Gearing is only a minor influence on housing prices. He said:

I can tell you having a $400 billion home loan book – your assumptions on unemployment and what’s happening in global interest rates will dwarf whatever assumptions you’ve got on the modelling about the impact of negative gearing by a factor of…I can’t tell you the number but it’s a big number.

It would appear that the BIS Sharpnel model is drivel.

Macrobusiness characterises the BIS Sharpnel modelling outcome as hoplessly inconsistent on its own terms:

 [BIS Sharpnel say] restricting negative gearing to newly constructed dwellings would somehow crash dwelling construction, raise rents, and destroy employment, the Budget and the economy? Even in its own terms this makes no sense. How does a sagging economy and rising unemployment lead to a rental cost spike?

One should also note that the NG scenario that BIS modelled is significantly different from the actual policy that the ALP has proposed, though Prime Minister Turnbull and Treasurer Morrison used the BIS Sharpnel scenario to criticise the ALP’s NG proposals.

So Why, Then, Was Negative Gearing Restored In 1987 ?

We are thus left to answer the question: So if Negative Gearing has a negligible effect on housing prices and rents, why then did the Hawke/Keating government resume Negative Gearing in 1987 ? My assessment is that they caved in to political pressure, possibly due to the upcoming NSW State Election being fought in a climate of rental stress and declining construction activity.

The Cabinet Submission prepared by Keating in 1987 said, in general agreement with Ian Narev above, that

Evidence suggests local factors rather than tax measures dominate in metropolitan rental markets

But the submission nevertheless stated an expectation that Negative Gearing would re-stimulate the construction sector, which had dropped off over the prior 18 months, during the time that Neg Gearing had been abolished. Keating’s submission said

restoring negative gearing could be expected to provide some stimulus to construction in the medium term

This ‘expectation’ of Keating’s is nowhere backed by evidence in his submission.

As we have already noted, the actual available evidence (listed in detail in the submission) points to ‘local factors’ driving rents. Not Negative Gearing..

My contention is that Keating was feeling political heat and just wanted to be seen to be doing something to assist the Building Construction sector and ease rents. But he knew re-establishing Negative Gearing wouldn’t help much, if at all.

The failure of Negative Gearing In Australia to provide its stated aims of stimulating Housing Construction and reducing rents is well-established by the prominent Australian economist Saul Eslake.

An Expensive And Failed Policy

In 2013 Eslake noted that 92% of housing investors buy established dwellings, so NG has not significantly improved housing supply. All it does is assist investors to buy established homes, this bidding up prices on the existing housing stock.

Eslake also notes that in the decade 2001-2011 Australian Housing Stock grew at a rate less than the population growth. Negative Gearing has simply been ineffective at increasing housing supply to any significant extent, if at all.

In fact, by rewarding speculative investment in Housing,  The National Housing Supply Council, of which Eslake is a member calculates that NG has assisted in the suppression of  investment in new housing during 2001 and 2011, such that the national housing stock was 228,000 dwellings less than would otherwise have been under historical rates of housing formation.

In summary then

  • Abolition of Negative Gearing did not increase rents between 1985 and 1987
  • Negative Gearing does not stimulate housing construction
  • Negative Gearing is a very minor factor in housing prices
  • Negative Gearing does not reduce rents
  • The March 2016 BIS Sharpnel report is based on a faulty and self-contradictory model of Negative Gearing effects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving through Northern NSW today, I switched on the radio, surfed the AM band looking for the ABC and chanced upon the unmistakable cadence of John Laws. I was amazed he was still on the radio. Here’s how it went:

The Ignominious Lalal Tax

Laws: Rolf. What’s on your mind ?
Rolf: John, Islam specifically states that anyone who is not Islam is an infidel and should be beheaded.
Me: Awesome start!
Laws: Yes, I know. But look Rolf, The Bible has beheadings in it too. An eye for an eye and all that.

Within seconds the conversation had entered the realm of hyper-reality. The Koran does not say that infidels should be beheaded. That punishment is reserved for Apostates and for opposing forces during Jihad. And The Bible has no beheadings anywhere. Rolf and John were like two galaxies of ignorance locked in mutual inspiralling orbit. Fascinated and aghast I wondered what horrible energy would be emitted when they finally collided. I dialled up the volume a little more.

Rolf: And Islams have put a Lalal Tax on our food. How can they do that ? Can we take them to the High Court ?
Laws: Eh ?
Me: Stalemate. Laws found Rolf incomprehensible.
Rolf. Lalal. How can Islams do it to us ?
Laws: Oh. Ha. You mean Halal. Rolf, Halal.
Rolf: Yes, Lalal. Halal.
Laws: Well the Tax Officials have decided there can be such a Tax. It’s no different to the Heart Foundation Tick Of Approval. I think we’ve demolished your arguments, Rolf.

Wow. Does Laws really think the ATO have permitted Muslims to levy a tax on Australian food ? This was fantastic. I settled in behind the wheel and dialled up the volume a little more.

Rolf: Are you an Islam, John ?
Me: !!!!!
Laws: Er… No.
Rolf: Then you have to be…
Laws: Beheaded. I know. Thanks for your call, Rolf. [Dumps Rolf]
Laws: Heh, heh. Rolf is a good old bloke, but Lalal !? What can you say heh heh.

I had overestimated the energies of Rolf. Laws had simply consumed Rolf whole and regurgitated him as a mockable titbit.

Pauline Hanson

Laws: Next caller is Anthony. What’s on your mind, Anthony ?
Anthony: Aw, G’day John. I saw Pauline Hanson speak at The Commercial Hotel in Inverell last night. She’s tidy.
Me:  Pauline Hanson! I had hit the Mother Lode !
Laws: Oh yes! She’s a great bird! What did Pauline talk about ?
Anthony: Oh. Er…like…er…cutting immigration and common-sense things like that…and…er…lots of things. I bought her a VB.
Me:  Could this get any better ???
Laws: Oh well. Pauline is a great bird, but she’s a bit extreme on some things you know.
Anthony: She’s got the body of a twenty year-old.
Laws: YES! YES! I KNOW !! SHE’S A GREAT BIRD !!!
Me: Now screaming with laughter I narrowly avoided a head-on with a 26-wheeler Semi. I punched the station co-ordinates into permanent memory.
Laws: [Panting Softly] …but a bit extreme at times. Thanks, Anthony.

Rolf Reprise. Frank Cops A Blast.

Laws: Got a text here from Geoff of Glenn Innes ‘Just went to the supermarket and asked for Lalal Food. [pause] They said they didn’t have any so I informed them I would take their supermarket to the High Court.’
[pause] Heheh Rolf What have you started ? Lalal. Hehehe.

Laws: Now, Frank, stop texting me will you ? You’re just a nark. Malcolm Turnbull’s tax havens and the Panama Papers are COMPLETELY UNRELATED.
[Laws then played a sudden one-second highly amplified blast from his show’s theme music. It cut like a buzz-saw. The effect was curiously psychedelic.]

Laws: Besides which Michael Pascoe from The Australian, a good man, was just with me yesterday saying Malcolm has done NOTHING ILLEGAL.
[Another psychedelic blast]

Me: Confirmation Bias (CB) is the sine qua non of Talkback Radio epistemology as Laws brilliantly demonstrates in just two sentences above. Note how CB also bonds Laws with his audience as they absorb the legitimacy of understanding truth through pre-existing bias and also discover just who can be trusted [The Australian and News Ltd] and who should not be trusted [Frank and other critics of the LNP / Malcolm Turnbull]. This is how Talkback hosts train their audiences how (not) to think. And thus also why Scott Morrison thought that being The Minister for 2GB was worth bragging rights in the LNP Party Room.

Laws: Keep your texts coming 1300-654-813. Steve says ‘Shorten should get out of Canberra, do a pub crawl with Barnaby Joyce and meet some real people for a change. Then maybe he’d have some idea on how to run the country’. That’s good advice, Steve.

Me: My mind reeled at the thought of what kind of manifesto for Australia would emerge from the collective unconscious of the drunken, sexist racists strewn across Joyce’s rural electorate...

Laws: And keep sending the emails to me at THE.FORTRESS@LAWS.COM.AU

Me: …not a particularly welcoming one apparently.

Laws: But always the best way is the phone. Yes, Barry. What’s on your mind ?

Barry: Fruit Bats. They bloody stink. The Quirindi Bicentennial Park is full of them. They foul the ground and strip the trees. They’re just flaming Flying Rats !

Laws: And they’re protected! Yes I know. Look you can’t kill them. But how about blasting off a few shells from a 12-gauge ? The sound should disperse them.
Barry: Yeah, well, I can smell them from the car.
Laws: I recommend a box of 12-gauge. Always worked at our place.

Me: Barry then told a good joke about an Irish bag-snatcher. He’s in the line-up with six other guys, jumps forward and says ‘Yes. That’s her!’🙂

Laws: Imagine if you said that about a Muslim ! Thanks Barry. That’s a beauty ! Enjoy your day and get somewhere away from the smell.

Me: Would the Midday News report the apprehension of some maniac in Quirindi Bicentennial Park blasting into the air with a gross of shotgun cartridges ? Crying children ? A SWAT team ?

Local Warming

But I was warming to Laws. The program was a community. They understood and liked each other. They told jokes. It was kind of…nice. And Laws was able to hold nuanced views on Muslims and Immigration. I was feeling reasonably at home in the asylum.

Laws: Jasper. What’s on your mind ?
Jasper: (Lisping heavily) Hewwo John. I have two suggestions for you.
Laws: [Suspicious Pause] Are these suggestions I would enjoy, Jasper ?
Jasper: [Sounding like Christopher Pyne]. Oh yes! I think so !
Laws: [Understandably Cautious] Go on.
Jasper: I am still cowwecting all your Solo Vocal Albums and could you pwease pway more of your own songs on your pwogram pwease ?
Laws: [Brightening Considerably] Oh yes. Sure !
Jasper: And you should visit the Slim Dusty Museum in Kwempsey. I have just been two times. Do you wike it ?
Laws: SLIM. A Great Australian. Do we have anything, Commander-In-Chief ??

With cyborg-like speed, Laws’s producer locates and cues a Slim Dusty track which appears to be entitled G’Day G’Day. In a career spanning seventy years and ninety-seven albums this Slim Dusty Classic is lyrically and musically identical to the first song Dusty penned as a four-year old. Laws can be heard singing and humming along off-mike.

Dusty: …G’Day G’Day G’Day G’Day Ten to one an Aussie will say G’Day G’Day.G’Day G’Day G’Day G’Day Ten to one an Aussie will say G’Day.
Laws: Ah. I’ve always said that song should be our National Anthem.
Me: At least the words will be easy to remember
Laws: It just makes you feel good, doesn’t it !?
Me: I have to agree. It does🙂

You know what ? I think John Laws broadcasting in rural Australia is a force for good. He is more educated than his audience but relates to them very well. His views on Muslims and Immigration are more nuanced than his listeners and he can thus act as a brake on their more reactionary and bigoted tendencies. He’s a bridge to reason.

But for now, as Paul Kelly said in his [OK maybe not] classic Australian track, Bradman,

Now shadows grow longer and there’s so much more yet to be told
But we’re not getting any younger, so let the part tell the whole

John Laws – I was glad I was there.

You made my morning.

This post critiques the aspect of Islamic Monotheim (Tawheed ) known as The Uniqueness And Oneness Of God In His Names And Attributes  – in Arabic Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat.

I will argue that Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat prevents humanity from being able to meaningfully describe God or indeed any single attribute of God and, more importantly, prevents humanity from knowing what is Truth. Thus Islam, by its own standards and teachings, is incoherent as a spiritual belief system since transmission of Truth is the basic objective of any revelatory faith.

My Muslim acquaintances frequently tell me that because the Christian Trinity is impossible to explain then belief in the Trinity is unreasonable and should be rejected in favour of Islamic Monotheism (Tawheed).

‘If you cannot describe what you believe in’, they say, ‘then you should admit that your beliefs have no foundation in reason’. 

Unfortunately for Muslims, it is Islamic Monotheism  which requires belief in an unexplainable Deity and insists upon acquiesence to truth claims which are not examinable by reason.

Islamic scholars describe Allah as an undifferentiated and indivisible monad. Yet this monad has a number of attributes. These attributes, such as wisdom and power, are possessed by Allah in a manner completely unique to him and have no equivalents elsewhere in creation.

As the Islamic site Al-Masjid explains in its article Monotheism

 Many of God’s names and attributes seem to have equivalents on the human level, but this is only a reflection of human language. God’s attributes, like God Himself, are unlike anything in our experience.

For instance, God has divine knowledge. Man has knowledge. God’s knowledge however, is nothing at all like the knowledge of human beings. God’s knowledge is unlimited (omniscient, The All Knowing). It is neither learned nor acquired. God’s knowledge encompasses all things without experiencing increase or decrease. Human knowledge, on the other hand, is acquired and limited. It is constantly changing, increasing and decreasing, and subject to forgetfulness and error.

Note that Muslims are able to abstractly describe Allah’s attributes, in this case his knowledge,  but they are not able to make any comparison or link between Allah’s knowledge and human knowledge. Allah’s knowledge is of a completely different type , not merely degree, than human knowledge. Mankind is therefore completely unable to understand what is true knowledge i.e. knowledge as God  possesses it.

Moreover, not only are Allah’s attributes unlike anything in our experience and hence beyond our understanding , but so Allah himself is completely unknowable and indescribable.

Since Muslims are incapable of understanding even a single attribute of Allah such as his knowledge and cannot know or understand Allah himself, it is unreasonable for Muslims to demand Christians to abandon belief in Trinity for supposedly being unable to understand that.

However, there is a much more serious problem for Muslims embedded in their theology of Allah’s inscrutable attributes, and that is that it leaves them incapable of knowing what is Truth.

Truth, (Al-Haqq), is an attribute of Allah. By definition, Allah possesses and knows real truth. But since Truth, as Allah has it, is not possessed in any way by humankind, nor does it exist anywhere else in creation.

It follows that humankind, according to Islam, does not know what is real Truth, cannot understand real Truth, and is incapable of recognising real Truth, as real Truth is the possession of Allah only and is not shared with creation.

How could created beings, incapable of sharing in the attribute of Divine Truth, recognise or respond to Divine Truth when we encounter it ? Divine Truth doesn’t look or sound like human truth. Its a completely different thing, not different merely in degree. So says Islam.

As Al-Masjid puts it: God’s truth is nothing at all like the truth of human beings.

Since Allah’s Truth is unlike truth as humans conceive it, any attempt by Allah to explain Truth to humanity is futile. By definition then, Islam is incoherent as a revelatory system. By definition Islamic revelation cannot succeed in its aims of revelation. Humanity is simply unable to understand the Truth possessedby Allah.

Tawfeed (Only Allah Knows)

The Islamic site, Islam Q & A, is explicit that only Allah understands His own attributes such as Truth. This is formally stated in the doctrine of Tawfeed  (Only Allah Knows What Is Meant)

[Tawfeed] is affirming the wording and the meaning to which it points, then leaving knowledge of how it is to Allah. So we affirm the beautiful names and sublime attributes of Allah, and we acknowledge and believe in their meanings, but we do not know how they are.

So, Muslims believe it proper to state that humanity cannot know the nature of Allah expressed in his attributes, as only Allah understands them, but yet insist that Christians must be able to fully know and explain the nature of God expressed by His Trinity.

Such an insistence by Muslims appears, to my mind, to be a clear double-standard.

Bi-la Kaifa (Without Knowing or Discussing How)

A related Islamic principle to ‘Only Allah Knows’ is ‘Without Knowing How’ (Bi-la Kaifa).

This principle was developed specifically in order to silence intra-Islamic theological disputes about the nature of God. As Wikipedia states 

Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari (ca. 873-936) originated the use of the term in his development of the orthodox Ash’ari school against some of the paradoxes in the rationalist Mu’tazilah school of thought. Instead of explaining that God has a literal face (which would anthropomorphize God) he explained that the earliest Muslims simply accepted the verses as they stand, without asking how or why.[5] This view was held by the vast majority of Sunni Muslims from the first generations of Islam.

In other words, early Islamic thinkers,  the Mu’tazilites, were using their rationality to probe Qu’ranic data about the nature of Allah and uncovered discovered a series of irreconcilable contradictions. Traditionalist scholars then simply shut down rational inquiry by inventing the priciple of Bi-la Kaifa (Believing without knowing or discussing how).

Islam Q&A regularly cites this principle of belief without inquiry. Here is an example:

Correct belief should be based on what is proven in the Qur’an and Sunnah, as understood by the early generations (salaf) of this ummah, namely the Sahaabah, Taabi‘een and leading scholars. They were unanimously agreed that the divine attributes mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah are to be affirmed without discussing how

So, Muslims believe it proper to state that humanity cannot know the nature of Allah expressed in his attributes, as only Allah understands them, and also accept Qu’ranic propositions without rational inquiry, but yet insist that Christians must be able to fully know and explain the nature of God expressed by His Trinity.

Such an insistence by Muslims appears, to my mind, to be a clear double-standard. I would personally find it impossible to give allegiance to any organisation which enshrines belief without discussion as a fundamental principle of operation.

 

Why Did The USA Sign The Nuclear Deal With Iran ?

The USA has allowed an Iranian nuclear program to continue and will allow $100bn in embargoed oil revenues to return once compliance is established (approx. 1 year).

So what does the USA get ?

Normally I would follow the money, but US corporations and trade do not benefit under this deal. Most, if not all, trade and commercial relations with Iran by US interests and subsidiaries are still prohibited.

But the deal is still about preserving US/Israeli regional hegemony. Iran, however, held the upper hand and so got the lions share of the short-term benefit.

In short, Iran has successfully developed a semi-clandestine nuclear program to the point where it could start producing a nuclear weapons within three months if it rushed to production.

The deal stipulates the decommissioning of 2/3rds of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, the export (and therefore loss to Iran) of 98% of Iran’s enriched uranium and places a cap on the level to which Iran may enrich Uranium in the future.

In other words, the deal is designed to prevent Iran producing nuclear weapons in the short and medium term.

The deal has a sunset of 15 years. After that time all nuclear sanctions and limitations are lifted.

The USA is just trying to buy some time.

In the meantime the deal preserves Israel as the only nuclear state in the Middle East, thus preserving US/Israeli hegemony.

Just on ‘buying time’, the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program only increase the difficulty in making a nuclear weapon by a small quantum.

Under pre-deal conditions Iran could rush to weaponisation in three months. Under post-deal conditions it will still take only one year. The US hasn’t bought much time for its $100bn – but OTOH it may be sufficient time.

Also, US satellite coverage of Iran is complete. If Iran attempted to even move a nuclear warhead to a missile base, that action would be detected instantly and the entire country destroyed within 60 seconds.

Some say that the $100bn in returned oil revenue and lifting of economic embargo buys the US military support for Iran against ISIS.

My view is that the USA actually supports ISIS in Syria as it wants to evict the Russia and their proxy Assad (whereas Iran is opposed to ISIS in Syria)

But the USA is truly opposed to ISIS in Iraq, as is Iran.

I think the USA is actually playing dead in Syria with limited bombing campaigns as a public relations exercise. It is hoping that ISIS/Turkey can evict Russia/Assad/Iran from Syria. The determination of Russia to hold Syria has been a game-changer and put ISIS on the back foot.

On a personal note it is interesting to note that the alliances in Syria are aligning extremely well with the scenario described in the Gog and Magog invasion of Ezekiel 38 as a precursor to Biblical End Times.

So the USA will oppose Iran in Syria, but support it in Iraq, where their interests are aligned.

I think it likely that the Nuclear Deal has been brokered partly on this shared geo-political basis.

So, if the USA-Iran Nuclear deal supports US/Israeli hegemony, why do The Republican Party and Israel oppose it ?

My guess is that probably The Republicans simply reject diplomacy a priori as a political strategy, They wish to entrench Military Bombardment as the single and only US posture in International Relations, seeing this as a more secure long-term guarantor of hegemony.

Possibly Israel has a similar view of itself vis-a-vis Middle Eastern relations.

To put it in a nutshell, Iran had the USA by the throat in regard to the strength of its negotiation position. Iran was on the very threshold of producing nuclear weapons: literally a matter of weeks. The USA had no choice but to offer Iran gigantic bribes to unplug its nuclear weapons program.

I suspect though that the deal will not prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons. Look, they basically managed to do it already under full embargo. I don’t think they will abandon the regional power that comes from being a nuclear power.

I would say that Obama is already dudded.

Further Reading

Here’s a good analysis of the relative risks of options open to the USA in relation to Iran’s Nuclear program: Do Nothing, Bomb, Return To Sanctions or Diplomatic Compromise (as recently concluded by Obama in this deal).