Debating Christianity vs. debating Islam

Sep 25, 2012

Discussion by: black-maze
Having been born a Muslim, I was generally taught how to debunk Christianity in the light of Islam, which was equally ridiculous. After leaving Islam with a history of conversions and theology research, I started wondering why debating Islam is much more difficult than debating Christianity. Christianity was wrong as a given rule. It’s so nonsensical that there’s hardly a point to even begin a debate as it usually depends on god/demon/angel figures that you can easily figure out are nonsense, not even good enough to be enjoyable in the way mythology is. It depends on the supernatural almost entirely. 

However, when it comes to Islam, you find that Muslims have already reached the level of mysticism in their approach. Allah is the absolute, the beginning and end, everywhere, all-knowing, etc. The incorporation of higher “beings” and Prophets is forbidden (in most cases). Imagining, visualizing, or even thinking that Prophets and Allah would lower themselves to the level of human life is highly discouraged. And so the idea of god in Islam mainly revolves around “The Absolute”, which cannot be debunked because “The Absolute” could be anything, the ultimate reality, the universe, etc. This is why no matter how much philosophy or science advance, Islam will always find something to call “Allah”. To some, it is whatever was before the Big Bang (a conscious being, however). To other Muslims, he is the balance in the universe, the “divine protection”, the natural order. Of course, Muslims seldom ever express it in the way above. They express it in the typical religious way which is very similar to Christian doctrines: “God is all-loving, watching over us and wrathful nevertheless,” and the supernatural things are minimized (not eliminated). This is why you would find that many educated Muslims refuse to practice certain rituals at graveyards or rituals of traditional witchcraft, dealing with “jinn”, and the like. They realize that jinn, for instance, are untouchable and unreachable, but believe they exist nevertheless. They do so as they surrender to the social order that forces religion upon them. 

Whenever I discuss Islam with Muslims, they will come up with all kinds of excuses. It’s well-played media, a complete control over the masses, since any question anyone may ask about Islam has an “explanation”, no matter how ridiculous.  That is if you debate fiqh, and it could go as far with some Muslims as to think of Islam as a secular religion which is peaceful and respectful toward people of other faiths. The problem here is that no matter how protecting and harmless Islam may seem, it has definite negative effects on the long term, on masses on general, on individuals as well in some cases (such as myself). 


30 comments on “Debating Christianity vs. debating Islam

  • A difficulty one often meets when debunking Islam is that one can quickly get accused of islamophobia or racism. A former Muslim might not feel so, but former Muslims are theoritically condemn to death for apostasy, so we don’t hear them much.

    As a french atheist, of catholic origins, I can criticise catholicism as much as I want in my country. I can even make fun a judaism. But if I discuss Islam, I am obliged to criticise catholicism at the same time of I would sound like a christian crusader.

     Theoritically, Islam is as harmfull and intolerant as any other religion as soon as they get power. But as a matter of fact, in 2012,I can draw a cartoon of Moises or Jesus without much risk for my life, whereas I would need police protection, in France, if I were to publish a joke about prophet Muhammad. That is a serious distinction about Islam, when debating.

    Last month, students of mine made a 3D animation short-movie taking the piss of Jesus, but the school would never have accepted the same stuff about Muhammad. Because of possible retaliations, but also because we might have been acused of racism.

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  • You’re joking right?

    I would guess it seems protecting and harmless to its followers. Cartoons seem to be one of the preferred mediums right now for the war over Islam, so you might want to look at the second cartoon on this page which illustrates how some Muslims perceive the US’s view of them:

    I can’t understand the hate of Islam here when many other religions are much worse. Maybe it is fear of the strange and unfamiliar? I’m sure US war propaganda hasn’t helped — an attitude that perhaps goes back to the Crusades. The fact that there are no other comments here perhaps illustrates that no-one here has much idea about dealing first-hand with Islam — and I myself have only a passing knowledge so feel unable to answer the OP.

    … it has definite negative effects on the long term, on masses on general, on individuals as well in some cases (such as myself).

    I’d like to ask the OP what negative effects he has identified (in the interests of understanding more).

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  • 4
    powerimi says:

    Your opening assertion exemplifies how difficult it is to shake those religious memes.You were not born a Muslim. You were born to Muslim parents and told to be one, and, moreover, before you could competently understand a word that was being said. I don’t know how a newborn baby can be said to have any religious faith at all. 

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  • 5
    hugh.sorrill says:

    I suppose the honest answer is that an atheist should be able to use the same basic argument opposing Islam, Judaism, Christianity or anything. Id est, the argument from reality: there’s almost certainly no such thing as a god. Even if, out at the limits of quantum probabililty, there were such a thing, it has no demonstrable interest in what you do.
    The issue is a cultural one: in Islamic societies apostasy is a serious matter as it once was in Christian societies – but we apostates still face quite a battle even in the UK. Criticising one’s own religio-social establishment is one thing. Criticising somebody else’s is another. It is inevitably confrontational. Your education sanctioned the confrontation. For those of us of a liberal disposition, the nexus of religion, history and culture in Islamic societies makes it difficult to criticise one without seeming to denigrate the others, particularly in matters of women’s rights, gay rights, rights of people who don’t believe in the same things to exist unmolested. Any criticism of the faith is perceived as criticism of each individual – same applies to many Christians too.

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  • 6
    IDLERACER says:

    I am completely unfamiliar with the Koran. All I know is that there is apparently at least one story in it that involves a winged horse. While I’m willing to concede that an actual person named Mohammed probably did exist, I most definitely do not believe that Pegasus did. End of story.

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  • Sorry, like (I would think)  nearly ALL muslims you are dangerously ignorant of the truth regarding Islam- here’s a place to start; there are many others- 

    Also Jihad Watch… 

    Prepare to be shocked and disgusted- you too IDLERACER, if interested.

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  • 8
    nick keighley says:

     You are aware that the American envoy(?) to Libya was murdered recently apparently over a UTube video criticising Islam? That a UK author lived with the threat of death hanging over him and had to be protected by the security services- for writing a book?! That the Taliban destroyed ancient statues of Buddah? It not anti-islamic but it doesn’t always look so cuddly.

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  • 9
    Grundibular says:

    “it usually depends on god/demon/angel figures that you can easily figure out are nonsense”
    Quite. There are some subtle differences between the major faiths which tend to make one “easier” to debunk than another. Sam Harris makes the point on his recent blog that Mormonism, basically being Christianity plus more weird nonsense, is easier to reconstruct and expose as nonsense.

    Islam seems to have both advantages and disadvantages here. The Koran has, at least by the assertions of Islamic “scholars” themselves, a much purer pedigree than either the Bible or Torah. They “know” who wrote it. It was transmitted through just one man, over a relatively short period, more recently and, they claim, has not been adapted or manipulated since.

    This, however, makes it much more difficult for them to distance themselves, and the religion itself, from the more nonsensical claims made within it or from the more brutal messages. With Christianity, it’s not too hard to make the argument that it isn’t anti-gay, for example. No such luck with Islam. There’s little wiggle room in the text and the meta-argument about its purity and provenance seal the deal. This, I believe, is directly reflected in the widespread appalling attitudes Muslims, worldwide, hold about homosexuals.

    To the OP: have you managed to reach a mental accommodation on the topic of homosexuality yourself?

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  • 11
    Grundibular says:

    “you would find that many educated Muslims refuse to practice certain rituals at graveyards or rituals of traditional witchcraft, dealing with “jinn”, and the like. They realize that jinn, for instance, are untouchable and unreachable, but believe they exist nevertheless. They do so as they surrender to the social order that forces religion upon them.”

    I believe this is mostly down to the enthusiasm with which modern Muslim parents indoctrinate their children. Modern Christian parents, at least in liberal democracies, are generally less passionate and don’t typically inflict terrible consequences upon their offspring (or allow others to) should they leave the faith.

    Muslim children tend to be indoctrinated toward, very hard, from a young age. Many are sent to Islamic schools, which continue the process day in, day out, often colouring every lesson with some link (tenuous or otherwise) to the Koran, or Mohammed’s life. Many are then also attending the Mosque – sometimes twice a day.

    (Yes, I know of local Muslim families that do this. They all have special Mosque clothes too, which have to be clean – keeps Mum extra busy and housebound. Wouldn’t want her thinking of going to college, or reading or anything, would we…)

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  • 12
    JimJFox says:

    ” Whenever I discuss Islam with Muslims, they will come up with all kinds
    of excuses. It’s well-played media, a complete control over the masses,
    since any question anyone may ask about Islam has an “explanation”, no
    matter how ridiculous.”
    ” The problem here is that no matter how protecting and harmless Islam may seem…”

    Islam cannot be debated; the Rules forbid it. Facts are-
    1. It is the only religion that sanctifies terror and murder in the name of it’s god 
    2. There is absolutely no GOOD in Islam. All is negative; ‘good’ verses are all abrogated by later (post-Mecca) ones 
    3. No other belief demands all who leave it be murdered
    4. The sadistic delight in savage brutality- beheading, amputation, crucifixion, burning alive, stoning, tongue cutting, genital mutilation, blinding… ONLY in Islamic societies.

    Ponder ‘taqiyya’ & ‘kitman’ & how these are used to hide the truth. Islam is without doubt the most EVIL philosophy ever- far worse than anything Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler, et al could dream up..

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  • 13
    Aguazul says:

    Islam is without doubt the most EVIL philosophy ever- far worse than anything Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler, et al could dream up..

    You have obviously never lived in a Muslim area, or visited a Muslim country.  My experience of Birmingham (UK) and Morocco are that they are gentle people. All your crazy jihadist “terror and murder” Muslims must be hiding in a bunker far far away from the ones I’ve met. I’d suggest that the vast majority of them are far less aggressive than your average American. Take a trip over there some day (preferably not as part of an occupying army). Speaking French will be adequate in parts of North Africa — you don’t have to learn Arabic.

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  • 14
    JimJFox says:

    ‘Obviously’ not- I have been living in a Muslim country 7 months now and as you say the locals are very good people- generous to a fault, helpful and appreciative. People in the ‘west’ do tend to be unnecessarily aggressive, as per ‘road rage’ & other idiotic actions. 
    However, I am careful not to accuse all Muslims and use the term Islamic or Islamist to define ‘true believers’, ie those who put into practice the literal words of the koran. I have spent hundreds of hours researching and reading all I can about Islam the religion and stand by my conclusion. IF you do the same you will understand better what Islam is all about.

    If you like I can point you to to relevant expert writings but I guess you’re bright enough to do that yourself, which I hope you do. Islam is unbelievably disgusting.

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  • 15
    JimJFox says:

    ‘I can’t understand the hate of Islam here when many other religions are much worse’  
    Aguazul-I can’t believe you said that! How can anything be ‘much worse’??
    Please look at and   http://crossmuslims.blogspot.c…. See the appalling barbarity of beheadings and amputations and ask yourself – What other “religion” sanctions this? THEN you may understand.

    Note- ‘Allah-hu’Akbar’ accompanies all the savagery.

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  •  Having studied the Koran for almost 30 years, I can assure you there is no story of a winged horse. Having said that, I will also say that Islamic teachings have been severely corrupted by what is attributed to Muhammad, called Hadith and Sunna in which he went to heaven on a winged horse. Now that does not make sense.

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  •  You are absolutely right that most muslims are dangerously ignorant of the truth of Islam. When they are told in the Koran that it is the only source of religious guidance, they instead uphold the corrupted words of men – fancy stories that the Koran says were created by the enemies of Muhammad/Islam – the muslims have been duped like the others.

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  •  I have come to the sad realization that those who claim adherence to the Koran are its worst enemies. The Koran says none of the things that people claim. That is why I just quote it and tell people to make their own conclusions,

    [60:8] GOD does not enjoin you from befriending those
    who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your
    homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. GOD loves
    the equitable.

    [41:34] Not equal is the good response and the bad
    response. You shall resort to the nicest possible response. Thus, the
    one who used to be your enemy, may become your best friend.

    [2:62] Surely, those who believe, those who are
    Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in
    GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life,
    will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to
    fear, nor will they grieve.

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  • 19
    JimJFox says:

    Don’t understand, Fred. by GOD you mean Allah? The Koran says none of the things that people claim; really? Again what do you mean?

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  • 20
    JimJFox says:

    Well Fred your 30 years were wasted effort-  

    Al-Burāq (Arabic: البُراق‎ al-Burāq “lightning”) is a mythological steed, described as a creature from the heavens which transported the prophets. The most commonly told story is how in the 7th century, Al-Buraq carried the Islamic prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem and back during the Isra and Mi’raj or “Night Journey”, which is the title of one of the chapters (sura), Al-Isra, of the Qur’an.

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  • 21
    JimJFox says:

    How did you overcome the indoctrination of Islam? From what we see it begins in early childhood as endless repetition of the koranic verses until thoroughly memorised, accompanied by nodding the head like a metronome. Constant threats of damnation accompanied by endless praise of Allah-&-his-Prophet, continued into adulthood at the mosque; Salah must contribute to the process- 5 times a day for the rest of your life! 
    Apostasy is no mean matter either. 
    Pointing out the obvious to a devout muslim is as you say, a weird experience. Fact and truth have zero value in the parallel universe of Islam. (Winged horse not in koran???- see below).

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  • 23
    Tanweer says:

    Do you actually have any evidence for these assertions?

    I have been a Muslim all my life and have never once encountered any of these apparent features of Islam.

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  • 25
    Tanweer says:

    Agreed. A sensible and astute observation. There are a considerable bulk of Ahadith which are both unreliable and utterly unbelievable (in their ridiculousness). Unfortunately, the majority of Muslim denominations tend to adhere more closely to these than to the Qur’an.

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  • 26
    Tanweer says:

    Indeed ‘Lightning’ is a title of one of the chapters of the Qur’an, but there is no where mention of a winged horse carrying anyone…and you are still to provide the verses/references to show that there is…

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  • 27
    Oblivion says:

    I am a born Muslim (EX-Muslim I mean), in away all religions are based upon imaginative grounds,which in a way has no sense or even liaison to real grounds and facts and logic, thus you cannot stab a ghost with a steel knife .
    They are all imaginative stories and worlds based upon their OWN imaginative rules and grounds.
    If you ever read the whole bible you will be lost in its world and eventually believe in it.
    Same with Islam and other bullocks!

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  • The Qur’an was written much later. Science had progressed.  So it did not contain nearly as many scientific blunders.  Further has a much less literal, more poetic style. It is much harder to say poetry is “wrong”. It was written pretty much of a piece, so it has far fewer inconsistencies. Most if it just says variants on a few ideas, “Allah is greater than you could possibly imagine. If you don’t believe this you will be really really sorry. For a society to work smoothly, here are the conventions it should use.”  This affords no easy handles for refutation that the bible so generously offers.

    The provenance of the Qur’an is excellent.  There is no problem with bungled translations and alternate versions. There is even a rule for resolving apparent or real inconsistencies. Mohammed was no dummy.

    The first verse I ever read in the Qur’an, on opening it an random, went like this.

    If He so pleased, He
    Could blot you out
    And bring in
    A New Creation
    Nor is that (at all)
    Difficult for Allah
    ~ Surah Fatir (3:16-17)

    If you opened the bible at random you would get a verse perhaps like this:

    Wherefore my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kirharesh.
    ~ Isaiah 16:11

    The Qur’an is just classier, often reminiscent of ineffable quantum mechanics rather than the bible’s junk shop. Most of the bible is just silly, irrelevant or wrong. There are only a very few parts that have any artistic beauty.

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  • I’ve learned to be extremely cautious when debating Islam. I’ve had conversations with Saudis in which I saw that my views were extremely upsetting to them. In the west we view religion as a personal choice. In Saudi Arabia they see religion as the only thing that keeps their society from falling into chaos and their people from reverting to cavemen. Discredit Islam and their kingdom would become an adult version of Lord of the Flies, or so many of them seem to believe.

    But it’s more than just that. The muslims I’ve spoken with seem to believe that there is a small degree of truth in anything that has been spoken, written or drawn. In other words by saying a thing is true you make it partially true. They feel that the act of drawing an offensive cartoon makes the cartoon at lest a little true and thus their rage. Christians, on the other hand, understand the idea of differences of opinion and so are unlikely to riot over cartoons or YouTube videos.

    To a large extent I think this has something to do with their views on science. Many Christians believe that God created the laws of physics as a default setting for the universe. If you drop a hammer a Christian is likely to say that if fell to the ground do to the law of gravity but, had He chosen to do so, God could have overridden the law of gravity and caused the hammer to fall up. This would constitute a miracle.

    A muslim would say that the hammer fell to the ground do to God’s will but God is under no obligation to make the hammer fall down, it is only his habit to do so and it would have been no less remarkable had God chosen to have it fall up. Thus, to a muslim, each instant is a miracle and without God’s constant interest everything would simply freeze. A muslim beginning textbook in chemistry might read, mix oxygen and hydrogen and, God willing, water will form.

    I once said that from the Islamic point of view suicide bombers were doing God’s will because had it not been the will of God He would not have allowed the bomb to detonate. For a muslim even the simplest chemical reaction requires the will of God. The person I said this to flew into a rage.

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