Saturday, December 12, 2015

Tips on debating Muslims

1. Recently I perused some apologetic websites for Islam to see what's new, if anything. Some websites have tons of material, which might be intimidating to Christians. However, it breaks down into a few basic categories:

i) The text of the Bible

ii) The Biblical canon

iii) The inerrancy/historicity of the Bible 

iv) The morality of the Bible

v) Biblical prophecies of Muhammad

vi) Attacks on the Trinity and Incarnation

2. When you debate someone, how the debate is framed may confer a decisive advantage on one side and corresponding disadvantage on the other side. That's why, in formal debates, opponents must agree on the question to be debated. Who won or lost the argument depends in large part on the burden of proof. 

Islam suffers from a crippling disadvantage in relation to Christianity (and Judaism). That's because Muhammad made some incautious statements early on that put the fortunes of his prophetic claims at the mercy of the Bible. And having said that, he couldn't turn back the clock. This makes Muslim apologetics very schizophrenic. 

Logically, a Muslim apologist can only destroy the Bible by destroying the Koran in the process. It's like a murder/suicide. 

In addition, using modernist assumptions to attack the Bible cuts both ways, since modernist assumptions can just as well be used to attack the Koran. Indeed, Islam has the same theological spectrum as Christianity and Judaism–from "fundamentalists" at one end to secularists at the other end, with mediating positions in-between. 

3. The problem with a Muslim apologist attacking the Trinity, Incarnation, and/or morality of the Bible is that it begs the question by taking Islam as the standard of comparison. But that's only persuasive to fellow Muslims. It does nothing to advance the argument. It presumes that Islam is true, so you can use Muslim theology as the yardstick to measure Biblical morality, the Trinity, and the Incarnation. 

Yet you can't use Islam to disprove Christianity unless you first prove Islam. And, frankly, there's no serious evidence that Muhammad was a real prophet, whereas there is serious evidence that he was a false prophet. Mind you, it isn't necessary to show that he was a false prophet. Rather, it's sufficient to point out that there's no good reason to think he was a true prophet. 

4. Appealing to Biblical prophecies of Muhammad is a self-defeating exercise. Aside from the fact that there are no Biblical prophecies of Muhammad, you can only lodge that appeal on pain of granting the veracity of the Bible. It's irrational for Muslim apologists to simultaneously attack the credibility of the Bible, then spin right around and cite Biblical prophecies that (allegedly) attest the prophethood of Muhammad. The unconscious cognitive dissonance is fascinating. 

5. Attacking the text of the Bible boomerangs on the Muslim since you can raise far more damaging questions about the text of the Koran. 

6. Likewise, attacking the canon of the Bible boomerangs on the Muslim. Yes, you have factions in Christianity with different canons. But Islam itself has many sects and splinter groups.

There is, moreover, an analogy between the canon of the Bible and Islam's sacred texts. Unlike the Bible, the Koran is not a collection of books. However, there's extensive evidence from early Muslim sources that extant copies of the Koran are incomplete. That's analogous to an incomplete canon. What stuff was left out?

By the same token, there's the issue of what got in. The Koran is a hodgepodge of sayings attributed to Muhammad. Given the posthumous, haphazard process of compilation, it's not only the case that some authentic sayings were probably excluded, but some apocryphal sayings were probably included. 

Moreover, the Koran is supplemented by the Sunnah and the Hadith. Sifting that material is far more daunting than candidates for the Biblical canon. 


  1. You make some good points, but if you've listen to any of James White's debates with Muslims, they don't seem to be concerned with being inconsistent. Over and over again, they hold the Bible to a standard that they never (indeed cannot) hold the Koran to. Sadly, they either don't see this double standard or don't care.

  2. Most Christian apologists agree that Shabir Ally is the best Islamic debater currently alive. A few months ago David Wood and Shabir Ally debated six times in 9 days. If anyone is interested the following are links to those debates.

    Monday Sept. 28 2015
    Debate 1. "Is Jesus the Son of God?"
    Debate 2. "Is Jesus a Prophet of Islam?"

    Tuesday Sept. 29 2015
    Debate 3. "Does Paul Give Us the Truth about Jesus?"
    Debate 4. "Does Muhammad Give Us the Truth about Jesus?"

    Monday, Oct. 5, 2015
    Debate 5. "Is the Qur'an a Book of Peace?"

    Debate 6. "Is the Bible a Book of Peace?"

    1. Debate 6 occurred Tuesday Oct. 6, 2015

    2. The following links is probably a more complete recording of Debate #5.




  3. Daniel Brubaker's doctoral thesis on textual variants of the early Quran manuscripts will be published soon. That will be a game-changer.

  4. That's why I hate watching the debates. It's absolute insanity to watch the Muslim defend his position. I watched the Osama A. debate ( On ABN) . The debate topic was on prophesies . Osama ended with illuminati talk.