Debate with Bob Siegel: My After Thoughts
I’m not sure whether to call this a debate or not. It was horribly short, which we anticipated, but for the time we did spend, I do felt as if Bob missed the mark.
Bob opens with the same argument that he used against Br. Shadid, the Qur’aan claims to validate the Bible and authenticates the Bible. Then he went on to mention Isaiah 53 and Daniel 9 as evidences that it is reliable. That was about it.
Br. Ijaz’s Opening:
I had a little trouble with feedback for 2 minutes, but then I got started. I let them know the Qur’aan at its inception was seen as scripture, the Bible developed into a scripture. The Qur’aan has two strains of independent transmission going back to its primary source. The New Testament has atleast a 90 year gap between its primary sources and its empirical testimony. I demonstrated that in Islam we have CAR, Control + Authorization = Reliability. Our text is reliable because we control what was transmitted and we authorized specific persons with the requisite skill to transmit it, therefore making it reliable.
Question and Answer by the Moderator:
Again, Bob referred to Isaiah 53 and that the Qur’aan qualifies the Bible. Told him to read chapter 52 and that the suffering servant is the entire nation of Israel, I pointed to Devarim 28 to 31 and Yirmiyahu 44. As for the Qur’aan, I pointed to Surah 2, Verse 79.
I mentioned the Jews don’t believe in substitution atonement, he mentioned that Leviticus talks about this, I refuted him and mentioned that Leviticus mentions the Korban Pesach in which an animal is sacrificed, not a human, he did not respond.
The moderator asked about our concepts of heaven (I found this to be a pretty silly question, irrelevant to the topic), Bob mentioned we needed Christ to go to heaven. I mentioned that Christiainity doesn’t speak about heaven, the Apocalypses do and they’re an addition to the Christian faith, a late addition. Only Islam promotes an inclusive heaven, as our God is willing to forgive all sin, even blasphemy. I went on to say that the Christian God is a God which excludes mercy because if I as a Muslim disbelieve in the Holy Spirit (that’s blasphemy) I would then never go to heaven, thus our concept of God is more complete.
Bob was asked when did the NT get written, he said 90 CE, said 2 Peter called the NT scripture and that Christ claimed to be God. For my turn, I mentioned the story of ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) to demonstrate the Qur’aan was written during its inception in Makkah and we do have a C-1 text from within the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) – see Arabica 57, 2010. In response to Bob, I mentioned the first empirical evidence we have is from 125 CE and anyone can make a hypothesis to claim any time earlier, but we need evidence to support our claims. Mentioned that 2 Peter is a Pastorial and is dated to be from sometime in the second century by most critics. Lastly, I let him know, he can’t know what Christ said or didn’t say from the NT because it was not first person verbatim.
20 Minute Back and Forth/ Free Discussion:
I asked Bob a simple question: Given Psalm 119:89, which canon or codex of the OT and NT do you say is from God. Took Bob around 15 minutes to answer. He went off on translations, at one point he said,”when Muslims read the Qur’aan in any other language beside Arabic, they are reading the Qur’aan”, I kindly let him know that they’re reading an interpretation, a translation, but not the primary text. The primary text is important, which is why us Muslims are like your scholars, your scholars read the primary text in its original languages for understanding and study, the lay Muslim learns how to recite the Qur’aan in its primary language because we value and appreciate our text, something you leave for your scholars to do.
In answering my questions, which I had to insist on, he finally said he accepted all canons and codices, but before I could pose a question to him, he decided to ask me an off topic question. What makes the Qur’aan true? I pointed to the Pythagoreans and the Essenes who settled in Northern Arabia and who later accepted Islam. I pointed to the mass conversion of educated Arian Christians and Jews in Iberia when the message of Islam reached them. The geopolitical success of Islam in conquering the Roman and Persian empires , all from a book that Bob says was written by one man.
Lastly, Bob decided to talk about how violent the Qur’aan is by quoting Surah 9, I responded with Qur’aan 2:190-194. I then furthered my response with mentioning the return of Jesus being vastly more violent, see Zechariah 14, in which Bob agreed Christ would return as a warrior. I began to laugh because Bob found it offensive that the Qur’aan may command violence, but was completely okay knowing that Christ would mass murder non-believers when he returned and this was not a problem for him.
The time was too short, the radio signal was horrid – this is consensus by a Christian ally from Canada, a Muslim friend from London. I got a ton of feedback during the show. Bob was unable to answer my questions, on the text of the NT being reliably transmitted. I provided examples and literature which verified the Islamic perspective and the best he could muster up was an argument that someone said the original Qur’aan could not be found, which is when I then referred to the C-1 text.
All in all, this was not worth my time. Bob really isn’t a debater and he seems more interested in polemics than actually discussing the topic. This is a common problem that I faced in all of my debates so far, I tend to speak over the heads of my opponents. I’m more of a reader, an academic, they are more inclined to preaching and so asking technical questions, historical questions is a significant problem on my behalf because I’m unable to get proper answers simply because my opponents cannot make sense of the questions being asked.
I invite Bob to Paltalk, where we can have an discussion unrestricted by time and in which we can talk to the audience. I’m not earnest for it because as I said, Bob is different to me, he’s satisfied with the non-technical questions, I tend to read academic texts synoptically and so my reading and study is different from Bob, but if he’s willing to bite the bullet, I suppose I am to.
wa Allaahu ‘alam.