Category Archives: Other Speakers

William Lane Craig: In His Own Words

I didn’t create this video, but a Christian, apparently upset at some of the fantastic answers that WLC has provided did.

Original video: YouTube

Video Sources:

  • Clip 1: Does the Unbeliever Have to Approach the Bible as Divinely Inspired?
  • Clip 2: Dr. Craig on Collins vs Dawkins on Design of Universe.
  • Clip 3: WL Craig, PS Williams vs. A Copson, A Ahmed – Cambridge Union Society God
    Debate, Oct 2011.
  • Clip 4: Incensed Atheist Questions William Lane Craig.
  • Clip 5: Dr. Craig on Collins vs Dawkins on Design of Universe.
  • Clip 6: Incensed Atheist Questions William Lane Craig.
  • Clip 7: WL Craig, PS Williams vs. A Copson, A Ahmed – Cambridge Union Society
    God Debate, Oct 2011.
  • Clip 8: Life, the Universe and Nothing: Why is there something rather than
    nothing?

and God knows best.

Is to Question, to Err?

One of the ways we learn is by asking questions. I don’t believe that someone should be condemned or shunned for asking a question, especially when it is a request for someone to clarify and expound upon what they are saying. This post will highlight the need for meaningful interactions between Muslim and Christian apologists. Forgoing my disagreements with my friend and colleague Jonathan McLatchie, he recently posted in a group of mines regarding a seminar he recently held.

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Given my history with Jonathan, one may think I would comment on his post in an antagonistic manner, but as will be seen, this is not and will not be the case. Though I may disagree with Jonathan’s arguments, I prefer to have meaningful interaction with him, rather than argue without reason. Thus, when he posted his link, I left the following respectful comment:

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The aim of my respectful comment was to ask my friend Jonathan to explain his reasoning. To break down his argument(s) and to give me an example to qualify his claim. This is the usual way we approach arguments, by firstly asking for the person to explain their argument, and secondly by giving our response as to why we either agree or disagree with what they have presented. As follows, this was my friend Jonathan’s response:

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I would like to thank Jonathan for his respectful reply, though I may disagree with the conclusions he had reached. In writing this article, I hope to express to Jonathan that Muslims are willing to engage with him, despite past disagreements. With respect to his comment, I am quite uncertain as to how I failed to interact with his presentation, when I asked for him to give us an example from his presentation, an argument which demonstrated his claim of “undesigned coincidences”. I can’t interact with a video seminar, but I can certainly interact by asking the person presenting the argument to illustrate and explicate their claim. Secondly, I am also uncertain as to how simply asking a question would lead one to believe that I had failed to understand the subject. I had yet to respond to an argument he had presented, therefore I’m not sure how I could fail to interact with or to misunderstand something that was not given to me.

The question for us is, is to question, to err?

I don’t believe so. In respectful and meaningful dialogue, we hope that our questions can lead to elucidation as opposed to remonstration. Should Jonathan be willing to engage with Muslims on the subject of his video, I wish him to know that Blogging Theology, Calling Christians, along with my numerous Facebook groups and pages, of which he is a member of a number of them, that they are all available for him to engage in meaningful dialogue about his arguments.

Should there be any Christian willing to take up his cause and argue on his behalf, we would most certainly be welcomed to such a proposition. I firmly do not believe in “undesigned coincidences”, primarily because of the intertextuality of the Gospels, especially in regard to their archetypes, harmonizations and literary borrowing by their authors and scribes. I have discussed this topic previously in other posts, but I am looking for new, well taught out arguments on this topic to challenge the conclusions I already hold. Thus far, I have yet to see such an argument, but then again, this is why I’m posting about it publicly. Perhaps by some undesigned coincidence, I may perhaps find someone willing to provide such an argument.

and God knows best.

The Trinity – A Simple Explanation

Do you find the Trinity difficult to understand? Many Christians do. This video offers a simple, step by step guide on how one can make sense of the Trinity.

YouTube Mirror: The Trinity – A Simple Explanation

This clip is taken from a debate between Mr. Joe Ventilacion of Iglesia Ni Cristo and Mr. Chauncey Killens of Church of God in Christ. This is from the first cross-examination of the debate, where Mr. Ventilacion had the opportunity to ask Mr. Killens about his opening statement which defended the doctrine of the Trinity as being Biblical. The debate took place in Salina (California, USA) on February 27th, 2010.

and God knows best.

Ravi Zacharias Caught Lying About Credentials Again

In 2015, Ravi Zacharias was outed for manufacturing claims about his scholarship regarding being a visiting scholar at Cambridge University. This led to him acknowledging and then removing the claim from his website. This year, the same person who did the first investigation has done a second video demonstrating that Ravi has lied again, this time about studying quantum physics at Cambridge University:

Why does Ravi have the need to continuously pad his credentials? We all agree that lying is a sin, therefore as a leader of an international ministry, why doesn’t he seem to understand that making fraudulent claims about oneself is wrong? It’s simply unjustifiable. To call Ravi to be truthful in his actions and descriptions about himself, we are asking those who are interested in the truth to send Ravi an email at the following address: PR@RZIM.ORG

The subject line is as follows: Did Ravi Zacharias really study quantum physics at Cambridge?

The email body is as follows:

Dear Mr. Zacharias and Ms. Malhotra:

I write you in a spirit of inquiry, not challenge. Serious allegations, purporting to be carefully-researched and based on publicly available information, have been made that Mr. Zacharias has systematically exaggerated his academic credentials.

And while I have formed no conclusion as to the merits of these charges, I can see no harm in Mr. Zacharias publicly responding to them. Indeed, given the growing concern about these allegations, it seems that no legitimate purpose will be served by Mr. Zacharias continuing to remain silent.

In furtherance of the truth, might you kindly address the following questions?

Did Ravi Zacharias ever enroll in, or audit, a physics class taught by John Polkinghorne at Cambridge University?

Was Mr. Zacharias ever “a visiting scholar at Cambridge University”? If so, is there a reason that this claim was removed from his website after he was criticized for making it? How does Mr. Zacharias respond to the email statement allegedly made by the Cambridge Office of External Affairs that his attending classes at the University whilst on sabbatical at Ridley Hall would not have made him a visiting scholar at their University?

At page 205 of his autobiography, Mr. Zacharias writes about spending time at Cambridge University where, he says, “I was invited to be a visiting scholar.” Given that Mr. Zacharias’ sabbatical supervisor, Jeremy Begbie, has stated, in writing, that Mr. Zacharias was only a “visiting scholar” at Ridley Hall (which is not a constituent part of the University), might you kindly state who it was who invited Mr. Zacharias to be a visiting scholar at Cambridge University itself?

Mr. Zacharias has claimed to have been “a senior research fellow” at Oxford University. Is this claim true? Was the position in fact an honorary one? If so, is there a reason that in February of 2103 Mr. Zacharias said in an Apologetics315 interview “If I’m in an academic forum, then the fact that I’m a senior research fellow at Wycliffe Hall Oxford University, that’s a credential with which I work in the academy”? Is there a reason the entire Senior Research Fellow claim has been removed from his website?

Mr. Zacharias’s bio and publicity materials refer to him as “Dr. Zacharias.” Does Mr. Zacharias have a PhD or other academic doctorate? If not, how might he reply to the concern that his routine use of the title “Dr.” is likely to create a false impression in significant numbers of people?

The jacket of Mr. Zacharias’s book New Birth or Rebirth? says “Zacharias holds three doctoral degrees.” His publisher bios at Random House and Penguin refer to him holding multiple doctoral degrees. These make no mention of such degrees being honorary. What responsibility does Mr. Zacharias have to ensure that those promoting the sales of his books make clear that his doctorates are exclusively honorary? (This question may, of course, be disregarded if Mr. Zacharias has in fact earned an academic doctorate.)

Thank you very much for your anticipated cooperation in shedding light on these important issues.

Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]

More details to follow.

The Rise of Modern Christian Extremism

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The following are quotes from Christian author and journalist, Chris Hedges’ book “Wages of Rebellion”:

The breakdown of American society will trigger a popular backlash, which we glimpsed in the Occupy movement, but it will also energize the traditional armed vigilante groups that embrace a version of American fascism that fuses Christian and national symbols.

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Gabrielle Giffords, a member of the US House of Representatives, was shot in the head in January 2011 as she held a meeting in a supermarket parking lot in Arizona. Eighteen other people were wounded. Six of them died. Sarah Palin’s political action committee had previously targeted Giffords and other Democrats with crosshairs on an electoral map. When someone like Palin posts a map with crosshairs, saying, “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!” there are desperate, enraged people with weapons who act. When Christian fascists stand in the pulpits of megachurches and denounce Barack Obama as the Antichrist, there are messianic believers who believe it. When a Republican lawmaker shouts “Baby killer!” at Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak, there are violent extremists who see the mission of saving the unborn as a sacred duty. They have little left to lose.

The kind of extremism that Hedges refers to, can be seen in the vitriol of Christian extremists such as Robert Spencer and Jonathan McLatchie. The next quote more accurately refers to these two missionaries:

Left unchecked, the hatred for radical Islam will transform itself into a hatred for Muslims. The hatred for undocumented workers will become a hatred for Mexicans and Central Americans.

More specifically, their self-delusion in referring to groups they dislike, as in the case of Jonathan McLatchie referring to Muslims as a cancer in European civilization speaks to their extremism. Hedges further says:

The ethnic groups, worshiping their own mythic virtues and courage and wallowing in historical examples of their own victimhood, vomited up demagogues and murderers such as Radovan Karadzic and Slobodan Milosevic. To restore this mythological past they sought to remove, through exclusion and finally violence, competing ethnicities. The embrace of non-reality-based belief systems made communication among ethnic groups impossible. They no longer spoke the same cultural or historical language. They believed in their private fantasy. And because they believed in fantasy, they had no common historical narrative built around verifiable truth and no way finally to communicate with anyone who did not share their self-delusion.

In conclusion about these extremists, he says:

Those who retreat into fantasy cannot be engaged in rational discussion, for fantasy is all that is left of their tattered self-esteem. Attacks on their myths as untrue trigger not a discussion of facts and evidence but a ferocious emotional backlash.

That last quote reminds me solely of Sam Shamoun. Rather than engage in intellectual dialogue, he copy pastes articles, and insults those he disagrees with. Thus, the rise of Christian fascism, and its role in spreading hatred and violence towards Muslims is a growing pattern among polemicists such as Robert Spencer, David Wood, Sam Shamoun and now recently Jonathan McLatchie. The result of this hate can only be expressed as follows:

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and God knows best.

Between Ehrman and Error

Recently on Blogging Theology I posted a video on the tenacity of the proposed ausgangstext which filled the lacuna of John 20:28. The vast majority of Muslims (expectedly) were enthusiastic about discussing the tenacity of Doubting Thomas’ alleged statement. The vast majority of Christians were not, which was also understandable. Then there were those caught in-between, educated enough to know that there had to be, or that there was more evidence behind what I had published, and there were others who were incredulous as to what that evidence could have been. Upon release of my second response video, I took a little more time, some 20 minutes and expanded on the rationale leading to the conclusions I mentioned in my first video on the topic.

Everyone knows about Dr. Ehrman’s famous statement, “copies of copies of copies of copies”. Yet the only two arguments I received in return were quite amusing. The first of which was that some people were curious as to whether Dr. Ehrman had commented on this passage or not. For some reason I have yet to discover, some Muslims’ hold on simple textual criticism of the New Testament is limited to only what Dr. Ehrman says, yet at the same time they are fully willing to simultaneously argue against his famous aforementioned quote. I duly provided a list of scholarship that not only knew of the work I gained the reference from John 20:28 on, I also provided the name of a seminary which uses the work itself, while also foregoing to mention that the scholar in question has been cited by Dr. Ehrman himself – one of the Muslims who opposed me in those comments had perhaps not yet read Dr. Ehrman’s references to this scholar (and his conclusions).

Nonetheless, the second argument I received was that no other variant of John 20:28 existed post p66, although I did point out that this was the case in Codex Bezae, as minor of a variant as it is, the challenge that not one variant exists has thoroughly been debunked (for those unread, the manuscript was eventually edited by a scribe).

bezae1

Following from this ignorant argument, was the case that since we know what every text post p66 said, then we must know what p66 itself said. This again, coming from those who agree with Dr. Ehrman’s aforementioned statement. We are therefore left with the following problem. Hence the title, Between Ehrman and Error. We have the following from the gracious Dr. Ehrman (emphasis mine own):

My point has always been (for example, in Misquoting Jesus) that we can’t know with absolute complete certainty what was said in each and every passage of the NT. That point – which I think cannot be refuted – is principally directed against fundamentalists who want to claim that every word of the Bible is inspired by God. How can we say the words were inspired if we don’t know in a lot of cases what the words were???Source.

I don’t think there’s an easy answer to these questions.  But they shouldn’t be ignored, as they ALWAYS are (in my experience) by people who want to assure us that we “know the original text in 99% of all cases.”   Really?   Which original?

If it were just up to me, I would say that the “original” is the first form of the text that was placed in circulation.  But since that in fact is not the oldest form of the text, maybe we shouldn’t call it the original. – Source.

One very interesting piece of evidence for this view involves a fact that is not widely known outside the ranks of the professional textual critics.  It is this:  new papyri manuscripts – relatively very old ones – do show up all the time (several in the past few years).  Whenever a new papyrus turns up, it almost NEVER contains a textual variant that is completely new.  The variants are almost always variants that we know about from our later manuscripts.  This shows, the argument goes, that variants were not created later.  Our later manuscripts preserved variants, they didn’t create them.  And this shows, it is argued, that all of the earlier variants are to be found even in the later manuscripts.

This is a terrific argument, and very interesting.  On the surface, it seems pretty convincing.  But in fact, in my view, it does not actually show that we have the original reading or that we can know that we do.  I will explain why in the next post. – Source.

I don’t think our New Testaments are likely ever to change much.  And I don’t think we know in a lot of places what the originals said.  Where’s the contradiction?  I’m not saying that we *know* that we have the original text in 99.9% of the passages of the NT.  I’m saying we *don’t* know – for a wide variety of reasons that I haven’t gotten into very much here.   But I’m emphasizing the word “know.”  We simply don’t know.

Do I *suspect* that most of the time we are pretty close or even there?  Yes, that would be my guess.  But it’s just a guess based on scholarly assumption and suspicion. – Source.

During those 300 years, Mark was being copied, and recopied, and recopied, by scribes.  Until we get our first full copy.  Can we know that this copy from 300 years later was 99% like the version that came directly from the pen of the author?  Of course we can’t know.  How would we know?Source.

Between Ehrman and Error. It’s really as simple as that. Dr. Ehrman used the word “guess”, I used the word “guesswork”. Dr. Ehrman used the word “suspicion”, I used the word “speculation”. Dr. Ehrman repeatedly points out that we cannot know what the original text said. He repeatedly points out that most variant units are decided on guesses and suspicion. So the question begs itself, how far are the conclusions in my video, different from that of Dr. Ehrman’s himself?

The problem presents itself, as he described regarding Mark, we don’t know what version of what copy we received. Given that basic, common sense principle, extend that to John 20:28, given that p66 is our earliest and we have no intermediate text (that is, the text between what the original author(s) wrote and the text of p66 itself), and that it has a lacuna or gap for the famous, “and my God” – then there is no way of certainty of knowing what p66 itself said or what the intermediate text(s) said, what the archetypal text said, or what the autographic text said. To require that we must need a variant before being able to dispute what a missing text says, is essentially self-refuting, the gap itself presents us with a problem, we don’t know what it said and we don’t know if any of the intermediate texts said something variable. We simply cannot know, just as Dr. Ehrman says.

So between Ehrman and Error, I agree with him, we cannot know, it involves guessing and suspicion. Those who disagree, disagree with the very goodly Dr. they appealed to in the first place and are as such, in error.

and Allah knows best.

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