Considering Islam2022 Sep 11
Islam is the third of the Abrahamic religions.
This post derived out of a consideration of my own religious perspective, and why I doubt Islam has credibility to be the best religious perspective.
Note that I see a majority of followers of Islam to be nice people, and I count many as friends. But of course, that is not a defense of the truth of the religious perspective.
Islam is one of the major monotheistic religions, but I see that it has complicated issues. Islam seeks to worship the god of Abraham, but it changes the character of Abraham's god from what was revealed before, and not for the better.
Deception: From the beginning
- Mohammed thought he was loosing his mind when he first had the visions that prompted his religious journey. This gives appearance of either a spirit entity which was deceiving Mohammed, or Mohammed was deceiving himself.
- Mohammed did not reliably know where his revelations came from. He could not distinguish that which came from Allah vs what might come from a deceiving entity which was not Allah. He taught his followers what is now called Satanic Verses and retracted them later as error. Therefore, Allah’s prophet could not distinguish truth, he deceived his followers and was unreliable.
- Today’s standard Islamic narrative says that Mohammed developed his religion in Mecca, that many people had lived there a very long time, and that it was a place with substantial greenery. However, Mecca has insufficient local water sources for this. (It is in the middle of desert, so Mecca is presently supplied with desalinated water piped in all the way from the ocean.) No large quantity of people can live where there is no water, so this narrative of Islam's origin must be false. note
- The Quran has substantial content that is scientifically in error. The Quran also teaches apocryphal pseudo-gospel fables about Jesus. If the Quran is from Allah and Allah is all-knowing, then Allah is trying to deceive.
- Some early teaching in the Quran is replaced with contradictory teaching in later verses of the Quran. The earlier verses are "abrogated". If Allah revealed these teachings, then Allah either changed his mind (therefore the revelation of Allah is unreliable), or Allah himself did not change but was being deceptive in his revelations. (See this discussion )
- The Quran says that its followers may not be friends (allies) with those outside of Islam, however to avoid persecution (or gain advance for Islam) deception about being a friend is OK. note
- Allah created the "error" of Christianity though deception by making a person other than Jesus appear to be Jesus and be the one killed. note
If Allah did not want Jesus killed, why didn't he stop the execution instead of deceiving the Jews into thinking they had killed Jesus? Christians and non-Christians alike have continued to believe this deception.
Among people, Islam is very concerned about honor towards Allah and the prophets that represent him. Yet Islam teaches that Allah made everyone think that one of his greatest prophets had a dishonorable death by crucifixion. If Jesus was a prophet representing Allah, why did Allah permanently dishonor one of his mostly highly esteemed prophets by creating this deception?
Allah also deceived all who became Christians by convincing them that Jesus died for the faith, instead of vindicating Jesus publicly without death (as it would seem that Islam would have preferred). If Allah wants all to come into correct submission, why did he convince all the followers of Jesus of this falsehood? Why did Allah convince everyone of a gross error about Jesus for (at least) 600 years instead of correcting this error?
It says: Don't take unbeliever friends instead of believers. Quran 3:28, 3:118, 4:144, 5:51 However if it is to your safety (or advantage) to feign friendship with an unbeliever, that is OK. Quran 3:28
Note that I do not think that all in the Islamic faith follow this injunction. Many genuinely give their friendship to those outside the faith. And yet if they do so, they are not fully living out their faith.
From the research of Dan Gibson, Petra seems to be the place that most accurately matches to the physical characteristics of the Islamic origination history. But this is not what is taught as the standard narrative.
Deception is immoral because it obscures truth, it prevents truth. If Allah deceived Mohammed or let him be deceived then how can a Muslim know that what Allah last said through Mohammed is true? note
Since deception is allowed (and sometimes encouraged) in Islam at some levels, what assurance can be had that the deception is only in these known places? (See Lying and Deception) How can the faith be trustworthy everywhere when we already know it is not trustworthy everywhere to everyone? Might followers of Islam think that they themselves could be deceived? Why should they think they are not deceived?
Only a faith that fully and transparently seeks to avoid deception at all levels should be trusted to not also be hiding deception against its own people. Letting deception in the door at even one level with regard to a faith legitimately brings doubt about it all all levels.
Derivation: Continuity issues
Islam claims to derive from Judaism and Christianity and to supersede them. And yet it did not come from a Jewish culture (as Christianity did), nor from a Christian culture.
Islam came into existence about a thousand years after the Judaism of the Bible and about 600 years after Jesus. Mohammed as founder only personally knew of those other cultures and/or religions from hearsay and uncertain sources. Islam therefore arguably from the beginning has mis-understood both Judaism and Christianity. To this day the understanding of Christianity in Islam certainly is in error. note
One example: Mohammed taught that the Trinity in Christianity was the Father, Son (Jesus) and mother (Mary) (Quran 5:116).
This is a gross error; I do not know of any Christian group that has this belief. The orthodox teaching of the Trinity in Christianity is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So, either Mohammed was deceived, or Mohammed was intending to deceive his followers.
Note that getting the correct concept of the Trinity is unimportant in this example. The important part is that teaching within Islam has obvious errors. What can be trusted of the teaching then?
Islam claims to honor Judaism and Christianity, and yet it actively and violently fights them. The claim and the actions do not agree, and the actions are the evidence of the true position. So from the evidence of actions, domination is the true goal and the words are a deception to those both inside and outside of Islam.
Islam's claim to honor what came before is useful just to gain footholds. However the actions show that Islam does not have continuity from before. Therefore, those earlier religions do not strengthen the legitimacy of Islam.
Disrespect: Islam is threatened by disrespect
Mohammed and his followers (in the early 600s AD) had been insulting the gods of the people of Mecca. Likewise in return the Meccans were insulting Allah. This disrespect was so unacceptable to Mohammed that he and his followers warred with the Meccans. However, Mohammed was loosing this war and the number of his followers was dwindling. Then Mohammed had a revelation to not insult disbelievers of Allah because otherwise the unbelievers might insult Allah (Quran 6:108).
Why does an all-powerful god like Allah (or the followers of such a god) even notice lack of respect? Humans are insignificant to such a god and their respect would have no bearing on the god's position. An actual god like as Allah is described to be is independent of humans and does not either gain or lose prestige because of the opinions of mere humans.
To this day, the followers of Islam take threat from disrespect of their religion. (Many of them intimidate the world as a counter to this.) Apparently by this, even though Islam already has had great success, Allah is still threatened by human opinions.
Oddly, Allah does not seem to notice all the humans that privately hold an opinion of disrespect. Allah apparently only cares about publicly expressed disrespect. Is Allah unaware of internal human thoughts? Or is concern for disrespect something that only the followers of Allah notice, and only in public expression?
The only actual evidence we have is that the humans of Islam are the ones concerned about disrespect because Allah never takes personal action against it. Is Allah actually there to take action? Does Islam incorrectly represent that Allah actually cares about disrespect?
Bullying: Being a bully demonstrates an actual lack of position
A human bully usually is one that wants power but does not actually have it yet. Therefore, the bully uses intimidation and violence to appropriate the perception of power. In many cases the bully only maintains the power they control by continuing to act in the same way.
Normally if you are in a genuine position of power, you don’t need to bully someone to achieve your ends because you have the authority to accomplish your will.
Mohammed bullied a majority of people into adopting his religion. As he gained power and numbers of followers toward the end of his life, Mohammed increasingly used intimidation and the violence of war to accelerate expansion of what he controlled. However, if Allah was powerful, did he need to force people to obey him by the human sword? Many followers of Islam today still play the bully when they can. Why does Allah act as a petty god by requiring his people to act this way? Is Allah an actual being with actual authority?
It is commonly recognized that human bullies by their actions simply are exhibiting poor character. Humans with good character are recognized by all as better than this, better than the bullies. Why does Allah act like a human with poor character? Why do humans with recognized good character act better than Allah?
Love: Allah does not love those that do not love him
The love of Allah is conditional.
Allah does not love the unbelievers. Quran 3:32
Consider a different god that loves all people regardless of their actions. This god could also be a just god that metes punitive justice on those that act wrongly. The god obviously would prefer that people acted justly, but even so could both love all people and fulfill justice.
In fact, this is what good earthly parents are like. They love all their children. However, if their children misbehave (by acting unloving), the parents punish these children even while they still deeply love them. So, good human parents love children that do not love them. This is universally recognized in human culture as the most noble kind of parenting.
In this way then, human parents are better and more noble than Allah. How is Allah the best when Allah is not even as noble or as good as humans?
These difficulties I see with Islam are clearly insufficient to convince an adherent to leave Islam. For them, there is too much inertia or sunk cost in the position to make a change based on my summary notes here. Islam also teaches that Allah is inscrutable, therefore, since it is impossible to understand or predict Allah, we are not to question that which is inconsistent or even irrational. note However, I see these concerns as serious issues with the religion, and they are the core of my fundamental doubts that the religion accurately represents truth.
I believe that we live in a physical world that is deeply rational. Evidence for this is that science (a deeply rational human endeavor) is very successful. This is evidence to me that truth itself is not irrational, and therefore, it is doubtful to me that this world could have come from a god that does irrational things.
That is not to say that humans should be able to fully understand a god. By definition a god is superior to humans and therefore unlikely to be understood even as well as we understand other humans. It also is not to say that there is no mystery to humans about the actions of a god. Since a god has a larger context regarding the world than humans, there are likely to be things the god does that are mysterious to humans in their limitations. But this never means that those things need be irrational.
So Islam has a history of deception, violence and poor character. A religion of truth does not originate from deception, sanctioned violence in religion is playing the bully (is not peaceable), and poor character is already less than what is widely recognized to be what is good.
Because of these issues, I reject Islam as the best religion and the most truthful religion.