Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Very interesting discussion in class today, stoked by a report pointing out Biblical inconsistencies, contradictions, unflattering depictions of Jesus, and in general the ongoing failure of the devout to answer "Epicurus's old questions" that converge on what Bart Ehrman calls "God's Problem," challenging the plausibility of an all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly good Supreme Being. Muslim students were quick to offer their measured and respectful agreement that the Christian Bible is a deeply flawed document, reflecting the contributions of many human hands over the centuries... unlike, they contended, the Holy Koran.
"Although many Christians revere the Bible, few if any treat it with the same degree of reverence as Muslims treat the Qur’an. Indeed, it is argued that a much closer parallel in Christianity is not the Bible, but Jesus Christ: 'If Christ is the Word of God made flesh, the Koran is the Word of God made text, and questioning its sanctity or authority is thus considered an outright attack on Islam — as Salman Rushdie knows all too well.'" (A. Cline)
Far from revering the Bible as untouchable, many prominent and pious Christians through the centuries have openly challenged its authenticity. Thomas Jefferson even took scissors to it, snipping all the supernatural bits.
Some scholars contend that What the Koran Really Says is not any more "clear, or mubin," than the Bible.
"Indeed, the Koran could well stand as the supreme example of a man-made text, worked over and doctored to an unfathomable extent, and subsequently endowed with a transcendental provenance by the associative and projective proclivities of the human imagination... 'if you look at it, you will notice that every fifth sentence simply doesn't make sense…. The fact is that a fifth of the Koranic text is just incomprehensible.' If this is the case, why is the impression abroad, among both Muslims and non-Muslims, that we not only know what the Koran is, but what it says? The explanation lies in the fact that once the Koran existed, in some form or another, not necessarily the form we know today, people began to make up stories about it..."
I don't know if that explanation will stand, but I'm very pleased that we were all able to leave class today amicably and in agreement that there's nothing wrong with disagreeing, so long as we do it respectfully and with ears open.
Made me proud, how much better we handled our little debate than did the ranting, raving, self-righteous monomaniac and his understandably-incensed detractors in front of our student center yesterday around noon. (Read about it in the student newspaper Sidelines... here's a philosophy student's first-hand account, including Preacher's outrageous statement that women "ask for" sexual assault. Apparently it's all women's responsibility to dress modestly, so as to protect Preacher and his pals from their own uncontrollable lust. How indistinguishable fundamentalists from different traditions are, at close range.)
The poor fool was evidently incapable of noticing the irony in his long list of human types and behaviors allegedly hated by their loving Creator.
If there's a hell, sounds like, it'd be a nice place to visit: all the fun people will be there.
But maybe Jean-Paul Sartre got this one right: hell is just (some) other people.