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9/02/2018 6:51 pm  #1


Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

It seems reasonable, if Christianity is built on an absurdity, to explore other religions, before considering mysterianism.

I'm looking for arguments for or against Islam. I'm not looking for polemics about aspects of Islamic culture or its incompatibility with our culture. (Both kinds of polemic resonate with me, but neither has anything to do with Islam's truth.) I'm aware of some of Craig's arguments from the inaccuracy of the Qu'ran. 

Likewise, mutatis mutandis, Judaism.

I've been meaning to look into both for a couple years now, but there is always so much to do and so little time. I'm hoping you all can save me having to.

 

9/02/2018 6:52 pm  #2


Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

(Christians are welcome to reply to the linked paper's arguments, but I ask that they start a separate thread to do so.)

     Thread Starter
 

9/02/2018 7:58 pm  #3


Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

At the risk of derailing this thread at the beginning, why only these two faiths, opposed to say Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Daoism?

On Islam, one of the arguments made is the Koran itself, which is a remarkable work of literature and expression of the Arabic language. Unfortunately, that kind of argument won't have the same kind of appeal for those who aren't fluent in Arabic, nor for those* who aren't attuned to traditional literature (whose idea of great literature of Harry Potter or Game of Thrones).  A poster who shall remain nameless actually posted a reasonable link on this a while ago. Otherwise, I think the arguments are mostly going to be spiritual and philosophical ones -  Islam is a purely monotheistic, universal faith with what I would say are some noble examples and ideals, whether we are talking morally, spiritually, or mystically. 

I think Judaism would probably have similar appeal (if it does appeal). Judaism (by which I mean Orthodox Judaism - the only type I would consider) is somewhat less open to converts, and, for adult males, conversion is somewhat daunting. This may put off converts (though Judaism doesn't have the same need to proselytise, of course). 

By the way, I haven't read Bill's article, but it seems strange to me the abstract talks about the arguments of C. S. Lewis and T. V. Morris. I'm a great admirer of Lewis, at least, but it seems to me that it, for example, the Greek Fathers would be more important interlocutors to interact with on the incarnation. Maybe he does do that.

* I don't mean you John. I'm talking generally.

 

9/02/2018 11:42 pm  #4


Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

Notice how all Western religions use the Sinai Revelation as a foundation and claim to add the latest chapter. What moral code was binding on mankind before this Revelation? It still is. Let me be the first to discourage you from converting. You'll be held to a  higher standard and you can't opt out. "If you become the ideal type of Noahide, you will be doing a greater service to humanity than by converting to Judaism. You will be a living example for others to follow."

"There are no benefits to converting beyond the fact that you are serving as an example and teacher to the rest of the nations, and that your fate is tied to that of the Jewish people, who, if collectively righteous, are promised the opportunity for maximum spiritual growth. However, an extremely high degree of spiritual growth is available to gentiles who accept a Jewish conception of G-d and the universe without actually committing to Jewish law. As a Muslim, you're 99% of the way there. Allah is metaphysically identical to the Jewish G-d (excepting the Ash'ariyya and Sufis) with the only difference being that the Jewish G-d gave the law and stewardship of the law to the Jews, and that he did not send prophets after Malachi.

"The Noahide Law (the minimum expected of Gentiles according to the law and tradition maintained by the Jews since the time of Noah) provides one with the capacity and right to fully serve G-d and earn eternal life just the same as any Jew. A righteous gentile spiritually outranks even a high priest if the gentile is wiser than the priest.

"There are no material gains whatsoever, and in fact, there are several downsides. You are expected to be held to a higher standard than gentiles, and many things that are permitted to you as a gentile become forbidden as a Jew. Jews are expected to observe 613 commandments, gentiles only 7, 6 of which are "negative" commandments which don't involve actually doing anything; just not doing something which you as a decent human being weren't going to do anyway. If you're interested in learning about your obligations as a gentile, see Hilkhoth Melakhim uMilkhamoth Chapters 9 and 10."

The Magnificent Seven (not the Clash song)

 

9/03/2018 5:17 am  #5


Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

I would consider the strongest arguments against Islam and Judaism to stem from what they have in common, that is the Abrahamic and Exodus backstories.
 
First of all the contents of those stories and the notion of a special revelation itself, especially one directed at a specific tribal group, appears incompatible with the nature of God. A lot of the moral claims are unjustified (cf the food taboos) and some the pronouncements verge on blasphemy - example 'I am a jealous God'. As an additional factor these texts show an apparent dirth of material on the soul and the afterlife. I doubt that ancient Judaism was completely materialistic but it does appear to lack a set out transcendent eschatology.
 
As most would accept a lot of the empirical claims made in Genesis e.g. the garden, the Flood, the genealogies, and the Tower of Babel are false. People urge an allegorical interpretation, which is perfectly legitimate, but then again one has to ask 'An allegory of what exactly'? Of human wickedness and the need for the coming Messiah? In that case they cannot serve as justifications for Biblical revelation.
 
Finally the deeper conceptual issue is that the Fall (or Original Sin) plays a role in each of these religions. What earthly reason do we have to accept such a thing – the Eden story is false on empirical grounds and the human capacity for wickedness is explicable in other ways e.g. through epistemic limitation and free will. I suspect it’s also necessarily false as incompatible with God’s nature – why all of humanity be deprived a direct connection with the Deity on the basis of others misdeeds? The Molnist answer is spurious, of course Catholics have a better answer, that is that naturally humanity does not have a capacity for such direct connection and that it was a gratuitous gift to our first ancestors. Again why believe that humanity lacks such a connection – if anything natural theology and the study of mystical experience points strongly in the other direction

 

9/03/2018 5:39 pm  #6


Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

At the risk of derailing this thread at the beginning, why only these two faiths, opposed to say Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Daoism?

In so far as Buddhists deny the reality of the self or think all is becoming, I have no truck with them. (I never know whether Buddhists are “authentic” anymore.) I don't know enough about the other religions to even start asking questions about them.

     Thread Starter
 

9/03/2018 5:40 pm  #7


Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

DanielCC wrote:

Finally the deeper conceptual issue is that the Fall (or Original Sin) plays a role in each of these religions. What earthly reason do we have to accept such a thing – the Eden story is false on empirical grounds and the human capacity for wickedness is explicable in other ways e.g. through epistemic limitation and free will. I suspect it’s also necessarily false as incompatible with God’s nature – why all of humanity be deprived a direct connection with the Deity on the basis of others misdeeds? The Molnist answer is spurious, of course Catholics have a better answer, that is that naturally humanity does not have a capacity for such direct connection and that it was a gratuitous gift to our first ancestors. Again why believe that humanity lacks such a connection – if anything natural theology and the study of mystical experience points strongly in the other direction

Muslims apparently deny hereditary sin. They think that after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of knowledge, they repented and sought (and therefore received) Allah's forgiveness. (The way that is phrased might leave open the possibility of hereditary sin, though, if the story happened as Jews and Christians think.)

     Thread Starter
 

9/03/2018 8:14 pm  #8


Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

Jeremy Taylor wrote:

Judaism (by which I mean Orthodox Judaism - the only type I would consider) is somewhat less open to converts, and, for adult males, conversion is somewhat daunting.

Hello Jeremy, not being Jewish, I don't have skin in the game directly. But I'm wondering why you wouldn't consider, say, the Conservative Movement. They hold that the written Torah is divine, but that later rabbinical tradition of interpretation is historically conditioned, and therefore, can be changed by rabbis today. They do not find sufficient evidence for the thesis that the oral Torah invoked by the Orthodox does in fact have Mosaic authority.


 

 

9/03/2018 8:59 pm  #9


Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

Which is to say, it isn't really Rabbinic Judaism. Even conservative reformed Judaism is like very liberal, pick-and-mix Protestantism. I'm not the kind of person to put strong emphasis on historicity. I care much more for spirituality, morality, and symbolism. From my perspective, there is no comparison between reform and Orthodox Judaism. It's like comparing Eastern Orthodoxy with a Protestant mega-church. But, still, I think Orthodox Jews can make similar claims to Orthodox and Catholic Christians on the place of tradition in giving us the Scriptures. The Rabbinic tradition does also go back to the Second Temple. The OT itself, in its final form, isn't too much older. Finally, I think it would be a mistake to consider the Rabbinic tradition frozen in time, or inapplicable to enduring issues. What such claims usually mean is that people want to dissent from tradition on modernist principles.

 

9/04/2018 1:41 am  #10


Re: Why or why not Islam? Why or why not Judaism?

John West wrote:

In so far as Buddhists deny the reality of the self or think all is becoming, I have no truck with them. (I never know whether Buddhists are “authentic” anymore.) I don't know enough about the other religions to even start asking questions about them.

I should begin my comment by saying I'm going to talk in a way no traditional Buddhist would, because Buddhism is radically apophatic. But we're not Buddhists, and don't need to adhere to its strictures. Really, I think Buddhist metaphysics is very close to Advaita non-dualism*. But, taking a radically apophatic approach to our spiritual knowledge, they believe discursive reason is a tool we need to dispense with, or at least strongly keep in its subordinate place, on our spiritual journey. They think the concepts and language of discursive reason - which in truth can never penetrate to the root and origins of things - tend to be become treated as means to absolute truth in their own right: they become like cages or idols. The Buddhist spiritual method is above all aimed at breaking these cages or shattering the idols. So when the Buddhist says there is no self, we can translate him as referring to our concepts of a permanent self, not that that there is truly no self. It some sense there is a self, but trying to grasp this conceptually is like trying to cup water with our hands, so better to say there is no self (though the Buddhist would never put it this way). So far as becoming is concerned, it would be as true to say the Buddhist thinks all is being and nothing becoming. The Mahayana saying is that Samsara is Nirvana. This isn't meant to deny any reality beyond becoming, so much as to affirm a fundamental non-dualist, much like that of Shankara (though, again, a traditional Buddhist would never put it this way). I recommend the works of Marco Pallis and T. R. V. Murti as good introductions to Buddhism.

You never get quite identity, because it is of the nature of human languages and concepts - just as you can say almost exactly the same thing in two different languages, but there will always remain the subtlest, almost imperceptible differences. 

 

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