Tom Caylor writes:

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> Tom Caylor writes:
>
> > > So you believe that the Qur'an is the literal word of God? What I was 
hoping is that
> > > you would say Muhammed was deluded or lying, so that the Qur'an is at 
best an
> > > impressive piece of literature with some interesting moral teachings: 
i.e., what atheists
> > > say about the Bible.
> > >
> > > Stathis Papioannou
> >
> > No, I was just answering your question.  I'm going out on a limb (not
> > referring to Shirley McLane ;) but I think that the belief in Islam
> > about the Qur'an is that it fulfills the role of the 2nd/3rd
> > hypostates, instead of the person of Jesus.  It is eternal and spans
> > the infinite gap between God and man.  For the Christian, Jesus
> > fulfills this role.  (Also, Jesus, being a person, solves the problem
> > of the infinite relationship gap between us and God in a from-God-to-us
> > direction rather than the from-us-to-God direction of good works. Good
> > works are only finite.)  So as I see it the Christian has a different
> > belief about the Bible than does the Muslim about the Qur'an.  There
> > are plenty of good sources about the Christian's belief about the
> > Bible, and evidence to support those beliefs, so I don't want to get
> > into a long discussion about it on this List.  I'll just say that I
> > believe that a non-Christian can read the Bible, and about the Bible,
> > to try to find out something in a rational way, just like reading any
> > other book.
>
> Sure, the Bible contains some historical facts, some moral teachings, some 
great literature,
> as does the Qur'an. But there are literal conflicts between the Bible and the 
Qur'an, eg.
> Muslims believe that Jesus was just another prophet, not God in human form 
[if that concept
> is even coherent], while Christians do not believe that Muhammed actually 
took dictation from
> God. But in terms of empirical evidence, general plausibility, or even 
strength of conviction in
> believers, there isn't much to choose between the two faiths. Why do 
Christians and Muslims
> agree on certain incredible-sounding things of which they generally have no 
direct experience,
> such as the Earth being spherical, but strongly disagree on other things such 
as the status of
> Jesus and whether he really rose from the dead?
>
> Stathis Papaioannou

People disagree on lots of things, especially if it touches on ultimate
questions, for instance as I mentioned about the Christians' belief
that Jesus is the solution to the problem of evil (from-God-to-us) and
Muslims' (and all other belief systems that recognize the problem of
evil) belief that the solution depends on our good works (or something
similar, from-us-to-God/Good).  Do you recognize the problem of evil,
and if so, what do you believe is the solution?  Do you think that the
MWI is the key to the solution?

People disagree on lots of things, but they also agree on lots of things, many of which are on the face of it either incredible or unpleasant - because the evidence leaves them no choice. On matters of values and religion, however, they disagree far more frequently. In the case of values this is because they are not actually disgreeing about any empirical or logical fact: they are just saying this is the way I wish to live my life, this is what I hold to be good or important, this is what I would like other people to hold good or important. In the case of religion, people disagree because they are selective in the evidence they accept because they want to believe something. Jews believe that God spoke to Moses, but they don't believe that God spoke to Muhammed. I don't think there is evidence that God spoke to either of them, but if your standards of evidence are much lower than mine and you accept one, you are being inconsistent if you don't accept the other. That is, if you think the sort of evidence presented in holy books, reports of miracles, religious experience, strength of faith in followers etc. is convincing, then pretty well every religion is equally convincing. That is not the case if you compare the evidence for a flat Earth versus a spherical Earth, for example.

As for the Problem of Evil, that's easy: there is no evidence that there is a God; if there is a God, there is no evidence that he cares what happens to us; if he does care what happens to us there is no evidence that he intervenes in our lives; if he does intervene there is no evidence that things are any better than they would be if he didn't intervene.
Stathis Papaioannou
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