Friday, March 14, 2014

Ex-Muslim Guide: How to break it to your Muslim parents

Son: Father. I want to tell you something.

Father: What is it?

Son: I no longer believe in Islam.

Father: What? You don't even know Islam so don't talk, listen to us.

Son: But you don’t have answers to my questions, so you also don’t know Islam. So why should I think that you’re right about Islam?

Father: We have answers from the Qur'an, that's how we know Islam. You keep misinterpreting verses and you don't even know Arabic, translation corrupts meaning.

Son: The Quran is a book. How do you know its claims are true? What’s your evidence ruling out the possibility that the Quran and Allah are man-made? 

Father: Oh, but what about the scientific and mathematical miracles of the Qur'an? 

Son: All of the scientific claims in the Quran were things we already knew. For what you’re saying to make sense, the Quran would have to have said new things. If you care to check, see this essay on thatAs for the claims about mathematical miracles, why do you think they are miracles? Why do you think that a bunch of mathematical correlations means anything?

Father: How could Muhammad have known all of this? You have to remember that he was an illiterate merchant!

Son: I see two flaws with your argument. First, how do you know Mohamed was illiterate? And second, even if he was illiterate, why do you think he couldn’t have learned those things through discussion? You know that kids learn by discussion long before they learn to read.

Father: Because the Quran says Mohamed was an unlettered prophet.

Son: But that doesn’t make sense. It's circular logic. We were questioning whether or not the Quran is man-made. And then you said that it couldn’t have been man-made because Mohamed was illiterate. And then I asked you how you know he’s illiterate, and you say that it’s because the Quran says so — but that is the thing we’re questioning! My point is that it’s possible that Mohamed is literate AND wrote the Quran himself. So you didn't successfully answer my original question about this, which was: What's your evidence ruling out the possibility that the Quran and Allah are man-made?

Father: He was illiterate, he had his companions write down the Quran for him on papyrus, animal bones, etc. The Qur'an is man-made huh? The Quran asks jinn [demons] and mankind to produce a sura [verse] similiar to the suras of the Quran. It's been 1400 years and no one has met this challenge. This is proof that the Quran is from God!

Son: But a bunch of stuff in the Quran was borrowed from older Arab poetry. So your so-called "proof" doesn’t rule out the possibility that the Quran is man-made because it doesn’t address the fact that the text was plagiarized from previous Arabic text. If you care to check, see this essay about that

Father: Son, the people you are listening to are Arabs who know Islam is the truth, but they're hiding it. They chase after their worldly desires.

Son: So you’re saying that people like the author of that essay believe that Allah is real and she is hiding it? So how do you explain the fact that she wrote a book arguing that Allah is not real? What do you think is her intention of lying about that? 

Father: [blank out]

Son: And what worldly desires do you think she is chasing? She's an artist. Artists don't make much money. She can’t afford expensive things. I bet her most expensive stuff are her laptop which she needs for her hobbies of reading and writing. Is this what you mean by ‘worldly desires’? Reading and writing? Learning? Is this what you are insinuating is shameful!?

Father: She's working for the Jews!

Son: You’re not making sense! You’re saying that she would trade money for eternal flesh-burning!? That’s ridiculous!

Father: [blank out]

Son: If you don’t have answers to my questions, then will you retract your claim that this author knows that Islam is the truth but she is hiding it? 

Father: [blank out]

Son: Do you agree that when you make accusations that you should have evidence? What’s your evidence that this author is getting paid by jews to corrupt what she believes to be the truth? Or do you not care about evidence? Do you not care about the tradition of innocent until proven guilty? Do you not care about the tradition of benefit of the doubt?

Father: [blank out]

Son: Well? Why no answer? 

Father: [blank out]

Son: Why do you keep bringing this stuff up without answering my questions? What's the point? Do you think I'm going to be persuaded of something while I have unanswered questions about it?

Father: [blank out]

[son walks away]


Father: Son. I think you haven't considered everything. Look at the amount of devotion in Islam, surely you can't find another religion like it.

Son: I don’t understand your argument. Are you saying that IF Islam has the most devotion (whatever that means) compared to all other religions, THEN that implies that the Quran is not man-made? And a follow-up question: What do you mean by devotion, and what is your argument that devotion is something I should want, something beneficial for me?

Father: Devotion is acts for the sake of Allah, e.g. five daily prayers, fasting, hours of memorizing and reciting the qur'an, no music, no alcohol, no pork, etc. If you don't submit to Allah, you're going to end up in hell, would you want that? That's how devotion will benefit you.

Son: You know me. You know my actions. You know I’m good. You know I try hard to not hurt anyone. Do you think Allah would judge me badly, and put me in hell? If he would, well that raises another question: Why should a good person, one who tries hard not to hurt anyone, be punished in hell?

Father: 3:85 of the Quran, the verse that mentions anyone who doesn't accept Islam will become one of the losers in the Hereafter. And besides, even if you're a good person, Allah created you, comforted you, gave you eyes and ears. But you chose to reject his religion. While you didn't hurt anyone, you still denied Allah.

Son: So Allah is evil -- he would punish a good person with eternal flesh-burning. That doesn’t make any sense at all. I don’t believe stuff that doesn’t make any sense. That's one reason that I believe that the Quran is man-made. So I don’t believe that I’m going to hell, nor do I believe that hell exists.

Father: Whether you like it or not, Islam is the truth, there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his slave and messenger. 

Son: It’s not about what I like or don’t like. I don’t judge ideas by how they feel to me. I judge ideas objectively, using reason. That means that when I'm considering something, I don't assume that I already have the truth, and instead, what I do is seek the truth. 
But for you, you're doing the opposite. You're claiming that you already have the truth, so you're not even looking for it. So instead of seeking the truth, what you do is try to "prove/justify/support/confirm" what you already claim to be the truth. 

Son: With my method, my knowledge evolves, step by step, one corrected flaw at a time, as I get ever closer to the truth. With your method, your knowledge stays static, where flaws in it don't get corrected.

Son: That means that my beliefs are the ideas that have survived all known criticism. And that means leaving all my ideas on the table, ready to be criticized — ready to be replaced by even better ideas. But for you, you are unwilling to change your beliefs because you are unwilling to accept that your beliefs might be flawed. So you treat your beliefs as infallible. You treat things as though you are omniscient, like god.

Son: Now the main criticism I have of Islam is that it says that Allah would put me in hell even though I don't do anything to hurt anyone. And you haven't explained how I'm wrong.

Father: Look, we already explained it. True, there are good people out there who spend their lives not hurting anyone, but they are also committing a crime by not submitting to Allah. 

Son: But I don’t believe that it’s a crime to not believe something. Why? Because I have criticisms of that idea, and I don’t believe ideas I have criticisms of.

Father: [blank out]

[son walks away]


Father: Son, Allah gave you eyes, ears, a heart, and many other valuable things, yet you disobey your creator who gave you all of this! Why should you deserve Paradise when you have been given plenty of time in this world to seek out Allah? 

Son: You seem to be not listening. I don't believe paradise exists. Why? Because I have criticisms of that idea, and I don’t believe ideas that I have criticisms of. And you haven't explained to me why I'm wrong.

Father: Look, we can't understand Allah's way of thinking.

Son: I don’t agree with your idea that some things can’t be understood. As David Deutsch explained in _The Beginning of Infinity_, humans are universal knowledge creators. That means we can create any knowledge. That means that nothing is outside the realm of human understanding. Nothing! We can solve any problem!

Father: [blank out]

[son walks away]


Father: Son, I wanted to clarify something from last time we talked about eternal flesh-burning. The punishment of Hell is forever but it really means a long time, it's not eternal. 

Son: What does that have to do with what I said? Nothing. You can replace ‘eternal’ with ‘long time’ and my idea still stands — you have not criticized my idea. You have not explained why I'm wrong.

Father: [blank out]

Son: [starts to walk away]

Father: So you think that 1.5 billion people are wrong?

Son: lol, if you're going to treat truth-seeking as a popularity contest, then 5 billion non-Muslims way outnumber your 1.5 billion Muslims.

Father: [blank out]

Son: [starts to walk away]

Father: But son, just think of how beautiful the Quran is, and how many people converted to Islam. That has to mean something.

Son: Wait a minute. Are you thinking that when Islam started that it spread by voluntary conversion?

Father: ... yes.

Son: lol, you're just making stuff up with no connection to reality. Islam spread by the sword, by involuntary conversion. Mohamed initiated like 65 military campaigns, and in all of them he was the aggressor, rather than being the one acting in self-defense. Before you make claims about history, you should read some history.

Father: [blank out]

[son starts to walk away]

Father: But wait, other religions started wars too.

Son: So let me understand your argument. You're saying that since other religions did evil stuff like Islam did, that means Islam is not evil?

Father: No that's not what I'm saying, you're twisting my words!

Son: So then what are you saying? You brought up the idea that Islam spread by voluntary conversion, which is false. Then you said that other religions did that too. So why did you say this? Weren't you defending Islam by saying that other religions are also evil?

Father: [blank out]

[son starts to walks away]

Father: Son how will you live a moral life without Islam?

Son: What do you mean?

Father: Mohamed, peace be upon him, is the perfect moral example, if...

Son: What?! Mohamed had sex with 9 y.o. girls. He was a pedophile! That's a crime! 

Father: But everybody at that time did that.

Son: There's that moral relativism again. You're defending Mohamed's evil by saying that other Arabs of his time were also evil!

Father: Kings of Europe did it too!

Son: lol, so you're defending Mohamed's evil by saying that other King's were also evil. Is that it?

Father: [blank out]

Son: So let me see if I understand your argument. You want me to marry a 9 y.o.?

Father: No!

Son: So then you don't want me to follow Mohamed's moral example. Right?

Father: [blank out]

[son walks away]


Father: Son, watch this video about proofs of Islam.

Son: Wait a minute. Are you saying that something in this video addresses one or more of the questions I asked you? If not, then I’m not interested. But if so, which of my questions does it answer?

Father: [blank out]

Son: Then I'm not interested.

Father: Son, you are being disrespectful of me.

Son: huh? How so?

Father: You've been dismissing me when I talk to you about Islam.

Son: What!? No! You are the one dismissing my ideas! I ask you questions and you ignore them -- you don't answer them. So you are the one disrespecting me!

Son: And what's worse is that you keep coming to me with these ideas about Islam even though you know that I'm not interested to hear them. So you are disrespecting me by ignoring my preference for not hearing about this Islam stuff. I don't come to talk to you about stuff you don't want to hear about, which means that I'm respecting you. So why don't you respect my preference for being left alone about the things I don't want to hear about? Don't you agree that respect should go both ways?

Father: [blank out]

[starts to walk away]

Father: But you also didn't answer my questions.

Son: What questions didn't I answer?

Father: The miracles! How can you not believe in Allah who gave you all these miracles?

Son: What miracles?

Father: Everything around you! Everything!

Son: What are you talking about? How do you know any of those things were created by Allah?

Father: Allah is the creator of everything!

Son: How do you know that?

Father: It couldn't have happened by chance!

Son: Why not? What's your explanation ruling out the possibility that it all happened by chance?

Father: [blank out]

Son: So between the logical possibilities of (1) everything happened by chance, and by what man-kind did, and (2) everything was created by Allah -- which one of these possibilities should we rule out, and why?

Father: It's too much of a coincidence. It's not possible. Humans did not come from monkeys.

Son: lol, you're right that humans did not come from monkeys. We both evolved from a common ancestor.

Father: It doesn't make sense.

Son: What do you mean? Are you saying you have an explanation that refutes biological evolution?

Father: [blank out]

Son: Well, if you want to persuade me that I'm wrong, you'll have to give me an explanation that refutes biological evolution, so you'll have to explain what's wrong with this essay on Evolution and Knowledge.

Father: [blank out]


Join me to help finish my Islam book — give honest feedback, get your questions answered, and contribute your own ideas.

No comments:

Post a Comment