By matter of necessity, i.e. in order to be relevant to the Islamic newsgroup so that my articles get posted, I mostly have to be in a role of direct confrontation which I don't really like particularly. I much rather explain positively why I am a Christian and what we really believe. Implicit in the reasons for my Christian faith would be my understanding of the lack of reason for Islam.
Nevertheless, ever so often Muslims insist to know directly why I still reject Islam after I know already so much about it.
In this series of articles I want to honor this insistent request and formulate my personal problems with Islam and why I do not think that the Qur'an is the word of God or Muhammad a true messenger from God.
Before you progress further, I want to invite you to read the article "The Taste of Faith and the Test of Faith" for some more background on how I think it is best to approach the quest for religious truth in general and the dialog between Muslims and Christians in particular.
I had several titles for this series to choose from, the one that most faithfully would represent my approach in this article being "Islam and (the problem of) Reality", because my impression is that Islam is a relatively self-consistent worldview, having beauty that is fascinating but the decisive question is whether it holds up to the reality of our world.
Let me illustrate what I mean. In mathematics there are several geometries which are self-consistent. Everybody knows of Euclidian geometry which is a beautiful theory even though you might not have caught the enthusiasm for it in school. And then there are non-euclidian geometries [hyperbolical and elliptical] which are also wonderful and self-consistent theories (usually only taught to mathematics majors in a university education in mathematics). Being thus provided with several such geometries, the obvious question is: Is any of these geometries actually providing an accurate model for our world? This cannot be decided from inside the theories. To answer this question we need to investigate how these theories hold up when faced with the outside reality of our world. As it turns out, our universe is non-euclidian, which might surprise you. In a sense, you have learned the "wrong" geometry.
My problems with Islam are not so much "from the inside" where it is a largely self-consistent and beautiful idea, but when looking at Islam "from the outside" and observing a number of clashes with reality as we know it. That is the reason I wanted to give this series the title "Islam and (the problem of) Reality". In the end I came to the conclusion that this title is too aggressive and I rather want to formulate my thoughts in the format of questions addressed to Muslims, since I believe these are essential questions to answer when thinking about entrusting your eternal destiny to this or any religion.
I realize that most people are relatively allergic to mathematics. Let me therefore give you another illustration as well. I am surely not the only one with the experience to be totally "gripped" by a movie. When the movie is good and skillfully done and for some reason I can identify with one of the characters, then I sometimes completely forget that it isn't reality and live within this artificially created world for some time during the movie. But usually there are either some reality breakdowns in the movie itself that are so strong that I am forced back to the realization that this is after all not real, or there is somebody in my row of the movie theater who needs to go to the bathroom and I need to make room to let him get through to the aisle, somebody behind me starts whispering with his neighbor or some other kind of outside interruptions which also are very effective to bring me back from dream land to the real world.
Some arguments and presentations of Islam surely have this "gripping effect" on many people and for some of it I can identify. I understand why it is so attractive. There are parts which are genuinely amazing. But then there are other bits and pieces which serve for me as these "outside interruptions" and when I take them serious enough they force me to conclude that maybe all this amazement might not be based on reality, but more on some sort of "virtual reality", although a powerful one which has convinced many that it is the reality. In this series of observations and questions, I want to discuss with you some issues that keep me so far from becoming convinced that Islam is the "ultimate (i.e. divine) reality" that it claims to be. If you have answers showing that I am the one who confused reality and virtual reality then I will be most grateful to learn about it so that I can change my life accordingly. If you find these difficulties as problematic as I do they might become those "outside interruptions" that could awaken you to reality. In any case, we can only win and come nearer to the truth if we seek with sincere hearts to grapple with the really serious issues and pray to God in his process to guide us to HIS truth.
This series has originally been posted to a newsgroup which explains the somewhat "interactive" way of addressing the reader.
Copyright © 1997 Jochen Katz. All rights reserved.
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