Is there any way to penetrate it? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
Recently, a friend of Deeper Waters got a new Kindle and sent me his old one. In it, I found some books he’d already included, with some being on Islam. One book on the list was “The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created The Modern Islamist Crisis.”
In my years of apologetics, I have debated several kinds of people. I have debated Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, Christians on disagreeing issues, and no doubt several others. Yet I have been constantly dumbfounded by what I see coming from Muslim debaters.
Is it because their arguments are so good?
No. It is because generally, they are consistently so terrible.
This is not to say that there aren’t intelligent Muslims out there who can make arguments. There are. It is to say that there is a general trend in this area. The reasoning, or lack thereof that I see, is just simply stunning. It is difficult to get a Muslim to follow an argument, to see how to analyze claims, and quite often a Muslim has taken the most simplistic arguments, claimed the opponents were unable to refute them, and then gone off crying victory.
An example of this is debates I’ve had lately on textual criticism. 1 John 5:7 is trotted out as not being authentic (Which I agree with) and therefore, the text is corrupt and there’s no argument for the Trinity at all. Now it could be the Trinity is wrong for the sake of argument. It could be for the sake of argument that the text is corrupt. A simplistic argument like this does not show it. In fact, when I tried to debate my opponent on this one I asked him if he knew what a gloss was only to get the answer “gloss?” In other words, we have people arguing on the basis of textual criticism and it is clear, they have no idea what it is. Instead of seeing arguments, I consistently see just YouTube videos. The only people cited as sources are people like Deedat and Naik.
Keep in mind also, Islam is a faith that denies that Jesus Christ was crucified. The crucifixion of Jesus is one of the surest facts of history. If you go to NT scholars and deny that Jesus was crucified, you will not be treated seriously. You will be seen as a joke amongst them.
Yet in the past in history, there were Muslims like Avicenna and Averroes. These were giants of intellectualism who should be seen as the people that Muslim apologists would want to emulate today. The sad part is few if any have probably heard of them and those who have would most likely consider them heretics.
Reilly’s contention in the book is that this is a result of a war between the Ash’ari school of Islam and the Mu’tazila school. The former held that the Koran was uncreated. The latter held that it was created. The former school is the school that won out with such writings as “The Incoherence of the Philosophers.”
What happens as a result? There is a bifurcation in Islam between faith and reason. Allah becomes a will. Occasionalism reigns, which means that Allah becomes the direct cause of everything. There can be no natural law because that would imply that humans can reason to truth apart from the Koran. There can be no science because that would lower Allah and make him work through intermediary causes. The reason things work is because it is the will of Allah. The reason for a moral law is that it is the will of Allah.
And we wonder why it is so hard to spread Democracy to a Muslim country.
Furthermore, if reason will not work, then what is left? Violence. You cannot use peace. You must use the sword. Reilly gives several quotations that explain this. It is an in-depth look at the history of Islam and the way it is today. Reilly wants to know why Muslim countries aren’t flourishing. Why are we not seeing profound science, literature, and economic developments in Muslim countries? It is because of the theology at the heart. Note he does not say it is because of the Koran. He does not say it is because of Allah. He does not say it is because of Muhammad. He says it is because of a certain understanding of Islam.
Now in saying all of this, I 100% agree that Islam is a false faith. I do not think Muhammad was a prophet for a second. Still, I do not worry about what Jews will do in the future. I do not worry about Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses or Buddhists or Hindus. I do about Muslims. Why? Because of what I see going on today with the rampant violence, and this book does a great deal to explain it. I have great concerns over a position where reason is not used. (I also have great concerns when Christians take the same mindset)
Hopefully, as Reilly argues at the end, we can see some reform in the Islamic faith so that they will return to a way of reason. Perhaps they will still hold to the Koran. I would love to see them come to Christ instead, but if they hold to the Koran, at least there will be reasoning about it and not a total commitment to violence. Perhaps. There are some lights in the Islamic world wanting to lead the way. Let’s hope they are not snuffed out.
Robert Reilly’s book can be found here