POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

An Exercise in Refuting Ridiculousness

Yesterday a buddy sent me a note regarding a video YouTube that his friend said was a good argument against Christianity. Always interested in the arguments used against the faith I checked it out without much delay.  What I found was simply an exercise in ridiculousness. At first I was going to offer a point by point refutation of this but what disturbed me most was not his rhetoric (I can’t even call it an argument).  What disturbed me most is that any Christian would not have the basic understanding of the New Testament to just laugh when hearing this guy. Unfortunately too many American churches just may have been busy doing laser light shows on Sundays and teaching repeated series on sex, money, marriage and how to be a winner.

So, what I want to do instead of refuting this is to interact with you guys and let you refute it.  Let’s call it a joint POCBlog “learn in.”  So here is the plan.  Watch the video below.  Then in the comments (if you are reading this on Facebook, go to the blog here to post your comments) list what you hear that is wrong with his argument and offer some thoughts. I’ll weigh in along the way as well and we’ll learn together how to refute this sort of rhetoric not uncommon from Muslim apologists in the West.

Are you game? Drop the knowledge below…I’ll provide a bibliography of sources at some point for reading on the history of the New Testament, but for now lets just do some work together.

Here is the first part of the assignment:


Son of Hamas...

FOXNews.com has a fascinating article about Mosab Hassan Yousef son of someone in the leadership of Hamas. The article is mostly interview form and centers on Yousef's conversion to Christianity from the religion of peace. In commenting on what other Muslim's think of his conversion he provides one of my favorite quotes from the piece:

Yeah, they think that Christians took advantage of me, and this is completely wrong. I've been a Christian for a long time before they knew, or anyone knew. I love Jesus, I followed him for many years now. It wasn't a secret for most of the time, and this time I just did it to glorify the name of God and praise him. They're not dealing with a regular Muslim. They know that I'm educated, they know that I studied, they know that I studied Islam and Christianity. When I made my decision, I didn't make it because someone did magic on me or convinced me. It was completely my decision.

There is also a video report which I have embedded here as well:

Controversial Dutch Film...

Dutch Politician Geert Wilders' controversial 15min short film Fitna (a word which means discord or strife) is causing quite a stir.  The film features readings from the Koran accompanied by quotes from Islamic teachers along with some disturbing images.  Of course Wilders has had too many death threats to count and the film is causing debate about speech that offends. 

What is lacking in the commentary I have read is a discussion of the truth of these matters. Anyway, it is a pretty shocking film - available here on Google Video. 

Poor Terrorists...

Today we have another guest essay from my prolific friend Tim Dees.  This one comments on a recent "analysis" done by a NY Times op ed writer.  Enjoy



Every now and then, I read something so shocking I have to read it twice.  Today's New York Times contained just such a statement (see here).  The statement in question was part of an article by Jared Diamond, the author of Guns, Germs, and Steel.  The article started with some neo-Malthusian musings about how people in the developed world consume about thirty-two times as many resources as people in the developing world.  He makes a good point that, for purposes of global resources, we ought to worry more about the developed countries than about the developing countries, regardless of lightning-fast growth rates in third-world countries.  At this point, it sounds like a pretty standard op-ed piece for the Times, but then it took a wrong turn in the following paragraph:

"People in the third world are aware of this difference in per capita consumption, although most of them couldn't specify that it's by a factor of 32. When they believe their chances of catching up to be hopeless, they sometimes get frustrated and angry, and some become terrorists, or tolerate or support terrorists. Since Sept. 11, 2001, it has become clear that the oceans that once protected the United States no longer do so. There will be more terrorist attacks against us and Europe, and perhaps against Japan and Australia, as long as that factorial difference of 32 in consumption rates persists."

This paragraph (which in no way relates to the rest of the article) expounds a popular idea that has absolutely no grounding in reality, research, or common sense: that terrorists become terrorists because they are jealous of our stuff.  Why on earth do people think this?

Such a belief holds out blindly against the facts.  Alan Krueger and a host of other researchers have done extensive research that shows that terrorists are less likely to be poor than non-terrorists (see this essay)When terror goes global, it's almost always funded by Saudi money - and the Saudis can consume with the best of them - and it's usually carried out by the educated upper class.  Think about it this way: if you knew Osama bin Laden's father, he would almost certainly be the richest person you've ever met.

But let's also think about the targets of these attacks.  Right now, the vast majority of terrorist attacks going on in the world are happening in Iraq, and they are usually against Sunnis or Shiites, not against Americans.  Today, the news reported a number of suicide attacks, and none of them were against Americans.  They were all the result of internecine conflicts within Iraq.  And what about Japan and Australia, for whom Diamond predicts future terrorist attacks?  Why doesn't anyone attack them?  This is a worthy question that Diamond dodges.  If terrorism is about consumption, then terrorists should attack consumption wherever it is.  But we all know that it doesn't.

Another serious problem with this statement is its failure to listen to terrorists.  Terrorists usually aren't quiet about why they attack certain countries; in fact, Osama bin Laden issues press releases with industrious regularity.  After September 11th, Osama bin Laden said that attacks would continue until "we can see it as a reality in Palestine and before all the infidel armies leave the land of Mohammed".  This was his primary demand, and in no way does he mention differences in consumption or wealth (for the full statement, see here).  In fact, bin Laden mentions Hiroshima and Nagasaki as examples of American arrogance.  If these attacks were against the developed world, why would bin Laden identify himself with a first-world nation?

With all the evidence in his face, how does Diamond (along with so many others) persist with this message that terrorism is provoked by poverty?  I think the answer to this question lies in a specific strain of thinking among the Western Left that I will call economic reductionism (ER).  In ER, everything comes back to money.  There's no such thing as good and bad, true and false, right and wrong, just rich and poor.  Teach a man to fish, and the world is healed.

It's got a beat and you can dance to it, but it just doesn't hold up.  Poverty doesn't trigger terrorism.  Osama bin Laden isn't flying planes into buildings because he's holding out for a Starbucks on every corner and a Hummer in every garage.  Jared Diamond should know better. 

You don't know JACK - the most popular names in Britain

Jack is still the most popular name in Great Britain...but not for long.  It appears that the name of the Muslim prophet will soon overtake it as the top boys name in the British Isles. 

Here is the article at the London Telegraph.

(HT - Challies) 

I am secular, arab...woman - hear me roar

A secular Arab professor goes off on the Muslim community...It is a bit dated from early 2006, but it is pretty strong stuff nonetheless.

Here is the link on YouTube

Familiar stats on Europe, birthrates, and Islam

There is some familiar data in the recent Jerusalem post article: Right on!: Say Goodbye to Europe | Jerusalem Post

Shorts About Islam - Brought to you on YouTube

Many of you know about YouTube, the strange cultural phenomenon where teens, adults, hobbyists, copyright infringers, amateur and budding professional videographers upload their wares.  Yes, this is the company that Google just bought for $1.6b!!!  Yes that is little "b" billion...

Most of you know there is some goofy stuff (and some sketchy stuff - be warned) on your YouTube, but there are also some great finds. No, I am not speaking of the dancing video, or the RuBot II that solves the rubiks cube, but other more profitable items. 

This morning I ran across just such an offering.  Jay Smith, a scholar and evangelist in the UK has several short videos going up about Islam and society.  I heard Smith debate some Muslim scholars while I was in campus ministry. He does a great job and is very knowledgeable.  The films are short monologues answering Muslim questions, objections about the Christian Faith as well as commentary on contemporary issues in relations between Islam and Western society.  

Smith's reasoning for doing the shorts are on his web site:

A couple of Christian film-makers, after seeing me down at Speaker's Corner, approached me with the possibility of filming an entire series of public challenges to Islam, as well as rebuttals to their challenges of Christianity, and then housing them on 'YouTube', where they could be used to engage Muslims publicly, as well as employed by Christians who need answers to some of the more current challenges we are facing.

We decided to call these short videos 'Pfander Films', in memory of the great CMS debater of the 19th century, Dr. Carl Pfander.

I filmed my first 10 episodes (from 1 - 10 minutes each) on Thursday, and the first three have now been put on-line, at 'YouTube' for you to view at: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=PfanderFilms

These include my introduction, a five minute clip on 'Jack Straw and the problem of the Hijab', and a clip concerning 'Who is going to represent Islam in Britain now?'  We have purposely chosen these first ones to represent topics currently in the news, and have made them look amateurish, as they then tend to generate more hits.

Feel free to go up and look at them, respond to any of them, as YouTube permits you to freely post either a text or video response, or respond to the Muslims who are commenting on the clips.  It's a great way to get involved in evangelism from the comfort of your own home, a sort of 'arm-chair' missionary, and it won't cost you a cent.

You can jump into YouTube here to view the films. 

(HT - A-Team Blog

La Religion de paix

In France, the religion of peace is again doing something very strange and contrary to its nature.  The Washington Times is reporting that over 2500 police officers have been injured in an undeclared intifada.  Intifadas are uprisings where the religion of peace acts peacefully by throwing off its oppressors. 

However, when uprisings occur, the definition of of peace is many times morphed to include beating down cops and throwing Molotov cocktails.  This of course is due to the evil infidel dog oppressors not giving them what they want.  Bad infidels! You should know better than to force those of the religion of peace to resort to violence.  I guess since those who are rising up are living in impoverished areas, that it isn't their fault.  I am sure the French will capitulate in a few decades and turn over the country to the oppressed. This, you know, is not the France which beat back the Muslim invasions of Europe throughout the middle ages.  That France died long ago giving way to an enlightened France which appears will be unable to make an ideological stand when her hour comes.

Pray for France...pray for the gospel in Europe. 

Response to Islamic Reactions to the Pope

John Piper has an excellent article repsonding to the recent "outrage" and violence at the words of Pope Benedict in a recent speech.

Piper does a great job putting the speech in context of what was said along side the fire bombings and the murder of a Catholic nun in Mogadishu.  His recommendations for our response to all of this is worthy of your time to read.

You may read it here. 


Let the Pope Preach


There are several articles out there on the recent Muslim response to a speech made by Pope Benedict.  Very interesting to see how the press and the editorials are reacting...

Even in London, some people may be waking up.  I'll close with a quote from the article "Let the Pope Preach"

The Vatican has said he is very sorry his speech caused such offence to Muslims. That is fine but it should not go further than that. He should certainly not be pushed into withdrawing his remarks. As in the case of the Danish cartoons, Muslim zealots are trying to impose their restrictions of free expression on the West. Mindful as we should be of religious sensitivities, that cannot be allowed to happen.

Yet is it too late for a Postmodern, population imploding, cannot stand for anything Europe to change?  Only time will tell...

Logic and the Pope's statements on Islam

A friend writes this to me regarding the recent statements made by Pope Benedict in relation to Islam...

So Pope Benedict states a historical fact, that Islam was spread at the point of a sword, and the Muslim community asks that he apologize...a bad start, but let's go on.  To show the full brunt of their outrage at someone willing to state the truth, they bomb a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza.  AHA!  See, we're not violent; we're so non-violent that we blow things up when you suggest that we are violent!

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) would be ashamed of such logic.  After reading the NY Times article something very odd indeed stands out.  Indeed, the only harm that has been done is to hurt someone's feelings with some rather innocous statements.  But to read the reaction, and the fear heard in the journalism, you would think that a bunch of people might get killed because someone's feelings were hurt. Why?  Especially when Haken al-Mutairi, the leader of the of the Islamic Nation Party in Kuwait, says the following about Islam:

I call on all Arab and Islamic states to recall their ambassadors from the Vatican and expel those from the Vatican until the pope says he is sorry for the wrong done to the prophet and to Islam, which preaches peace, tolerance, justice and equality.

If people of Islam are about peace and tolerance, why does everyone freak out when some says "Mohammed taught to spread Islam by the sword."  What does the secular West want - to deny history and pander to a tolerant, peaceful people by not saying things which may hurt someone's feelings?  Bizarre.  The truth is that stuff is already being blown up, threatened, and the bee hive of peace is buzzing.  Another quote from the Times is revelatory:

In Pakistan, Muslim leaders and scholars said that Benedict’s words widened the gap between Islam and Christianity, and risked what one official called greater “disharmony.”

What is "disharmony" a code word for?  Finally, the illogic of all this is clearly displayed by a newspaper from Morroco:

The paper also drew a comparison between the pope’s remarks and the outcry in the Muslim world over unflattering cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published around Europe beginning last year.

“The global outcry over the calamitous cartoons have only just died down and now the pontiff, in all his holiness, is launching an attack against Islam,” the newspaper wrote.

The first outrage was the drawing of cartoons, which led to bombs and death threats.  But, wait, we just don't understand, the prophet is sacred to Muslims, they have every right to issue death threats and bombs if cartoons are drawn of him.  If we only understood Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, people would not draw cartoons that "make" people violent and intolerant.  And Benedicts response, is described in the language of war, "He is launching an attack against Islam" - no, the only attacks being launched at these words are by the faithful and peaceful whose feelings the secular west is so terrified of hurting. 

The Pope's remarks I have pulled for you here:

In the seventh conversation (*4V8,>4H - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (F×< 8`(T) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.

For the full text of the Pope's speech, you can go here.


Muslim Pinocchio

Al Mohler makes some interesting observations about Islam:

Link Hey -- When Did Pinocchio Become a Muslim?

While Europe Slept

Tim Challies has a great review of the book While Europe Slept which documents the coming Islamization of the continent should current trends continue.

It has long been my contention that Europe has lost its cultural center, worldview, and no longer has anything to hold it together. Europeans are not breeding, they are aging, and do not seem to have the will to survive.

Decades ago, the Brittish Journalist Malcom Muggeridge summed up the downward spiral of Western Culture in the following fashion:

Thus did Western man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania; himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down. And having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer, until at last, having educated himself into imbecility and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over, a weary, battered old brontosaurus, and became extinct.


Here is the link again -Challies Dot Com: While Europe Slept

Book Review - Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades

Challies has a review of a book on Islam Challies Dot Com: The Politically Incorrect Guide To Islam and the Crusades

Here is an exerpt:

"May Allah rip out his spine from his back and split his brains in two, and then put them both back, and then do it over and over again. Amen." Such is the kind of "endorsement" garnered by The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades. In this case, the endorsement was written by the Islamic web site, RevivingIslam.com. The author of this book, Robert Spencer, is the director of Jihad Watch and an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation. He has written several other books on the topic of Islam and, as per the brief biography within this title, "lives in a Secure, Undisclosed Location." That is no doubt a wise precaution for a man who writes books and articles warning against the dangers of Islam.

The author of this book maintains the two web sites Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch

These sites are worth taking a look...

Kill the Cartoonists?

Ministers forced out as cartoon row escalates - Yahoo! News:
"On Friday, a Pakistani Muslim cleric and his followers offered rewards amounting to more than $1 million for anyone who killed the Danish cartoonists who drew the caricatures."
What a very strange religion of peace... ...

Cartoon crisis deepens as Muslim fury spreads - Yahoo! News

More news about how many from the religion of peace is responding to cartoons. It still ceases to amaze me how our journalists continually try to place blame for this sort of thing on the West. Here is the recent story from Reuters: Cartoon crisis deepens as Muslim fury spreads - Yahoo! News A few things to note within the article (I will italicize the quotations)
  • People are being killed over cartoons and the violence is spreading. This time it is Europe who is under the gaze of the militant in the middle east.
  • These people are making things like "making a cartoon of the prophet" with the holocaust. "In a new twist, Iran's best-selling newspaper on Tuesday launched a competition to find the best Holocaust cartoon." Now som will say, this is how offensive depicting Mohammed is to radical Muslims. But this just reinforces my point. The killing of six million Jews in the Holocaust is in no where close to the same moral universe as drawing a cartoon of a so called prophet. The moral vision and religious perspective that says otherwise we must reject as severely flawed, yes, evil and dangerous.
  • In Turkey, a high school student arrested on suspicion of killing a Catholic priest told police he was influenced by seeing the cartoons. The priest was shot dead while praying. Now "the cartoons made me do it" is a defense for murder for a young man in Turkey. You ask if this is reasonable.
  • Militants in Iraq have called for the seizure and killing of Danes and the boycott of Danish goods. In London, there were placards demanding the beheading (yes, beheading) of those who insulted Islam. Iraq and London. Europe must sleep no longer.
  • Iran, which has withdrawn its ambassador from Denmark and which has moved to the front-line of the confrontation, said the cartoons had "launched an anti-Islamic and Islamophobic current which will be answered." This of course does not mean that someone will write an editorial response to answer the cartoons. No, this most likely means "someone will die"
If Christians kill in the name of Christ they act in direct contradiction to the words and example of Jesus.
When he (Jesus) was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 1 Peter 2:23
But Mohammed is the one who wrote:

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for Allah does not love transgressors. 2:190

And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out, for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. 2:191

And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and let there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression. 2:193

Fighting is prescribed for you, and you dislike it. But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and that you love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knows, and you know not. 2:216

Let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. To him who fights in the cause of Allah, - whether he is slain or gets victory – soon shall We give him a reward of great value. 4:74

Is there a difference? A few links of note: http://www.jihadwatch.org/ http://www.answeringislam.org/ ...

Piper on the Muslim Outrage Over Cartoons of Mohammed

Justin Taylor over at Theologica quotes an e-mail he recently received from John Piper. Piper makes a very good observation...
Am I missing it, or is there an unusual silence in the blogosphere about the Muslim outrage over the cartoons of Mohammed. To me this cries out for the observation that when artists put the crucifix in a flask of urine, Christians were grieved and angered, but not one threatened to kill anyone. Our longing is to convert the blasphemers with the Good News of Christ's death and resurrection, not kill them. Our faith is based on One who was reviled not just in cartoons but in reality and received it patiently for the salvation of the cartoonists. These riots are filled with intimations about the glorious difference between Christ and Mohammed, and between the way of Christ and the way of Islam. And the cowing of the press around the world and the US government is ominous for the fear we are under of Islam--not just extremist Islam. I do not respect the teachings of Islam which when followed devoutly lead to destruction. So I have been pondering which will take me out first, Islam, Uncle Sam, or cancer. No matter, all authority belongs to Jesus. I just want to bear faithful witness to his glorious gospel of peace to the end.'
Link - Between Two Worlds: Piper on the Muslim Outrage Over Cartoons of Mohammed ...

Religion of Peace? One-Stop Shopping For War on Terror News

A bold web site about Islam and the war on terror. Facing some of these realities is something the secular, postmodern, enlightened types is unwilling to do. Not endorsing this site or all of its views - but the willingness to discuss the relationship of Islam to terrorism is welcomed. Link - Religion of Peace? One-Stop Shopping For War on Terror News

Jihad Watch, Dhimmi Watch

An interesting web site from another Tarheel graduate. Robert Spencer's works are an hosest look at Islam in its history, its sources, and current expressions. This web site, Jihad Watch, is described as follows:
Because the West is facing a concerted effort by Islamic jihadists, the motives and goals of whom are largely ignored by the Western media, to destroy the West and bring it forcibly into the Islamic world -- and to commit violence to that end even while their overall goal remains out of reach. That effort goes under the general rubric of jihad.
The associated blog, Dhimmi Watch is also worth a look. Here is the description:
Dhimmitude is the status that Islamic law, the Sharia, mandates for non-Muslims, primarily Jews and Christians. Dhimmis, "protected people," are free to practice their religion in a Sharia regime, but are made subject to a number of humiliating regulations designed to enforce the Qur'an's command that they "feel themselves subdued" (Sura 9:29). This denial of equality of rights and dignity remains part of the Sharia, and, as such, are part of the law that global jihadists are laboring to impose everywhere, ultimately on the entire human race.
The secular talking heads in America and the West must wake up to the issues involved. Pluralistic tolerance of an intolerant, sword bearing religion, will be disaster for free nations. Eyes are on Europe, with its swelling Islamic societies...what happens there will be a great import to the world. For Europe has not an Aquinas to refute Muslim ideas, nor a Charles Martel to beat back the hoards...Many European cultures have lost their will to reproduce their own kind - biologically, spiritually, ideologically...is there hope to thwart the Islamization of Europe?