The reasons which "Rhoblogy" had given us in his opening statement have been dealt with comprehensively. An Argument from God's Self-Affirming Authority isn't enough to satisfy a seeker of truth. An Argument from Fulfilled Prophecy makes Nostadamus' book the best book to be called the word of God. An Argument from Jesus is not valid because we don't have his arguments nor do we know what he exactly said. The External Critique from Islam shows us that the earliest followers of Islam (i.e Muhammad (saw) and his companions) never considered Bible to be the word of God. This is how I sum up Rhoblogy's opening statement.
The question of the Donkey remains unanswered. "What has the poor donkey done?" The only answer we have from "Rhoblogy" is that we can't produce God in court, in other words there are no justifications for such actions. We are yet to know how exactly the Bible writers "tickled" to write what they wrote. We have also seen that it does not help us to say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God because we don't have the words that God inerrantly inspired. What we have are the words copied by the scribes—sometimes correctly but sometimes (many times!) incorrectly. It doesn't help us to say that the autographs (i.e., the originals) were inspired. We don't have the originals! We have only error ridden copies, and the vast majority of these are centuries removed from the originals and different from them, evidently, in thousands of ways.
To be frank enough I have nothing to say now as I feel the debate speaks by itself. No more comments need to be made. But I have 3000 words which I would like to utilize.
In his first rebuttal, "Rhoblogy" discussed Bart Erhman a lot, as if he was debating Erhman not me. I didn't make any comments on it because it was off the topic but now I would like make a few comments on it. I had quoted Erhman from his book "Misquoting Jesus":
How does it help us to say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God if in fact we don't have the words that God inerrantly inspired but only the words copied by the scribes—sometimes correctly but sometimes (many times!) incorrectly? What good is it to say that the autographs (i.e., the originals) were inspired? We don't have the originals! We have only error ridden copies, and the vast majority of these are centuries removed from the originals and different from them, evidently, in thousands of ways.
Rhoblogy commented on this saying:
"....if Ehrman had the courage to apply his same methodology and presuppositions to the Qur'an, Ehrman would come to the same conclusion about the Qur'an, that it misquotes Mohammed....."He tells us how exactly he could have reached such a conclusion:
"P1) No original NT MSS is extant.P2) The extant MSS copies of the NT differ from each other.P3) I presuppose without argument that differences in copies mean that God could NOT have superintended the process of copying such that the essential revelation He intended to communicate was in fact preserved, because that's what I believe and I don't examine my beliefs deeply.C) Therefore, differences in copies mean that God could NOT have superintended the process of copying such that the essential revelation He intended to communicate was in fact preserved."Then "Rhoblogy" went on to say:
What if we apply the same reasoning to the Qur'an?
"P1) No original Qur'an MSS is extant.P2) The extant MSS copies of the Qur'an differ from each other. (Saaib will probably deny this, but that merely means he is ignorant.)P3) I presuppose that differences in copies mean that Allah could NOT have superintended the process of copying such that the essential revelation he intended to communicate was in fact preserved.C) Therefore, differences in copies mean that Allah could NOT have superintended the process of copying such that the essential revelation he intended to communicate was in fact preserved."
He went on to say:
"....it is implausible that chains of narration could preserve a long text like the Qur'an with 100% accuracy over the course of many years, therefore that didn't happen.... "He continues further:
"......How does Saaib know for sure that Uthman didn't burn the most faithful MSS copies of the Qur'an? He doesn't. He has to trust his god....."And he also went on to say:
"...If the fact that the majority of the MSS are "centuries removed" from the original writers, what does that tell us about the Qur'an, which is actually in a worse position in that respect?...."Now let us see what actually happens if Bart Erhman's methodology is applied to Quran. We also need to check whether it is applicable to Quran on not.
P1) No original Qur'an MSS is extant.
Muhammad (saw) was not the writer of Quran thus there can never be an original manuscript. The very question of original manuscript starts from Uthman who made copies of Quran and sent them to foreign lands. The Quran in Muhammad's time wasn't compiled in one book. It was only under the Abu Bakr that such a thing happened. Finally under Uthman we had a second compilation which was found exactly the same as the first one.
“I compared the Mushaf with those manuscripts; they did not differ in anything.”(Mushkil al-Athar, Hadith 2645)
What has been written under Muhammad (saw) is collected and written down into a book. Uthman makes an independent compilation and this compilation is exactly same as earlier compilation. What does this mean? This means the text had no changes whatsoever. Further, the same committee made 8 copies of the Quran. Where are these copies today? There are at least two copies which are supposed to be one of these. Though there have been debates on this, but the thing that needs to be kept in mind is that there are manuscripts as early as this. I wont debate on the issue of authenticity of the manuscripts. Are they really Uthmanic copies or later copies? I wont comment on this. Let us take a +- 100 years time. Notice that I will do the same for the Bible also while the case is different for that. So what do find in these manuscripts? How much text of Quran can be confirmed within the first century. Would you believe it that it is more than 90%. Yes, more than 90% of the Quranic text can be confirmed within 100 years.
What about the Bible? (Note: The sequence I am giving is my own research, it can be debated upon. e.g A manuscript is dated as 1 Ce to 100 CE and other manuscript is dated as 40 CE to 70 CE, which one shoule be considered earlier one????) We have nothing from the first century. The earliest manuscript we have is Rylands Library Papyrus P52 (unless Rhoblogy can correct me). How much of the text does it give us? Ahem!!!!! It includes John 18:31-33 and John 18:37-38. I want "Rhoblogy" to work out the percentage. What we have next is Papyrus 32, it contains only Titus 1:11-15; 2:3-8. Rhoblogy will work out the percentage. Next we have P 64, it includes Matthew 26:7-8, 10, 14-15, 22-23, 31-33, Rhoblogy will calculate the percentage. (Note: We are already in second century. 100 % of Quranic Text can be confirmed withing first half of second century). Next we have is P 66, it includes John 1:1-6:11; 6:35-14:26, 29-30; 15:2-26; 16:2-4, 6-7; 16:10-20:20, 22-23; 20:25-21:9, 12, 17. The manuscript does not include the pericope of the adulteress (7:53 - 8:11), making it the earliest witness not to include this spurious passage. Rhoblogy should comment on this. On and on and on. We have four more manuscripts which can be attributed to second century, but these also include one or two verses only. Thus within 200 years of writing we can confirm a poultry (Note: Saaib meant paltry) 1-2 %. It is not until 4th century that we can confirm the New Testament text. But when we try to do it we come across variant readings in the texts to the level that no two manuscripts are same. Most of these differences make less or no impact on doctrine but some do make. There is a clear cut corruption of text and there is no way of knowing the original.
Quran was supported by memorization also while NT didn't have this privilege.
P2) The extant MSS copies of the Qur'an differ from each other.
The first thing to be noticed is that there has been no authentic description on manuscript differences. The only sources which claim that such differences exist include Arthur Jeffery and John Gilchrist. If we agree to their findings, how many differences do we have? They are negligible and if taken into consideration they make no impacts on doctrines. This might have come as shock to many muslim readers that our manuscripts differ. No brothers, the claims are made with respect to two manuscripts (Samarkand/Topkapi manuscripts) only all other are in perfect harmony with each other. What about these differences? How are they present there? They are not unintentional changes or errors. Neither can they be attributed to carelessness. We confirm from Abu Ubaid's Fadail that all of these readings were authentic. He tells us on page 333 of Fadail (and same is repeated in ad-Dani's al-Muqni' page 118-9) that Zaid bin Thabit, in case of finding more than one reading to be authentic and of equal status, retained them in different copies (Note: Quran was revealed in seven aharuf). The inclusion of both side by side would only have brought confusion; alternatively, placing one of them in the margin would imply less authenticity. By placing them in different copies he accommodated them on equal terms. What do we conclude from this discussion. We see that only a few Christian Missionaries have claimed that manuscript differences exist. In her book The Rise of The North Arabic Script & Its Kur'ânic Development, Nabia Abbott presents some Qur'ân parchments and manuscripts dating from 1st, 2nd and 3rd century AH as well later ones. It is interesting to note that she did not mention any textual differences except for a scribal error in one of the manuscripts. When we look at the number of those differences, they are negligible. When we see the nature of these differences we find no change in meaning. When we see the cause of these differences we find that they are intentional. When we see the impact of variant reading on the textual integrity of Quran, it is zero. (Note: Writing was accompanied with Memorization, this means even if there are genuine differences in the manuscripts we need not worry).
What about the manuscripts differences of Bible? There are more differences in the manuscripts than there are words in the entire New Testament. Entire sets of verses are missing from some manuscripts. Some manuscripts have altogether different readings of the text. There are not less than five different endings to Mark's gospel. Note that these are not differences in words used. But these are differences in the length of text. Some manuscripts stop at a particular place, while others include a shorter ending, others include a longer ending, while others include both. Entire verse of 1 John 5:7 is a later insertion into the text. The famous passage about Jesus and the woman taken in adultery (Pericope) from verses 7:53-8:11 of the Gospel of John is among those which make Jesus “THE PRINCE OF PEACE”. The pericope is not found in its canonical place in any of the earliest surviving Greek Gospel manuscripts; neither in the two 3rd century papyrus witnesses to John - P66 and P75; nor in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. The first surviving Greek manuscript to contain the periscope is the Latin/Greek diglot Codex Bezae of the late 4th or Early 5th century. I am not talking about the variant readings, i am talking about verses which are altogether missing. To end this section I quote Eldon J. Epp:
Finally, to raise the question to its highest level and broadest range, what can "canonical" mean when each of our 5,300 Greek New Testament manuscripts and perhaps 9,000 versional manuscripts, as well as every one now lost, was considered authoritative - and therefore canonical - in worship and instruction in one or more of the thousands upon thousands of individual churches when no two manuscripts are exactly alike? A corollary heightens the force of the question: If no two manuscripts are alike, then no two collections of Gospels or Epistles are alike, and no two canons – no two "New Testaments" – are alike; therefore, are all canonical, or some, or only one? And if some or one, which?So how many manuscript differences (textual variants) do we have finally (from small to large)? You need not count, many scholars have done it already. John Mill, a fellow of Queens College, Oxford devoted thirty years of his life to study one hundred Greek manuscripts only to discover 30,000 differences. As for now, we have 5700 Greek manuscripts cataloged. That's 57 times what Mill examined. With this abundance of evidence, what can we say about the total number of variants known today? Scholars differ significantly in their estimates - some say there are 200,000 variants known, some say 300,000, some say 400,000 or more! (Bart Erhman)
One can see how a scribe might inadvertently leave a word when copying a text (an accidental change), but it is hard to see how the last 12 verses of Mark could have been added by a slip of pen.
From this discussion we can conclude that "P3" (I presuppose that differences in copies mean that Allah could NOT have superintended the process of copying such that the essential revelation he intended to communicate was in fact preserved) and "C" (Therefore, differences in copies mean that Allah could NOT have superintended the process of copying such that the essential revelation he intended to communicate was in fact preserved) do not hold any water and need not be discussed. Thus if Ehrman had the courage to apply his same methodology and presuppositions to the Qur'an, he would have come up with different conclusions about the Qur'an. The conclusion which Sir William Muir had drawn:
This is the same conclusion which Reverend Bosworth Smith had drawn:
"....Yet but ONE KORAN has always been current amongst them.... There is probably in the world no other work which has remained twelve centuries (fourteen centuries now*) with so pure a text.....''
“… we have a book absolutely unique in its origin, in its preservation, and in the chaos of its contents, but on the substantial authenticity of which no one has ever been able to cast a serious doubt.”
They are supported by Adrian Brockett who in his "The Value of Hafs and Warsh Transmissions For The Textual History of The Qur'ân" has the following to say:
''.....The transmission of the Qur'ân after the death of Muhammad was essentially static, rather than organic. There was a single text, and nothing significant, not even allegedly abrogated material, could be taken out nor could anything be put in. This is applied even to the early Caliphs....."As for Rhoblogy's argument that chains of narrations could not have been able to preserve such a long text the only thing one needs to do is to go to a mosque to find out a list of people who have memorized the complete Quran even in the present world. There are thousands, if not millions, in the current world who have memorized the Quran completely. It has been a custom in Islamic societies to rehearse whole of the Quran in the Namaz every year during Taraweeh in the month of Ramadhan. Even today this happens and Rhoblogy is not sure about the people who were masters in memorization. Pity the prejudice. Moreover memories were backed by written texts. To add to it, there were thousands of companions, if one erred there were thousands to correct him.
As for how do I know that Uthaman didn't burn the faith ful copies of Quran, I have already answered in earlier parts. Uthmanic commission made 8 copies of Quran burning all other copies without checking them. Thus the question doesn't arise.
Rhoblogy claimed that the manuscripts of Quran are centuries removed from originals, this only shows lack of knowledge. More than 90% of Quranic text can be confirmed from manuscripts within the first century of Hijrah (which means within 70 years of actual writing)
(I restricted mysellf to NT and Quran only, had I included OT Rhoblogy would have much more to worry about)
The final conclusion:
Bible is not the word of God, it is not even a reliable historic document. The documents we have are corrupted and we have no way of knowing the original text because we have only error ridden copies centuries removed from the text. To solve the problem we have a book unique in its origin, a book perfectly preserved. Even today if all of the Bible's of the world are thrown into seas and oceans and same is done with all the copies of Quran (for that matter any other text on earth), the only scripture that will survive is the Quran. As it remains preserved in the hearts of millions of believers.
With the end of this healthy debate, I don't expect a Christian to shun Bible and accept Quran. But the seeker of truth can himself search for truth.
I thank "Rhoblogy" for debating me on this topic. Thus giving me a chance to present my case. The best thing about the debate was that it started in good spirit and it has ended with good spirits. We learn a lot from such debates and there should be such debates regularly. Personally, this will be my last debate for a while. I will remain busy for three or four months during which I wont be in a position to debate. Thank you all for being a good audience for this debate.
Jazakallah for reading.
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