The nature of the argument

William Kilpatrick describes the nature of the argument – the argument about so many issues in modern society – by taking a look at Jesus of Nazareth vs. Jesus of Neverland. It is a look at the main question about Islam that is often set aside due to its being a bit too ‘sensitive.’ That look provides an example.

It’s a good bet that most Americans believe the latter but are too polite or too prudent to say so. We keep our thoughts on the matter to ourselves, not just out of fear of offending Muslims, but also because the cult of cultural relativism requires us to give lip service to the proposition that all religions are equally valid.

If you do decide to look at the underlying assumptions, you run across the matter of how to approach your examination. Differences here seem to be where things fall apart.

So it makes sense to lay out the case that Muhammad’s claims are highly improbable. One way to do this is to apply to Islam the same tests of critical reason and historical evidence that we apply to the Christian revelation. Over the centuries, both Christian critics and Christian scholars have subjected the Gospel revelations to a rigorous examination. While this had the effect of shaking up some people’s faith, it also had the effect of strengthening the rational/factual case for Christianity. But when this method of inquiry is applied to the Islamic revelation things fall apart.

“It makes sense” to apply “critical reason and historical evidence” to some but does not seem to be a shared value in many debates about current issues. Whether the topic is climate or evolution or national honor, it becomes an argument and not a debate because there is no shared value about how to measure the basis used as a referent.

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