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Old 7th October 2017, 03:08 PM   #161
Thor 2
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
So Muhammad believed rubbish about various things, and you believe rubbish about various things, some the same rubbish and some different rubbish from what Muhammad believed.

The non believer doesn't care about these differences. Why refute the Quran by quoting from the NT? Why refute one unevidenced dogma by citing another unevidenced dogma? Take your dogmas to some fundie bible thumper blog, where they will be more appreciated.

I don't know. I quite like to see these attempts by the followers of one kind of woo trying to discredit another kind of woo. The religious don't have a good track record of showing tolerance for each other as we all know.

Mind you I did see a show once where spokesmen for Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism were having a jolly gathering, and were all over each other with gushing statements, expressing tolerance of each others set of beliefs. The general consensus seemed to be that all religion was good and somehow wholesome.

Did experience a slight nausea when I saw this to be honest, although I must admit this kind of tolerance is heartening to see.
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Old 7th October 2017, 03:13 PM   #162
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I don't know. I quite like to see these attempts by the followers of one kind of woo trying to discredit another kind of woo. The religious don't have a good track record of showing tolerance for each other as we all know.

Mind you I did see a show once where spokesmen for Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism were having a jolly gathering, and were all over each other with gushing statements, expressing tolerance of each others set of beliefs. The general consensus seemed to be that all religion was good and somehow wholesome.

Did experience a slight nausea when I saw this to be honest, although I must admit this kind of tolerance is heartening to see.

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Old 7th October 2017, 11:26 PM   #163
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
I don't know. I quite like to see these attempts by the followers of one kind of woo trying to discredit another kind of woo. The religious don't have a good track record of showing tolerance for each other as we all know.

Mind you I did see a show once where spokesmen for Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism were having a jolly gathering, and were all over each other with gushing statements, expressing tolerance of each others set of beliefs. The general consensus seemed to be that all religion was good and somehow wholesome.

Did experience a slight nausea when I saw this to be honest, although I must admit this kind of tolerance is heartening to see.
This is heartening I suppose, because it's better than homicidal maniacs burning one another for heresy.

It reflects the prime oddity of religion. The defining characteristics of any religion are its factual beliefs, which differ from one religion to another (is Jesus a god or a prophet of God?) while the things they claim to value most are the moral precepts, which are in general much the same across the religious spectrum (love your neighbour is good stuff).
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Old 9th October 2017, 07:38 PM   #164
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
I have not seen much criticism of the Quran over past centuries. There is one book entitled ' the original sources of the Qur'an ' by William Tisdall.
I actually just got a copy of it in paperback, but I have read some of it before because it is available, free to read on the internet.

I am fully aware there is a direct correlation between the Quran and the bible.

It is my argument that Muhammad stole most of his material from the bible because it occurred to him he could scare people into following him by pretending to get a message from God.

The bible is obviously full of trash, but I am not bothered about that and I do not intend to study the bible to find flaws in it because it has been done by experts.
Oh really? We have an islamist to hand posting islamist crap. I am posting against him and you are not. Odd that.

Why is that. Surely this is your chance, After all this guy is a mad islamist. But OK, your are afraid. Sure I can understand why you might chicken out, WT actual F? You have the opportunity to make your case to an actual islamic wingnut and you are afraid to even open your beak?

Credibility is not a boomerang. Once you chuck it away, it is not returning.
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Old 10th October 2017, 12:46 AM   #165
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
I have not seen much criticism of the Quran over past centuries. There is one book entitled ' the original sources of the Qur'an ' by William Tisdall.
I actually just got a copy of it in paperback, but I have read some of it before because it is available, free to read on the internet.

I am fully aware there is a direct correlation between the Quran and the bible.

It is my argument that Muhammad stole most of his material from the bible because it occurred to him he could scare people into following him by pretending to get a message from God.

The bible is obviously full of trash, but I am not bothered about that and I do not intend to study the bible to find flaws in it because it has been done by experts.
Are you saying that people who derive ideas from the Bible are all swindlers? There is no good reason to suppose that, in the case of the Quran. Muhammad was exposed to the Judaism and Christianity already widespread in Arabia. His ides of what monotheism is, and on the attributes of God, were modelled on the Torah and the Testaments, for he had no other sources. It's possible that Muhammad was a charlatan, but more likely that he was really intellectually influenced by earlier religious teachings, as people have been both before and since his day.

Real charlatan religions do exist. Mormonism and Scientology are examples. Islam doesn't look quite as phoney or contrived as these later outfits.
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Old 10th October 2017, 04:27 AM   #166
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Real charlatan religions do exist. Mormonism and Scientology are examples. Islam doesn't look quite as phoney or contrived as these later outfits.
To me, the Quran looks every bit as dishonestly designed as the Book of Mormon. But now that these works do exist, believing on them is on par with believing in the Bible or any other religious work. Believers in these religions are mostly not charlatans, they are simply misled.
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Old 10th October 2017, 04:35 AM   #167
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
As distinct from the Bible the Koran is meant to be the actual word of God. Only some small parts of the Bible are.
Practically all Christian fundamentalists believe that the Bible is word of God, inspired directly by God letter by letter, even if handwritten by humans. Even Jesus makes this claim concerning the Hebrew Torah.
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Old 10th October 2017, 04:45 AM   #168
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
I have not seen much criticism of the Quran over past centuries.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_the_Quran

Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
Is the Quran the words of God?

My answer to that question is a definite no
Hmmm. How would you personally answer this question: Do any words of God exist, anywhere? Which is nearly same as: Does any God exist, anywhere?

Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
My argument is largely that Muhammad plagiarised the bible and quotes it as factual when the bible stories are largely myths. I am thinking of the parting of the red sea, and Jonah and the whale, and Noah's ark, all of which are mentioned in the Quran as history. When in reality they are only myths.
But Christians happily believe in these stories, or happily ignore them if they don't believe them literally. So why would discrediting these stories in the context of Quran make a massive impact on anyone or anything, if it doesn't in the context of Christianity?

Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
verse 22.5 of the quran did not require any revelation from God, as Muhammad could have been well aware of most of what is involved in the natural process of gestation.
Uhh oh. Don't expect to find even one verse in Quran and the Bible combined, for which your above-quoted statement would not be equally true.

Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
The quran is clearly stating that the Sun has an orbit and the only realistic meaning of these verses is that Muhammed believed the Sun orbits the earth.
Don't spoil you critique of Quran with such unfounded guesswork. If Quran doesn't say that Sun orbits the earth, then it doesn't and it's the end of that topic.

Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
Muhammed calls the Moon a light, which makes clear he did not know it was reflecting the Suns light. He clearly regards the Sun and Moon as separate sources of light, one for the day and the other for night.
The Bible does the same. But again, these conclusions are not worth a dime, they can be dismissed by saying that these verses were meant as allegorical simplifications. And that will be the end of topic for the other party in discussion, nothing to be won with such a weak argument. It merely risks the other party getting tired of you and going away before you make any statements that might actually matter something to someone.
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Old 10th October 2017, 06:58 AM   #169
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Originally Posted by JJM 777 View Post
To me, the Quran looks every bit as dishonestly designed as the Book of Mormon. But now that these works do exist, believing on them is on par with believing in the Bible or any other religious work. Believers in these religions are mostly not charlatans, they are simply misled.
i agree. I mean the founders of these religions were charlatans, and the holy texts are phoney concoctions.

Unlike the Book of Mormon, the Quran was compiled as a single volume only after Muhammad's death, and consists of sermons and other pronouncements he made during his period of religious activity.

It is conceivable that Muhammad really believed he was channeling the Angel Gabriel when he delivered religious teachings, but it is simply not possible that Joseph Smith was sincere about his golden plates and the magic stone spectacles that could translate the words on them.
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Old 10th October 2017, 07:08 AM   #170
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Originally Posted by JJM 777 View Post

Don't spoil you critique of Quran with such unfounded guesswork. If Quran doesn't say that Sun orbits the earth, then it doesn't and it's the end of that topic.
I have shown that when the Quran says the sun has an orbit it means the sun orbits the earth by referring to a Hadith. See post one of this thread.
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Old 10th October 2017, 07:13 AM   #171
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
Oh really? We have an islamist to hand posting islamist crap. I am posting against him and you are not. Odd that.

Why is that. Surely this is your chance, After all this guy is a mad islamist. But OK, your are afraid. Sure I can understand why you might chicken out, WT actual F? You have the opportunity to make your case to an actual islamic wingnut and you are afraid to even open your beak?

Credibility is not a boomerang. Once you chuck it away, it is not returning.
There is an islamist posting here. Where, where show me, and I will chomp on his liver.
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Old 10th October 2017, 07:16 AM   #172
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
i agree. I mean the founders of these religions were charlatans, and the holy texts are phoney concoctions.

Unlike the Book of Mormon, the Quran was compiled as a single volume only after Muhammad's death, and consists of sermons and other pronouncements he made during his period of religious activity.

It is conceivable that Muhammad really believed he was channeling the Angel Gabriel when he delivered religious teachings, but it is simply not possible that Joseph Smith was sincere about his golden plates and the magic stone spectacles that could translate the words on them.
It appears that the content of some suras was opportunisticallx crafted to suit Muhammad's political needs at the time. This smacks of deliberate, uninspired fiddling.
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Old 10th October 2017, 07:38 AM   #173
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
It appears that the content of some suras was opportunisticallx crafted to suit Muhammad's political needs at the time. This smacks of deliberate, uninspired fiddling.
I agree, he states he can have as many wives as he wants, and he is entitled to one fifth of the spoils of war. He says how people are to behave in his tent, and says people are not to annoy the prophet.

He uses many verses to justify himself and say he is not just a mad poet.
He excuses the fact that he cannot produce an angel to speak on his behalf.

He uses a surah to condemn his own aunt and uncle to hell for denying he was a prophet. What a thing to write in a book claiming to be the final message from God.
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Old 10th October 2017, 11:15 AM   #174
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
I agree, he states he can have as many wives as he wants, and he is entitled to one fifth of the spoils of war. He says how people are to behave in his tent, and says people are not to annoy the prophet.

He uses many verses to justify himself and say he is not just a mad poet.
He excuses the fact that he cannot produce an angel to speak on his behalf.

He uses a surah to condemn his own aunt and uncle to hell for denying he was a prophet. What a thing to write in a book claiming to be the final message from God.
You have proved that his statements weren't a message from God. We agree on that.

He didn't "write a book": his utterances were assembled and redacted by other hands after he died.

However, Muhammad might well have persuaded himself that God was permitting him to have as many wives as he wanted. Such types of self serving delusion are not unknown, are they? Perhaps he believed sincerely that he was not merely a mad poet (albeit that Arabia then abounded in mad poets, it seems.) Such utterances are more credible as honest delusions than Joseph Smith's Magic "seer stone" scam, or L Ron Hubbard's SF gibberish.

Last edited by Craig B; 10th October 2017 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 10th October 2017, 11:41 AM   #175
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
You have proved that his statements weren't a message from God. We agree on that.

He didn't "write a book": his utterances were assembled and redacted by other hands after he died.

However, Muhammad might well have persuaded himself that God was permitting him to have as many wives as he wanted. Such types of self serving delusion are not unknown, are they? Perhaps he believed sincerely that he was not merely a mad poet (albeit that Arabia then abounded in mad poets, it seems.) Such utterances are more credible as honest delusions than Joseph Smith's Magic "seer stone" scam, or L Ron Hubbard's SF gibberish.
I think it is arguable that Muhammad did not even believe in God and he was a deliberate liar. He seems obsessed with the consequences of lying about God, as can be seen from the following Quranic verses. If he really believed in God he would be unlikely to lie about being a messenger.



4.50 Behold! how they invent a lie against God! but that by itself is a manifest sin!

6.21 Who doth more wrong than he who inventeth a lie against God or rejecteth His signs? But verily the wrong-doers never shall prosper.

10.17 Who doth more wrong than such as forge a lie against God, or deny His Signs? But never will prosper those who sin.

11.18 Who doth more wrong than those who invent a lie against God? They will be turned back to the presence of their Lord, and the witnesses will say, "These are the ones who lied against their Lord! Behold! the Curse of God is on those who do wrong! -

29.68 And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against God or rejects the Truth when it reaches him? Is there not a home in Hell for those who reject Faith?

39.32 Who, then, doth more wrong than one who utters a lie concerning God, and rejects the Truth when it comes to him; is there not in Hell an abode for blasphemers?

61.70 Who doth greater wrong than one who invents falsehood against God, even as he is being invited to Islam? And God guides not those who do wrong.

72.5 'But we do think that no man or spirit should say aught that untrue against God.
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Last edited by Scorpion; 10th October 2017 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 10th October 2017, 11:45 AM   #176
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Looks like Muhammad had trouble convincing people he was not just a mad poet in his own lifetime.

021.005 "Nay," they say, "(these are) medleys of dream! - Nay, He forged it! -Nay, He is (but) a poet! Let him then bring us a Sign like the ones that were sent to (Prophets) of old!"

026.224 And the Poets,- It is those straying in Evil, who follow them:

036.069 We have not instructed the (Prophet) in Poetry, nor is it meet for him: this is no less than a Message and a Qur'an making things clear:

037.036 And say: "What! shall we give up our gods for the sake of a Poet
possessed?"

052.030 Or do they say:- "A Poet! we await for him some calamity (hatched) by Time!"

069.041 It is not the word of a poet: little it is ye believe!
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Old 10th October 2017, 02:00 PM   #177
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
I think it is arguable that Muhammad did not even believe in God and he was a deliberate liar. He seems obsessed with the consequences of lying about God, as can be seen from the following Quranic verses. If he really believed in God he would be unlikely to lie about being a messenger.



4.50 Behold! how they invent a lie against God! but that by itself is a manifest sin!

6.21 Who doth more wrong than he who inventeth a lie against God or rejecteth His signs? But verily the wrong-doers never shall prosper.

10.17 Who doth more wrong than such as forge a lie against God, or deny His Signs? But never will prosper those who sin.

11.18 Who doth more wrong than those who invent a lie against God? They will be turned back to the presence of their Lord, and the witnesses will say, "These are the ones who lied against their Lord! Behold! the Curse of God is on those who do wrong! -

29.68 And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against God or rejects the Truth when it reaches him? Is there not a home in Hell for those who reject Faith?

39.32 Who, then, doth more wrong than one who utters a lie concerning God, and rejects the Truth when it comes to him; is there not in Hell an abode for blasphemers?

61.70 Who doth greater wrong than one who invents falsehood against God, even as he is being invited to Islam? And God guides not those who do wrong.

72.5 'But we do think that no man or spirit should say aught that untrue against God.
Nothing in these verses indicates to me disbelief in God. Most likely, he was emphasising his own credentials as a messenger of God, which is a very understandable attitude to be adopted by a person believing himself to be a prophet.

Of course it is possible that Muhammad was a charlatan, but the differences between Muhammad on one hand, and Smith or Hubbard on the other are very significant. They were very obvious charlatans and swindlers. If Muhammad was a crook as well, he was more successful in disguising that fact, at the very least. And I say again, he didn't write a book; his utterances were compiled following his death, and they look very plausible as preaching of a monotheist prophet with the cultural and geographical background we see recorded in his biography.
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Old 10th October 2017, 02:24 PM   #178
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He, Muhammad, does go on about it though doesn't he?

I wonder about those that feel they must repeat the same things over and over as a kind of chant. Is it an indication of their own insecurity of belief?

These words spoken at many (most?) Christian burials have always intrigued me:

"...... in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ; who ..."

In sure and certain hope???

Do not these words betray a feeling of uncertainty by overly trying to re-assure the faithful?
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Old 11th October 2017, 03:12 AM   #179
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
He, Muhammad, does go on about it though doesn't he?

I wonder about those that feel they must repeat the same things over and over as a kind of chant. Is it an indication of their own insecurity of belief?
That illustrates the nature of the origin of the Quran. Following the death of Muhammad the various things he said that had been jotted down or memorised during his lifetime by hearers were collected together, reduced to writing and edited. Obviously Muhammad often said the same sorts of things in sermons and other teachings, delivered at different times or to different audiences. His favourite doctrines and themes appeared time and again, as one might expect. The mode of creation of the Quran, collecected from different notes and memories, ensured that such repetitions would be reproduced in the written work.
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Old 11th October 2017, 03:24 AM   #180
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
It is conceivable that Muhammad really believed he was channeling the Angel Gabriel when he delivered religious teachings
This is a matter of faith taste. My general feeling about nearly all politicized religious power, from ancient shamans to native South American human sacrifice and Catholic Church and Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses and Islam, is that the highest-ranking guys always knew they were pretending to the general masses a lot more than they knew to be reality. A charlatan lives in every shaman and in every religious leader, if you ask me.

I have read the Koran from cover to cover, and my general feeling was that this guy is mainly just making up and using religion as a tool for political power. Consciously, charlatan-wise. Such as:

Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
It appears that the content of some suras was opportunisticallx crafted to suit Muhammad's political needs at the time. This smacks of deliberate, uninspired fiddling.

Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
I have shown that when the Quran says the sun has an orbit it means the sun orbits the earth by referring to a Hadith. See post one of this thread.
Mixing up Quran and Hadith will not help your cause. If Hadith says that the Sun orbits the Earth, then the truth is that Hadith says that the Sun orbits the Earth, and you should say that Hadith says that the Sun orbits the Earth. Nothing to do with Quran then, but a lot to do with Islamic tradition, of course.

Originally Posted by JJM 777 View Post
How would you personally answer this question: Do any words of God exist, anywhere? Which is nearly same as: Does any God exist, anywhere?
Would be informative to get an answer to this question from Scorpion.
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Old 11th October 2017, 03:38 AM   #181
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Originally Posted by JJM 777 View Post
This is a matter of faith taste. My general feeling about nearly all politicized religious power, from ancient shamans to native South American human sacrifice and Catholic Church and Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses and Islam, is that the highest-ranking guys always knew they were pretending to the general masses a lot more than they knew to be reality. A charlatan lives in every shaman and in every religious leader, if you ask me.

I have read the Koran from cover to cover, and my general feeling was that this guy is mainly just making up and using religion as a tool for political power. Consciously, charlatan-wise
Such as:
It appears that the content of some suras was opportunisticallx crafted to suit Muhammad's political needs at the time. This smacks of deliberate, uninspired fiddling.
Leaving aside Islam in particular, I think you're taking a very extreme view of religious ideologies in general. I don't think it's as simple as to say. "It's all baloney so all these guys must be liars."

As to particular preaching being in line with political needs: this is a common feature of delusions of all kinds, honest or otherwise.
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Old 11th October 2017, 06:16 AM   #182
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Muhammad is far more removed in time, culture and language, and less directly known by own words, than are Hubbard and Smith. That makes it far more difficult for us to get a feel for what he "really" thought and believed.

My gut feeling is that the resemblance between Muhammad and Smith is striking.
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Old 11th October 2017, 11:30 PM   #183
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
Muhammad is far more removed in time, culture and language, and less directly known by own words, than are Hubbard and Smith. That makes it far more difficult for us to get a feel for what he "really" thought and believed.

My gut feeling is that the resemblance between Muhammad and Smith is striking.
There is a major resemblance. They both created new religious communities and during their lifetimes were simultaneously the spiritual and secular rulers of these communities. But beyond that, the differences were substantial. Mhd's religious teachings stemmed from Jewish and Christian monotheistic influences, as well as established Arab pagan beliefs (about e.g. Jinns) and practices (e.g. Pilgrimage to Mecca); and the literature by which he is known was collected after his death from his lifetime teaching and preaching. This is all plausible enough as sincere activity, although of course it can't be excluded that he successfully practiced deceit.

Smith was different. Already an experienced treasure hunter, using magic stones to locate missing objects for a fee, he concocted a religion along the same lines, with a rigmarole of golden plates and magic translation stones.

He has been caught out with phoney translations of Egyptian scrolls. The decipherment of hieroglyphs happened at the same time as the invention of Mormonism, though Smith and other inhabitants of rural USA weren't up to speed with that, and carried on spouting gibberish about messages written by the patriarch Joseph, when they encountered ancient papyri.

Smith's history of ancient civilisations in America - still a popular scam theme, by the way - was a complete fabrication, in a sense in which Mhd's sometimes eccentric treatment of existing monotheistic literary sources was not clearly the product of deceit.

Mhd underwent persecution in Mecca, and he escaped from it not obviously by design, but by chance, when he was invited by the people of Medina to settle disputes among them, as an "honest broker", a common Arab custom. He migrated to an existing city by invitation of its residents. Smith dragged his group into the wilderness whenever things became too hot for him in settled areas, and his successor followed him in this practice.

There are a great many differences, too many to be listed here.

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Old 12th October 2017, 01:04 AM   #184
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While I agree with your assessment of Smith, I think some of your harsher treatment of him is due to simply you seeing him so much clearer and in greater detail, as he is so much closer in time and culture.

Both made up more "revelations" on the go to fix problems with their immediate political situation. That's the main thing. Both indeed relocated their flock in response to outside pressure.

Differences abound, naturally.
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Old 12th October 2017, 01:41 AM   #185
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
While I agree with your assessment of Smith, I think some of your harsher treatment of him is due to simply you seeing him so much clearer and in greater detail, as he is so much closer in time and culture.

Both made up more "revelations" on the go to fix problems with their immediate political situation. That's the main thing. Both indeed relocated their flock in response to outside pressure.

Differences abound, naturally.
People do sometimes imagine, when they find a solution to a current problem, that it has been vouchsafed unto them by God. That doesn't necessarily prove honesty or deceit. The difference I was pointing to was this. By good fortune Muhammad received an invitation from some inhabitants of Medina to resolve disputes among them. He accepted it, and instructed his followers to join him there, in an established, indeed venerable, city. Smith, on the other hand, fled with his followers into the wilderness, away from existing settlement, where his and their activities would be remote from scrutiny. He perpetrated an obvious swindle with his golden plates, and a proven one with his pretended translation of an Egyptian scroll, exhibited locally as a curio.

[ETA. Smith's phoney translation is exceedingly amusing. He says the scroll was penned by no less than Abraham and (as you say) it "fixes problems with his immediate political situation"
In the Land of the Chaldeans, at the residence of my father, I, Abraham, saw that it was needful for me to obtain another place of residence
Quite so.]

As I have pointed out, hieroglyphs had been deciphered by then, but Smith didn't know that, and was still spouting gibberish about them. Whether Muhammad's ideas were sincere, we can't say. But what I do say is that they were not obvious scams, and were within the bounds of what might have been uttered by a monotheist preacher of that time and place.

Another difference, Smith concocted an obvious scam book using a rigmarole of fantastic procedures, at least one of which was shown at the time to be phoney. The wife of Smith's amanuensis hid some pages of the magic "translation" and challenged him to reproduce them word for word, using his gold plates and oracle stones, which he could have done if he was receiving supernatural assistance to translate his alleged message from an ancient inscription. Of course, he failed this test.

Muhammad never produced any book. The Quran was compiled after his death. If he simply made it all up deceitfully, he has taken proof of that to the grave. But it is not excluded by internal evidence of the content of his utterances, that he sincerely believed he was channeling an angel. That is not impossible.

Needless to say, the angel was telling Muhammad that his own ideas and predispositions were right, but that's what angels do. If they don't, they get sacked, and another angel takes their place.

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Old 12th October 2017, 03:02 AM   #186
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
I think you're taking a very extreme view of religious ideologies in general. I don't think it's as simple as to say. "It's all baloney so all these guys must be liars."
Religious communities are as political as anything. Or should I say, social. They are networks of older members believing a bit older-fashioned dogmas very literally and fanatically, and younger members either not believing at all (simply hanging around because they had the bad luck of being born into a religious family) or believing very superficially into the main theological doctrines only, but refusing their lives to be restricted by most of the old-fashioned moral doctrines.

The job of a religious leader is not so simple as reading the Bible or Koran, and then telling everyone what God seems to want, according to these works. Rather, it is 90% balancing between the opinions of the older more hardcore members and the younger more liberal members. If you get too close to the strictest members, the liberal members personally attack you and/or try to oust you from your position and/or leave the community. If you get too close to the liberal members, the same happens with the strictest members. And morality is not the only problem, also theology can cause similar problems. This is why I believe that practically all religious leaders know that they are bending their doctrines according to the will of humans rather than God, because that is a fact, and it dominates everything what they can do or say. It seems very improbable that a person who has climbed to the top of religion, and knows what moral compromises it took to get there, would believe in the divine purity of the doctrine that he ends up preaching.

Another thing is all those prayer services for healing, and whatever. If you work in that, you cannot avoid noticing that the prayers never get answered. That must take its toll on your faith in what you are doing. But the tradition or social pressure or lucrative income keeps the system going on and on. The religious practicants become actors who pretend to believe in the show that they perform night after night.

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Old 12th October 2017, 03:26 AM   #187
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Originally Posted by JJM 777 View Post
Another thing is all those prayer services for healing, and whatever. If you work in that, you cannot avoid noticing that the prayers never get answered. That must take its toll on your faith in what you are doing.
I'm not sure that's true. Diseases, even deadly ones, do from time to time disappear, or are cured by some process that is then proclaimed to be a miracle by persons who have prayed for it.

Other misfortunes might be resolved by chance. I might desperately need money for some important purpose on which my wellbeing depends - then I win the lottery. This is an unusual occurrence, but it must happen somewhere every day; and if I had been praying for God to solve my problems, then I would no doubt believe He had done so, and so would other members of my prayer service congregation, if I was a member of one. They take such random or unexplained things as evidence supporting their beliefs.
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Old 12th October 2017, 04:37 AM   #188
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The individal efficacy of prayer is less often communicated by those who die of the desease.
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Old 12th October 2017, 09:55 AM   #189
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Originally Posted by Oystein View Post
The individal efficacy of prayer is less often communicated by those who die of the desease.
They're no longer here to tell us that prayer doesn't work; but those who survive are around to tell us it does.
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Old 13th October 2017, 01:39 AM   #190
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
They're no longer here to tell us that prayer doesn't work; but those who survive are around to tell us it does.
In the same way that prayer saves that one person in the air crash but not the hundred others aboard.
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Old 13th October 2017, 01:52 AM   #191
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
In the same way that prayer saves that one person in the air crash but not the hundred others aboard.
Exactly so. Another problem with prayer is raised by Mark Twain. On a transatlantic voyage Twain undertook on a sailing ship, the chaplain prayed for favourable winds. Twain's objection was that winds which were favourable for West to East travelling vessels were ipso facto unfavourable for those proceeding in the opposite direction. So the reverend was praying for unfavourable winds ... for someone else.
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Old 14th October 2017, 04:55 AM   #192
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
the reverend was praying for unfavourable winds ... for someone else.
In South America, Africa and Middle East it is common to see people publicly praying for success for the national football team. There are Youtube videos of an African player performing a spell ritual on the goal of the opponent, despite the defenders trying to chase him and his spells away, and then the team scores into that goal moments later. Youtube videos of the recent game Egypt - Congo, which confirmed Egypt's qualification into World Cup 2018, have Arabic commentators in the background, and it feels a bit odd that the commentators break into ecstatic Allahu Akbar chants whenever Egypt scores a goal. What if the opponent were another Islamic country, would the commentator still use the same punchline? And isn't it embarrassing that a Christian country always wins the World Cup, without exception?

Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Diseases, even deadly ones, do from time to time disappear, or are cured by some process that is then proclaimed to be a miracle by persons who have prayed for it. Other misfortunes might be resolved by chance.
Isolated cases of good luck do exist, and they are the stories with which people are attracted into miracle service meetings. But if you work at the podium as a minister of prayer servant, you cannot possibly avoid realizing that most of the people in desperate need of a medical or other miracle never get one. Day after day, you personally face the other 99.9% of cases, which are not mentioned in the sensational headlines.

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Old 14th October 2017, 09:24 AM   #193
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Originally Posted by JJM 777 View Post
In South America, Africa and Middle East it is common to see people publicly praying for success for the national football team.
Worse than that is when two countries go to war, particularly if they have the same official religion, and the religious leaders of both pray for victory.

That happened a lot in WW1. THere were Protestant and Catholic states on both sides, and the Central Powers contained a Muslim state in addition. Poor old God. Whose prayers does he attend to? Nobody's at all, you say, and I can understand why!
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Old 14th October 2017, 10:13 AM   #194
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
Worse than that is when two countries go to war, particularly if they have the same official religion, and the religious leaders of both pray for victory.

That happened a lot in WW1. THere were Protestant and Catholic states on both sides, and the Central Powers contained a Muslim state in addition. Poor old God. Whose prayers does he attend to? Nobody's at all, you say, and I can understand why!
Well, if he did exist he would have listened to the British prayers of course.
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Old 14th October 2017, 04:18 PM   #195
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Originally Posted by Scorpion View Post
I have not seen much criticism of the Quran over past centuries. There is one book entitled ' the original sources of the Qur'an ' by William Tisdall.
I actually just got a copy of it in paperback, but I have read some of it before because it is available, free to read on the internet.

I am fully aware there is a direct correlation between the Quran and the bible.

It is my argument that Muhammad stole most of his material from the bible because it occurred to him he could scare people into following him by pretending to get a message from God.

The bible is obviously full of trash, but I am not bothered about that and I do not intend to study the bible to find flaws in it because it has been done by experts.

Islam lacks even today the counterpart of the Radical Enlightenment, not a surprise the almost total absence of critical evaluation of the Quran (even after centuries now of exposure to Modernity). Some may claim now that Islam has undergone anyways an Islamic Enlightenment (albeit different from that witnessed in Europe) but this is to confound some shallow reforms done under the pressure of the 'infidels' (easily reversible as we have seen in the last 40 years) with the profound, irreversible, changes which took place in Europe (done entirely via efforts from inside by the way). In reality the reform in Islam has been far even from that involved by the more moderate versions of Enlightenment in Europe (keeping religion in a higher status). This is not an accident, it has many in common with the basic nature of islam, including the fact that the Quran is seen as the exact word of God (unlike Christianity and even Judaism*).

There is still this pernicious myth that all religions are basically equally 'evil' and that we can anyways create a much better world without promoting robust critical thinking applied to the religions of the 'poor' and so on. I'm afraid the reality shows clearly that we may never reach that with the 'tails' such as Islam attached (which proved consistently of being unable to adapt to novelty). The way ahead is that shown by humanist ex-muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali (see her book 'Heretic') and ibn Warraq, we ignore them at our own peril:


Quote:
Finally, it is not as the journalistic cliché has it, a simple matter of “a few bad apples.” There is something immanent in Islam that engenders radicals willing to kill and be killed in the name of Allah. Appeasing or attempting to negotiate with the “bad apples” will not work. Nor will piecemeal tinkering: while the Shari‘a, to paraphrase Martin Kramer, maybe open to some reinterpretation, it is not infinitely elastic. Islam will produce Islamic terrorists until Muslims take a critical look at the Koran, and no longer treat it as the word of God.** - ibn Warraq


*Bernard Lewis presents this problem well, I posted this before of course but it deserves to present it again, it makes easier to understand for those not familiarised with the subject (Islam is not more or less like Christianity and Judaism I'm afraid):

Quote:
Arthur Jeffery’s book was entitled Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur’an: The Old Codices, 1937. To his horror, his study was immediately denounced and publicly burnt by order of the leading Muslim religious authorities at Al-Azhar Mosque and University. Professor Jeffery...had excellent relations with the people at Al-Azhar, and was the more startled and horrified by their reaction to his book. He pointed out that what he was doing was no different from what the most pious Christians and Jews do to the texts of the Old and New Testaments. To which they replied, “But that is different. The Koran is not like the Bible. The Koran is the word of God.” By this they were not merely casting doubt on the authenticity or accuracy of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. They were pointing to the profound difference between Muslim perceptions and Judeo-Christian perceptions of the very nature of scripture. For Christians and Jews, the Bible consists of a number of books, written at different times and in different places, divinely inspired, but mostly committed to writing by human beings. For Muslims, the Koran is one book, divine, eternal and uncreated. It is not simply divinely inspired; it is literally divine and to question it in any way is blasphemy.

**my note: the muslims should 'no longer treat it [the Quran] as the word of God' at least in the minimal sense that they accept that the Quran has a History, like the Bible, being not 'uncreated' and that unaided Human Reason can have precedence sometimes over what is clearly written in the Quran; only when there will be no problem to present in Academia, even in Islamic countries, for example the conjecture 'Muhammad. The Desert Warlord' could one conclude rationally that there is finally hope with Islam
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Old 14th October 2017, 05:02 PM   #196
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Originally Posted by metacristi View Post
There is still this pernicious myth that basically all religions are equally 'evil' (and that we can anyways create a much better world without promoting robust critical thinking applied to the religions of the 'poor' and so on). I'm afraid the reality shows clearly that we may never reach that with the 'tails' such as Islam attached (which proved consistently of being unable to adapt to novelty). The way ahead is that shown by humanist ex-muslims like Ayaan Hirsi Ali (see her book 'Heretic') and ibn Warraq, we ignore them at our own peril:
It is true that all religions are not equally good or bad. Some are worse than others, most certainly. But we are now seeing oppression of a Muslim Population in a Buddhist country, which is perhaps in contradiction to the reputations which these respective religions enjoy.

The problem appears to arise when a religion coalesces with the state, or assumes some of the functions of the state. Islam is especially prone to this, because its originator became a secular ruler, albeit on a modest scale, during his lifetime; which Jesus and the Buddha did not. And the explosive expansion of Islam was directed by people who had been in Muhammad's entourage, while the expansion of Christianity and Buddhism was less closely linked to the personality of their founders. Muhammad was not only his own Jesus, but his own Paul, and his own Constantine.

The idea that Muslims in general will ever reduce Muhammad to the status of a "desert warlord" is most implausible. But your hope that it will become possible to utter such ideas academic contexts in an Islamic state is not preposterous, as long as we secularise such states. Here the real or alleged differences between Islam and other religions disappear. In the days when Christianity was politically influential, to reduce Jesus to the status of a "desert rabbi" was to invite a visit from the Inquisition.

What is required is to secularise Muslim (and for that matter other religious) states. Is the best way of doing that to invade these states and marginalise or disparage Muslims residing in the West? I don't think that it is.
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Old 14th October 2017, 05:35 PM   #197
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Well we have Turkey as a model of what can happen if we do not weaken the impact of Islam in the population, on the medium run Islam is back in the public area. In my view the solution is not to avoid criticism of islam (because muslims may be offended or because this is 'colonialism') but exactly to go where Reason indicates, unfortunately History shows that it's not enough to merely push Islam out of public areas. It is true now that a criticism of Islam on a par with the existing Biblical criticism could have a much more damaging effect on this religion (exactly because it is not more or less like the other Abrahamic religions) but this is not our fault. Unaided Human Reason must finally find its right place even in the islamic world, that's the right solution (comments of some prominent muslims in the West, like 'some want all of us to behave immorally' via advocating modern values, are moot when islam leads even today not to universal human rights but to Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, we cannot just stay passive because 'it's their culture').
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Old 14th October 2017, 10:44 PM   #198
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Originally Posted by metacristi View Post
Well we have Turkey as a model of what can happen if we do not weaken the impact of Islam in the population, on the medium run Islam is back in the public area. In my view the solution is not to avoid criticism of islam (because muslims may be offended or because this is 'colonialism') but exactly to go where Reason indicates, unfortunately History shows that it's not enough to merely push Islam out of public areas. It is true now that a criticism of Islam on a par with the existing Biblical criticism could have a much more damaging effect on this religion (exactly because it is not more or less like the other Abrahamic religions) but this is not our fault. Unaided Human Reason must finally find its right place even in the islamic world, that's the right solution (comments of some prominent muslims in the West, like 'some want all of us to behave immorally' via advocating modern values, are moot when islam leads even today not to universal human rights but to Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, we cannot just stay passive because 'it's their culture').
Depends what you mean by this. All religions are offences against Reason. They all invoke faith instead. Reason is one field in which they are all the same.

As to staying passive: are you suggesting that we should actively insist that Muslims must abandon their religion so far as to reduce their prophet to the level of a desert warrior? There is no need for us to require such abjuration of their beliefs, as long as these beliefs are not made the excuse for violent action by believers, or repressive action by states, such as you describe.

Such violent action comes when religion is politicised, and that is what should be targeted where Islam is concerned, because it has a tendency to become a state religion for reasons I have indicated. But it is capable of coexistence with other faiths, and that is what must be encouraged. Invasions of Muslim countries and "active" marginalisation of Muslims in the West are the very opposite of what we ought to be doing.

Meantime I don't care if Muslims believe the purest nonsense, because other religions are based on nonsense too.
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Old 15th October 2017, 04:10 PM   #199
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Obviously I cannot be such optimistic as you are. The truth is much more complex than you suggest, suffice here to say that there is actually a big difference between Islam and the other Abrahamic religions in what the value given to the unaided Human Reason is concerned (Robert Reilly does a good job in showing the clear theological difference between them by the way*).

In short Islam severely downplays Reason (especially in theological matters) whilst Christianity and Judaism gives it more importance (thus one is not limited to blindly follow the Revelation and tradition). Contrary to what you suggest the Church was not against Reason, it is simplistic to see the advent of modernity as a continuous retreat of religion under the blow of the forces of progress (how could have developed such forces in an era when very religious people where huge majorities?, Reformation is not enough to explain this).

Truth is that at least after Thomas Aquinas (and the return of Aristotelianism) Reason began to be considered again as important in western Christendom. Sure the initial belief was that it can only confirm the Revelation but when discrepancies were spotted the reaction was not to reject it altogether and return to faith. In short the established Church was guilty of not choosing the most rational path (putting brakes to progress in some instances along history) but this did not amount to a strong minimisation of Reason**. In Islam unfortunately it is very different, Reason was severely downplayed during Middle Ages and this is still largely so to this day (that's why we hear invariably 'no one is allowed to change...' instead of just opening 'the gates of 'ijtihad' in non trivial ways in order to finally bring islam in the 21st century).

In other order of ideas what I suggest is to open Islam to criticism, to put Islamic studies on the same foot with the existing biblical criticism. Muslims have never been capable to do that so far (for obvious reasons) but this does not mean that we have to just sit passively and accept their points of view in the hope that time solves everything. In academic biblical criticism we have since the 18th century the conjecture 'Jesus the proto-zealot / Christianity intrinsically violent' (even if very shaky, implausible) so why should we refrain to put forward a much more plausible hypothesis 'Muhammad. The Desert Warrior' / islam intrinsically violent'? Only when we will be able to criticize Islam safely as we do with Christianity and Judaism will there be a significant progress, history showed plenty that biblical criticism had a major impact in the making of Modernity.

So no I do not advocate to make muslims abandon their religion***, the idea is to bring Reason to the forefront (not the case today) in order to create a 'critical mass' of muslims determined to finally align Islam with modernity in spite of weakening some important tenets held today. I'm afraid no healthy, durable, secularisation of the Islamic world is possible without strong criticism of islam, if we continue with the same degenerative conjecture (largely disproved by history) that modern values can be easily implemented with minimal change at the theological / institutional /educational levels of islam we risk the erosion of the basic values of Enlightenment in the West itself. We do not want that of course.


* although I disagree with his main conclusion that a mere return of the Mutazilite view on Reason is enough to solve the problems with Islam today; for example the Shiite world retained something from the Mu'tazilites and yet there was no important improvement (as I said above only an Enlightenment view on Reason can do that, with Human Reason more important sometimes than what is clearly stated in the Revelation)

** some clarifications, all those familiarized with some philosophy know that there are different levels of Rationality (Reason and Rationality are synonymous) there is no contradiction to say that the Church valued Reason whilst not choosing the most rational path available at certain moments in time (thus putting some brakes to progress)


***although the rational ones will be forced to find weaker variants of the doctrine of the divine inspiration of the Quran, not based on inerrancy
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Old 15th October 2017, 04:47 PM   #200
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@metacristi

I didn't realise until that latest post to what extent you were an intellectual apologist for the Catholic Church. There is much of interest in what you write, but I will stick to my prime point for the moment. You say that we "ignore Ibn Warraq at our peril", then you quote this, from his work: "Islam will produce Islamic terrorists until Muslims take a critical look at the Koran, and no longer treat it as the word of God. - ibn Warraq".

Now that is to require Muslims, on pain of being regarded as potential terrorists, to abjure the essence of their faith. This is ironic, for that is exactly how Catholics were abused before emancipation.

The beliefs that underlie the at one time prevalent Anti-Catholicism in the United KingdomWP were summarized by William Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England:
As to papists, what has been said of the Protestant dissenters would hold equally strong for a general toleration of them; provided their separation was founded only upon difference of opinion in religion, and their principles did not also extend to a subversion of the civil government. If once they could be brought to renounce the supremacy of the pope, they might quietly enjoy their seven sacraments, their purgatory, and auricular confession; their worship of relics and images; nay even their transubstantiation. But while they acknowledge a foreign power, superior to the sovereignty of the kingdom, they cannot complain if the laws of that kingdom will not treat them upon the footing of good subjects..— Bl. Comm. IV, c.4 ss. iii.2, p. *54
Current Islamophobia replicates pre--1829 anticatholicism with near-perfect fidelity. Similar political expedients engender similar ideological strategies.

Last edited by Craig B; 15th October 2017 at 04:49 PM.
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