It has been a very long while since I have written an article for the Whyville Times. A lot has happened in my life since that last article over 3 years ago and clearly a lot has happened to Whyville as well. Some of you will have seen me around, and some of you probably even remember me from years ago when I used to be active all the time! Whyville contributed a lot to my personal development and for that I am grateful, but that experience is vastly overshadowed by the last 18 months of my life, where I have undergone a radical transformation in the way I view the world.
Forgive me for taking so long to get started on this article. I know one of the key pillars of journalism are that you get out the Who, What, Where, When, and Why in the first paragraph, but I am feeling a little nostalgic, and I think like that deserves a paragraph or two. I also tale this time because I plan to write one or two more articles in a series on Christianity, and this article is intended not only to be the first in the series, but also to be a precursor to the entire series. In my next article, I hope to discuss my reasons for becoming a Christian.
Christianity and Islam are two of the largest religions in the world, with over 1.9 billion and 1.3 billion claimed followers respectively. With a world population of nearly 7 billion, that's nearly half of the entire world. In this article I wanted to point out the surprising similarities and the stark differences between Islam and Christianity. In particular, I want to show that they can't both be true. That is, if Christianity is true then Islam is wrong, and if Islam is true then Christianity is wrong. Wrong. It's not a word we're used to saying when talking about religion, is it? A problem all atheists will discover is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to prove conclusively that a religion is just plain wrong. However, Christianity and Islam can't both be true. Why? Because they make contradictory claims and both claim to be 100% accurate. So no matter what happens at the end of the day whether one or the other is true, or neither, there will be over a billion people who have wasted their lives following a religion which is just plain wrong. In many cases, some people will have devoted their entire lives to that religion, and it's just plain wrong.
So why can't Christianity and Islam both be true? To answer that, I will need to give a bit of background about the two religions. Before the year 30AD, Christianity did not exist. It is widely accepted by scholars, Christian and secular alike, that around 3BC a man named Jesus was born. A large group of Jews believed that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and was subsequently crucified for this claim and for claiming to be King of the Jews. This group of Jews later became known to be Christians, and Christianity has grown until this day to ultimately become the most widely followed religion in the world. Jews, while acknowledging that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, call him a false prophet, saying that he was not the Son of God (and thus either lying or delusional).
Islam claims to believe in the same prophets as Christianity (Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and others), but believes that Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God, but that Jesus was just a messenger sent from God. Islam believes that around 610AD a prophet named Muhammad received visions from God, which followers later wrote down and formed the holy Quran. Muhammad gained a large group of followers, and waged war on nearby cities which would not accept his revelations. After the death of Muhammad, Islam continued to grow, and Muslims (followers of Islam) invaded a large territory, giving inhabitants the option to convert to Islam, or pay a hefty tax, or leave the land. This led to the rapid expansion and growth of Islam across parts of Asia, Africa and Europe.
One clear difference we have already established is that Islam claims that Jesus wasn't the Son of God, while Christianity claims he was. Clearly one of these two is wrong. Christianity and Islam both claim to have no errors, so while Jesus can't both be and not be the Son of God, one of these major religions must have an error and thus be totally wrong!
Another point of disagreement between the two major religions is concerning the death of Jesus. Christianity has always claimed that Jesus was crucified. This entails being nailed to a wooden cross, and hung (in most cases still alive) for several hours until death. Islam states that Jesus was not crucified, but instead raised up by God to heaven. This difference is of a very different sort, for it is much easier to verify if Jesus was actually killed than if he was the Son of God. Indeed, much research has been done into the death of Jesus, and most scholars (both secular and Christian) believe there to be significant historical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified under the Roman Empire.
So which is it? Is Christianity wrong or is Islam wrong? Or both? I doubt anybody knows for certain, but there certainly seems to be a growing amount of evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was killed on a cross, contradicting Islamic claims (which believe that no prophet of God could be allowed to suffer such a fate). Are Islam and the 1.3 billion followers all wasting their time? Or perhaps the 1.9 billion followers of Christianity pointlessly believe in a God which doesn't exist. It is a good idea to bear in mind that while many states bend over backwards to accommodate a wild variety of religious beliefs, it is wholly and most likely true that many of these religions are false and just plain wrong.
Are hundreds of millions of Muslim women wearing veils to cover their faces for nothing? Are over a billion Christian church goers wasting their time going to church? Are thousands of millions of Muslims purposelessly praying 5 times a day? Will millions of Muslims around the world fast for the month of Ramadan for absolutely no reason? It is up to you to research and conclude for yourself.
Author's Note: Sources: www.wikipedia.org
- Historicity of Jesus
- Islamic View of Jesus' Death
- Spread of Islam
Book: "Islam in our Backyard", Tony Payne, 2002.
Editor's Note: Please remain respectful in the BBS while discussing religion, in that it is a deeply personal and sensitive subject. Thank you.