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Islam:
Epistemology & the Koran

F. Earle Fox

The Pope, some time ago, noted that Islam does not believe that God holds Himself accountable to either truth or morality.  God (Allah) can say or do whatever He wishes.  And that is true for Biblical religion also.  But the Biblical God holds Himself accountable.  No one else can hold God accountable, but He, Himself, can make a decision from which He will not vary.  That is why the Bible refers to God as faithful and true.  God holds Himself accountable to the same law of love which He imposes on us, to love His neighbors just like He loves Himself.   And we, His creatures, are His neighbors. 

People will often say, rightly, that there are many fine Muslims who want to get along with other people, and conclude on that basis that Islam is a fine religion.  The trouble is that we all have ways of living above what we believe because something inside us tells us that life is more than what our religion may be telling us.   So the presence of good behavior does not in itself prove the nature of the divinity worshipped. 

To get the skinny about a religion, one must to to the founding persons and founding documents.  In this case Mohammed and the Koran. 

For Christians this would mean looking at the Old Testament leaders, and especially Jesus in the New Testament, as well as the apostles and other missionaries, etc., and at the Bible as a whole. 

Concerning the relevant book, we can ask, for example, "How was it written?"   The Bible was written over a long period of time by many different authors.  It was rooted in nature and in history.  It was the spiritual history of the Jews and then the Christians.  That means that there is a multitude of claims and descriptions which can be tested for their truth, such as whether certain persons existed and what they did, etc., and also for accuracy in picturing nature and history. 

The book can be tested also for its cosmological, philosophical, and theological integrity.  In all of these areas, the Bible, so I believe and attempt to show, comes out a winner.  Biblical religion has a consistent worldview, a God who holds Himself to both truth and morality, and who bothers to make Himself known to His people over a long period of time, drawing them progressively closer to Himself. 

On the other hand, the information in the Koran was "received" by one man who was illiterate.  It was not written down in any consistent form until after his death.  The source was allegedly an angel.  There are few references to either historical events or to nature, so there are few, if any, facts which can be checked for reliability. 

And since the Muslim version of God does not hold Himself to either truth or morality, the decision to believe Him is absolutely arbitrary.  A totally blind leap.  You either believe it or you do not.  It must be intellectually an arbitrary choice.  There is little or no possibility of reasoning one's way into Islam.  As the name, 'Islam', says, you just "submit". 

So, how does the Muslim know what he knows about God?  No one knows.  It is a blind leap, not a leap of Biblical faith (see The Authority of the Bible in a Scientific World for the Biblical view of the matter).  The first step of true Biblical faith is to commit oneself to being a truth-seeker, and then a truth-speaker.  All else follows from that.  A Muslim can venture on that, but gets quickly into trouble if he is speaking to a well-informed Jew or Christian. 

See also, Islam: a Producer of Civilization?

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Date Posted - 02/18/2010   -   Date Last Edited - 07/07/2012