The Instigator
wmickas
Pro (for)
The Contender
SareBare
Con (against)

Islam vs Christianity "Is Jesus Divine?"

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/24/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 444 times Debate No: 102747
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wmickas

Pro

Christians and Muslims can agree on the existence of Jesus as a historical figure but they disagree on who he is and his significance in the salvation of mankind. We will now focus on his divinity. I believe that there are only two options and these two options are devastating to Islam. First option is Jesus is divine and the second option is Jesus is not divine. If Jesus is divine, then the assertion that Jesus is only a prophet is false. If Jesus is not divine, then he is a liar or a lunatic and cannot be a prophet. The question Muslims will ask in response to this is, "Where did Jesus say I am God, worship me?". While there are no verses in either the Bible or the Qur'an that say those exact words, there are a number of places where divinity is claimed by Jesus all over the gospels. The Qur'an says that "the people of the gospel" (Christians) should judge by what Allah has revealed (Surah 5:47). This being established by the Qur'an itself, there are lots of examples to point to but I will point out what I use the most in discussions on this subject. At Jesus's trial, he was asked, "Art thou the Christ the Son of the blessed?" He answered saying, "I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." (Mark 14:61-62). You may be thinking that the fact he called himself the son of man that it proves he is not divine. My response to this is that he quoted Daniel 7:13-14, "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." In this debate, I will point out many more examples from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. I conclude by pointing out why this is important John 8:24 says, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."
SareBare

Con

So I thought my first debate on this site ought to be something innocuous. Then I figured, eh, nothing like a question on religion to make for a baptism of fire :-D

I think your argument is really interesting and it brings up a point that I haven't heard before, which is why I wanted to respond.

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that your argument is as follows:
1) Jesus said that he is divine
2) One cannot be both divine and a prophet
3) One cannot lie and be a prophet

Assuming these premises are correct, then I agree with you that it seems that the only logical conclusion is that Jesus MUST be either divine, or a liar/lunatic who is thus not a prophet.

I'm sure there are people who will debate point 2 and argue that someone CAN be both divine and a prophet, but for our purposes I'll happily agree to such a definition of 'prophet' and 'divine' if you will.

In arguing against your point, then, I'm going to stick to points 1 and 3:

Point 1:
I do not agree that we have evidence that Jesus claimed he was divine. Christians frequently claim that, because they believe the Bible quotes Jesus as declaring his own divinity, that he must be a) the son of God, b) a liar, or c) a lunatic. I disagree that those are the only options. He could also be d) misquoted/misrepresented (i.e. the Bible is fallible) or e) misunderstood or misinterpreted, or viewed through a lens that fails to account for the profoundly different cultural conceptions of knowledge and truth at the time. I think both of these options are likely true, and either of them would refute the argument that Jesus MUST be divine.

First: The Bible is not an Accurate Account

You quote from the Bible verses that you believe assert Jesus's divinity. Protestant Christians are told that the Bible is a perfect historical account. They accept this premise--the perfection of the Bible--as a matter of faith, and it is in fact a cornerstone of their faith.

However, those of us who are not Christian do not accept this premise and do not see the Bible as any more or less accurate than any other book written under similar circumstances during the same time period. You quote from the book of Mark, which scholars generally agree was the first of the four canonical gospels written. Mark was originally written in Greek by an anonymous author sometime between 66-70 AD. During the 30-40 years between Jesus's death and the time that the first gospel was written, the story of Jesus's life and death was preserved through oral history.
(https://en.wikipedia.org...)

As we all know, even first-hand accounts of a particular event can be remarkable fallible. Every Thanksgiving, my father likes to tell the story of how he once got hit with a car as a child. Every year, the bruise that resulted from this accident gets a bit larger. Some years, he tells us that the point of impact was his leg. Other years he tells us that the point of impact was his torso. Is my father a liar or a lunatic? No, of course not. He's human. And humans have fallible memories and, oftentimes, an inclination for embellishment.

When it comes to verbal memory (rather than, say, spatial or affective memory) our recollections tend to erode particularly quickly. When I ask my father to recall what the woman who hit him said afterwards, he tells me that she was shocked and incredibly apologetic, but doesn't offer me an exact quote.

I know that I could not perfectly quote a conversation that I've had with someone even2 years ago, let alone 30-40. I encourage you to try to think of a memory from from a conversation 10, 20, 30 years ago and ask yourself honestly whether you could recall the exact words that were spoken by each person at this time. The gospels are incredibly dialog-heavy, so I'm not just talking about one single statement that stood out to you, but an entire lecture or conversation, word-for-word, and perfect. My guess is that you could not give a perfect account, even for a particularly meaningful conversation.

Now, consider that what was written in the gospels were not even first-hand accounts. They were transcribed from oral traditions that--for 30 to 40 years--were passed along from person to person. Every time the story was passed along it was subject to another persons imperfect memory, penchant for embellishment, or even personal biases/interests. And this is to say nothing of the linguistic and cultural barriers this story would have to cross--again, every single word, perfectly translated, every single time over decades without fail.

Going back to our previous thought experiment, for argument's sake let's pretend that you, in fact, CAN remember absolutely perfectly, multiple, detailed conversations from 30 years ago. You are a one-of-a-kind genius with a unique kind of exceptional memory (https://en.wikipedia.org...) that has never before been documented in living history! You can use your perfect memory to perfectly quote to me conversations and lectures that you've witnessed. However, I not only have an imperfect memory, but also a tendency to zone out during long lectures. I will likely pay the most attention to the overall point of the story, with an emphasis on what HAPPENED over what was SAID, and (when retelling the story later) fill in any gaps in dialog with whatever makes sense given my interpretation of the overall point of the story. Am I lying? Am I crazy? No, again, I'm just human. Now, imagine this happening hundreds or thousands more times before the story is written down.

In short, I think that the chance that the Bible (or the Quran, for that matter) provides us with perfect accounts of dialog that was spoken 30-40 years earlier, in a different language, thousands of miles away, is virtually impossible. In fact, I would argue that it is incredibly unlikely that the dialog in the gospels isn't drastically different from anything that was actually spoken.

Next: The Bible is are Misunderstood

We as modern readers must also be careful to impose our presumptions--even our ideas regarding the nature of truth--on ancient stories. Some people argue that the Bible should be seen metaphorically, and to literalists this oftentimes seems like a bit of a cop-out, but it shouldn't. People speak metaphorically all the time, especially when trying to develop or explain new philosophical concepts. When Freud came up with the idea that people have an "ego" he created this concept to define part of an idea he was developing. While I may talk about someone's ego, there is no physical reality to it. I can't touch or feel an ego and it doesn't "really" exist. Am I lying when I say someone has a big ego? Was Freud lying when he invented the concept? No. He was looking for language to describe an intangible idea. Jesus certainly developed a lot of new ideas and I think that some of the language we most associate with Jesus--i.e. son of god/man--should be viewed similarly.

I do also want to point out that we have grown up in a time where scientific and logical reasoning are not only taught to us formally but in fact permeate every aspect of our life. Our concept of "truth"--even our conception of the idea of an "objective reality"--is something that we take for granted but likely was not shared by the bronze age pastoralists who first heard the Jesus story.

In short, I not only think that the account in the Bible is likely inaccurate on a lot of points, but I also think that the common interpretations of the Bible in Christian circles are incorrect.

Point 3:
Lastly, I will argue against your contention that Jesus could not have lied and still been a prophet. Prophets, according to point 2, are not divine. If they are not divine then they must be human. And if they are human they must sin. If they sin, then they are capable of lying
Debate Round No. 1
wmickas

Pro

My opponent has brought up some interesting points that might take a while to unpack. First, this argument is Islam vs Christianity I do not know his view on the matter in his next reply he could unpack this further. Second, if we apply his logic that people cannot remember specific events accurately years after the even took place, then we could not do history properly if at all because there are a number of accounts of the life of people whose earliest sources appear decades after their death. Pathagoras and many early Greek philosophers provide such an example https://plato.stanford.edu.... Muhammad's sources have problems too with the Hadiths http://www.islamic-awareness.org.... By the way if this guy is a Muslim then he destroys the Qur'anic argument that Jesus has mentioned Muhammad in the gospel thus destroying Islam entirely (unless he has some sort of subjective criteria to determine what is accurate in the gospels which would be interesting). I don't believe that I am misinterpreting what the gospels say. Notice that Jesus attributed himself to the Son of Man mentioned in Daniel 7:13-14. I agree that prophets in the past have the same human limitations as everyone else. If Jesus had declared to be divine when he was not then he would not only would he have been a liar but would have been committing blasphemy which also disqualifies him from being a prophet.
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