Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to convert an atheist to Islam - Pt I

I was curious how the Christian attempts to convert atheists compares to any Islamic attempts. I haven't found a handy guide like I did for the Christians... but I did find this guy's take (link).

As an aside, I don't recall ever hearing Christians and Muslims trying to convert each other. They both focus on us heathens. It's like they're uncomfortable with the idea that people don't believe in sky wizards.

Let's take a look at "PROVING THE EXISTENCE OF ALLAH (SWT) TO AN ATHEIST by Dr. Zakir Naik", shall we?

I'll skip the first section, "Congratulating an Atheist", which I'm not finding to be all that useful/relevant.

Logical Concept of God

My first question to the atheist will be: "What is the definition of God?" For a person to say there is no God, he should know what is the meaning of God. If I hold a book and say that ‘this is a pen’, for the opposite person to say, ‘it is not a pen’, he should know what is the definition of a pen, even if he does not know nor is able to recognise or identify the object I am holding in my hand. For him to say this is not a pen, he should at least know what a pen means. Similarly for an atheist to say ‘there is no God’, he should at least know the concept of God. His concept of God would be derived from the surroundings in which he lives. The god that a large number of people worship has got human qualities - therefore he does not believe in such a god. Similarly a Muslim too does not and should not believe in such false gods.
Woosh! There's a lot wrong here... multiple compounded issues.

First, let's consider that there's a fundamental difference, frequently, between the scientific worldview, and the theistic.

I wouldn't say they always take this approach, but I find theistic minds often work this way - the idea that things are to be (or can be) believed until otherwise falsified. Science (and thus, most atheists) doesn't work like that. Everything is held to be undemonstrated, and thus, not accepted as true, until it's sufficiently supported by good evidence.

The point the author is making here, and the point that usually comes from his Christian counterparts, is, "Oh, well that's the problem! You're just disbelieving in the wrong god!".. as though I accidentally opted out of believing the wrong thing... and so my position isn't valid.

This argument compounds multiple problems - invalid epistemology, straw man positioning of atheism and a shifting of the burden of proof. It's close to being fractally wrong.

The atheist position is not that "there are no gods". Even the atheists I've heard who actually state that, when pushed, will relent that it's an undemonstrable position. Rather, they mean it in the sense that there aren't any unicorns, fairies and fire-breathing dragons. For all intents and purposes, these concepts are most likely human inventions.

The majority of atheists will hold the position, "we don't believe in any gods"... not just a specific god definition, but all definitions we've ever been introduced. Either that, or the god definition is useless, such as, "God is love. Love exists. Therefore, God exists."

It's not up to us to define the god for you. It's up to the claimant to do that... but even if we did, and we got it totally wrong, you still have the burden to define what you mean, and then support it. Until you do, we are perfectly justified in not believing it.

What we'd say, is that, out of all the definitions for this "god" thing wacky individuals keep throwing at us, we've found none of them credible.

If you were actually ask me that, most likely, outside of yelling at you for shifting the burden of proof, in a sense, what I'd give is an average lowest-common-denominator version - a being that's intelligent and created everything... but you know that no matter what, they'll disagree with your definition, because it's only a ruse to get that dig in about believing incorrectly... putting you on the defensive, when the burden isn't on you at all.

This rhetorical argument is about as vapid as walking up to him and saying, "Hey, you don't believe in [making up a name] Offtorptorp. Well, do you know what it is? No? WELL YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY BELIEVE IT DOESN'T EXIST, HAH!"

Author is off to a great start!

If a non-Muslim believes that Islam is a merciless religion with something to do with terrorism; a religion which does not give rights to women; a religion which contradicts science; in his limited sense that non-Muslim is correct to reject such Islam. 
No, actually, that would not be correct. It's pretty normal for God to be conceptualized as a dictator... so the fact he would be a tyrannical dictator wouldn't mean he doesn't exist. He'd just be a bastard.

The correct reason to reject Islam is that they have failed to meet their scientific burden of proof to demonstrate that the supernatural elements are true.

The problem is he has a wrong picture of Islam. Even I reject such a false picture of Islam, but at the same time, it becomes my duty as a Muslim to present the correct picture of Islam to that non-Muslim i.e. Islam is a merciful religion, it gives equal rights to the women, it is not incompatible with logic, reason and science; if I present the correct facts about Islam, that non-Muslim may Inshallah accept Islam.
Yeah... see above. It's more of the same silliness that we're just rejecting the wrong religion... instead of the idea that they haven't demonstrated their claims.

I can give partial credit that if we're misunderstanding their god definition, correcting it would be the first step in presenting their case... it's just that I see the quality of the religion as a separate question from whether their particular sky wizard dictator exists.

Islam doesn't have a monopoly on reputation for being regressive, incidentally. Many religions are like that.

Similarly the atheist rejects the false gods and the duty of every Muslim is to present the correct concept of God which he shall Insha Allah not refuse. 
Yes.. that's what's holding me back, as an atheist... I just haven't had the correct god definition explained to me.

That's exactly it.

Qu'ran and Modern Science

Oh! Maybe this is what we've been waiting for!

The methods of proving the existence of God with usage of the material provided in the ‘Concept of God in Islam’ to an atheist may satisfy some but not all.  
Bah! I'll have to look into that separately, apparently.

Many atheists demand a scientific proof for the existence of God. I agree that today is the age of science and technology. Let us use scientific knowledge to kill two birds with one stone, i.e. to prove the existence of God and simultaneously prove that the Qur’an is a revelation of God.
 Let's do this!

If a new object or a machine, which no one in the world has ever seen or heard of before, is shown to an atheist or any person and then a question is asked, " Who is the first person who will be able to provide details of the mechanism of this unknown object? After little bit of thinking, he will reply, ‘the creator of that object.’ Some may say ‘the producer’ while others may say ‘the manufacturer.’ What ever answer the person gives, keep it in your mind, the answer will always be either the creator, the producer, the manufacturer or some what of the same meaning, i.e. the person who has made it or created it. Don’t grapple with words, whatever answer he gives, the meaning will be same, therefore accept it.
... okay. Gotta love arguments where they get to simply assert what I'd say. If I wasn't told it was a machine, or that it didn't have telltale signs that it was likely manufactured (recognizable labeling, non-naturally-occurring materials, etc), my answer would actually be, "probably a scientist." You know, the people who would investigate the mechanism/phenomenon, and learn about it.

I'm sorry, but this guy doesn't get to shove words in my mouth.

What's his point, I wonder?

Wait... that's it? Now he's pimping his book?

That was all he had? Lying about what my response to the question would be... and then, somehow, that makes it automatically true?

This guy is the Ray Comfort of Islam. "You'll know it's designed because you'll recognize it." ... was that the point?

I'm sorry, I thought he was considering the possibility of maybe dwelling on the potential for creating something the vaguely resembles a scientific argument.

I am so disappoint right now.

Long ago, I addressed this question - "How to tell if something is designed?" I don't think I need to rehash it here.


Next up, since we're apparently done with scientifically proving God, he moves onto math.

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