General Question

IsshoNi's avatar

Can some people explain why I should stay in the Christian faith? Or can some Muslims help me not to feel scared of converting to Islam?

Asked by IsshoNi (126points) June 20th, 2011

I seriously question the Christian faith and the holy trinity. I question the resurrection of Jesus. Gospels give different accounts of the resurrection such as the day it happened, time, and many other things. Also the books were written by Greeks years after the resurrection, in Greek. The titles of the books (Book of Matthew, Book of Paul, Book of John, etc.) were only added to the finished letters years after being accepted as part of the bible. We don’t even know if they were written by people of those names. Please I hope Christians and Muslims alike help to add to this discussion and help me decide. I’m very much leaning towards Islam. I was born Christian.

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68 Answers

Qingu's avatar

I agree that the trinity makes no sense and the resurrection of Jesus is an unevidenced legend.

But, I’m not sure why this would make you want to convert to a religion that claims its prophet rode up into the sky on a magic flying donkey.

Have you considered, you know, not believing in ancient cults at all?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

What do you feel Islam provides that Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca, Scientology, atheism, all the other religions, etc don’t? So far I only know why you don’t want to be Christian, not why you want to be a Muslim.

If you question the validity of what’s written in the gospels in the Bible, I’m not sure the Koran is really much better.

IsshoNi's avatar

@Qingu – I am looking at the Qur’an because so far it holds up to a historians perspective.

IsshoNi's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs – Also the comment about the donkey lol does make it seem ridiculous. I am pretty sure I want to believe in a faith. Islam so far seems the most logical in spite of the donkey.

Qingu's avatar

@IsshoNi, what do you mean, the Quran holds up historically? Much of the Quran is just poorly-retold legends from the Bible and Arabian mythology.

I mean, the Quran claims that there are magic spirits called djinn that live all around us. Do you actually believe this is true? It’s what ancient Arabian nomads believed, but they also believed the sun revolves around the earth (which is also a claim the Quran makes).

And I suppose I would agree that Islam is more “logical” than Christianity… because Islam’s theology is simpler and more concise than the sprawling mess that is Christianity. But that’s a bit like saying that Harry Potter is more logical than Star Wars. Maybe Harry Potter makes a bit more sense than Star Wars… but they’re both fiction.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@IsshoNi So then why not go for something in the ‘spiritual’ realm – several members here believe there’s a god, and a heaven that everyone goes to, but beyond that they don’t know. It’s then more of a universalistic approach than an apocalyptic, dualistic approach with tons and tons of rules and sins. Look into Unitarian Universalism – no trinity, very open and loving, everyone goes to heaven and can get married on Earth…

@Qingu Flat-out magic isn’t really more logical than a poor understanding of science. It’s just less complicated – and Islam seems plenty complicated to me.

Qingu's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs I meant that Islam is less complicated than Christianity because you don’t have to deal with the Trinity and the many contradictions between the gospels and the NT/OT. The early Muslims had their shit together much more than the early Christians, in terms of creating and maintaining an effective cult and messaging strategy.

IsshoNi's avatar

@Qingu – You are absolutely right. Questioning of faith is what I want in order to find the truth. Other peoples’ perspectives are really helping

Judi's avatar

My advice would be to prayerfully seek the truth. Don’t seek an agenda. Ask for clarity of mind and a pure heart. If you are truly seeking the truth, you will find it.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Qingu Yeah, alright, I’ll give you that one. I mean, there are still more contradictions than I care for (I feel that if a deity is really all that, they should be above the mixed messages man is prone to), and tons of laws to adhere to, but I’ll give you that.

YoBob's avatar

Sounds to me like you have already made your decision and are just wanting someone to hold your hand while you convert.

Might I offer an alternative suggestion? I have a profound belief in, for lack of a better term, divinity. However, I also believe that all religions are products of man in a feeble attempt to quantify/codify a divinity which we are ill equipped to understand. As such, I believe all religions are inherently flawed and over time have a tenancy to become corrupt for the glorification of those arrogant enough to believe they understand God.

It is, therefore, my opinion that one is far better off spending time trying to be the best person you can be (your “soul” is generally very good at telling you right from wrong) rather than spending time trying to be a good <insert religion here>.

Qingu's avatar

@IsshoNi, let me give you some advice from the perspective of an atheist. There truth that we humans know isn’t much like the kind of “truth” pushed by religion.

It’s “true” that electrons exist as waves of probability, for example. I think that’s fascinating, and this knowledge lets us do things like build computers. But it doesn’t tell you much about how to live your life, how best to treat other people, or whether our lives have any purpose.

Religions offer answers to those questions… but religions are just stories and laws made up by ancient humans. And the answers aren’t very good to begin with. These are messier questions, and there isn’t any single or ultimate “truth” to answer them. They’re questions we all need to struggle to figure out and answer the best we can, together, with an open mind.

IsshoNi's avatar

So far the morals I have seen upheld in Islamic teaching is living to help others and give to others, that women and men really are equal, that selflessness, humility, and humbleness are important, and as stated above I am about being a good person. I give all the time because I know what it feels like to be needy. Your replies are helping. Thanks in advance. I am being completely open. I am looking for new ideas and ways of thinking I guess.

Qingu's avatar

Islam explicitly says that women and men are not equal. For example, in law, one male witness is equivalent to two female witnesses. The Quran also says that a man can have sex with his wife whenever he wants, because the wife is like his “field.”

I’ll give Islam and the Quran some credit—in the 7th century, Arabian culture was pretty rotten, and I think some of the Quran’s laws were an improvement. But the Quran’s laws are still from the 7th century. It largely conceives of women as property. It is okay with owning slaves. It calls on Muslims to distrust, marginalize, and in some cases kill unbelievers.

Like the Bible, the Quran is a product of a cult from an ancient era, and it belongs in the dustbin of history.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@IsshoNi When you see these Islamic morals upheld, where exactly are you looking? Saudi Arabia? Iran? Pakistan? I don’t think any of the countries are practicing exactly what’s laid out in the Quran, but they aren’t exactly pillars of peace and tolerance.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Do you have to commit to just one religion? I believe in God (or a higher power) but I do not follow any religion. Instead I take all the good from each religion/holy book and ignore the crap. I have found that, despite the names and places being different, many of the teachings/stories have similarities anyway.

IsshoNi's avatar

@Qingu – The bible also holds women the same way. I was referring that the bible blames woman (Eve) for sin, but the Qur’an does not. Also the old testament of the bible allows slavery, as well as killing of non-believers. So far, based on these points that you have stated, they sound illogical.

Qingu's avatar

I hope I’m not coming off as too hard, @IsshoNi. I admire your courage in doubting your faith—I know that’s got to be hard.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Have you actually looked through a Quran? If you don’t have time to read the whole thing now, do a random sample. Statistically it will be quite representative of the whole. Open the book randomly 30 times and count the number of violent acts you see. Now do the same for a Bible. Now ask yourself which book would you rather have as your guide.
(I’ve actually done this but will not tell you my results. You need to run your own experiment.)
Seriously, try the random page test. If a kid in school wrote that stuff he would be sent to counseling and therapy.

IsshoNi's avatar

@worriedguy -Yes, I have been looking at the Qur’an, but I will try your methodology once.

Qingu's avatar

@IsshoNi, I don’t think that’s true about the Quran’s view of Eve. The Quran basically repeats the Bible’s story of the Garden of Eden.

And you’re right, Bible is okay with slavery and commands killing unbelievers. I’m saying that both books are wrong. My point is that the Quran isn’t much better than the Bible.

IsshoNi's avatar

Much to think about and do. I will have to go talk to a pastor and make him question his faith by asking these things. Give me some ammo guys? How bout questions for an Imam?

LuckyGuy's avatar

@IsshoNi Excellent. If you have a mathematical bent, you can also look at a specific spot on the randomly selected pages to estimate see how much is devoted to violence. One book might say “the penalty is death”. (20 characters). Another book might say “the penalty is slicing the belly open and pulling bowels out while the xxx watches as his life and blood spurt from….” (a lot more characters). Sounds a bit like a Freddy Kruger movie.
Very interesting results.

Qingu's avatar

@IsshoNi, here is the most important question I think Bible-followers ought to answer.

The Bible explicitly says that slavery should be legal (Leviticus 25:45), that women are basically the property of men (Deuteronomy 22), and the Bible is the only religious text to actually command genocide (Deuteronomy 13:12, 20:16, and the entire book of Joshua). Jesus says that we should follow all of these laws so we can be called greatest in heaven (Matthew 5:17) and Paul says the law is holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12).

So how can anyone believe that the Bible is a useful guide to morality?

As for the imam, I have to say that I’m less familiar with the Quran than I am with the Bible. And the Quran does not actually command genocide. But the issues I mentioned are probably worth bringing up. I think you will find that imams are less liikely to “pick and choose” from the Quran than Christians are from the Bible—he will probably try to argue that the Quran is perfect because it is so beautifully written and point to a few verses that can be twisted to make vague predictions or sound like scientific truths (Muslims often claim that the Quran must be true because it describes how fetuses look—despite the fact that this was already known to Aristotle).

But the basic question I would ask the imam to answer is “why should I believe this book is true when everything in it seems to have been written by a 7th century Arabian”?

SuperMouse's avatar

There are more than two choices for a person of faith. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with Christianity or Islam, I am suggesting however that there are other places to look to find a faith/belief system that fits in with your personal beliefs and life experience. Maybe before settling into one or the other you might do a bit more independent investigation.

IsshoNi's avatar

Thanks for your input everyone. I hope others will continue to put in useful contributions to this conversation.

Issho

thorninmud's avatar

When you say “I’m pretty sure I want to believe in a faith”, could you elaborate on what you mean by that? What is it that’s important to you about having a prescribed faith? I’m curious because you seem to be looking for a religion that conforms to your own intuitions about what is reasonable and moral, so it doesn’t look like you’re really wanting to be told what is reasonable or moral.

Is it the community aspect of religion that you value? The sense of participating in a sacred tradition? Do you feel that this is a necessary conduit for accessing the sacred?

roundsquare's avatar

@worriedguy I suppose that is one approach, but its not necessarily the way to find the “truth” (if such a thing exists). Maybe god likes violence… or severe punishments…

@IsshoNi First of all, don’t worry about questioning your faith. Even though I’m not religious, I honestly believe that those who don’t question their faith aren’t really engaging in it.

Second, if you are going to search, cast a wide net. Look at different organized religions, look at smaller ones, look at non-religious possibilities, etc… Maybe it will make you uncomfortable at first, but I think you’ll end up in a better place.

Third, ditching Christianity because its been messed with is not sensible. If you are uncomfortable with the changes, do some research and go back to the original stuff. If you don’t want to learn Greek, find a more honest translation. Maybe you’ll end up thinking that Christianity is correct in its original form but just messed up now.

The most important thing though is do an honest search. Fluther is a great way to get help in this, people here will talk about it with you (but be ready for lots of people, myself included, to poke holes in what you say. Its a good thing, but it can make people uncomfortable for a bit).

Here is a good way to start: find a textbook on comparative religions. Read it and think through what you find.

Truly and honestly thinking about religion is a life long journey, so don’t worry if you are lost for a bit.

crisw's avatar

@IsshoNi

You might find interesting the book Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She was born in Somalia and raised a devout Muslim, but later became an atheist. She is very well-versed in Islam and its issues.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@IsshoNi I’m not sure if it is an accident or not but “Isshou ni” (or a variant of it) means “together” in Japanese.

IsshoNi's avatar

@worriedguy – You are right. Issho Ni means “together” in Japanese. Very good.

mattbrowne's avatar

Here’s one very important reason:

As long as you stay Christian you can always change your mind and talk about it openly. You can choose to become an agnostic or atheist or Buddhist or Wicca.

You should feel scared of converting to Islam if you don’t like one-way streets. Because it clearly is a one-way street. Even in free civilized countries.

You cannot disagree with the Prophet. Free speech does not exist. When you use the wrong words it can get you killed. Like it was for Christianity centuries ago. A good example is Giordano Bruno. He was burned at the stake as a heretic. This still happens today in the Muslim world. Blasphemy and apostacy are capital offenses.

In civilized countries the actually killings are often being replaced by death threats that are usually not executed. This is why ex-Muslims need organizations like

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Council_of_Ex-Muslims

“The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is the British branch of the organization, representing former Muslims who fear for their lives because they have renounced Islam. The Council plans to protest against Islamic states that still punish Muslim apostates with death under the Sharia law. The Council is led by Maryam Namazie, who was awarded Secularist of the Year in 2005 and has faced death threats.”

So if you are absolutely sure that you want to stay a Muslim for the rest of your life and if you are convinced that Islam is superior to Christianity you should go ahead and convert. If you are a man it will also give you some extra privileges.

Allahu Akbar. A single honest recitation of the Shahadah in Arabic is all that is required for a person to convert to Islam according to most traditional schools. This is what you would have to say:

“A Ila-ha Illalla-h Muhammad Rasu-lu-lla-h.”

Easy, right? Baptism certainly seems more time-consuming.

josie's avatar

Seems sort of like going from the frying pan to fire to me.

plethora's avatar

Your question baffles me. You’re not so hot on Christianity, but Islam seems attractive. Read @mattbrowne ‘s response and then convert to something that won’t get you killed…at best. Perhaps you’ll be dragged behind a truck for a few miles while you’re alive….Muslims do that in third world countries. Then if you should grow up and have a daughter (even in America), you may feel the need to kill her if she becomes too westernized….just to be true to your newfound faith.

I’m a Christian. Your reasons for discarding Christianity are exceedingly weak. You apparently really know nothing about it from your comments here. However, the atheists are making a pretty darn good argument for you to forget about Islam.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@plethora

My thoughts almost exactly.

If forced to decide, I would most likely go with becoming an atheist before adopting Islam.

Qingu's avatar

@plethora, what exactly do you think he doesn’t know about Christianity?

Hibernate's avatar

All religions have flaws and a lot of ways of interpreting different things.

In any case if you doubt a religion and you feel another suits your needs better then why are you still asking what to do ?
Do you want people to tell you do it ? Or you want to hear why not doing it ?

Do as you see fit since you are going to live with that decision.

plethora's avatar

@Qingu I believe I used the word “nothing” in an intelligible way. You can take that as a general statement or as a very specific statement meaning every single detail. Either way, it’s pretty all-inclusive. Note I did not attempt to explain the Christian faith to him, as I see no indication that he wants to hear that. And I will extend you the same courtesy for the same reason.

koanhead's avatar

You don’t need “moral teachings” nor to submit to any external moral authority. If you only quiet yourself and pay attention to the world around you then you’ll find that it’s pretty easy to figure out how to act morally. Evaluate each situation on its merits and follow your heart to right action.
As to seeking the truth, all the words and all the works of ancient scribes, and all the pronouncements of prophets, ghosts and gods, contain less of the truth than you can discover for yourself.
The nature of all things is in all things.

Qingu's avatar

@plethora, truly there’s no better argument than “I think you’re wrong but I can’t be bothered to explain why.”

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Qingu

I think you’re wrong, but I can’t be bothered to explain why… again! : P

plethora's avatar

@Qingu If you wish, you may tell me what it is about “nothing”, used in an all-inclusive manner, that you fail to understand. And btw, your comments to me are way off topic. If you’d like to start a thread, feel free.

Jellie's avatar

@IsshoNi I was born/raised Muslim and had I not been completely put off of religion all together I would remain Muslim. From what I learned of the religion (and I know a lot I’ve read the Quran some 5 times) it has its quirks like every religion but it is also very beautiful. It is very peaceful existence once you begin to have faith.

It talks about every aspect of life whether social, economic or political and if you are thinking of converting then I would encourage you. But don’t just contain yourself to the Quran, you should read an authentic and trust worthy biography of the life of the Prophet. You will learn the most about Islam from there. I heard of a saying which I can’t quote exactly but it said something like: you can deny Islam but you cannot deny the Prophet Muhammad. He changed the course of time.

You should ask an Imam about what your duties are towards God and people on earth. You will get a good feel of what Islam is.

plethora's avatar

@sarahhhhh You indicate you were put off by religion altogether. Yet you were/are a Muslim. Does this mean you were disgusted with Islam or that you were well acquainted with other religions and they disgusted you?

Jellie's avatar

@plethora I just couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of any kind of religion at all. I don’t believe in heaven, hell, God, angels etc. So it wasn’t Islam that turned me off, it’s just the idea of a belief in these things that I have been put off by and they apply to most religions.

mattbrowne's avatar

I’d like to quote the Egyptian-German political scientist Hamed Abdel-Samad:

Asked why he thinks Islam is in decline, he answers, “There are 1.4 billion Muslims. So what? The important thing is that in almost all countries with a Muslim majority, we see the decline of civilization and a stagnation of all forms of life. Islam has no convincing answers to the challenges of the 21st century. It is in intellectual, moral and cultural decline—a doomed religion, without self-awareness and without any options to act.”

He continues, “In a sense, Islam is like a drug, like alcohol. A small amount can have a healing and inspiring effect, but when the believer reaches for the bottle of dogmatic faith in every situation, it gets dangerous. This high-proof form of Islam is what I’m talking about. It harms the individual and damages society. It inhibits integration, because this Islam divides the world into friends and enemies, into the faithful and the infidels.”

On the reform movement within islam: “Most so-called reformers of Islam remind me of the band on the Titanic, which kept on playing even as the ship was sinking, so as to give the passengers the illusion of normalcy. The underlying problems are not addressed.”

And on the term “Islamophobia:” “I don’t like that expression. A person who has a phobia is someone who harbors fantasies. But the dangers posed by Islamists are real, and many Muslims’ unwillingness to integrate in Germany is a serious problem. It isn’t my problem when other critics exaggerate and their rhetoric gets out of hand. I can only speak for myself.”

Abdel-Samad says his dream is “an enlightened Islam, without Sharia law and without jihad, without gender apartheid, proselytizing and the mentality of entitlement. A religion that is open to criticism and questions.”

I think @sarahhhhh is talking about the healing and inspiring effect.

Outside the US there is widespread enlightened Christianity and widespread dark-ages dogmatic Islam.

AdamF's avatar

@mattbrowne I’ve never heard of him, but i just read this on Wiki: “Following the book’s publication in Egypt a group issued a fatwa against Abdel-Samad and he was put under police protection.”

I take it the irony is lost on them.

mattbrowne's avatar

@AdamF – Yes, the German police still has to protect him. He gets invited to German talkshows quite often.

Outspoken liberal Muslims receive death threats just as Muslims who convert to another religion do. Muslims who become atheists receive death threats too. Dogmatic Islam is a breeding ground for violence. Like Christianity used to be. Islam today is where Christianity was centuries ago. But we should not give up hope. There are many Muslims who also dream about an enlightened Islam, without Sharia law and without jihad, without gender apartheid, proselytizing and the mentality of entitlement. A religion that is open to criticism and questions.

Most never share their dream openly. Because they are afraid of becoming targets.

IsshoNi's avatar

@mattbrowne – You put into words what I could not. Then perhaps a person who is willing to stand up for what is right. Give the people who are afraid to do so for fear of repercussions a voice. A nations leader should do it. I believe it must come from Iran. Another revolution perhaps from the youth. The overthrow of the Ayatollahs and a true democratic election. Not a botched one as what happened with Mr. Ahmadinejad last time. If an enlightened Islam were to happen, I believe great things could happen, plus doing away with divides between Shia, Sunni, and Kurd. Also sharia should be toned down, but I believe that modesty and humility and humbleness must remain a focal point in the religion. Ultimately it brings better character out of people in my opinion.

@plethora – With your comment stating, “Your question baffles me…” in reply I say, I do not believe in honor killings, it is contradictory to the moral of “Doing for others more than you do for yourself.” Also the possibility that you most likely live in a western nation only allows you to see a bad image of Islam. Most of things you see in your minds eye when you think of Islam is in my guess, from hollywood movies, no? If not, then please correct me. Also your statement that said, “Your reasons for discarding Christianity are exceedingly weak.”, in reply to this statement I will provide you with an example you may watch if you find the time at this link here. Keep in mind this is just one example. But again, I do concur that enlightened Islamic reform should take place soon in the future while holding true to the five values already stated above. Hope to get a response.

Issho

mattbrowne's avatar

@IsshoNi – I think enlightened Islam will become more widespread at some point in the future. But this could take another 20–30 years. When something really good will come out of the Egyptian revolution, chances to speed up this process will improve.

IsshoNi's avatar

@plethora – also two more examples here and here.

IsshoNi's avatar

@mattbrowne With the Egyptian revolution, it has spread to other nations. It’s only a matter of time before the Iranian youth try again and it will either succeed or fail. I just hope that America stays out of it. They need to do it on their own.

mattbrowne's avatar

@IsshoNi – But it makes sense to accept advice from the EU how to set up a democracy and what mechanisms you need to make it work. Especially the whole administration and election part. I hope the Iranian youth will succeed next time. No one will forget Neda Agha-Soltan.

IsshoNi's avatar

@mattbrowne – What astounds me is that EU is finally reforming their governments. No more social spending, requiring the citizens to depend on the government for their necessities. Yes, it is hard to accept such difficult change considering the generation is used to handouts, but in the end it will serve economies better, GDP positives, and so much more that I cannot think of right now. If the EU continues on the path it is going, I see positive things if they can influence the Eastern nations in the same matter. It’s too sad that America continues down the path towards a socialist nanny-state in my humble opinion. But yes you are right.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
mattbrowne's avatar

@IsshoNi – I’m not sure about your sources to describe social spending in the EU or the US, but my view is different. I think solidarity with the less fortunate is important. Inside the EU. Inside the US. But also on a global level. The Arab nations are the neighbors of the Europeans. If they ask for our support we should give it to them. And we need private investments on a massive scale. The new 1 gigawatt solar thermal plant in Morroco is a good start. We should build one in Tunisia and Egypt too. And in Libya when Gaddafi is gone, which is just a matter of time. And there are other opportunities as well. Like outsourcing software development. There are plenty of smart people in Cairo.

samah1987's avatar

I advise all those who have questions about the facts in the Quran to read it because a lot of facts confirmed by the scientists in this era such as the fact of how to configure the fetus and the fact existed of the heterogeneity of sea water, sweet and salty
Did wonder why Muslims fast
What is the benefit of the Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to sunset in one month of the year
Why Muslim women cover their hair and cover up her body
The story of the life of Muhammad
Why many people who have other religions converted to Islam….
many questions you must obtain their answers…

mattbrowne's avatar

No, @samah1987. The Quran is not a science book and it does not predict scientific discoveries. Take a look at this:

“Pervez Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani high energy physicist, has written exhaustively on the phenomenon of pseudoscience based on Quranic scripture in the Muslim world, ranging from claims that Einstein’s Theory of relativity proves the existence of heaven in Islam, to claims that, according to the Quran, nuclear energy comes from Genies. He observes that the prevalence of such pseudoscientific concepts has led to significant decline in scientific output from Muslims since the distant past. Hoodbhoy’s book “Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality”, provides more details about the rise of such kinds of pseudoscience promoted by Wahhabists such as claims of the Quran containing “scientific miracles” and the Islamic creationism of Harun Yahya.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_foreknowledge_in_sacred_texts#Qur'an

Response moderated (Spam)
Hibernate's avatar

So @IsshoNi what have you decided ?

plethora's avatar

@Qingu Take a look You really need a better knowledge of the Bible if you are going to act like an authority.

IsshoNi's avatar

I chose Islam

plethora's avatar

Hope you survive

Hibernate's avatar

He will but he will have to change a lot ^^

Be blessed.

flo's avatar

Maybe there is something for you in this
OP.

plethora's avatar

@flo Yeah, like maybe a review of his whole decision process and perhaps a change to a less disastrous path.

flo's avatar

@plethora that is not what I meant, I just wanted him to see if there is anything there.

flo's avatar

@plethora “You don’t need to be theist in order to be a ,,,” What goes in the blank?

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