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Missionaries et al. SINGLE PAGE

Introductory and General Information
  Missionary Christianity - A Muslim's Analysis
Author: Gary Miller
Article ID : MSS020001  [27446]  
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"Proof" is a very misused word. Proof refers to the establishment of a proposition. Proof withstands challenges and satisfies tests. But phrases such as "more proof", "better proof", or "stronger proof" are abuses of language or misunderstandings. "More proof" is a deceptive phrase that might lead us to believe that proof is measured and that people might have proofs of opposite things, but the winner is the one with more volume of proof. In this case proof has been confused with evidence. We may have another proof, but not more proof. When logicians speak of better proof, they are referring to something called elegance -a quality denoting clarity and simplicity. They do not refer to validity by this word. Proofs are either valid or invalid - or occasionally doubted by some until a more elegant version appears. The expression "stronger proof" describes not the proof but its assumptions. In general, the fewer the initial assumptions, the stronger the proof.

This brief explanation is intended to dispel the notion that proof depends on a man's ability to say a lot of things which sound plausible. It is content and quality, not appearance and quantity, that really matter. When the missionary produces his "proof" it can be shown to be unsatisfactory. He often concedes this fact but prefers the word "insufficient". He then claims that God can supply the insufficiencies. This raises three important points:

1) Proof is not the sort of thing that we can simply patch over the gaps with and then call it legitimate. In fact, any valid information contained in an unsatisfactory proof is unrelated to the conclusions that one has attempted to prove. For example, the apparent motion of the planets approximately fits the theory of epicycles which is part of the theory that puts the earth in the center of the universe. But the theory is false, which means the trajectories of the planets in no way support the idea that the earth stands stationary at the center of the universe.

2) When the Christian claims that God will "help one to believe" he argues in a small circle. His claim is based on his proof and his proof is based on his claim. The dialogue is something like this:

Christian: "I have proof."
Muslim: "But there are gaps in your argument."
Christian: "Ask God to help you believe."
Muslim: "Why should I?" (Claim based on proof.)
Christian: "Because of things I, have shown you."
Muslim: "But these things do not prove anything." (Proof based on claim.)

3) And finally, once again the Christian puts himself in a position where he must contradict his own behavior. When a preacher claims that he has proof for his beliefs, he should be talking about the kind of thing one man can give to another -the facts and arguments for his case. Instead, he admits that his belief is not built on evidence and analysis, but rests on the faith which God gave him! If faith is a gift from God then it is not something that one man can give another man. Missionary efforts would be more honest if it was stated that the Christian only intends to describe his religion and invite converts. But much of missionary literature suggests that Christian belief is built on the kind of evidence that could win a court case.


Actually the Christian has two views of "faith". Faith is said to be a gift of God, but there is another thought he expresses when confronted as in the last paragraph. Speaking from personal experience: We tell a man that his evidence will not stand a thorough examination and he hurls an accusation that we are stubborn. As mentioned already, he carelessly interprets historical accuracy in the Bible as proof that it speaks only the truth on every matter. Turning the confusion backwards, he then says that if we doubt any passage in the Bible, we must doubt every book of history. But history is not our opponent. We are opposed to a particular doctrine built on the interpretation of a very small collection of quotations of Jesus. But before we can make this point, the second view of faith occurs to him. "If all things could be proven, where is the merit in believing?", he asks. In other words, he does not want final proof. He feels that a pledge of loyalty - a bold leap into belief is actually the act that brings salvation. So having faith means an effort that brings reward and yet faith is a gift from God that we do not deserve. Resolving this irony is the Christian's business. Our point here is only "honesty in advertising" If the foundations of Christianity are loyalty to the interpretation of scripture, it should not be advertised that Christianity stands on that which has been established in clarity - i.e. proven explicitly.

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