A long time ago, a Muslim challenged me to provide a forensic defense of the Gospels. He claimed that compared to Islam, the Gospels had no verifiable evidence of even the existence of Jesus. In fact, he, bluntly stated that evidence for the truth of the Gospels would be thrown out of court!
What to do? If anyone has ever read my articles, they will notice that I don't simply defend my faith. I also go on the offensive and seek to to find the errors in the beliefs of those who attack the Catholic Faith. After all, how does that saying go, "Don't throw stones if you live in a glass house." Something like that.
Well, I wondered, why would the Gospels be thrown out of court? What, in fact, are the conditions which render evidence invalid and inadmissible in a court of law? In other words, why is evidence ever thrown out of court? And, how about the evidence for Islam? How does it hold up to this criteria?
The first thing to remember is:
There are two types of evidence which are regularly judged inadmissible in a court of law. Anyone making a claim which is supported by this type of evidence is regularly thrown out of court. In other words, the court will not even consider their case.
These types of evidence are:
1. Hearsay - Evidence given by anyone other than by the person giving the testimony.
For example: Jane said that John took the marbles. Did you see John take the marbles? No. Then we need to talk to Jane and not to you.
2. Copies of maliciously destroyed originals
For example. Sir, did you bring the documents we asked for? No, but I jotted down some notes that summarize the documents. How will we know that until we can compare your notes to the actual documents?
Mohamed is the founder of the Islamic religion. In Mohamed's case, he says that an Angel appeared to him and said that he should write the Quran (the Islamic version of the Bible) and that the Angel told him what to write in the Quran. Therefore, all of Mohamed's case is based on the testimony of the Angel which no one else saw and no one else heard. According to Mohamed, the Angel himself was not speaking for himself but for Allah.
If Mohamed were to appear in a court of law today here is what I imagine the interchange would sound like:
Mohammed sir, is it true that an angel appeared to you with a message for mankind?
Sir, did anyone else see this angel?
Did anyone else hear the angel?
Can you bring the angel to court that we might hear the testimony for ourselves?
Mr. Mohammed, do you expect us to believe such an extraordinary claim without any evidence? Let me try a different tact. In the Bible, Moses was given a staff with which he could produce many miracles in order to prove the Divine source of his message to Pharoah. Mr. Mohammed, do YOU have any such miraculous signs which prove that an angel gave you a message?
Mr. Mohammed, there is not enough evidence here to warrant a case. Goodbye sir.
And that is how the case would end.
Copies of maliciously destroyed originals.
The second type of evidence that gets turned out of court regularly is a copy of an original document which was destroyed in order to prevent anyone from comparing the alleged copy to the original. In other words, a person destroys the original and substitutes the copy as evidence. If the copy was the duplicate of the original, and both were available, why not present the original?
This part of Islamic history is, well, unbelievable. But truth is sometimes, stranger than fiction. You be the judge.
Let me give you a bit of background in case you aren't familiar with Islamic history:
It turns out that Mohamed never did what he claimed he was instructed by the angel to do. He dictated the Quran in brief pieces called suras to various scribes. And the Scribes dutifully memorized or wrote down what Mohamed said. In the end however, Mohamed never compiled the Quran into a single book. Although Muslims claim that he edited the Quran, it seems unlikely since the Quran was never even in one place during his life.
So, when Mohamed died, Muslims began to dispute over who had the true Quran. They compared their memorized versions to the written versions. No match. They compared their written versions to other written versions. No match. Along comes a fellow named Uthman, he orders another fellow to compile the Quran but that fellow tries and is unsuccessful. Uthman makes a decision, he decides to BURN the originals and impose his own version of the Quran on Muslims.
If you don't believe me, here it is in their own words:
Hudhaifa was afraid of their (the people of Sham and Iraq) differences in the recitation of the Qur'an, so he said to Uthman, O Chief of the Believers! Save this nation before they differ about the Book (Qur'an) as Jews and the Christians did before. So Uthman sent amessage to Hafsa, saying, Send us the manuscripts of the Qur'an so that we may compile the Qur'anic materials in perfect copies and return the manuscripts to you. Hafsa sent It to Uthman. Uthman then ordered Zaid ibn Thabit, Abdullah bin az-Zubair, Sa'id bin al-As, and Abdur-Rahman bin Harith bin Hisham to rewrite the manuscripts in perfect copies. Uthman said to the three Quraishi men, In case you disagree with Zaid bin Thabit on any point in the Qur'an, then write it in the dialect of the Quraish as the Qur'an was revealed in their tongue. They did so, and when they had written many copies, Uthman returned the original manuscripts to Hafsa. Uthman sent to every Muslim province one copy of what they had copied, and ordered that all the other Qur'anic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies, be burnt. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, p.479).
What does that mean for us? Well, if that were to happen in court, the copy which is being substituted for the destroyed original would be unacceptable as evidence. Why? Because the original was destroyed in order to prevent it being put into evidence. Therefore, the copy which is now being provided in its place would be unacceptable.
Here is what I imagine the case for Uthman would sound like.
Mr. Uthman, I understand you have provided us a copy of the Quran.
Mr. Uthman, don't you have the original so that we can compare it to the copy and see how accurate it is.
Yes, but I have already compared it and I provided you the best copy.
Mr. Uthman, the court would like to decide for itself whether you have provided the best copy.
It is no longer available, I had it burned.
You had it burned?! Didn't you say this was the Word of God! Yet you had it burned? Pray, tell, why did you have it burned?
Because the copy I gave you is better than the original.
What!? Mr. Uthman, I suggest you leave this courtroom before I have you thrown in jail. Who in their right mind would destroy such an important document as the original revelation of God to mankind. Unless they didn't believe it was the actual revelation of God.
And, so, the Quranic version known as Uthman's rescension, the only Quran used by Muslims today, would be thrown out of any court as an inadmissible copy.
In summary, Mohamed's case would be thrown out of court for lack of evidence. Uthman's case would be thrown out of court for destruction of original evidence and substituting an inadmissible copy. The case for Islam would be summarily, thrown out of court.
The Case for the Gospels to follow.