Some time ago, I gave an exemplary rebuttal of a claim that A new relativistic interpretation of [some] Quranic relation gives [the speed of light] C=299792.5 km/s in an extremely marvellous agreement with the accepted international value. This astonishing result emphasises the unity of the physical world, the validity of the special theory of relativity and the authenticity of the Glorious Quran for unbelievers.
From how everything is phrased, in this summary and in many essays on this and other surprising claims in the Quran or the Bible, it is clearly visible that the real authority in these debates is with Science, not with the Quran or the Bible, and the arguments for the latter draw on the former like lame men supported by a youth.
With our energy put into refuting specific claims, we only provide fuel to the debate. Our opponents become stronger from competing with their wits against our arguments. Our energy feeds the opposition; the fire gets bigger instead of being quenched.
To use our energies efficiently, we rather need to provide answers for the underlying problem, namely the belief that formal proofs (instead of living proofs) validate spiritual truths, and that statements phrased in scientific-sounding language deserve most credibility. The real problem must be explicitly addressed:
I do not intend to write any other essays on refuting details in pseudo-scientific arguments. People not convinced by this one are unlikely to be convinced by any other since they are not looking for truth but for simplistic solutions. And it would be an endless task to reply to all the variations of this disease (see, for example, Mathematical Miracles). After one article has been refuted, others will spring up, just like the heads of the hydra fought by Hercules.
Hercules set off to hunt the nine-headed menace... First, Hercules lured the coily creature from the safety of its den by shooting flaming arrows at it. Once the hydra emerged, Hercules seized it. The monster was not so easily overcome, though, for it wound one of its coils around Hercules' foot and made it impossible for the hero to escape. With his club, Hercules attacked the many heads of the hydra, but as soon as he smashed one head, two more would burst forth in its place! ... Hercules called on Iolaus to help him out of this tricky situation.
Each time Hercules bashed one of the hydra's heads, Iolaus held a torch to the headless tendons of the neck. The flames prevented the growth of replacement heads, and finally, Hercules had the better of the beast. Once he had removed and destroyed the eight mortal heads, Hercules chopped off the ninth, immortal head. This he buried at the side of the road leading from Lerna to Elaeus, and for good measure, he covered it with a heavy rock.
It has been said that arguments based on formal methods that ``prove'' the divine origin of books like the Quran or the Bible form a serious challenge for an increasing number of people who will be deceived by it. Christian and Muslim organizations are spending big money on this issue.
Jesus said something about people who follow false leaders, quite without passion: ``Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.'' (Matth. 15:14) - Strangely, he seems not to care for their victims!
I think this teaches us something. We should use our time primarily for those who are unsatisfied with the answers they have, who notice that they need more than superficial proofs, who yearn for life. Jesus came for those who knew they were in need, not for those who thought they were healthy, Matth. 9:13. Jesus was selective in his mission work, and ordered his disciples to be selective. And although it saddened him, he knew that many are lost to his work (Luke 18:8). If we do mission unselectively, we waste our time, and might try to save the wrong ones (Ez. 13:19). Deceiving spirits may have been ordered by the Lord as a punishment to people (2 Chr. 18:18-22, Is. 3:4, Lam. 3:34) and He Himself is blinding people (Is. 6:9-10) so that they cannot see.
``My sheep will hear my voice, and will follow me'', says Jesus (John 10:27). It is enough that we speak the voice of Jesus, and those selected by the spirit to listen will listen. This is unconditional. And for the others, let us be patient. If they are called, they will wake up when the time is right (Matth. 13:24-30; Mark 4:26-29). I had been an atheist before God called me, and I know His powers to change people like me, not by argument, but by making me fail in life, and thus open for new directions.
We need not be afraid of Big Money. Big Money is able to catch only those whose heart is after the security of the world; and they are paid fairly by Their God since they get what they ask for.
In Ephesus there was Big Money, but they could not stop the good news (Acts 19:23-40). The Roman empire was very powerful, and yet their Gods, including Big Money, had to submit to Christ. Acts 3:6.
Big Money is not dangerous in the hands of others, it is dangerous only when we command it; the biggest sins of the Church were those done when it was most powerful in the worldly sense of the word. And the most inspiring Christians of the past did not care about money, not about their own and not even about the threat of that of their enemies.
Arnold Neumaier (Arnold.Neumaier@univie.ac.at)