From firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremiah McAuliffe) Newsgroups: soc.religion.islam,alt.religion.islam Subject: Geisler-Saleeb Anti-Islam Book, Part 1 (2/3) Date: 1996/8/31 Message-Id: <email@example.com> p. 135 Geisler sees a "basic philosophical problem" with Islamic monotheism in that "in the final analysis... God had no (knowable) essence or nature from which one can distinguish his three persons (centers of consciousness)." An extremely odd sentence in that Christianity also says this. To my recollection, in Christian theology-- going back at least to Augustine or Aquinas, if not further to the Desert Fathers-- the concept of the "Godhead"-- the unknowable, completely Transcendent nature of God-- has been discussed and fully accepted. Hasn't Geisler read the classics? Hasn't he read John of the Cross's "Dark Night of the Soul"? The Anonymous monk's "Cloud of Unknowing"? Hasn't he ever studied the Christian idea of the via negativa? One has to laugh! He doesn't even seem to know his own tradition. In addition, note the introduction of the trinitarian monotheism here. Geisler is assuming three "centers of consciousness" in the Godhead-- not proving it over and against our tawheedian monotheism. Geisler seems to forget that the essence of the trinity is not "knowable" in the sense he is using here-- it is a Mystery hidden in the Godhead. In Christianity, the trinity is not known in an empirical fashion, but as an article of faith. How disingenuous and manipulative of him to present it as something akin to an empirical fact. He continues with a positive statement about God-- supposedly held by us-- with no support whatsoever: "God is absolute Will". He will continue to attribute this to the Muslim understanding of God. Of course, there is no Qur'anic basis for this, and no Muslim would say it. Oh! Except perhaps for the rejected Mu'atizilites. We only append the 99 Names to any statement about what "God is..." "God is Will" is not one of these Names or Attributes. This is especially bizarre in that one of the variations of the 99 Names/Attributes list is included in the "intro to Islam" part of the book. Didn't Geisler read it before starting to write? He writes that we believe God to be One from both revelation and reason. Wrong. We know it from revelation alone. Reason cannot penetrate God. We know only what has been revealed to us. We rejected long ago the type of speculative philosophy and theology that would provide a "reason" for us to say such a thing. (At least not "reason" as he is using it here.) Geisler goes on to engage in speculative philosophy about God without even touching on the issue whether such speculation is valid or invalid, much less bringing in Muslim discussion on the issue, which he would have to do before he uses such speculative philosophy in an effort to refute Islam. And then who does he use to support his arguments? He says that we Muslims agree with Polotinus and the neo-Platonists! Do I really need to spell out the problems with *that*???? I should hope not! He writes: "Hence, by the very nature of its philosophical commitment to a kind of Plotinianism prevalent throughout the Middle Ages, Islamic thought about God was solidified in an irretractably solitary form of monotheism that allowed no form of trinitarianism."
No Mr. Geisler, our dabbling with Hellenistic philosophy during the Middle Ages was a gaseous burp in our collective historical encounter with the Qur'an. It was during the Qur'anic revelation that tawheedian monotheism solidified, or rather, was corrected in light of Christian abandonment of tawheed. (Do you see Geisler's intellectual manipulation here?) This argument-that we say "God is Will" (we would never say such a thing-- is it in the Qur'an? No! We follow "God is..." with the 99 Names.) and his problem with our profound and devout respect for God's Transcendence (unknowable essence) continues into the next page. Y'see, we've only looked at two pages, and already all these problems. And this is a surface analysis. We only have about two hundred more pages to go. Geisler himself is a neo-Platonist or neo-Thomist as shown by his outdated talk of "essence"-- such a Platonic (actually probably more Aristotelian) philosophical concern has been questioned as to its validity at least since Kant, and perhaps even earlier, but my history of philosophy is very rusty. Let's just say that many *real* academics would laugh at him for this. And, it gets him in big trouble on pp 136-137. When we want to talk about "essence" as it pertains to God we are talking about how we "know" God. A sticky issue to be sure! But Geisler just moves blithely along and fails to even recognize the problems inherent in this topic on the foundational level of assumptions and presuppositions pertaining to the topic of the "essence of God". (It gets into this dynamic: We have to talk about God, and yet God, by definition, cannot be contained in our language-God is wholly Transcendent to anything in human experience. Yet, there must still be some correlation between what we say about God and the reality of God for our theology to have any real meaning. Of course, there is a strong strain in philosophy, i.e. the positivists, that argues precisely that all talk about God is in fact meaningless. These issues are intimately related to the understanding of God's self-revelation itself. What is revelation? What is its relation to human knowledge? etc. Geisler never raises the issue of Christian/Muslim theology of revelation, which he should have done to be legit and provide at least a semblance of validity to his refutation of Islam.) In addition, he uses talk of "essence" with a steamroller technique. This philosophical topic is complicated, to say the least, but he spews it out in such a manner that most people will see it only as gobbledy-gook. Lots of complicated issues crammed into a few paragraphs. This is his "university professor arguing with a five-year-old" technique. There is no effort to even establish the validity of using such outdated terms and approaches to the issue. Most people would never be able to comprehend exactly what he is talking about here-the saying "if you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with bullshit" comes to mind here. (MODS on SRI: please let this cliché pass, there is no substitute for it.) Jeremiah McAuliffefirstname.lastname@example.org *************************************** Visit Dr. Jihad's! Page 'O Heavy Issues http://www.city-net.com/~alimhaq/miaha.html *************************************** WOW! Major Upgrade Comin' Soon!
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