manicstreetpreacher exposes the dishonesty, double-standards and hypocrisy of Christian “scholar”/ evangelical/ demagogue, Jay Smith, in light of his public speaking appearances. And takes a swipe at few former adversaries in the process.
That’s it!!!!! I’ve had enough and I just can’t TAKE IT ANY MORE!!!!! The Saturday, 30 May 2009 edition of Unbelievable? on Premier Christian Radio here was the fourth time I’ve heard Jay Smith speak and I can remain silent no longer. I HAVE to expose this man’s distortion, hypocrisy and double standards.
The previous three encounters were him giving a joint lecture with Andy Bannister (who I twice debated on Unbelievable? back in September ‘08), “The Historical Jesus –v- The Historical Mohammed” on the Bethinking website here, “Does Islam Oppress Women?” on Premier’s Unbelievable? here and an Unbelievable? special programme, “Up The Ladder In Hyde Park” here.
For those of you have not had yet had the pleasure, Smith is an American Christian apologist living in London and affiliated to London School Theology who is on a mission to convert all Muslims to Jesus. His method? Well, for starters, there’s going down to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park with a ladder, a soap box and his cronies in tow and screaming what is perilously close to flat-out abuse and bigotry about why there are no prominent Muslim scientists. And then there’s doing pseudo-academic lectures at his institution in which he applies wholly different standards of investigation and evidence than to he applies to his own religion.
In a nutshell, my argument is that Smith displays an extraordinary partition in his brain. In respect of Islam, he is most definitely an atheist. He judges the Qur’an at face value. When it says all non-believers will roast in Fire/ Hell/ Gehenna forever, that is precisely what it means. No allegories, no metaphors, no “scholarly” sophist interpretation.
When it comes to his own religion Christianity, however, he displays an inordinate level of irrationality. I know a psychologist who takes more than a passing interest in human religious behaviour. I forwarded him the above links to Jay’s appearances. He says he could write a PhD dissertation on what he’s heard.
Historicity of the sacred texts
Listening to Andy Bannister’s tedious segment on the historical Jesus on the bethinking lecture and debating him on the historicity of the Gospels on Unbelievable? myself here has helped to persuade me that theology and biblical scholarship are really not academic subjects at all. Rather like pondering the shape and colour of fairies’ wings, if you don’t accept the very existence of the first proposition – God or fairies – there’s no point carrying on; you are quite literally talking about the appearance and qualities of nothing.
Bannister’s nonsense about the “context” (surely his favourite word in the English language) of First Century Palestine, Jesus conforming to Second and Third Temple Judaism and the ignition of a “resurrection-shaped bomb” (?!) is exposed as precisely that next to Smith’s confident presentation of hard archaeological and scientific evidence which shows Islam as the man-made fabrication, plagiarised from the two preceding monotheisms.
I stress that I have not taken the time to research and verify Smith’s claims for myself; however, they are certainly the kinds of methods that I use in discrediting the claims of religion.
Scripture and morality
On the most recent Unbelievable? debate on Biblical inerrancy here, Smith stated that whilst he accepted the “problems” with the God of the Old Testament and the inherent barbarity of some of its passages, he said that the text must be judged as a whole rather than sceptics focusing on one area. In addition, we ought not to impose our 21st century viewpoints on what was happening in 1,400BC to understand fully what God was doing at that time.
Oh really? Perhaps our eminent “scholar” should take another listen to his lecture on Mohammed here, in particular c. the 75 minute mark where he discusses the following revelation regarding the Prophet’s family values:
The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with ‘Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).
– Hadith collection of Imam al-Bukhari
Smith states that whilst that would not be considered paedophilia at the time, this isn’t a model for mankind today. Rather like Abraham almost making a human sacrifice of his son Isaac? (Genesis 22) Or Moses ordering the slaughter the Midianite boys and the enslavement of the girls? (Numbers 31:13 – 18)
There is absolute no circular, unintelligible padding about “context” or “scholarship” or “the early Islamic movement”. It is a flat-out admonition of the text at its face value of exactly the type I as an atheist of all religions would make.
Similarly when he debated Mohamed Ali of the Islam Channel, he made similar face-value condemnations of the Qur’an’s treatment of women regarding how a woman inherits one third of what a man receives (4:11), how a man may beat his wife if he becomes angry with her (4:34) and how a man’s testimony is worth half of a man’s (2:282).
Whilst I didn’t necessarily disagree with what he was saying, there was no engagement with scholar discourses of the kind he surely would demand of an atheist when debating Christianity! In fact, I could have done that debate. All I needed to have done was print off What The Qur’an Says About Women’s Rights from The Skeptics Annotated Bible and take that into the studio!
This is makes me all the more incensed, since Smith’s partner in intellectual crime, Andy Bannister, criticised me in our second Unbelievable? debate, here, for using the SAB due to its lack of references to the “scholars”.
Well, I like to return the favour to both of them and remind everyone what the Bible has to say about women: The Skeptics Annotated Bible: What The Bible Says About Women’s Rights.
After listening to these two travesties, the words “pot” and “kettle” spring to mind. In fact, they are a disgrace. There, I’ve said it. I am tempted to say that Smith behaves like a schoolboy who’s found his father’s gun. However, I think discovery of aforementioned patriarch’s pornography collection is probably a more realistic description.
I suppose you’re thinking now I have sent off a vitriolic email to Justin Brierley (one of the few theists I have met who is unbiased, impartial, welcomes having his faith challenged and frankly, if he’ll leave my comments about the Catholic Church making itself a soft target and that religious war is a fight over who has the best imaginary friend in the show unedited here, he deserves a place in heaven if I turn out to be wrong) challenging Smith to a live debate?
Well, you’d be wrong. I have no argument with people like Smith. There is a growing list of apologists with whom I will never share a platform.
Andy Bannister and Rabbi Y Y Rubinstein, who I have debated myself, distorted my arguments, made petty ad hominems against my sources and even fabricated arguments and evidence for the sake of keeping their own flock happy. I have written pieces of my encounters with both of them respectively here and here.
I did receive replies from the two of them, but little of substance that actually tackled my arguments. Andrew, I’m still waiting for that lost Roman census that required the population to trek back to the home town of a distant relative…
David Robertson, whose pamphlet-style reply to Richard Dawkins, The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths was a pathetic cocktail of empty arguments and the kind of smug moral superiority that only Christians can pull off. I first heard Robertson debate The Atheist Blogger, Adrian Hayter, on Unbelievable? here and here, and his disgraceful tactics, particularly in relation to Darwin’s views on eugenics and the “Hitler and Stalin were both atheists!” card, made my blood boil. The frontispiece of Robertson’s book quotes some bile-laden replies from atheists on the RichardDawkins.net forum and I can well understand why he provokes such fierce reactions.
In my initial burst of anger after listening to the shows, I challenged Robertson to a live debate here. However, on further consideration, I withdraw this challenge. It would be pointless exercise.
The debate format is not well suited to discover the truth at the best of times and not just because of time constraints. As well as arguing a position, speakers also have a crowd to please; and the theist more than the atheist. My intended audience is simply those who are there to listen to the arguments and have an open mind. I’m not even out to impress my fellow secular-humanists. I have never deliberately misrepresented facts or made a straw man of my opponents’ positions. When I have made mistakes, I have gratefully accepted the subsequent rebukes and corrections of my audience.
I am concerned with one thing: The Truth. The religious apologists on the other hand have to keep their flock happy, not to mention Invisible Big Brother in the sky who just might send them and their family into Room 101 for all eternity after they depart this life if they slip up and let an atheist argument hit the bull’s-eye. With stakes that high, what’s a few sacrifices to the alter of intellectual honesty?
It is very difficult to debate someone who can produce “arguments” and “evidence” out of thin air. Public speaking is stressful enough; thinking on your feet in a verbal confrontation a million times more. Even if your opponent is honest and straight-arrowed, you will still encounter new arguments that you won’t be able to refute on the spot. I haven’t done a debate yet where I haven’t had to conduct substantial research post-debate. It is frustrating enough to have that feeling of “If only I’d known that at the time!” It is uttering infuriating to discover that your opponents argument was a made up load of tripe all along, voiced for the purpose of discrediting you and your sources in front of their followers, whilst preserving the reputation of their own religion.
Richard Dawkins has coined a special term for it: Lying for Jesus. These are the tactics that the above mentioned apologists employ, and I want nothing more to do with them.
Jay Smith is the latest addition to this list of hack apologists who I would not touch with a bargepole. There’s no point debating people like this. Let them spout their specious trash to their flocks. I have better things to do than argue with a brick wall, much less hit my head against one.
Tags: andy bannister, bible, christianity, david robertson, hadith, islam, Jay Smith, justin brierley, koran, london school of theology, premier christian radio, qu'ran, Religion, the dawkins letters, unbelievable, y y rubinstein