The Status of Women According to Islam

The status of women in Islam is a subject enshrouded in controversy. According to many Muslims, Muhammad was a champion of women’s rights, bestowing upon the women in his community privileges and rights that they did not have previously. The notion that women in pre-Islamic Arabia had no rights, however, is demonstrably untrue. Former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi lists some of the rights that women had in pre-Islamic Arabia, which included ease of divorce, the ability to marry multiple men, and become overlords. Women were even able to propose for marriage, as in fact was the case with respect to Khadija’s marriage to Muhammad.

To outsiders, the hijab is often viewed as a symbol of oppression. Since April 2011, wearing of head coverings (including hijabs) in public places has even been outlawed in France. Muslims, by contrast, point out that the tradition of veiling and seclusion was present in pre-Islamic Arabia, and also Syria and Iran, since long prior to Muhammad, and was even seen as an emblem of social status, only affordable by women who didn’t need to work out in the fields. [Read more...]

The Big History Project

[Somebody's] Truth about the Universe and How You Fit into It

bighistoryIn the 1980s, David Christian, a 40-ish year-old professor of Russian history at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, became discontent teaching “just the history of one country.” “[N]ot really sure … in a sense, who I am,” he wanted to know about the history of humanity as a whole. “That question forced me back,” he said. “If you want to know about humanity, you have to ask about how humans evolved from primates.” His inquiry continued pressing backward until he was asking about the origins of the earth and then finally of the whole universe. He read widely, synthesized what he found into a course, and began teaching it as “Big History” in 1989.

Bill Gates later saw the DVD series and wanted to make it available to more people. He tracked down Christian and the two founded the Big History Project to disseminate Big History globally, beginning with high schools. The resulting 10-unit, 50-lesson course spanning 13.7 billion years of “universe history” went online in late 2013. The project is funded by Gates’s LLC, bgC3 (Bill Gates Catalyst 3), which is described as a think tank, incubator and venture capitalist firm.  [Read more...]

Who Are We? Personal Identity and The Walking Dead

The Season Four finale of The Walking Dead attracted 15.7million viewers, 10.2 million of whom were in the 18-49 imagesdemographic, shattering the previous records  (the Game of Thrones season finale garned 5.4 million; Duck Dynasty reached 6 million; Breaking Bad’s Season Four finale recorded just under 2 million, and the final show of the entire series hit 10.3 million).

 In other words, The Walking Dead is a cultural phenomenon. A lot of people are turned off by the gore (and it’s certainly gruesome), but The Walking Dead offers a gold mine of philosophical, moral, religious, and cultural talking points. I’ve written elsewhere about these issues (see links at the end). What caught my attention at the end of Season Four was the way in which Carl brought up one of the most important questions of all.

Michonne, Rick, and Carl are walking toward Terminus, a fabled place of sanctuary and rest in the midst of the apocalypse. As they get closer, Carl asks, “Will we tell them what we did?” Rick responds, “We’ll tell them who we are.” And Carl asks the right question in response: “Who are we?” [Read more...]

What Did the Disciples See?

 

Introduction

When it comes to the Christian faith, there is no doctrine more important than the resurrection of Jesus. Biblical faith is not simply centered in ethical and religious teachings. Instead, it is founded on the person and work of Jesus. If Jesus was not raised from the dead, we as His followers are still dead in our sins (1Cor.15:7). Explanations try to show how something happened. That is, what is the cause for something that has happened. As I have noted elsewhere, the resurrection story started very, very, early. Also, there is an excellent post on the empty tomb issue over at Wintery Knight’s blog.

Anyway, let’s take a look at what explains the resurrection appearances. First, let’s observe the list of appearances:

• Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, shortly after his resurrection (Mark 16:9; John 20:11-18)
• Jesus appears to the women returning from the empty tomb (Matthew 28:8-10)
• Jesus appears to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12,13; Luke 24:13-35)
• Jesus appears to Peter ( Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5)
• Jesus appears to his disciples, in Jerusalem. (Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:36-49; John 20:19-23).
• Jesus again appears to his disciples, in Jerusalem. At this time Thomas is present (John 20:24-29).
• Jesus appears to his disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 28:16; John 21:1,2)
• Jesus is seen by 500 believers at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6)
• Jesus appears to James ( 1 Corinthians 15:7)
• Jesus appears to his disciples on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20).
• He appeared to his disciples (Luke 24:50-53).
• He appeared to Paul on the Damascus road (Acts 9:3-6; 1 Corinthians 15:8).

I will go ahead and offer some comments from various scholars and what they say about the appearances and the experiences of the disciples: [Read more...]

Answering An Islamic Objection: The Justice of Penal Substitution

Frequently, in dialogues with Muslim polemicists, one will encounter the charge against Christianity that the doctrine of penal substitution is unjust. How, after all, can the blame of all humanity be laid on an innocent? How can an innocent be made to carry the burdens of mankind? In this article, I want to offer a responses to this objection. [Read more...]