Blog Items (2625)
Hello. This is for my friends who are Jehovah's Witnesses. I"ve met a number of them in America and in Britain and in other countries, and they"ve come to my door several times. And we spent time together, sometimes hours.
In my youth I had a friend named Buster Rothman. He was a Jewish man with a fascination with the Bible, an incredibly interesting person. And Buster had a radio program in the heyday of radio before there was television; he was a remarkable man. But he was the first person who introduced me to Jehovah's Witness. He used to go to their meetings although he never became one. He brought me along to their meetings and so I went and I listened. I listened with an open mind because I was seeking religious truth. I was seeking meaning, so I went with my friend Buster in New Jersey but this rightly in New York City. And today not far from there there"s a movie theater taken over in Jersey City, New Jersey by the Jehovah's Witnesses and they have tours of the theater. I used to go to the movies in that theater at Journal Square as a kid. This is, of course, right across the river from New York City â€“ Manhattan.
I had a lot of exposure to Jehovah's Witnesses in those days, and Â I began reading the Watchtower, and I read Awake magazine, and I went back and read their earlier publications like Millennial Dawn and studies in Scripture by Pastor Russell. In fact I"ve even been to Pastor Russell"s grave in Pittsburgh, not that that means anything, but that's where the Jehovah's Witnesses began as the Dawn Bible Society back in the late 1800"s. I was really interested in this organization because they claimed to be the one organization in the world that is only based on the Bible, and therefore they are Jehovah"s organization, the only one based only on the Bible, the others were all corrupt. That's what the Jehovah's Witnesses believed, that's what they told me that they believed, and so I began to go with my friend Buster Rothman and I began to listen. And we would talk about it and I'd read Watchtowers, I"d read Awake magazine, I"d spend time talking to them, and over the years I had various other encounters.
Moriel P.O. Box 201 Maidenhead SL69FB
Write me, email me, Â please answer these questions. I think it's fair to say that I"m somebody who does believe the Bible is the Word of God, I"m somebody who does believe Jehovah is God, and I"m somebody who wants to know the truth. And the person who directed you here is the same; we only want to know the truth.
Now I"ve studied your claims, I've read your literature, and I've read the Scriptures. I have something of an advantage: Although my background was science, I did learn how to read Greek and Hebrew. In fact, my family is Israeli â€“ I can speak Hebrew.
If you can really explain to me why you believe and why I should believe that the Sun is inhabited by these Quaker-like people, I want to know. Please let me know.
Let me know how Satan can be the half-brother of Jesus if God has only one â€œonly begotten" Son. I really want to know this.
Let me know how you can believe a book translated by Joseph Smith when in fact that"s not what the book says.
Let me know how you can achieve sinless perfection.
Now I just want to leave you with two things. I've asked you five questions I hope you will try to answer for me. I'll get back to you, but I want to tell you first of all about another doctrine of atonement and about how you can fulfill the â€œcelestial law" as you call it. The doctrine of atonement of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with the doctrine of atonement as taught by Brigham Young and the â€œChurch" of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His doctrine was Adam was not God, Jesus was God, and He was the â€œlast Adam"; He became a man and went to the cross and in my place and in yours; and He was the substitutionary atonement for our sin; that by putting my faith in Him I am justified even though I am guilty. He rose from the dead to give me eternal life; He atoned for my sin; that is the doctrine of atonement of the New Testament. It has no resemblance to the doctrine of atonement as taught by Brigham Young.
Secondly, how can I reach sinless perfection? How can you be counted 100% sinless? There"s only one way â€“ â€œimputed righteousness": I have no righteousness of my own. When Jesus took my sin on the cross He gave me His righteousness. I can only be counted righteous according to the righteousness of God in Christ. I'm as guilty as anybody, but God counts me as having been righteous and having kept His perfect Law because His Son did it on my behalf. He gave me His righteousness; it"s imputed, it"s not earned, I can"t earn it and neither can you.
There is a doctrine of atonement and there is indeed a Law of God that requires freedom from sin and sinfulness, but I cannot see how theBook of Mormon can fulfill either one; I see how the New Testament fulfills both.
I"m willing to talk to you. I"m willing to hear what you have to say, I"m willing to answer your questions about my doctrine of atonement and my view of the Law of God, are you willing to answer the five questions that I've asked you?
God bless you and thank you.
I have a fifth and final question. Your religion teaches there are three heavens, as it were: The â€œtelestial", the â€œterrestial", and the â€œcelestial". Those who are Christians but are not Mormons will be in the terrestrial; those who are not even that will be in the telestial, as it were, condemned; but those who follow the teachings of the Church of Latter-day Saints will be in the celestial kingdom. But to arrive in the celestial kingdom you must keep the celestial law, which requires perfection â€“ sinless perfection. Not only utter sanctification, but something beyond that because according to the celestial law once you achieve it, if you sin, all your other merits of everything you've accomplished are counted null and void. This â€œperfection" â€“ how can you get this perfection?
Can you find me a single Mormon â€“ a bishop, a priest, I don"t care who he is â€“ one who has never sinned as a Mormon? The New Testament says all have sinned, all fall short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23) If we say we haven't. we are a liar according to First John. (1 Jn. 1:10) Can you show me one who has achieved this? Because in order to enter the celestial kingdom you must achieve it. Now the New Testament says no one has ever achieved such a standard except Christ. Are you sure you are without any sin when the Scriptures say allhave sinned, all full short of the glory of God? â€œNone is righteous, no not one." (Rom. 3:10) Are you sure that you"re the exception, that you"ve kept the celestial law? How can you be assured of salvation? That"s an important question.
I am told that Mormonism stresses family values and morality, and that its prophets and revelators like Mr. Hinckley have a direct relationship with God that others don't have. If you remember The Salamander Text, the Mormon letters, Mr. Hinckley said they were authentic from Joseph Smith. They were proven to be forgeries and a Mormon began blowing people up with terrorist bombings to try to cover it up. Why was Mr. Hinckley wrong if the texts really were from God via Joseph Smith?
I'm looking at Utah, I have been there. I know that the Mormons strongly stress family values, family and morality, raising your children to be godly. Can you tell me, please, why of the 50 American states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia the highest suicide rate among teenagers is in Utah where 70% of the population are Mormon? What could devastate a family more than the suicide of a child, of a teenager? If your family values are so strong, can you account for the suicide rate, can you account for the reason why the highest divorce rate in America â€“ a country riddled, rife with divorce â€“ is in Mormon Utah? The Church of Latter-day Saints professes a higher degree and standard of morality than others. I'm willing to listen; show me the proof. Divorce, suicide? There"s a problem.
We both know there are many people who are simply what you call â€œJack Mormons". It is their culture. They write â€œLDS" â€“ Latter-day Saints after their name to get a job or to keep one in Utah and certain Western American states but they really don't believe it. And they"re made out to be bad Mormons. Are they bad Mormons because they don"t believe there"s Quakers living on the moon? Are they bad Mormons because they don"t believe black people are ugly, depraved, and mischievous and you should be shot if you marry one of them? Are they really bad Mormons because they believe in the scientific evidence of mitochondrial DNA which is conclusive? Does that make somebody a bad Mormon? Or is a bad Mormon somebody who gets divorced or takes their own life as a child? Is a bad Mormon somebody who practices racism? Is that a bad Mormon? I only want to know. Do you really believe this?
How Can Jesus Be the Half-Brother of Satan?
And reading The Book of Mormon, I"m brought to one other question. I"m told that Jesus is the half-brother of Satan and that Adam was God. As man is God was, and as God is man shall become. That is the fundamental tenet of Mormonism. Adam was God. (The book of Genesis says that Adam was created by God.) And that Jesus is the half-brother of Satan. Satan wanted to rule the world by force, Jesus wanted to rule it by love, and the angels who wouldn"t take sides were cast down and they became the black people. That's your religion"s teaching.
The Greek word is â€œmonogenes". It doesn"t mean â€œonly born", â€œonly begotten" in the sense of â€œmonogenes" means â€œonly of a kind". If Jesus is the â€œonly begotten" Son of God, the only â€œmonogenes", how can Satan be his half-brother if He's the only one? Can you please answer me how can Satan be the half-brother of Jesus if Jesus is the â€œonly begotten"? No one has so far been able to answer that question for me from your religion. Can you answer it? How can He be the half-brother of Satan if He"s the â€œonly begotten"?
But I have yet another question for my Mormon friends. The question is on Brigham Young's doctrine of atonement. Brigham Young's doctrine of atonement said that the doctrine of atonement cannot be changed. Now don't get me wrong. I agree with mainstream Mormons that the fundamentalist Mormons, the Temple Lot Mormons and the other ones, are bizarre in what they believe and say and do. However, in reading the original writings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, they do seem to be the true Mormons â€“ the bigamists and the polygamists. They are actually doing what Brigham Young did. Brigham Young had 23 wives thereabout?
When I met these fundamental Mormons in Manti, Utah, one had 8 wives. He walked up the street with them â€“ completely illegal in that state â€“ and I wondered what kind of a woman would share her husband with 7 other women. I discovered what kind would: An underage women from a fundamentalist Mormon family herself. They were engaging in acts that were legally considered pedophilia by the mainstream Mormons. When they were challenged â€“ not by me but by other Mormons, the other Mormons challenged them â€“ they said, â€œWhat are we doing that Brigham Young didn't do?" That was a fair question. But my concern was not their bigamy or their polygamy â€“ some even had polyany, multiple husbands â€“ my concern was the doctrine of atonement.
Bigamy and polygamy were outlawed after the leadership of the Church of Latter-day Saints said they had a new revelation and they shouldn't do it anymore at a time when the institution of bigamy and polygamy was preventing Utah from becoming a state in the United States. It"d only been a territory after it tried to become an independent republic and the military came and there was a war â€“ a shoot-out. So all of the sudden now it became monogamous. In the 1960"s when the civil rights movement came along, all of a sudden black people could now be Mormon priests. Previously they couldn't. It seems they have a revelation at convenient times in history when the social pressures, or political ones â€“ legal ones, demand it. But the doctrine of atonement was one that your Brigham Young said could not be changed.
Do you really believe as Mormonism teaches, that black people are the descendents of fallen angels cast out of heaven? And do you believe what Brigham Young said in the doctrine of atonement, that black people are ugly, mischievous, depraved, of low intelligence (and a number of other things too rude to mention), and that any Mormon who marries one must be killed, and this doctrine of atonement cannot be changed? Black people are ugly, mischievous, depraved, etc. and by â€œblack" not only people of African descent, anybody that"s dark-skinned, and any Mormon who marries one must be killed. That is the Mormon doctrine of atonement. Brigham Young said it, you believe it, that settles it?
Do you really believe he was right? Do you believe black people are the descendants of angels cast out of heaven because they wouldn't choose between Christ and Satan? Do you really believe that there"s something wrong with them inherently, that they"re ugly, mischievous, depraved, and that if a Mormon marries one they should be killed? Brigham Young said this doctrine can never be changed. Well if he said it, that should settle it, you should believe it. Do you really believe it? Is that settled in your mind? And do you really think I should believe it? Do you really believe the doctrine of atonement and do you really think that I should believe it? That is my question. I think it's a fair one and a necessary one.
So far I"m asking you when mitochondrial DNA says â€œno Lamanites", Middle Eastern Semitic or Jewish origin, rather the anthropological origins are from Siberia of North American and Central and South American Indians, and your own scientists admit it, if they don't believe then why should I and why should you? That's my first question.
My second question is reading things in The Journal of Discourses that I"ve only given you one example of something that seemed strange, do you really believe there"s Quakers on the moon and on the Sun, and do you really expect me to believe it? Do you really, really expect me to believe a funeral rite mistranslated into something else by Joseph Smith, that has no relation to what it actually says in the Bible. The Bible is specific about nations, kingdoms and when the archeologists have dug â€“ and I"ve lived in Israel for a number of years â€“ they have found these cities, many of them. They"ve found Meggido, they"ve found Timnah, they found Tel-Hazor where the Bible says they were, and they find coins. Where is one single coin from any of these ancient civilizations given the fact that the coins of these ancient American civilizations are named in the Book of Mormon; where are they? The pre-Columbian history department of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, the national museum of the United States, says there is no, absolutely no, archaeological evidence for the claim of the Book of Mormon. But I"m expected to believe it. Please tell me why. The archeological record supports the Bible.
Now I know the Book of Mormon is written in the language of the King James Bible, only the King James Bible is a translation of Greek and Hebrew. In fact, it"s a translation of a translation. What language is the King James? It"s 17th Century English. It"s not the original. TheBook of Mormon is made to look like the King James and that kind of language. but where is the evidence?
But I have a second question. I"ve read a number of Mormon books: The Pearl of Great Price, The Book of Moses, and The Book of Abraham, which the Mormons claim to be divine revelation. However, Egyptologists â€“ people who can read hieroglyphics in Britain and America and as well as in France have looked at this book which Joseph Smith claimed he was given wisdom how to translate. So we have Joseph Smith's translation of it, but we also have the original of it which he acquired somehow. (There are different stories as to how.) Every Egyptologist who has read it says it is an ancient funeral rite and has nothing whatsoever vaguely resembling Joseph Smith's translation of it.
I can read Greek well enough to tell which translations of the New Testament are accurate and which ones are not so accurate. I can read Hebrew well enough to tell which translations of the Old Testament are accurate and which ones are inaccurate. I can read Spanish well enough to tell which translation of the El Cid or Don Quixote are accurate and which one isn"t. I can read French well enough to tell which translations or Voltaire"s Candide are good and which ones aren't. I"m not a linguist, I"m not a language expert, but I can speak a few languages and read a few languages, and I can tell what's accurate; at least basically accurate, and what isn"t. Some languages I do better than others, but these are Egyptologists. These are people who don't make mistakes. The most they would have are discrepancies in professional opinion, but they would still agree on one thing: Joseph Smith"s mistranslation is completely bogus; it's about a funeral rite. How can you believe it? But more to the point, how can you expect others to believe it?
Whenever I have shown this to Mormons they could not really respond except with their testimony because Mormons have said their testimony is supposed to be irrefutable, words to the effect that quote/unquote, â€œYou have a burning in your bosom and you testified to me that the Church of Latter-day Saints is true". Does the burning in your bosom testify to you that a funeral rite is what Joseph Smith mistranslated it as? Does the burning in your bosom really testify to you that the microbiologists are wrong including your own? It's a fair question.
You know, you can find Islamic terrorists who will commit suicide in what they call a â€œJihad". We can argue with them saying it's not rational. They can give you a subjective argument, â€œI believe it is". I once saw a Buddhist monk on television in Saigon pour kerosene on his head and light a match. He was about the most sincere man I ever saw in my life. You can be sincere and be sincerely wrong. Other religions would say the same thing, they have a burning in their bosom and they testify to you that the Tibetan Book of the Dead is true, or the Bhagavad-Gita is true, or the Quran is true, but does that make it true because someone claims to have a burning in their bosom, or indeed may have a burning in their bosom? I don't believe someone would immolate themselves if they did not have a burning in their bosom.
When I was in Manti, Utah I saw people from the Church of Latter-day Saints all wearing T-shirts and sweatshirts. Printed on these shirts was the following statement: â€œBrigham Young said it, I believe it, that settles it," So because he said it, you believe it, and that settles it. So I decided to see what it was he said that they believe and the matter is settled.
I was reading through The Journal of Discourses of Brigham Young. One of the most interesting things I found were in volume 17 of The Journal of Discourses of Brigham Young, where Joseph Smith is cited as having said there were Quakers who lived on the moon. They dressed like Quakers and lived to be 1,000 years old. Brigham Young not only affirmed this, but said that there are such people also residing on the Sun. You people are not stupid or uneducated, deal with the issue. Brigham Young said it? You believe it? That settles it? Do you really believe there"s Quakers living on the moon? Do you really believe there are people just like Quakers who live to be 1,000 years old who reside on the Sun? He said it, do you believe it? Does that really settle it? That"s my question, do you really believe that and do you really expect me to believe that?
Personally I find it very, very difficult to believe that there are people living on the Sun dressed like Quakers living to be 1,000 years old. Please tell me why I should believe it. Many of you people are educated, you"ve been to Brigham Young University, some of you have postgraduate educations, you seem clean-cut, nice, honest people â€“ if you are, that is my question. How can you believe it and how can you expect me to believe it? I'm not mocking you, I'm not mocking your religion, I simply am wanting to know about its credibility, its believability.
Now don't get me wrong. If there"s really Quakers on the moon I will want to believe it, but I don't think there is. Your religion says because Brigham Young said there is there must be and that settles it. Well it settles it for you, but if it settles it for you can you show me why it should be settled for me? Do you really believe it and do you really think it is plausible for other people to believe it? It"s an honest question in The Journal of Discourses.
The first question I have is this: In my youth I studied biomedical science and something has developed now that was in its sub-infancy when I was a student. It is mitochondrial DNA which no one was sure even existed until fairly recently. It is not in the nucleus. When I was in university we were told there was RNA, but not deoxyribonucleic acid in the cytoplasm, it was all in the nucleus; only RNA was known to be in the cytoplasm. People began to speculate that you could have in the mitochondria of cells, mitochondria like the power houses of the cells where the work is actually done, the biochemical level, it"s where metabolism takes place for the most part, we have a form of DNA that is non-mutative because it does not go through the nucleus. And it will go from generation to generation to generation as long as you get a good strand.
The Book of Mormon has the fundamental teaching of two ancient Jewish tribes arriving, one about 600 B.C., in North America or Central America. They had a war â€“ Nephi and the tribe that became known as the Lamanites â€“ and the Lamanites won. The sinful tribe had won. And God punished them for their sin by darkening their complexion, making it reddish â€“ red Indians. Yet they defeated the tribe who"d been faithful, for some reason, so the book of Mormon tells us. This is fundamental to their beliefs. When Jesus said, â€œI have other sheep not of this fold", (Jn. 10:16) He came to North American Indians.
Anthropologists, however, have long speculated that North American Indians were people who crossed the Bering Straits from Siberia. They were Asians who came from Siberia down via Alaska, Canada, and into North America, and from there to Central and South America. Some people like Thor Heyerdahl tried to prove they could have crossed the Atlantic, but essentially the anthropologists disagreed.
One of the benefits of mitochondrial DNA is its capacity to conclusively prove ancestry. There were a number of Mormon scientists, specifically microbiologists and biochemists, who were well-versed in biogenetic engineering who are interviewed on a video I watched about DNA and the Book of Mormon. Some of them had been apologists or advisors to the Mormon apologetics society called â€œFARMS" at Brigham Young University, but these were Ph.D. scientists, all Mormon. And they were interviewed and they looked at the evidence independently. These Mormon scientists said the following: â€œMitochondrial DNA absolutely and conclusively proves from all the specimens taken all over Canada, North America, United States, Central and South America from dozens of Indian tribes that these people have the same mitochondrial DNA as people from Siberia."
There is nothing in common with Semitic DNA. We can look at Jewish DNA, we can look at Sephardic-Jewish DNA, Yemanite-Jewish DNA, we can even look at Arab DNA, Persian DNA, other Semitic DNA, but the mitochondrial structures are different. The nucleotides just don"t add up, The sequence is completely â€“ completely â€“ of another strain of people. Racially and ethnically it cannot be the case. And these Mormon scientists said on the basis of the mitochondrial DNA evidence that they can no longer accept the Book of Mormon as factually true in its historicity. Some of them work with mitochondrial DNA in their own secular work all the time. A few of them have been honest enough to say there have always been questions about the personal honesty of Joseph Smith, who of course was accused of being a swindler and was killed in the aftermath of an alleged swindle in America back in the 19th Century.
My question to you, my friend â€“ and I'm speaking to you as a friend, not as an enemy â€“ if Mormon scientists, if Latter-day Saints scientists â€“ some of them from Brigham Young University â€“ people who are involved actively in microbiology about biogenetic engineering have considered the mitochondrial DNA evidence and have arrived at the same conclusion as non-Mormon microbiologists, that the anthropologists are proven right and vindicated, that North American Indians cannot be from an ancient Semitic people who were Jewish who were called â€œLamanites", but in fact are descended from the same people who presently inhabit Siberia, how can you expect me to believe the Book of Mormon when your own scientists say its credibility has been made into Swiss cheese?
That's my question. The belief that the Lamanites were ancient Jews and there were people arriving about 600 B.C., how can you possibly say that is correct when the mitochondrial DNA says otherwise and your own scientists â€“ Ph.D. scientists â€“ so acknowledge it? It"s a fair question, the believability, the plausibility of the fundamental premise of the Book of Mormon.
You claim to be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Let"s see what the last thing Jesus Christ said in the New Testament because as Mormons, of course, you believe in the King James Bible. The last thing Jesus said in the book of Revelation 22 is that anyone who adds to this book, God will add to them the plagues that are in the book. (Rev. 22:18) Now that does not only apply to the book of Revelation, Moses was told the same thing â€“ â€œDo not add to the words". (Dt. 4:2) First Corinthians 4:6 says the same thing, â€œDo not exceed what is written" in the Judeo-Christian Bible. And of course in Matthew 15, Jesus said the same thing, â€œDo not teach other doctrine other than what"s there, they"re the inventions of men". (Mt. 15:1-14)
The Book of Mormon must add to the New and Old Testaments in order for the Church of Latter-day Saints to exist. And fundamental to it, it claims this story of the Lamanites being ancient Hebrews. But your own scientists say otherwise. Please answer my question: How can you expect me to believe something your own scientists do not?
Hello, friends, my name is Jacob Prasch and I have met a number of Mormons. I have attended the â€œMiracle of Mormonism" pageant in Manti, Utah where I met mainstream Mormons and I met fundamentalism Mormons â€“ polygamists, bigamists. I've met Mormons in Great Britain, I"ve met Mormons in Italy, I"ve met Mormons in Israel, an extension of Brigham Young University. I have talked to Mormon clergy. And I know how anxious Mormons are to see people convert to Mormonism, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they call it. They"re anxious in their missionary zeal to establish new â€œstakes", as you call them, new stakes and to see the beliefs of Mormonism extend and perpetuate.
When anyone comes to me trying to persuade me to believe in a religion, I always examine it carefully and prayerfully, and I look at it and I consider their claims with a fair and open mind. And Mormonism is no different. I considered your religion with a fair and open mind and I have actually investigated it. I have read, I"ve talked to Mormons, I"ve read what the Mormons have told me in light of the Judeo-Christian Bible, and in my interest to pursue the truth and to find out if the Church of Latter-day Saints is true, I"ve made some discoveries from a variety of sources including your own literature â€“ especially your own literature â€“ and as a result of this I have some serious questions.
The person who directed you here is also interested in having these questions answered. We felt it"s right to give you as a Mormon the opportunity to answer for yourself.
Are you one nation, one people, or are you a divided nation and a divided people who needs a common enemy to create the illusion? Are you really a nation of peace and tolerance? Then why will you not give the same freedom to Christians and Jews that you demand here? You can build your mosques wherever you want. Why can't we build one church in Saudi Arabia or Iran, let alone a synagogue? If you"re a religion of peace and tolerance, why do you still allow slavery of children and blacks, even though you call it by another name? If you're a nation of peace and tolerance, why do your scholars have to come to France, Britain, and America to publish? If Allah is giving you the victory in the Jihad, how come He"s not giving it to you? How come the God of Israel has given it to them? In the schism between the Sunni and Shi"a it was said Allah would determine who he favors on the battlefield. So then, by the standards of Islam, God has favored the Jews. Why is it that the West had to liberate Kuwait? You have no Ummah, you have no Salim, you have no victory in Jihad. But the real question is, do you have salvation?
One of the pillars of Islam as you know is â€œInsha"Allah" â€“ everything that happens whether good or bad is Allah"s will. There is no assurance of salvation. And salvation is obtained by submission to Allah"s will as defined in the Quran. But given the fact that there are so many things in the Quran which cannot possibly be true logically and reasonably, given the fact that the teachings of Islam have not been able to produce the freedom and prosperity that exist in the West, let alone the peace or the justice, how can you be sure it can give salvation?
Moriel P.O. Box 201 Maidenhead SL69FB
I invite you to write me, explain Mohammed"s marriage to Ayesha, explain the Islamic position on slavery and women, explain the findings of your Orientalists, explain why there is no Ummah, no victory in your Jihad. If you can"t answer those questions, how can you be sure Islam can give you salvation?
I"ve considered the claims of your religion. please consider the claims of Jesus. In John 5:24 He saysâ€¦
â€œTruly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
He"s promising eternal life if you really believe that He died for your sins, to pay the price for what you did. And I'm reading from the apostle Peter, 1 Peter 1:3â€¦
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christâ€¦
â€¦according to His great mercy..
No, God does have a Son. Not begotten by sex, but begotten from eternity. He always existed.
â€¦according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled that will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in this last time.
I"ve considered the claims of Mohammed. If you are fair and reasonable you will consider the claims of Jesus.
I don't desire your destruction; I desire your salvation. I don't desire to discredit your religion for the sake of offending anybody; I desire to arrive at the truth. I have questions â€“ serious questions â€“ and I've asked them. If you have serious questions, please answer my questions and then I"ll answer yours.
Rai ees susalam majdon hallelujah Yesu HaMasia. Salam.
But I have another question. The question is on â€œJihad" â€“ â€œholy war". Western Muslims like to say, â€œJihad is a struggle within oneself to keep the five pillars of Islam within your own life." It is a holy war within your own self. But it is still defined in the Quran and the Hadith as a struggle to defend Islam and, the fundamentalists say, to advance it for Mohammed said, â€œAllah has commanded me to make war against all nations and all people until all say there's no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet".
He organized 65 military campaigns and personally organized 27. To this day the indigenous people of North Africa, the Berbers, are second-rate citizens in their own country; the Kurds are second-rate citizens in their own ancient homeland. Why is Iran, which as a Zoroastrian nation, Muslim? Why in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia Muslim? Why is Turkey Muslim? Why is Iran Muslim? They were invaded and occupied and forced to become Muslim at the point of a sword. That is the history Islam. Everyone knows it. How then can it be a religion of peace?
Now again, westernized Muslims would say, â€œJihad is the struggle within oneself". I accept that there are those who do not agree with it and they will put it in the same category as what the English did to the Irish or what the Europeans did to the American Indians and so forth, but let's look at Jihad.
Whether you interpret â€œJihad" Â one way or the other is not the issue. The Quran says, â€œAllah will give the Muslim victory in the jihad against the infidel". Irrespective of your view of Israel and Palestine and whose land is it and who was there first or who has the right to be there, let's just look at the subject â€œJihad".
One Arab leader, one Muslim leader after another â€“ both Sunni and Shi"a â€“ have called the struggle â€œJihad". After six Jihads, surrounding Muslim nations â€“ just the Arab ones of 150 million plus in population â€“ cannot defeat less than 5 million Jews. There"s 1.2 billion Muslims in the world, only 13 million Jews. Israel, even with the West Bank, consists of less than 1% of the land that is today Arabic-speaking. Less than 1%. It"s small, it"s surrounded, it"s under-populated, and has none of the vast oil wealth found in the Arabian pan handle, or in Iraq or Iran or Libya. Why is it? If Allah is God, and if He will give the Muslim victory in the Jihad against the infidel, that Israel has proven consistently indestructible?
When I"ve asked this question I've been told it"s because of America. I don't believe God is afraid of America or of any nation. If Allah is God, He"s not afraid of America or Russia or China or India or Britain or France. He"s not afraid of anybody, He"s God! On that I think we can agree. But how can it be because of America if Allah"s going to give you victory?
The fact is, under Nassir when the Soviet Union was backing the Arab-Muslim nations against Israel in 1967, America did not begin backing Israel in any significant way until 1973. East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip were conquered in 1967 â€“ June of "67 â€“ six years before the Americans began backing them. Your argument makes no sense.
Now the Katub â€“ the Bible, says the Jews would return to the land. Jesus said Jerusalem would be trampled down by the feet of the Gentiles until the time of the Gentile was completed. (Lk. 21:24) They go back to Jerusalem. The prophet Zechariah says they would be there and they would be indestructible because of Jesus. Read it. You can read it in Arabic. They"ll look upon Him whom they have pierced. (Zech. 12:10) When the nations come against Jerusalem He will make war against the surrounding nations.
But I have another question. Slightly more than half the world's population are women. We all know that in Saudi Arabia a woman can"t even drive a car. We all know that Islam allows up to four wives although Muhammad himself had many more. However, Ghazali the Islamic scholar 700 years ago taught that Islam teaches that marriage is a form of slavery. Razi and Ibn al-Anabi said that by dowry a wife is the property of her husband in the sense of a slave. In Kitob 4:3 we are told that Islam allows women to be kept as sex slaves, and beating and sexual slavery of women and sexual deprivation are acceptable forms of correcting your wife.
I"ve read books by women who escaped harems such as Princess in the West. These are not books written by Western women, these are not books written by Christians or by Jews or by enemies of Islam, they are written by Muslim women. According to the Home Office here in the United Kingdom, every year â€“ every year â€“ there are at least 1,000 known arranged marriages of under-aged girls that are forced, where British girls are taken by family and compelled to marry people, sometimes 30 to 40 years older than them, whom they"ve never met. A 15 year-old girl from Glasgow was compelled to marry a 54-year-old uncle in Pakistan. The case is not unusual. We"ve seen a few cases on TV of the abductions and women being forced to marry relatives they have not even met by their own families. This is going on in Britain â€“ how much more of that goes on in the Islamic world?
Mohammed owned black slaves, didn't he? Ask the Orientalists. In fact, even ask the Wahab. Because on that basis it is justified; they don't call it â€œslavery", they call it â€œemployment contracts". They go, of course, to poor black African countries and give relatively small amounts of money to the families and take the little girls back to the harems. It is called â€œchild slavery" by the United Nations, but fundamentalist Islam calls it permissible and it is practiced in Muslim countries.
I have never seen that kind of the injustice in the Western world in my life. The United States fought a war where one of every eight white Americans was killed or wounded to abolish slavery, to put an end to the enslavement of the black man and woman. One out of eight were killed or wounded in the American Civil War. In proportionate terms it is the most bloody conflict in the history of America and one of the most bloody in the history of the world in proportionate terms. I have never found a single Islamic country that has had a civil war to put an end to slavery, and the slaves are normally black. And so I ask black people of America and Britain who are listening to Louis Farrakhan, given the fact that the first countries to abolish slavery were Christian â€“ as in William Wilberforce and the Earl of Shaftesbury, as in Abraham Lincoln â€“ given the fact that the first countries to abolish slavery were Christian but the enslavement of blacks still exists in the Islamic world, on what basis can you say Christianity is a white man's religion, and that Islam is the faith of Black freedom and upward mobility?
Four wives? The right to beat, sexually deprive? Enslave, according to your own scholars? I"m not talking about what is ancient; I have been to your countries. It still goes on. Even here there"s arranged, forced marriages. On what basis can you expect a Western woman to turn her back on a religion that says your wife is your co-heir in Christ and become one of four, and somebody will have the right to beat and sexually deprive, and worse still?
In the Hadith we read, â€œMan will say to his brother, "Look upon my wife. If you desire her I will divorce her for you"", that you can divorce her and give her to another. Now these are early writings in Islam, but remember the Wahab of Saudi Arabia only accept the early writings. It still goes on. How can you expect a woman to turn her back on a faith that says she"s a co-heir in Christ, love her body the way you love your own, with a religion that says she can be sexually deprived, beaten, mistreated, and even divorced and given away, when you allow automatic custody of the children under Sharia Edin? How can you expect a black man to believe that Christianity is a white man's religion when to this day Islam is a religion that has black slaves?
My next question concerns the teaching of the Quran on â€œUmmah" â€“ unity among Muslims, that you are one nation and one people. Now Christianity does not require Christians to be one nation and one people, Christianity acknowledges multiple nations. Jesus said, â€œThink not I came to bring unity but a sword". (Mt. 10:34) Paul the apostle writes. â€œThere must be divisions among you to prove which is true". (1 Cor. 11:19) Tragedy that it is, Northern Ireland can still be allotted for in the Christian belief system. The killing and prejudice cannot be, but the fact that there"s a schism within the belief system can be. The Quran is different. While Jesus prayed that the true believers would be one, He said he came to bring division. There"ll be factions among you to prove what is true, teaches the New Testament, but Ummah says that Muslims are one.
Now in the Katub, in the book of Genesis, we are told that Esau"s sword will always be against his brother and that Ishmael's seed will always be divided. Islam teaches that the Arab nations are descendents, of course, of them. Christians and Jews believe the Messiah, the Savior, would come through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Islam takes the Old Testament prophecies that Christians believe to be about Jesus and applies them to Mohammed. Having said that, I have to ask which is right: Is Esau"s sword against his brother? Is Ishmael"s seed divided? Or are Muslims â€œUmmah"? Are they one nation and one people?
One of the most popular films ever made by the motion picture industry was based on a book about the legendary T. E. Lawrence, Lawrence of Arabia, a British military officer who attempted to unite the warring Arab tribes against the Turks. He tried to unite them from fighting each other to a combined force to attack the Turks who were aligned with Germany. The Turks, who were themselves Muslims, mistreated the Bedouins and virtually enslaved those people who were today called, or call themselves, â€œPalestinian Arabs". Lawrence of Arabia tried to unite these people, but they would not stay united. Islam was always looking for a Mahdi figure to unite Islam, but the Mahdi was defeated by the British ultimately despite the Battle of Khartoum and the death of General Gordon. Abdul Gamal Nasser tried to make Ummah, a pan-Arab unity militarily backed by the Soviet Union, but it did not work or did not last.
Many people have tried to bring Ummah. Mohammed was no sooner dead when the Sunni and Shi"a began to fight each other, ultimately in the Battle of Karbala, over who should take his place, Ali or his theocrats. Then there was a third sect, â€œKhariji". They said Allah would reveal who was to be the successor of Mohammed on the battlefield. They began to slaughter each other. This hatred and killing went on until the 20th Century in the war between Iran and Iraq. 1.5 million Muslims were killed by other Muslims in a war between Sunni and Shi"a going back to the Battle of Karbala. (We"re going back here to the 8th Century.)
Why has it never worked? Why is there no Ummah? Why is it that the only way it appears to a Westerner that Muslims can be united is if they have a common enemy? Because it seems unless they have a common enemy they will kill each other.
The invasion of Kuwait â€“ raping, burning, pillaging. The Americans and British liberate Kuwait and the Kuwaitis begin pogroms against the Palestinians, murdering, raping, pillaging.
When Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Arabs tried on the Jordanians what they today are doing with the Israelis â€“ Palestinian nationalism â€“ in September of 1970, King Hussein of Jordan systematically exterminated between 15-18,000 Palestinian Arabs in 12 days.
This is Muslims doing it to Muslims. They kill far more of each other than the Americans, the British, the West, or the Israelis ever killed. The West or the Israelis have never done to Muslims what they have done to each other. 1.5 million killed in the war between Iran and Iraq alone? The wars between Yemen and North and South â€“ it goes on â€“ the Polisario conflict in Morocco. I've heard the followers of Arafat saying, â€œFirst the Saturday people, then the Sunday people. First we"ll kill the Jews, then we"ll kill the Christians." Right now they're killing each other. Again, they did the same thing in Lebanon. Without a common enemy they kill each other.
If Allah is God, and if the Quran is true, why is it that Ummah has never been able to deliver what it promised?
Now again, Christendom can allow for schism and division; however, whenever two Christianized nations had a war, one was not a democracy. In the Western Judeo-Christian world, as opposed to the Muslim world, no two democracies have ever had a war. I have heard fundamentalist Islamic imams in Iran sing of the virtues of the English Puritans because of their piety, but they overlook the fact that those same English Puritans, for all their mistakes they may have had, established parliamentary democracy. Not a single Muslim country in the world is a democracy. Not really. Turkey comes the closest but it isn"t.
Not a single Muslim country will give Christians and Jews the rights they demand in Britain or America, but that is not my point or my question. My question is this: Since no two Westernized Christian Judeo-Christian democracies have ever had a war, but most Jihads â€“ and they"ve called them â€œJihads" â€“ have been Muslims killing other Muslims, which religion should I believe? Should I believe a religion that has given rise to democratic institutions where no two democracies based on Judeo-Christian principles have ever had a war, or a religion where because of the religion there"s been nothing but war? There is no Ummah.
Historically there has been no Ummah, there never has been Ummah. The book of Genesis seems right. Esau"s sword remains against his brother, Ishmael"s seed remains divided. The Quran and Hadith has clearly been wrong. My question, my dear Muslim friends, and I"m only asking the question, if I have a Judeo-Christian worldview that has given rise to democratic freedom that does not exist in the Islamic world, why should I believe in Islam that cannot deliver the goods?
You only need to drive across the causeway from Malaysia to Singapore; you only need to cross the border at Elath into Jordan or Tabot into Egypt; you only need to take a ferry across the Bosporus or from Algeciras, Spain to the north coast of Morocco. The moment you as an educated Muslim go from the Judeo-Christian world to the Muslim world you see a big change. You know the air smells different. I just don"t mean the dirt or the grime or the congestion, I mean the freedom, the tolerance. Why have the sciences not bloomed in the Islamic world since its Golden Age when it was dominated by a philosophical Islam controlled by the Turks, not by a fundamentalist Islam controlled by the Saudi Wahab or the Iranian Shi"a imams? It just doesn't work. Why every morning in Terminal 3 at Heathrow are there so many Muslims bending over backwards to get into Britain? Why are they arriving in Italy and France every day of the week illegally? Why are they doing anything they can to get into to the United States via Mexico or whoever? Why don't they want to stay in the Islamic world? Some would say because they are missionaries for Islam, sent to convert it. These are not imams, most of them, these are economic refugees and you and I both know it; they"re intellectuals coming for intellectual freedom not available; they"re escaping war and conflict between Muslims like they do from Somalia.
Again, my question is since you have no Ummah, since your religion has been unable to deliver what it promised, why should I turn my back on a religion that has and accept one that hasn't? Why should I reject something that has worked in favor of something that has not? Let"s be honest â€“ if it worked, you wouldn't be here.
I have a third question for my Islamic friends, particularly the educated ones, those that have done degrees in law, medicine, dentistry, engineering, science, mathematics in the West. Some have gone to Oxbridge, some have gone to Ivy League universities in America, some have gone to the Sorbonne in Paris, there are educated Muslims in the West, some of them born in the West, some came to study in the West, but there are educated Muslims. We have to remember that when the Western world was in the Dark Ages under medieval Roman Catholicism Islam had its Golden Age. So I appeal to the educated, thinking Muslim, please consider this question carefully.
Islam likes to claim that a 5th Century forgery of the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas â€“ there"s two of them, but the later one, the 5th Century â€“ was the true gospel and the ones that are the orthodox in Christianity â€“ Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John â€“ are false ones. Even liberal higher critics, higher critical scholars who simply study the Scriptures as history and literature do not accept any 1st Century authenticity to that later Thomas gospel. But we also have higher critical scholars in Islam. They are called â€œOrientalists".
Now Orientalists are not allowed to teach or to publish in Muslim countries, generally speaking. There might be some exception I"m not aware of, but certainly their lives would be threatened by the Muslim brotherhood or something like this. In Saudi Arabia they would bemore than arrested. These are academic theologians; they are critical scholars; they study the Quran, the Hadith as history and literature with an academic eye, looking for things like source criticism, form criticism, the same tools higher critical scholars have applied to the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. They"re Orientalists. They simply ask questions. They"re not studying the Quran as doctrine per se or as revelation, they"re simply looking at it as literature the way critical scholars look at the Bible, really, as literature.
I know I study the Bible as both doctrine and as literature and history. The Orientalists raise some questions. I"m not talking about Christians phrasing questions or about Jews raising questions, I'm talking about educated, westernized Muslim scholars â€“ professors, people with doctorates in Islam â€“ usually from Cairo, Egypt who are now to be found at Oxford, Cambridge, the Sorbonne, Princeton in America, and so forth, and prominent universities, prominent professors, academically credible scholars, the Orientalists â€“ your scholars. They ask questions simply about the historicity and literary origin and development of the Quran and Hadith. One question would be, â€œHow can the Quran say that every night when the sun becomes tired it descends into a muddy pit and rises again the next day?"
Remember, during its Golden Age, Islam were the astronomers of the era. Ptolemian astronomy dominated the world and it was largely dominated by Islam all the way until the time of Galileo and Copernicus and Kepler. Certainly if Allah is God, and Allah created the universe, and Allah created the sun, and if Allah told the angel Gabriel to give the Quran to Mohammed, Allah would've known the sun does not set into a muddy pit every night when it gets tired, This looks like an ancient Near Eastern fable, a superstition, but it"s a question that should be asked. It"s the question that should be answered but that is a question that I will leave to Muslims to answer. My question rather concerns the relationship between the Quran and the Katub, the Bible.
The name of the mother of Jesus was not â€œMary" but â€œMiryam", Â and the sister of Moses" name was also â€œMiryam". They were both named â€œMiryam". But they live 1,300 years apart, 13 centuries separated, Miryam the sister of Moses from Miryam the mother of Isa â€“ Yeshua. And so your scholars, the Orientalists, these academic theologians who study the Quran in Arabic who are at the most prominent universities in the Western world because the Islamic world will not allow them to publish what they teach, ask the question, â€œIf 1,300 years separated Miryam the sister of Moses from Miryam the mother of Jesus â€“ Isa, Yeshua â€“ why does the Quran say they are the same woman?" Isn"t that absurd? I'm not trying to offend you, but isn't it ludicrous? How can the Quran correct the mistakes in the Bible if they"re thirteen centuries apart? We have other archeological evidence showing that Moses long predates Jesus. Nobody questions it. No Muslim scholar in the world would question it today. The Wahab wouldn't question, yet the Quran says it's true.
According to the book of Esther in the Hebrew Scriptures, Haman was a senior court minister in the ancient Persian court in Susa. He was an Agagite, a descendent of Amalek according to the Hebrew Scriptures accepted by Jews and Christians. The Babylonian captivity of the Jews was followed by the Persian conquest of Babylon. We"re talking about five centuries before Christ. Yet we are told in the Quran that Haman was a minister in the court of Pharaoh. There were no pharaohs in the 5th Century before Christ as such. The period of Pharaoh was long over. In the Scriptures Pharaoh goes back to the time of Moses, not forward to the time of Esther and Mordecai.
These are fundamental inconsistencies out of harmony not only with the Jewish and Christian Scriptures but out of harmony with established, recognized history, supported by the archaeological record, things that Muslims today do not believe themselves. Yet the Quran teaches them. Who dares to raise these questions? Is it me, a Christian? No, I'm simply looking at what the Orientalists say, your own scholars. How can an educated person, how can a dentist, how can a civil engineer, how can a physician, how can a barrister, how can a chartered accountant, how could a computer engineer, how can a mathematician, how can an educated, thinking person who went to a university like Princeton or Cambridge or the Sorbonne believe the sun sets every night when it gets tired into a muddy pit?
I don't believe all Muslims are ignorant fundamentalists. I saw a film on television, a documentary, where there were people in Pakistan â€“ rural Pakistan â€“ whose wives were sick and they would not allow their wives to be treated by a physician unless the physician was a female. And in some cases the women would die for wont of medical care because they would not allow a male physician to treat or examine their wives. Now of course, in the West, educated Muslims would balk at such things as primitive. I'm not speaking about primitive Muslims on the frontier on the Punjab, I"m speaking about Muslims who live in Birmingham, or who live in Nottingham, or who live in Manchester, or London, or Los Angeles who went to a prominent university who are engaged in a prestigious profession. How can you reasonably believe that Mary the mother of Jesus and Miryam the sister of Moses are the same woman when they are over 1,000 years apart? The Orientalists don"t believe it.
It"s no wonder their publications are banned throughout the Islamic world. You"re not allowed to ask those questions in the Islamic world. If you want to ask academic questions about Islam, you have to come to the free world. I have heard Muslims like Achmed Didot try to pull apart the Jewish Christian Bible based on higher critical arguments used by liberal Christian scholars. I was supposed to debate Mr. Didot in Johannesburg in the town hall, but he had a stroke and I went to his house and I shared my faith with him unsuccessfully. He tried to share his faith with me, also unsuccessfully, but I've heard his arguments. He draws on Christian liberal higher critics. All I am saying is apply the same standard. Take academic approaches to literary criticism to form criticism, the source criticism, to historical analysis and apply those same tools that Didot applies to the Bible, to the Quran and you will find something that any thinking Muslim would say lacks credibility. You are an educated Muslim. How can you believe this?
My second question is: Mohammed was the greatest prophet â€“ Â greater than Jesus, greater than Moses â€“ al-asam so teaches: â€œThere is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet". And Allah claimed, according to Mohammed, that Mohammed was the one who would bring this message that there's no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet through the angel Gabriel who appeared in a cave and gave the Quran to Mohammed â€“ â€œangels" being one of the five pillars of Islam.
So I look at Mohammed and I compare him with the character of Christ. The Quran speaks more of Jesus than it does Mohammed. And although the other things it says about Jesus are usually in disagreement with what the New Testament says about Jesus â€“ â€œIsa", â€œYeshua", the Quran never once faults His moral character. The Quran never once faults the moral character of Jesus. Never once. Never once. It says things about Him that disagree with the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, but it never faults His moral character. The Quran never faults the moral character of Jesus.
In the Hadith, however, we read something that corresponds to Quran Sorah 33:52, where something happened in the life of Muhammad where he was told by Allah, supposedly, it is no longer lawful for you to marry after this unless it is someone you already own like a handmaiden. What was this to which I refer in the Hadith?
â€œFe"el hadith Mohammed, fell hadith Musa, ben tur abo baqir mah allude setah. Fe"el hadith ai-eesha ben tur abu baqir mah allude setah. Fe"el hadith Mohammed ho mubaraq oh fe"el hadith Mohammed orva mutah."
I don't ask that question to offend you. According to the Hadith, Ayesha the daughter of a Abu Bakr, was six years old when Mohammed married her. He took her virginity at the age of nine according to the teachings of Islam. You had a man, perhaps in his fifties â€“ probably around 54, scholars are not exactly sure â€“ who had sex with a nine year-old girl whom he married at the age of six. And the Quran tells him that Allah was somehow displeased, apparently, and said you couldn"t marry any more after this unless it was a slave or something you already owned. Even if you found a woman attractive you couldn't have any more of them. In fact, I've had Muslim scholars admit that Mohammed had one of his stepson's divorce his wife so he could take her. The question I asked in Arabic, and I"m only asking the question, is the Hadith right? Was Mohammed blessed of God or was Muhammad a pedophile? I'm only asking was your religion right in what it teaches? I'm only asking the question; I'm not trying to incite religious hatred, I'm not trying to offend you, I"m only asking the question, â€œIs the Hadith right?" Did Mohammed marry a six year-old little girl and have sex with a little child? Did he do that? Is your religion right? Is this what he did?
Now if you believe what your religion teaches, if you believe in the historicity of the Quran and of the Hadith, if you believe it is true, then of course you believe Muhammad had sex with a little girl. My question is if it is what you believe, please tell me how you expect me or any other Westerner, any Christian, any Jew, anyone else to believe such a man was God's greatest prophet? Even in many Islamic countries today, if someone did that with a girl that young, he would be arrested and criminally prosecuted, conceivably executed in some of them.
Now a few years ago in the United States, it showed some very wealthy Saudi members of the House of Saud sheiks who were oil-rich arriving in India on private jets. They did not call it â€œslavery" and they don"t call it â€œslavery" in Africa, but essentially for as little as $200 they were giving to families of very poor people and taking little girls, some of them quite young like 14, back to Saudi Arabia. When questioned they said, â€œWhat"s wrong with it? Our prophet did it." These are Wahabbist Saudi Arabians. â€œWahab" â€“ fundamentalist Muslims, fundamentalist Sunnis who don't accept any later interpretation of Islam after 950. These are ultra-conservative Wahabbists, they are rigid, rigid Quranists. Yet they found it acceptable to go and do this â€“ and it was on television â€“ because Muhammad did it.
Now I hope you appreciate as a Westerner, although this goes on in Christendom, although there have been a number of Roman Catholic priests who have done it, when they get caught they get arrested. When there"s a conspiracy to sweep it under the rug they get sued. Why is this tolerated in the Islamic world? In Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam, why was this institutional pedophilia in a form of slavery tolerated in the modern world today? And they say, â€œBecause Mohammed did it." That's what they said on television.
That is my second question: â€œHow can you expect me or any Christian or any Westerner to believe that a man who engaged in something acknowledged by the Hadith to be pedophilia is the prophet we should listen to and follow?" I'm asking you a sincere question.