... the Muslim Christ
Supporting Data and Analysis
This page presents and discusses "physical evidence" related to Muhammad's view of Jesus as well as the biblical view of Jesus. Physical evidence that can be measured and used to support a spiritual world view is important for making any faith viable. Perhaps the most important idea related to this web site is that archaeological discoveries of the last 150 years have uncovered evidence that permits us to directly compare the Islamic faith to the Christian faith (using math). And the evidence leads to a very important question.
How credible is a spiritual belief system if it only uses a book as its spiritual guide with no external evidence to support it?
Comparing Islam to Christianity
In a brochure entitled, "Searching for the Muslim-Christ" it is clearly evident that Islam and Christianity are diametrical opposites based on the following three ideas found in the Bible and the Qur'an.
- Diametrical opposite views of Jesus dying on the cross: The major Christian belief is that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. Instead, Muhammad claimed that Jesus never died. "they said, "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah"; but they killed him not, nor crucified him” (Qur'an 4:157). Muslims believe that God took Jesus to heaven and that someone else (Judas Iscariot) was nailed to the cross. That person on the cross was made to appear as Jesus according to the Qur'an.
- Diametrical opposite views of the Greatest Sin: The Bible claims that the greatest sin is to deny that the Creator of the universe became a human being in the historical person of Jesus Christ. To reject the salvation available through Jesus' atoning death and resurrection results in eternal separation from God. In contrast, the Qur'an claims that the greatest sin is to believe what Christians believe. Muslims use the word "shirk" to describe this diametrically opposite view. Below is a quote from the brochure and the Qur'an.
In Islam, God is thought of as absolutely separate from the creation. For that reason, the greatest sin in Islam (called shirk) is to associate God with a human being. “They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three In a Trinity: for there is No god except One God” (Qur'an 5:75 - 76).
The diametrical opposite position found in the New Testament is written in the gospel of John. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son
” (John 3:17-18
Diametrical opposite views of Human's Knowing God in Person: Due to limited space, the brochure presents a third diametrical opposing view between Christianity and Islam (there are many more). In general, the Qur'an teaches that humans will never know God in person. The most common term used to describe Islam is "absolute monotheism" since God can never be associated with the creation in any way. In contrast, the New Testament teaches that humans can have a very deep, personal relationship with God that is filled with love and peace. This diametrical opposite view of humans having a relationship with God can be read by clicking here.
Each of these MAJOR opposing views will be presented below along with evidence supporting which view appears to be correct (based on statistical analysis of physical evidence that permit us to make valid inferences). Are you able and willing to use your mind for an intriguing spiritual investigation using actual data?
Did Jesus Die on the Cross?
What is the evidence that Jesus actually died on the cross?
And how can we analyze this evidence?
To begin, physical evidence discovered in the 20th century verifies New Testament characters existed, who according to the New Testament were eyewitnesses to Jesus' death on the cross. The biblical texts claim that some of these eyewitnesses later became Christians and proclaimed that Jesus conquered death by rising from the dead.
However, the most important "key" to bringing this information to bear on finding spiritual truth is based on answering a very basic question using physical evidence. This question confronts the belief systems of both Islam and Atheism. "Why did early skeptics of Jesus become Christians?"
This question can be evaluated using math as a "decision-making" tool. Let's begin by quoting from the brochure.
Consider the Muslim viewpoint. If someone (such as Judas Iscariot) replaced Jesus on the cross, then Jesus would not have risen from the dead. But biblical texts claim that skeptics became Christians only when they saw Jesus resurrected. For that reason, if Jesus did not die on the cross and rise from the dead, no skeptics of Jesus would have become Christians. Without evidence, skeptics continue living as skeptics.
The greatest skeptic of the early Christians was Saul of Tarsus, who went about terrorizing Christians. Saul declared, “I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, . . . I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus” (Acts 22:4-5).
Since Saul had letters addressed to Christians living in Damascus, he traveled there to arrest them. But as Saul walked to Damascus, something happened. "About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, `Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?' " `Who are you, Lord?' I asked. " `I am Jesus of Nazareth.” (Acts 22:6-8). As a result, Saul became the Apostle Paul, who worked to spread faith in Christ across the Roman Empire. Is Paul’s story true?
Luke recorded Paul’s travels in the book of Acts. Imagine going into a town with Paul and recording “unique details” such as their legal system, language, titles of local rulers, etc. And when you travel to the next town, unique details are again recorded for those people. Was Luke’s record true or fictional?
In the past 150 years, details related to Paul’s travels have been found, such as ancient papyri, burial tombs, and other items. Scholars have studied this evidence to conclude that Luke’s writing is accurate. Luke (and Paul) had to be there to write such unique and accurate details.1
Credible Research by a Classic Scholar
Uses Data to Challenge His Scholarly Peers
The classic scholar, Dr. Colin J. Hemer wrote The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, which gives supporting data and analysis. A careful study taken from Dr. Hemer's work contained on pages 109 to 158 is about "Specific Local Knowledge" as it relates directly to the Apostle Paul's travels. Since the unique events written in the book Acts are matched by archaeological records, Dr. Hemer concludes that Paul and Luke had to actually be there to record the events.
Since the archaeological evidence matches the book of Acts so well, Dr. Hemer's research led him to conclude that the book of Acts was written about AD 62, which aligns with biblical conservatives. Consider a quote from Dr. Hemer. "Acts is more closely integrated with contemporary events than any other New Testament book." (Ibid, p 376). Those opposed to using data to draw conclusion about the book of Acts can only do so based on preconceived bias.
Dr. Hemer's research shows that the book of Acts could only have been written by people who witnessed the historic events based on archaeological evidence. This evidence permits us to have confidence in the events described in the book of Acts.
Statistical Analysis of the Book of Acts
Infers that the Apostle Paul's Testimony is True!
If the book of Acts were a myth, then we would expect to find no correlation between the ancient artifacts and what Luke wrote. Since the parallel is so good, the probability that the book of Acts is a myth is less than 4 chances in 1037 (1 followed by 37 zeros).2 Saul’s testimony as skeptic/persecutor turned Christian appears to be true. Although it takes faith to accept the spiritual details (Paul's conversion story) written into the book of Acts, the amount of faith required is the proverbial biblical saying, the size of a mustard seed (Ref: Luke 17:6).
One of the purposes of this web site relative to the brochure is to show how the probability values were derived. This done in the next few paragraphs should you be interested in knowing.
To do this study, two questions are posed and answered using statistical tools. If you want to review the math, please click on the links below for each question. I have also included an analysis of the book of Mormon since no archaeological evidence has been uncovered to support its texts. I did this as a means of supporting the credibility of this analysis for the book of Acts.
- How good is the correlation between the book of Acts and the archaeological records?
- What is the probability that the book of Acts is an absolute myth?
- How credible is this analysis: How well do the archaeological records match the Book of Mormon?
Other Skeptics that Became Christians
Besides Saul of Tarsus, other skeptics became devoted Christians. Consider four other skeptics written of in biblical literature.
Jesus had four brothers (James, Jude, Simon and Joses) that were skeptics. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, they accepted Jesus as Messiah.
How can we be certain that Jesus had four brothers?
Modern scholars use logical guidelines to arrive at realistic conclusions about ancient characters. I will use three of these guidelines as noted below.
Logical Guideline #1: Independent Attestation
The guideline of “Independent Attestation” requires us to have unique authors write about James. We know of 8 independent authors that wrote about James. For example, the historian Flavius Josephus, a non-Christian, wrote about James. Also, 6 independent biblical authors wrote of James (does not include Matthew since his gospel plagiarizes Mark on this subject). And a most recent discovery now verified to be authentic comes from the James ossuary released in 2002. These authors and archaeological evidence make James' story credible.
Artifact known as the James ossuary: The James Ossuary inscribed on one side in Hebrew script reads, “James, Son of Joseph, the Brother of Jesus.” Experts in paleography have stated that the inscription was created after James' martyrdom in AD 62 (and before AD 70).
The ossuary was released to the public in 2002. However, it was immediately challenged as being a forgery. Since the owner was charged with forgery in court, he was permitted to obtain a scientific analysis of the ossuary by Dr. Krumbein, a world-renowned expert on geology, geochemistry and microbiology. The scientific analysis concludes that the ossuary is authentic and could not be a modern day forgery.3 Please take the time to review Dr. Krumbein's analysis.
Independent Non-Christian Author, Flavius Josephus: Separate from the archaeological evidence, Josephus wrote about James in 93 CE. According to Josephus, James was martyred about 62 CE, which aligns with paleographer's dating of the James ossuary.
According to Josephus, James was stoned to death by the Sanhedrin under the leadership of the High Priest, Ananus, who was a Sadducee around 62 CE [Antiquities 20:9:1 Search for "THE BROTHER OF JESUS" on the linked site"]. James' final witness to the world was his willingness to defend the Christian faith and die as a martyr.
In addition, probability calculations support that the James ossuary did contain the bones of James, the brother of Jesus. There are only 3 chances in a million that the bones belonged to someone other than James, the brother of Jesus.
Independent Biblical Authors: Six independent New Testament authors (Mark, Luke in the book of Acts, the Apostle John, Jude, Paul, and James) identify and discuss James. According to New Testament accounts, James did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Yet, James turned out to be a strong leader among the early Christians. It took an extraordinary event to change James, who died a martyr in 62 CE.
Logical Guideline #2: Dissimilarity
The Second Guideline is called “dissimilarity.” If a person testifies against their interest, that testimony is more likely to be true. For example, Jesus dying on the cross meets the criteria since it is a harmful expectation for Messiah. Just as certain, Jesus’ brothers and sisters being skeptics fits this criteria.
Logical Guideline #3: Contextual Credibility
The third guideline is called contextual credibility. Any tradition that does not fit into the early 1st century era would not be reliable. Among these are Luke, who has been shown by Dr. Hemer, a Classic Scholar, to be a credible 1st century author. Luke wrote about Jesus’ brothers and refers to James 3 times as the early Christian leader.4
New Testament authors reveal that five skeptics became Christians. If the Qur’an were true that Jesus did NOT die on the cross (or rise from the dead), then we would expect “NO” skeptics to accept Jesus as the Son of God. Skeptics would have continued as skeptics. For example, if Saul of Tarsus had not experienced the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul would not have become a Christian. As a result, the claim that Jesus did not die on the cross appears to be wrong at the 97.5% confidence level.
Statistical Analysis of Skeptics Becoming Christians
Based on logical guidelines contained in the three criteria of independent attestation, dissimilarity, and contextual credibility, we can calculate the probability that a New Testament personality existed who was a skeptic of Jesus. I have listed each skeptic below along with a link should you wish to review the statistical analysis.
- James, the son of Joseph, the brother of Jesus
- Jude, author of the book of Jude
- Simon, the brother of Jesus
- Joses, the brother of Jesus
- Paul, Apostle of Jesus
Five skeptics who became Christians permit us to conclude at the 97.5% confidence level that Muhammad is wrong. It is also important to understand that the five skeptics lay a foundation for adding more data to the analysis. More evidence will permit a more realistic assessment of Muhammad's view of Jesus.
Eyewitnesses to Jesus' Death on the Cross
Archaeological discoveries from the 20th century verify that people existed who looked into Jesus' eyes on the day of the crucifixion. The archaeological evidence brings supporting evidence to the Christian viewpoint that Jesus did in fact die on the cross. In addition to the ossuary for James, the brother of Jesus, the brochure (Searching for the Muslim Christ) lists three more artifacts that support the existence of four people who had close contact with Jesus the Messiah.
Artifact No. 2 (discovered in 1961): The Pontius Pilate Inscription
Pontius Pilate sentenced Jesus to die on the cross as recorded by secular authors Josephus (37 – 100 AD), Tacitus (55 – 115 AD), and five New Testament authors.
Artifact No. 3 (discovered in 1990): The ossuary of Caiaphas, the high priest
The richly ornate ossuary is inscribed 2-times with the name “Joseph of the family of Caiaphas”.
Josephus matched the inscribed name, “Joseph, who was also called Caiaphas, of the high priesthood” [Antiquities 18.4.3]. Caiaphas looked into Jesus’ eyes on the day he died on the cross.
Hershel Shanks wrote "In the temple of Solomon and the Tomb of Caiaphas," on page 44, “Joseph of the family of Caiaphas” offers the best modern understanding of the inscription since there were no last names used at the time of Jesus. The inscription literally reads “Joseph son of Caiaphas,” but this does not mean “the son of biologically” since “son of...” is used in the sense of belonging to the same group or family5.
Artifact No. 4 (discovered in 1941): The ossuary of Alexander, son of Simon of Cyrene
The ossuary of Alexander, son of Simon of Cyrene, found in a cave sealed up before AD 70. Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross (Mark 15:21). This artifact appears authentic due to probability calculations in the London Sunday Times, March 31, 1996. Tom Powers essay entitled Treasures in the Storeroom provides in-depth analysis of this artifact.
Conclusions Based on Archaeological Evidence
Ancient artifacts discovered since 1850, scholarly guidelines, and the laws of probability support that Jesus was nailed to the cross at the 99.99999998% confidence level. (less than 2 chances in 1 billion of being wrong due to random error). 6
In contrast, Muhammad lived 600 years after Jesus (no contextual reliability) and is the only person to make a unique claim of Jesus not dying on the cross. Muhammad said the Christians based their belief in Jesus’ death on conjecture. However, artifacts dug up in the 20th century support the conjecture began with Muhammad (at the 99.99999998% confidence level). The decision to follow Muhammad requires blind faith since the probability of Muhammad being correct about Jesus is less than 2 chances in 1 billion (1.52 x 10-10).
On the graph below, the extensive archaeological data supporting Jesus' death on the cross is contrasted with the lone voice of Muhammad 600 years later (See Muhammad's claim on the bottom right of the chart). The display of this data supports that Muhammad has less than 2 chances in 1 billion of being correct that Jesus did NOT die on the cross.
Some Muslims will reply that the same study can be done to verify that Muhammad was a real person that had spiritual experiences. And I will agree that the study can be done to support the existence of Muhammad. In addition, I agree that Muhammad had spiritual experiences.
However, the "key" in comparing Christian faith to Islamic faith is that the Qur'an and the Bible have diametrical views of Jesus dying on the cross. Archaeological discoveries support that Jesus did in fact die on the cross. To date, no archaeological discovery has been uncovered that supports Muhammad's view of Jesus.
Other Muslim Beliefs
diametrically opposite of Christian faith
The evidence presented thus far supports that the Qur'an has absolutely no external data to support its claim about Jesus. It is logical and mathematically correct to conclude at a high confidence level that the Qur'an is filled with misinformation about Jesus. And if the information is wrong about Jesus, what else is wrong?
What is the Greatest Sin?
In Islam, God is thought of as absolutely separate from the creation. For that reason, the greatest sin in Islam (called shirk) is to associate God with a human being. “They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three In a Trinity: for there is No god except One God” (Qur'an 5:75- 76).
In contrast, the Christian faith describes the greatest sin as denying that God became a divine human being in Jesus, the Son of God. “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son” (John 3:17-18).
Again, Islam and Christianity are directly opposite to each other. The belief related to God’s ability to take on human form depends on whether the Qur’an or the Bible is true. The artifacts related to Jesus’ death support the biblical texts are credible.
Even so, modern scholars hypothesize that the Christian view of Jesus as a divine person came about due to pagan influence. We can hypothecate: If the idea of Jesus as a divine person evolved due to pagan influence in the 1st century, then we would expect to find no Old Testament verses that foretell of Messiah as a divine personality.
However, Old Testament verses appear to be the source of a divine Messiah belief. And the Dead Sea Scrolls that predate Jesus’ birth reinforce it. For example:
Isaiah writes of Messiah who “…will be called … Mighty God (deity), Everlasting (eternal) Father” (Isaiah 9:6).
Jeremiah links Messiah to the name Jehovah (YHWH), which religious Jews do not speak since it is God’s name. “This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD (YHWH) Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
Micah writes of Messiah, “…whose origins are from of old, from the days of Eternity” (Micah 5:2).
David writes of a YHWH – Son relationship for Messiah, “…Anointed One… ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’ ” (Psalm 2:2, 7)
Some scholars claim the earliest Christian authors (Paul and Mark) did not write of Jesus as a divine human being. But Mark writes of Jesus accepting worship as well as Jesus using Psalm 110. “David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: " `The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet." ' David himself calls him [Messiah] `Lord.' How then can he [Messiah] be his son?" (Mark 12:36-37).
Paul writes of Jesus as a divine person. “…there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live ... though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (1 Corinthians. 8:9).
Since we would expect zero Old Testament verses (or Paul and Mark) to write of a divine Messiah, the hypothesis above appears to be false at the 99.9998% confidence level. 7 & 8
Can People Know God in a Personal Way?
Muslims believe that God is absolutely separate from the creation. For this reason, God does not speak directly to humans or have relationships with humans. (Muhammad claimed to hear only from the Archangel Gabriel, the messenger of Allah). As a result, Islam teaches that humans cannot have a personal relationship with God.
In contrast, the Bible teaches that Christians can have a deep, personal relationship with God. Paul wrote to Christians, “…the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Rom. 8:9). And in another verse, “…you are God's temple . . . God's Spirit lives in you” (1 Cor. 3:16).
Again, Islam and Christianity are shown to be directly opposite each other. Why?
Are Islam and Christianity diametrical opposites due to different sources? It appears certain Muhammad received spiritual guidance. But the guidance Muhammad received was from a spirit that came and went based on the following eyewitness account.
"Ayesha [Muhammad's favorite wife] reported "I saw him [Muhammad] while the revelation descended upon him on an intensely cold day; then it left him while his brow steamed with sweat" (Miskat IV).
Muhammad’s spiritual experience came from a being that claimed to be the Archangel Gabriel. This being is the source that claimed Jesus did not die on the cross, Jesus is not the Son of God, and people cannot know God personally. This leads to an insightful question, “Since you can't experience God, how do you know?”
Now consider that Jesus compared John the Baptist to Christians. “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven (authentic Christian) is greater than he (John the Baptist)” (Matt 11:11).
Based on this verse, Christians who receive the Holy Spirit are greater than John the Baptist because the Spirit of God dwells with them (as compared to the spirit that took periodic control of Muhammad). And God’s presence brings “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).
The verse above promises peace with God. I have experienced God's peace for many years. You can too. To begin this personal walk with God, take time to pray with your heart and mind using this verse as a guide. “…if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10). Repeat these words and believe them with all your heart and mind. Ask the Lord Jesus to come into your life and fill you with His Holy Spirit. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
If you have taken time to say this prayer and mean it, then please send an e-mail. I hope and pray that we will find another Christian brother or sister to guide you and gain true spiritual knowledge.
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References for Research:
1: Hemer, Colin J., The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History; edited by Conrad H. Gempf, ©1989; data taken from "Specific Local Knowledge" pages 109 - 158.
1: Hemer, Colin J., The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, data taken from "Specific Local Knowledge" pages 109 - 158. Dr. Hemer is a classic scholar, whose research led him to conclude a written date of AD 62 for the book of Acts.
1: White, Jefferson, Evidence and Paul's Journeys
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2: Only 4 chances in 10 billion, billion, billion, billion based on Chi-square test of Independence. In addition, this calculation is based only on Dr. Hemer's work for Acts chapters 13 to 28. This web page will be updated as time permits.
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3: Preliminary Report through the Biblical Archaeology Society, dated May 16, 2006, entitled, “External Expert Opinion on Three Stone Items” composed by Prof. Dr. Dr. hc. mult. Wolfgang E. Krumbein and Carl von Ossietzky, University of Oldenburg, Germany, dated September 2005. (Jerusalem Post Article on the trial and other issues related to the James ossuary)
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4: In the earliest gospel, Mark 6:3-5 (Matthew & John) also refers to these 4 brothers as skeptics.
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5: Shanks, Hershel, In the temple of Solomon and the Tomb of Caiaphas, p#44, © 1993 Biblical Archaeological Society.
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6: Based on the Muslim hypothesis that those who witnessed the crucifixion were fooled. Therefore, we can hypothecate that no one saw Jesus die on the cross due to being fooled by a Jesus look alike. However, this is not credible at the 97.5% confidence level based on 5 skeptics becoming Christians. Saul of Tarsus would have continued as a skeptic if he were not confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus.
Now consider the evidence revealed by the Apostle Paul. Paul writes that more than 500 people were eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus and that when Paul wrote this, most of these people were still living.
Five-hundred witness yields a probability of Muhammad being wrong about Jesus dying on the cross at ~ 5.7 x 10-111, which is only 6 chances in 1000 trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion. Is it any wonder that the early followers of Jesus laid down their lives for Messiah, who conquered death?
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7Based on the hypothesis that pagans developed the idea of Jesus as a divine human being as Christianity spread across the Roman Empire. Therefore, we expect to find 0 evidence in the Old Testament foretelling of Messiah as a divine human being. However, evidence from 6 scriptures in the 4 Old Testament books that predate the New Testament due to the Dead Sea Scrolls. In addition, both the gospel of Mark and Paul’s writing contain ideas related to a divine Messiah, which give another 13 data points that contradict the pagan source theory. A total of 23 data points yields.
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8: I have included links for "non-locality (recommended)" or "spooky action at a distance"
A scientific discovery (called non-locality) of the 20th century supports the Trinitarian concept of God. Two distinct subatomic particles separated by great distance are somehow connected (non-local) since they influence each other instantly (instead of waiting for data transfer at the speed of light from point A to B). If we don't understand subatomic particles, why do some think they can logically debunk the Trinity, the Creator of the subatomic particles?
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