Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Silencing A Muslim Dawagandist

A Refutation of Sami Zaatari’s “Jesus and Isaiah 53”

By Anthony Rogers

Anyone familiar with Zaatari's method of reasoning knows that his arguments against Christianity are often false just on their face (and for that reason have a face only someone like Zaatari could love), and thus any analysis expended to refute them is bound to be a case of overkill. What is generally true turns out to be no less the case when it comes to one of Zaatari’s latest reckless attacks on Christ and Christianity, which centers on Isaiah 53, a passage he believes refutes the Lord’s resurrection, a doctrine that is admittedly central and indispensable to the Christian faith. (Zaatari’s article can be found here.)

Arguing from Silence

Zaatari thinks Isaiah 53 refutes the resurrection of the Lord Jesus by – it’s hard to even mention this without being embarrassed for him, not to mention feeling a tad guilty for drawing attention to it – saying nothing about it at all. According to Zaatari, because Isaiah 53 foretells the atoning work of the Servant in vivid detail, at least if you ask Christians (and what do they know about such things?), but does not also go on to say that the Servant would rise from the dead, therefore Christianity is false and Christian faith is in vain.

Apparently no one has ever told Zaatari that an argument from silence doesn’t prove anything, a possibility that strongly suggests he should get out more often, preferably in an academic setting. If Zaatari actually learned to “reason” this way by taking a critical thinking or logic course, then he should seriously consider hiring a lawyer and suing the school to get his money back; it is more than obvious he didn’t get the instruction he paid for, and with so many examples from his writings to submit into evidence, no judge even on their worst day could fail to rule in his favor.

Of course it is more likely than not that Zaatari has never taken such a course (or courses), and if that is the case he should waste no more time and sign up for one; either that or the work load just proved too much for him to bear, in which case he would do well to make his services as an apologist unnecessary in a hurry. It just doesn’t make good sense to do greater damage to an already badly damaged cause, simply because one doesn’t have the wherewithal to learn how to construct an argument that could at least be mistaken as cogent at first glance.1

Rather than direct Zaatari’s attention to the writings of logicians, who, generally speaking, are not silent on the fallacious nature of reasoning from silence, perhaps it would be good to show Zaatari that the same line of reasoning could be turned against him.

Example: If the text being silent on whether the Messiah would rise proves that it would not (or did not) occur, then the text being silent on the fact that He would not rise proves that it would (or did) occur.

Assuming that does not loosen Zaatari’s grip and he still wants to hold on to a bad argument, then he would do well to take into account that his methodology would also refute Islam, a fact that should reduce his argument to absurdity on his own assumptions.

Example: Surah 111 does not say that Allah is one, or that there is no god besides him, or that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; therefore, it follows that the central confession of Islam is not true.

If Zaatari is tempted to make the inept reply that such information is provided elsewhere in the Qur’an, then of course the same option is open to Christians when it comes to the resurrection and Isaiah 53.

The fact that Zaatari continues to offer up reasoning like this where it runs the risk of being seen by others, and where it could even be seen by young children who might in turn try it at home and get hurt in the process (“But Dad, you never said, ‘If you jump off the roof head first, you could be seriously injured”), shows that he has lost all ability to blush, as if shame and him shook hands and parted.

Unstopping Deaf Ears

Without giving an inch to the underlying assumption of Zaatari’s argument, i.e. that absence of evidence is evidence of absence, it appears that Zaatari’s problem may not even be that the text is silent, but that his ears are stopped up, for Isaiah 53 does give some indication that the Messiah would rise from the dead.

First, employing a little sanctified reasoning, it can be inferred from what the passage does say that it would be impossible for the Servant to remain under the power of death or for death to keep its hold on Him, because, according to the Bible, death is the penalty for sin, and in His death the Servant is said to take away sin. That is to say, if the Servant’s sacrifice for sin is accepted, and the passage says that it is, then the very basis by which He could be justly held subject to the penalty of death has been removed. If the Servant does not rise, then it is proof positive that sin has not been paid for; if sin is paid for, then it is proof positive that He will rise or be raised from the dead. That is why the apostle Paul says, “If Christ be not raised from the dead, then our faith is in vain, we are still in our sins.” (See also Psalm 16 and Acts 2)

Second, in spite of being “despised,” “rejected,” “chastised,” “bruised,” “smitten,” “afflicted,” “crushed,” and “pierced through” for “our transgressions” and “iniquities,” so that He might be “an offering for sin,” Isaiah said that the Servant would “see His offspring,” “prolong His days,” “see the light of life” and be “high and lifted up” or “exalted,” so that “the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.”


Rather than make additional futile attempts at refuting Christianity, in the future Zaatari should be as silent as the premises on which he builds his arguments, and he should put his ear closer to the Biblical texts so that he might be in a better position to hear what the prophets have spoken.




1 There is another possibility: perhaps Zaatari did take a course in logic and the subject of arguing from silence just never came up. In this case Zaatari probably reasoned from the fact that it was not discussed to the conclusion that it must be a valid way of reasoning, which is just to say that he probably reasoned from silence to the conclusion that it is valid to reason from silence.

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