As my questions became more pointed and specific, the Sunday school teacher would eventually always say, "We just have to have faith and believe. We cannot know the answers to these questions."
This did not satisfy me, because I felt that needed to know the ultimate answer to every question. As a result, I dropped out of the church. I was "confirmed" into the Episcopal Church by Bishop Marmon, the Bishop of Virginia, when I was 11, but rarely went to church after that.
My brother was exactly the opposite. He attended church every Sunday faithfully without fail. He even earned a five year perfect attendance pin, never missing church even one Sunday for five years, although he failed the seventh grade in school because he went to school less than half the time. I suspect that this is a reason why my brother is messed up in the head now.
I had just about forgotten about religion altogether until I visited Afghanistan in 1976. This was my first contact with Islam. I knew nothing about Islam. I was under the general impression that Muslims had some weird and mystical beliefs. I was surprised to learn that the Muslims studied the Koran in such detail and had discussions about the legal interpretations of specific points.
This never really happens in Christianity, because Christianity does not provide any exact rules of conduct. There are the ten commandments of the Old Testament and the "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" of the New Testament, but other than that, there is almost nothing.
This was one of my objections to Christianity going back to when I was ten years old. I learned in church that the Bible, both the old and the new testaments, were all "revealed" by God. In other words, God wrote all of it. Yet, there were obviously hundreds of different authors. Had they all said the same thing, I could have understood that they were all getting their information from one common source. However, it was obvious from any sort of detailed study of the Bible that there were all sorts of errors and contradictions and that one person could not have written it all.
More importantly, the Bible is simply a history book. The Old Testament is a book of the history of the Hebrew people. Except for the chapters which lay down Mosaic law, including what kind of food to eat and the punishment for various crimes, there is no real information about what to do and what not to do. There is the general injunction: "Thou Shalt Not Kill". However, the Old Testament is filled with atrocities by supposedly pious people killing each other, none of whom seemed to get punished by God for this. In one place in the Bible, a king of Israel sacrifices his only daughter as a human sacrifice. (Judges 11:39). In another place, a man allows his concubine-wife to be gang raped until she is dead (Judges 19). He then cuts her corpse up into 12 pieces and distributes them among the tribes (Judges 19:29). Another man has sex with ten of his father's concubines (2 Samuel 16:22). And so on. Every human atrocity which could possibly be committed is committed in the Bible, and yet the perpetrators almost never seem to suffer any punishment because of it.
The New Testament provides even less practical information than the old. Jesus teaches to "love one another" (1 John 3:23) (itself not a bad idea) and to "turn the other cheek" (a recipe for disaster). Nobody follows the teachings of Jesus.
Moreover, Jesus wrote nothing. The law or rules provided by the New Testament were written mostly by Paul, who never met Jesus. Paul tells women to keep quite in the church, to keep their heads covered (1 Corinthians 11:6) and, if they have a question, to ask only their husbands "for the husband is the head of the wife" (Ephesians 5:23). Peter tells women to subjugate themselves to their husbands and to obey them (1 Peter 3:1). Aside from this, there is almost nothing in Christianity about how a person should conduct himself.
Therefore, I was surprised to see that in Islam, every action that a man takes is affected by his religion. The Koran provides comprehensive information about how to conduct life. As the same time, it does not tell you to sit in a corner and chant all day and all night. Muslims are active, practical people, who get things done every day.
After my visit to Afghanistan, I started to study this religion. I read lots of books. What surprised and attracted me that there were no barriers or secret areas which were unknowable. I never arrived at a point where someone said, "That question cannot be answered. You just have to believe and have faith." In Islam, everything could be known. Scientific breakthroughs and discoveries were encouraged. There was no hokus pocus.
Of particular importance to me was that Islam provided important answers to the fundamental questions which Christianity refuses to answer in any reasonable or logical manner. For example, Christians are completely muddled about who Jesus was. Sometimes, he is the son of God. Other times, he is God himself. There is also the "Holy Ghost". Who is he? Is this Jesus before he arrived on Earth?
I often debate these questions with Christians. They say that the "Holy Trinity", consisting of the father, the son and the Holy Ghost, are all part of one "godhead" or else are three different manifestations for the same thing.
This has always sounded like a lot of nonsense to me. I cannot find the word "godhead" anywhere in the Bible, so what is the authority for this?
The Koran answers this question in a simple and logical manner. Jesus was a man. Mohammed was also a man. So was Adam, Noah, Abraham and the other noteworthy personalities. They were born, lived and died just like other men. The only thing which separated them from other men, which made them special, is that God spoke through them. They were the prophets of God.
Another problem with Christianity is that any person who does not "believe in Jesus" goes to Hell. What does it mean to "believe in Jesus"? Moreover, what about all the Chinese, Japanese, Zulu tribesmen, Amazon Indians, and Australian Aborigines, many of whom may never have heard of Jesus. What about all the people who died before Jesus was born? According to Christianity, none of those people will be allowed to enter Heaven. Yet a horrible criminal like Charles Roberts, who kidnapped my daughter, will, according to him, go to heaven, solely because he "believes in Jesus", irrespective of whatever crimes he has committed.
Islam answers that question by saying that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jesus and Mohammed were not the only prophets of God. In fact, there have been more than 100,000 prophets of God. Every race and culture in the history of the world has had its own prophet of God. Therefore, every person who has ever lived has had an equal chance to enter Heaven.
Regarding the problem that Jesus did not write the Bible and indeed did not write anything at all and that it is generally accepted that none of the authors of the New Testament of the Bible ever met Jesus, the simple fact is that all of the Koran came from the mouth of Mohammed. Mohammed was illiterate. However, his followers wrote down every word.