In my 30 year study of history, I have read accounts of numerous blunders. However, in my opinion, there are two historical blunders that have had particularly deep and lasting consequences. What they both had in common was the ridiculing of a claim of truth.
Claims of truth should always be entertained and honestly examined with rigorous scrutiny. If the claim is found to be true, then it can only enhance our body of knowledge and benefit mankind. If the claim is found to be false, then the consequences of a blunder can be avoided.
Blunder number 1
The first blunder occurred approximately 1,400 years ago when Church leaders refused to honestly examine Mohammed’s claims of truth. For 9 years, Mohammed preached a message that was similar to that of Jesus. He encouraged his followers to believe in the One God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, believe the Biblical Old Testament Prophets, believe that Jesus is the Christ, believe the Gospel, and copy and distribute books of the Bible to other nations without compensation.
Mohammed did not appear to intend to start a new religion. Rather, he seemed to want to start a Christian denomination with traditions which he considered to be more sustainable than those which he observed. Therefore, in addition to believing and following the words of Jesus, he instructed his followers to: pray 5 times per day, fast, give to charity, and to congregate in Mecca at least once in their lifetime in order to ensure that their traditions were consistent with the truth.
Mohammed held discussions with numerous Christian religious leaders, but he was not accepted. Therefore, Islam developed into an adversarial religion whose adherents are taught to ignore Mohammed’s explicit instructions. According to the Bible, Jesus defined eternal life as belief in One God and in Jesus as the Messiah. The Qur’an instructs Muslims to believe in the One and only God, and identifies Jesus as the Christ.
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)
If Christians followed the Bible and Muslims followed the Qur’an, then there would be no theological differences between them, only cultural. A Muslim who believes the Qur’an is a Christian, and a Christian who believes the Qur’an is a Muslim. However, the Qur’an does not require Christians to read the Qur’an, only the Gospel. See BrothersKeptApart.com for further details.
For the past 1,300 years, Christians and Muslims have been kept apart because of their assumption that there are irreconcilable differences between the Bible and the Qur’an. However, neither group appears to be willing to verify this assumption, instead preferring to declare that the other has been misled.
Blunder number 2
The second blunder was the response to Darwin’s theory of evolution. Darwin had published ‘Origin of Species’ in 1859, where he proposed a likely explanation for the differences that he had observed within various species. He supported his explanation with compelling evidence. Therefore, his explanation for the differences within species can be considered a scientific theory.
From this rather solid base, Darwin applied his theory to propose an explanation for the differences between different species. In reaching his conclusion, Darwin noted that his proposition required many generations of intermediate forms to be created before the appearance of a new species. He acknowledged that the evidence to support his views was not yet found in the fossil record, but he expected that the intermediate forms would be found following more extensive anthropological and geological excavations.
Darwin concluded that the discovery of abrupt appearances of species, without the gradual changes of modifications, would be fatal to his views. See Evolution in the Balance for details. During the time that Darwin published his views, scientific debate on the origin of species was dominated by the idea that God had separately created each species and that they did not vary. This idea was popular and generally accepted by his society. Rather than honestly discuss Darwin’s ideas, he was scorned for challenging ideas that were generally accepted by his society.
Today, scientific debate on the origin of species is dominated by Darwin’s ideas, which are popular and generally accepted in western society. Scorn is still reserved for those who challenge popular ideas. The fossil records discovered to date show the abrupt appearances of species, without the gradual changes. Despite the fact that Darwin’s stated fatal flaw has been realized, teachers continue to assume, and teach, that the evidence for evolution across species is as compelling as it is for evolution within species.
Hindsight vision is said to be 20/20. This principle of hindsight should restrain students of history from unfairly condemning those who made blunders in the past. However, while we can do nothing to change history, we can do something to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not perpetuated. Therefore, Christian religious leaders should honestly examine the Qur’an before continuing their tradition of condemning it, and teachers need to honestly examine the evidence for evolution across species, before continuing the tradition of claiming that compelling supporting evidence exists.