23-minute slide presentation plus Q&A session delivered to sixth form school pupils in Poynton
Delivered 10 February 2020. Posted 12 April 2020
I regularly speak to teenage school pupils, arranged by the charity Speakers for Schools. A recurring topic is the relationship between Christianity and Islam.
My talk evolves over time, and below is the most recent version, delivered at Poynton High School to a sixth form group of religious studies and sociology students.
The age and subject interests of the students led to some good questions.
During my talk I mentioned some other pages on my website.
Triangulating the Abrahamic faiths – measuring the closeness of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
My count of mentions by name in the Quran is on my 2016 page "My reflection on Christmas." I have reproduced the relevant paragraph below.
As a free question for your next pub quiz, ask them “Which prophet is mentioned most often by name in the Quran?” I counted by searching the Tal Itani translation, chosen simply because I have a PDF copy and the counting is not affected by the existence of footnotes. The results were: Moses 136, Abraham 72, Jesus 25, and Muhammad only 12.
A guide to Quran translations into English
I have reviewed two of the books mentioned in the bibliography:
"In the Shadow of the Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World" by Tom Holland
"Islam – Past Present and Future" by Hans Kung
My first presentation recording was done on the spur of the moment, just putting my iPhone 6 on the table and relying on its built in microphone. See my page Lecture: The Quran recognises religious freedom.
Once I found recording presentations worthwhile, I purchased a high quality Sennheiser digital lapel microphone which plugs into the lightning port of my iPhone. That produces a much better recording.
I am happy to share the original PowerPoint slide presentation.
The question and answer session was also recorded. However, I am not publishing the full audio recording for two main reasons:
Instead, I have listened to the Q&A session and, where I regard the questions as being worth sharing, have written down a condensed version of the questions. I have then published the audio of my answers.
During my answer, I briefly mentioned a concept in mathematics called finite fields.
During my answer I mention the book "Homosexuality in Islam: Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims" by Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle.
I also mention one of the charities which I support: The Inclusive Mosque Initiative.
During my answer I mention that my "About me" page details my religious history.
I also explain why, taking a very high level view, I believe that “At its heart, Islam is Judaism without a Chosen People, a universalised form of Judaism.”
During my answer, I talk about the Salman Rushdie affair which Wikipedia calls The Satanic Verses controversy.
During my answer I mention "The Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins.
My views about are set out in more detail on my page "The theory of evolution and religious texts."
For the convenience of readers, I have reproduced below the Q&A session from my talk on 29 November 2019 at The Co-operative Academy of Stoke-on-Trent as they are also interesting and different.
In my reply, I loosely quote a verse of the Quran from memory. I have reproduced it precisely below.
VERILY, those who have attained to faith [in this divine writ], as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians - all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds - shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve.
Muhammad Asad translation
I also refer to my website page "Teaching Muslims religious intolerance".
In my answer, I mention the "Thought for the Week" broadcast I gave on BBC Radio Manchester on 25 December 2018. You can read it on my page "Jesus continues to inspire us today".
During my response, I make the comment “I’ve never met a Mormon who I didn’t think was a good person.”
You can read the background in the "My comments before starting the presentation" section of my page "Lecture: The Quran recognises religious freedom" which contains the religious freedom lecture I gave at Brigham Young University's London Campus.
In my response, I mention my Thought for the Week broadcast which you can read on my website page "Reflections on the death of Svetlana Alliluyeva".
One of the slides of my presentation also contains the message from the Quran I mention in my answer.
Extract from Slide 21 (of the presentation in Stoke-on-Trent)
AND NO BEARER of burdens shall be made to bear another's burden; and if one weighed down by his load calls upon [another] to help him carry it, nothing thereof may be carried [by that other], even if it he one's near of kin.
Part of Quran 35:18 Muhammad Asad translation
My response mentions additional coverage on my website page Review of "Qur’anic Concepts of the Ethics of Warfare: Challenging the Claims of Islamic Aggressiveness" by Joel Hayward.
In my response I mention the Roman Catholic document "Nostra Aetate".
I also mentioned a particular Roman Catholic doctrine. For more on that I recommend reading the article "What “No Salvation Outside the Church” Means".
In my answer I did not recall the quote precisely enough. While the American general concerned was under the incorrect impression that Christians and Muslims pray to different gods, he did not use the term "Monkey god."
Full details are set out on the Wikipedia page for General William G. Boykin and the quote I recalled incorrectly was actually "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."
"Weed" is slang for cannabis or marijuana. "Haram" means religiously prohibited in Islam.
I used my answer to get over a wider educational message about how to think about religious questions, before answering the one posed by the pupil.