Dr. Geisler says "no one has proven an evil moral intent in any of them" referring, apparently, to "some factual misstatements" for which "Dr. Caner has admitted to and apologized ... ." Dr. Geisler goes on to say, "For those who have no mercy for those who make honest mistakes, I would only say: Let him who is without mistakes cast the first stone!" Dr. Geisler does not come right out and say, "All of Dr. Caner's mistakes were honest mistakes," though that appears to be his intended message.
The first cluster of "misspeaks" that Geisler identifies are the following:
"1) He said he was 18 instead of 16 which he repeatedly said he was."
If this were a one-time error by itself, folks would probably not make much of a big deal about it - at least I hope they wouldn't. Who hasn't occasionally misstated a number?
But if it is also done more than once and accompanied by things like saying that he was saved in his "senior year" of high school (link to evidence analyzed)(another example)(third example), then it begins to look different. The more times it happens, and the more times it is accompanied by related marks that are connected to it, the more it looks intentional.
There's also a further problem, if Unveiling Islam's account is correct (see discussion here), then Ergun Caner was actually 15, not 16 (as does a Turkish newspaper report). So which is it? Well, Dr. Geisler doesn't give us any new information, so we're stuck with the unresolved contradictions. Is it really 16? or is it really 15?
Dr. Caner does not seem to have studied this matter very closely, since he appears to be unaware of the evidence pointing to conversion at 15 or younger.
"2) He said Shabir Ally had died (who is alive) when he meant another Muslim (who is dead);"
I agree that this was an honest mistake. I can even venture a guess as to who Caner was trying to identify: Ahmed Deedat (who is dead, having died in 2005).
Of course, the more serious issue with respect to Shabir Ally is Dr. Caner's claim to have debated him, but that will be discussed in a later post.
"3) Ergun said they moved to America in 1969 and in another place he said it was 1978. More precisely, he got his citizenship in 1978."
First off, I have seen no evidence that Dr. Caner got his citizenship in 1978. It may be true, and I'm sure that it would have to be a public record somewhere, so presumably evidence can be found if the citizenship-in-1978 claim is true. This will have to be categorized under the "wait and see" category of claims. Who knows where Dr. Geisler got this information from - he certainly does not cite any evidence or identify the source of his information. (UPDATE: As an alert but anonymous reader pointed out, at least one biography of Caner indicates he became a citizen at age 18, in 1984 - link to bio with colorful photo of Caner and Ms. Schatz has pointed out that Dr. Caner himself has claimed to have gained his citizenship in 1982 - see his article "Hatriotism")
Secondly, even if Caner did become a citizen in 1978, is the claim that Caner meant to refer to when he became a citizen? How could that possibly be what Caner meant in the context of, for example, the Rick and Bubba Show interview? (link to discussion/analysis) Again, it appears that Dr. Geisler is not familiar with the evidence.
"4) Ergun once accidentally said Mulema instead of Ulema which is the Arabic word for scholar."
Actually, Dr. Caner may have done that several times. I've tried to always assume he's trying to say "an Ulema" although his diction often makes it sound like "a Mulema." So, while one instance of what sounds like "Mulema," it may not be the only time.
But there is a more significant aspect to this particular mistake. Ulema is the Arabic word for scholars not scholar (as discussed here). Again, Dr. Geisler is not familiar with the evidence.
"5) He mispronounces Sawm as 'Swam.'"
Sometimes it even sounds like "swan" the way Dr. Caner pronounces it. This is obviously a mistake, but I don't think even Dr. Caner's most severe critics think this is supposed to be a lie. It just goes to show that his alleged familiarity with Islam is probably not as extensive as folks might think based on his autobiographical reports.
What Dr. Geisler fails to mention is that Sawm is one of the five pillars of Islam. It's not just some obscure word that most Muslims would not know, even if Dr. Geisler himself or his expected audience is not aware of what it means. If Dr. Caner were not claiming to be an expert in Islam, I don't think anyone except his most severe critics would give a second thought to the fact that he does not pronounce it correctly. But Dr. Caner is sometimes presented as though he were some kind of expert on Islam - in that role, consistently mispronouncing one of the five pillars is somewhat more troubling.
"6) He is charged with lying because look [sic] away or crosses his legs or arms (which is symptomatic of lying)!"
I don't put a lot of stock in the body language clues for lying. This is really one of the most trivial objections - if that were all that Caner's critics had, they should be laughed at.
"7) It is charged that Ergun has shoes on in a mosque picture which is forbidden (Wrong. It is not forbidden in the outer court)."
First of all, is the claim that these photos are from the "outer court" of some mosque or mosques? (link to photos and discussion) If so, which mosque? What "outer court" in
Second, how is the outer court "in the mosque"?
Again, it doesn't look like Dr. Geisler is really familiar with the evidence.
Dr. Geisler's First Conclusion
Dr. Geisler's article looks like the work of more than one person. The first conclusion comes right above a section titled "Some Muslim Allegations against Dr. Caner" and then there is a later "Concluding Thoughts" section. We'll address the "Concluding Thoughts" later.
This conclusion is as follows:
Several things are worth noting here. First of all, none of them are morally culpable since no one has proven intentional deception or embellishment. Furthermore, when Ergun becomes aware of any mistakes, he owns it, corrects, and apologizes for it. In addition, most of these allegations range from the trivial to the ridiculous. . Finally, not one of them involves a moral or doctrinal deviation from the Faith.There are several issues with this summary. First, if (1), (3), and (7) are true charges, they would be morally culpable, and Geisler's response is hardly adequate to clear Dr. Caner of the charges. Second, Dr. Geisler has not documented apologies for the mistakes that Dr. Caner has made, and we have trouble believing that he could document apologies for more than a very few mistakes. Perhaps he has privately apologized for others - I'm not sure what significance (if any) those private apologies would have. The idea that "most of these allegations range from the trivial to the ridiculous" is really questionable. But let's assume that he were right - the issue is really the serious charges - not the chaff. It's hardly a defense of Dr. Caner to claim that there is a lot of chaff mixed in with the wheat, though it would explain why a defense is a long time coming. Finally, lying is a moral issue - and lying is what Dr. Caner has been accused of, according to Geisler's own article. I'm not sure if Dr. Geisler is trying to use "moral" as a euphemism for "sexual" or what he's trying to do. Dr. Caner's theological issues (any "doctrinal deviation from the Faith") are really an entirely different story (one is discussed here, if anyone is interested).
This is a good place to stop this particular post, leaving the remainder of Dr. Geisler's defense for another post.