Saturday, July 03, 2010

Responding to Norman Geisler's Defense of Ergun Caner - Part 1

As promised in a previous post (link) this post begins to address Dr. Geisler's defense of Dr. Caner.

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.

- TurretinFan

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://truelife.org/home/professors?id=11 states that Ergun gained citizenship in 1984

Pilgrimsarbour said...

It seems to me that the conversion age itself is irrelevant. What's at issue, really, is conversion from what? We are told that he was a jihadist that converted to Christianity sometime as a teenager. The facts seem to indicate that he was never a jihadist, which to me is much more important.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if Dr. Geisler had his students, once again, do the grunt work of investigating this situation. It would be in keeping with his incoherent response to The Potter's Freedom, which I tend to agree with Dr. White that it's too muddled to have come from Geisler himself. In my view, this "defense" of Caner is cut from the same mould.

Cheryl Schatz said...

Anonymous, but this account here says he became a citizen in 1982. Is Ergun now telling Geisler that he became a citizen in 1978 when other places he says 1982 and 1984?

The problem with lies is that you have to tell a lie to cover a lie and then it really gets ugly. If he really apologized, then he should actually tell the truth. I feel for Ergun Caner. He is in a hard place. He didn't publicly confess when he should have and so he is left with covering his tracks. When they are more lies told to cover the lies, how can he be seen as one who is sorry? If he doesn't stop he will losing his teaching job too.

I really wish that those who love Ergun the most would sit him down and help him to see that continuing a life of coverups is going against God. I so wish that he had faithful friends who would encourage him to tell the truth, confess his lies and take himself out of a place of leadership until he is completely restored.

Andrew Suttles said...

(1) I wonder if Geisler will ever address the fact that Dr. Caner repeatedly made the mistake of referring to himself as a PhD. I would think that if the Dean of an 'academic' institution was falsifying his academic credentials, that would be a concern.

(2) Is Geisler being misleading by listing some of these ridiculous charges (folding arms, etc) as legitimate charges? OR, could it be that these are the actual ridiculous charges that he was investigated for by Liberty?

I Wonder said...

People like Geisler and Leo Percer, etc. remind me of mafia thugs that cover for the mob. This entire scandal is one of the most evil things I've ever personally witnessed in my church.

Anonymous said...

Cheryl - thanks for pointing that out to me

Pilgrimsarbour
Some people make a big deal out of conversion dates. Eg My own conversion date for instance is a little vague. I know it was March 1980 but cannot be certain of the day.
However were I to say I was saved March 1 and then somewhere else March 19 then I am being specific and am knowingly telling possible lies.

Coram Deo said...

It is charged that Ergun has shows on in a mosque picture which is forbidden

That should be shoes, unless he was watching something unseemly on his smart phone or iPod, which is unlikely given the apparent date of the photo.

In Christ,
CD

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Anonymous,

Yes, you're right. I had forgotten that some traditions insist that the believer be able to rattle off an exact conversion "date" based on "making a decision for Christ." So it may be much more important a consideration than I had originally thought.

-PA

gary dilworth said...

TF,
Change shows to shoes in #7
And troubling to trouble in your conclusion.

Turretinfan said...

Good points Anonymous and Cheryl Schatz.

CD: I've added a [sic] indicator for the typo in Geisler that you found.

Turretinfan said...

"I wonder if Geisler will ever address the fact that Dr. Caner repeatedly made the mistake of referring to himself as a PhD."

I just blows it off on the basis that Caner has a Th.D.

Turretinfan said...

Gary D.

Sure thing. And actually, on second thought, I'm not sure Geisler had "shows" so I've just corrected it to "shoes."

-TurretinFan

Fredericka said...

When Mohammed Khan began his investigative work, he focused on some fairly trivial points, for the same reason that the police focused on whether Lizzie Borden did, or did not, go up to the loft to inspect fishing equipment. Though the floor was dusty, there were no foot-prints. I can imagine some junior police officer protesting, 'why do you keep talking about fishing lures, amidst all this blood and gore? Focus!' In the grand scheme of things it is not very important whether somebody went up to the loft or not. However it shows Lizzie lied. Why did she lie? Susan Smith also lied; she said she and her children went to Wal-mart, but the video cameras did not show them there. What MoKhan was expecting was this pattern: Story A collapses against the facts, so the suspect substitutes improved Story B. But if you keep hammering away at the fact that Story A and Story B contradict each other, ultimately Story C will emerge: the truth. Lizzie Borden killed her parents (though she never confessed and was acquitted), Susan Smith killed her children. MoKhan thought Story C, the truth, was that EC was never a Muslim at all, which he was predisposed to believe owing to the religiously-motivated illusion that Muslims never convert to Christianity.

Instead the divorce decree emerged. Under what circumstances would a divorce decree specify the children are to be educated as Muslims if both parents are atheists, or Christians? MoKhan should have reconfigured his web-site, but didn't, because he is still waiting for Story C to emerge. He will be waiting forever. If Dr. Geisler went right to the source, MoKhan's web-site, and was confused by the unordered presentation of trivial discrepancies mixed in with compelling evidence of EC's near decade-long project to invent a false persona as a make-believe jihadi, he would not be the first. It's a jumble. The evidence should be ranked by importance, with a clear narrative provided showing EC's motive in spinning his tall tales.

gary dilworth said...

"1) He said he was 18 instead of 16 which he repeatedly said he was." (Geisler)

18 miles instead of 16 miles from the mosque?

18 pages instead of 16 pages into the book he was reading?

18 months instead 16 months into his term as dean?

18 years old instead of 16 years old when he immigrated?

18 years old instead of 16 years old when he converted to Christianity? or got his license to drive?

There's not alot of context there.

Anonymous said...

" If Dr. Geisler went right to the source, MoKhan's web-site, and was confused by the unordered presentation of trivial discrepancies mixed in with compelling evidence of EC's near decade-long project to invent a false persona as a make-believe jihadi, he would not be the first. It's a jumble. The evidence should be ranked by importance, with a clear narrative provided showing EC's motive in spinning his tall tales."

Fredrica,

You make an excellent point. That has been a huge problem with this whole scandal. Khan's motivation is to prove Caner was NEVER a Muslim. And into the Abyss we go if we follow.

The focus, for us Christians, should have been the lies he told about his bio.

Turretinfan said...

Gary D.:

The context, of course, is when Caner allegedly converted. But yes - NG does not provide much context.

-TurretinFan

Bennett Willis said...

In one of EC's talks, he said that his conversion took place when he was close to/almost/or similar word 20. When I heard this, I took the apparent shifting of the date as giving him more time to be experienced in Islam. It seemed to me that making the date later gave more credence to the point he was making at the time.

I have no idea which of the many examples this was from but remember thinking at the time that this seemed to me to be a non-specific shift.

Bennett Willis said...

"I am a Persian Turkish immigrant raised as a Sunni Muslim, and in the interest of full disclosure, I must state that I left Islam in 1982, the same year I became an American citizen."

This is from Cheryl's link (above). I suppose that it qualifies as a "primary source" from a technical point of view since it is a quote from EC--and both these events seem like something he should remember. Maybe the best thing to do is to just give this to NG and let him sort it out.

Maybe NG can ask directly for clarification.

I am getting to the point that if anything could be tied down that I would feel relief. When I used to work with chemical plants, occasionally I would "lose faith" in the information that I was getting from the instruments. The way I could start to fix that problem was to look until I found SOMETHING that I could believe. Then I could work from there to the next thing. Eventually I would "regain faith" in the information or identify the actual problem. I really need something factual here.

Bennett Willis said...

I put the documentation for three dates of citizenship together so it would be easy for EC's defenders to reconcile:

The first two dates are from comments/links from up the thread.

"I am a Persian Turkish immigrant raised as a Sunni Muslim, and in the interest of full disclosure, I must state that I left Islam in 1982, the same year I became an American citizen."
http://www.crosswalk.com/1274146/

Since this is a direct quote from EC, it qualifies as a primary source.

http://truelife.org/home/professors?id=11 states that Ergun gained citizenship in 1984.

TrueLife would be a secondary source but you know that they try hard to put up the information they are given.

This is the quote from NG’s defense. 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.

I suspect that EC wishes his "defenders" would go away and let this die. :)

Turretinfan said...

Bennet W.:

I would also add that he made a "1/2 my life" type comment as well, at some point, if I recall correctly.

There's a reason that Geisler does not provide primary source material.

-TurretinFan

Fredericka said...

Bennett Willis wrote:
"When I heard this, I took the apparent shifting of the date as giving him more time to be experienced in Islam."

This does seem to be the way it works. EC gives his testimony and criticizes Islam. Muslims scoff, 'What do you know about Islam, you were just a kid when you converted. You don't even know Arabic.' The way EC responds is to keep bumping his conversion date forward, to keep awarding his dad honors and offices he never claimed, and to exaggerate his linguistic prowess past the point of making himself ridiculous. A more honest person would have said, 'Maybe I didn't know much about Islam, but what I did know almost ruined my life, here and hereafter, before I found Christ.'

Anonymous said...

I have asked through comments, should Ergun Caner apologize to Islam for sermonizing them and feeding red meat to those ready to believe so easily.

most responses are "Why should he apologize to Islam" which tells me these people really want to hear lies so as to carry on the stereotype. and I am no fan of Islam they are way behind the times in civil rights for women.

but, I will ask it here ...shoudl Ergun Caner apologize to Islam

Turretinfan said...

I think you would need to actually build a case for that, anonymous. Not here, of course, but at your own blog. If he misrepresented Islam in some way that goes beyond honest mistakes, then obviously he should apologize.