Some of my friends disagree with Ishmael’s comments about prophets. They make the point that Ishmael himself is only another prophet. How do you feel about this?
Prophets invariably claim to be bringing a message that is not available to humans by ordinary means. That is, it comes to them from God (Moses), from a dream (Wovoka), or from transcendent illumination (Gautama Buddha).
Ishmael would certainly deny that his message comes from any such source. Again and again he says: “All this can be worked out from information available in any public library.” And indeed that’s how it WAS worked out—by me.
The prophet always says, “Belief is the issue. You can’t check out what I’m saying, because my sources are inaccessible to you; you just have to believe it.” By contrast, like the scientist and the philosopher, I say, “Belief has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m saying. Don’t ‘believe’ it, check it out. All my sources are accessible to you. Test what I’m saying any way you can. See if it works, see if it makes sense. If it DOESN’T work, if it DOESN’T make sense, then throw it away—never, never just ‘believe’ it.”