History knows thousands of prophetic claimants. Only a handful, however, have changed history. Moses was an orphan with a stammering speech and a murderer's blot on his name. Jesus was an impoverished vagabond known to be a fatherless child. Muhammed grew up as an illiterate merchant on the outer reaches of the Arabian desert. Yet few will deny that the influence of these three ancient men is globally tangible even now, even as we speak. Few will deny that their influence far surpasses myriads of mighty historical potentates, great conquerors, brilliant philosophers and visionary social reformers -- not only in the historical persistence of their influence, but also in the sheer number of their admirers and the depth of their devotion.
Each of these three men declared to have brought a message from the One God. All of their words are, until today, studied, reflected and viewed as a source of inspiration and life guide. Given the phenomenal difference in the influence of these historical persons as compared to virtually all the other known great men of history (some of whose historicity may be equally disputed if we want to go down that road) -- men who were far more powerful and influential in their own time than the power-trio under scrutiny -- there is nothing unreasonable in exploring the option that each of these men were inspired by the very Being in Whose name they prophesied. The burden of proof rests firmly on the fundamentalist who adamantly draws distinctions in the prophetic/divine "status" of these individuals, as well as on the avowed skeptic who carelessly lumps these individuals of such a provably extraordinary influence into the casual categories of great philosophers, social reformers and political leaders.
Let me hereby challenge anyone to show me a historical person who has influenced more people more deeply than the sayings attributed to Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Karl Marx, Plato, Chairman Mao? Mahatma Gandhi? The burden of proof is not on the claimant stating the evident, that billions of people are still and have historically been influenced by the three mentioned individuals, and that these individuals claimed to have brought a message from God. Obviously, a mere claim of prophethood without such a provably extraordinary influence would not call for any further examination of some unique divine status. But such is not the case with Moshe Rabbenu, Yeheshua ben Yosef and Muhammad ibn Abdullah.
An appeal to all the murder and mayhem perpetrated in the name of these individuals is not a valid counter-argument against their extraordinary influence. Such unfortunate facts only corroborate the truth of their extraordinary influence. At best, the atrocities perpetrated by their followers indicates that their influence can be abused to advance all manner of personal and political agendas. But so can any other ideology or political cause.
As to the historicity of Moses and Jesus, some, but not the majority, of respected scholars dispute it. The majority of unbiased scholars accept that both of them existed while contending the most fantastic accounts of their lives. Much of the professional debate among the established historians rather concerns whether or not a minimalist or a maximalist account of their lives is closer to the truth. Only a small minority seriously questions that Moses or Jesus ever existed. Certain historians question the nihilists' objectivity almost as much as they question the objectivity of Bible scholars boasting "irrefutable" evidence for the Resurrection of Christ as a historical fact.
My contention remains: Given the evidence on their extraordinary historical influence, together with their claim of messengership, it is reasonable for any a thinking person to explore the option that the three mentioned prophets were, in fact, representing what they claimed they were. My contention is not that their unparalleled historical influence suffices as a scientific proof of their divine origin. My contention is that a glib dismissal of the option of divine revelation is palpably biased against religious theories rather than representing a scientifically reasonable avenue. Similarly, an equally irrational bias exists in a glib dismissal of the divine inspiration of some of the three in favour of others.
Quite simply, the extraordinary influence of Moses, Jesus and Muhammad over millennia cannot be dismissively explained away by superficial appeal to charisma, power-play, mass-hysteria or poetic genius. Thousands have possessed all of the above, yet have hardly left a dent in history.