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  • One of the wisest things I've heard on this subject has been told to me by a muslim. As you may know, the first of the five Pillars of Islam is the shahada : a muslim must claim his faith by the means of the following sentence : There is no other god than God, and Muhammad is His prophet. The theological importance of the first part of the sentence is enormous : the other religions have the same God -- but different prophets. Muhammad -- from a muslim point of view -- happens to be a better prophet because
    • the other religions have the same God [as Islam]...

      I have heard this argument before. And, interestingly, it's usually atheists who make it.

      Well, it's bogus. I'm sure that from an atheist's point of view, a logical identity relation exists between all religions that have the quality "Num_Gods==1". But that's silly. If anything, an atheist should be more inclined to distinguish between various purported all-being entities, since they're all fictitious!

      In any case, it is fallacious to draw an identity
      • The whole idea of incompatible gods is ridiculous. How can you say 'my god is true and yours is false'. The problem with this is that man is faliable and therefore all religions are flawed by their intepretation by man.

        The other problem with this attitude is that different cultures have the same view of say 'the sun' and use different words for it. For example God being referred to as Allah or JHVH is a language rather than religious issue.

        The characteristics of both God and the sun are also different acc

        @JAPH = qw(Hacker Perl Another Just);
        print reverse @JAPH;
        • How can you say 'my god is true and yours is false'.

          That boils down to religious belief. But that's not the issue here.

          God being referred to as Allah or JHVH is a language rather than religious issue.

          Of course; that's also not what's under discussion here.

          God and the sun are also different according to your culture and location.

          You miss the point.

          According to "my" world view, the Earth is flat, and if you sail too far, you'll fall off the edge.

          According to "your" world view, the surface of the
          • Actually, I think the analogy with the blind men and the elephant is bang on. At least for the people of the Book. Consider the history of the three religions (ignoring for the a moment the Shia/Sunni and Protestant/Catholic/Orthodox schisms).

            In each of those three religions God is revealed through the teachings of a prophet (or prophets).

            Moses comes down from the mountain with his tablets of stone and does the whole "The Lord thy God is a jealous bastard, do what he says or get smited, for ye are his chosen people!" Which is probably why you don't meet many (any?) Jewish evangelists.

            Then, a few hundred years later, up jumps Jesus and tells the world that Moses was right about God, up to a point, but actually we are all the sons and the daughters of God and if we would just be nice to each other, pay our taxes and follow Jesus' teachings then we'd be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven where everything would be lovely and shiny and everyone would be all smiley and happy, all the time. However, you were only going to get salvation if you came to God through the teachings of Jesus. (Hence the evangelism, after all damnation is pretty horrible so get out and convert everyone else, you've got to save 'em from hell...)

            600 or so years later, Mohammed comes out of the wilderness to tell everyone that, actually, Jesus wasn't entirely right either, God was nobody's father, God was like (insert patronizing description of Islamic belief here, I'm not entirely up on the doctrines of Islam what with being brought up in Britain which is still vaguely Christian agnostic. Imagine I was as rude about Mohammed as I was about Jesus and Moses.)

            Note that each of these prophets claims to be revealing the word of the same God. Each venerates the words and teachings of their predecessors while altering their teachings in more or less subtle ways. It seems to me that you can claim that one or more of them is wrong about God, but I don't see how you can claim that Mohammed is talking about a different God to the one that Jesus and Moses talked about. After all, it appears that that's what Mohammed himself believed.

            Of course, that doesn't mean that these differences in doctrine haven't been used as excuses for everyone to kill each other in ludicrous numbers, nor that they won't be used that way again (hell, they are being used that way).

            Personally, I believe that there is no God. There's no heaven. The time we have on Earth is all we get; death is the end. So it really pisses me off to see idiots who believe in God, motherhood, apple pie and suicide bombing (delete whichever is inapplicable) killing each other and innocent bystanders over a disagreement about who was right about a non existent god. When three score years and ten is all you get, cutting some poor bastard's life short at 15 is just obscene.

            I'd better stop now or this will really turn into a rant against the dying of the light.
            • I think one of the biggest problems is that the words of Mohammed, Jesus and Moses are unreadable by most of the people posting here given that if you are very educated you will have read all three faiths religious texts only in translated form.

              For example if English is your native language then all the scriptures referred to would have to be transposed from one alphabet to another and then translated. The King James Bible - and worse still the Good News Bible are chinese whispers of the original gospels.

              @JAPH = qw(Hacker Perl Another Just);
              print reverse @JAPH;
              • Unless you are very well versed in Aramaic, Greek, Ancient Hebrew and Ancient Arabic then you are not in a position to argue over such petty details.

                That brings to the question of what constitutes a religion. One could argue that the true religion (e.g. "true Christianity", "true Islam", etc.) are inscribed in books, and there they sit, available for anyone to learn and accept. Or, one could argue that a religion is the existing, operative, body of belief in a person, or group of people. Given that the
                • But the old gem of 'can god create a boulder so heavy he himself cannot lift it' gives a similar puzzle to God having incompatible characteristics. If god can create something that he then cannot lift, desteroy, etc then what is stopping him from having characteristics that would not be possible in a finite creature but are possible in an infinite omnipotent deity?

                  Whats more the idea of a Jealous and wrathful god is contradictory to a God of mercy and love, yet Islam, Judaism/Zionism and Christianity all s

                  @JAPH = qw(Hacker Perl Another Just);
                  print reverse @JAPH;
                  • can god create a boulder so heavy he himself cannot lift it

                    Well, from my personal point of view, that isn't a conundrum, but rather, has a very simple answer: No. Of course, it depends on what one thinks God is; but from my point of view, it is not accurate to say that there is nothing God can't do. God himself (in some revelations, at least) says as much. In particular, God can not do anything which is untrue to his nature. God cannot feel temptation. But that's just my opinion.

                    the same idea that
            • I think the analogy with the blind men and the elephant is bang on.

              I don't see how it can be. It boils down to this: the perspectives given by the blind men are not contradictory. Put together, they form a picture of the whole beast (or at least a part of the beast). That picture is consistent -- an animal with a head, a tail, four legs, etc. This does not work for the various religions' perspectives of the deity.

              Consider the history of the three religions...

              With all due respect, the histories are