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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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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
      • 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".

        I don't know a religion where Num_Gods != 1. All religions present a first cause to all effects; this cause is essentially indivisible. For so-called polytheisms, there's often the "god behind the gods" (the "unknown god" of one of the Epistles -- perhaps II Corinthians -- I'll have to look this up).

        For incompatible characteristics of gods in different religions, I

        • I don't know a religion where Num_Gods != 1.

          Actually, in human history monotheism is a late development. And certainly many polytheistic religions survive.

          An argument could also be made that the nonexistence of God is a religious belief (like your "faith in humanity") no differently than other religions, and that therefore religions in which Num_Gods==0 also exist.

          For so-called polytheisms, there's often the "god behind the gods"

          Even granted your "often", it is not always, and that leaves true polytheistic religions. And taking Hinduism's Brahma as a case in point of your argument, it is a very late development, and surely one which is embraced by but a fraction of Hindus.

          (the "unknown god" of one of the Epistles

          While Paul makes great rhetorical use of the "unknown god", it is an unjustified stretch to say that the Greeks who erected the monument "to an uknown god" considered that god to be an uber-god, the omnipotent creator/sustainer/destroyer/redeemer/etc. There is no evidence (that I'm aware of) that the ancient Greeks ever believed there to be such a god. Such a concept was completely contrary to their polytheistic belief system.

          If you read carefully the Bible you'll find similar ideas.

          I do read carefully the Bible, and I find the same theme throughout: that God is a jealous god, and Thou shalt have no other gods before me, and Beware the teachers of false gospels. I do not see where Jehovah desired his people to identify him with Baal or any other god. Quite the opposite!