Don’t we all worship the same god?

The problem of worship in a world of religions

Do all religions worship the same God?  The answer to this question is in the definition of God or gods.  I remember working in O’Hare at American Airlines, when one passenger approached me wanting to travel to Liberia.

We argued for a while because he would not give me his visa for this country, which is required for all US citizens traveling there. But he said he goes to Liberia often without a visa every month.  We argued back and forth until I finally understood that he was not going to the Republic of Liberia, a country in West Africa, but Liberia, the city in Costa Rica!

We used the same language, but had different referents with different objects of our thoughts.  

Religion is one of the main areas where this is a problem. When a Muslim says “I believe in Jesus” he means a prophet who is not the son of God. When a Christian says this, he means the Son of God and God of very God. When a Jehovah’s Witness says this, he means the Archangel Michael. When a Hindu says he believes in God, he means something completely different than what a Jew would mean when he says God.  

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My point is that merely because different religions use the same terminology it does not mean they are using the same referent or object, especially God what ever you call him or it…, Dios, Jehovah, Yahweh, Elohim, Allah, Khoda, Brahma…We need to define our terms before any meaningful dialogue and get off the ground!

By the way the Scriptures, ie. Bible declares that there is one and only one God (the Quran says the same over and over), whether you believe it or not, that is what it says.  But just because there is one God, does not mean all religions follow the same God, even Islam and Christianity..no matter what they call him.

Carm puts it this way..

  1. (Deuteronomy 6:4)–“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one”
  2. (Isaiah 43:10)–” . . . Before Me [YHWH] there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me.”
  3. (Isaiah 44:6)–“. . . there is no God besides Me.”
  4. (Isaiah 44:8)–“. . . And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none.”

So then a question may arise,

“How can we know if a religion is false?”

Check out this link for that: One way to spot a false religion.

Now let me add to this something to make us think deeper on this.god-is-not-one-hc-cc
Stephen Prothero is a Professor of Religion at Boston University, –(secular thinker) wrote a great book called “God is not One”
Prothero’s main thesis is that religions are not the same…surprise!  This books is great for a culture that sucks in pluralism like oxygen and beer.
Prothero documents that they are apparently the same (morality, rituals), and essentially different (views of the nature of God, heaven, hell, salvation, evil, goodness, sexuality, personhood, woman’s rights, and human destiny to name a few).
Not only are they different in their theology, but also in their methods and even end results.
For example, he lists…

1 – Islam (The Way of Submission) –the problem is self-sufficiency, the solution is submission, the technique is performing the religion (the Five Pillarsetc.)
2 – Christianity (The Way of Salvation)- the problem is sin, the solution is salvation in Jesus Christ, the technique is some combination of faith and good works. [This is a heresy of course. Salvation comes only by faith alone, in Christ alone. But although that is a necessary condition, it is not sufficient one, as there is also the role of sanctification, fellowship to help one become more whole etc. ]
3 – Confucianism (The Way of Propriety) –the problem is chaos, the solution is social order, the techniques are ritual and etiquette.
4 – Hinduism (The Way of Devotion) –the problem is samsara (cycle of death and rebirth),the solution is moksha (release)and the technique is devotion.
5 – Buddhism (The Way of Awakening) –the problem is suffering, the solution is nirvana, the technique is the Eightfold Path.
6 – Yoruba Religion (The Way of Connection) –the problem is disconnection, the solution is reconnection to the divine, the technique is divination and sacrifice.
7 – Judaism (The Way of Exile and Return) –the problem is exile, the solution is return, the technique is remembering and obeying.
8 – Daoism (The Way of Flourishing) –the problem is lifelessness, the solution is flourishing, the technique is the Dao.

What do you think? 

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Pauline McCaig

    Does the God you worship K consign people to hell— whether that means — eternal torment— annihilation—separation from God— because they have not discovered the ‘truth’ in this existence—– mine doesn’t!

    Does the God you worship K accommodate gross inequalities so that the have’s can be charitable towards the have nots—- mine doesn’t!

    Does the God you worship K accommodate suffering so that his Glory can be enhanced by the way we deal with suffering— mine doesn’t!

    Do we worship the same God—– obviously not!!

    • confabulor

      Hello Pauline,

      If the theistic God exist
      then God is the ultimate cause of reality and per definition unique
      Therefore the God of the Jews, Muslims and Christians must be the same, one God

      In my mind this God, if God exist, would nor annihilate people because they fail to discover God, neither would earthy suffering enhance God’s glory (as his Glory is per definition already infinite).

      I agree with you (and share your indignation) that many adherents of the Abrahamic religions preach that suffering enhances God’s glory, or condemn people to eternal suffering or promise them a paradise full of virgins (F/M?) or defend slavery or gross equality based on the scriptures.

      If God exists and we prefer to remain free beings then one of the consequences (collateral damage) will be that some believers and religious leaders will, either out of sheer evilness or even with the best intentions, commit mistakes or crimes in the name of God.

      In my mind they all worship the same God but do not agree on the nature of such worship. Logically that is not God’s fault but humanity’s.

      On the other hand a non-abrahamic God concept is not the same God as the abrahamic God, because the definition of such God concept is different.

      Piet

      • Hi Piet,
        Thanks for your insights. I just don’t see an argument rebuttal of what I presented. Rather it sounds like your opinion as you said, “in my mind” . Which is fine. But why is your view true of God?
        Khaldoun

        • confabulor

          Khaldoun,

          Thanks for your response and I take your point on the rebuttal.

          If one God exists then God must be logically unique. In the case of the theistic God, all abrahamic religions appear to agree on the characteristics of God. Therefore all abrahamic religions must follow the same objective God. Therefore there is no disagreement on Who to follow.

          The bigger issue is on how to follow God based on a personal relationship with God or based on a codified revelation and traditions framework. Whereas it is logically possible to agree on the objective nature of God, this is more challenging for revelations and traditions. Due to the necessary human interface the objective nature is to a more or lesser extent corrupted. Defending the objectivity of one’s religious believes and practices outside of a community, who follow the same revelations and practices, is a tough call.

          As Visu was writing. Even if we do not question the Authority of the One God, what authority has such God objectively granted to the leaders of organised religions here on earth?

          As a result objectively it is impossible to define what is a true and what is a false religion or what elements in an established religion are true or false.

          For me any form or interpretation of religion that does not preach the following two principles:-

          1) Do not do to your neighbour what you would not do to yourself, and

          2) Live compassionately

          ,have a very high likelihood of ultimately not being truthful in nature.

          This however does not mean that religions that follow the former two principles are always truthful and can claim divine revelations.

          Piet

          • Hi Piet

            You said “. In the case of the theistic God, all abrahamic religions appear to agree on the characteristics of God. Therefore all abrahamic religions must follow the same objective God. Therefore there is no disagreement on Who to follow.”

            But that is not necessarily the truth is it? It is true on the basics, omni-attributes of God–but of the nature of the person of God, it is a different story

            Jesus said he was God, thus Christians worship him as a Trinity.

            Jews do not think Jesus was any thing more than a teacher and do not believe in the Trinity.

            Muslims built the entire edifice of their religion as a rejection of Jesus’s deity and the Trinity ! Read Surah 3 or the Surah of Maryam. It is about him not being the Son or God or God. The gold Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem addressed and tries to rebuttal the Christian faith with surahs from the Quran on it in Arabic. See

            See http://www.islamic-awareness.org/History/Islam/Inscriptions/DoTR.html

            Jesus said “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)

            Much more to say but that is enough for now 🙂
            Thanks again for your feedback

          • confabulor

            Hello Khaldoun,

            Thanks for your response and for continuing this interesting discussion.

            We seem to agree that the omni-attributes of God are the same across the abrahamic religions. We seem to differ in opinion on the revelation of the person of God to humanity. For the Jews the prophetic revelations somehow seem to have stopped around the appearance of Jesus, for the Christians Jesus is the Word (the personification) of God augmented by continuing revelations through the Holy Ghost, for the Muslims the Quran (as literally received by God’s prophet Mohammed) describes the nature of God (also followed by practices during the live of Mohammed and later interpretations).

            Whereas you defend that through revelations we can know objectively the nature of the person of God, I argue that no human observations (neither in the physical or the transcendent sphere) can be objective due to the inherent human subjective element.

            I argue that the difference in the interpretation of God’s person (if God exists) among the abrahamic religions is caused by human fallibility and errors rather than God providing conflicting interpretations.

            Piet

    • Hi Pauline

      I hear a lot of passion here!

      Of course this issue is hot. But it is more than just kids talking about their imaginary friends.

      This discussion could be nothing more than children arguing about that if there is no God. My imaginary friend is more beautify than yours, or my imaginary friend does not eat pork, while yours does! My imaginary friend loves people and would never send them to the dog house while yours does! Clearly my imaginary friend is better!! ?

      It is as if God is whatever we what him, it, she to be. If that is the case they I can be very creative! 🙂 And looking over the history of religion, you can see how many gods just take on the culture and personality of the people in that region. The Norse or Greek gods are perfect examples of this.

      But If there is an objective God who made us, not the other way around, then saying “my god does x, while your god does not do x” is a nothing more than a play on words is it not?

      If God did create Hell then it is my duty to believe it exists. But if there is no hell, then I would be a fool to believe in it. So the question before us is, what is the difference between home made theology and and a God made one?

      Should we not all follow what we believe to be true what than what we want to be true about God?

      • Pauline McCaig

        Well many would say K that we are both talking about ‘imaginary friends’ when we talk about God— and perhaps with some justification given the sheer amount and diversity of images of God within just this one faith tradition , let alone between different faith traditions!

        But let me pose the question to you that you have posed to Piet— what makes your image of God right?

        You and I have radically different images of God– and yet I contend that we have both come to those via a similar process— for what else do either of us have ? You I am sure would hold that yours was based upon scripture—- so would I! You would probably also refer me to the works of some of the early Church Fathers— I could do the same! You could tell me — and probably demonstrate — that you have employed your God given rational faculties and your innate sense of right and wrong to come to the understanding you have— me too– and yet we still end up on opposite sides of the fence so to speak!

        And yes, of course, we should all follow what we believe to be true— but at the same time I also think that we should add a rider to that— and look at the possible consequences of what following what we believe to be true entails!

        Do our beliefs lead us to perceive those whom we perceive as Other to us— ‘Them’ rather than ‘Us’— in a way consistent with the way we think this man we both follow would have perceived them? That incidentally is what I was referring to when I talked about fruits on your other post—- I am not surprised to hear that Isis look after their own– we all look after our own— the acid test for me is how we perceive and relate to those outside of our own group!

        • Pauline McCaig

          Thanks Piet— I will respond properly later!

          Good to hear from you.

        • Pauline,
          Thanks for the reminder. There are many people, more holy and greater than I who disagree with me! So I stand humbly before you to tell you what I believe to be true, not what I want to be true.

          Regarding your last statement….” the acid test for me is how we perceive and relate to those outside of our own group!” In fact this is one of the things Jesus said ..”You will know them by their fruits.” (Matt 7:16). So you are in good company! 🙂

          So how does the Christian church deal with those outside the group?

          Well…Christianity has done more good for the world than any other social or religious group in history. Sure we have our share of liabilities (the Crusades, Galileo, abuse of passages to justify African slavery, Spanish inquisition, and many others). Check out the wonderful book WHAT HAS CHRISTIANITY EVER DONE FOR US? How It Shaped the Modern World, by Jonathan Hill

          http://www.amazon.com/What-Has-Christianity-Ever-Done/dp/0830833285
          (FYI Hill is a graduate of Oxford University)

          In his book, Hill argues not that Christianity is the true religion or that Christianity has done more good than bad, which I think it is or did, but he rather he looks to the contribution of Christianity to the “other” . In particular the duty of society to assist the poor and sick (the Roman Empire had no welfare system and no hospitals for the common man ); an emphasis upon literacy (Christians started most educational institutions in history). No other institution or people than the people of Jesus have given more of their time and lives to the service of the “other people” in hospitals, culture, the arts, education, society than any other.
          Even now the Christians are addressing world poverty, hunger, and AIDS more than any other group with World-Vision, Compassion International, Salvation Army and the Red Cross, to name just a few.

          So the fruits are there…and they are ripe and ready to be eaten for the hungry..
          “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come…” Isaiah 51:5

          • Pauline McCaig

            Thanks for your response K. I am intrigued by your use of the phrase ‘not what I want to believe’ which you have used a number of times now! This may appear to be going off topic, but bear with me, as I think it may be pertinent to the question which I think the majority of contributors to this blog are asking you in one way shape or form— why do you believe what you believe K about the existence and nature of the God you follow?

            When you use the phrase ‘not what I want to believe’ that suggests to me that there are aspects of your beliefs that you find quite unpalatable–and that you may even see their very unpalatabiliy as ‘evidence’ of their authenticity— am I right?

            To illustrate with just one— admittedly well worn — example! I think that I know you well enough K to be reasonably sure that you actually find the belief that the majority of Gods creatures will not, at the very least, be given further opportunities to fulfill their potentials after death, quite unpalatable! In fact I would hazard a guess that you might actually grieve about that— and yet you persist— I think– in that belief! The big question for me is why?

            I can tell you why I don’t believe that. For me the idea that the God I see reflected in the life, teachings, and death of the man on the cross whom is purported to have died asking for those culpable in his death to be forgiven is totally inconsistent and incompatible with the concept of a God whom would not forgive any of his other creatures whom did not recognise whom that man was!

            So come on K— fair dues— I have told you why I don’t believe in one plank of the Christian faith that you do believe in— are you going to tell me why you do?

            I think this is what you are being asked here K— not so much ‘what you believe to be true’ but why you believe it to me true?

            Thanks for the book recommendation

          • Pauline you asked me “why do you persist in your belief?” in reference to concepts that I find very difficult to swallow and painful to think about…,
            It comes out to one word my friend…trust.
            Allow me to illustrate.
            Have you heard the old story of a man hanging off a cliff ?
            He asks God to save him. He looks down into the foggy and unknown, seemingly bottomless drop before him in fear. Then he hears God ! God asks him “do you trust me ? The man says “yes” God asks him again & again “do you really trust me?” “Yes” comes his exasperated reply over and over. Finally God says to him “then let go”
            That is the type of trust I am talking to you about when I say or when Christians in general say trust Jesus. So when I read about theological or historical issues in the Bible that are troubling –I trust him for the result.
            For he has proven he is worthy of that trust –just look at his pierced hands and feet.

          • Pauline McCaig

            I trust him too K!! But for me it is that very trust— the pierced hands and feet— which when I encounter such concepts as eternal damnation for those whom have— for whatever reason– not assented to belief in the Trinity lead me to my belief that it must be wrong!

            We have had this conversation so many times my friend over the past three years —- perhaps we— or should I say I— should rest content with what I think Barth said “Let God be God”

            At the same time however—- and part of my angst— is that I believe that our beliefs — whatever consequences they may or may not have iin any further existence— have the potential to have very serious— and deleterious— consequences in this existence!

        • Miles Fender

          Hi Pauline,

          “You and I have radically different images of God– and yet I contend that we have both come to those via a similar process— for what else do either of us have ? You I am sure would hold that yours was based upon scripture—- so would I! You would probably also refer me to the works of some of the early Church Fathers— I could do the same! You could tell me — and probably demonstrate — that you have employed your God given rational faculties and your innate sense of right and wrong to come to the understanding you have— me too– and yet we still end up on opposite sides of the fence so to speak!”

          I love this paragraph (so forgive me for quoting it in its entirety), but it’s also interesting (isn’t it?) that I have followed more or less the same process and ended up on the third(?) side of the fence. My reading of scripture, my innate sense of right and wrong, and my (nature-given) rational faculties have led me to conclude that there is almost certainly no God. You can dismiss my conclusion as simply wrong, but what is it that has led me to be so wrong if we both have access to the same lines of reasoning, and we are both normal, rational people? Odd, isn’t it?

          • Pauline McCaig

            Don’t get me wrong Miles— I am often on that side of the fence with you! So no I don’t dismiss your conclusion— I think that there are perfectly good rational reasons not to believe in the existence of God, or the God of Christian Orthodoxy anyway!

            I am certainly not a card carrying believer—I have been neither baptised nor confirmed— and in spite of a young man of our acquaintance suggesting that it might be time to rectify that—to date I have not felt able to take that step! So why do I argue the way I do you might ask?

            One reason I suppose is because although I can say— and mean– that I believe that there are good rational reasons not to believe, I also believe that there are good rational reasons to believe—- but it is a very close run thing most of the time!! I have recently read a book called My Bright Abyss by Christian Wiman in which he talks about waking up in the morning as a Christian and going to bed that night as an atheist— and vice versa— that pretty much sums up my experience most of the time!

            So how can one account for the difference between us? Or between the person whom for most of her life flatly denied the existence of the Christian God and the one whom now — as she approaches seventy— has serious suspicions that he might exist?

            I don’t really know how to answer that Miles— other than to say perhaps that I was always grasped by the vision of a God that was purported to love us enough to do what Jesus is reported as having done— and by the example of full humanity — if not divinity– he taught and set! My biggest problem I think was that I had not discovered many of the current theologians I have read over the past few years, whom present a very different image of Gods nature to that I had previously encountered— and is still taught of course in many versions of Christianity!!

            I also met K of course!!?

            Good to talk to you again!

  • vusi mathebula

    Hi Khaldoun

    Thanks for your post!

    I prefer us to have a same understanding of the term ‘religion’ if possible.we may also discuss if we understand the term ‘religion’ the way it is or if we understand the term ‘religion’ the way we are respectively.

    I think you may agree with me that when we talk about religion we are referring to what group of people say and how they behave,their institutions and organisations with official orders, authorised books and documents.

    What does the term ‘religion’ means to you?
    Who defines the term ‘religion’?
    Who decides what ‘religion’ is?
    Do you think that the term ‘religion’ is imposed on others?
    What qualifies those who are called religions to be religion?
    Who choses them and say this is a religion?

    I also enjoyed the imaginary God of Pauline and yourself, is the any differece in both your approaches? what is the difference between home made theology and a God made one, except power of authority? Who decides that one is home made and the other one is God made?

    Surely, from here we may further discuss if we understand God the way God is or if we understand God the way we are individually. I won’t ask if is logically possible for individual of same faith to have same understanding of ‘what is God?’ and ‘not what did God do?’ as they may tell me what they are taught and obviously their answers are likely to be the same.

    Feel very free to ask for clarity as I may not be aware that I’m not clear from your angle.

    Thanks for reading!

    Vusi

    • Vusi
      That is a water fall of questions!! 🙂 I cannot answer them all…can you summarize into 2 or three? 🙂
      KS

      • vusi mathebula

        Hi Khaldoun

        Very true and I agree 100% from your angle.

        Please feel very to choose two questions from the questions on the previous post.

        I think in this way we may be practicing freedom of choice.

        Thank you!

        Vusi

  • Miles Fender

    The first thing that’s clear is that people certainly mean different things when they speak of different gods. Yahweh is obviously not the same person as Poseidon, or Hanuman. There are thousands of religions in the world, and they are most certainly not all proposing the existence of the same entity.

    The second thing that should be clear is that you cannot prove a religion to be false based on any criteria of your own religion. To do so would mean that you know your own religion to be true. Unfortunately, you do not.

    Do you consider Mormonism to be true? Presumably you don’t really believe that a twice-convicted con artist discovered a set of golden plates in upstate New York. Is Mormonism false? Is it a cult? Because the only real difference is in the timeline; Mormonism was founded in very recent (almost living) memory, we have good historical records, and the motive of the story is very clear and familiar. But other than its relative youth (an consequently its number of adherents), there is really no difference between it and any other religion.

    • confabulor

      Hello Miles,

      All religious teachings tend to be worded and defined in such way that they cannot be falsified. Even more they are not particularly interested in falsification of their teachings. Therefore objectively demonstrating that a religion is false is a futile exercise.

      For me the main point remains that, even if the theistic God exist, it is unlikely that any human (including prophets) can claim to have received an objective divine revelation. This poses a problem even for the established abrahamic religions. Their religious teachings and definitions of God or not objective and they all have non truthful elements in their teachings.

      However, Christianity is based on the person Jesus (who existed) and his teachings. These teachings were adopted to the Greco-Roman gentile world by Paul (who existed) illustrated by letters to real cities in the Greece and the Levant. Notwithstanding that even the Trinity might objectively be an incorrect concept, and a lot of the writings are allegories, the original claims of Christianity seem more truthful to me than such claims in Mormonism.

      Piet

      • Miles Fender

        Hi Piet,
        Even if Jesus did exist (which is by no means certain) then that wouldn’t make any of the claims of Christianity true. Even if he was born of a virgin, it would not prove he was the son of God.
        We do however know with much greater certainty that Joseph Smith existed. His claims are no more outlandish than anything that appears in the Bible, so why are his claims so obviously false, yet the claims of Paul so obviously true?

        • confabulor

          Hello Miles,

          It all depends on how fundamentalist and literal one reads the Bible and the Book of Mormon. The New Testament is clearly inviting to exegesis.

          Does the Son of God has to be taken literal or in the Jewish context of someone very much beloved by God. This in the stoic Greek and Roman context where all humans souls were seen as a fragment of the divine? The same can be said about the virgin birth of which there are examples from Mesopotamia (Marduk) and in Jewish tradition (Melchizedek).

          I am certainly not a Bible connoisseur and certainly do not defend for the Bible to be a literal historical record. To me it seems that Mormonism defends the historical nature of the Book of Mormon despite the archaeological (Old Egyptian in North America?), anachronisms and geographical anomalies. Therefore the basis of the link made by Joseph Smith between North America and the Middle East is highly questionable. Jesus is a lot more coherent with the history of Palestine 2000 years ago.

          However I must admit that I have not read the Book of Mormon yet.

          • Miles Fender

            Hey Piet,
            You are (as always) very clearly describing the very essence of my confusion on the subject.
            Yes, the Book of Mormon makes claims that are archaeologically and geographically questionable. But all religious texts make fanciful and incoherent claims. The question must be asked: on what basis do you maintain that the claims of one religion are not to be take literally, but the claims of another are (and are therefore false)?
            If one doesn’t believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, or that he rose from the dead, then in what sense is one a Christian? One could arbitrarily choose any religion as the “true” one based on little more than one’s own intuitions. But it seems to me that this would be a very poor basis to call the remaining religions “false.”
            I’m not trying to make the argument that all religions are false; I’m merely trying to understand how one legitimately (logically, if you like) determines that theirs is true and that others (particularly any that one has never even studied) are false.

          • confabulor

            Hello Pauline, Miles and Khaldoun,

            I try to respond to your posts with one single message.

            My position is that God is the Ultimate Cause of reality.

            1) It is not unreasonable to assume that such cause exists.

            2) The theistic God’s omni-attributes (as per Khaldoun’s post) describe such ultimate cause coherently.

            3) Any self-conscious and cognitive being, who is part of reality (our universe and possibly others), will try to seek and define such ultimate cause both in the physical and transcendent sphere.

            4) Humankind has only discovered a infinitesimal fraction of the physical world. It is reasonable to assume that the same narrow understanding would apply to the transcendent sphere (if it exists).

            5) Taking into account the current discovery process of the physical world, it very much looks like that we, humankind, might never discover the base physical cause of our universe. It is reasonable to assume that humankind is and will ultimately be confronted with the same limitation to know the transcendent Ultimate Cause of reality (God) through interpretations of revelations.

            Therefore it is equally reasonable to posit that no ultimate cause of reality exists (atheism) as to believe that there is an ultimate cause (theistic or other religious approach). The atheist will naturally see no purpose in worshiping and non-existing concept, whereas a religious person will want to worship the Ultimate Cause of reality. I remain agnostic on who of the two is ultimate objectively right. I am content in the knowledge that we, as humankind, will never know.

            Worship is religion practice and customs.

            Considering my reasoning above it would be unreasonable to claim that one knows the true way of worshiping God. The human limitation in interfacing with the physical and transcendent spheres will inevitably lead to a imperfect interpretation of both spheres (if both exist). For this reason I can comprehend a objective God (Ultimate Cause of reality) but (until now) fail to grasp an objective revelation (such as scripture, divine commands and instructions or divine human beings).

            A religion that tries to follow Truthfulness but accepts that is fallible, and preaches compassion is my best definition of a true religion. The more absolute, fundamentalist and “scientific” a religion becomes the higher the probability that it might contain false objectives.

            Humankind remains tribal. Maybe one day humankind will evolve into a species that has outgrown our tribal roots. At the moment I am afraid that even universal religions (such as all denominations of Christianity and Islam) are dragged into our “culture wars”

            In my mind, all religions that claim to be objectively and literally true cannot be but ultimately false. Religions that give guidance on how to live compassionately and seek the ultimate cause of reality, without providing certainty and literal truths, might be closer to being truthful religions.

            Responding to Miles on Jesus. Jesus as the Word of God (the best projection of the divine that we will be able to comprehend) born from a virgin (i.e. uncontaminated by our biological evolutionary human limitations), rising as a greater symbol after he died, is a great revelation of Hope. In my agnosticism I can ignore the question of the literal truth without rejecting the message of Hope.

            My apologies, my message became more verbose than I intended.

          • Pauline McCaig

            Hi Piet

            That was a good idea— tailoring one post to respond to several people’s contributions! I sat down this morning to fulfil my promise of responding to one you had sent me but eventually gave up, as the conversation had moved on apace from the point I had said I would do that. I am delighted therefore to have been given a second chance!

            As is often the case you seem to have the ability to put many of my thoughts into words– and there is much in what you have just said that I am in accord with! I was reminded of a quote I recently encountered from Voltaire— on Facebook — I have not been reading Voltaire— but it seems to sum up what I think is the thrust of your post.

            “Doubt is uncomfortable,
            But certainty is absurd”

            I am not perhaps quite as sure as you seem to be about the coherence of the concept of the theistic God— but that I think is a different subject so won’t go into it at this stage.

            I am sure, however, that as a species we remain fundamentally tribal– and that religion as it is often practised, tends to reinforce rather than to challenge that! Ironically though it seems to me that given the ubiquity of the existence of the Golden Rule within all the main religious traditions, they also seem to all contain the resources to subvert that! But it doesn’t happen— and that perhaps is one of the main reasons why I remain attached– however loosely — to the Christian religion,in that one of the best interpretations I think I have heard of the resurrection, was that it is evidence of our violence not being the last word!

            Here’s hoping——-!!!

          • Miles Fender

            Great summary Piet!
            Well gang, I think we have this one solved. Whats next? 🙂

          • Pauline McCaig

            ???

          • I do read these…thanks for the interaction here gang!

          • confabulor

            I am afraid there are hidden facets we have missed but it was great fun bulding our reasoning up together.

            What is next …. a glas of a good wine (Argentinian Trapiche) in front of the open fire!

            In Vino Veritas.

          • 🙂

          • Piet
            You always have some very interesting and fascinating thoughts !
            My struggle is with your last statement regarding historical truth and facts. You said ” I can ignore the question of the literal truth without rejecting the message of hope ”
            I cannot do that.
            Someone may say that Shakespeare gives me hope and a purpose for life–helps me in living even in the most difficult of times! Another may say that Mickey Mouse provides that to me ! And another– Krinishina or Michael Jackson. Of course you can throw Jesus into the buffet here too !
            As you can see and understand why people like Richard Dawkins will call our conversations “nonsense!”
            The bottom line for me is truth —objective truth that corresponds to reality How many of these believe systems will let me hold again my son who is now dead?? How many can offer historical evidence for victory over the grave ?

          • Piet Van Assche

            Hello Khaldoun,

            Thanks for your response.

            The bottom line for me is also the truth. Whereas I have given up hope that science can ever lead us to objective truth, but only to falsifiable theories and statements obtained by human reasoning and observation, I have not given up such hope yet for religious truths.

            The challenge is that even if someone experiences a direct religious experience, one should always ask if one’s human observation or reasoning is not misinterpreting the objective religious truth. This is even more challenging in case of using Scriptures or other forms of Revelation because then one has to question if I do not misinterpret the message, which might have been misunderstood by the author who heard it from the eye witness, who might have misinterpreted the original objective revelation. Admittedly one does not have to verbatim know the original objective revelation as long as it is obvious that an objective revelation (such as the person of Jesus) was given.

            Hence what I wanted to say is that as on honestly seeking agnostic I can , even if I do not accept the literal truth of the Scripture, still use it to search for the objective truth (and the ultimate message of Hope).

            The bottom line for me is also truth but presently for me the objective religious truth might exist (50% change) but is objectively unknowable. I admit that this is my personal handicap and that some people have long mastered this objective observational feat. Mathematics and physics (the description of the basic physical reality) seem to remain an utter mystery to many normal, rational people how ever much they try, so maybe the same applies for some people to discovering the objective cause and truth (if such truth exists) even if they are honestly searching for it.

          • vusi mathebula

            Hi Khaldoun and Piet

            I enjoyed reading your views about the truth and I decided
            to share the quote below. Please bear in mind that some paragraphs are missing
            in my quote below.

            “Then, when it was evening, Ven. Malunkyaputta arose from
            seclusion and went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down, he sat to
            one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, “Lord, just
            now, as I was alone in seclusion, this train of thought arose in my awareness:
            ‘These positions that are undeclared, set aside, discarded by the Blessed
            One… I don’t approve, I don’t accept that the Blessed One has not declared
            them to me. I’ll go ask the Blessed One about this matter. If he declares to me
            that “The cosmos is eternal,”… or that “After death a
            Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist,” then I will live the holy
            life under him. If he does not declare to me that “The cosmos is
            eternal,”… or that “After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does
            not exist,” then I will renounce the training and return to the lower
            life.’

            “Lord, if the Blessed One knows that ‘The cosmos is
            eternal,’ then may he declare to me that ‘The cosmos is eternal.’ If he knows
            that ‘The cosmos is not eternal,’ then may he declare to me that ‘The cosmos is
            not eternal.’ But if he doesn’t know or see whether the cosmos is eternal or
            not eternal, then, in one who is unknowing & unseeing, the straightforward
            thing is to admit, ‘I don’t know. I don’t see.’… If he doesn’t know or see
            whether after death a Tathagata exists… does not exist… both exists &
            does not exist… neither exists nor does not exist,’ then, in one who is
            unknowing & unseeing, the straightforward thing is to admit, ‘I don’t know.
            I don’t see.'”

            “It’s just as if a man were wounded with an arrow
            thickly smeared with poison. His friends & companions, kinsmen &
            relatives would provide him with a surgeon, and the man would say, ‘I won’t
            have this arrow removed until I know whether the man who wounded me was a noble
            warrior, a brahman, a merchant, or a worker.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this
            arrow removed until I know the given name & clan name of the man who
            wounded me… until I know whether he was tall, medium, or short… until I know
            whether he was dark, ruddy-brown, or golden-colored… until I know his home
            village, town, or city… until I know whether the bow with which I was wounded
            was a long bow or a crossbow… until I know whether the bowstring with which I
            was wounded was fiber, bamboo threads, sinew, hemp, or bark… until I know
            whether the shaft with which I was wounded was wild or cultivated… until I
            know whether the feathers of the shaft with which I was wounded were those of a
            vulture, a stork, a hawk, a peacock, or another bird… until I know whether
            the shaft with which I was wounded was bound with the sinew of an ox, a water
            buffalo, a langur, or a monkey.’ He would say, ‘I won’t have this arrow removed
            until I know whether the shaft with which I was wounded was that of a common
            arrow, a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleander arrow.’ The man
            would die and those things would still remain unknown to him.

            “It’s not the case that when there is the view, ‘After
            death a Tathagata exists,’ there is the living of the holy life. And it’s not
            the case that when there is the view, ‘After death a Tathagata does not exist,’
            there is the living of the holy life. And it’s not the case that when there is
            the view, ‘After death a Tathagata both exists & does not exist,’ there is
            the living of the holy life. And it’s not the case that when there is the view,
            ‘After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist’ there is the living
            of the holy life. When there is the view, ‘After death a Tathagata exists’…
            ‘After death a Tathagata does not exist’… ‘After death a Tathagata both
            exists & does not exist’… ‘After death a Tathagata neither exists nor
            does not exist,’ there is still the birth, there is the aging, there is the
            death, there is the sorrow, lamentation, pain, despair, & distress whose
            destruction I make known right in the here & now.”

            Majjhima-nikaya, Sutta 63

            Thanks for reading!

    • Hi Miles,

      I beg to differ! 🙂

      My post about this here http://www.logicallyfaithful.com/one-undeniable-spot-false-religion-cult/

      Jim Jones and David Koresh and ISIS are obvious examples of dangerous and false religions.
      I teach logic, and with logic and reason, we can find out what is false, or silly but it is difficult to prove something is true with logic alone. You need more than that.
      Khaldoun

      • Miles Fender

        Hi Khaldoun,
        I’ll grant you that those are dangerous religions, but I don’t see how you are logically making the move to false. That something is clearly dangerous and close-minded does not make it logically false.
        Again, do you consider Mormonism to be a cult?

        • Hi Miles,

          Because I believe that Jesus is who he said he was, and that he did what history says he did, rise from the dead. I do then believe what he says. Not just on faith alone, which is part of it, but on evidence as well.
          And Mormonism departs from his teaching in significant ways. Mormonism is NOT a cult in the psychological or sociological sense that traps and enslaves its people. But it is a cult in the theological sense because they claim to be Christians but do not follow what the Christians for 2000 years and the Bible teach (Faith alone, the Trinity, One God, etc). They are similar to but of course not the same as the Nation of Islam which is a cult of Islam. They claim to be Muslims but depart from the fundamental teachings of Islam proper.

          • Miles Fender

            Thanks Khaldoun – this does make sense. Given that we can use different meanings of the word cult, I think I’m almost ready to let you off the hook 🙂
            Just one last thought. Presumably Scientology is a cult, but it’s not dangerous, and not based on monotheistic teachings. I think you and I both agree that it is false though. Do we think it’s false because of it’s recency, or because of its number of adherents, or because it is not the one we have already decided is true? Because if any of these are the case, then it means the “true” religion must logically be one that has already been described, and we cannot make any new discoveries or change our minds.
            That doesn’t seem right. What if you figured out tomorrow that you previously had your interpretation of Christianity a bit wrong, and you came to a very clear and strong conclusion about the true nature of God. Imagine your argument was so water-tight that all of us here were absolutely convinced that you’d solved it. Would we be a cult? Even if we _knew_ we were right?

          • Hello Miles
            Yes–I would be cultic and possibly a heretic at this stage.
            I trust that God has more wisdom than just to give me more insight for the last 2000 years than the greatest holy men & women in the history of the world have had ?

          • Pauline McCaig

            I wonder K if you would include both Ireneaus and Augustine in your category of ‘the greatest holy men and women in the history of the world’? They had very different theodicies– so presumably one of them– or even both– lacked wisdom/ insight into this particular area?

          • Hello Pauline
            What do you mean?
            KS

          • Pauline McCaig

            Hello K

            My apologies for not making myself clear— I will try again!

            Alistair McGrath — someone whom we both rate I think— talks about what he calls ‘Christianity’s Dangerous Idea’ — the idea lying at the heart of Protestantism that every individual has the right and responsibility to interpret the Bible. It is, he argues the spread of this principle that has led to five hundred years of remarkable innovation and adaptability— but also cultural incoherence and instability — for with no overarching authority to rein in ‘ wayward ‘ thought, opposing sides on controversial issues appeal to the same text, yet interpret it very differently.

            Your response to Miles re. not being given more insight than the greatest holy men and women in the history of the world seemed to me to contradict this idea at the heart of Protestantism– the idea that there is no overarching authority—and yet you are a Protestant I think?

            Moreover it also seemed — to me at least— to imply a uniformity of thought within the ‘greatest holy men and women’ which I do not think reflects the reality of the situation in that there were often great differences, my reference to Ireneaus and Augustine was an attempt to highlight that!

            An analysis of the factors which resulted in some ideas being declared heretical whilst others passed into some version of Orthodoxy — a process which could be seen as still occurring– might be interesting to pursue at some stage?

  • Ram

    Hello Professor,

    I always had difficulty in understanding, if all that we are doing is to worship the same God in different forms then why do we need so many world religions. If God (I’m referring to the Judea- Christian god) is supreme, creator of heaven and earth, why does he allow so many religions to flourish?
    Lets consider the top five popular world religions, each of it has a truth claim and confirms it is exclusive over the other? How can one falsify such a claim? How can one ever find unity in such a diversity? Its like trying to walk on a quick sand, I personally feels its a situation were one has to say live and lets live.

    Thanks
    Ram

    • Hi Ram (and all I could not get to..although it is strange for someone to responded to every single person who talks at his table (my blog), a polite thing is to respond to a few and let the conversation develop !)

      May I recommend a resource to help us along?

      Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth Paperback – April 1, 1992
      by Mortimer J. Adler

      Adler was Chairman and Cofounder with Max Weismann of the Center for the Study of The Great Ideas and Editor in Chief of its journal Philosophy is Everybody’s Business, Founder and Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research, Chairman of the Board of Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Editor in Chief of the Great Books of the Western World and The Syntopicon: An Index to the Great Ideas, Editor of The Great Ideas Today)

      This is JEFF VEHIGE’s assessment….and after reading the book, It is mine as well….

      First, Adler discusses plurality. He distinguishes between matters of taste and matters of truth. Matters of taste would include food, clothing, entertainment, political views, etc.; insofar as none of these contains any truth, they are all subject to matters of taste and therefore a plurality of these things is both good and necessary. Matters of truth would include all scientific, historical, philosophical, and religious truth, and they exclude the possibility of plurality.

      To understand this distinction, we need to understand that Adler is speaking of logical truth. In On Interpretation, Aristotle distinguishes between contradictory statements and contrary statements. The statement “God exists” is contradictory to the statement “God does not exist,” and therefore one statement is true and the other is false, for God either exists or does not; there is no middle ground.

      Contrary statements have more leeway. “Christianity is true” and “Islam is true” are contrary; both statements cannot be true because Christianity and Islam contain doctrines that are incompatible with one another. Yet, both Christianity and Islam may be false and another religion—Judaism, for example—may be true. So whereas contradictory statements necessitate that only one statement is true and the other is false, contrary statements allows that one statement may be true, but also that both statements may be false. Thus, when Adler speaks of matters of truth, he means matters of logical truth.

      Insofar as religions contain matters of truth (doctrines) and not just matters of taste (forms of prayer), religions are subject to the logic of truth. Since plurality is possible only in matters of taste, we cannot accept religious pluralism so long as religions hold to matters of truth. Just as we exclude pluralism from the domains of science, history, and philosophy, we must exclude pluralism from the domain of religion. We cannot accept with intellectual honesty the possibility of religious pluralism.

      ….there is a lot more at http://thursdaynightgumbo.blogspot.com/2008/05/vehige-review-of-mortimer-adlers-truth.html

      • Piet Van Assche

        Hello Khaldoun and all,

        Thanks for posting because it is a subject where I am still struggle to get my mind around.

        Interesting point and summary on the linked blog. A book to put on my Christmas wishlist.

        1) Adler is right that a religion must be internally coherent and not contradict known facts. In that respect indeed religion is subject to the same logic as science.

        2) Adler also states that a religion cannot prove that is divinely revealed credentials are true (only that it is logically coherent based on declared dogma’s and axioms)

        The difference between the scientific truth and religious truth follows from the second point.

        A scientific theory

        * Might be not objectively true but still accepted and useful within certain boundary conditions (e.g. Newtonian Mechanics for average mass objects not moving with a speed close to the speed of light)
        * is false upon tabling of one single contradictory fact
        * can be repeatably confirmed with the same experiment or observation in controlled circumstances by human observation
        * aims to be predictive
        * Does not have to be objectively true. It suffices that for it to be true in the universe and reality observed by humans

        A religious belief framework

        * is only useful when accepted as objectively true
        * is not open (or simply not interested) to falsification based on one single contradictory fact (it is actually quite interesting to ask theologians for the fact or observation that would make them reject their religious credential system).
        * cannot be (or is not interested in to be) repeatably confirmed with the same experiment or observation in controlled circumstances
        * is not interested in being predictive
        * has to be objectively true (independent of human observation) (especially in case of abrahamic religions were God is the ultimate cause of all possible universes and realities.

        In my mind this is the main difference between a scientific truth and a religious truth, but I am still struggling to define between religious and scientific truth.

        Maybe further reading of Adler and Averoes will illuminate me further.

        • Pauline McCaig

          Hi Piet
          I am going to try and send you a link to something I have recently read which you might find interesting. Not so much about how one can decide between the truth claims of the various religions, but more about how one might relate with the requisite amount of ‘humility’ to those whom in good faith have reached different conclusions.

          http://elflandletter.com

          If that doesn’t work if you google the above it should take you to the site.

        • Ram

          Hello Piet,

          Thanks for writing, its nice to touch base with you again. Interesting post, whats intriguing me is, how can one judge a book, by its movie? may be religions and its doctrines could be incoherent, but how does that determine one’s faith on God. Isn’t belief in God personal and intimate rather than using religion as a means?

          How can one come to an conclusion on what is religious truth through scientific methodologies?

          Would love to know your thoughts.

          Cheers

        • Piet
          Wonderful analysis of the difference between science and religion !
          There is one caveat.
          Jesus himself said don’t just listen to my words but believe what I do and look at the miracles.
          God through Moses also gave some criteria for false prophets or religions as well.
          Deuteronomy chapter 13
          1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,
          2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’
          3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. – Deuteronomy 13:1-3

          So there is some criteria of falsification even in religion specifically Judaism in this case and the reference to Christianity in particular.

          • And yes you cannot falsify a religion unless you have some idea of what the true religion is otherwise your work is just empty pontification and relativistic subject of thinking

          • Piet Van Assche

            Hello Pauline, Khaldoun, Ram!

            Thanks for your input. Your feedback makes me think more, deeper and broader.

            1) I concur with Khaldoun that any religion that preaches to follow a God who does not have the theistic omni-attributes is logically falsifiable (from a theistic point of view). However with this method one can only falsify a religion that claims to be abrahamic or as a minimum monotheistic.

            2) Ultimately all abrahamic religions are based on the assumption that the statement “God exists” is true. I agree with Ram that believing that this statement is true or false is a personal truth (logical and coherent), but cannot be objectively proven to others. Trying to convince others of one’s viewpoint is however very human and probably helpful to others.

            3) Referring to Pauline’s link to Mr. Slick and Khaldoun’s reference to Deuteronomy. In my mind (please note that my aptitude for and knowledge of theology is not great!) in Christianity, the person of Christ is the divine revelation and not the Scripture. Therefore taking the Scripture (in the understanding that it is an inspired work by humans) as the basis of Christianity is as one sided as assuming that the Pope or one of the Grand Ayatollahs (as an inspired church leader) is infallible (both officially selected by a denomination based on inspiration and knowledge and considering inter alia the conditions set by the Catholic Church or in the knowledge that there is more than one Grand Ayatollah).

            Therefore the road up the mountain for people who truly seek the Lord must lay somewhere between relying on the tradition accumulated over 2000 years and personal inspiration from the Scripture. Both are valuable as long as they do not become fundamentalist and intolerant, and are aware of the inherent dangers of relying too much on either one of them.

            4) I have serious doubts that the scientific methods humankind employs lead to the ultimate truth and cause of reality. Science cannot even describe the reality observable to us, let alone different reality or even more transcendence. Therefore using scientific methods to seek the religious truth, in my mind, might set you on the way but will lead ultimately to nothing. This does not mean that logic does not apply to the process of seeking religous truth, but the scientific methods do not.

            Therefore I admire honest and truthful people both religious and atheists who have logically proven to themselves that the statement “God exist” is respectively true or false. I am still seeking!

            Guess that above is not very useful to you for it is more my dart throwing.

            Thanks for your input.

      • Ram

        Hello Professor,

        Thanks for taking the trouble to respond to my post. will get the book for my next read. It always happens, the more you are quizzed, the most answers we get, 🙂 at least its a learning for me.

        According to Jeff Verhige’s assessment religious truth falls under ‘Matters of truth’. Lets say for example Mormonism, Mormons believe that God the father is a man with body, flesh and bones. Plural marriages are necessary for salvation, dead people must be baptized to be accepted in the heaven and so on.

        Even though most of their doctrines are from christian faith, they choose what they believe is true, in that sense isnt this more a ‘matters of taste’ rather than ‘matters of truth’ . How can we confront such issues.

        Thanks

        • Lets address Mormonism

          Consider the evidence against the accuracy of The Book of Mormon. It is thoroughly discussed in The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin. Some of the highlights include:

          1. Modern linguists deny any evidence of ‘reformed Egyptian’ which is what Joseph Smith claims the Gold Tables he found were written in. The Bible is written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek all of which existed and were the most popular languages of their time.

          2. There is absolutely no archeological evidence of these three ‘great cultures’ living in the Americas. I have brought this up to my mormon friends many times. In contrast the Bible has its own Archeology society that is still is finding the places named in it. It is one of the most historically reliable book

          3. Iron, steel,glass, horses, wheat, rice and many other animals, food and inventions recorded in The Book of Mormon around 33 AD, did not exist in America before 1492!

          4. DNA research has proven that Native American Indians are “not of Semitic extraction,” even though Mormo

          In addition to the plethora of empiric data against the accuracy of The Book of Mormon, is the book itself. It contains numerous contradictions and has been significantly altered over 4000 places over the last 175 years. It also has prophecy that did not come to pass. One example is Smith’s prediction
          that Great Britain would become involved in the Civil War. Obviously that did not happen. Another would be that Smith prophesized that
          he would build the Nauvoo House (in Nauvoo, Illinois) and his progeny would
          live in it “forever and ever.” No one ever lived there because the house was
          never finished.

          I humbly ask my Mormon friends to help me for address these questions.

          In addition to all this, the very life style of Joseph Smith is questionable at best and degrading at worst. He had multiple “secret” marriages with women other than his wife Emma, and was after money (he made prophecies his bank would never fail, it did) and power (he prophesied he would be President of the USA,) he never did. He died in a gun shot out with the police in jail.

          See Water Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, ed. Ravi
          Zacharias (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2003),. 212-213.

          There are other criteria to determine of a worldview is true. But what do you all think?

          • Pauline McCaig

            I wonder if you might say more K about what ‘other criteria’ might be used to assess the truth of a world view?

            The reason I ask is because in perusing the website Carm you provided the link to in your original post I note that Matt Slick— wonderful name–considers Roman Catholicism to be a ‘false religion in that it clearly contradicts scripture’!

            From this perspective then it seems as if one only needs to refer to scripture– interpreted of course in the way that Matt Slick interprets it– to be able to determine the truth/falsity of any of the various sects of Christianity or any other world religion!

            I guess that providing a link to any source of info. does not necessarily suggest endorsement — but nevertheless I am interested in your response!

  • SoWhat78

    It’s certainly not crazy, stupid, or delusional to believe in a higher power, deity etc. There certainly are a lot of mysteries and wonderful things in this world that that very well COULD point to some kind of higher power, creator etc.

    However, it’s been my experience that when one is trying to show the evidence for “God”, they are really wanting their audience to believe in their specific, preferred God over the other available Gods. Khaldoun, I see no more evidence for your God than the Gods you disbelieve in. What is your proof for the existence of your specific God? The Bible? Your post certainly implies that. If so, how is your argument any different than a muslim claiming the Koran is proof of their God’s existence?

    You quote from the Old Testament in an effort to show that only one God exists. I’d be careful about that. It’s very probable, from my reading of it and scholarship, that the Old Testament implicitly and explicitly teaches polytheism…..so quoting that won’t exactly help your case. By the way, after years of trying to reconcile the two, from my assessment of the evidence, the Jewish God(s) of the Old Testament are very ethnocentric and killing-minded. The God the new testament is less so. I’m bringing this up, because using the Bible as “proof” of your God’s existence leads to more questions than answers.

  • vusi mathebula

    Hi all

    After reading all the posts here, the questions below came
    to my thoughts and I’m pleased to share them with you.

    Is logic natural? Or is logic something that one is taught? Do
    you think is possible to have a logic that’s different from ours in a possible
    world?

    Is religion natural? Or is religon something that one is taught? Do
    you think is possible to have a religion that’s different from ours in a
    possible world?

    Feel very free to share your thoughts!

    Thanks for getting involved.

    • confabulor

      Hello Visu,

      You bring up a totally new but challenging point. If we start questioning logic we loose our footing for formalising concepts.

      Logic is a human invention with symbolic logic part of mathematics. Therefore logic faces the same question as the rest of our mathematical system. Mathematics is our writing system for the physical reality. We do not know yet if it accurately writes down reality or only our limited perception of reality. How universal our mathematical system is we do not know yet. On the other hand my intuition tells me that the commutative property of addition should apply in all stable universes.

      The same reasoning applies to religion. The requirement (or indeed the lack of such need) for an ultimate cause is maybe the equivalent of the commutative property of addition in mathematics.

      I am afraid that is as far as I can go without becoming fully speculative.

      • vusi mathebula

        Hi Piet and all

        Thanks for your thoughtfulness response and for accepting the challenge!

        Yes! If logic is taught and if religion is taught, I think is fair to accept that there is logic or religion that is different from ours in a possible world. I think we should also be tolerant to those who hold different views from ours as they have been taught differently.

        We all have national flags with different symbols and meanings.
        We all have national anthems with different lyrics but many with the term ‘God’ mentioned.
        The relationship that we have individually with our national flags and anthems is different.
        The history that we have individually of our national flags and anthems is different.
        Surely, we are taught differently.
        Incidentally, what we are talking about here is what we are taught or passed onto us from generation to generation—–all the references are different from others.

        After reading all the posts again, everything sounds like Nature vs Nurture to me.

        Thank you all for reading!

        Vusi

        PS:
        The Gospel of Thomas:3. Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) imperial rule is
        in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. 2 If they say to you, ‘It is
        in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. 3 Rather, the (Father’s) imperial rule
        is inside you and outside you. 4 When you know yourselves, then you will be
        known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. 5 But
        if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the
        poverty.”

  • Veronica Hernandez

    In the post “Don’t we all worship the same god?” in the logically faithful website we read about the differences of the terminology in different religions. Even stating you believe in Jesus, is explained to have different meanings for all religions. Christians believe Jesus is the son of God and when a Muslim says this they believe as Jesus being a prophet but not the son of God. This is a strong factor that every person following a religion should take the time to learn the proper terminology of their religion and even others to understand the difference. In gaining this knowledge we can accept others of different beliefs more than we do now. If we took the time to educate ourselves in understanding the different meanings of term used than we could perhaps be more respectful rather than just categorizing anything different from our views as being “nonsense.”

    The way to spotting a false religion by asking questions was the best tool that could be used to knowing if you want to get involved with the group or religion. There are many religions that hold readings and studies for their scriptures which allows questions to be answered, allowing its members to grow in their knowledge and faith. It takes time and such a busy society that keeps middle class working 40 hour plus just to stay up with bills makes it evermore difficult to take some time there after to educate ourselves in our own faith. Furthermore this is the knowledge we need to grow in the most but is given very little time to, this is why we do have to know the terms and be able to speak logically about our faith to stand stronger when faced with challenging oppositions. A mathematician cannot claim to be a mathematician if they don’t know all areas of math, just like I myself have learned that I cannot continue to claim to be Christian if I don’t fully educate myself in my religion. The post helped me understand that I have to take the time and gain the knowledge of my religion rather than just claiming to be because it was the faith I was brought up in.

  • Oyin Odulaja

    Very interesting topic I must say! Religion is a very broad topic and there are various religions in this world. I am Yourba from West Nigeria, West Africa and I have never heard of the Yoruba religion. I do not know if every religion in this world actually call on the same God but in different methods so I do not know if I do agree with everything in this post.

  • Tysheema Brown

    I agree that all religions are different.I believe that people follow the religion that suits them. If you just want to follow the bible and omit as many man made things as you can you become a Jehovah Witness. Each religion offers and except different things and have different meanings of Jesus.Whatever it takes to make people feel good about them-self regardless to what they do against the bible, people seem to attach them-self to. To me the bible has been manipulated to much. Changed from language to language and lost some of its true meaning along the way. People should just be welcoming to one another and try to be happy without hurting anyone else.