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For Dhimmi No More: "Truth is one, the wise call it by many names"

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God? - Continued
in response to reader comment: For Hamilton: and reading the sources in their primary languages!

Submitted by Hamilton (United States), Oct 6, 2006 at 16:52

Dhimmi No More. LOL. In place of a responsive argument, you've taken to overwhelming me with bs. (Some of it interesting bs, but bs nonetheless). While you clearly know far more foreign languages than I, you still would very clearly benefit from a course in logic and argumentation. You labor under several problems, some empirical, others conceptual. Your first empirical problem which infects your invective is that you've assumed that I'm a Muslim. I am not. Nor am I inclined to disclose what religion I do adhere to since the validity of an argument has no relationship to the religion of its professor. Your second problem is conceptual. You confuse God, religion and the interpretation of religion and collapse all three into one confused morass which manifests itself as a verbal ejaculation that delights in showing off how much Syriac you know. Impressive, but ultimately irrelevant.

My original post, you will recall, looked at what Jesus said on the cross. And I asserted that Jesus was praying to Allah. You've provided an interesting footnote about words in the Syriac language, but my point was not purely semantic. It was conceptual and theological. Who is Jesus crying out to on the cross? He must be crying out to the God of the Jews. Who is the God of the Jews? He is a unitary God that has no Son. How do we know this is who Jesus cried out to? Because it seems evident from what we know of Judaism, Jesus, and from the language, whether it is "God" or "My God," that Jesus was not crying out to himself. Which is to say, he was not praying to himself the way Christians pray to God, by invoking the name "Jesus" to "get to" the Father (and presumably the Holy Ghost fits in there somehow as well). Why is this point important? To understand that we need to back up.

You will notice that many, though not all, of the arguments against the Allah being God posted here rest on the following premises: the New Testament (Gospel) declares that God had a Son (which, I'm sure as you know, under Christian doctrine is one of the three persons that comprises God). Therefore, according to Christians, God is one but triune. Now, the argument proceeds by introducing one further premise: The Koran denies that God had a Son. If we put that together we see the argument leads us to the following conclusion: since, according to Christians the New Testament is the revealed word of God and it claims that God had a Son (who is also God [and man]), then any claim that God did not have a Son is false. The Koran claims that God did not have a Son. Therefore, the Koran is false and Allah is not God. If we probe this a little further, what will see is that this prevalent Christian argument rejecting Allah as God is premised on Allah being a unitarian conception of God rather than a trinitarian conception of God. Thus, my discussion of uniterarianism (not the religion) and trinitarianism.

But these arguments usually want to claim something in addition to this. The Christian arguments also want to claim that the God of the Gospel is the same as the God of the Tannach. To put it another way, these arguments usually tend also to claim that Christians and Jews are worshipping the same God. But the Tannach (the Torah, plus the Ketuvim and the Nevi'im) as understood and interpreted and practiced by Jews, like the Koran, denies that God had a Son. Jews clearly call their God something different than Allah, like YHVH, HaShem, Adonoi, Elohim, El, etc. And clearly Judaism is a different religion than Islam. But both Jews and Muslims have a unitarian conception of God. Thus, a Christian can only maintain that Allah is not God based on the argument above at a high cost, namely, he (or she) must deny that Jews do not worship God, and in the extreme that the God of the Old Testament and the New Testament are different Gods. And that will raise huge doctrinal problems for Christianity.

Now Christians may have various interpretations of the Old Testament that for them reveals God's triune nature, but the most frequently pointed to verses have different interpretations by Jews. For example, Christians sometimes point to the verse of Genesis 1:26, "And God said, Let us make man in our image" as evidence of God's triune nature. But Jews interpret the use of the first person plural here as the royal we. (When I say, "we are not amused" no one supposes that I'm really two people.) Similarly, I made the point that while Elohim has a plural looking ending, in the Hebrew (which I'm sure you're fluent in as well and so you'll be able to verify this) where it refers to God, it always takes the first person singular form of the verb.

So, what's all this mean? Let me put that off for one more moment to consider your comment about Ganesh. That's a tad trickier for a variety of reasons. It is tempting to say that Ganesh, unlike Elohim, Jesus/Trinity, and Allah comes out of a different narrative history, and simply dismiss Ganesh away because Ganesh is not part of the Abrahamic monotheistic tradition. But that I think would be too quick. Whether Ganesh is Elohim and Allah may depend on how we view Hinduism. Do we take the view that Hinduism is polytheistic, with Ganesh as the top god among a panopoly of gods or do we view Ganesh (who goes by some 108 other names) as part of a "henotheistic" belief structure wherein God manifests Himself by various names and modes but is still one? In one sense, the answer to this doesn't matter because Ganesh has a specific form and Allah and Elohim are declared to be formless by Judaism and Islam, on the other hand, Jesus does have a form. But if we go with the latter interpretation of Hinduism, then perhaps we should think of Ganesh, Allah and Elohim as the same. Interestingly, you'll note that the Decalogue does not say (at least the English version) "There is no god but God." It says, Thou shalt have no other gods before God, which is interestingly different. Of course, we might also note that the Koran (and I hope you will be kind enough to discuss the Arabic here) states: [17.110] "Say: Call upon Allah or call upon, the Beneficent God; whichever you call upon, He has the best names;" Thus, it would seem that according to the Koran, Allah is not God's only name. Perhaps Ganesh is another one. Perhaps as the Koran was the revelation for the Muslims, the Torah for the Jews, the Gospel for the Gentiles', so the Vedas is the revelation to the Hindus. Cf. "Truth is one, the wise call it by many names" —Rig Veda 1.164.46c

So what does this all boil down to? It comes to this. There is a God. But as another poster put it so well, we are all talking about an entity which we've never experienced directly. (See the post about the elephant). There are various religions which detail different ways to approach the Creator. And each of these different religions, which centers around different sacred texts, have been interpreted differently over time. Sometimes these interpretations lead to bad shit and immoral conduct. But that some adherents to a religion do bad shit, doesn't mean that Christians, Muslims and Jews are not all worshipping the same one God. If we cannot accept that God has different names and that there are multiple paths to Him, then we are left with the unpleasant but inescapable consequence of abandoning any possibility of a pluralistic society. In the extreme, we shall come to believe that we must annihilate each other. Clearly the Islamofascists have come this conclusion. But must we?

In conclusion, I shall take your advice. ... I look forward to reading your retort.
Submitting....

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