17 December 2015

God and Allah are the same

Wheaton College, an evangelical school, suspended one of its professors, herself a Christian of course, for asserting that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. The professor, the only black woman on the faculty, called attention to herself by wearing a hijab in solidarity with Muslims whom she saw as actual or potential victims of  prejudice in America and violence around the world, but it was her heresy in speech, not dress, that got her in trouble. This controversy, magnified somewhat in an apparent attempt to remind people of Christianity's capacity for intolerance, is just a reminder of a debate that has gone on since Islam emerged from the Arabian desert. From the beginning, Muslims have claimed that "Allah"-- Arabic for "the god" -- is the god of Abraham, and that they worship that god as Abraham himself was told to, before subsequent generations distorted or forgot the original teaching. God provided these reminders every few generations or centuries, the message always getting distorted until Muhammad's successors managed to make it stick for nearly 1,400 years. Against this assertion, Christians have taken two approaches. One is to dismiss "Allah" as a Meccan idol that Muhammad tried to elevate to supreme-god status by claiming it was the god of Abraham. The other is to argue that Muslims can't claim to worship the god of Abraham if they deny Christ. As is well known, Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet, i.e. one who received genuine revelations but, like his predecessors, couldn't stop the true message from being distorted, this time by Christians who preferred to worship Jesus as a god. Muslims still regard Christians as "people of the book," acknowledging that they worship the same god Muslims do, albeit to such a wrong degree that they should have to pay a poll tax to continue doing so. By contrast, many Christians believe that Jesus is so essential a component of God's complex nature that to deny Christ is to deny God. When Muslims scoff at the idea of the One God having a "son," and insist that he wouldn't, Christians scoff back that they're missing the point to a catastrophic extent. While Muslims praise Allah as "compassionate" and "merciful," Christians see a god incapable of "love" that therefore can't be their own. Wheaton College apparently works on these assumptions and can't accept a faculty member arguing to the contrary. Their action against the professor is drawing predictable protests, but if there must be freedom of religion in this country a religious college should be able to take administrative action on theological grounds. They are under no obligation to accept or even tolerate the premise that Muslims and Christians worship the same god.  The title of this post appears to contradict Wheaton's position, but I'm actually saying something slightly different. It matters less whether Christians and Muslims worship the same god than that they worship the same kind of god -- one that, like all the others, almost certainly does not exist. As far as I'm concerned they may as well worship the same god because 0 = 0. To bend a phrase, to argue over whether God and Jesus and Allah are all the same is like debating how many angels can dance on a pinhead. Even Republican presidential debates are more substantial. When you can say that, there's really nothing more to say.


Anonymous said...

Well, the thing is, first, you have to look at how "god" is described in each of their sacred texts. What I would say is that, like humans, chimps and monkeys, all three gods evolved from the same ancestor. But they are NOT the same 3 gods. According to the Jews, they, and ONLY they, are the chosen people. In their sacred text, god doesn't give a damn about the rest of us. If their god is the same as the others, then the others are wasting their time following the god of Abraham, because he already made it clear that they are damned to oblivion simply for not being born Jewish.

The Christian god, on the other hand, is described as being "all-loving and all-merciful" - at least to those who aren't damned to eternal torment for not accepting him. Of course, there's actually two christian gods. The god of the catholics and the god of the protestants. The god of the catholics expects his followers to be compassionate; to give generously to the poor and to charities; that it is through both faith and works that you earn your way into heaven.
Whereas the protestant god is far stricter and less forgiving. But he also only demands faith. It's seen as "nice" to give to registered charities - at least enough to claim on your taxes, but not so much you show your neighbors up, but pretty much spit on the poor - or at least those you perceive as having even less than yourself.

The catholic god wants you to fuck as much as possible, as long as each time results in a little baby catholic. Or at least as often as possible. The protestant god apparently only wants you to fuck if you're white and have money. But still, mainly to make little baby protestants.

Although their holy scripture denounces violence, neither of their gods seems to mind righteous wars. Although the catholic god seems to not support the death penalty, while the protestant one does.

Oddly none of these gods seems to have a problem with slavery.

Insofar as islam, I've made my opinion known, but here is an interview with someone with far more experience than myself arguing against islam and the lie that is called "moderate islam":


Samuel Wilson said...

It is strange that so many people want to claim the God of Abraham as their own, but I guess power has its appeal.

Anonymous said...

What I wonder is why absolutely none of those people ever ask a very basic question. Given that there were human beings living all over this planet at least as far back as 10,000 years, including Australia, New Zealand, North and South America, Europe, Asia, why did god only ever speak to prophets in a relatively small section of a mostly desert land? No evidence of prophets anywhere else. So apparently even before his compact with the descendants of Abraham, he didn't give a damn about the rest of us. They never ask why.