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Are Yahweh and Allah
One and the Same God?


by

Pedro Rosario Barbosa

Recently I received this e-mail from a friend, titled “I Believe We Worship the Same God – G. W. Bush”. I don't know who wrote it, but it states the following:

Asked about Muslim God vs. Pres. Bush's God, Bush's Answer: ''I believe we worship the same God'' Source: White House Press Release, Thu Nov 20,2003 --

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/11/20031120-3.html (towards the end of the transcript)

Q Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister. Mr. President, when you talk about peace in the Middle East, you've often said that freedom is granted by the Almighty. Some people who share your beliefs don't believe that Muslims worship the same Almighty. I wonder about your views on that.

And, Mr. Prime Minister, as a man also of faith, I'd like to get your reaction to that.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I do say that freedom is the Almighty's gift to every person. I also condition it by saying freedom is not America's gift to the world. It's much greater than that, of course. And I believe we worship the same God.

Note: I think we have an answer about whether Bush is a Christian or just greatly deceived. Very sad day for America if that is his true belief.

+++++

Many Christians accept the Muslim claim that we both worship the same God. They claim that they call him Allah, while we call him God. It is not unusual to hear Christian leaders make such statements. Bible societies have even gone so far as to use the name Allah in the Bibles they produce for Arab Christians.

The problem with this is two-fold. First, history and archeology show clearly that Allah was worshiped as a pagan moon god long before Mohamed came on the scene. Robert Morey, author of The Islamic Invasion, explains:

"Islam's origins have been traced back by scholars to the ancient fertility religion of the worship of the moon god which was always the dominant religion of Arabia. The moon god was worshiped by praying toward Mecca several times a day, making an annual pilgrimage to the Kabah which was a temple of the moon god, running around the Kabah seven times, caressing an idol of a black stone set in the wall of the Kabah, running between two hills, making animal sacrifices, gathering on Fridays for prayers, giving alms to the poor, etc. These were pagan rites practiced by the Arabs long before Muhammad was born."

"What religion today practices the pagan rites of the moon god? Islam! This explains why the crescent moon is the symbol of Islam. It is placed on top of mosques and minarets and displayed on hats, flags, rugs, amulets and even jewelry. Every time you see the Muslim symbol of a crescent moon, you are seeing the ancient symbol of the moon god."

Second, if you read the Qur'an's description of Allah, and read the Bible's description of God, it becomes obvious you are reading about two different persons. Allah orders his followers to kill those who deny Islam, while God instructs us to love our enemies. Allah had no son while God sent His Son to die for sinful men. Allah is "unknowable" while God seeks a personal relationship with His creation, man.

The spirit behind Islam is an entirely different spirit... a spirit that denies the deity of Jesus Christ. Any Christian who accepts the notion that Allah is God creates an impossible situation. Since the Qur'an contains our only revelation about Allah, they will be forced to look there as their authority. The Qur'an specifically denies the deity of Christ! All Christian witness ends right there.

Usually from a Christian point of view, it is very easy to contemplate this statement as completely legitimate. However, I wish to offer various points of view, specially anthropological and philosophical of why things are not so simple as it is said in this e-mail.

    I wish to state that this is not a defense of G. W. Bush, I don't like him very much. However, that doesn't mean that this particular statement he made is false. And my argument will center in two main arguments. First one is an anthropological analysis on the Christian religion practically sending the message: “Why do you observe the splinter in your brother's eye and never notice the great log in your own?” (Matt. 7, 3). Secondly, I wish to demonstrate that the discrepancy is not so much the entity being worshiped, but the properties or definite descriptions of that entity about what did He say or has He done.

I.

First of all, one of the things I wish to point to is at the fact that the essay continually speaks about the pagan background of the Muslim religion. For example we quote it saying the following:

The problem with this is two-fold. First, history and archeology show clearly that Allah was worshiped as a pagan moon god long before Mohamed came on the scene. Robert Morey, author of The Islamic Invasion, explains:

"Islam's origins have been traced back by scholars to the ancient fertility religion of the worship of the moon god which was always the dominant religion of Arabia. The moon god was worshiped by praying toward Mecca several times a day, making an annual pilgrimage to the Kabah which was a temple of the moon god, running around the Kabah seven times, caressing an idol of a black stone set in the wall of the Kabah, running between two hills, making animal sacrifices, gathering on Fridays for prayers, giving alms to the poor, etc. These were pagan rites practiced by the Arabs long before Muhammad was born."

"What religion today practices the pagan rites of the moon god? Islam! This explains why the crescent moon is the symbol of Islam. It is placed on top of mosques and minarets and displayed on hats, flags, rugs, amulets and even jewelry. Every time you see the Muslim symbol of a crescent moon, you are seeing the ancient symbol of the moon god."

    This statement seems to assume that Islam has a pagan background, while Christianity doesn't. That in reality Muslims adore Allah as the moon god, an ancient pagan god. Christianity and Christian symbols (such as the cross) on the other hand are free of all pagan influence. I want to show that Christianity and Judaism, both, have absorbed pagan symbols and backgrounds and even symbols from foreign deities, religious customs and philosophies that have become part of the Judeo-Christian notion of God.

    For starters, the final form of the Pentateuch and many books of the Old Testament was not written until after the Jews came back from Babylon. Some may argue that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, but thorough studies which can date as back as the XI century, have shown conclusively the impossibility of Moses having written it. Scholars have concluded that the Pentateuch was the result of very different traditions. Most of these traditions have a pagan background. For example, archaeologists have found that approximately during the XI to Xth century BC or so, the Jewish people were not the only people there. There were lots of Canaanites worshiping a god called "El" whose representation was a golden calf. This is the real background for the word "God" in Hebrew. The word "El" in Hebrew means "God", and many names in Hebrew are exactly based on this word, for example: "Isra-el" (Strong with God), "Beth-el" (House of God), "Micha-el" (Who is like God), Rapha-el (God's Healer), etc. However, the Old Testament uses the word "Elohim" to refer to God. "Elohim" is nothing more than "El" in its plural form (the ending "im" is used as indication of plural in Hebrew). So, the Old Testament itself refers to God using a derivative word of the name of an ancient pagan god.

    This may be surprising to many because of the fact that Yahweh, God, frequently denounces the religion of the Canaanites (Deut. 12,29-31), but the linguistic evidence is undeniable. Furthermore, this explains something that perplexes Jews and Christians alike: that Jeroboam chose the Golden Calf to represent the God that took them out of Egypt (1 Kings 12,26-33). This surprises in the sense that during the condemnation by the Shiloh priests, they don't mention at all the earlier episode of Moses and the people of Israel with the Golden Calf (Exod. 32; 1 Kings 13, 1-19). The reason is very simple, scholars have reached the conclusion that the story of the Golden Calf was written by the Shilo priests to denounce precisely what Jeroboam was doing, this view is reinforced by the fact that the author of the story of the Golden Calf, probably a Shilo priest, placed in the people's mouth more or less what Jeroboam stated when he established the cult (Exod. 32,4; 1 Kings 12,28). But the Golden Calves do not represent other gods; according to Aaron's own words, the Golden Calf represents Yahweh himself, because after constructing the Golden Calf, Aaron says that a feast should be made for Yahweh (Exod. 32,5). This is not strange in the light of the evidence I have presented now. "El" and "Yahweh" were one and the same God in the North of Israel before the Schism, and the link is so powerful, that even when the Shilo priests want to get rid the images of the golden calves and denounce them, they cannot get rid of the term "Elohim" to refer to God. I wish to add that the ancient the cult to "El" considered its god as being the god of the moon. It is interesting to see that the feasts of the Golden Calves were the 15th day of the 8th month, because for the Mesopotamians the cult to the moon god (represented by a young calf) worshiped also the 15th day of the month as a holy day (1 Kings 12,32-33). For more information on this subject you can go to: http://www.bibleorigins.net/GoldenCalfnotEgyptian.html. So, in this aspect, apparently Judeo-Christianity's God (Elohim-Yahweh) and the Muslim Deity (Allah) seem share more pagan background than Christians have imagined.

    However, this absorption of pagan cults and words into Judeo-Christianity doesn't end here. For example, other pagan images were used, like the Cherubims. The Old Testament uses the images of Cherubims all over it. You can see them protecting the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3,24), they are placed on the Ark of the Covenant (Exod. 37,7-8), they are placed at the entrance of the Santa Sanctorum of the Temple (1 Kings 6,23-30), and Ezekiel has a vision of Cherubims (Ezek. 1, 4-27). The word "cherubim" comes from the Assyrian word "karibu" which were gods that served to protect Assyrian (pagan) holy places and buildings. Their exact shape was that of the head of a man, the body of a lion, the legs of a bull and the wings of an eagle. Isn't an amazing coincidence that Ezekiel describes the cherubims this way?: "They were of human form. Each had four faces, each had four wings [. . .] all four had human face, and a lion's face to the right, and all four had a bull's face to the left, and all four had an eagle's face" (Ezek 1,10). This also inspired the author of Revelations when he talked about the four beings praising God constantly before Him, one had the shape of a man, another the shape of a bull, another the shape of a lion, and the other of an eagle (Rev. 4,7). So, even the New Testament is influenced by ancient pagan creatures, the karibu. Later Christianity went a bit further and made each one of these beings the symbols of the four evangelists: Matthew (Man), Mark (Lion), Luke (Bull) and John (Eagle).

    Other pagan objects came into play, for example, the famous bronze serpent, called Nehushtan, which was also a pagan symbol, but was also a significant symbol for the Jews. According to the Old Testament, Moses commanded a bronze serpent to be built to heal the Israelites from the poison caused by snake bites (Numbers 21,4-9). Paradoxically, it also appears as the evil snake that tempts Eve to eat from the fruit of knowledge of good and evil (Gen.3,1-23) . This happens to be a symbol of Sumerian god Enki (Ea), the giver of knowledge of humanity, and his symbol was a snake crawling up a tree or a stake. The same symbol was used in ancient Greece to denote Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing, and this symbol is still being used today as a symbol for cure and medicine. You can look at it in the hospitals and ambulances. In John's Gospel, Jesus uses the bronze serpent as the symbol of salvation (John 3,14).

    There are many other examples I can give that are from pagan origins: stellas (Gen. 28,18.22; Jos. 24,26), the style of the Song of Songs which imitates the poetry styles of people of other countries in which they celebrated the unions of Osiris and Isis in Egypt and Tamuz and Ishtar in Babylon. However, with the examples I have given is more than enough.

    Christianity as a religious movement is no exception to this pagan influence. St. Paul particularly was influenced by Middle Platonism and Stoicism which were regarded by many Jews as being pagan, since it was inspired by foreign philosophies. But St. Paul was very familiar with them, and even openly debated with Stoics and Epicureans (Acts 17,16-32). He was evidently familiar with a philosopher called Philo of Alexandria (20 BC-50 AD), a Middle Platonist, who wanted to view the Old Testament from the point of view of the Greek philosopher Plato. For him, God created the world out of chaos as Genesis stated, but he wanted it to agree with Plato's Timaeus. According to him, God created a world of forms, but the whole entity of these world of forms is what he called the Logos. Philo had interesting names for this Logos: Son of God, the First-Born of God, the Light of the World, the Mediator between God and his creation, etc. Since the Logos contains in itself all the intelligible forms or essences, these perfect entities from which the material world participates from, then all creation was made through the Logos. This would prevent, for example, that a perfect being like God would enter in contact with something like corruptible matter. Since the Logos is the Image of God, he says, he made man and woman after the Logos, since the Bible says that God created man and woman after the “Image of God”.

    St. Paul, in the authentic Pauline letters (Romans, 1 and 2 of Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thesalonnians and Philemon) gives us a hint about this conception of Jesus as the Logos, even though he is not too explicit. For example, according to St. Paul, Christ existed before creation: "Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God" (Phil. 2,6), "Though there are so-called gods, in the heavens or on the earth -- and there are plenty of gods and plenty of lords -- yet for us there is only one God, the Father from whom all things come and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom all things come and through whom we exist" (1 Cor. 8,5-6). Often some Christians ask why God needed angels (messengers) to mediate between God and humanity as St. Paul states clearly at one moment (Gal. 3,19-21), the Old Testament makes clear that God speaks directly to Moses, for instance, or God speaks to his prophets, or that God makes this or that extraordinary phenomena (like a pillar of fire), etc. St. Paul, however, seems to be implying Philo's philosophy of God needing a mediator between Himself and the world, and from Christ (who he implies is the Logos) on, then Jesus Christ becomes our mediator (Gal. 3, 22-28). There is still another likening between St. Paul and Philo of Alexandria. For Philo, to have faith in the Logos makes a man be a son of God, because the Logos is the first-born of all creation. It is interesting that St. Paul states exactly the same thing (Rom. 8,11.14-15.28-30). The Post-Pauline letters, letters attributed to St. Paul even though he didn't write them, exploit more the notion of the Logos and its relation to Christ: Christ is the light (Eph. 5,4), God clearly made all things (metaphysical and physical) through Christ (Col. 1,15-17),

    It was not until the end of the first century, when the Gospel of John as we know it was finished, that there is an explicit doctrine linking the Logos and Jesus Christ:

"In the beginning was the Logos, the Logos was with God and the Logos was God. He was with God in the beginning. through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him. What has come into being in him was life, life that was the light of men; and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it. [. . .] The Logos was the real light that gives light to everyone; he was coming into the world. He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognise him. He came to his own and his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believed in his name who were born not from human stock or human desire or human will but from God himself" (John 1, 1-5.9-13).

The only difference between the Logos of St. John and the Logos of Philo of Alexandria is that for the latter, the Logos was not God, but a divine creature, the first-born and most perfect of all creation, and he remained a divine being. However, for St. John, the Logos is God and he became human (John 1,14).

<>    So, we see a great influence of non-Jewish philosophy in Christianity, and this was a constant source of conflict between the Jewish Christians and the Gentiles. The book of Acts, as well as Paul letter to the Galatians, as well as many apocrypha, and even the letter of St. James in the New Testament, give testimony of the constant source of conflict between both the Jewish and the Gentile view of Christianity. However, this absorption of non-Jewish (pagan) philosophies was just the beginning of a whole process of adopting pagan rituals. For example, Middle Platonism evolved into Neo-Platonism, and St. Augustine, a great theologian and philosopher by the way, was one of the great representatives of that branch of philosophy. Often he is called the Christian Plato.

    We have to add the fact that also in the New Testament we see imagery derived from pagan religions, such as the representation of the woman clothed with the sun in Revelations 12. Her clothing, her crown, the moon at her feet, etc. are arranged exactly the way it is represented in many Mother Goddesses at that time. The stars, the moon, etc. are all symbols also found in the Old Testament, but the way it is arranged in that text resemble exactly the Mother Goddesses of ancient Egypt, of Greece, of Babylon, among many others.


    Another fact is that very few people know really why Constantine made Sunday a weekly holiday for the Empire. Most people base themselves on Eusebius' account in his Life of Constantine (IV,18), in which Constantine is said to have legislated because Sunday was the day of Christ's resurrection. However, when one looks at the actual legislation made by Constantine, and was compilated in the Theodosian Code, we find the following:

"Imp. Constantinus a. elpidio. sicut indignissimum videbatur, diem solis, veneratione sui celebrem, altercantibus iurgiis et nixiis partium contentionibus occupari [. . .]" (Imperatoris Theodosiani Codex, 2.8.1) Translation: "Simply, because it seems to us the most inappropriate that in the Day of the Sun, which is celebrated for His own honor, we be occupied in juridical complaints [. . .]".

So, he favors Sunday being a weekly holiday because it is the day of the Sun, the Sol-Invictus. There is plenty of evidence that Constantine was inclined to the devotion of the Sol-Invictus, most of his coins allude to it. In the Arch of Constantine, with which he remembered the attack on the Milvian Bridge, alludes to the Sol-Invictus. He even made a statue of himself as the Sol-Invictus. This has led many people (including myself) to conclude that Constantine was not really a Christian, but a worshiper of the Sun who was a strong ally of Christianity, because it was a very powerful influence, but he was not a Christian himself. It was not until after his death, that the bishop Eusebius of Cesarea falsified many of the facts to make him look like a Christian. The cult of Sol Invictus was closely linked to Mithraism, which considered the god Mithra as the god of light. In some ways it also fused with the worship of the Sol-Invictus, it had Sunday also as the weekly day of worship. Also both religions shared the same day of yearly celebration of the Sol Invictus or Mithra: December 25. Sounds familiar? But wait... there's more! Where did the clothes that the bishops come from? It certainly didn't originate in the land of Palestine during first century Christianity. If Constantine worshiped the Sol-Invictus and this cult was deeply related to Mithraism, this can explain why bishops today wear one modality of the Phrygian caps, which was used by high leaders of Mithraism and the Sol-Invictus, and was widely used by political ministers during Constantine's rule. This cap is called "mitre", and it is not called "mitre" (Mithra) for nothing.

    Also, the symbolism used by other mysteric religions were incorporated within Christianity, such as the cross and the crucifix, which were also used by solar cults, and also the cults to the god Orpheus, specially the image of Crucified Orpheus. Also we have to take into account that many symbols widely used in images of mother goddesses were also very much incorporated to the imagery of the Virgin Mary.

    It can even go as far as inventing legends based precisely on pagan customs. For example, most historians are definitely convinced that St. James (the son of Zebedee) did not visit Spain during his lifetime, and there is plenty of evidence of that. Despite this, to counteract the force of the Moslems who invaded Spain. Interestingly, Christian chose sites that were considered sacred by the ancient Celts on northern Spain to build Temples, and invented stories about how St. James visited Spain and went throughout those sites and later was buried there. This is what was called "El Camino de Santiago" (The Way of St. James). This created and incredible economic incentive in Spain that led to have enough force to displace the Muslims out of Spain during the Reconquer of those lands.

    So, we Christians cannot say in any way that our religion is free from pagan influence, and also it cannot say that the Judeo-Christian God is not related in any way to the Moslem God, Allah.

II.

    This section is more a philosophical foundation of why I don't think some Christians have a case in saying that the Judeo-Christian God is not the Moslem God. This has to do with philosophy of language, specially with the issue of proper names. In here, I wish to make a difference between a "proper name" and "definite descriptions". For the effects of this discussion, I will call "proper name" those names like "Aristotle", "Martin Luther King", "Peter", "John", etc. "Definite descriptions" gives us the senses (meanings) with which we refer to objects,such as "the best known of Plato's disciples", "the leader of the civil rights movement", etc., in this aspect I will follow Bertrand Russell's terminology to make this distinction. Usually, for me, names have a meaning, that is "he who is called X", however, we will treat names here another way. Though I don't agree with Saul Kripke concerning proper names as rigid designators, I think his philosophy can be fruitful in our discussion, specially at the end.

    We are questioning, whether an entity that Jews and Christians call "God" is the same entity that Moslems call "Allah". The basis for establishing the difference between both entities is mainly because the Christian who wrote the essay says that because Judeo-Christian God has P property, and the Moslems state that Allah has G property, such difference in property implies a difference in entity. For example, the Moslem God has the property of being based on pagan practices, and the Judeo-Christian God doesn't have this property. Since we have shown that definitely this argument has been refuted, we have to turn to other of their arguments to see if what some Christians say is true.

    However, we must ask in principle if we can make the allegation that Judeo-Christian God and the Moslem God are one and the same God based on the definite descriptions of P and G. Here we enter into the aspects of intensionality and extensionality in logic and semantics. A focus on intensions makes us realize a difference between identity and equality. We will call "equality" between two entities iff two entities share some properties or definite descriptions. For example, men and horses are equal in the aspect that they are both mammals. However, we will call "identity" when both or more entities share all properties. An example of this is when the Declaration of Independence state that all men are equal, however this doesn't mean that all men are identical, since men are all different when accounting for all of their properties. This difference between equality and identity had been established by Leibniz, also assumed by Edmund Husserl, and from Husserl, Rudolf Carnap adopted this difference when he made the difference between equivalence and L-equivalence. Most recently Ruth Barcan Marcus, a modal logician, adopts a position of assuming different degrees of equivalence in her famous philosophical work Modalities.

    This has been discussed deeply in Philosophy and Linguistics extensively, for example, Claire Ortiz Hill, Ruth Barcan Marcus' disciple, and deep admirer or Edmund Husserl, basing herself on the difference between equality and identity, looks at examples questioning, if we can establish an identity just based on few definite descriptions.

"A few years ago in Jerusalem courtroom found a retired Ohio autoworker named John Demjanjuk guilty of being Ivan the Terrible, the murderer of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Throughout his fourteen month trial, Demjanjuk had insisted he was a victim of mistaken identity. For the Jerusalem courtroom that condemned him to death the only thing that mattered involved determining whether or not he was the same man who had operated gas chambers at Treblinka during World War II, any of the innumerably many other things that could be truthfully predicated of him were beside the point. Their reasoning was of the form: F(x), and if F(y), then x = y. Killing hundreds of thousands of Jews was true of Ivan the Terrible and if the same were true of John Demjanjuk, then he would be Ivan the Terrible -- and liable to hanging." (Hill and Rosado 9).

"Drawing attention to some undesirable consequences of failing to distinguish between identity and lesser forms of equivalence in the medical sciences is one way of illustrating Marcus's concerns and of demonstrating the real need for consciously trafficking in intensional notions in order to control confusion and draw the fine distinctions that are both germane and indispensable to many scientific undertakings. Strong extensional principles may prove appropriate in certain contexts, e.g., in criminal investigations or juridical proceedings where a person's guilt or innocence may be the sole determinant factor, but relying on them could have disastrous consequences in other contexts. For instance, in medical research and practice, extensional notions could unnecessarily complicate situations and generate confusion and even make the difference between life and death, sickness and health.

"Consider this example. Doctors at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children have discovered that the immune system of certain diabetics identifies a protein present on the surface of their insulin-producing cells as being the same as a protein present in cow's milk with which it is in many respects almost identical. Unable to distinguish between the two proteins, the immune system stimulates the body to attack and destroy its own insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, causing juvenile onset diabetes, which may lead to blindness, kidney failure and heart disease" (Hill 51-52).

Of course, this is not the case concerning our issue on God. We want to establish not that if two names of entities that have the same property are in reality one sole entity. What we have here, for example, is the issue of whether two names with different properties associated with them, can designate one entity. Ortiz Hill gives us an example of a case like this:

"For instance, is a person in an irreversible coma following an accident who is entirely dependent on machines to sustain her bodily functions identical to the person she was before the accident took place? Think of the innumerable things that could be have been predicated of her before that are no longer true, and the truly macabre propositions that could result from substitution rules that do not take sufficient account of the difference between equality and identity. Her family surely would never have considered depriving her of the minimum means necessary to support her life before she was in a coma" (Hill 45).

So, one entity can have some set of properties at one moment, and at another moment an entirely other set of properties. For example, one woman can have the property of being able to walk, but later after an accident she doesn't have that property any longer. So we can talk about the same entity having completely different, and even contradictory definite descriptions.

    However, how would this fit into the situation of Judeo-Christian God and the Moslem God? In reality not very well. For example, in the case of a woman we have the criterium of time as an important factor in stating two contrary definite descriptions of the woman in a comma. We don't state that the woman "is able to walk" and "is not able to walk" simultaneously. And we cannot state, for instance God "is a Trinity" and "is not a Trinity" which is what diverse religious groups assume God to be. These two definite descriptions of God are totally incompatible. So, we are back to square one. At least if we deal with this issue ontologically, semantics won't get us anywhere.

III.

    If this is true, then we will have to move to another philosophical level, which is the epistemological level of the discussion, and try to see adequate semantics that will enable us to deal with the subject of this essay. As in all epistemological subjects the main subject we must ask is: "how do I know?" or "how do we know?" In this case the question is: "How do I know that the Judeo-Christian God and the Moslem God are two different entities or one and the same entity?"

    Epistemological considerations are difficult, since in great measure confirmation of statements depend greatly on the theoretical framework we approach objects. However, there is a level of "common sense" in which we can all agree on certain aspects of our own theoretical frameworks, at least enough to make a point. For example, let's say that John and Peter are arguing if Mary is a secretary or not. John states that Mary is a secretary, however Peter says that she isn't. So, both have four alternative scenarios concerning Mary:

(1) That Mary was a secretary before and is no longer a secretary now.

(2) That Mary was not a secretary before, and she is a secretary now.

(3) That John and Peter are talking about different Mary's.

(4) That John and Peter are talking about the same Mary, but one of them doesn't know her that well.

(3) and (4) will serve for the purpose of our discussion. (1) and (2) include temporal considerations which we have rejected before and cannot be applied to the case of God. (3) and (4), however, resemble better to the dilemma between Judeo-Christians and Moslems.

    Number (3) contemplates the possibility that because John and Peter are giving two different definite descriptions of Mary, the Mary that John talks about is not the Mary that Peter is talking about. However, epistemological states can complicate this semantically. Evidently the fact that John and Peter give two contradictory definite descriptions doesn't necessarily mean that they are talking about two different Mary's. Number (4) is still a possibility. To decide between (3) and (4), Peter and John can use various strategies.

(a) The first one would be to go visit the Mary(s) they are talking about and find out if she (they) is (are) indeed a secretary or not.

(b) To continue looking for other definite descriptions for Mary, for example: "she is the wife of Charles Menendez", "she has 3 children", "she is a sweet person", "she lives in Virginia", "she is studying business management", etc. If they both can agree on all of these or at least the vast majority, it is most likely that they are both talking about the same Mary.

    Now, let's focus on the issue of God. Can we go to God to ask him if He is indeed a Trinity or not? It is highly unlikely. First, we don't know where God is located, and secondly we are talking about a being Who doesn't express himself very much in a perceptible manner. Of course, both, the Judeo-Christians and the Moslems will argue that they can go to their respective sacred books (the Bible and the Qur'an), and look to what they say as evidence that God is or not a Trinity. The epistemological difficulty of this strategy is that actually none of them can prove that their sacred book is indeed God's Word. All that these religions do is assume (by blind faith) that they are the Word of God, and what is accepted as faith, is by definition, not shown to be true neither by science nor by logic alone. Of course, both will say how "God speaks to their hearts", but this is too subjective. Judeo-Christians will argue that God has told in their hearts that He is a Trinity, while Moslems will argue that God has told them in their hearts that He is not a Trinity. There is no reason to doubt the religious sincerity of both groups, but subjective experiences cannot be shared objectively, and that is a significant epistemological hindrance. So we cannot use (a) as a way to determine if God is a Trinity or is not a Trinity.

    So (b) seems to be the only alternative to find out if the Judeo-Christian God and the Muslim God is one and the same. The Christian who wrote the essay we are trying to refute listed a number of differences concerning the Judeo-Christian God and the Muslim God. However, epistemologically speaking, is this enough to establish the difference between "both" "Gods"? Let me give an example of what I mean. If one looks at Galileo's observations of Jupiter, you will find that he states that it has 4 moons. If one looks at a textbook that discusses Jupiter's moons at the end of 1999, it will say that it has 18 moons. Obviously the definite descriptions "it has 4 moons" or "has 18 moons" contradict each other. Either Jupiter has 4 or 18. However, it would be a complete fallacy to state that because both definite descriptions contradict, that they don't refer to one and the same planet Jupiter.

    The same here. Evidently if one reads the Bible and one reads the Qur'an, one will notice definite differences, but also we can look at strong similarities between the God of the Bible and the God of the Qur'an. And in fact, they can be far more similar, than this Christian is able to accept.

IV.

Let us examine in detail the definite descriptions that the e-mail states distinguishes the Christian God from the God of the Muslims.

1) The cult to Allah is based on paganism and the cult to the Judeo-Christian God isn't.

2) Allah orders to kill anyone who denies the truths of Islam, while the Judeo-Christian God wants us to love our enemies.

3) Allah is "unknowable" while the Judeo-Christian God is a personal God.

4) Allah has no Son, while the Judeo-Christian God does have a Son.

5) Muslims deny Jesus' divinity, while Jesus is also the Judeo-Christian God.

We have refuted (1) so we won't spend time refuting it again.

    Let us go to (2). Allah does say in various parts of the Qur'an to kill other people who don't want to follow the path of Islam, but obviously not "just because". For example, the Qur'an orders to have a war against those who attack Muslims. And the Qur'an explicitly states that if enemy stops attacking them, then Allah would be merciful toward the enemy, and it also invites not to precipitate in the killing, and to do good to their enemy once the persecution is over (Qur'an 2, 186/190-191/195). Now, is this not true also for the Judeo-Christian God? The simplistic answer given is that Jesus invites us to love our enemy. But what about all the wars God ordered throughout the Bible? If the Christians fail to remember, maybe I can make them recall quoting these passages:

These are just very few examples of what one might find in the Old Testament. The New Testament, specially the book of Revelation is practically no different. So, how can anyone argue that Yahweh and Allah are not one and the same God on these basis? Some people might state that the God of the New Testament teaches love, but the Qur'an does also in many lovely passages, and teaches love and compassion also.

    It can be argued, for instance, that the Qur'an does show a continuous hatred toward Jews and Christians. But the Qur'an has more quotes inviting them to convert to Islam, and it states that as a result of no-conversion comes condemnation. Haven't Christians said the same thing throughout history, and aren't some Christians even still saying this today? In the Bible we can find passages of hatred of Christians toward the Jews. The author of St. John's Gospel places in Jesus' mouth words that practically cannot be more hateful toward the Jews of the time. At one instance, Jesus states that the Jews have the devil as their father (John 8,44). We can also find passages in the New Testament which were post-pauline additions to his letters stating how well-deserved is their punishment by God (1 Thes. 2,15-16), obviously referring to the Emperor Titus' measures against the Jews and the Temple. This has been practically one of the basis for the Christians' hatred toward Jews throughout history. And, with some reason, the Jews hated Christians throughout history . . . no big mystery. I wish to add that the Catholic and Protestant churches didn't hesitate at all to use violence to "convert" other people to its own religion, or to reconquer lands, not only in mere self-defense. Of course, this is not true of all Christians. We can find St. Francis of Assisi and others who saw how this was contrary to the Gospels. Still, if violence of the God of Islam is the basis to distinguish Him from the Judeo-Christian God, unfortunately this criterium seems to make them more alike than different.

    Of course, some Jews and Christians will argue that some of the battles I have just mentioned were carried out in self-defense, or that attacks were made against those who "deserved it" because those "pagans" refused to believe in the one true God. But, I was careful to exclude self-defense kind of wars. For example, many of those wars were precisely to conquer lands (the Promised Land), and this inevitably led to a lot of violence, others were not because of land or anything, but just for power or other accidental reasons. Why then are we Christians criticizing Moslems for the same thing?

    So, (2) is now refuted. Let's go to (3). Allah is unknowable, while the Judeo-Christian God can be known. Well, that's a big problem for Judeo-Christians to hold. For example, in many ways in the Old Testament God states very clearly that many aspects of Him cannot be known by anyone. At least in Judaism, God remains transcendent. In Christianity God became flesh. Is the Judaic God different from the Christian God? It would be a countersense to say yes, because it is assumed that the God of the Old Testament is the same one as the God in the New Testament. Some Christians have gone as far as stating that Jews worship the wrong God, but would this be consistent with the Bible? I don't think so. Why then use this as a justification to say that Islam worships a different God, just because he doesn't have a Son, or it is not a personal God, etc. Many Jews believe this way also. So here we haven't refuted (3) only, we have refuted also (4) and (5). They all suffer from the same implicit premises.

V.

    This is the final section in which I discuss why I believe that the God of Judeo-Christianity it is the same God of the Moslems.

    First of all, Allah, the God of the Moslems, attributes to himself practically the creation of Adam and Eve (Qur'an 7,18/19-24/25), He talks about Cain and Abel (Qur'an 5,30/27-34/31), about Abraham (Qur'an 2,118-134; 6,74-84.162; 7,71-74.115; among many other passages), Isaac (Qur'an 2,127-134; 6,34; 11,74; 19,50;21,72; 37,99-112), Jacob (Qur'an 2,127-134; 6,84; 11,74; 19,50; 21,27; 37, 99-112). It attributes to Himself the liberation of the Israelites by Moses (2,48-68,81; 4,152, 5,23; 6,84-91; etc.), among many other prophets (Qur'an 4,161). So, at least concerning the Jews there is an allegation that the Jewish God and the Muslim God are one and the same. Obviously some things about the facts may differ.. but the allegation that the Qur'an is making is that Allah was the one who created the world, who instructed Adam and Eve not to eat the forbidden fruit, who condemned the serpent, who condemned Cain for killing Abel, who made the promises to Abraham, who was the God of Isaac and Jacob (Israel), who freed the Jews from Egypt's slavery. If all of this is correct, then what it is evident is that Yahweh and Allah are one and the same God, at least in the Muslim religion.

    Now, about the Christian God, he affirms its relation to Mary, and its relation to Jesus, and even calls Jesus the Word (Logos) of God. However, it accuses Christians of overreacting concerning Jesus, since Jesus was a prophet, he was not God himself. They also deny that Jesus died on the Cross (Qur'an 4, 155.156-156/157), probably as the result of the influence of ancient docetic doctrines.

    As far as we have seen. The thing is that there is no doubt about which "Jesus" Muslims are talking about, there is no problem with the IDENTITY of Jesus himself, the differences are about the facts of what happened to Jesus.

    Using Kripkean semantics of proper names, we see that the problem is not ontological, we have no doubt about who is the Jesus, or the Moses, or the Abraham that Muslims are talking about. The problem is about what they did, about the facts themselves, and there seems to be a disagreement between the three groups about this subject. So, the problem is cognitive: how do I (or we) know who did what and why. If this is true of all the proper names used in the Qur'an and the Bible, then we return to the question of the identity of the Muslim God, and without a doubt we are talking about the Judeo-Christian God also. The disagreements between religions are cognitive: how do we know which definite descriptions or properties of God are true of God? Some may turn to historical aspects, and how one is historically or archaeologically consistent with one or the other. But there are questions about Jesus' divinity, what God said to Abraham, etc. in which the answers go far beyond history or archeology. Each one will allude that their respective texts are proof enough, but epistemologically speaking they aren't. Most people believe in the Bible or the Qur'an by faith, and faith itself by definition is not a proof, it is something someone assumes to be true and which has no way of being verified or confirmed in the sensible world.

    In here I assure that the Judeo-Christian God and the Moslem God are one and the same God. "Yahweh", "Allah", "Elohim", etc. are nothing more but names with which we designate one entity. So, I think that in the very few things I can agree with President Bush, even though I'm very liberal, is that the Moslems and the Judeo-Christians worship one and the same God.

One final note:

    My intention is not here to bash Judaism nor Christianity, and in fact the absorption of some pagan symbols and practices for me are not defects in those religions, but a virtue. I think that in the case of Christianity, it has been possible to be more effective spreading the Gospel changing the meaning of old pagan symbols and customs. If Christianity didn't do that, most probably most Christians wouldn't have their Bibles today with them.

    My message here is this: Before judging harshly other people's religion, first look into your own. Just because we use symbols of goddesses in the images of the Virgin Mary doesn't mean that Catholics venerate or worship mother goddesses. The same goes for Islam, just because Muslims kept some pagan practices, that doesn't mean they worship the moon god.  They worship Allah, the same God Jews and Christians worship, but under another name.

    For the rest all I can say is that if we point to the sins of the Muslims, let us Christians look at our actions also, and see if we have a moral ground to denounce what they do without taking into account our own sins of the past.

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