Do Jews “worship the same God,” Wheaton?

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Larycia Hawkins

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Larycia Hawkins

Larycia Hawkins

Larycia Hawkins

Suppose, in the wake of a series of anti-Semitic incidents, a teacher at Wheaton College were to write the following on her Facebook page: “I stand in religious solidarity with Jews because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.” Would she be suspended from her position?

If so, then I suppose I’d have no problem with Wheaton’s suspension of political science professor Larycia Hawkins for updating her status a week ago with those identical words, except for “Muslims in place of “Jews.” The Christian definition of God in Wheaton’s statement of faith — which all professors are required to sign — differs as much from the Jewish conception of God as it does from the Muslim. Its trinitarian formulation of God’s nature is equally alien to both.

Whether that means that Christians worship a different God than Jews and Muslims is another question. Certainly they, like Jews and Muslims, claim to worship the God of Abraham. And while, like Jews and Muslims, they believe their understanding of that God to be the most accurate, I suspect that the God of Abraham feels sufficiently identified in the worship of all three.

Be that as it may, I don’t think Prof. Hawkins would have gotten into trouble at the Harvard of Evangelicalism had she identified Jews as worshiping the same God, and not just because Christians have always claimed the Jewish God as their own. In recent years, American evangelicals have embraced their Jewish roots even as they have come to regard Islam as the enemy. Especially in the current post-San Bernardino climate, Muslims are the Abrahamic goats who must be separated from the sheep.

  • I think maybe the most important question is do any Christian right wing evangelicals worship the same God that Jesus did?

  • If Allah, Yahweh and Jesus are the same God
    why do they demand the execution of each other’s believers?

    These delusions about gods should be allowed to die off.

  • Max, when someone says, “that person is one card short of a full deck,” do you process that and then think, “oh, I guess we need to figure out what card is missing so he can have a full deck?”

    Let’s try another. When Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven is within.” do you think he literally meant to open your ribs and find a kingdom there?

    You also may think that the words in the book (well, set of many books) that have come to be known as the “Bible” are divinely inspired?

    Oh, no, wait you’re atheist Max, so you know that’s not true. But you’re quoting them as if they’re literally true. Oh wait, you know better and all those millions of people who take those words literally are just stupider than you. No wait, most of them don’t take the words literally.

    So now it’s getting hard to figure out – you, in your better, more intelligent side, don’t take those words literally. Most people who find something worthwhile in the Bible don’t. So you’re just making…

  • Now, since you call yourself atheist max, and pride yourself in being superior, smarter, better, far far beyond those few who take things literally.

    Let’s look at what you make of science. Physicists measure things – they impose measurements on our sensory experience. Then they make pronouncements like, ‘Everything is subject to gravity” when “gravity” is simply a word that stands for a measurement. Now, decades ago Arthur Eddington strove mightily to show us that this fundamentalist, literalist reading of scientific pronouncements may have been useful (though not fully correct) for classical physics but fails us miserably with quantum physics.

    But this is true of anything said about purely non-intelligent, non sentient matter. We cannot, by definition, know of any such thing, yet fundamaterialists of all stripes persist in speaking of Matter is if it is some kind of God.

    Are you wiling challenge these fundamentalists as well?

  • @Don Solmon,

    If someone tells me the Big Bad Wolf never died in a chimney, I have no choice but to point to the text which cites the verse:
    “The wolf died in the chimney and the Three Little Pigs lived happily ever after”

    If you live by a text you are bound by what the text says. Whether or not I believe the text is irrelevant as long as YOU DO believe in it.

    Don’t tell me the text isn’t clear. All these Gods are against each other according to the text. If you want to tell me your texts don’t matter, that is fine with me. But then don’t tell me they matter!

  • @Don Salmon,

    I’m delighted you think of me as superior and more intelligent. Thanks.
    But I did not become smarter when I became an Atheist – I simply acquired a bit of information which I did not have before when I was Christian.

    ATHEIST means I do not believe in a god.
    Atheism is not an assertion that there is no God. I have no idea whether a god exists or not – and neither do you. There is nothing virtuous or pious in pretending a god exists simply because you find it a convenient solution to a puzzle you can’t otherwise solve.

    You are right about me being very proud of being an Atheist. Such honesty is hard won. The burden is on the Theist who claims a god exists and he KNOWS WHICH ONE is the true god! Quite a claim you have there.

  • drwho13

    “I’m delighted you think of me as superior and more intelligent” (Atheist Max).

    Are you a member of Mensa?

    I’m not an Atheist, but I find your reasoning valid, and I enjoy reading your posts. On the other hand, I don’t know if your reasoning (or mine) is sound; because as you stated, “I have no idea whether a god exists or not – and neither do you.”

    I believe in the existence of God, but when I use the word “believe” I acknowledge the possibility of error. I will never be able to accurately say, I “know” God exists, at least while I’m in this world.

  • Ben in Oakland

    As I always like to say, Max:

    Atheism isn’t a statement about god. It’s a statement about religion.

    Subtract an atheist from a true believer, and the difference is one god.

    If (generic) you actually understood why you reject all gods but yours, you would understand why I reject yours as well.

  • samuel johnston

    You raise an important point. The word “belief” is only defined by context (“I believe I will have another drink”)
    Now you as an individual, may find the god theory more satisfying than the agnostic position, but in the context of all known institutional Christianity, that sort of “belief” is not acceptable. Belief means accepting a basket of propositions like trinity, biblical or papal authority, sin etc. It further requires loyalty to these several propositions . As a Darwinist, I have no such loyalty. I may change my mind twice a day. Show me a better theory and I will instantly switch over and never look back. Christians are not afforded this luxury by their pledges of “belief”.

  • Max, you’re just giving me a gift because it’s Xmas (I mean, happy holidays and all that!).

    you’re proving your point by citing a story that never happened.

    You sound like Richard Dawkins, whose God of dead matter has never existed. Just a fairy tale that moderns like to tell themselves to protect themselves from Reality.

  • Doc Anthony

    Hmm. Sure hate to say this, but you DO have a point there Max.

    Accept the Bible’s claims, or reject the Bible’s claims, but it really isn’t possible to do both acceptance and rejection at the same time.

    Of course, one can always reject the law of non-contradiction and mindlessly subscribe to universalism, in which case one is free to preach that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, or even that ALL roads lead to God anyway.

    But such a position doesn’t sound like a good rational option for Wheaton. Or anybody else.

    So if you advertise that your college faculty believes the Bible, then it’s time for Truth-in-Advertising.

    Namely, get RID of liberal teachers that don’t believe the Bible!!

  • Be Brave


    And now you understand that the pearls and swine advice from Jesus was literal and not parable.

    Jesus literally saw these frozen-minded materialists coming.

  • Be Brave

    Jesus IS the God of Abraham, ISAAC and Jacob.

    So, the truthful answer to the article’s query is YES.

    Theology 101 that somehow Ms. Hawkins doesn’t know anything about yet, “teaches” at a Christian college.

    She deserved to be terminated. With just cause.

  • Be Brave

    0 x 0 = atheism.

    The atheist’s position lacks observable and discernible reality.

    It’s just a fact. Once I learned that reality isn’t scary. I left atheism behind “forever.” But it took an open mind and a willing mind. Something I find lacking in the modem atheist movement. But hey, what is the value of experience huh?

  • Jesus is I am (as is Atheist Max, Mohammed, Be Brave, Rush Limbaugh, Bernie Sanders, Attila the Hun, Adolf Hitler…. Krishna, Moses, Jerry Seinfeld, Madonna (both of them)…..

  • and of course, he’s not either:>)

    Krishna, Gita, chapter 9, they are in Me but I am not in them
    Krishna Gita, Chapter 10: I am the Self, the beginning, the middle and the end of all Beings.

    Put that in your pipes and smoke it!

  • drwho13

    Well stated Sam!

  • Doc,

    The reason I like you is you have come to the realization that God only exists through ‘Faith’ – and Faith means setting the table as if God will show up despite his record of never showing up.

    Yes, if you have set the table for God and “know there is a chance” he will show up the entire religion can be forced into being a valid reality.
    My problem is that my faith vanished and the reality around me has been shockingly beautiful. I’m only sorry I missed it for so long.

  • BB,


    Um. What is your definition of zero? Here’s mine:

    A lack of evidence = 0
    No demonstration = 0

    Notice I do not say invisible = 0
    Air, Gravity, Germs, Viruses and many other things are invisible yet they can all be demonstrated to exist despite being invisible to us.

    If you cannot demonstrate how a god could exist you are simply confirming what neurologists have been telling us for decades – HUMANS IMAGINE A GOD ONLY BECAUSE OF INDOCTRINATION IN CULTURAL DELUSION. There is no reason to believe a real god exists.

  • drwho13,

    No – I am not Mensa. I’m of average intelligence. Christians often accuse Atheists of taking a superior posture simply because we explicitly do not believe in gods. It is a defense mechanism of all religions. The doubter supposedly “thinks too much.”

    I know how it works because I was a devout Christian and I thought the same way about Atheists back in those days.

    I appear smarter (but I’m not smarter) because I have been through the extraordinary burden of having to articulate things with precision to believers for so long.

  • samuel johnston

    God shows up at every Mass. They even ring a bell to announce his presence!
    It’s not his fault you can’t see him! Faith allows one to look past the invisible and see the real picture.
    P.S. Put a dollar in the plate as you leave!

  • drwho13

    Atheist Max, I respect your position. I also believe that the angry response you receive from some believers is the result of fear. You force them to face the fact that God may not exist. This causes them to experience existential angst, and that’s scary!

    If a person were certain that God existed, there would be no reason to feel insecure if an atheist told that person otherwise. If one told a rational person that the sun would not rise tomorrow morning, that position would be dismissed without a second thought. They know the sun will rise.

    On the other hand, no one knows if God exists. As an atheist, you bring the fact that God may not exist into their conscious minds, and it can be very uncomfortable.

    I believe that only the dead have the truth. However, if there is not a God, none of them will be aware they have the truth. If there is a God, the dead may or may not be aware that they have the truth; what would depend on God’s Will.

  • Thanks, guys I really enjoyed all of this, God Bless!

  • Samuel Johnston,

    I don’t mind SPECULATING that a god might exist.
    My problem is only with those people who say they “know”.

    The Atheist says:
    “Unicorns might exist – wouldn’t that be interesting? But I don’t believe in them.”

    And the THEIST:
    “I know Unicorns exist. And The king of the Unicorns forbids you to wear white pants. If you do you are provoking him to have you killed.”

  • Jack

    Great… entire post gone down the drain again, courtesy of RNS’ wondrous glitches.

    Let’s try again: Mark Silk either doesn’t know or doesn’t remember the theological concepts of progressive and final revelations.

    Simply put, the reason Christendom in all of its historical manifestations — good, bad, and ugly — tends to value Islam less than Judaism is that Judaism preceded Christianity while Islam followed it. Why is that important? Because Christianity sees Judaism as an initial revelation from God at Sinai and Christianity as the final revelation. If Christianity claims to be the final revelation, then it has to reject Islam which claims the same thing.

    For the same reason, Islam is going to look less unfavorably on the Judaism and Christianity preceding it than, say, the Baha’i faith which came after it.

  • Jack

    If they believe the Gospel, Don, and have accepted Christ into their lives, they are of Christ, whether they are “right-wing,” left-wing,” or any other wing.

    Earth to Don: There is no political litmus test for who’s a Christian.

  • Jack

    Don, I think the meaning of your post sailed over poor Max’s head.

  • Jack

    Samuel, everything you just stated is itself a belief on your part.

  • Jack

    Atheist Max, it seems you’re putting words into theists’ mouths. This theist never accused atheists of “thinking too much.” To the contrary, I don’t think either theists or atheists as a whole think too much or too little. There are plenty of thoughtful, deep people on both sides, and the same may be said for shallow people.

    As for you, though, you seem kind of shallow, but that has nothing to do with your atheism. I suspect that when you were a theist, you were equally shallow.

  • @Jack,

    “Max. I suspect…you were shallow”

    You are certainly a deep thinker to believe in zombies:

    “Many zombie saints rose from the dead and left their crypts and visited with the people in the town….” (Matthew 27:52)

    Like Pat Robertson and Creflo Dollar you are a deep, deep thinker indeed.

  • You’re right, Jack, but I was being phenomenological, not historical. On that basis, for example, Orthodox Jews have an easier time theologically with Islam than they have with Christianity. With respect to the question at hand (what does is mean to “worship the same God”?), a belief that one’s religion constitutes the final revelation amounts to an explanation of bias.

  • John

    Straw man argument, Mark. You set up an hypothetical to make a point, and then proceed to destroy that argument. You can do better.

  • A straw man argument is one that attacks an argument different from (and weaker than) the opposition’s best argument ( My argument is simply that Wheaton’s objection to the assertion that Muslims “worship the same God” should apply to the Jews as well. You may disagree, but there’s no straw man.

  • Glenn Harrell

    Were the historical Jesus alive today to toss in His own interpretation of just who God is, and we placed any amount of credence in the historical and literary accuracy of how the bible quotes Him, my what a mess we would have. (woman at the well)

    Once again, the Jews would have him arrested, The Christians would deny him, and the Muslims would most certainly have him put away.

    The atheists would have a field day in hilarity while Jesus is placed in a straight jacket and committed for mental treatment.

    Were Jesus the professor, He most certainly would face the governing board and join Prof Hawkins in the unemployment line. And the required punishment for such duplicity of allegiance to the One God proclamations makes them both “legal” targets for death by the laws of each the others holy writ. Sad indeed.

    Muslims reaching for such moderation of Qur’an interpretations risk rejection from Christians but physical harm from their own fundamentalists. More to come.

  • Dave Miller

    Mark, your post reminds me of this poem by C.S. Lewis, titled “A Footnote to All Prayers”:

    The one whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
    When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou
    And dream of Phaedian fancies and embrace in heart
    Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
    Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
    Worshipping with frail images of folk-lore dream,
    And all in their praying, self-deceived, address
    The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
    Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
    Our arrows, aimed, unskillfully, beyond the desert;
    And all are idolaters, crying unheard
    To a deaf idol, if thou take them at thy word.
    Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great,
    Unspoken speech our limping metaphor translate.

    I will let it speak for itself.

  • Ben in oakland

    According to a number of people who post here regularly, Jack, there are the True Christians (TM) and the Other Kind. We are also being told constantly that there is only one way to wish people well for the season, and ANY other way constitutes a war on Christmas.

  • Ben in oakland

    No, it doesn’t stand for a measurement. It stands for a force, determined by the masses of objects, that can be measured. But if you know the masses of the objects, and the distance between them, you can calculate the amount of force.

  • Ben in oakland

    Belief with overwhelming physical evidence that can be tested, or belief without any evidence whatsoever, other than a much edited, translated, and contradictory book from 2000 years ago?

  • don

    Dave, thanks so much. I almost gave up on responding to this thread before seeing your post. The first lines say it all:

    The one whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
    When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou
    And dream of Phaedian fancies and embrace in heart
    Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art. –

    If I understand this correctly, this is an affirmative response both to the professor at Wheaton and to Mark’s post. I wonder how many posters here missed Mark’s point: “I suspect that the God of Abraham feels sufficiently identified in the worship of all three”

    Now if I may get myself in further trouble, I suspect that the non theistic yet fully “Conscious” dharmadhatu of the Buddhists and Tao of the Taoists and even the Akshara Brahman of the Advaitins (and certainly the Vishnu of the Vaishnavas) feels sufficiently identified in the worship of all.

    Ironically, the only God who can’t recognize any worship, is the dead, stupid god of…

  • don

    looks like the last words of my previous reply were lost

    Ironically, the only God who can’t recognize any worship, is the dead, stupid god of the physicalists.

    Let’s look a bit more closely at this “God.” What do neuroscientists tell us? That the flower we see may or may not exist, but certainly the image that is produced in our brain by some external stimulus (the nature of which is a complete mystery, the brain folks tell us) has absolutely nothing comparable outside our brains.

    And the physicists tell us similarly, that all we can say is “something is doing something to something” (I think that’s Heisenberg). And we can’t speak of “matter” any more, as that has been dematerialized, so the “materialists” have been transmogrofied (I think it’s appropriate to borrow a term from Calvin and Hobbes, as physicalists generally seem to think at the level of a 6 year old wayward boy) into physicalists.

    So the physicalists tell us that one thing we know is…

  • George Nixon Shuler

    Mark, here’s what I think: if there’s only one God, then of course the “God” of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam is one and the same, and perhaps pantheons are merely representations of various aspects of the divine. Any “god” (no capital g on purpose) which would “demand” one be politically correct or orthodox (same thing) would be unworthy of worship and merely a representation of its’ promoters attempts to gain power and control over others.

  • don

    the universe is ultimately dead, stupid, meaningless, purposeless, and even non spatial, and non temporal, time and space merely being categories our minds (oops, I mean our brains) impose on these unknown stimuli.

    And when you look at Dawkins and Lewontin and others like them, you have to wonder at the emotional vehemence (Steven Weinberg – the universe is pointless!) with which they assert their absolute knowledge of this dead, stupid God.

    And then you might be forgiven for thinking that even the most powerful member of ISIS barely begins to approach the power in todays’ world that our God fearing (the god of death and stupidity) physicalists have.

    If you want to understand this phenomenon, see Iain McGilchrist’s “Master and His Emissary”, particularly the last chapter describing a world taken over by the semi autistic left hemisphere. You’ll also understand why it’s impossible to have a rational conversation with a physicalist.

  • Larry

    Allah IS the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus. That statement has as much truth to Muslims as yours does to Christians.

    So Ms. Hawkins was making a statement about the faith of Christians and Muslims which have common points.

    If you want to split hairs, Jews, Christians and Muslims all have their own take on their version of a one true God which differ so wildly that they cannot be considered common theologically. The commonalities being entirely historical in nature. Like evolutionary branches of species off a common ancestor. Fundamentally different at a basic level but with shared traits.

    The whole, “we worship the same God” is really more of a courtesy than an actual belief. A way to appeal to ecumenical/interfaith instincts in a polite, respectful manner.

  • ben in oakland

    Pretty silly on the whole, don.

    You need the universe to have meaning. I don’t. But to say it has no meaning, whatever that may be, is not to say that it has no value.

    “but certainly the image that is produced in our brain by some external stimulus (the nature of which is a complete mystery, the brain folks tell us) has absolutely nothing comparable outside our brains.”

    That isn’t what they say at all. Look up the word ‘reification.”

    “and non temporal, time and space merely being categories our minds impose on these unknown stimuli.”

    No, that process is called abstraction. Abstraction frequently results in reification. Name a star. Describe its mass, color, composition, distance, etc. Remove those qualities– abstraction– and what is left?

    All you are arguing, with religious disdain, is that the universe is a far more complicated place than it appears to be to our sense, to the process of abstraction, sand to what’s left– reification.

  • @don,

    “I suspect that the God of Abraham feels sufficiently identified in the worship of all three”

    if one true god exists it would supposedly be smart enough to figure out what people are trying to say regardless of their religion.

    But that is exactly the problem – such a God apparently has no power to intercede; to correct, to enlighten or to “return love” by lending a whiff of clarity or protection to those who are doing it wrong.

    The lack of a response from the god is merely one refutation of the claim. You are left with the possibility that Zeus may be the one true God – or Aphrodite, or Jupiter. Or all three.

    It demeans our integrity and our intelligence.

  • “but certainly the image that is produced in our brain by some external stimulus (the nature of which is a complete mystery, the brain folks tell us) has absolutely nothing comparable outside our brains.”

    That isn’t what they say at all. Look up the word ‘reification.”

    Ben, it’s the naive realists among physicalists who are reifying things every time they speak of a “red bird” or “blue sky” without acknowledging that such things have no independent existence in the religion of fundamaterialism.

    Ben, if you want to play the game of withering condescension without giving any concrete example, I could ask you to look up the definition of “moron”, but I won’t: (oops, just did)

    So tell me – what does Oliver Sachs say, or Francis “you’re nothing but a pack of neurons” Crick say about the (experienced) color red. My 25 years as a psychologist (including research) have not led me to any neuroscience texts that indicate the phenomenological aspect of color exists apart…

  • Ben, by the time you get this, you may have come up with an example, but here’s one of a million or so you can get by googling “does color exist”

    I would estimate there’s at least a 97% consensus on this among scientists (but then, you may not accept the AGW consensus either)

    A psychiatrist once told Huston Smith that physicalism is, by strict DSM standards, a psychotic disorder. I agree, and if I was required to do a psych eval on a physicalist, I believe I could make an excellent case for the diagnosis.

    “out of touch with reality”

    I’m sorry, Oliver, Francis and Ben, but the apple really is red, the sky is blue, and the physicalists are insane.

  • ben in oakland

    I didn’t do withering condescension, nor did I call you a moron. But if ad hominem condescension works for you, feel free.

    Meaning is just one more attempt to impose order on the universe inside of your brain. Does meaning exist outside of your brain? Tsunamis are a sign of god’s wrath, according to some religionists, but not others. Tsunamis are merely the result of plate tectonics, according to scientists. No “meaning” required.

    The color red does not exist outside your brain. Absolutely. Electromagnetic radiation of a certain frequency does, and it stimulates OUR optical organs, and hence our brains, in a certain way. Except when it doesn’t– color blindness, for example. Red still doesn’t exist outside.

    We use words like “red bird” because both have a common linguistic and communicative meaning for most of us. Abstraction enables us to communicate. No physicist says that matter doesn’t exist, only that our way of thinking about it doesn’t describe all reality.

  • I’m always amazed at how difficult it is for people who haven’t spent much time on it to understand qualia.

    Ben, I followed the 600+ member Journal of Consciousness Studies online forum for 8 years, from 1998 to 2006. I would say that the 97% consensus number with regard to cognitive scientists’ assessment of the non objective reality of qualia is quite accurate.

    In other words, some 97% of the world’s leading cognitive scientists believe that qualia – sound, color, the tangible “feel” of the world – do not exist objectively.

    Subtract qualia and you have no universe at all, nothing but abstractions.

    Your word reification comes in quite conveniently here – what you have in physicalism is (a) a process of reification; follow by (b) a passionate, devout belief in the independent reality of that reification.

    Pretty much the definition of psychosis, I would say!

  • In fact, every contemporary physicist says that matter is no longer the foundation of the universe, hence the universal switch from “materialism” to “physicalism.”

    And no physicist or philosopher of science has been able to come up with a coherent definition of “physical” other than “it’s what physicists study.”

    And devout fundamateriallists think that people who think that there is a fundamental spiritual component to reality don’t think clearly!

  • And again to Ben, who says that color may not exist outside the brain, but “electromagnetic radiation” [ER] does, that’s a perfect example of reification.

    We have no direct knowledge of ER. “ER” is an abstraction, a name for certain responses of instruments we have created to measure processes in a laboratory. We give those responses the name “electromagnetic radiation” but as Richard Feynman said, if we are to be honest, we have absolutely no idea what “energy” is.

  • ben in oakland

    It seems you wish to argue not only over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. But what do we mean when we say angels, dance, head, on, and pin.

    I’m far more interested in the practical aspects of things, so like an engineer, to me, the proper answer is “as many as there is room for.”

    So, I will retire from the field, and let you declare victory.

  • Ben, if you don’t understand anything about the process of scientific research, or the fundamental assumptions underlying science, and prefer to work as an engineer, that’s fine, but there’s no point in trying to obscure the fact.

    Actually I would say that technically speaking (pun intended), most scientists are really engineers and not knowledgeable for the most part about the basis of the hypotheses they work with.

    Again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and no doubt methodological naturalism has yielded many positive benefits. But if you notice, most of the arguments here against spirituality consist of technologically informed biases that are much closer to arguments about angels dancing on pins than anything Mark is actually writing about.

    In short, instead of reacting, think. It can change the world.

  • ben in oakland

    I’ve never made a single argument against spirituality, and in fact, couldn’t. That would be a contradiction of who I am.

    I do have arguments against religion, but then, I don’t consider religion to be spirituality, though I recognize that it may include spirituality– but also money, business, power, and dominion.

    You can live in the world of Aristotelian mechanics, but it won’t help you understand physics. We live in the world of Newtonian mechanics, which are adequate for it, but are useless if you want quantum mechanics and relativity. There are those who find spiritual meaning in quantum mechanics. I see their point, but also see metaphor.

    I do know enough about the scientific process, and ontology, to talk intelligently about them. I’ve got three degrees in four fields, have read thousands of books, and have been trained in scientific method. But there are limits to 200 word postings.

    Again, feel free to declare victory.

  • Susan

    There is a lot I don’t know about Judaism I don’t know, but I have never heard of any Jewish rabbi who advocated the murder of Muslims or Christians. In the Middle Ages there were Jews who committed suicide or were executed rather than convert to Christianity, but I have never heard of any rabbi advocating for murdering Christians even so.

    “And the THEIST: “I know Unicorns exist. And The king of the Unicorns forbids you to wear white pants. If you do you are provoking him to have you killed.” –

    The Theist may also say, “I think that unicorns exists, but I have to be modest in understanding what God wants, because I am a human being and I can never for sure what God wants.”

    Mark, I think that many at Wheaton think that it applies to Jews too. I can’t tell you how many times I have been told that there is no way to God except through Jesus. So whether we worship the same God or not is immaterial.

  • samuel johnston

    Obfuscation and ambiguity are your stock and trade. If you really do not know why there there is/should be, a useful difference between the words speculation, belief, and theory, it is probably because you have spent far too much time listening to sermons, and far too little time studying.

  • Tom Snyder

    The Trinity is not alien to the OT. For instance, the best translation to Deut. 6:4 is”Yahweh is our God; worship Him alone.” Even when translated, God is one, it doesn’t rule out a trinitarian conception of the One True God. The Judaism of the OT is the same God, but many of today’s Jews actually renounce the God of the Torah, in practice if not in word. In contrast to this, the Muslim god is truly not the same as the OT’s God, or the progressive revelation of the Triune God in the New Testament documents.

  • Pr Chris

    Atheist Max: You say: ATHEIST means I do not believe in a god.
    Atheism is not an assertion that there is no God. I have no idea whether a god exists or not – and neither do you. There is nothing virtuous or pious in pretending a god exists simply because you find it a convenient solution to a puzzle you can’t otherwise solve

    Max: If you are trying to say you don’t know whether or not there is a God, then you want agnosticism (literally: not having knowledge). Atheism, on the other hand says there is no god. (literally: not a god)

    So, are you an agnostic, not knowing if there is a god, or are you an atheist, declaring there is no god?

    PR Chris

  • @Pr Chris,

    “Atheist is an assertion there is no God”

    You are wrong.

    Atheism refers to belief. Agnosticism refers to knowledge.
    Theism is belief PLUS knowledge.
    The vast majority of Atheists are Agnostic Non-Believers.

    I don’t know if a god exists. I do NOT assert there is no god.
    If you have evidence for a God I am open to seeing it.

    “God Exists and I know which one it is”
    is the assertion of the Theist.

    “I don’t believe a god exists”
    is the OPINION of the Atheist. It is not an assertion.

    “No God Exists” is an unprovable, pointless assertion.

  • Susan,

    “I have to be modest in understanding what God wants, because I am a human being and I can never for sure what God wants.”

    You describing someone who admits they cannot make claims
    about what a God could be or what a god could want, where a god might exist and therefor makes no commitments for certain.

    A person who does not have any specific belief
    about the god they admit may or may not exist is called an Agnostic Atheist.
    If you believe a god exists but can’t say a single thing for certain about it
    you simply need to keep doing your homework. Such a ‘belief’ isn’t really belief at all.

  • Langford_PO


  • Jack

    Well, God is not a Republican, a Democrat, or any other political label.

    Happy Holiday(s), Ben:-)

  • Jack

    Ben, you’re confusing scientific evidence with historical or legal evidence. The rules for the latter two differ profoundly from those of the former. And all three forms of evidence are equally valid. They each operate in a different realm.

    As to the Bible, since it’s a collection of ancient books, it is subject to the rules of historical evidence as much as any other documents from the past. And I’m not the first and won’t be the last to note that it stands up surprisingly well when subjected to such rules. And as to legal evidence, the eyewitness claims in the Gospels and alluded to in some of the Pauline epistles do suprisingly well.

    That is why some of the greatest historical and legal scholars of the past few hundred years, including a co-founder of Harvard Law School whose work on legal evidence remains a classic in the legal field, were committed Christians whose faith was grounded on such evidence.

  • Jack

    Samuel, it sounds like you’ve spent too much time talking with people who agree with you. Intellectual ghettoization is never a good idea. Your stereotypes of Christians are charmingly quaint, to say the least.

  • Jack

    I realize that, Mark, but the “historical” perspective goes a very long way toward answering your question of why a Christian might look at Islam less favorably than Judaism ….Again, it’s the same reason the mullahs of Iran treat Baha’is worse than Jews or mainline Christians.

  • Jack

    No, “George,” the problem is that even if we grant the existence of a single God and limit our inquiry to the three main monotheistic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — they can’t all be equally representative of the nature and ways of that God, for the simple reason that they contradict each other on key descriptive aspects of that god.

    So it is hardly “intolerant” to reject the idea that they’re all equally true….since they contradict each other on key things, such an assert is logically impossible. Either they’re all false, or some are more true than others.

  • I agree.

  • I agree, Susan. The simple formulation would be: Yes, Jews and Muslims worship the same God but only Christians get saved. Which raises the question: Why does it seem so important to some people to deny that those of another faith (in this case, Islam) worship the same God? It’s worth noting that the current Catholic position seems to be that while salvation must come through Jesus, Jews (and perhaps some others) do not have to acknowledge Jesus in order to be saved. I suspect that is not an option for most evangelicals.

  • Hi Mark – that was the clearest I’ve seen your point expressed yet. As for the mindset of the evangelicals, from the many “recovering Baptists” I spoke with while living in Greenville, SC, their sense seems to be that it serves a kind of psychological need to feel that one is a member of a special group that will be uniquely “qualified” for being saved. To get into their mindset, you really have to imagine what it does to the psyche of a young child to be told in ever so many ways that you are essentially an evil, worthless, no-good, sinner whose impulses need to be constantly monitored. I’ve heard adults in their 30s, 40s and older say it’s taken years to get over the sense of profound shame they grew up with.

  • Hey Ben, just wanted to say, I really appreciated your last comment to me (where you mentioned your degrees and fields – mine are 4 from 2 different fields). I thought it was subtle and well-thought out.

    My sense is, if we were sitting in an outdoor cafe in Oakland, CA or Asheville, NC and were able to set aside all these labels and concepts like materialist, atheist, religions, philosophies, lightwaves or whatever, and were really just having an open-ended chat – instead of this strange semi-anonymous impersonal computer screen conversation – we’d actually have a lot of interesting things to say to each other.

    So, sorry for my initial response to you – I was a bit defensive, and never meant for it to become a kind of “competition” where one could think in terms of “victory’ or “defeat.”

    Thanks for taking time to comment.

  • Glenn Harrell

    And If you are a dyslexic atheist, there is no dog.
    And if you are a scientific atheist, color does not exist outside your brain.
    And if you are a Muslim atheist, there is little hope for you.
    And if you are a Christian atheist, congratulations and happy recovery time.
    And if you are a real atheist, there is no need to get so worked up about any of this.

    Just sayin.

  • Ok, Glenn, you got me on this one. What’s the difference between a scientific atheist (one whose existence has been scientifically verified?) and a “real” atheist (as opposed to an atheist who just plays one on TV?)

    Let’s see, a scientific atheist is one who has spent too many years in the lab, and wouldn’t know the flying spaghetti monster if he (the scientific atheist) was scooped up on the spaghetti monster’s arms..

    And a real atheist is one who has been an atheist since he was at least age 7?

    Which would qualify me for being a real atheist! (I came up with a proof that all religions were nonsense when i was 7, only to find, 7 years later, that Bertrand Russell had come up with exactly the same proof before I did.

    And it was just one year later that a Jewish friend of mine said to me, “You know Don, not everyone who is religious thinks that God is an old guy up in the sky with a long beard” That’s when I “converted” from fundamaterialist to agnostic.

  • Glenn Harrell

    I can remember when I was a freshman in college, (believe it or not) a true friend of mine told me, “Glenn, you need to look at why you have become a joke a minute. You are actually quite irritating.” A true friend will bruise you like that.

    Turns out, I was trying to prove myself to be a like-able and worthy person of friendship, loyalty and trust. Problem was, I could never convince myself that I was all these things and instead, I relied on others to do it for me. They were worse at the job than me.

    Whatever it is I claim to be, if I try too hard to prove this identity to others, especially while being argumentative, I am likely a cheap salesman for my cause, wearing it only externally.

    Real Christians, Atheists, Muslims, whatever, need not defend their existence and if their god, God or bubble as it were is worth anything at all, then he she or it or mmmmmmm needs no protection or defense from the follower proclaiming adherence.

    signed: Still Goofy

  • Jon

    Don’t care which religion you follow, learn to live in peace with one another.

  • I see. Thanks for the explanation, Glenn. Not at all what I thought. I’m generally much more interested in understanding how other people think than trying to prove my own point – thats what I started to become very interested in what Ben had to say – not because he agreed or disagreed, but just because he was saying very thoughtful things.

    The whole, “you believe what you want and I believe what I want and we’ll all be left alone’ has been the standard muddled tolerance stance for about 150 years or more. Obviously, looking around the world, that doesn’t work,hasn’t work, never worked. People just aren’t ‘built that way. In fact, the whole, “it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you tolerate what I do” has a rather totalitarian mindset with a whole host of assumptions underlying it.

    it’s like the Vedantins who want to promote openness saying, “you can believe what you want, you’ll realize one day my view is the best.”

    Doesn’t work. Try dialog.

  • Glenn Harrell

    Don, Absolutely. I agree with your stance for dialogue. Perhaps neither of us would be on this blog conversing if there was not value in such exchanges.

    My comment refers to my tendency to over exert in a provocative, if not argumentative manner.

    It falls to a definition of “trying too hard” and as such, my motives are presented for tabulation.

    Both my need to proclaim and my need to prove need guidance.

    Thanks for the wisdom. Is it possible that we worship the same God?

  • samuel johnston

    Yes, the emphases of fear and self loathing by many evangelicals, is harmful, disgusting, and can even be dangerous. My father emphasized the loving god, while my mother feared the wrathful one. I have learned to recognize that terrible fear of hellfire in the desperate behavior of many of my relatives and neighbors here in the bible belt. One brother-in-law described hellfire as “where you don’t just burn up like a newspaper, but you burn, and burn, and burn…….” . He is just gullible, but his mentors are shameless exploiters. And naturally, if there is hell for mere backsliders, Jews, Muslems, and others not of the elect, would deserve no better treatment. From this mentality, it is but a small step to persecution.

  • Glenn, I suspect I don’t believe in the same God you don’t believe in:>))

  • Ben in oakland


    Atheism isn’t a statement about the existence or non-existence of God, as I have stated repeatedly. I haven’t seen any believable evidence there is a god, which is why I am an atheist. In fact, as I don’t find the question particularly useful, I am an it-doesn’t-matterist. If God doesn’t exist, or if God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, then everything would be exactly as it is. The only interesting proposition is if he/she/it/they is not omni-anything. In which case, why bother?

    Atheism is really a statement about religion. I don’t find a single answer among the many “answers” proposed as The Truth to be any more valid or valuable than any of the others. 2/3 of the world thinks the Christian story is nonsense, if not outright blasphemy of THEIR story. 2/3 of the world likewise think the Muslim story,the Hindu story, and the Buddhist story to be nonsense as well. Religion has no answers about the nature or existence of God.

  • Daniel Berry, NYC


  • Ben in oakland

    That I agree with. Same to you, Jack.

  • Ben in oakland

    Not a problem. Thank you for your gracious comment. I don’t take much of what goes on here to heart. My apologies as well.

    We would probably enjoy each other’s company. I have nothing against either faith or people of faith. My oldest friend, some 50 years, is a new apostolic minister. My only issues are ever with dominionism and bigotry, specifically regarding gay people, but mostly against anyone who cannot live in peace with their neighbors when their neighbors are not harming them. For example…

    My Muslim Doctor is a good, competent physician. He is not setting off car bombs in pakistan, and I object to the rhetoric that thinks he is.

  • Sure Ben, I feel the same way you do. A very good friend just told me about this fellow, Kenan. My friend was working as a massage therapist in the office where Kenan, a physical therapist worked. Everyone notice that when Kenan wrote up his notes, they were VERY well written. Ultimately, Kenan was working on a woman who had a severe back injury who happened to be an agent. She ultimately got his book published – he is a Muslim whose family was threatened by Christian Serbs, and he tells of being welcomed by Christian Ministers, Jewish agencies and other Muslim-Americans when he moved to the US. Beautiful stories – here’s one he published in the NY Times.

  • Fran


    After the upcoming great tribulation and Armageddon, and during the following millennial rule of God’s kingdom over man by Jesus, King (Isaiah 11:1-10), man will finally know, beyond any reasonable doubt, whether the trinity doctrine is true or false. Man will finally have an “accurate” or truthful knowledge of God, without any false doctrines and teachings of today (Isaiah 11:11).

  • samuel johnston

    ” Either they’re all false, or some are more true than others.”
    There you go again, speaking about the unknowable as if you have knowledge, when in fact, you only have reason/logic.
    “Let these be accepted as opinions like the truth, And so no man has seen anything clearly nor will anyone know about the gods and what I say about everything, for if one should by chance speak about what has come to pass even as it is, still he himself does not know, but opinion is stretched over all. ” 
    Xenophanes (c.570-c.475 BC)

  • I don’t know if this will add to the conversation at all – it may seem to be written in an archaic language, foreign to our modern ears. It was quoted in a commentary on the Katha Upanishad (circa 8th century BCE) by Sri Krishna Prem (born Ronald Nixon, in 1895).

    “That which is known by Shaivas as Shiva, as Brahman by the Vedanta’s, as Buddha by the Buddhists, as Arhat by the Jainas, and as all-ruling Karma by the Mimamsakas. May thai hair, Lord of the Triple-world grant us in the Fruit we desire.”

    The quote, if made in more recent times, could easily have included “That which is known as Allah by the Muslims, Yahweh by the Jews, God by the Christians, etc etc etc.

    Prem goes on to say, “Such expressions as this can be found throughout the Indian tradition, which… has ever proclaimed, “The real is One; [thought[ the learned call it by many names.”

  • (can’t make edits after submitting a comment!) Corrected version:

    I don’t know if this will add to the conversation at all – it may seem to be written in an archaic language, foreign to our modern ears. It was quoted in a commentary on the Katha Upanishad (circa 8th century BCE) by Sri Krishna Prem (born Ronald Nixon, in 1895).

    “That which is known by Shaivas as Shiva, as Brahman by the Vedanta’s, as Buddha by the Buddhists, as Arhat by the Jainas, and as all-ruling Karma by the Mimamsakas. May thai hair, Lord of the Triple-world grant us in the Fruit we desire.”

    The quote, if made in more recent times, could easily have included “That which is known as Allah by the Muslims, Yahweh by the Jews, God by the Christians, etc etc etc.

    Prem goes on to say, “Such expressions as this can be found throughout the Indian tradition, which… has ever proclaimed, “The real is One; [though] the learned call it by many names.”

  • Ay Carumba! Another mistake. it was supposed to be “Hair” not “Hair”:>))

    (Though I suppose there may be a god of Hair somewhere as well)

  • ok, i give up – obsessive compulsive spell check wins.

  • samuel johnston

    Seems I remember a Richard Feynman nightmare, in which he was desperately attempting to scale a sheer rock face, and when nearly exhausted he clambered over the top, to see a group of Indians, sitting quietly around a fire. One spoke; “Hello Mr. Feynman, we have been waiting for you. What took you so long?”.

  • Jack

    It matters which religion one follows or doesn’t follow, because truth matters, and because ideas and beliefs have consequences.

  • For Jack: Call me “Don” or “Jack” I’m still the same

    From Krishna Prem’s commentary on the Katha Upanishad: “That which is known by Shaivas as Shiva, as Brahman by the Vedanta’s, as Buddha by the Buddhists, as Arhat by the Jainas, and as all-ruling Karma by the Mimamsakas. May that Hari, Lord of the Triple-world grant us in the Fruit we desire.”

    The quote, if made in more recent times, could easily have included “That which is known as Allah by the Muslims, Yahweh by the Jews, God by the Christians, etc etc etc.

    Prem goes on to say, “Such expressions as this can be found throughout the Indian tradition, which… has ever proclaimed, “The real is One; [though] the learned call it by many names.”

    (remember the guy so evil he couldn’t pronounce “Rama” and instead worhshipped’ Mara” – Rama loved him just as much:>)))

  • (more for Jack or whoever you really are – say, if you get Alzheimers, and dont’ remember your name are you the same person? What about if you get injured and are unrecognizable? Or get perfect plastic surgery to make you indistinguishable from someone else?)

    call me Ishmael
    call me by 1000 names
    call me by no names
    stop thinking and just be – now who are you and where is God? or Dog?

  • Earth to Don: There is no political litmus test for who’s a Christian. –

    Hi Earth:

    Well, I accept Christ in my life (I accept Krishna, Moses, Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Cruz as well). What is all This but coverings by which my Beloved is more or less hidden or revealed?

    As Allah says in the Koran, “I was a hidden treasure and sought to be discovered?”

    Just like Paul has said, All of creation is “groaning” in anticipation of the arrival of the Lord.

    This is the panpsychist understanding of the evolutionary process by which sentience which, according to physicist Freeman Dyson, seems lurking even in the mind like behaviors of subatomic particles, is progressively unveiled, in the amoeboid organisms studied by Takagawa, “that damn bird” studied by Pepperberg, in Helen Keller, in Ramana Maharshi, in Julian of Norwich (all shall be well, all IS well), in “I AM”, even I dare say it, in Richard Dawkins!

  • Susan

    For an atheist you are as literalist as any evangelical. Certainly I have developed my own understanding of what God wants, but I think that it is necessary to realize that I might be mistaken. My rabbi says that if you are reading the Hebrew Bible by yourself, you should be arguing with yourself.

  • Don

    I love that, Susan… but have you argued with your rabbi about this?

  • Susan

    The concept of God changes over the course of the Hebrew Bible. There isn’t one concept of God that never changes in what you call the “OT”. However, I don’t see a trinitarian view of God anywhere in the “OT”.

  • Susan,

    You make no claims about the God you claim to believe in? Did you not claim it exists?

  • Fran


    I agree with your last sentence about the OT, but also that it applies to the NT!! God never changes.

  • When an architect (The Infinite One G-D) builds His building all the plans for the future edifice are laid out according to His will. The ground floors which were built at the time of Avraham 3700 years ago had the whole plan .Added on 3400 years ago was the revelation at Mount Sinai which roughly 7 million Israelites witnessed and as Jethro the father in Law of Moses said that even in Midian they witnessed it (as did the whole world). The next flight of floors came along a long 1400 years later for Christianity and even 750 years after them to islam. It is for the later comers regardless of which might or not be THE true faith to reconcile their beliefs with Judaism.
    Secondly , within Christianity and Islam wars were fought over”who is the heretic”. In Judaism no civil wars, I who am a “Chasidic Jew” am the same as a Jew who is a bit faithful and even a Jewish Atheist is a Jew. To be a Jew is a natural state of what we are, religious,traditional or heretic.A Jew is a Jew.

  • Jack

    Looks like our board’s Donald-Trump-loving lefty is at it again, pilfering other people’s names when he’s not busy creating new names for himself and his many personalities.

  • Susan

    Max, I am not interested in convincing you to believe in God. In does matter to me that you think believing in God makes everyone who believes a bad and intolerant person. I have seen personally many examples of the opposite. The majority of theists don’t believe that “if you provoking him to have you killed.”

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