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Question about God

(100 Posts)
FreyaJade Tue 15-Aug-17 19:16:36

Is it true that Muslims, Christians & Jews all worship the same God (the God of Abraham, and is that why they're known as the Abrahamic religions?

From what some people who identify as Christian or Muslim say you would think that the 3 religions worship completely different Gods, for example I've seen a comment in a newspaper site from a supposed Christians who says "Allah is evil but Jesus is good".

I didn't want to comment that Allah & the Christian God / Jesus are the same thing in case I was wrong.

Icantreachthepretzels Tue 15-Aug-17 19:23:44

Yes each religion is a continuation of the next - so the Old Testament is the book for the Jewish faith, their prophets become prophets in Christianity but are overtaken in importance by Jesus, who is the Messiah that was foretold in the OT. Then Islam claims that that is simply a misunderstanding, Jesus (issa) is a very important prophet, but only a prophet, and he pales in significance compared to Mohammed.

OT prophets such as Moses and Abraham are prophets in all 3 religions.

Jesus and Allah aren't the same, as according to Islam Jesus was just a man, not the Son of God. But Allah and the Christian God and the Jewish God are all the same God.

LoneStarRising Tue 15-Aug-17 19:26:12

Yes, each of those three religions worships 'the God of Abraham' and no other god.

Jesus was the messiah to Christianity; not the messiah to Judaism; a prophet to Islam.

Icantreachthepretzels Tue 15-Aug-17 19:35:15

That should be a continuation of the last not a continuation of the next - you can't continue something that hasn't happened yet confused

Christianity continues Judaism but diverges on it's belief about Jesus, Islam continues Christianity but diverges on ... well on its belief about Jesus.

The explanation is that Allah kept sending prophets, who were very important and are greatly honoured, but the message kept getting twisted so he would send another. Mohammed is the most important prophet and the final one because it was with him that people finally got the message right.

ollieplimsoles Tue 15-Aug-17 21:24:47

And yet they are in direct conflict with each other, you would have thought a deity so all knowing, all loving and all powerful, would have sorted things out by now eh?

Icantreachthepretzels Tue 15-Aug-17 21:37:33

sssh! He works in mysterious ways don'tchyaknow?

A Muslim friend told me that the message of God was altered and lost by the translation of the Bible into various different languages. Apparently the Quran must only be read in Arabic and should never be translated, thus preserving the original message.

Icantreachthepretzels Tue 15-Aug-17 21:41:25

Of course for all the Muslim people who don't speak Arabic as a first language that does present a tiny problem.

FreyaJade Wed 16-Aug-17 00:22:26

Thanks for all your replies

FreyaJade Wed 16-Aug-17 00:32:09

Also does anyone really believe that God is 'good'.

I agree with what Stephen Fry said in a way- I think what kind of God is it that created so much suffering?

If we have to die why can't we just die peacefully rather than suffer from cancers, strokes etc & suffer for months or years?

Who created eg. mosquitoes which have no purpose other than to inflict malaria on people? Or why create viruses such as hiv?

I'm an agnostic; I think there may be a God but if so I'm inclined to think he's the Old Testament kind of God, who makes people suffer. I think Jesus was probably some kind of prophet who was actually a good person but not the son of god.

Niminy Wed 16-Aug-17 07:56:43

Going back to the original question for a minute.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are called the Abrahamic religions because followers of these religions see themselves (either literally or metaphorically) as being the 'children of Abraham' - those millions of descendants promised by God to Abraham in Genesis. All three religions hold the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible to be holy. For Jews, the Torah, the first five books, are the central scriptures.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are monotheist faiths. There is only one God, who is the creator and sustainer of all things. It's not a question of choosing one god from among all gods, because there are no other gods. As Muslims say, there is one God, who is God.

However, the three religions see God differently. The Jews were the first people to discover monotheism, and the Hebrew Bible is the story of that revelation and the struggles of the Jewish people to live as God's holy people. It's a story of God's enduring promise of faithfulness despite human forgetfulness and unfaithfulness.

Christians believe in that God and believe that they too are part of God's promise. They believe that God renewed his promise by being born as a human, living a human life, teaching about God's kingdom, choosing an undeserved death and being resurrected. For Christians, God reveals himself most fully in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. But he also reveals himself in the Holy Spirit, who makes a bridge between heaven and earth. So for Christians, there is only one God, but God is made up of three persons - three in one.

Muslims believe in the same God, but for them Jesus was not a revelation of the divine self but one in a long series of prophets who told people about God. Muslims believe that all these prophets (many of whose writings are found in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible) were leading up to God's final revelation, which was given to Muhammad. These revelations, the Koran, are sacred to Muslims because they contain the direct word of God.

So you have a paradox. All three religions believe in one God. Some followers of each religion believe that their conceptions of God are so different that the God of the others is, effectively, not God. This is particularly true of some Christians, sadly. Others (and I am one of them) believe that if there is only one God then logically we are all worshipping the same God. As a Christian, I believe God revealed himself in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. How all three conceptions of God might be true is a paradox - something that I might never understand fully. I'm content not to understand it and to live with a certain amount of uncertainty without needing everything to be absolutely black and white.

The question about suffering is a good one, and perhaps one for another day - I've got to do some work now. But I would say two things for now. Firstly, it would be a very human-centred view of the world to demand that God only create things that didn't harm humans. If God is the creator of all, then surely he loves mosquitoes, worms and viruses as much as he loves us? Isn't it a bit childish to think that we shouldn't suffer at all? Secondly, if suffering is part of life, then the question isn't 'why should we suffer at all?' but 'how can we cope with it?', and 'how can we take responsibility for our part in it?'. There are many answers to these questions, but the great religions of the world have tussled with these questions for milennia and their answers are worth looking at.

ollieplimsoles Wed 16-Aug-17 08:13:16

Op I dont know what your background is, but do some research of the facts of evolution by natural selection. In my opinion the more you read and understand the more you realise nothing was 'created' when I understood a bit more I couldn't believe I spent so long trying to understand such a wonderful phenomenon in the context of a 'creator'.

For instance:
Who created eg. mosquitoes which have no purpose other than to inflict malaria on people? Or why create viruses such as hiv?

Mosquitoes cleaverly evolved to suck blood from other animals (not just humans) because natural selection favoured the genes that caused the trait to develop over a very long time.

If we have to die why can't we just die peacefully rather than suffer from cancers, strokes etc & suffer for months or years?

My young earth creationist friends believe that god did create everything perfectly and there was no death disease or decay. Then for some reason he felt the need to 'test' his creations' love and faithfulness to him by putting a tree in the garden with forbidden fruit on it and telling them not to eat it. They ate it. God gets angry because his creations are not perfect enough even though he created them perfectly and envokes what some believers call 'the fall' suddenly, diseases exist, death exists, decay exists. God punished us with it. Its from this rhetoric that some of the more deplorable theists preach the doctrine of 'original sin'

Question yourself on your inclination to believe the god that exists is old testament god, who hates everything he made. Consider that things may very well just 'be' and the universe doesn't owe us an explanation as to why we are here, neither does evolution.

Google 'talk origins'
And click around on 'rational wiki' its entertaining and informative!

VanillaSugar Wed 16-Aug-17 08:20:07

Try and listen to the Radio 4 lecture about faith, ie would the world be a better place without religion. The late, agnostic, Christopher Hitchins totally annihilates Tony Blair.

ollieplimsoles Wed 16-Aug-17 08:23:37

Xposted with niminy but a great response from a theist perspective!

Its perfectly fine to say 'i dont know' which ever route you chose op.

LinoleumBlownapart Wed 16-Aug-17 09:33:50

In theory yes, but in reality most people worship a god they've created in their own image or the collective image/culture of their people. In the case of Islam and Christianity monotheistic Judaism is mixed with polytheistic pagan beliefs from Rome and Greece or Persia, this was done in order for the new religions to be accepted by the people of the time. This is where a lot of the confusion and contradiction stems from.

In the pagan beliefs there were good gods and bad gods. The evil being or bad gods is the default explanation for all evil or bad things in the world. The old bad gods became Satan and his demons or jinns in Islam and continues to this day. It also causes confusion as this directly contradicts montheistic beliefs, which is clear in things like Who created eg. mosquitoes which have no purpose other than to inflict malaria on people? Or why create viruses such as hiv? so the default explanation became "Satan did it".

In Judaism it is god who creates the bad, so people can learn or really come to know the good. Life is a test. That's why bad things exist, we suffer. We are supposed to suffer, if people suffer and still have faith and love God without barriers, then the test has been passed. Like the story of Job, god sent an angel to Satan (hinder/block) Job, to test him. At least this makes slightly more sense than the others. Although the mystery remains as to why god would need to do this?

Personally I think all religions are man made, just made by different men at different times with different cultural ideals. That's why trying to make sense of them is so confusing and why they create so much "us and them" animosity. But everyone can learn a lot from any one of them or all of them.
Many people take only the good elements out of their religion and practice them, they display compassion and understanding and then they are able to rise above the "us and them".

bluedemilune Wed 16-Aug-17 12:03:20

In Islam we consider Our God to be the same God as for the Jews and Christians, we honour their books, honour their prophets, and we see our faith as sitting in between Christianity and Judaism in that our belief of Jesus as a prophet and the Messiah unlike Jews. But we also sit close to Judaism in our adhering more to the rules of the OT and the pre Jesus monotheism of the old Hebrew Prophets.

Judaism and Christianity are far more anthropocentric and have an anthropomorphic idea of God than in Islam. God's chosen people, God's children, Son of God, Our Father, Mary mother of God, very different from the conception in Islam of the place of human beings in the cosmos. The Quran states that we are not God's greatest creation (40:57), and also that we are not the only creation with free will (51:56) (72:1-2). Nor do we believe that the earth is the only planet where God is worshipped upon, the Quran hints at 7 other earths like this one, 65:12 that have the same similarities as our earth and from that we assume, sentient beings like us too. Paradoxically God is both closer in Islam and also far more distant than in Christianity, we have a formality of approach with God - the ablution, formal ritualised prayer - that Christians do not have. but then there is also an informality: in Islam we have no need of priests or clergy or intercessors or intermediaries. (or well, majority Sunni Islam anyway). The human interacts and prays to God directly anyway.

Another difference between the Abrahamic faiths is that of salvation. In Islam it is something to be worked and laboured for it is not guaranteed by belief alone or a sure bet. Faith and works is intertwined and so are ones dealings with others, the bad I do to harm myself is different than the bad I do to harm others. In Christianity the follower has more hope and also expectancy of salvation despite themselves and sometimes I envy the christian that surety!

FreyaJade Wed 16-Aug-17 13:10:27

Thanks for all the interesting replies.

Icantreachthepretzels Thu 17-Aug-17 02:17:33

Also does anyone really believe that God is 'good'.
I don't believe in God at all.
And having read the entirety of the bible cover to cover (don't try that at home!) I certainly don't think that the character 'God' that appears there is good either. The big surprise was Jesus, though - he was so rude to his disciples! And don't get me started on how pettily he behaved towards that fig tree - its a tree FGS, and your meant to be the Son of God - be the bigger person! It was quite an eye opener reading the whole thing, having only ever really heard the highlights.

If there is some higher power creator being (I guess you can't rule it out completely) then he certainly can't be all seeing, all knowing and all loving - the world is proof enough of that. At best he's like a person who owns an ant farm, he's interested in it, he cares about it, but he can't tell one ant from another and he isn't going to cry if it gets flooded or knocked on the floor, mildly peeved perhaps, but he can always get more ants.

OutwiththeOutCrowd Thu 17-Aug-17 10:26:06

I'd like to jot down a few ideas on the question of suffering from a more optimistic perspective than that espoused by Stephen Fry. (Apologies to the OP who might be more interested in discussing connections amongst the Abrahamic religions!)

Suffering is a protective survival mechanism not a condition inflicted by a malevolent or judgemental god.

Physical pain is like an alarm sound produced in the brain, warning of damage to tissue and compelling us to change our behaviour to prevent further damage and facilitate healing. (Ouch, I've been stung by a wasp, better run away before it stings me again.) Psychological pain is also a kind of alarm, which goes off in response to a frustrated need.

The system isn’t perfect. You can’t switch the alarm on and off at will. You can’t say, “Well, thanks for letting me know, brain, but actually there’s nothing more I can do so you might as well stop shrieking at me. And sometimes the alarm goes off and you can’t seem to identify what – if anything – is wrong, never mind take steps to improve matters.

But the alternative to pain is no pain and that’s worse! There are some unfortunate people who have a genetic condition that means they can’t feel pain at all. They have to be hyper-vigilant about hazards and often end up getting inadvertently injured.

Maybe you think, okay, I’ll give you that suffering is produced in the brain. But what about the bad stuff that triggers it? Why does bad stuff happen to us in the first place?

To that question I’d say that we live in a dynamically changing complex world. There will be a myriad of interactions with other life forms with whom we are competing for resources and a myriad of interactions with inanimate objects. We have some limited control over all this but inevitably some of those interactions will endanger our physical or psychological well-being in some way. Random stuff outwith our control happens – some of which will look bad from our perspective - and we make mistakes too. But remembering what causes pain can be an education and helps us to avoid making mistakes and to engage in the art of being human with greater skill.

As a further observation, I don’t think it’s fair on people who are suffering to make them feel responsible for their condition as religions sometimes do. God hasn’t noticed they’ve done something bad and decided to punish them for it.

Maybe think of it this way. Suffering is the forfeit to be paid for being a more complex life form. And an involuntary forfeit at that because you aren’t given the chance to say in advance, ‘Heck, I’ll just be an amoeba and avoid the experience of suffering altogether!'

headinhands Thu 17-Aug-17 13:34:13

I get that pain is important in our survival but most Christians believe in a God who can intervene, that's if they believe most of the bible.

As a loving parent you would help your dcs avoid pain to a large extent. If you saw an adult beating them to death you wouldn't stand by saying 'now move away. But if you can't it's unfortunate but you can't switch of the pain caused by this person punching your head.'

No. You'd do anything to stop it. The bible suggests God can answer prayers. He doesn't or he does if it's general ennui rather than cancer or a rape or a real life threatening problem.

LEMtheoriginal Thu 17-Aug-17 13:41:29

I read an introduction to Islam on the BBC website and it was really interesting. I came away with the impression that Christianity is an offshoot of Islam and it's like Islam lite!! I was a bit shaken by that to be honest. I was raised a Catholic but if I were to "choose" which religion to follow from scratch as it were I'd go with Islam. Although my heart leads me towards Buddhism so I'm not confused at all.

I'M also a scientist which confuses me even more.

I think Allah =God though.

I'M not sure if Muslims believe in the holy trinity though. ?

sashh Thu 17-Aug-17 13:53:27

From what some people who identify as Christian or Muslim say you would think that the 3 religions worship completely different Gods, for example I've seen a comment in a newspaper site from a supposed Christians who says "Allah is evil but Jesus is good"

There are branches of all three who think the other branches are wrong or are not part of the same religion.

Some churches say Catholics are not Christians for instance.

Flyingflipflop Thu 17-Aug-17 14:06:15

I read an introduction to Islam on the BBC website and it was really interesting. I came away with the impression that Christianity is an offshoot of Islam and it's like Islam lite!!

However, remember that Christianity predates Islam by about 800 years.

I count myself as a Christian, however I see the other Abrahamic faiths as having more in common than divides us. We have the same God, but our routes to Him or even Her is different.

Who's to say which is right or wrong? Who's to say any other religion, belief or non belief is wrong?

headinhands Thu 17-Aug-17 14:20:51

Who's to say which is right or wrong? Who's to say any other religion, belief or non belief is wrong?

You are. You are, by using your own reason. The same reason you use when you decide if your car needs more petrol, or your grass needs mowing. Using your cognitive faculties.

Why won't God clear this mess up? Why set his followers up against each other in holy texts. Seems so cruel. Think of the blood shed.

Icantreachthepretzels Thu 17-Aug-17 15:16:55

We have the same God, but our routes to Him or even Her is different.

Yes, people being open minded and concentrating on the love aspect of religion often say this. But the thing is - Catholics used to burn Protestants at the stake (and vice versa) because their path to the same God was different and this was an abhorant sin. And that's only 2 branches in the same discipline.

If God is eternal and unchanging then he hasn't changed his mind about the right path to follow. And he is a jealous God - he says so himself. If he thinks the path you followed took you perilously close to worshipping something else he will not look kindly on it (e.g If you called him 'Allah' and followed Mohammed's teachings, but actually he was the Catholic God all along, or you accepted Jesus as the Messiah, but he is the Jewish God and Jesus is just a very naughty boy, then you followed false prophets and didn't heed the true word of God)

The God of the OT is very clear on what he likes and what he doesn't and is clear on his eternal nature. An attempt to change the rules about what's allowed or how to worship him is the very thing he got so het up about in his book.

It's trying to have your cake and eat it. Wanting a loving eternal God who cares about you and who will give you eternal life, but not wanting him the way he's described in the OT (and Jesus said he came to uphold the law not destroy it). So people mould a God that fits in with their belief systems but that's the wrong way round and 500 years ago would have got you burned at the stake.

If the God of the OT is real, then i'm afraid I think only the Westboro Baptist church are going to make it to heaven.

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