TED Conversations

Amr Salah

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Aren't Christianity, Judaism and Islam basically the same? How much archaeological evidence is there of similar teachings in the past?

Among countless arguments that keep recurring almost on a daily basis, specially in the middle-east, many are centered around the constant conflict between the Abrahamic religions. I found it strange that whole centuries were not enough for humans to reach some conclusions, perhaps because we are all, to some extent, biased. People simply ignored, and in some cases resented, what they didn't konw. The media played a significant role in further increasing the gap using inflaming language, fabricated and biased news while ignoring or hiding historic and concrete facts altogether.

Apparently, Jews denied Christians and Muslims, Christians denied Muslims and Jews, and Muslims denied Christians and Jews. Nowadays, many people are conditioned to take sides without even thinking. One puzzling point is that some people turned other religions to a forbidden knowledge instead of encouraging people to know. Thus, they seem to prefer keeping people ignorant rather than letting them form an opinion on their own.

I don't know if someone has contributed to any sort of worldwide work that deals with the basic similarities between the Abrahamic religions, specially the beliefs. Thus, I invite everyone who is willing to share what they know about: the similarities between the Abrahamic religions, the archaeological evidence regarding them and what you think whether any human, organization or government nowadays has any right to turn any of the Abrahamic religions to a forbidden knowledge.

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    Gail . 50+

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    Aug 28 2012: Muslims and Jews have pretty much gotten along throughout their history, until the interference of the Western World as a result of the Versaille Treaty that ended World War I. That's because their cultures are so similar. The biggest differences that I know of are

    Muslims Holy day is Friday. Jews = Saturday. Muslims are to pray 5 times a day. Jews only 3. Dietary laws are the same except that Muslims must say Allah during the ritual slaughter. Other differences are differences of custom such as dress. It's no wonder that these groups cohabitated mostly peaceably for 1400 years.

    So what has happened? FIRST: The British promised Palestine to the Arabs in exchange for their help with England's war against the Ottoman Turks. England went back on its promise.

    SECOND: The Versaille Treaty: The Versailles Treaty that broke lands into artificial divisions and forcing incompatible groups to join for the purpose of establishing a united government. Suddenly, incompatible groups (suni and shia for example) were made vulnerable and left feeling threatened. But it did more. It imposed so many economic sanctions on Germany that a Hitler was virtually GUARANTEED to rise.

    ONE of the several groups that Hitler targeted, with extermination in mind, were the Jews. Jews were hated throughout Europe and America. NO one would take them in. When WWII was over, if people really wanted Jews to have a homeland, they should have given them resource rich Germany. But England, France, and other major players didn't want Jews in their back yard, so they were encouraged to go to Palestine, that had been promised to the Arabs at great cost to life

    Now we have Arabs and Jews, who are natural allies, fighting among themselves. As to Christians, that's a different story indeed. Most of the 37,000 denominations are incompatible with Judaism or Islam, even though Maimonides & Muhammed speaks like Jesus.

    Now all 3 religions have become perversions of something beautiful.
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      Aug 28 2012: Hi TED Lover,
      Thanks for your comment. I learnt from it many facts I didn't know.
      That part of history that you've mentioned is something we pay for all our lives, specially Palestinians.
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        Aug 28 2012: so true!!! (I'm an ex-christian married to a Jew, but my mother (agnostic) was from Holland, and she made sure that I knew the history that our schools wouldn't teach us. Which might explain PART of the USA insanity with respect to the matter)
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    Aug 16 2012: Salaam alaikum Amr.
    The Holy Qur'an states that the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospels) and the Qur'an are all books from Allah revealed to three prophets in their time; Moses, Jesus and Mohammed. The Qur'an goes on to say that, if the Jews and Christians had remained true to the revelations sent to them they would also be Muslims as all people who believe in the one God and do not join partners with Him or worship idols, believe in the Last Day, the resurrection of all beings and the Final Judgement are actually Muslims though they may not call themselves that. The Christians parted company with the teachings of Allah and his Prophet Jesus when they assigned him as a son of God and declared that God is a trinity i.e. three gods; Jesus, God and the Holy Ghost. So, to answer your question, the three religions would be the same if they had stuck to the original plan.
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      Aug 16 2012: Wa alaikum assalam,
      What you mentioned in your comment is accurately what Muslims believe. I think it is a very valuable insight since many would simply avoid disussing this topic from this perspective even though we all know that, as humans, our life is short and other humans shouldn't control what we are allowed to know. And I think this topic is very important, if not the most important, at least to me. (and I admit my ignorance. I don't claim to know anything more than anyone else)

      All prophets and believers are called Muslims in Qur'an, including those who followed all prophets. "Islam" itself, in essence, is believing in one God. The word itself also means submitting to the Creator, if "submitting" is the correct word (my English is not that good).

      This leads me to another question: why do you think people didn't stick to the original plan?
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        Aug 18 2012: Amr, I need to retract what I said about the original plan after thinking deeply about it. Whatever happens is part of Allah's plan and so, the situation of three different Ibrahimic faiths must be part of that plan. I was brought up to ask 'why?' of everything but I know that at the end of all the 'why's' is the answer that it is Allah's will. Some things are unknowable (the Ghayb) and though we will wonder about them until our time is up we will never know WHY Allah makes the decisions he does. And does it matter why? If you accept Allah's will completely then you stop asking why His will is the way it is. I am not saying that you shouldn't question what goes on, but question humans about their motives rather than question Allah about His.
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          Aug 18 2012: "need to retract what I said about the original plan"
          Perhaps it is possible to use the term "true path" or "straight path" or something like this instead of "original plan".
          I agree that "at the end of all the 'why's' is the answer that it is Allah's will".
          (I was asking about the people's possible motives.)
          Sometimes I unintentionally cross lines that I shouldn't when discussing topics that are related to religion, please feel free to warn me when I do.
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      Aug 18 2012: Hi Lesley,

      That helps understanding of the Muslim perspective.

      I guess each of the 3 have their own explanations of where and why the other 3 are mistaken.
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        Aug 18 2012: There is a line that separates the living from the dead. There is a line that separates rivers' fresh water from seas' salty water. The sky have no visible "columns" that keep it over and around the earth. Yes, perspectives are invisible barriers that divide people, unlike the visible borders on the maps.

        There are people who care only about earthly life and there are people who care only about the afterlife (knowing that earthly life is too insignificant and too short to care about. Life is like resting under the shadow of a tree then leaving.) And we all have our reasons. But, we have no reason not to correct ourselves when there is a chance to do it. Your perspective is your choice and your responsibility. The explanation depends on your own judgment and choice.
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          Aug 18 2012: Gravity holds the atmosphere.

          What nearly all of us agree on is there is a before death life.

          No one knows 100% if there is an afterlife as proposed by religions.

          Some might not care about this life because of some belief in an afterlife, but based on the evidence, that seems very flawed.

          Whether you believe just in this life or some magic afterlife, we are all in this one together and should do our best to make it a good life for all.

          For me that includes freedom of religion within limits of not impinging on the rights of others. It also includes free speech and robust debate and seeking the truth. Freedom of religion is not freedom from critical thinking and a little skeptism and feedback.
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        Aug 19 2012: "There are people who care only about earthly life and there are people who care only about the afterlife"
        That was an exaggeration from me. Sorry. I meant the order of priorities is different from one person to another.
        "No one knows 100% if there is an afterlife as proposed by religions."
        Well, we spend our life trying to do the best we can, though our goals and means differ. Also, beside that I believe in the afterlife, I just think it is illogical to think that the short life we have on earth is the end of the story. Life is more meaningful and purposeful than this. Those who do evil are not equal to those who do good.

        (Human custom biased laws cannot determine who is good and who is evil. Our systems are full of holes. There is a much higher form of unbiased justice. The same justice that makes us all leave life in the same manner and leave everything we had behind us.)
        I respect your opinion and your choice. I'm not trying to convince you of anything. I'm far too ignorant to provide any answers. I was simply letting my thoughts flow. We all, equally, have a choice, as long as we live.
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          Aug 19 2012: And I respect your right to believe what you want even if I disagree and debate some points.

          Do other animals have an afterlife? You might have been taught there is an afterlife, it might seem nice to you, it might seem fair to you to have some after death justice. Is there any evidence for this, for your interpretation. Maybe the Buddha got it right and we reincarnate. OR maybe our brains stop working and our bodies decompose and we become food or nutrients for future life.

          Have you spoken with any dead spirits? Actually some people claim to have contact with the other side. I don't think their beliefs are traditional Muslim.

          Have you met anyone who has died for a few weeks or longer and come back and talks of an afterlife. Even if you did how do we know he is telling the truth or was dreaming.

          Wishful thinking and faith based belief does not make an afterlife real.

          Also, I note there is no evidence for the involvement of anything divine or supernatural in all the different religious moralities supposedly revealed. They don't seem to agree on the details. In fact they look no better than man made morality.

          I suggest there is no evidence of any divine and perfect laws revealed or a source being.

          To me all the religions look man made. Did men make the Morman religion or the Hindu Religion or invent Odin, and Zeus, and Maduk, and El etc. I think me made your religion too. Is there any reason I shopuld think your belief is correct and the others wrong. Why are they wrong and you right. Are you just making the same sort of assumptions they are believing in old books etc.

          To me your belief in the afterlife and divine justice and morality is faith based, no evidence, wishful thinking or religious dogma. Where is your proof?

          Anyway, I hope that gives you a different perspective. From the outside all these religious beliefs look manmade. In the end there may be gods, but no evidence yet.
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        Aug 19 2012: I agree. All I can present to you is logical thinking and my thoughts. I don't have evidence. I don't know more than anyone else. I'm not a scientist and I think religious matters are hard to prove scientifically. Besides, perhaps they were meant to be that way.

        "To me all the religions look man made."
        That's why you need to evaluate what you hear. In Qur'an, people are invited to use their minds to evaluate facts, to research and to investigate. It is mentioned that we were given eyes, ears and minds (or hearts) to see the truth, but the nonbelievers do not see with them what believers see. The first command that was said in Qur'an was "Read". We're challenged in different suras with logical reasoning, and stories of other prophets. We're challenged to try to make anything that's equally as good as Qur'an or even a single sura of it. The feeling you get from reading Qur'an is much different, much more special than reading anything else. It is as if it talks directly to your mind and consciousness.

        I think religion nowadays is a mental challenge. We need to know all we can about life. We need to be able to judge facts and reach conclusions. There won't be any new prophets coming. All that is needed to be known is already there, available to everyone, both right and wrong ideas. It is a very hard "quest" and time is limited.

        But, in the past it was not any easier. Ibrahim (Abraham), pbuh, was thrown into the fire by his people because he refused to worship the statues his people worshipped. (but fire was ordered to cause him no harm) He tried to convince his people that it was wrong to worship statues that they make with their own hands, statues that do them no good and don't even reply to them! Noah, pbuh, kept asking his people to worship God for 950 years, day and night. Finally, he prayed to God that none of them shall survive, except for the believers,.

        Nowadays, science enables us to do a lot of things, but the challenge is still there.
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          Aug 20 2012: I think religion is a cultural or social technology that often tries to explain things like how we got here and how we should life. Just like Language there are many variations.

          I have read some of the Qur'an, in English, not the arabic. Even so it was quite poetic in places. It seemed better planned than the OT or NT, because it was done by one person over a shorter time and had the older materials to leverage. It is a great book, a great work of medieval literature. I didn't start by assuming it was the work of god and didnt find it'that different to the writings of other religions.

          Much of what you write assumes the Qurán and your interpretation of it is truth. I see as much truth in it as you would see in the writings of Confucious or Buddhist Sutras. In fact /i have found some Buddhist teachings more profound that much of the Abrahamic traditions.

          You believe there won't be any more prophets till end times. Most Christians believe Jesus was God and brought the new testament teachings and that the Qurán and book of Mormon are false or from the Devil. As far as I can tell you are all equally likely to be right or wrong.

          Many aspects of the human condition have not changes that much. Maybe New Atheist's are like Abraham bringing an unwanted message of truth.

          If Noah actually existed as described, which I doubt, and he prayed to God to kill every one, he is an Evil man. And if god killed everyone, including innocent children for not doing what he wanted, this being is pure evil incarnate.

          You talk about Justice after death. Some Christians believe many will go to Hell, including you for not choosing Jesus as Lord and Saviour and repenting. I'll be there with you suffering for eternity. Inifinite punishment for a finite crime is not Justice it is evil.

          And what crime is it to see there is no compelling evidence for any religion I know. They all look man made, written by men. taught by men. Often with backward morality. What god requires worship while hidin
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        Aug 22 2012: Hi Obey No1kinobe,
        Some of the English interpretations of the meaning of Qur'an's words are good, though they're different from the original. However, they'd provide you with some insight of what's in Qur'an. It's good you tried.

        "Many aspects of the human condition have not changes that much. Maybe New Atheist's are like Abraham bringing an unwanted message of truth."
        Abraham, seeing his people worshipping statues, tried to seek the truth. He looked at the stars, sun and moon and thought one of them may be god, but they all vanished and he knew that God is always present. Then, he asked God to guide him. Then, Abraham, pbuh, faced his people and said it was wrong that they worship statues they make, statues that do them no good, statues that don't talk back to them. He asked them to worship the Creator.

        Imagine what would have happened if Pharaoh and his army, who were chasing Moses and the Jews, did not drown. You think it was harsh that Noah's people drowned, but it was merciful. You think so because you think earthly life is the end, but life is only a stop before the afterlife. If they stayed longer they would have earned more punishment because they would have spread corruption and they would have lived like animals, eating and sleeping without even trying to know their Creator. Besides, you cannot question God's justice. God has created humans and He knows them best. His justice is absolute. Human's justice is biased and faulty.

        It is mentioned in Qur'an that Jews will say only Jews will go to heaven and Christians will say only Christians will go to heaven, but they're only wishing. God will judge everyone and truth will be revealed. Our thoughts of owning the only 'tickets' to heaven are hopeful thinking.

        The crime is ignoring the truth when a path to it was offered. The crime is prefering to live like animals caring only about food and earthly pleasures instead of trying to see with faith that all of us and everything around us was created by God.
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        Aug 22 2012: "... like Abraham bringing an unwanted message of truth"
        This is totally different. I don't have any clue what Atheists spend their lives doing. Perhaps they're worshipping TV, video games or movies. Or perhaps they are chasing money or power. Perhaps they spend it on earthly pleasures.
        Does any of this have any value after we die? Does any of that sound like a purpose of life to you? Well, to me, it does not.

        You should know that all this is useless and meaningless because the moment we die, we leave all this behind. You should think there is something more important, something more purposeful to do in life, something that will remain with you after you die.

        Then, you'll have questions like: Where do I go after I die?
        My answer: Where were you before you were born? You were not here before you were born and you will not be here after you die. There must be some Power that brought you to life and when you die you'll return to the exact same Power.

        Life is only a short stop. I don't know how you plan to spend it, but I hope you'll do it well.
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    Aug 16 2012: Hi Amr.
    That's some subject. As many interested parties are Atheist on this site, you are bound to get interesting threads.
    I became a Christian in mid life by studying the history, & science of the whole thing. The relationship of the three faiths is actually fairly straightforward.

    The Jewish bible is the Old Testament. It tells of a coming Messiah who will save them.
    The Christian bible is the Old & New Testament. Which allegedly tells of the arrival of said Messiah.
    The Muslim bible is the OT + NT +. Koran. Which claims to be an update of the OT &. NT

    So all three have the OT. My strategy was to test the NT against the OT. It seems to flow directly one to the other. Many of the prophecies of the OT are fulfilled in the NT, especially relating to Jesus being Messiah. The NT also warns that it completes the revelation & we should be sceptical of any additions.
    The Koran demotes Jesus from Messiah to prophet, on a par with Abraham & Mohammed himself. So I don't think it is in the same league as the old & new testaments.
    Some say that all three have the one god. My reading is that Jews & Christians have the same god, but the Muslim god is another thing entirely.That is my opinion.
    There is much archeological evidence in support of the bible. Just google it.

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      Aug 16 2012: Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it.
      "As many interested parties are Atheist on this site, you are bound to get interesting threads." I'm interested in reading all the opinions, as long as everyone agrees to a keep respectable firm line when talking about the Creator. (I usually say "the Creator" in English conversations to avoid misunderstandings.)

      "The NT also warns that it completes the revelation & we should be sceptical of any additions."
      I have two questions regarding this point.
      - Are you sure nothing was added or altered?
      - Why are the Holy "Bible"s avoided nowadays when talking about economy, laws and governments (and other institutions)? Why would people defy something they believe in?

      I believe we, as humans, are very simple and fragile creatures. Perhaps we had a huge technological advance, but in fact we changed none of the rules that govern life. We are the same as before if not even more fragile nowadays. It's only wild guesses that people get if they talk about what may happen in the afterlife and what the purpose of life is without referring to any Holy book. Technology made life easier, but it didn't change the basic rules of life.

      Some Atheists may claim the Holy books came from 'aliens', but then how did aliens know our languages unless they know our languages and how we 'speak' specially that prophets always spoke in their people's tongue. Even then, the claimed aliens would need to know the rules of living and how human bodies are created and structured. Besides, that would simply move the question to another place: If it were by aliens, then Who created the aliens? Who made the laws that goven life? Definitely not humans. The world has a very strict order that governs it and it cannot be claimed to be something random.

      PS Isn't what you have mentioned regarding Islam similar to what Jews think about Christianity?
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        Aug 17 2012: Hi Amr,
        I agree using the title 'Creator' is a good idea.

        Am I sure nothing was altered or added ? I must believe that the Creator of the Universe would have little trouble in getting his word to us accurately. We could talk about Jewish scribes being scrupulous in their work etc., but in the end the bible is not a work of man. It is true that there are many translations, & many slight differences. It is also true that some distort the words, & still others doubt that they really mean what they say & attach new meanings to them. Many of these problems we can overcome by study, but in the end we have to trust that our creator can get the information over to us. We may not have 100% accuracy, but we can 'know' him, which is the whole point.

        The western nations were largely formed on biblical principles. They have thrived because they followed them. Today our knowledge of our Creator is reducing, & few take it seriously enough to run their lives by these principles. Money is our 'god', & consequently our nations are in decline both morally & fiscally.

        I agree that our 'technology' doesn't alter the human condition, & about the Aliens.

        Yes the Jews say similar things about Christians. Each man must seek the truth for himself. I see the OT. &. The NT as part of the same revelation. To me the Koran is a different book. That is my opinion from my studies, others of course differ. One thing I do know; we are all children of the Creator, whatever we believe. He loves us all dearly & wants communion with us.

        Great subject.

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      Aug 18 2012: Peter, if I could deffer to your bible knowledge. I'm rusty. Did the OT say the Messiah would be god incarnate?

      Also having read the OT couldn't the authors of the NT have written it in a way to fulfill the OT.

      I note most of Jews were not convinced Jesus was their Messiah or God incarnate. Which seems very odd.

      I suggest Western Nations have thrived due to trade and technology and military power and perhaps the protestant work ethic. Many European nations only become nation states in the last 150 years or so. Italy. Germany, Czech republic etc. Papal power until the reformation was not a great time, actually up to vatican 2 if you ask me. And the protestants fought the catholics for centuries. It was so bad some of them escaped to the US. Interdenominational Christian conflict persisted in the US. The non establishment of religion clause was to stop the government picking one Christian group taking power over others and not to protect other religions or atheists.

      I suggest democracy, equal rights for women freeing up more people to contribute to the economy, rule of law, the weakening or replacement of monarchy and theocratic power etc etc.

      The US constitution and bill of rights etc are children of the enlightenment.

      Any proof or evidence that Christianity has been the primary force behind Western supremacy? Sounds like a myth to me.

      I note the Greeks, the Romans and Chinese and Mayan Empires all rose without Christianity or Judaism
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        Aug 18 2012: Hi Obey.
        As with most things, the bible needs a bit of study; but this is pretty clear :-

        Isaiah 9:6-7 (KJV)
        [6] For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. [7] Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

        Not that much into history, just observe that generally it helps to obey the rules.

        It is true that most Jews do not accept the NT just as was prophecied. It takes a bit to admit that you've killed your Messiah, but they will get there in the end.
        The NT writers may indeed have tried to fulfil prophecies, but they could never have made such a good job of it. It would be difficult to organise where & when to be born,& the whole sequence of events surrounding his death, plus the whole timescale down to a day prophecied in Daniel.
        I guess if you really don't want it to be true, the that's what you're stuck with.

      • Aug 26 2012: " Also having read the OT couldn't the authors of the NT have written it in a way to fulfill the OT. ..."

        I don't think that argument can really hold a lot of water.
        There were many prophecies that were written in the OT, and while some could "be manipulated by after-the-fact authors", many could not be pre-determined.
        Gen 49:10; Isa 9:6, 11:1, 53; Dan 9:25-27, Mic 5:2 are all items that could NOT be reversed engineered.

        I WILL grant you that other prophecies COULD be colored in if one chooses to see it that way, but Foretelling birth lineage, location, time are not easily adjusted.
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    Sep 13 2012: BTW Mother Africa has just dropped by. She is very old and we have all been helping her out and Mother India has plenty of wisdom too. They lend me their books but only just started to read those. I am a real person and do like metaphors to describe complex ideas, hope you understand what I am saying in this. We do not need blood worship but we do need to combine what we know about environmental management globally. Hate fracing of any kind and Mother Nature is starting to do a lot of fracing herself. We are ants as far as Mother Nature is concerned. Dinner is about de-escalating the situation. Dinner is about lots of things and supporting the family of humankind.
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      Sep 13 2012: Tired of abrahamic religions.

      In fact tired of any religion thinking they have some special insight into absolute truth.
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    Aug 29 2012: From what I know of some of the main spiritual texts of the world, there is a lot of crossover in symbols and icons but we seem to have lost the vocabulary to share the ideas. It is so difficult to talk about what people believe, about what sustains them at times when all logic seems to have disappeared. In many places even today people literally pay for their lives for asking questions about the spiritual traditions of their culture. You have to ask what is the fear which leads to the repression of the majority in the name of religious cohesion. There is a huge amount of information that could be constructively shared by the elders and those knowledgeable in the vocabularies of the religions of the world. People who spend a lifetime in the study of these texts tend to be labelled deviant, mad or bad. I think at the root of it all is the fear of annihilation of one tradition over another. There is so much historic precedence for this. I think of the Tower of Babel. I would love to know what this story is about. I believe so many of the spiritual texts are about the most appropriate balance in human relationships and in environmental management but they are out of date. The ideas are there but not the evidence based research to back them up. It is so complex but sometimes it is the enthusiasm of youth that also complicates the picture. So many young minds seem to be filled with hate and intolerance because of the parent's lived experience, when things and events have moved on. It is in the balance and the reflecting upon the possible messages in the texts rather than blindly acting upon the texts that I hope answers and co-operation may be found. Really worried about the Middle East, no easy answers on this one it seems.
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      Aug 30 2012: Hi Elizabeth,
      Thank you for your comment.
      " I believe so many of the spiritual texts are about the most appropriate balance in human relationships and in environmental management but they are out of date."
      I agree that the many of the spiritual texts aim for balance and justice. I'm not sure how they could become outdated or no longer valid. The rules that govern both humans and life on earth did not change. Perhaps some values changed, (for example, temperature, average lifetime etc..) but not the rules themselves . Our tools have developed greatly, of course, thanks to the technological advancement, but I don't think we changed. Our needs, motives and behaviours are perhaps similar to the first humans. I think spiritual texts regulate our needs, motives and behaviours, among other things. Thus, they can't get old, unless they're not applied properly, or they didn't ensure true justice and balance due to some bias.

      - Why couldn't we achieve a true model of balance and justice after all this time of populating earth?
      I find many examples in history of people who preferred dominance and superiority to balance and justice. The moment they move away from maintaining balance, they start becoming illogical, and then they start using communication methods that involve violence. I think this is the reason of the conflict. It is exactly the same like it started with Cain and Abel. This explanation could be wrong, of course. What do you think?

      - Do we, humans, want balance and justice? How many would vote "YES" for this question and would it be their true answer?

      "It is in the balance and the reflecting upon the possible messages in the texts rather than blindly acting upon the texts that I hope answers and co-operation may be found."
      I think the same. I should add that balance and justice should be humans' goal, not superiority and dominance.
      It's injustice that causes the middle-east to bleed. Super Powers do not seem to want justice. Thus, the bleeding may never stop.
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        Aug 30 2012: Just wanted to add that sometimes I find I cannot summarise what I want to say effectively in the 2000 character limit. Yes I was trying to say that I think the pace of growth in scientific evidence-based information is absolutely brilliant but it is too fast. I am passionate about people and their enviroment. I am very worried that the planet has finite resources and global systems that are being pushed into meltdown by the speed of technological progress. It is more than 'global warming', it is a 'global systems meltdown' and this applies across the spectrum from food production and health to politics and world trade. When people feel threatened firstly they protect what they already have (hence religious dogma) then they fight to get a proportion of the resources that are still available. There are conflicts all over the globe now, not just the Middle East but in thinking and debating about what is happening in the Middle East perhaps a model could be devised that would help resolve other conflicts. One of my favourite metaphors about human spirit is the Zorastrian 'little flame above the head of each person'. I am sure someone will tell me I have misinterpreted what it means but for me it is such a useful allegory. Really want to encourage you with this debate and it is lovely to get the feedback. Thank you.
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    Aug 22 2012: Either good or bad, we are what we do.
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    Sep 14 2012: Only have New Revised Standard Version Anglicised edition of Bible to refer to. Who knows what the original message might have been. Different times, different social rules, different everything. Just wanted to suggest ultimately we are social beings who are aware enough to realise the potential of our environment and aware enough to support and nurture it rather than strip it bare. So much beauty in the world, so much beauty in nature, so much potential in alternative energy sources like solar power and tidal power. So much information available. See in the news Pope is heading to Lebanon. Very difficult, tense situation. Thought maybe rather than tanks, bible might be referring to 'a thousand and one' different electrical appliances and suggesting eating the wrong sort of power might be an alllusion to petro-chemical based energy sources like fossil fuels. Do get some strange ideas at times. The original meaning of the texts is lost. People need reasons to celebrate these days, reasons to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and just be with other people. Lots of amazing scientific research in the last few weeks, possible solution to diabetes, all sorts of advances. Evidence based scientific progress. Wonderful.
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      Sep 14 2012: Scientific research is without doubt very important. It improves our tools and quality of life, but it doesn't change morals, values or what's inside people's hearts. It improves our understanding of life and the rules that govern it, but it doesn't change the rules. There are still many questions that evidence-based scientific research cannot, and possibly will never, answer.

      Also, probably you have noticed that the biggest part of the scientific research of super powers is about developing war toys that are more capable of destroying cities and killing people.

      Do you think it is possible for religion to coexist with evidence-based scientific progress?
      They don't have to contradict because the goal of both, science and religion, is to reach the truth, right?
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        Sep 15 2012: I think what might be clouding the issue is the idea that there is just one truth. I think there is a great deal of wisdom in the spiritual texts of the world but you must also remember the historical, cultural and environmental context of them. It is also so important not to 'read into them' what you might like them to say. I think the reliance of science on mathematical, geometry is a little unhelpful at times. The idea that certain scientific knowledge is incompatible with other knowledge doesn't help but I have found people with a life-time invested in one career can be very arrogant and protective to the point that the way they behave can be hugely damaging. Rather than using linear modelling for scientific progression sometimes it might be necessary to think of a multi-layered, more complex, holistic modelling. Three stage, four stage, six stage modelling particularly to do with things like filtration and condensation have lead to huge steps forward in management of processes involving water. Sometimes it is in observation, a little lateral thinking and 'sleeping on it' that really constructive results can be found. Do have a 'bee in my bonnet' about environment and food production. Did you know the condensation trails from aircraft have actually been acting as artificial clouds and deflecting excess solar radiation. Not sure what is happening with natural cloud cover, not enough rain where rain is badly needed, too much rain elsewhere. Badly affecting food production globally. Too many people time impoverished and driven. People need to be free to make their own choices, basic psychology people respond to loss rather than potential gain. The hospital admissions for stress related mental illness in U.K, have rocketed in last year. It's hard to have faith, hope, charity and perserverance in a society that demands consumption then denies the means to achieve it.
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    Sep 14 2012: What started out a a genuine question about religion has evolved into a sermon on the mount by Amr Salah. It's becoming very preachy and disrespectful of the Rules pertaining to zealotry and proselytizing, in my opinion.

    I'll let TED decide.
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      Sep 14 2012: Thanks for the warning.
      My opinions and comments represented my side only. It was never my intention to disrespect any rule or any person. I thought my opinion, whether it was right or wrong, can add to the discussion.
      All the comments and opinions are respected and appreciated (while considering my request earlier of using "respectful language when arguing about God, angels, prophets, or Books." - which is a fair request, I think).
      If I did or said something wrong, or disrespectful, please warn me about it.
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        Sep 14 2012: When a someone in the USA quotes the bible repeatedly to answer a question instead of speaking from their mind, not God's ,we call it preaching. In a country where the religion is intertwined with the government so there is no distinction between the Laws of man and the Laws of God, this could be problem for those people when dealing with Westerner's.

        In the USA, we have an understanding that religion and government are to remain separate. This allows for people to have their own private religions practices and government is applied to all of the people without regard to their religion. The USA is a country of many religions, not just one.

        In the USA and most other Western countries, we never say it is against the law of god to do this or that. People make the laws, not God. Our fellow citizens in the USA. who practice the religion of Islam understand this. Their religion is not the dominate religion. No Religion in the USA is a dominate religion.

        This could be a problem for people who live in Muslim countries where their religion is their Law. It may be the one thing that separates us from them (you) forever. We will never change and we do expect every country in the world that seeks democracy to understand that controlling religious thought in their country is imperative for civilized rule.

        We see in the Muslim countries that are protesting today, burning our flag and killing our diplomats and creating mayhem in their countries that they are very far behind the Western world in creating a sense of harmony within their own country and the world. It could be that they are incapable of merging with the rest of the world in a global community because when someone who is nuknowledgeable about their religion makes a certain remark about one of their prophets, they could be jailed or killed.

        We find such behavior heinous and uncivilized. No religion in our country acts that way and we have a large Islamic population in the USA.
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          Sep 14 2012: Honestly, I used quotes from a translation of Qur'an because I wanted to make less mistakes. I thought it was better than using my words, specially that my English is not good.
          I guessed this was what annoyed you but I wasn't sure.
          I'll make sure I won't overdo it. Thank you again for the warning.

          I'll reply briefly to the points you've mentioned
          1. Those who made the film hate the middle-east and want it to be engulfed in chaos.

          2. Anger in the Middle-East (and Africa) towards the American Imperialism has very good reasons and very deep roots.

          3. "We find such behavior heinous and uncivilized."
          I'm not going to reply to this.

          I don't blame American citizens for the mistakes of their leaders, generals and politicians.
          All human lives are equal. I still hope for justice and peace. I still think dialogues between different civilizations and cultures should continue. I believe people should have all access to the truth and that knowledge should be available to everyone.
          What I know is very little and there is very little that I could do.
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          Sep 15 2012: Anyway, this discussion would end soon. I don't think I'll have the strength to start or participate in any discussion for a long while.
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        Sep 15 2012: I just got caught in some protests in Sydney about the film.

        Some had signs saying behead those who insult the Prophet.

        I support freedom of religion up to the point it harms other people.

        I also don't think it wise to be stupidly provocative. However, why should people who do not believe in yur religion be punished for breaking one of your religions taboos?

        You mention US imperialism. The native Americans copped worse than the middle East. Also Islamic forces in the past conquered other's lands. Also I guess the coptics in Egypt have had a hard time too.

        By reacting to this video Muslims are doing exactly what the filmer wanted.
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          Sep 15 2012: Worse Obey,it could've been reworked by a bunch of bored kids.
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          Sep 15 2012: Hi Obey No1kinobe,
          I heard Christian Egyptians saying those who insulted the prophet must be beheaded. They understand that those who made the film hate Egypt and Egyptians. They know that those who made the film want evil to Egypt and to the middle-east. They know the film makers wanted to spread hatred and chaos.

          "By reacting to this video Muslims are doing exactly what the filmer wanted."
          Not reacting is just as bad if not worse.
          It should have been peaceful protests, but I guess some think this would not be enough. They have good reasons to think so. Also, some people (from all sides) probably desire this to escalate, not necessarily with good intentions.

          And yes, people here pay the worst price for the conspiracies made "there". I read a text before by an American encouraging selling weapons to the middle-east so that people would be killed and thus the world will be "less populated".
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        Sep 15 2012: You've done great so far Amr.

        You're English is better than mine.
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          Sep 15 2012: Thank you, Ken.
          I don't think my English is good. You are already good and you can easily get better if you made it a primary goal to achieve.
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    Sep 13 2012: BTW after previous post. Dinner is not meant to be about some super-merger and creating a monster enterprise. Dinner is about supporting three adults who have their own families and grandchidren to co-operate and stop fighting. Mother China. Mother Russia. Mother South America. Mother Europe. Mother Australasia all very worried about what Mother U.S.A. and Mother Middle-East Arabia are fighting about. Plenty to go round ladies. Start telling your sons it is not O.K. to go round hitting the next door neighbours kids over the head. Do not give the neighbours kids guns to play with. Ladies you need to sort our your own environments, the weather is warning you, look at the wind, where is the rain ? Look at the crops failing. You have the wrong sorts of insects, pests. Do you really want to be eating locusts without some honey. You need cows to draw off those pests. BTW women are not cows but people too. Mother Nature makes women strong for good reason. Women soak up all the environmental toxicity. Women and men must be nurtured and respected or it literally gets passed on in changes to the genetic blue print of us. Hate shouting. Think of me as lonely grandparent wanting the kids to visit for dinner and not sure how to reach them, let alone arrange a time for them to come over and chat.
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    Sep 13 2012: Amr and Helen you are so right. The three Abrahamic religions have so much in common yet they fight each other like disobedient children. They all worship the same god but they are out of step with each other, due to the different environments. Referencing Jung, Man and his symbols. The emblems of nations are generally on their national flags. Respectfully they are a crescent moon and a star and a constellation of stars. They are all images from the night sky because originally it is too hot in the middle of the day to meet as a community. In any very hot country, the housework and shopping are done in the morning, then you rest, then in the afternoon you meet up with friends, neighbours, family and do business transactions. At night you go to sleep on the roof of the building and look at the night sky before you sleep. Or you camp out and look at the stars. Or you have a building where the cattle are kept downstairs and you live above them, i.e. natural heat source, then you sleep up on the roof because of the smell. Technology has moved on. Muslims do not worship any graven image but have given the world maths and philosophy. Jewish people travel and have given the world so much in life lessons and knowledge, Christians wanted to test and question and in revulsion science developed and questioning minds have led to what is currently known as the U.S.A. All 3 religions just need to adjust their time frame. Worship for Moslems Friday, Jews Saturday, Christians Sunday. You are all the same. Consider me your Mother telling you now stop fighting, come and sit down, have a dinner together and let's sort this out. Trying to repair the damage of the Crusades and hug everyone. Do not give inappropriate presents to people. Thinking about camels, they tread softly and have big feet. Think about it U.S.A.. Power generating equipment fresh water, crops to grow and supporting communities not killing children. Know my spiritual texts. Love peace, hate war
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      Sep 13 2012: I'm not sure they exactly follow the same god.

      The latter 2 are certainly derivative of the first.

      They borrow the origin stories but have a different picture of what god is and what he is telling us.

      Yahew is different to the Trinity Christian god. To Jews, the Christian belief overlay is a false revelation. Jesus is not an aspect of God.

      Allah is also not part of a trinity and no longer just focused on the chosen people. Both Jews and Christians refute the Muslim revelations.

      All 3 have different ideas of what god is, what he did, what he has told us etc.

      Actually further bogus revelations (they are all bogus in my view) have further changed god - Swedebborgs, The Jehovahs witnesses, Christian Science, Latter day saints, Moonies etc perhaps Bahai. These are also Abrahamic derivatives. Perhaps more recent, less popular, with the bogus nature of their origins better understood, but are just as valid or invalid as the earlier 3.

      If you back to the earliest foundations of all these Yahweh is a rascist, genocide, monster. Asking Abrahamic religions to get along ignores the foundation god. Yahweh the tribal war god, city destroying, plague sending, global flooding divine dictator.

      Wouldn't it be better to appeal to our common humanity rather than similarities in superstitious beliefs?

      Empathy for fellow humans is better when free from religious dogma and superstition,
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    Sep 11 2012: They are entirely different.

    That's why you have Jews (Those who believe in Judaism, not to be confused with Israeli people), Muslims (those who believe in Islam), and Christians (those who believe in the New Testament and Christianized Jewish writings).

    The one thing the Jews and Muslims have in common is the One God testament. The Christians have three gods, the son the father and the Holy ghost.
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      Sep 11 2012: Hi John,
      Welcome back to the discussion and thank you for your comment.
      I think there are many similiarities between the Abrahamic religions. I think several doors and channels should be kept open between people with different beliefs and that unbiased knowledge about Abrahamic religions should be available to everyone. The primary goal of this discussion was to help even though what I know is very little.

      I plan to reply to your comment as soon as I have a chance. I wanted to discuss something based on a previous comment you have made about Abraham's - pbuh - story.
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        Sep 12 2012: Well thank you and I'll be waiting. I should be online most of the night. I should add that I'm Jewish and a former Christian, even though I'm mainly Agnostic. I do go to Temple because I like to keep my doors open
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          Sep 12 2012: I noticed from your comments that you are honest. (as far as I can tell). Thus, I think I can discuss various points with you even though this would probably be a difficult discussion. I'll post the points one by one as replies. I'd really appreciate your answers. Also, it would be appreciated if you quote passages from Torah (or any book you trust) to support your points.

          I'll quote passages from Qura'n. (because Muslims know about Abraham, and other prophets, peace be upon them, mainly from Qur'an)
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      Sep 12 2012: You've mentioned that you are "Jewish and a former Christian". I've read a small Arabic booklet about Talmud before. It mentioned that there was an incident when an American woman converted to Judaism, but apparently this conversion was rejected by orthodox Jews because, according to Talmud, only a child of Jewish parents can be Jewish (?). Is this story true?
      - Also, I noticed there are strange things mentioned (?) in Talmud. What do you think about Talmud, generally?
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        Sep 12 2012: I'm sure you're aware that the meaning of the Hebrew word for Talmud means "to teach" It is a book that contains instructions and commentaries by the Rabbi's on how to draw oneself closer to God.

        While there was war waged by the Jews in ancient times against those who did not practice the Jewish Religion, such tactics are considered unholy by Jews today. Jews are aligned into different sects, just as it is in the Christian, Islamic religions. So there is a difference of opinion in how to practice some of the teachings but they do not kill one another over the differences.

        Islam, makes no distinction about using violence in the modern world against those who would practice another religion or make disdainful comments about their holy book or it's author, Mohammad.

        In Islam, there are more than one way of interpreting the Qura'n. They assimilate themselves into sects and wage war upon each other. Why do they do this? Why did they kill the Ambassador from the United States in Lybia when he had nothing to do with that film? He was a good man and loved Islamic people. Why are Islamic people so prone to violence?
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          Sep 13 2012: "Why did they kill the Ambassador from the United States in Libya when he had nothing to do with that film?"
          My deepest condolences are to the Ambassador's family.

          However, I have nothing to say to any American leader, government, administration or politician. We don't need to commemorate the bloodsheds, wars, invasions, and occupation carried by the American, NATO and Israeli troops for the past 60 years, but we didn't forget.
          The Muslim World did not forget the West's crimes in Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan… The American administration should stop the bloody hypocrisy already. They cannot sweet-talk the prey while stabbing it in the back over and over. The West doesn't care about human lives in the middle-east, or anywhere else. The West cares only about the West's interests.

          That film has offended the Muslim world. Mohammed, pbuh, is the last prophet, we believe. Just as Moses, pbuh, has led the Jews to freedom, Mohammed, pbuh, has led Arabs to freedom. God willing, Mohammed, pbuh, united the Arab world, and the tyranny of the Roman Empire was overthrown. Qur'an is the Words of God, we believe. Qur'an is the guide and light that was sent to all people.

          "Now hath come unto you a Messenger from amongst yourselves: it grieves him that ye should perish: ardently anxious is he over you: to the Believers is he most kind and merciful." 9.128

          "Whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare the Praises and Glory of Allah,- the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Exalted in Might, the Wise. It is He Who has sent amongst the Unlettered a messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom,- although they had been, before, in manifest error;-" 62.1,2
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          Sep 13 2012: It is because Mohammed, pbuh, wasn't one of them that many Jews didn't accept him. "Is it they who would portion out the Mercy of thy Lord? It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in the life of this world: and We raise some of them above others in ranks, so that some may command work from others. But the Mercy of thy Lord is better than the (wealth) which they amass." 43.32

          "And when there comes to them a Book from Allah, confirming what is with them,- although from of old they had prayed for victory against those without Faith,- when there comes to them that which they (should) have recognised, they refuse to believe in it but the curse of Allah is on those without Faith.
          Miserable is the price for which they have sold their souls, in that they deny (the revelation) which Allah has sent down, in insolent envy that Allah of His Grace should send it to any of His servants He pleases: Thus have they drawn on themselves Wrath upon Wrath. And humiliating is the punishment of those who reject Faith." 2.89,90
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          Sep 14 2012: Amr, is it ever justified to kill in the name of religion because of some insult to your religion?

          I guess most religious beliefs think their conflicting religious beliefs are sacred and the truth.

          Just some cultures and religions are more likely to be violent due to religious motivations.

          Sad when people think their faith based religious beliefs are more sacred than human life.

          People who kill in a gods name have given themselves to evil.
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          Sep 14 2012: Amr, 2 wrongs don't make a right

          I think many in the middle east are justified in their resentment against the US etc for many things.

          They should also resent theocracy, religious intolerance, arab dictators and kings etc.

          The cycle of vendetta can go on for ever.

          The handover of half of Palestine to the Jews was one of the great atrocities of the 20th Century in my view and an inappropriate response to the European Holocaust.

          The powerful will always try to take what they can. The oppressed will resent.

          If the oppressed in the middle east want to win over moderate support in the west you don't do it by killing people for religious reasons. There are plenty of more justified oppressions than attacking freedom of speech. You will always lose that battle. This just builds on the stereotypes that that part of the world is ruled by a barbaric religion.

          Killing people in gods name is a lose lose.

          Look at Ghandi. Look at Nelson Mandela. That is how you win against the West. And also having nuclear weapons. Become strong but also pick your battles and appeal to secular values of fairness, equality etc.

          Sure there is bias and fundamentalism and self interest on both sides. Also I guess some of the violence may be using religious offence as a cover. Also I have difficulty understanding the depth of religious offence that would trigger violence when I think all religions are man made and false. I guess I would fight to protect freedom from religion, democracy, freedom of speech, freedom from oppression etc

          From the outside the middle east often seems to swap one form of oppression - Ottomans, European Colonial Powers, USA backed dictators for religious oppression.

          I wonder how many people in Eqypt would prefer a secular government/leadership and freedom of and from religion, and how many want a Muslim State.

          Honestly people who want theocracy baffle me. I guess we can all be programmed differently depending on our experience and upbringing.
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          Sep 14 2012: Amr, wouldn't we all be better off if religion become more of a private affair and not become political?

          Why do so many religious people think they have a right to force their faith based unsubstantiated beliefs on everyone one else?

          If you think adultery is deserving of death, then kill yourself if you commit adultery. Don't go around killing others.

          Why should we be threatened with death and violence if we say something that is offensive to your religious sensibilities. On what basis is it ever justified to kill because someone said something that offends?

          If you make an exception or excuses for your religion than the same logic applies to evangelicals who support Israel and Jewish settlers building in Palestine. Their religious belief is their justification.

          Religion should not be an excuse.
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          Sep 14 2012: Obey No1kinobe,
          Nothing justifies the attack on the embassy, the loss of lives or the damage to the properties that happened.
          I won't be surprised if this was carried out by men of Gaddafi's regime.
          Also, don't forget that there are Atheists, Christians, Jews and Muslims who would just love to see a Holy War or a World War III.
          Those who made the film did not have good intentions. They invested much effort and time to make it with the sole purpose of attacking Islam. They chose this specific timing to broadcast the film on purpose. They wanted to intensify the conflict. They wanted to spread hatred. They want the middle-east to be burnt to ashes. They want to see people of all religions and nationalities suffering and dying.

          There was no reason for any hostile reaction and certainly there was no reason for any clashes or killing. Yes, peaceful protests were very important to show what we felt. Yes, Muslims believe in Islam and believe Mohammed, pbuh, is the last prophet. We believe in all prophets and we respect all prophets, and we expect the same respect from others.
          The West may cut our tongues, but they can never change what's in our hearts. We believe Islam is the truth.

          I don't see any reason for the Arab governments to be very cooperative with American administration. Perhaps if they start to treat people equally, there could be hope for real cooperation. There were so many times when the NATO strikes killed whole families in Afghanistan. Is the ambassador's life more precious than civilians in Afghainstan or Syria?
          Isn't it hypocrisy to talk about one person's life and forget the thousands?

          "wouldn't we all be better off if religion become more of a private affair and not become political?"
          I believe religion is meant to preserve human life and to ensure justice and equality. I believe religion ensures peace and balance of the world. I believe religion would help the world. This is my dream.
          I understand you have reasons to disagree.
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    E G 10+

    • +1
    Aug 31 2012: Generally said , as long as these religions are for what's considered good by the most people , yes they are basically the same : 'to not kill' , 'to not lie' ....... this kind of imperatives are found all over religious spectrum . However , what gives them the essence of their religion is what differentiate them --- the doctrines .
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      Aug 31 2012: Hi E G,
      Welcome to the discussion.
      While I agree there are fundamental differences between the Abrahamic religions, I think they have a lot more in common than ethics.
      Actually, I think they represent a single entity with the title "Abrahamic religions" that's uniqely different from almost everything else that humans have known, with a few exceptions. Also, their effect on humanity have been of a major scale and magnitude.
      They are like branches of the same tree, in many ways.
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    Aug 29 2012: Christianity is about a personal relationship with Jesus as one would have with a lover; It is not a religion.
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      Aug 29 2012: Hi Feyisayo,
      Welcome to the discussion and thanks for your comment.
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      Sep 2 2012: I guess submission to the entity of Allah is not religion either.

      Imagining Hindu deities engaged in your life, is also not religion.

      Talking with Bodhisattva's or gods, that is not religion.

      Imagining the Mormon god as your friend, that is not religion.

      Inviting fertility gods into your life, that is not religion.

      Having a relationship with nature spirits, or ghosts or other gods is not religion.

      So the moral views and spiritual assumptions, connected with these beliefs, none of that is religion.

      When you pray or talk with your deity, that is not religion.

      So your idea that Jesus is god or the son of god, that is not a religious belief?

      What is your definition of a religion? Any religion except Christianity.

      Better give up the tax breaks then.
  • Aug 26 2012: I have always questioned the authenticity of a revelation thru a single man.

    The OT was written by over 30 authors over 1500 years;
    the NT was written by 8-10 authors, and
    the Koran was written by 1.

    Suggesting that the one is more authoritative than the 40 (most of whom could NOT have collaborated over a 1600 year period) and can overturn the writings of so many martyrs (as were most prophets) is to test the credibility of the "new revelation".
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      Aug 27 2012: Hi Anil Goel,
      Welcome to the discussion and thanks for your comment.
      That one man who received the revelation was illiterate. He spoke only Arabic. He lived all his life in the desert among tribes.

      Islam has united the tribes and it has spread vastly in a very short period. All people who became Muslims or lived under Islamic rule accepted the code (or laws) of Islam. Mohammed, pbuh, asked people to abandon worshipping statues, or "persons". He told them that there is only One God Who created heavens and earth. He told them that only faith, patience, righteousness and good deeds that may make one person better than another. People were freed from the lies. They started to realize that what Mohammed, pbuh, said was the truth. They testified that he was an honest man and that he has always said the truth, but many refused to abandon the lies they were living.

      At one of the times, two persons were in a cave, while people gathered right above them searching for them in order to kill them. One of these two persons is the prophet that over a billion of Muslims now follow. This was not the only or the first time the tribes tried to kill him. But, he continued to live until his message was complete and Islam survived all the perils until this day. Some of the first Muslims were tortured and some were killed. They had to leave their homes and families and abandon all they had.

      Notice a part of the treaty signed when Egypt was freed from the Romans' tyranny 1400 years ago:
      "In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, this is the amnesty
      which 'Amr ibn el-'Asi granted to the people of Misr, as
      to themselves, their religion, their goods, their churches
      and crosses, their lands and waters: nothing of these
      shall be meddled with or minished;"
      Lane Poole, A Hisotry of Egypt in the Middle Ages, p. 5
      (I copied and pasted this)

      According to what we believe, there won't be any new prophets coming. Also, it is believed that Qur'an will be preserved until the end.
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        Aug 27 2012: From the outside, Judism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, Jehovahs witnesses, Swedenborgians, Christian scientist and all the denominations seem to come down to which one you have faith in, most often depending on where and when you were born.

        Whether it is the supposed revelation of one person or many within a similar culture, revelation does not seem to be a very efficient way of communicating truth from a God if that is what is supposed to be happening.

        Funny you are skeptical of each others claims but not your own.

        The fact that people die for different beliefs might show they believe in their dfiierent beleifs strongly, but does not make them all true. All these conflicting beliefs can not be true. But they could all be false in their key claims.
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          Aug 27 2012: Hi Obey.
          You are right that many die for what they believe in; even today. Muslims especially seem prone to this. However many must be mistaken, we can't all be right.
          The difference with the new testament Christians was this. Most of them were around when Jesus was crucified. They were either eye witnesses, or knew eye witnesses, to his return from the grave. They died not for what they believed, but for what they knew to be fact. How stupid would you have to be to die for something you knew was a lie?
          I was around when we landed on the moon. I visited the capsule when it came to our local transport museum, along with real moon rock. I would be very unlikely to endure pain to substantiate the theory that the moon is made of green cheese, even if that theory had taken hold in the populace.
          These guys died for a fact; not a belief. That's the difference.

        • Aug 27 2012: I guess then any eyewitness account of anything, can and probably is true. Unless of course it's an eyewitness account that contradicts Christian history, then it's probably wrong.
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          Aug 27 2012: Hi Obey No1kinobe,
          "Funny you are skeptical of each others claims but not your own."
          Actually, there was a time when I had many questions and I still didn't find answers for some of them until now. I could say that I don't think I would have changed much without that particular "incident" that I've told you about. Things have changed greatly over the past few years. Perhaps I took religion blindly and ignorantly at first when I was younger (and it wasn't entirely my fault), but that's not the case now.

          - I have many reasons to believe in Islam that are based on reason and logic. I had to depend on these reasons heavily at first in order to find answers for questions I couldn't answer.

          - Reading Qur'an and sunnah were among the strongest reasons because it is a really special experience. Also, for Muslims, they're the main sources of knowledge about Islam.

          - Finally, there are reasons that are all based on belief. These were the strongest reasons, but they didn't come first.

          My current belief is the fruit of all the different experiences and sources. It's still growing steadily.
          --- from your comment below ---
          "The Muslims have their own miracles."
          True, I didn't mention miracles because I don't think belief should be built on miracles. People used to ask for miracles in the past, and yet, even then, many of them didn't believe. Also, Muslims believe Qur'an is a miracle that will remain.

          People have acquired much knowledge nowadays compared to the past (even though what we know is still very little). Nowadays we enjoy greater amount of freedom. It is now easier to find information, and technology has made many difficult tasks easier. I don't think there is anything that hinders anyone from seeking the truth and finding it.

          You have time. You have access to information. Also, the laws that govern life wouldn't lie to you. Seek answers in the land, the sea, and the sky, and even ask yourself about the truth. Make it your own personal investigation
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        Aug 27 2012: Hi Peter,

        Obviously I'm not convinced that the resurrection occurred. If the bible says there were eye witnesses, that might be enough for you. Not me. I note the oldest gospels were written decades after the fact.

        I would not be surprised if someone stole the body if a man called Jesus was .

        Seems strange we have no records from the time if something so amazing happened.

        The whole story is bizarre. And the creator of the universe expects us to be convinced by just another religious story in this or that book.

        Noah was apparently an eye witness to the flood and we have no way to know he existed.

        The Muslims have their own miracles. Same with the Mormons and other founders of various religions. I guess you are skeptical about these.I guess you are skeptical about these.

        You are probably just as skeptical about Muslim miracles as I am about all of them.

        There are gurus in India alive today and thousands of living people claim the gurus have done amazing miracles. I guess you are skeptical about these.

        And if you think about it even if Jesus did appear to die and rose again then disappear, there is no reason to assume he is a god, there is no reason to assume everything written in the bible is true, or that everything they wrote after he died was what he would have wanted. Faith. Faith. Faith you apply only to one religion and not others.

        It would have been impressive if Jesus or Moses or the Muslim Prophet performed a miracle where the key messages God wanted were instantly created on some exotic indestructible alloy or amazing technology. But no, carved stone, and paper and ink, and in 2/3 of the cases we don't know how long between the claimed evens and the oral stories were created and written down. How mundane.

        There is nothing about the books that could not have been made up by men.

        You will most likely find the same sort of circle of assumptions in Islam and other religions.

        If god wanted to give us a message he could have more effectively.
      • Aug 28 2012: To Amr Salah,

        You wrote much about your beliefs, but did not really address the point that I made.
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          Aug 28 2012: Sorry
          The fact that there were 40 authors, at least, over 1600 years means that people needed that many prophets. This means that people did make changes and alterations to the original texts time after time. It also means that people forgot or abandoned some practices of religion over time. Thus, they needed more prophets to come to remind and correct them.

          This one person, or the last prophet as Muslims believe, came after all the previous prophets with what is consistent with what was said in Torah and Bible. It is testified that no alterations and no changes were made to Qur'an over the last 1400 years, even though several divisions appeared among Muslims. Perhaps now there is no real need now for new prophets to come. Perhaps Qur'an has spread vastly because truth doesn't need evidence more than being told even if it was told by one person. Perhaps now it is about personal judgment and whether one would believe Qur'an or not.

          I hope I didn't miss the point again.
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        Aug 28 2012: Peter, if I can try to put it more succinctly (and fail I guess)...

        If Buddhist scriptures said a miraculous event happened, and that there were 10,000 eye witnesses, and even listed their names, was recorded at the time, and this was an instrumental event in the development of the religion, perhaps even resulting in their persecution, I suspect you would be sceptical. Especially if it were not mentioned in any other historical records or there was no way to verify it.

        I vaguely recall at some point god's voice is supposed to have been been heard by the whole nation. That's a lot of ear witnesses. And yet we have no way of verifying it happened.

        I suggest if you really unpack your arguments about the resurrection miracle they are not so different to other biblical miracles or the miracles in other religions.

        I also remember arguing the same points you do and wanting to believe the resurrection was slam dunk incontestable evidence. But when I looked at it with an open mind I saw it could have happened, but it is far from conclusive, unless you make all sorts of assumptions that you wouldn't with some other belief system. For starters you don't know what is made up and what people honestly believed occurred and there is no way to reasonably verify it.

        Rationally it almost beggars belief that the creator of the universe relies on the Koran and Bible to get an important message across that may result in eternal damnation.

        If you make an extraordinary claim you need extraordinary evidence, and a holy book saying it happened and was witnesses by lots of people doesn't come close. There are living people who believe they have been abducted by aliens. I guess many are sincere. However, we don't just take their word for it.

        You can believe something extraordinary happened if you want, but you are perhaps being deceived if you believe it is incontestable and verified beyond reasonable doubt.

        Same with the miracles of any belief system I have come across.
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          Aug 28 2012: "Rationally it almost beggars belief that the Creator of the universe relies on the Koran and Bible to get an important message across that may result in eternal damnation."

          Many Muslims suggest that if you instinctively knew what's good and bad yet you had no access at all to any Holy Book all your life, you would be judged justly according to the circumstances. I think it may be possible for people living in very isolated locations, like islands, to somehow realize that there is a Superior Force that created earth, heavens and all the living creatures.
          However, if there is access to Qur'an and yet it was denied, or simply avoided it, then there is a reason for blame.
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        Aug 28 2012: Peter, I forgot to add we can barely comprehend how narrow the world view of people 1400, 2000, or 2600 years ago may have been. No accurate explanations for disease or earthquakes or drought or flood or what the sun is or the other stars or comets etc.

        Even in the 21st century people are flying planes into buildings and decapitating people for going to a dance party or being gay, and religious belief is part of the mix.

        It is not hard to imagine people killing and dying for their beliefs even if they are not well founded in our more ignorant past.

        There were centuries and centuries of death and destruction in Europe as various Christian sects fought and dies for denominational beliefs. None saw the resurrection. We see the same thing with Shiite and Sunni's.

        I know the resurrection is a foundation belief for many Christians, but there is no convincing proof it happened today and the claims of eye witnesses and sacrifice in the bible do not prove it. I've heard it all before. The false dichotomy that at if he didn't rise then the church would never have started. Who knows what really happened. Perhaps the body hidden etc.

        Have you heard the origins and doctrine of the Mormon church or Scientology? It is so unbelievable yet many believe and did at the time just a few hundred years or decades ago. I think you underestimate the power of charismatic individuals like Jesus, Paul, Hitler, Jim Jones, Living Indian Gurus and the founders of most religions or cults, and the weakness humans have for fanatically believing.
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        Aug 28 2012: Given I have access to the Qurán via the internet or book stores and I don't find it, or the bible, or the supernatural claims in Hinduism or Buddhism or Jainism or Mormons or Scientology convincing I am stuffed I guess.

        If I was born in predominantly Muslim countries or had Muslim parents there is a much stronger chance
        I would be a believer.

        I guess luck plays a part in where you will end up in the after life. Hardly fair.

        Is there anything in the Qurán that states people live on a remote island. or anywhere outside Saudi Arabia 1400 years ago, will be judged differently. Or that just speculation by believers?

        You are also stuffed if the Jews or Christians etc are right. So your odds are 1/thousands of religions, only slightly better than my 0/thousands.
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          Aug 28 2012: It is a speculation based on an interpretation of some ayat.
          For example,
          "On no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns." 2.286
          Tell me what you understand from this part of the ayah. Does it sound fair?

          It is argued in a book I've read some time ago that if someone was in a place where only Bible was available, then it is assumed he may be judged upon what he had access to. The theory of the remote island is an extension I made up. It is possibly wrong. Judgement will be known only at the day of Judgment.

          People are not exactly born in the same circumstances or with the same abilities. Also, being a Muslim (or Christian or Jew) does not mean that one owns a ticket to heaven. It is a lifelong test.

          "I guess luck plays a part in where you will end up in the after life. Hardly fair."
          More like fate not luck.

          - No one chooses his parents.
          - No one chooses the time and place he is born, or the time and place he dies.
          - No one chooses his abilities or traits.

          Yet, at the day of Judgment we'll be all judged justly and equally. If we thought about it with our limited knowledge and understanding, we can imagine some kind of equations or formulas that lead to different outcomes. If things are harder, there is possibly a bigger reward. If things are easier, more responsibilities are expected.

          Thus, if things are harder, it may mean a better reward. If things are easier, then one could work harder or do more good deeds etc..
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          Aug 28 2012: Hi Obey.
          You are certainly stuffed at the moment. I don't know how to answer you.
          You may remember I had a discussion on the cure for cancer. Apricot seeds are deemed by many to be of help. My mate has terminal cancer & his wife refuses to let him try the seeds. Ditto the girl next door; her dad Is adamant she's not to take the seeds. My other neighbour is in remission & lost her husband to cancer a couple of years ago, not interested. So my score is 3 - 0 to the skeptics. I just don't get it; the seeds can do no harm, & they might even help, but no-one seems to think it worth the effort (?). Even in the face of death.
          I feel the same about you, & others. You just don't see it, & yet, to me, it is so obvious. We don't make the rules; God does. We don't need to like the rules, that is irrelevant. God is the boss, we do what we are told, that's the deal. Don't like it? Too bad, we're stuffed.

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        Aug 28 2012: Thanks Peter. I'd probably give the seeds a go whether skeptical or not provided a little research showed no harm. Might be worth a try.

        It's a bit different to trying to believe something you don't actually believe, in fact you think it most likely made up. If there is a God he would know I don't really believe anyway.

        Sometimes we are like a mirror to each other - I just don't get how people who think about it realise those who follow other religions have the same conviction. The religious experience is similar. It seems a deeply human mind and emotional phenomena at the least. And belief tends to be driven by luck or fate most often. What you have been exposed to.

        I just don't get how people don't know deep in their hearts, if they let themselves reflect, that believing the the stories written in a religious book are true without much evidence is sad. In fact people end up seeing the world through the lens of different religious frame works.

        I agree it is what it is. If I believed a religious tradition was likely to be correct I would get involved. I would be lying to myself if I got involved now.

        In the end life is what it is and death awaits us in the end. We all muddle our why through it in our own way. The awareness of the end is a both a boon and a curse. It reflects an awareness probably superior to other animals, a richness of experience, an opportunity to reflect and lead a life based on what you think is real. Yet the final curtain awaits us all. We lose family and friends and ultimately our own lives.

        If there is a creator god, who made us with an afterlife, I think there is a very good chance it would be at least as compassionate as we are, so do not really think it would send us to hell. Hell is far from all loving.

        When I open my heart to other humans, I may not accept all that they do, but I can empathise. We are what we are. I would not punish anyone that severely for there failings in life. I expect god would be even more compassionate.
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          Aug 29 2012: Hi Obey,
          I understand where you are. My mum was religious, she went to church every Sunday, & was very respectable. I don't think she was a Christian though; she never spoke of Jesus or anything outside of church. She encouraged me to go to church, but only because it was the proper thing to do. I think the vast majority of religious folk are like my mum, whether Christian, Jewish, or Muslim.
          My wife & I got married in a registrar's office; no minister involved.
          Later in life I came across folks who really believed the bible was literally true. I'd never experienced this before. The bible is full of names, dates, & places; it leaves itself wide open to being falsified. Anyway I couldn't fault it, but found it very relevant. I couldn't be certain, but took up the challenge of seeking with all my heart. I prayed & sought this Jesus to make himself known. He did in due course make Himself known, & now I am as certain as I can be of His existence. I hate to be considered religious. I know my maker, he's my buddy; nothing religious about that.
          I agree with you on Hell. I think it's totally OTT. Luckily I don't need to worry about it. I am confident that when I eventually know all the facts, that I will agree with my buddy. I trust Him with all that stuff. If I didn't I would probably nit-pick my way into Hell myself.
          I got to the stage where I just had to abandon the "I know best" attitude & fall at His feet. Pride has to go; no-one will have a defence on the Day of Judgement. All this Darwin/Dawkins/Hawkins stuff is interesting conjecture, but the Truth is a matter of life & death.

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          Aug 29 2012: Hi Peter,
          I know your comment was to Obey No1kinobe, but I wanted to let you know I definitely agree with several points you've mentioned:
          1. "I think the vast majority of religious folk are like my mum, whether Christian, Jewish, or Muslim."
          2. "Pride has to go; no-one will have a defence on the Day of Judgement."
          3. "but the Truth is a matter of life & death."
          I totally agree.

          "I came across folks who really believed the bible was literally true."
          My experience was somewhat different, but the outcome was similar (though we're on different sides). I'm not very social and I don't trust people much, so perhaps that's the reason. Perhaps the way to the truth differs from one person to another.
          The Bible (in my case, Qur'an) talks to different types of people. Thus, within the words there are different kinds of clues (if I may call it so) that fit different people.
          Some prefer to let their minds lead the way. Some prefer to let their hearts lead the way. Some prefer to let their eyes or ears lead the way. etc.

          Finally, I think, at least in my case, this special experience happened exactly when and where it was supposed to happen (probably like what you've experienced). It's like being totally blind, then suddenly something awakes and the eyes would see the truth clearly. The difference between before and after is like the difference between night and day, or darkness and light.
          Perhaps each person may find his way when and where he's supposed to.
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        Aug 30 2012: Hi Peter, you seem to sincerely believe and have given all this much consideration and thought.

        I belonged to an evangelical church in the past and are familiar with this perspective but eventually came to different conclusion over time. I went to church with many people now dead who believed the second coming was going to happen in their lifetimes. Seems people have been thinking this for 2000 years.

        With thousands of Christian denominations, sects, and more individual interpretations it is a big claim to think you have the right one and the others don't. In fact the protestant church did not exist until the reformation. Was no one saved until Martin Luther and Calvin or the development of the modern evangelical movement? Then there are all the other religions where people may have similar personal religious experiences.

        I suggest much of the bible if taken literally has been falsified. But we disagree on 6 day creations, adam and eve, floods and a 6000 year old earth versus science - evolution, dating etc.

        Other parts are unverifiable and often highly unlikely, like the actual existence of god, miracles, supernatural acts, virgin births and resurrections. We clearly have different ideas about whether the resurrection is beyond reasonable doubt.

        Every so called prophecy I have come across can also be unpacked or shown to be so vague and open to interpretation etc.

        It is almost a miracle that people overlook the contradictions in the bible, the dates on the NT, and still assume it is 100% correct. Even the gospels conflict in many details.

        But in the face of all the dissonance explanations or excuses have been developed.

        I suggest we shape god according to our beliefs and not our beliefs to the reality of a god.

        I'm familiar with the personal relation aspect. I guess this is mostly one way. You talking to your imaginary friend and imagining his involvement. You can see and touch most buddies & have a 2 way conversation and share a beer
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        Aug 30 2012: But at least you and I are not subject to death if we choose to leave the religion whereas the penalty for apostasy for Muslims is death, and the Muslim world seems more likely to resort to violence for whatever they consider blasphemy than the modern western world.

        However in more backward areas Balkans, PNG, Africa etc Christians are still militant, or killing people thought to be witches or gay etc. Perhaps the least secular and least advanced places are the most dangerous whatever your religion.

        Seems to me if the Taliban or other religious fundamentalists need to resort to violence to enforce their religious views on others, they have lost the intellectual argument.
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          Aug 30 2012: I think history shows that mankind will continue to kill & maim with or without the excuse of religion. If you truly don't believe, I would suggest you forget about god, & get on with your life.


          PS. You may find this interesting.
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        Aug 31 2012: I am getting on with life, sometimes by getting involved in discussions on TED. Some about gods and goddesses.

        I'm still open to discovering something convincing in the god area. Nothing yet. Happy to discuss with believers if they get on with their lives by making assertions about this god or that.

        I think you are right about the killing and maiming. Still seems sad so much death and wasted lives over false religions. Even if one of them has it basically right. I guess you would agree at best only one religious belief can be correct. So most the killing has been about false ones.

        You seem to think yours is the right one. Everyone seems to think theirs is the right one. I imagine you are just as certain as Amr. You each have similar rationales. And yet both can not be correct. But if adults get to make a choice, fair enough. For all the indoctrinated kids. that is just sad.

        As to evangelical Christianity being correct, I guess you have seen the stage managed faith healing etc. But have you ever seen your evangelical faith healers heal an amputated limb, or down syndrome? Now that would be impressive. Would not actually prove the existence of god, but would be something out of the ordinary, worth further investigation.
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          Aug 31 2012: Hi Obey.
          Maybe the difference twixt you & me is bias. Most of my assurance came subsequent to making the commitment. If you like; I gave God the benefit of the doubt. I had nothing to lose; I'm dying; just as you are. I could find no reason not to go for it; the thing was feasible in my eyes so I saw no reason not to take the step. My reward is complete assurance that my future is secure.
          You seem to home in to problems; alleged discrepancies in the bible, & God calling situations that you consider wrong. I understand this to a degree, but I am very aware of my limitations, & this would not be my way of dealing with these problems.
          Amr sees things differently from me. That is fine; he is searching, as are we. As grown men we are responsible for our own actions. Each will be judged by what they do with the information they have; it's our own responsibilities.
          Children are the responsibility of their parents. Each one of us must do the best for our children. When they are grown, they can decide for themselves. Until then they will be children of Christians, Muslims, Athiests, etc. A certain amount of indoctrination is unavoidable. Who is to say that one type is any worse than another. A good mix is healthy; the kids can then discuss the options with their peers as they grow up. Dictators may disagree, but I think this is healthy.
          Do you really think that a melted caterpillar eventually became a butterfly after millions of years of random, abortive attempts ?

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        Sep 2 2012: Hi Peter, I immersed myself in my Christianity for many years. Learning, believing, praying, imagining my personal buddy Jesus. Talking to him. But over time I could not ignore the issues. I sort out to understand it and other religions more etc. More and more I realised the bible is no more special than any other holy book etc etc. I tried to ignore the dissonance. So I eventually opened my mind to the possibility it might just be another man made religion. I began to look at things outside the bias lens of assuming the bible is inerrant and that made more sense explaining everything than the bible view.

        When you read it with an open mind it makes sense

        I could only believe in the unbelievable for so long. In the end gave in to the truth as best I could figure it out. I dropped the Christian bias and was open to what was best supported by evidence.

        I was imagining God and feeling stuff, just like people of other faiths. I never saw an amputee healed or a kid with down syndrome. I was attributing the good to god and all the failed prayer as gods will.

        To me the interconnection of life is almost self evident. And this is backed up by DNA. The mental contortions to explain this biblically were unsatisfactory. To think all placental mammals were just created with the similar bodies, with similarities to birds and reptiles and fish, all the vertibrae, and the DNA showing the genetic links, and putting this down to design efficiency. It looks exactly as it would if evolved.

        Sorry I don't get the melted caterpillar reference. Life and the universe is complex.What is matter. What is Energy? What is an electron. How does a cell work? To plug this with god was insufficient for me.

        And the bits I do understand make most sense from a naturalistic perspective. The most likely god scenario is the Deistic one, a non interventionist creator. But even this has no evidence.

        Others are welcome to believe otherwise, and we can discuss and debate the different perspectives
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          Sep 2 2012: Hi Obey.
          "How does a cell work?"
          A cell is a machine built for a purpose. It's full of little factories producing stuff. Transportation systems, self repair systems, motors, jet engines, all sort of stuff. It is the most complex machine on the planet. If we could make it big enough to get a good look at it, any engineer would marvel at the complexity & ingenuity .

          Evolution is small changes over time; the superior changes are selected, the less so discarded & the species gradually improves.
          A caterpillar is born from a butterfly egg. It grows for a while then hangs on a branch. It's whole body then liquefies completely & then slowly solidifies into a perfect butterfly, which lays eggs........
          I can't get my head round how this system developed by Evoltion & natural selection. Maybe you can ?

          We are dealing with two unbelievable tales here. One involves intelligence; one doesn't. We are here, so something happened!

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        Sep 3 2012: Hi Peter,

        I struggle more with getting my head around gravity and what matter and energy is than with chemistry and biology. Or what is outside the explaining universe. What is empty space. What is light.

        The more human sized things get the easier for our brains to comprehend. Which fits with natural selection.

        Complex things can develop naturally without intelligence.

        The universe is complex. Biological life is complex. Matter and energy are complex.

        The bits of biology I understand fit evolutionary theory.

        I see the tree of life mapped out in front of our eyes. Our links to apes, mammals, vertebrata. It really must take an act of will to see these similarities, laid out physically in DNA to simply be design efficiency. And what crappy design. Airholes shared with eating. Waterworks shared with sexual parts etc. A universe where life clings to less than 0.000000001 % and where all the animals including us survive by eating other life. Nothing that indicates divinity. Completely consistent with natural selection.

        If you look at the bits that are comprehensible to a layman the links, the mechanism, the fit with evolutionary theory is in front of your eyes.

        What is there to stop what you call microevolution overtime resulting in some things very different from their ancestors and others less different. Why couldn't a small mammal in different population groups adapt and develop into very different animals from their common ancestor.

        Look how similar a deer is to a horse or a cow or an antelope etc. They are different kinds but the genetic and phsyical similarities scream out common heritage.

        Are all rodents one kind?

        Are all marsupials one kind?

        Different species with common ancestor written all over.
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        Sep 3 2012: Peter, I think if you were willing to suspend biblical inerrancy for a minute and look at what you can comprehend in biology you would see the threads of evolution laid out in front of you.

        There is a reason we can test stuff on animals as a proxy for humans. Our common heritage and biology. Especially the poor old chimps who are so close to us. The best proxy, and also perhaps the most similar emotionally and intellectually and behaviourally. They even get depressed.
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          Sep 3 2012: Hi Obey.
          "Complex things can develop naturally without intelligence. "
          Such as ? Snowflakes & crystals excepted, & they only do it thanks to their inherent features. What complex thing can we see develop without intelligence ?

          I have heard this bad design argument often. Precisely how would you rearrange matters to improve things ?

          If we look at dogs for instance. You can breed any type from mongrels, but if you start with only Alsatians, you cannot get back to mongrels. The reason is well known; the variability has been lost in the Alsatian. The DNA that is required to give the variation has been bred out of them. The 'purer' the breed the higher the vets bills, because of the loss of variability, the more prone they are to malfunction. If you continue on trying to improve the breed you will hit a brick wall. There has never been anything that has been bred until a new type of creature has appeared. It is impossible, as exemplified by the fastest horse, & the muscliest bull. Why anyone thinks otherwise is a mystery to me.
          It has nothing to do with the bible. You haven't suggested a mechanism for either the butterfly or the cell. Nobody ever does, there is simply no answer that would fall into line with evolution. Both scream design, in exactly the same way as much simpler designs; like, say a nuclear submarine; screams design. To think otherwise requires more faith than I can muster.

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    Aug 25 2012: If we were to go back to basics, all religions are pretty much the same.In Malaysia, we have the Malaysian Interfaith Network (MIN) to promote better understanding of common values between all religions.It's best if you would visit the site yourself.

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      Aug 25 2012: Thanks, Muhammad, for your comment.
      The idea sounds really fascinating.
      I think each country needs an organization, or a network, like this. Perhaps there should be even one worldwide organization that keeps the identity of each religion separated, yet identifies the common shared basics between religions and shares the wealth of knowledge about religions with the whole world. I think it should be offering knowledge and information only, without interfering with the politics of the world (that's also considering that the current world powers probably would not abandon their seats willingly :) ).
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      Aug 25 2012: That is a good step.

      I guess the moderates might get involved.

      It will not have much impact on the fundamentalists of any faith who believe they have the truth and the other religions are the work of the devil or mistaken.

      If moderates reject the attitudes and violence of fundamentalists, that might help as well.
    • Aug 28 2012: A question?
      Am I confused, or was not a malaysian citizen recrntly scentenced to 11 years imprisonment for being an atheist? (after a brutal beating for which no one was prosecuted).Is it not also true that sharia law governs? Tell me , what do they do to a muslim who choses to convert, or to renounce his faith? Does it , "promote better understanding and common values..."

      As an aside, I would argue that all religions are not pretty much the same, deism is vastly differnt as it posits a god so transcendent it is removed from the universe itself. Religions can be passive, (the dao), or aggressive, (sikh)... prosletyzing, (mormon), or exclusive, (judaism), among a thousand other qualifications. They can be revealed to a single individual, (such as islam or the mormon faith), or as an amalgam of experiences,( the gospels perhaps, or the torah).

      You could posit that all religions were basically the same were to examine them in a psycological or sociological paradigm, but not in a theological one. Of course then you would have to back that up with a creditable psyco- or socio- explanation as to what religion was and why they were similar. As Marx did for example.

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        Aug 28 2012: Dear Ian,

        Firstly, I would like to say that I haven't heard of any news regarding a Malaysian atheist.Would be happy if you could provide me with any news links available on the internet?

        Ian, you have to understand that Malaysia is NOT a wholly Muslim country.We are a secular islamic country.A good percentage of Malaysians are not even Muslims.We do have Sharia courts but those are only for the Muslims.Sharia law too has its own limit in governing Malaysian Muslims.As far as I'm concerned, Civil Law rules here.

        All I'm saying is that all religion promote good behaviour.Shouldn't we highlight this fact instead of fighting each other?
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          Sep 2 2012: But we should not ignore the negative parts.

          Like death for apostasy.

          You may be ignoring: "Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends." (Surah 5:51)

          "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them." (Surah 9:121-)

          And while looking for common ground, don't forget: "The only true faith in God's sight is Islam." (Surah 3:19)

          Again I suggest our shared humanity binds us more than different religious beliefs.

          Although the common enemy against all superstition is the atheist, human rights, science and reason. Maybe that will unite different religious groups.
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        Sep 2 2012: I agree with you 100% but I think this question's true aim is to find the common ground between us? Don't you think? As far as I'm concerned, I've met with wonderful atheists whom I never regard as enemies.

        Regarding the surahs that you've pointed out here, every surah has its history and you can't just quote the Quran like a book because every surah is connected to each other and taking a part of the surah while leaving some behind might change the true meaning of the surah.Perhaps you should watch Lesley Hazleton's video (I'll include the link for you).I hope this clears the air around here.Peace please.

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          Sep 2 2012: Thanks Muhammad Aizat Zainal Alam

          I have seen that talk. It's a good one.

          I note when groups feel threatened the rhethoric often changes, including in religious speech and writings.

          Also, given the content is there, the reader can pick and choose what they want and claim it has authority from the most high.

          Hoping for peace, and freedom, here as well
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        Sep 2 2012: You're very welcome but I have to point out that what you're doing is what the extremists would do to justify their actions.Without a deep understanding of a certain text, one would assume the literal meaning of the passages in it.This has happened repeatedly in all sorts of religion eg Honour killings, the Crusades, killings in Rohingya etc.

        Plus , it would be meaningless if we were to copy and paste whatever we like into our brains without considering the whole body of the text.
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          Sep 3 2012: I don't assume holy books or what popes and imans say is from a god.

          But others do.

          I'm not sure if all the negatives in religions are just taking things out of context.

          I would agree some interpretations of holy texts may very likely be not what was meant.

          Other sections might be reasonably open to different interpretations. Text and speech and their interpretation is somewhat subjective. Long complicated texts are not a great way to get a precise message across.

          Also when the bible says kill people who work on the sabbath, or kill adulterers well that's fairly straight forward.

          The OT and NT are quite contradictory. Christians are happy to pick and choose the bits they want from the OT. Also Jewish people have different levels of compliance with the old law, and generally don't kill people for working on the sabbath. But maybe they should if they are going to follow gods word no matter how repulsive.

          Western society has its problems but killing people for religious reasons is not tolerated anymore.

          Are you suggesting there is nothing we would judge offensive or sexist or tribalist or racist or against modern human rights in the Qu'ran? Even if we tried to understand it in context?

          Equally there are sections in the Qurán that seem appropriate for the

          I'm not superstitious so you don't need to worry about me taking it the wrong way. It is the religious folk you need to worry about, firstly because they may misinterpret, secondly because their is probably a lot of nasty material in the Abrahamic texts.

          After all this is the god that committed near global genocide with Noah's flood. And much much more. A god that at best regulates slavery.
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        Sep 3 2012: Well, did you try to understand the Quran or the NT or the OT in its context?
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    Aug 25 2012: On meaning and awe at life and the universe if we are not created beings:

    Science indicates we are made from atoms that were created in stars that super nova'd at least 6 billion years ago. We are made of star stuff.

    We are connected to all life on earth. The earliest life forms worked by photosynthesis creating the oxygen for 2 billion years that allowed animals to develop.

    Evert time you breathe you are taking in atoms that were breathed in by your prophets, kings, or the humblest person.

    There is a paradox, the amazing universe, the connections, the beauty of life, and you can have this and still be just a thinking ape.

    When you are sitting on the toilet after eating some steak, consider how superficially different that is from a lion toileting after eating some zebra. We are related and interconnected with all humans and animals, even the plants.
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      Aug 25 2012: I think this should teach us humbleness :)
      People may be using nuclear power and starships, and they may govern billions of people, but they still need to go to the toilet.

      This may prove also that we're not just a body and not just a soul (or whatever you may believe to grant us free will and and the choice to go right or left, to do what's right or to do what's wrong.). We're a combination of both. Our bodies give us physical existence and they need care, food etc for survival. As for the soul, it is outside the domain of our knowledge.

      I don't trust scientific theories about the beginning of life. Perhaps if people started working on the evidence provided in religion concerning the beginning of life combined with scientific research, then I may find it interesting.
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        Aug 25 2012: Hi Amr

        I agree on the humbleness. The richest and most powerful businessman, king, dictator or general will one day be a frail old man.

        All the natural functions you associate with the soul I associate with the mind/brain. We'll just have to disagree on whether there is a supernatural spirit or soul that exists independent of the body/brain. Some people are born so brain damaged or simply psychopathic that they don't have free will in the sense that a person with a fully functioning brain does. Maybe they have budget souls.

        If I compare science based on evidence or religious beliefs based on supernatural claims and no evidence, well......I would go with the evidence based claims.

        Plenty of people try to prove their religious beliefs fit reality. If beliefs don't fit well established scientific understanding, then the beliefs have a problem.

        For example in the bible it talks about the sun stopping in sky. I believe the Quran mentions the sun resting in a cradle at night, whereas via science today we know the Earth is rotating.

        There is no evidence in religion, just claims. You need evidence out in the real world to prove your religious claims. Some can be proven or disproved. Other claims can not be verified either way. It is impossible to prove a god like Allah exists or not or chose the Jews as his chosen people or parted the red sea then drowned the egyptians, or sent plagues to kill people, or that Jonah lived in some marine animal, or that JEsus walked on water. Up to you how likely you think these events are to have happened, but we have no convincing evidence any of them did. Not much evidence for any magical gods these days.

        Evolution is well established to explain species etc. Science does not have a well established theory for the origin of life. Evolution vs 6 day creation is hardly an argument unless you really want to believe.
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          Aug 25 2012: I'll answer your questions regarding the "sun" in Qur'an and Jonah, pbuh, in a day or two, isA.
          (I didn't know "Jonah" is the way his name is written in English. In Arabic it sounds Yunis, or something like that.)

          Why would it be difficult to prove that an army drowned in a sea in the past? Why would it be difficult to prove the other stories mentioned in Holy Books?
          Also, what's the difference between a living body and a dead body? What's the difference between someone who is awake and someone who is asleep? What's the scientific explanation?
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          Sep 12 2012: Hi Obey No1kinobe,
          I know absolutely nothing of what's inside OT. I've checked a small Arabic booklet about something called "Talmud" (?) to answer your questions.

          Ok, my first impression is that Talmud is full of lies.
          Apparently "Yahweh" was not what Jews originally worshipped. Apparently, they got that "Yahweh" from one of the tribes they met. So, Yahweh is something they invented, or more like borrowed.

          From Qur'an, we know that Jews have killed some prophets and didn't believe others. We also know that they worshipped a calf made of jewels, that they took from Egyptians (?), while Moses, pbuh, was away from them (receiving the Ten Commandments?). The calf made sounds like a real one. Moses, pbuh, was furious when he returned. The calf was destroyed and thrown into the sea and all who worshipped the calf were punished by death. These are among many other stories regarding the history of the Jews that were mentioned in Qur'an, but I cannot discuss them in detail here.

          "I guess Muslims generally assume Yahweh is Allah"
          That's not right.
          Muslims know God from Qur'an. If you want to know Allah, Almighty, as Muslims believe, please read Qur'an.
          I found a translation of the meaning of words of an ayah from a sura earlier. I think the translation is ok, check it out:

          “Allah! There is no God save Him,..Unto Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth. Who...intercedes with Him save by His leave? He knows what ...is in front of them and behind them....His throne includes the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them.” (2.255)

          Even though we believe in Torah and Bible, Islam has no relation whatsoever to the current Jewish religion. Qur'an was preserved and the full truth is in it. My answer as a Muslim, if you want to know what Muslims believe, please check Qur'an for the answer.
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          Sep 12 2012: (I had to re-post this reply. It was deleted by mistake.)
          Hi Obey No1kinobe,
          sorry that this reply is late.
          You've mentioned in a previous comment that, "For example in the bible it talks about the sun stopping in sky. I believe the Quran mentions the sun resting in a cradle at night, whereas via science today we know the Earth is rotating.".

          I thought it would be helpful to provide some evidence from Qur'an so that you'd judge from it.
          Here is a translation of ayahs 21.30-35. Please tell me what you think after reading them (specially ayah 33).

          21.30 "Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?"

          21.31 "And We have set on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with them, and We have made therein broad highways (between mountains) for them to pass through: that they may receive Guidance."

          21.32 "And We have made the heavens as a canopy well guarded: yet do they turn away from the Signs which these things (point to)!"

          21.33 "It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course."

          21.34 "We granted not to any man before thee permanent life (here): if then thou shouldst die, would they live permanently?"

          21.35 "Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. to Us must ye return."

          I'll be waiting for your reply.
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        Aug 26 2012: Thanks Amr.

        On the parting of the red sea, first we have to find evidence of as army in the red sea.
        I'm not sure if any one has found evidence of an army in the red sea?

        Then need to prove they drowned.

        Then prove they drowned as described in the bible and not from falling off a boat etc
        How do you prove god parted the red sea and the army walked in and then god closed?

        I guess you can figure out the biological scientific difference between being dead or alive, awake or asleep.
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          Aug 26 2012: Hi Obey No1kinobe,
          There could be a possibility that there may be some armour or weapons etc at the bottom of the sea (assuming the shape of the land didn't change). Also, the story could have been mentioned on papyri some time later (I'm not sure when ancient Egyptians started using papyri.). Or perhaps it became a part of one of the ancient tales or affected sculpture style and figures etc.
          "How do you prove god parted the red sea and the army walked in and then god closed?"
          Well, probably there are people in the world nowadays who can do such investigation. Also, that's the job of scientific tools and technology.

          I don't think "science" has said much yet about these different states, "alive" and "dead, and "awake" and "asleep", except for what's obvious. Of course there is a measurable change in state and body functions. Also, there is science fiction like "Frankenstein", but it has nothing to do with reality.
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          Aug 26 2012: I think I'll have to delay answering your questions to the next discussion. It will take some time and the answers are not exactly related to the topic of this discussion.

          However, my short answers would be that whichever translation that came with the "resting in a cradle" part, I think that translation is terribly different from the meaning of the original words. Translation of Qur'an is not easy and it is somewhat problematic. The only "kind" of translation of Qur'an possible, I think, is a translation of the interpretation of the meanings of the words. This is subject to error, of course.
          I think in Qur'an it is mentioned what "I think" may mean each of the sun and moon have distinct or separate orbits. I assume the sun is orbitting around something bigger, or it is simply orbitting. I wrote some notes about what I understood from Qur'an some time in the past, but it's according to my understanding which is possibly wrong and could be very misleading. Besides, I know very little about astronomy.

          As for the story of Jonah, pbuh, I don't know what happens to what's inside big whales. Perhaps science can answer this :) Also, there could have been different species of whales back then that don't exist today, or perhaps this particular whale was a special one.

          I'd like to discuss these two points in detail with you later, but I need to do some research and some reading and it won't be possible now.

          The next discussion that's related to the current topic might be 6-8 months later, isA. It would possibly be about the relationship between religion and science or the relationship between the Holy Books and science.

          I think the current discussion has already exhausted its goals.
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        Aug 26 2012: Yes, finding Egyptian Armour of the time at the bottom of the red sea and other independent records mentioning the event would definitely start to support a story in the bible. Has anyone found any armour or independent records of the event?

        This is the type of evidence that starts to make the claims more likely to reflect what actually happened.

        When you are dead, your body processes begin to stop working. There are chemical changes in muscles that cause rigor mortis (stiffening). Your body starts to decompose.

        Parts of your brain control unconscious functions like breathing and heart beating. Other parts of your brain are responsible for your conscious mind. If your brain is damaged your mind/consciousness may be impacted. If the brain is starved of oxygen too long or suffers major trauma, your brain function stops, and as far as we know once your brain permanently stops working that is the end of you the person, and eventually your body will break down and become part of the environment and ecosystem.

        Some believe in life after death and immortal spirits etc. Reincarnation for hindus and buddhists. Afterlife of some sort for Greek gods, Abrahamic gods etc. Could be, but we can not tell in any reliable way if any of these are correct as far as I know.

        Sleep is a different body brain state to those in normal waking. You can get all sorts of brain states while awake. If you watch a movie you might go into a light trance and lose awareness of your surroundings.

        With sleep we basically have a body clock, with processes keeping us awake fighting processes to make us sleep that take precedence at different times of the day. When you sleep you enter different brain states, REM, then deep sleep with your body usually partially paralysed. Most people dream which is fascinating. Sleep is vital to proper body and brain function, memory etc.

        Sleep and death don't seem to be magic as far as we can tell.
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          Aug 26 2012: Hi Obey.
          There is a certain amount of 'evidence' for the Red Sea scenario, but of course hotly disputed. Google 'Red Sea chariot' or similar.
          Is fairly typical.

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        Aug 26 2012: Don't worry too much about the other stuff - Jonah etc.
        Appreciate your efforts.
        If you just imagine I basically see all religions the same as you see all religions except for Islam.
        Hope the discussion was of interest to you as it was for me.
        Wishing you all the best.
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          Aug 26 2012: Thanks for your reply and explanation.
          I only noticed now, only when you mentioned it, that I didn't try at all to see things from your perspective. I was merely trying hard to explain mine.
          (Well, I don't think it's possible for me to see things from your perspective.)

          "... would definitely start to support a story in the bible. "
          Why did you say in "the Bible" and not something like "holy Books" or "Abrahamic religions"?

          The idea of that other discussion is starting to take shape in my mind. It might happen if I don't eventually get too discouraged to work on it.
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        Aug 27 2012: Just because the parting of the red sea was first mentioned in the oldest book, the old testament.

        Also, my relative ignorance about the Qurán and how Muslims view the old and new testament.

        I guess Muslims generally assume Yahweh is Allah and that the OT prophets had something to say from god, and perhaps the flood and other supernatural events happened.

        But I guess there are different sects or denominations in Islam, just like other big religions, and ultimately some Muslims may not take everything literally to better fit our improved understanding of the universe, history etc or simply interpret verses differently.

        The older the book, the more the facts and origins of the stories are lost in antiquity, the more amazing the and dramatic the miracles. We don't know who wrote all the sections of the old testament. We don't know who wrote the gospels. We are told who the author is of the Qurán.

        I note less amazing miracles as historical record keeping has improved, and the more independent sources.
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    Aug 23 2012: Thank you for this fascinating question,and I wish I were knowledgeable sufficiently to comment on archeological or anthropological evidence. I would like also to ask what do you mean by your last sentence that concludes "the right tp turn any of the Abrahamic religions into a forbidden knowledge" (I don't know what is considered "forbidden knowledge")

    The three Abrahamic religions are similar in this origin in Abraham, and certain of their tenets are indeed the same, namely the belief in one God, not many dieties.

    However, there is one fundamental difference - or, basically the similarity between Judaism and Islam as contrasts to Christianity. The divinity of Jesus Christ.

    Christians know that Jesus Christ was fully human and fully God. Acceptance of His divine nature is the key to the acceptance of the gift of the Holy Spirit (also God) into our lives, so that He may do His good works through us.

    This is the basic fundamental difference, in that it shows us that we can do nothing without God. He is the architect and the guide. While I respect greatly all other religions, what I have found in others is that they greatly depend on works, what a person must do to please God, what a person must do to show their faith. With Christ, we understand that it is not what we have done for Him, but what He has done for us, and with that understanding, His good works flow through our lives.

    In that light, Christianity stands as radically different from the other two Abrahamic religions, who see that the Messiah will come to set right the world. Christianity shows us that He already has.

    Peace be upon you all.

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      Aug 23 2012: Thank you, Verble Gherulous, for your comment.
      I meant "knowledge that people are forbidden to know. (When governments, media, elites etc decide that their people "don't have to" know something, or that people should know about something "the way they prefer")"
      For example, when media wants people to avoid a certain religion, it links it to something that people hate or claim it is evil etc. Thus, many people would avoid any kind of knowledge about it even with no real reasons.

      Thanks for the explanation. I want to discuss something with you. I hope it's ok.
      We believe that a "soul" is what makes humans "alive". I think you'd agree with me that all living humans have souls. I think you'd also agree that a soul enters the body by the command of God, perhaps sometimes it would be delivered by angels, or by the Holy Spirit, Gabriel, pbuh.
      This is how soil (perhaps earth or dust? my English is not good) and water (or mud as a combination of soil and water) became a human, Adam, pbuh. In Islam we believe Jesus, pbuh, came to life like Adam, pbuh, came to life.

      If God sent prophets and messengers before, including Noah, Ibrahim (Abraham), Lot, Ismael (Ishmael), Isaac , Solomon, David, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, peace be upon them, and many others, why do you think Jesus, pbuh, was not a prophet like them?

      I totally respect your belief and your opinion and I'm not going to comment on your reply, I just want to know your reasons.
      Peace be upon you too.
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        Aug 23 2012: Thank you, my friend, for clarification of "forbidden knowledge" - government or groups who don't want people to learn about any idea contrary to that group's beliefs. I feel that people should explore all cultures, all faiths, all knoweldge. There is so much richness in the human mind that all cutlures have presented to the earth, and I think we need to explore that freely, because it helps us live together better as human beings.

        When I understand another culture, I am less "afraid" of that culture. When I learn a new language, I am less afraid of what people are saying in that language. I encourage all people to explore the world, even if they can only do it through books, and any sort of force that tries to turn that into "forbidden knowledge" I could consider an enemy to humanity.

        On the other discussion, thank you. You also have my great respect, because I can see that you are very knowledgeable. Please know that I am also not a scholar, nor of any great intelligence, I am merely living a faith; however, from what I understand of the scripture is yes, only human beings have souls. This is what distinguishes us from all other life. In my faith, all prophets are merely human beings, whom God has chosen for special messages. The glory is to God for the message, revealed by the simple men that He chose to carry His message.

        Jesus the Messiah, our faith leads us to know, is different from prophets in that He IS God. God presented His Spirit into the virgin womb in order to be born as one of us, to live as one of us, to show His love for us, He humbled Himself to be one of us. By this, we know Creator of All loved us so deeply that He, for a short time, took a body like ours. It is by this example we are to learn that we can live a life that is humble, compassionate, courteous, and kind.

        Thank you again for your question. I hope I have presented my Lord in a fitting manner.
        And peace be upon you, or, permit me to say, "Assalamu alaikum"
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          Aug 24 2012: Thank you for your reply.
          Peace be upon you too. Wa alaikum assalam
          You're welcome to say it any time :)
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    Aug 22 2012: From what I understand about Jews, Muslims and Christians, Jews follow the line of Abraham extending from his second son, Issac. Muslims extend from Abraham's first son, Ishmael and Christians, of course, from the new Testament teachings of the man called Jesus of Nazareth.

    When Jews speak of Arabs who are in an angry state they refer to them as son's of Ishmael, because Ishmael was so temperamental while Arabs denounce the Jews as son's of the thief Isaac who stole Abraham's first son, Ismael's birthright.

    The rest is simply cultural differences and water rights for the most part. When the Jews were given the land that many Palestinians claim belonged to them, by the United Nations, it had the ring of the Isaac and Ishmael story all over again, with the United Nations taking the role of Abraham, the Palestinians the role of Ishmael and of course, the Israelis, the role of Isaac. The rest of the Arabs, being the sons, daughter's, cousins and uncles of the Palestinians, naturally took the side of their relatives against the Israelis.

    It's hard to believe that such turmoil in the Middle East could be related to a story that was acted out so many centuries ago, but I believe it is, indeed, the case.

    Some historical points to look at: The hatred of the Jews by the Arabs started from the Time of Abraham over birth rights. The hatred of the Christians for the Jews Started after Jesus was crucified, because of the Jews (or so they say). Today we are left with three dominate religions, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, all because of these incidents.

    In Israel they have a saying, "If the Arabs lay down their arms, there will be peace in the Middle East. If Israel lay's down their arms, there will be no more Israel."

    I doubt the anger of the son's of Ishmael will ever be abated, nor will the Christians ever accept the fact that the Jews did not Kill Jesus. There is no Middle Eastern solution as long as Israel exists and America maintains a presence there.
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      Aug 23 2012: Hi John moonstroller,
      Thanks for your contribution. I don't feel like the conflict will end soon. Perhaps it will stay as long as humans exist. It is strange that the story of this conflict seems like it surpassed all the human generations as if it's a single line from the beginning to the end. The rest of the people from all the countries around the world seem like spectators. They may choose sides, remain neutral or keep themselves busy doing something. Some may believe the story of the conflict has something to do with humanity's end and others may not believe it. Anyway, we may not live long enough to witness much progress, or perhaps we will.

      I don't even think this is the real story. :) I feel like it's only a man-made explanation. However, the conflict does exist. I think very few would deny they feel for real that all the events of the conflict were written long before all the generations of humans came to life, even before humanity existed.
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        Aug 23 2012: Yes, one possibility in many. I must admit I too am confused by how far the line was drawn. When I see an Israeli Jewish person and an Arab Islamic person argue the points of their conflict, it invariably ends up with Isaac and Ishmael.

        It's really all about land and what is done with it.

        To truly express my feelings, I can say, I am glad I was not borne in that region of the world. I feel lucky to have been borne in the United States. I feel the United States should be the model for all countries, as democratic models go. The Muslims and Jews in our country are not like those overseas. They have no problems expressing apprehension at how the Muslim or Jewish religion is practiced in the old lands. They appear happier here in the US.
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    Aug 20 2012: Hi Obey No1kinobe,
    Sorry I couldn't reply sooner. I notice you've posted a lot of questions. As I mentioned earlier, I can only provide you with logical thoughts or advices from my very limited knowledge and experience. I cannot provide you with answers and I don't have an academic background or enough knowledge, specially regarding religion, to answer your questions on scientific basis. You're asking a simple Muslim human and what I can do is very little and insignificant.

    However, I promise to try to reply to your questions, one by one. I will need to organize my thoughts a little.
    Since it's only logical thoughts that I can provide you, I'll be talking to your mind. Even if your mind listened, or found some logic in what I say, your heart is a totally different story. Logic may convince the mind, but it's belief that would reach the heart.

    No human can provide you with guidance, if your heart didn't listen, no matter how much faith they have. You cannot ask humans to guide you, because they need guidance themselves even if they were on top of the highest religious levels in the society, You can ask God only to guide you. You need to do it sincerely and take it seriously. Even if you don't believe that things may change, ask for guidance right from the heart as if your whole life depends on it. Notice that all humans come to life with comparatively similar knowledge and abilities, the only thing, within your domain is your choices and deeds that may determine your experience, your future and ultimately your "outcome".

    Your life-time, your body, your deeds and the amount of money or resources within your possession, that's what is determined when your soul enters your body. That's what's within your possession in life. That's what you'll abandon when you die, and you will be asked about it. You're a witness on yourself.

    My only request in order for me to reply is to use very respectful language when you argue about God, angels, prophets, or Books.
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      Aug 21 2012: Hi Amr. Appreciate the effort. Don't feel obligated to respond to everything. Wife is away so I've got some extra free time.

      I respect your right to believe in any religious system. I'll try not to be deliberately offensive. But I can not promise my views will not offend as that is in part in the eye of the beholder. Just like I find some religious beliefs and behaviours offensive. I also don't see religion above criticism any more than any human endeavour.

      It may be difficult not to offend because many people think religion is taboo and should not be challenged. I would equate the prophets alongside any historical or mythical figures religious or non religious. But will try not to be overly insensitive.

      When I read the holy books though, their own words, the actions proscribed to the various characters reflect the more barbaric and ignorant times in which they are written. So killing people for being gay, or working on the Sabbath, or your new wife if she is not a virgin was more accepted than it might be today in some countries. I note quite a few of the prophets were associated with mass murder in the OT. It's not really my fault if from a 2st Century perspective they would be tried for crimes against humanity. I'm not making this stuff up.

      You seem very fair minded and I respect that. Just so you know I'm not being deliberately provocative. These examples go to some of my key points in that Abrahamic Holy books don't look that holy to me. They are not the best examples of morality in 2012.

      I would suggest also that other traditions around 2600 years ago were much more advanced in terms of morality than the OT and much of the later books. Buddhism, Jainism, even Confucius had the golden rule 500 years before Jesus “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.”

      I'll try not to offend just for the sake of offending. I appreciate your efforts.
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        Aug 23 2012: Hi Obey No1kinobe,
        Isn't "gayness" obviously against natural rules that govern life? Besides, scientifically, it leads to nothing. It is going against the laws of the Creator. Anyway, they can go to countries that would welcome them.

        The "Sabbath" was a law that must be accepted by belief, not by logic and reason. If they asked back then when they were ordered: Why wouldn't we fish (or do work?) in Sabbath? It is because that's the Creator's law. Also, there is the story of the "she-camel" (? don't know if this is the right word) of Salih, pbuh, that people were ordered not to harm. They shall not drink the day it drinks. They were punished when they killed the "she-camel". (God is Merciful and His punishment is severe.)

        I don't think it is possible to understand the world now only with the OT or the NT (Torah and Bible?) . I think Qur'an explains further some of the confusing parts in OT and NT and there is a correction in it for some of the parts that people changed in Torah and Bible over time. Also, some rules were changed and became easier. I don't understand how anyone would judge Qur'an without reading it. This is the digital age when information should be available to everyone. This is supposedly the age of freedom of knowledge when people should not be afraid to read. This is the time when people are free to choose and judge on their own.
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      Aug 21 2012: Amr, it does seem a little odd that you have to psych yourself up and assume god exists in order for god to reveal himself. Not sure how we separate that from a delusion or other purely psychological phenomena.

      I guess people get the same sort of feelings or brain states from opening up to any idea or concept of god. Thats one reason so many religions. They all give people the same general buzz.

      I can't force myself to believe something I see no evidence for.
      I'll try and be open but I'm not going to stop being reasonably sceptical.

      I just sincerely asked god to help me find the truth about its existence.
      So I'm all eyes and ears.

      I should disclose that in the past I was a born again Christian, speaking tongues and so called healings etc.
      I've never seen god heal an amputated limb or down syndrome. They must be too hard. Prayer is about as reliable as hope etc.

      So I have some experience of the personal religious experience. To me it was all psychological and social. For example I get a similar feeling meditating, experiencing different brain states to some of the previous religious experiences.

      Also no miracles like the old books these days, like the sun stopping the sky (I guess they didn't know the earth was rotating and that the sun isn't flying across the sky)

      So to me, my starting point is it is all in our heads. But I'm open to the divine, if it exists showing me something more convincing.
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        Aug 23 2012: Hi Obey No1kinobe,
        "Amr, it does seem a little odd that you have to psych yourself up and assume god exists in order for god to reveal himself."
        I'll be honest with you about this. That's exactly what happened with me:

        I was acting like an idiot for several years (It wasn't totally my fault). Yes, I was a Muslim, but apparently it didn't reach my heart. I have made many things that were wrong. I read and listened to verses of Qur'an, but apparently I never understood or even try to understand. Apparently my ears and eyes saw them as a repitition of words and sounds. My eyes didn't really see and my ears did not really listen.

        I remember a few years ago, not sure when, I prayed to God to have mercy on me and guide me because I was, and would be, totally lost without his guidance. I didn't want my life to end this way. I was desperate and only Allah could help me.

        A few years ago, it hit me. I felt I'm observed and watched very closely, not by humans. I felt every action I make no matter how small it is and every road I choose will make a difference. The feeling was just too real. Suddenly, everything that was stupid that I used to do appeared obviously ridiculous that I was ashamed and didn't even understand how I did it before. Life appeared as a test. It was time that I must change now that God offered me a chance. It became very possible and easy to do all that I was ordered in religion and it all became perfectly clear. It became even easier to abandon all the sins and avoid them almost entirely. I knew by heart, and not by mind only as before, that God sees all, hears all and knows all, and that God accepts prayers.
        ... I told only very few people about this.

        That's why I asked you to pray for guidance. People failed miserably to make religion reach my heart before. You can rely on God only.
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          Aug 24 2012: Hi Amr, thank you for sharing what must have been a profound experience for you.
          Out of respect I will not unpack and analyse this in detail other than to say I suggest people get the same sort of feelings out of most religious beliefs, or even non religious mediation or amazing moments in life.

          Again thanks for sharing and discussing and starting the conversation

          Best regards.
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        Aug 23 2012: Now I see things differently from before. Now, when I walk in the street, when I'm alone, or when I'm in a mosque, I see clearly that all the people and the buildings around me do not matter; they hardly exist at all. They were not here before and soon they will no longer be here. Only God will always be and my heart should talk only to God above in heavens. Whatever I do, I know that God is watching and I try my best to do well :)

        My eyes changed. It seems that now I can see with belief and Qur'an instead of the normal light the normal eyes depend on. What I see is different from nonbelievers see. People see money, fame, properties ahead and they seek it out. I see that this earthly life is not worth it. It is short and its pleasures are all insignificant and won't stay. The real joy is to try understand life more, to try to be closer to God, by doing what God wants us to do, and to always pray to God.

        Look around you, all those people and buildings don't really exist. They're here only temporarily. They're all almost a part of the earth they're walking on. They weren't here before and they won't be here in the future. Many don't see how insignificant and stupid arrogance and pride are even though they can clearly see they're as "human" as others and that it won't be long before their bodies become one with earth.
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          Aug 24 2012: Amr, I suggest people who want to believe get the same sort of feelings from all religions with different gods or even no gods in Buddhism.
          I suggest it is part of the human mind.
          If you talk in your head to what you call god it will reinforce.
          You will start to see things through cognitive bias. Reinforcing your belief.
          If you don't pray hard enough one day or forget to do some reading of the holy book and trip over or lose something you might think that is god warning you. If you have a religious dream you might think it is a message.

          When people pray in an MRI machine we see parts of their brain activate. The sensation is part of brain activity.

          That does not mean there is no god involved. Just everything you think and feel and see and hear, your unconscious is all going on in your brain.

          I could turn it around and say isn't it prideful to think the universe was made for us, billions of galaxies each with billions of stars, and us created by the creator of the universe who knows every hair on our head, and will grant us eternal life, I will never cease to exist. Is that more prideful or self centred than thinking we evolved from natural processes on an amazing blue planet that is just a speck in the universe, I have just this life to love and to live a good life.

          It is obvious to me we are all human, all mortal, all frail. Life is not fair. Some of us are brave enough to face cold hard reality that it is up to us to make meaning in this life. and when we die, like any other animal, it is most likely we will cease to exist. Not wishful thinking and promises of paradise or nirvana.

          As I said I have been a Christian seeing everything as spiritual warfare, praying all the time, trying to learn, trying to please a god that eventually I realised was just a figment or imagination shaped by the books and stories I had heard and wanted to believe.
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        Aug 23 2012: Now, is there any need for a miracle? Life itself is a miracle. Everything in life is a miracle. You're asking for "something different" from what you're used to, but you forget that all these rules that govern life, our growth, our beginning and end are miracles that you experience. You simply got used to it.
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          Aug 24 2012: Life is amazing, but not necessary a supernatural miracle.

          I have a deep profound awe for life and the universe you might be surprised about.

          You don't need gods and religious belief to be appreciative and amazed by life.
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      Aug 21 2012: Hi Amr, I'm not an expert on this stuff either. So please don't expect the best thought out discussion points from me either.

      But I guess you believe in something and have reasons for believing in it.
      I don't believe in this thing for other reasons.
      And our reasons are either good ones or bad ones.

      If they are bad, it is still our choice to believe or not, but maybe we'll both have a better understanding.
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        Aug 23 2012: I think as long as you seek the truth, the whole truth and nothing by the truth, you may really find your way to it.

        It is different from all those people who got used to what their parents and grandparents did that they no longer feel the need to seek the truth. Some of them would even lie to themselves or detest what they don't know. Some wouldn't dare to think they may be wrong. They're too terrified to even think about it.
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          Aug 24 2012: I agree if you seek the truth, perhaps with some critical thinking and perspective, you may not be trapped in the religion your parents teach you.

          However, most religions evoke personal religious experience, social acceptance etc. It is natural if you grow up with it, maybe 80% will continue to believe what they grew up with.

          At the least your cultural programme will strongly shape how you see god or gods and your paradigms for life.
  • Aug 17 2012: im muslim and i dont deny christians and jews. i believe in them, too, we all believe them. the problem is they were changed.
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      Aug 18 2012: Thanks, Halil, for your comment.
      (PS Happy eid!)
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      Aug 18 2012: I believe Christians and Jews exist as well.

      What do you mean they were changed?
      • Aug 18 2012: I mean the books, there are many versions of them. Book must be one, comments must be more than one. I think like that.
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          Aug 18 2012: The Orthodox and Catholic bibles haven't changed much for 1700 years other than translation to English. Along with the protestant version, they are all a bit different but 95% same.

          These religions have been teaching the trinity for a very long time.

          However, it is interesting to note that the books in the NT were written decades after Jesus is supposed to have died. Plenty of time for the beliefs to evolve and the NT was only compiled centuries after Jesus died. Many early Christian writings that didn't agree with the choosen orthodoxy were not included.

          The Koran was much better managed in my view, except the pagan bits.

          No one alive really knows if Jesus claimed to be god, assuming JEsus existed, which I think he probably did.

          But we don't know how much of the OT is true either and it seems derivative of Caanite and Babylonian beliefs.

          I don't believe any of the professed prophets were actually prophets of a god. There is no compelling evidence any of the supernatural claims are true. I find these 3 beliefs no more reliable than Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Sihkism, Shamaistic, Zorastarism, Taoism etc followed today or most the extinct religions. Actually there is probably more chance that an extinct religion was the right one, if any one is right, because there are many more of them.
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    Aug 17 2012: Of course they are all the same... They're all racist, that's why they hate each other so much : p
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      Aug 17 2012: It might seem like a good idea for one religion to use educatioin against the two others, but education is to dangerous to handle for anyone of the three.
      It's killing them faster than they can kill each other.
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        Aug 17 2012: Dang... that's a good quote
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        Aug 17 2012: what about unbiased education or maybe education based on all three religions... Those can not be dangerous to all three if they are fundamental facts of the collective
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        Aug 20 2012: How about this:
        Asking university-level students to analyze or research a sura from Bible, Qur'an, or Torah (or a part from each of the Books based on a certain topic). There won't be any grades on the papers presented. It would be totally optional, but they will be encouraged to do it. Students would be allowed to attend a few lectures, if they are interested, by professional instructors and scholars of any or all the Abrahamic religions.
        (I think it would be confusing for anyone less than 16 years old to do that activity)

        If it's mandatory or there are grades on it, this activity will probably lose its meaning and value.
        (I think it would be confusing for students less than 16 years old, but I may be wrong.)
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      Aug 18 2012: Actually I guess most humans are rascist and speciest.
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        Aug 20 2012: MOST humans? That kind of generalizing is offensive to my species!
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    Aug 17 2012: As human cultural constructs there are similarities and differences.

    Firstly you might need to define what you mean by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. There is also a lot of divergence between people who consider themselves Jewish, Christian and Muslim.

    Some people who call themselves Christians take the bible literally, others don't. Some think Jesus is god others don't and so on. If you look at the early stages Christianity was a moving feast. The books included in the New Testament were written decades after Jesus. No one took notes at the time. It was rather arbitrary what books were included and what wasn't. Some Christ followers wrote the Gospels of Judas, Thomas, Mary etc.

    Broadly speaking the later 2 are derivative of the first.

    Then we have others derivative of Christianity e.g. the Mormons, Jehovah s witnesses, Christian Scientists etc.

    What all have in common is the old testament, all at least most the books are consistent in various bibles, not all. A bronze/iron age collection of tribal myths and stories and bronze/iron age religious rules such as instructions to kill unruly children, homosexuals, adulterers and endorsement of slavery. All with no compelling evidence of any of the supernatural claims.

    They share with many other religions a reliance on ancient revelation and scriptures. Because the important bits are unverifiable, because there is no reliable authority to interpret it, this is pretty varied and subjective. In the end they all rely on faith without proper evidence. I note belief in any of these usually depends on when and where you were born. It's mostly luck what you are indoctrinated in and surrounded by.

    The old testament has internal contradictions and even more with the new testament and Koran. Add to this human interpretation and cultural dynamics and you end up with the mess we have today.

    So they all share the characteristics of being a cultural belief system and all mostly likely all wrong in regards to key assertions
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      Aug 18 2012: - But, without religion, many questions will remain unanswered, right? Some facts of life are impossible to verify by scientific methods.
      - Also, the rules of religion, as far as I believe (probably you'd prefer scientific evidence for this) keep the balance of world and are consistent with the rules that govern the world. I could provide some logical evidence, but it will move us away from the topic of this discussion.

      "Add to this human interpretation and cultural dynamics and you end up with the mess we have today."
      I totally agree.

      I don't agree with some of the points you mentioned, although they're well-made, but I wouldn't argue about them because I know you have good reasons. Thus, everyone is free to agree or disagree according to their beliefs.
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        Aug 18 2012: Amr,

        Religion doesn't answer any questions with the truth. It just pretends to have answers. It just tries to plug a gap in our ignorance. Who is to which of the thousands is true. All but one must be lies and most likely they are all wrong.

        I am both baffled and amazed that people of faith believe they have the one truth in the face of the odds.

        If we don't know, we don't know. To say this or that god did it is not actually explaining anything in reality. I could say pink unicorns or super aliens made the earth and humans. I have just as much evidence as you have to believe your idea of god did it.

        What we know is there have been thousands if not millions of gods and magical beliefs that are all different. We know your religion most likely depends on when and where you grew up. They are based on faith and social indoctrination.

        I support you looking for some common ground between people of different faiths. Why not look to our common humanity? We bleed. We live. We die. WE hope. We fear. We feel pain and loss. We love our children.

        That should be enough and it is not based on myth and ignorance and wishful thinking.
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          Aug 18 2012: I don't agree.
          "We bleed. We live. We die. WE hope. We fear. We feel pain and loss. We love our children."
          Animals do all that too. What makes us any different?

          - There is a purpose for our living. We can only know it by recognizing that we were "given" life and that our "life" will be taken away.

          - We own absolutely nothing in life and our death is the best evidence of this when everything we thought we owned is left behind. It's very hard not to see and to recognize that God has blessed us with all we have and that everything will be returned.

          - No human can claim he can give life or take it away. No human can claim he has anything to do with the rules that govern the world. Yet, why are we still that arrogant that we still deny that our whole existence and the whole marvelous universe have been created and kept balanced by the Creator?

          If you think how the billions of humans and other creatures find food and the resources they need to survive and how the universe stayed balanced without collapsing for a long time, so long that it would be very hard or even impossible for us to measure, you'll be overwhelmed by what you're trying to deny.
          Ask yourself and think for a second: "What if I were wrong?"
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        Aug 19 2012: We are mammalian animals. Just with slightly better brains than our nearest biological relatives. It's king of a paradox - We have the most advanced intelligence we know of. Yet we have animal bodies and instincts that are partially moderated by our ability to reason.

        When a human mother breast feeds her child, how is that different to a chimpanzee. Look at our life cycle. Chimps and humans have similar sexual equipment. They have sex, fertilise an egg, it grows into baby that is born and is more useless and stupid than many other primates, because the brain has more growth to go outside the womb.

        I know many religious folk think we are more than that. They just have no compelling evidence to indicate this. Do you have any?

        If you can prove we were given life by some creator you may have a point. Without proof it is just your opinion. I don't know if there is a god. I suggest you don't either. You just have faith there is one and that it is probably the one your parents taught you.

        While there is probably no divine meaning, we can find meaning ourselves without make believe gods invented in our more ignorant past or the new age beliefs.

        Humans make the rules. They wrote the different religious books with all the different rules. We can make better rules now without superstition. We can say outright slavery is illegal. That sex discrimination is illegal.

        I know I don't know if any of the thousands of gods are real. There seems to be no evidence that they exist. It seems religion is a man made cultural construct. That relgious experience is just psychological phenomena like meditation or dreaming or trance or emotions etc.

        If there are gods they have not revealed themselves in a way we can confidently identify.

        I'm doing the best I can with the information we have. I'm not being illogical or ignoring what we know to be true about the universe. I'm not accepting one of the old or new books as true with no good reason.
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        Aug 19 2012: I suggest of you applied the same skepticism you have about Christians or Jew or Budddhists or Hindus to your own beliefs you might understand where I am coming from.

        Some Christians belief the bible is perfect, infallible because they assume there is god that is all knowing and all knowing so he could make it happen.

        They belief Jesus resurrected and did miracles and that he is god. Because it is written in an oldf book they are taught to believe. Just like you believe the Koran is the perfect word of god. There is no proof it is. There is little point getting into a debate about the Koran. If you read it the way you read the New Testament you might understand. Just like we have no way of proving any of the supernatural claims in the old and new testament. There is no evidence that Moses or Abraham or Adam existed or that the red sea parted, or that a donkey talked or that Yahweh helped Judah take possession of the hill country, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron.

        There are thousands of people alive today that believe living gurus are performing miracles in India. You can go and speak to them. Surely that is more reliable than claims people saw miracles 1200 or 2000 or 2600 years ago.

        The old testament says people who work of the Sabbath, who commit adultery, and disrespectful children should be killed. In Islam the punishment for apostasy is death. FRom what I have read of the bible and Koran it is just iron age and medieval writings, and it looks that way.
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          Aug 19 2012: By the way, I admire and respect the fact that you're willing to discuss religion openly.
          Yes, we cannot see any of the prophets' miracles today. There are no prophets around and there won't be any new prophets (until the end is near.. Whether it may be next year, next millennium, million years later. no human knows or can claim to know when it is going to be.)

          Yes, I have no evidence.
          Notice that people in the past were challenged at what they were doing best. The challenge is different now.
          I'm trying to learn as much as I can. Here, I'm advocating that media shouldn't condemn religion for people's mistakes and that valid and true information about religion would be accessible to everyone and that the search for evidence and for the truth should not stop. I invite people to think and to make their choice. I invite people to know the similarities between religions (Abrahamic religions in particular).
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        Aug 20 2012: Thanks Amr.

        I agree that to group all forms of religious belief and religiously inspired behaviour with the very worse of religiously inspired or reinforced hatred and violence is unfair.

        The little old Buddhist lady who goes to the temple around the corner from my place is not harming anyone even if her beliefs are probably based on superstitious magical traditions that she learnt growing up in Thailand.

        I also agree that political and economic factors are also at play, not just religion. And religion is just one of many forms of human behaviour that have issues.

        But also, we should accept that some forms of religious belief and expression are a problem.
        When an Muslim soldier in fort hood starts shooting others yelling god is great,
        When women are banned from leaving their homes, or driving, or showing their face,
        When the law says blasphemy is a crime, especially when punishable by death,
        When people think they have a divine right to a bit of land,
        When homosexuals are persecuted or killed,
        When a child has their genitals mutilated,
        When someone believes they are justified to do something bad because their version of god said so, then religion is part of the problem.

        We have a saying, call a spade a spade. Religion is not the fount of all evil but it is a factor in many bad things, and we should not shy away from speaking about that.

        Russia has it's own issues right now with blasphemy laws.
        The conflict in the Balkans included Christian death squads.
        The Catholic church has supported Fascist regimes and anti-Semitism for centuries and continues to hide child molesters from the law.

        But the moment, the Muslim world has the most religious issues from my perspective. There is a clash of civilisations going in within the Muslim world between reason and enlightenment and backward medieval value systems. Between democracy, equal rights, freedom of religion and theocracy.

        Sad to trade in dictators for theocracies
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          Aug 22 2012: Hi Obey No1kinobe,
          The Muslim world is going through hard times. There is no theocracy in Islam. We just agreed that sharia is our law. Whoever rules is irrelevant as long as sharia is applied.

          I wanted to share some thoughts with you about what the West doesn't understand about the Arab world:
          Islam is what unites the Arab world. This is the code all Muslims agreed on. We believe in Islam.
          Of course, the Arab world needs some serious changes, but the sharia code and our values won't change. Our means for ensuring justice and equality and our means of living may change.
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    Aug 16 2012: Amr, in my experience people often will provide different descriptions of the beliefs and history of various religions depending on their own religious beliefs. There may be a bit of unintentional bias or inaccuracy.
    I believe that the following link is a respected one about Biblical Archaeology: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/
    In the United States, the foremost institution focused on scholarly study in this area, I believe, is the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. I do not know the best sources elsewhere in the world.
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      Aug 18 2012: Yes, the "unintentional bias" is a very normal human characteristic, I think. Thanks for the information you shared.
      It would be somewhat easier for me if a scholar from this part (Arabs) would check the validity of the information and perhaps publish it in Arabic. It would be harder for me otherwise to judge the information or to verify it.
      Also, I hope, as I mentioned in a previous comment, that they have scholars from other religions in their team.
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        Aug 18 2012: According to my daughter, who has an advanced degree in archaeology from the Oriental Institute (excavated in Syria and Turkey in the last several years), your best resources in terms of scholars writing in Arabic will be in Jordan, because you need specialists in the Levant. She will check in with an archaeologist she knows in Jordan about any scholar there who is publishing in Arabic and I will pass that resource along. For whatever reason, most of the scholarship in this area is not in Arabic.
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          Aug 18 2012: Thanks. This would be really helpful.
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          Aug 28 2012: It is actually sad that there are not many Arabic books about archaeological evidence related to religion. I have a lot of books that discuss every "word" in religion in detail, but very few books would mention archaeological evidence or may depend on scientific analysis and research at all. I'm not sure I can help much with this. All I'd be doing is searching for information for my own interest and probably it will take some serious effort.
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      Aug 28 2012: Hi Fritzie,
      I've checked the link of Biblical Archaeology. There seems to be a lot of information in it. If I started working later on relating locations and archaelogical evidence to Holy Books (in my case, probably Qur'an), I'll definitely visit this link a lot. I'm not sure when I'd start working on something this big.
      Thanks a lot!

      (PS I admit I hesitated for some time before opening the link)
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        Aug 28 2012: I know, Amr. Big research projects can be hard to fit into our lives around the other things we do. But research done thoughtfully can be extremely gratifying.

        I cannot remember where you live, but look at any masterpiece of architecture and ornament in your city. It represents a substantial investment of time and attention to get it right.

        We just need to be patient with ourselves that a solid job requires an investment over time.
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    Aug 16 2012: Amr,
    Christ is the seventh energy chakra of Eastern philosophy. Much of what is written in the OT and NT is derived from Eastern philosophy, but it is not explained anywhere in either testament. That, you have to find on your own.
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      Aug 16 2012: Thanks, I'll try to read about it. It is possible that prophets before the OT, that we do not know about, have been sent to other nations, but hopefully it would not contradict with the beliefs of the Abrahamic religions.
      Perhaps there have been marks for Christ's arrival. People at that time needed very materialistic evidence to believe prophets. (and even then very few believed). I'm somewhat curious about the era when humans used to live over a thousand years, as in Noah's time, pbuh. I don't think there is a significant chance that much evidence would remain from that period, but it would be interesting, even if it is not related to the prophets just the era.

      (We do believe in the mircales that Christ did and that his birth was special as a word of God, "be", just like Adam. We just do not agree on the nature of Christ. Muslims believe he was a "human" prophet that, for example, ate food just like all people need food to survive. We also believe he will come once again before Doomsday.)
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          Aug 18 2012: I think it is important what these organizations are trying to achieve (as long as they keep the truth as their goal). I just hope the organizations would have scholars from different religions as a part of their team, so that the results would have more credibility and the results would be easier then to publish accurately in different languages. I think this is a sort of knowledge that belongs to all humans.
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    Aug 16 2012: What a different world we would have if the three were basically the same. The differences are so glaring that they have fomented turmoil, hatred, and violence throughout human history. The central figures of history are Abraham's wives, not Abraham himself. Through Sarah came Isaac, Jacob, the Jews, and Jesus Christ. Through Hagar came Ishmael, Mohammed, and the Arabs. When tracking God's promise in the Holy BIble the pivotal importance of these two women becomes evident. I cannot speak for the Koran. Each of the three beliefs is mutually exclusive and doctrinally distinct.
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      Aug 16 2012: Actually, I think most of the points you mentioned in your comment, as far as I know, are exactly what Muslims know and believe from Quraan. Yes, I agree the differences have caused endless turmoil and distress. However, I think the similarities are one of the keys to end the struggle or at least for humans to act, sometimes, as "humans".

      I think the three religions agree that there is one God, the Creator. I think they also agree that all prophets should be believed in (though they didn't agree on "all the prophets"). I think they agree about most of the moral aspects, if not all, that we should be thankful to the Creator, and that a certain proportion of money should be given to the poor and those in need. They also agree that certain sites are Holy (which is one of the main reasons of conflict).
      - Perhaps also "fasting", but I'm not aware if Jews do fast? (I know Christians do)

      Personally, it frustrates me to see a lot of people around the world hating Islam without even trying to know what they hate. I understand all people think differently around the globe and I understand this may remain long after I die and perhaps as long as humans exist, but I think an honest dialogue is sometimes better than continuing to follow the path of Cain and Abel. People don't need to be hurling stones at each other all the time, we can definitely have some civilized conversations, at least while resting.

      Finally, I think from your comment that you have a deep understanding and that you are not worried about discussing this topic openly. In Quran, it is said that Abraham tried to know his God. He didn't want to follow the path of his father and his people, and what a difficult thing it is that he was trying to do. He thought of the stars, then the moon and finally the sun as being god possibly, but when they were gone he realized they cannot be the Creator. Then, he asked God for guidance.
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        Aug 16 2012: As warm and fuzzy as it feels to contemplate ecumenical bliss among Muslims, Jews, and Christians, it is not consistent with reality. As a devout Muslim you cannot possibly elevate Jesus Christ to a position of shared substance with Allah. As a Christian I cannot possibly agree that Jesus Christ is not God. Devout Jews cannot possibly accept Mohammed as one of their prophets, nor can they believe Jesus Christ is the Redeemer promised to them in the Old Testament. When we add the unceasing animal savagery unleashed upon the world by Islamic Fudamentalist terrorists the division becomes deeper and wider. As one human to another we can dialog with courtesy and respect, friendship even. But we have different beliefs which are not negotiable to us. On a secular level we are one. On a spiritual level we cannot be one if we know and love our Gods. Grace and peace to you sir, in abundance. --Edward
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          Aug 17 2012: Thank you for your reply.
          I quite understand the points you've mentioned, but I cannot say I agree. Yes, perhaps it's unrealistic to think the three religions would come to any sort of agreement, but this is not a reason to stop trying.

          Linking terrorism to Islam is a very annoying device used by the media. I don't understand why you used it.
          If Christianity is compared to Islam when it comes to the "number of civilians killed by a religion", it's probably Christianity that has the bloodiest hands in human history.

          - What about the Afghani and Iraqi civilians, including women and children, killed by the Christian "terrorist" Americans and NATO forces?
          - What about the thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, killed by the Jewish "terrorists"?
          - Why is it surprising that many Afghanis are fighing back the foreigner troops that are spilling the blood of their people on their own land?

          But, it's not religion that is to blame. It's people.
          I understand that many people from all sides, including extremist Atheists, prefer violent solutions, but my worries regarding the media's use of this device is that it, intentionally, blinds people from some paths to the truth. It is not right to blame or demonize a religion or to forbid people from seeking knowledge.
          Grace and peace to you too, and thanks again
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          Aug 18 2012: Amr,

          There are Muslim terrorists or freedom fighters. From a US perspective they have been attacked.

          I understand Christian powers have done at least as much harm. Maybe more as they have been the most powerful. Giving half of palestine to the Jews to try and make up for the Holocaust. Colonialism. The Europeans immigrants in the US, Australia and Australia have stolen land and virtually wiped out the indigenous peoples or severely disadvantaged them. Atlantic slavery was all Christian nations. The US had a civil war over the issue.

          The US is not perfect but I rather them than the Communists winning the cold war or the Fascists winning WW2.

          I'm not saying the predominantly Christian nations in the past have been any worse or better than any other. The powerful have prevailed.

          I would also point out that in the Muslim world half the problem is their fellow muslim dictator or military juntas or theocracies.

          Sorry, but religion is part of the terrorist situation. It helps inspire people to do bad things. Don't underestimate the power that belief in doing something for god can invoke for good and evil. It might not be your interpretation of Islam or Jihad but it still inspires or helps others justify their acts.

          People are people. I might think as you do and vice versa if you were born into my family and I yours.
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          Aug 19 2012: I agree with much of what Edward says and would add that looking for some peaceful understanding based on some common thread of religious evolution may be hopeless.

          I suggest looking to our common humanity, and respect for each other to live and let live.

          I think many Muslims have legitimate grievances against Western Powers and perhaps their own political and religious leaders as well as competing racial and denominational groups.

          That does not excuse flying passenger Jets into buildings. Similarly the US has progressed its national interest and supported dictators and apartheid states and collateral murders and invaded countries on false pretenses etc.
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        Aug 17 2012: Mr. Salah. I do not wish to dialog about political ideologies, international politics, or current events. My interest is limited to your suggestion that Jews, Moslems and Christians are "basically the same". They are not the same. Each is vastly different from the other. Those differences are at the base of the ongoing global conflicts and hatred you mention. My point is proven by your comments. Jesus Christ declared the way to freedom. He said it is the Truth that makes us free. What is true, Mr. Salah? Ask a devout Jew you get one answer. Ask a Christian or a Moslem you get different answers. They cannot all be right. Only by being born again can a person be set free from the bondage of blurred vision and faulty reasoning. Truth will prevail, sir. Lies will decieve. Seek Truth. Farewell.--Edward
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          Aug 17 2012: I wanted to apologize for my previous comment. I didn't have a chance to change it in the past few hours and I was a little upset when I made it.
          I see the USA, with all its technological superiority, as if it gives itself the right to kill people and to launch wars anywhere in the world, but then it seems to deny others the right to be angry or to fight back. Please don't get me wrong. A big share of the blame is directed to Al-Quaeda. However, the USA and NATO's killing of civilians, even as collateral damage (and sometimes for revenge not justice) is just as "evil" as Al-Quaeda, if not worse.

          I agree with many of the points you mentioned. I admire your honesty and your frankness when you talked about the conflict. The information you mentioned about the parts of the conflict is true. Also, from the realistic side, you are correct. Also, I agree with the importance of seeking the truth. Life is too valuable to spend it in lies. It's the quest of all humans.
          I totally respect your opinion. Thanks for sharing it.
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          Aug 19 2012: I would say they are all human.
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          Aug 20 2012: You have a valid point Amr about all the terrible thing the US is doing or has done to other peoples. Just ask the NAtive Americans. Or the Mexicans when they stole Texas. Or the descednents of slaves.

          Maybe not the slave Descendents as the Bible and Qurán at best regulate slavery not Outlaw it. The US South had valid biblical arguments to fight for slavery. Lincoln had a superior moral argument.

          AS far as a superpower goes the US is probably more benign than many. They have this pesky god figure that tells them to love their neighbour. They like to feel like they are a force for good. So they are somewhat morally constrained. Not like Stalin, or REligious Fundamentalists.
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        Aug 17 2012: I know how easy it is, Mr. Salah to bypass the mind and let the emotions rule, I do it far too often myself. I accept your apology and commend you for it. I am continuing to watch your fine question. I do hope you will post a Closing Statement summarizing the results. You have managed to do something few before you have, namely avoiding the descent into vituperation, hatred and the wanton spewing of disparaging epithets. Travelers on the road to Truth expect it to be narrow, and sometimes precipitous, but it should not be littered with hatred, venom, and blind prejudice. Strive for progress Pilgrim!--Edward
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    Sep 14 2012: These three religions are based on the same old covenant stories. They are found in the work known as the Old Testament or the Torah (Muslims only view the very first portion of this to be the truth, the Qur'an has an alternate ending). This is the work that establishes Yahweh's (the Abrahamic god of Christians, Jews and Muslims) first covenant. It follows the Suzerain and Vassal treaty but only holds Yahweh accountable. This is the part that ties all three together, however they differ in this:

    In the Islamic faith they believe that their god, Allah in arabic, is dependant on the Muslim people. Allah needs his people and his people need him. Their doctrines also differ but you can learn more on a simple wikipedia page.

    In Judaism, Yahweh stands alone. Yahweh is creator of all and is separate from man. Yahweh created man out of his own grace, he is not reliant on his people, but they are reliant on him.

    In Christianity, a trinity is formed from Yahweh. Yahweh becomes three parts in order to atone for the first covenant (somebody pure must die to atone for the sin): the father (Yahweh), the son (Jesus, or more accurately Yeshua) and the holy spirit or ghost. These three god heads illustrate a different theological dynamic in that God is divine (Yahweh), God is with us (Holy Spirit) and God is our saviour (Jesus).

    Once again, more can be found out about the technical differences on wikipedia or another source, but theistically, this is a simplified version.
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      Sep 14 2012: Hi Jake,
      Welcome to the discussion and thanks for your comment.
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      Sep 14 2012: "In the Islamic faith they believe that their god, Allah in arabic, is dependant on the Muslim people. Allah needs his people and his people need him."
      !!! You're saying something seriously wrong...
      God created life and death. God created the universe. How did it come to your imagination that the Creator needs people?

      Don't you know that we existed only because God created us?
      Don't you know that the moment we die we take nothing of all that we thought we owned? We owned nothing, not even our lives. We thank God for being able to pray and for being able to thank.
      All earthly life (all people and the whole universe) is not worth even a wing of a mosquito to God.
      I testify that what you said is wrong.
      If you don't believe in God, then how did you become alive? Who brought you to life? Where were you before you were born and where will you go after you die?
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        Sep 15 2012: You say God, but to who do you refer? Yahweh, Allah, or the Father of the Trinity? In what do you believe? And subsequently, what is your bias? I have been taught on the subject of Abrahamic religion since I entered middle school and I know all the stories well, so let me reiterate what I said to prevent further misinterpretation.

        What I was saying is that Allah is dependant on his people. In the Islamic stories, it says that Allah created life but it also sets up the theistic paradigm in such a way that Allah could not exist without his people. Allah is only one half of the equation, he is dependant.
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          Sep 15 2012: There is One God even if people think differently or say different names.
          There is One Creator. He is Allah, the One and Only. He is the Eternal, Absolute. He begetteth not, nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him.

          "... that Allah could not exist without his people."
          This is not right. Please let me correct it.
          I don't know how or where you got this concept from. It is not Islamic. If it is in a curriculum, then this curriculum needs to be corrected. If you read it in a book, then the book needs to be corrected.

          The whole world did not exist until God made it exist, and the whole world will no longer exist if it is ordered to not exist.
          Why do you think all people die if God needs people to exist?
          It is people and all creatures that are "dependant". Our existence is by the command and Mercy of God. Any who is (so) grateful does so to the profit of his own soul: but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free of all wants, Worthy of all praise.
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    Sep 13 2012: O.K. If you want some ideas about a song to sing today and you have tried Pokarekare Ana and want a bit more energy to it, how about the song by The Archies Sugar. Sugar lyrics and tune. Yes it is copyright but have a listen anyway, really lovely words, a bit of gentle clapping, bit of movement. Honey da da da da da da ahh sugar, sugar da da da da da da ........ Can't force people to sing but can only ask people to join in.
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    Sep 12 2012: They claim the same ancestor, Abraham. Theology of the 3 religions is 360 degrees out of phase.
    • Sep 13 2012: 360 degrees would mean that they are back in-phase.
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      Sep 13 2012: Welcome to the discussion, Helen, and thank you for your comment.
      Actually, there is a lot to consider.
      It's obvious that all humans, families, tribes, nations (and now the billions of people populating earth) branched from one male and one female.

      Religion played an essential, and a significant, part in all the ancient civilizations (as far as I know). How did all the civilizations reach a similar concept (to some degree) about religion even though some civilizations were isolated from others by natural barriers?

      It's not only the same ancestor, Abraham, pbuh, that the Abrahamic religions have in common. Check the location where the Abrahamic religions originated. They seem to have all originated from the center of the land (if all the continents had been a single continent one day). Is there a scientific explanation why Saudi Arabia and the countries next to it have much of the world's reserve of oil?
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        Sep 13 2012: It is not obvious that we came from one male and female.

        All the evidence we have points to species evolving in population groups.

        It may be our ancestors might have been a small group at one time.

        Also, certain individuals who had many offspring might have a surprisingly high % of human descendants e.g. Ghengis Khan.

        We don't know if Abraham in the Torah was a real person or mythical.

        You are relying on Faith and in some cases denying science and a lack of evidence.

        Religion played an important role. I'm not sure if it was essential. It is not essential today.

        Wow. Do you really believe there is a connection between oil and god's Muslim revelation?

        Does it say in the Qu'ran that god made his revelations on lakes of black gold etc.

        I guess the Australians could say the same about having most the world's Uranium, Iron Ore and Coal. Why do some regions have more of a particular resource than others. Luck.

        I could say god hates Saudi Arabia, obviously because it has such low rainfall.

        I could say god must love the US as they are the richest most powerful nation. 100 years ago I could say god loves England as they were the richest and most powerful. God loves Japan the most as they have the longest lifespans. Can you see the logic fail arbitrarily attributing a cause to an outcome.

        Sorry Amr, but that claim is a logic fail. Think about it. Serious cognitive bias. This is typical of intuitive religious thinking.
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          Sep 14 2012: Welcome back to the discussion, Obey No1kinobe. I was worried I may have said something that made you upset.

          "It is not obvious that we came from one male and female."
          Ok. Do you have an alternative theory that you may suggest?
          All humans seem to be of the same species, as far as I know. If a theory suggests that humans populated the earth by other means (like evolution etc), there should have been many different kinds and versions of humans, which is not true. I don't see humans with wings anywhere. :) There are only "human" humans.

          "It may be our ancestors might have been a small group at one time."
          And how did they preserve the unique features of the species? Survival of the fittest? Even though humans are very good at using tools, they don't exactly have the toughest bodies or the best endurance.

          "You are relying on Faith and in some cases denying science and a lack of evidence."
          True. I've been living for a long time in a world that separates religion from science. Now, I'm trying my best to merge science and religion. I'm only taking my first steps and I admit my ignorance.

          "Wow. Do you really believe there is a connection between oil and god's Muslim revelation?"
          That's not the point I wanted to make. Could the oil be an evidence that a particular land is older or contained older forms of life or more living organisms than other lands?
          I understand you have reasons to misjudge my intentions. I respect your opinion.
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          Sep 14 2012: Btw, I've replied to your comment below about the attack on the American embassy. I hope you've noticed.
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    Sep 12 2012: This conversation will resolve nothing.

    I've had my say and I will leave it as it is. In my opinion, Islam, like all other religions, will be lumped in with other myths, that have distracted man from his true path of reason, logic, ethics, and social harmony.

    Those who truly control the world are not interested in myths. They are interested in progress. Religion has firmly attached itself to the past and will remain in the past as time propels us towards a greater destiny.

    If God were to come to this planet and take charge of the activities of people, that would be evidence of God. Everything else we know of religion is nothing but words. Words can have different meanings to different people and evolve to mean different things to future generations. They are not necessarily of themselves a path towards social harmony. Words convey a message. After the message is received the words can be cast aside. To keep these words and attach the notion that the words are worth more than the message is akin to giving words the power of magic.

    My final comment on Religion and their bibles is "...from dust they came and to dust they shall return." Time erodes all things including the, so called, words of God. Those that believe in Bibles, will dwell in the same dust.
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      Sep 13 2012: Thank you, John, for your contribution to the discussion.
      I believe any thing we do with good intentions, no matter how small or insignificant it is, helps humanity become better. We are responsible only for our deeds. Life is short and we try to make our best with what we have.

      "...from dust they came and to dust they shall return."
      Doesn't this mean that our choices and deeds during the short period we live is what makes one person different from another?
      Don't many different kinds of plants and trees (with different colors, shapes and fruits) depend on the same land and the same water?

      "Set forth to them the similitude of the life of this world: It is like the rain which we send down from the skies: the earth's vegetation absorbs it, but soon it becomes dry stubble, which the winds do scatter: it is (only) Allah who prevails over all things." 18.45

      "That which is on earth we have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them - as to which of them are best in conduct. Verily what is on earth we shall make but as dust and dry soil (without growth or herbage)." 18.7,8
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        Sep 13 2012: Yes Amr Salah. In any religion you quote and in the thoughts of the nonreligious; life is a Journey to Death. From dust it came and to dust it returns.

        We are what we do, not what we proclaim to do, not what we intend to do, or dream of doing.

        When we can see the vision of those things which draw us together as human beings and make them a part of our philosophy of life; we will mature. When we can see those things which push us apart and throw them into the desert of stubble; we will mature.

        But right now we are children squabbling for our fair share of the world and the toys we play with are the lives of others. We need to grow up.

        Religion has had it's time in the minds of men and nothing has come of it. It is time to move on to other things and try other methods that may lead us to living together in harmony.
  • Aug 28 2012: "...over 1600 years means that people needed that many prophets. This means that people did make changes and alterations..."

    Really? You really believe in such a coordinated manipulation? Any sources?
    Forgive me, but it sounds like you are making a number of unfounded assumptions to support the Koran, as opposed to examining your stated thread question "aren't C/J/I basically all the same?"

    My question to you would be to ask if you have actually read the Jewish or Christian Bibles, and secondly, how would YOU compare it to the Koran.
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        Aug 28 2012: The way you put it Amr it all looks simple.

        The similarities you quote are all based upon stories that circulated among the tribes in the Middle East even before one of those books that you name were written.
        The origin was much older and are to be found by the Sumerians that invented writing over a thousand years before the Jewish people emerged. Because of that writing they were that widespread.
        Mohammed would have heard variations on those stories all over the place.
        Christianity has combined those old stories as the Old Testament with the gospels that were based on Greek philosophy in the New Testament. Also from this new thinking, known as gnosis many versions circulated which Mohammed could have heard to make his own version.

        Fact is that in all traditions you find constant separations because power was based on believe and many of the powerful used their own interpretation of truth to rule the people.

        So it is a bit complicated and to fill in the details one needs to write many books but Mohammed took his interpretation to Medina. Here that view was adopted by the warlord of the place to expand his rule and power, just like Constantine the Great had done by adopting Christianity.

        Religion and politics always went hand in hand until it was deliberately separated. But even within a democracy religious groups are trying to manipulate state affairs.

        The world would be a better place if those so called monotheistic religions would vanish. Only then Allah would have room to reveal itself.
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          Aug 28 2012: Hi Frans,
          Thanks for your comment.
          Apparently I deleted my comment at the time you posted yours and I didn't see your comment. It was not intentional, I hope you'd accept my apology.
          The deleted comment was a quickly-made list of similarities between the beliefs of the Abrahamic religions.

          "Mohammed would have heard variations on those stories all over the place."
          This point is arguable. I'd like to discuss it separately in detail.

          1. "That one man who received the revelation was illiterate. He spoke only Arabic. He lived all his life in the desert among tribes." (I copied and pasted this part)

          2. Bible and Torah were in different languages. Not only would have Mohammed, pbuh, needed to master the other languages, but he would also need to possess a huge library of many of the scripts and religious books. Of course that was impossible at that time.

          3. The form of writing of Qur'an is different from all forms of writings of that time and even of the future. Qur'an challenged the masters of this language, Arabic, to come with a similar or better sura, but they failed. Let me copy a translation of some ayas here:

          - "Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;
          Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;
          He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
          And there is none like unto Him." 112.1-4

          ===== Now, does this look to you like it came from Bible or Torah?

          - "A. L. M.;
          The Roman Empire has been defeated-
          In a land close by; but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious-
          Within a few years. With Allah is the Decision, in the past and in the Future: on that Day shall the Believers rejoice-
          With the help of Allah. He helps whom He will, and He is exalted in might, most merciful.
          (It is) the promise of Allah. Never does Allah depart from His promise: but most men understand not.
          They know but the outer (things) in the life of this world: but of the End of things they are heedless." 30.1-7
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          Aug 28 2012: "But warn them of the Day of Distress, when the matter will be determined: for (behold,) they are negligent and they do not believe!
          It is We Who will inherit the earth, and all beings thereon: to Us will they all be returned.
          (Also mention in the Book (the story of) Abraham: He was a man of Truth, a prophet.
          Behold, he said to his father: "O my father! why worship that which heareth not and seeth not, and can profit thee nothing?
          "O my father! to me hath come knowledge which hath not reached thee: so follow me: I will guide thee to a way that is even and straight.
          "O my father! serve not Satan: for Satan is a rebel against (Allah) Most Gracious.
          "O my father! I fear lest a Penalty afflict thee from (Allah) Most Gracious, so that thou become to Satan a friend."
          (The father) replied: "Dost thou hate my gods, O Abraham? If thou forbear not, I will indeed stone thee: Now get away from me for a good long while!"
          Abraham said: "Peace be on thee: I will pray to my Lord for thy forgiveness: for He is to me Most Gracious.
          "And I will turn away from you (all) and from those whom ye invoke besides Allah: I will call on my Lord: perhaps, by my prayer to my Lord, I shall be not unblest."
          When he had turned away from them and from those whom they worshipped besides Allah, We bestowed on him Isaac and Jacob, and each one of them We made a prophet.
          And We bestowed of Our Mercy on them, and We granted them lofty honour on the tongue of truth." 19.39-50

          I copied these translations of some ayahs of Qur'an, so you'd know what I mean when I say Qur'an is special. You may disagree, of course.

          I have many other reasons that make me believe in Mohammed, pbuh, as a prophet, but it would take time to list them.
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      Aug 28 2012: "Really? You really believe in such a coordinated manipulation?"
      The consistency between prophets is not due to "coordinated manipulation". It is because of the consistency of what the prophets said (because they said the truth). I didn't mean that "prophets" made the changes. Prophets corrected what was changed, and reminded people of the original teachings. (because prophets guide people) I was talking about changes made by people after prophets died or when no prophets were around.

      "My question to you would be to ask if you have actually read the Jewish or Christian Bibles"
      I did not read Jewish or Christian Bibles.
      Most of what I know about Torah and Bible is either through Qur'an, or through general information. I know about Judaism only and mainly through what was said in Qur'an. My question was based on a presumption that they are similar. My presumption can be disputed.

      "how would YOU compare it to 'Qur'an'."
      I don't think it is possible for "me" to do a comprehensive and accurate comparison.
      For the detailed comparison to take place, it would need a team of scholars, a wide range of books and very extensive knowledge, including knowledge about Bible, Qur'an and Torah and several languages.

      The comparison that's within "my" capacity is based on what I know from Qur'an and my general knowledge or what I can learn directly or indirectly about Bible and Torah. It would be based on my presumption that the three Abrahamic religions are consistent with each other.

      I hope this answers your questions. Sorry about my previous replies that missed your point again.
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        Aug 28 2012: Amr,

        Your argument why Mohammed couldn't learn from hearsay isn't much convincing.

        As Mohammed led the trade caravan for what would become his first wife he traveled far and wide and met merchants from all directions. They communicated with a common language.

        That you need to be literate to remember a lot of facts isn't true. It is observed that Maoris’ for instance can remember vast amounts of knowledge just from hearing. With writing we didn't develop this capacity anymore.

        Arabs have a specific way of telling and use of language and in this way he translated his knowledge.

        The way he describes Allah isn't different from the most high in any other religion. It could account for Brahma within the Indian faith as well as you leave the gender out.
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          Aug 29 2012: Hi Frans,
          "Your argument why Mohammed couldn't learn from hearsay isn't much convincing."
          I thought so. It was made in a hurry. It would take more effort than this for it to be convincing. Thanks for taking the time to read my reply.

          I'll need a day or two to make a more specific list with more reasons. I hope it's ok; I'd be glad to do it.
          Probably you know that many books have been written about this.

          Sorry that I copied somewhat lengthy translated parts, but they could be useful to present the way Qur'an was different from other writings of Arabs. It was not poetry (which Arabs mastered at that time) and it was special in its own way.
          - The part copied about the description of God shows the difference of belief from Torah and Bible.
          - The part copied about Rome mentions that Rome will be victorious after they were defeated. It did happen around that time. I'll check a history book for the specific dates and details.
          - The part copied about Abraham, pbuh, is one of the instances that mention Abraham's story in Qur'an. I copied it for comparison of style of stories.
        • Aug 30 2012: "Question: Is the Bible of nowadays exactly the same as it was when Jesus, pbuh, was present? My question is to you."

          There were many writings/letters/epistles written at the time, and I went thru the processes leading up to recognition of the final canon. The general rule was if there was any doubt to anything written, toss it out. I am quite satisfied with the reliability of the Scriptures. Koranic allegations to the contrary have been fairly superficial, and have never really passed an objective smell test.

          "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" is God's final word to man, and His return is the next event to look forward to.
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          Aug 30 2012: Hi Frans,
          I've checked some books, but this is more time-consuming than I thought.
          Thus, I'll try to answer based on my reasoning and I'll use quotes from a translation of Qur'an as evidence to support my points. I hope it's ok. Since my reasoning can be wrong, you're welcome to dispute it.

          "The origin was much older and are to be found by the Sumerians that invented writing over a thousand years before the Jewish people emerged."
          I noticed your explanation of the origin is based on a theory you have. Is the theory based on the invention of writing alone? Writing has been used by several civilizations. I think writing could be regarded a context or medium for preserving and delivering information. I hope you would say more about the theory and any evidence available.

          "Mohammed would have heard variations on those stories all over the place."
          "As Mohammed led the trade caravan for what would become his first wife he traveled far and wide and met merchants from all directions. They communicated with a common language."
          The two points seem correct. Mohammed, pbuh, could have heard variations of those stories.

          - It can be said that Qur'an is combined of belief, stories (of prophets), and sharia.
          Suras of Qur'an are completely consistent and its unity can be strongly felt from the first word to the last. For this reason it's very difficult, or perhaps impossible, to claim it had several sources or different authors.

          - If it's assumed that Mohammed, pbuh, had access to the stories through hearsay, it should be assumed that his people had the same access. However, those who rejected Qur'an of his people at that time made different claims. It's obvious that the words of Qur'an were something completely new to them. Here is a number of the claims they made:
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          Aug 30 2012: They claimed this was the word of a poet or a soothsayer.
          1- "It is not the word of a poet: little it is ye believe!" "Nor is it the word of a soothsayer: little admonition it is ye receive." "(This is) a Message sent down from the Lord of the Worlds." 69.41-43

          It was something they've never witnessed or heard before that they claimed it was some kind of magic used on them.
          2- "So they wonder that a Warner has come to them from among themselves! and the Unbelievers say, "This is a sorcerer telling lies!" 38.4

          "But when the Truth came to them, they said: "This is sorcery, and we do reject it." 43.30

          This is similar to how different people of past nations regarded prophets as mentioned in several stories:
          3- "Similarly, no messenger came to the Peoples before them, but they said (of him) in like manner, "A sorcerer, or one possessed"!" 51.52

          They denied they have ever heard this before from their ancestry.
          4- ""We never heard (the like) of this among the people of these latter days: this is nothing but a made-up tale!"" 38.7

          They claimed he made it up. Qur'an challenged them to make up 10 suras (and later on 1 sura or even 10 ayas) if they can. They failed.
          5- "Or they may say, "He forged it," Say, "Bring ye then ten suras forged, like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsoever ye can, other than Allah!- If ye speak the truth!" 11.13

          Here is a reminder that Mohammed, pbuh, was among them for a long time and he never said anything like Qur'an.
          6- "Say: "If Allah had so willed, I should not have rehearsed it to you, nor would He have made it known to you. A whole life-time before this have I tarried amongst you: will ye not then understand?"" 10.16
      • Aug 29 2012: "I did not read Jewish or Christian Bibles. Most of what I know about Torah and Bible is either through Qur'an..."

        I like your honesty!

        I have read the Koran, the Jewish writings and the Christian Bible, although I admit the Koran was quite a while ago. The OT is actually included in its entirety as part of the Christian Bible, for they use the OT as a founding basis to show continuity into the God's plan of salvation. If you read the NT, you will notice the heavy reliance on the OT, not to sway people from one faith to another, but to show that the two are part and parcel of one same plan.

        I see Revelation, the last book in the NT, as the end point of the redemption thread started in Genesis, the first book in the OT. The Koran is a sharp contrast to that continuity, and as I said before, failed to convince me of its greater authoritative and ability to wipe out the entire plan revealed in the the NT resurrection. Your reading from only the Koran's perspective will NEVER let you see beyond the Koran's depiction of Jesus as another prophet.

        Unless you intend to stay with the Koran regardless of what you find, my suggestion would be to be willing to see it from a non-Koranic view. Unfortunately, there is much misleading information out there, and my personal preference is to start by reading the actual documents without a hundred people telling me what is written/said. Your path will be determined by your true heart's intent - I offer you sincere prosperity and good wishes in your search.
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          Aug 29 2012: Hi Anil,
          Thanks for your reply and for your good wishes.

          "The Koran is a sharp contrast to that continuity"
          You mean because it didn't rely on OT and NT?
          It's mentioned several times in Qur'an that we believe in all the Books.For exmaple,
          - "Say: "We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam)." 3.84

          - Question: Is the Bible of nowadays exactly the same as it was when Jesus, pbuh, was present? My question is to you.

          It's very possible that I would read the Bible. However, the reason for reading would be to check the differences and similarities between the Bible and Qur'an, and to see what I could learn from it. As for my belief, it won't change.
          I believe in Allah and his prophet, Mohammed, pbuh. I believe in Islam with both my mind and heart. My mind shows me plenty of reasons that Islam guides humanity to what's best. My heart tells me every word I read in Qur'an is true, and that whatever I do, my God sees all, hears all and knows all.
          "Say: "Verily, my Lord hath guided me to a way that is straight,- a religion of right,- the path (trod) by Abraham the true in Faith, and he (certainly) joined not gods with Allah."
          "Say: "Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds: No partner hath He: this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who bow to His will."
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        Sep 2 2012: Amr,

        You dumped a lot of text to prove your point, little convincing though.

        About the Sumerians: this is no theory but factual.
        Stories about Adam and Eve as well as the great flood were circulating several thousand years before the Jews wrote it down in their sacred book.


        Even Abraham could have his origin among them.

        The comments on the Koran have little value.
        Common people didn't travel much and wide.

        Trade routes became longer while the collapse of the Roman Empire left a power vacuum.
        The Koran gave the tribes a new shared identity wherewith their might and self-confidence made it possible to conquer Damascus and further. The power of Byzantium was broken by the Arab successes. So nothing stood in the way to conquer Northern Africa and the Middle East.
        That is up till they met the heritage of the Western Roman Empire represented by the pope in the West and strong civilizations in the East like Indian and Chinese.

        Moses gave an identity to the Jews, Paul gave an identity to the Christians and Mohammed to the Muslims. By uniting them as one people those peoples gained power that was in turn used by politics like David, Constantine and Omar.
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          Sep 6 2012: Hi Frans,
          "Stories about Adam and Eve as well as the great flood were circulating several thousand years before the Jews wrote it down in their sacred book." - "The origin was much older and are to be found by the Sumerians"
          Why couldn't it be even before the Sumerians? Why couldn't it have originated from real events?
          What if parts of the Sumerians' written version were based on some real events, but had many exaggerations, misconceptions and lies in it?

          My previous reply showed partly how some people of that time, when Islam emerged, reacted to what Mohammed, pbuh, told them. Many of them were merchants and most people in this region, I think, were used to travelling because of the nature of the land. This does not explain how Mohammed, pbuh, was different from all of them unless there was a good reason. He wasn't the first in history to have this role.

          Prophets were humans. Some may think prophets simply happened to be wiser, or had more knowledge, somehow, than others and thus they became leaders and had more influence. I believe they were prophets and they were chosen and all this was fated to happen.

          The Bible, Qur'an and Torah are in comprehensible human languages. They are words of languages people know. Some may regard them as 'text', but I'd regard them as holy Books that are not human-made. I have my reasons for my belief. You may have reasons to think differently.

          "Trade routes became longer while the collapse of the Roman Empire left a power vacuum. The Koran gave the tribes a new shared identity wherewith their might and self-confidence made it possible to conquer Damascus and further."
          This explanation doesn't mean all this was a coincidence. Yes, it happened by means we understand. "The new shared identity" changed people, united them and changed human history. Many people, from many different times, cultures and countries, found the truth in Islam. Once they found the truth, they abandoned all the worthless lies. They changed for ever.
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      Aug 30 2012: @Anil Goel,

      Quote: "The general rule was if there was any doubt to anything written, toss it out." (writings/letters/epistles)

      Who was there to decide? This was pure politics to unite some large groups with different views on the wholy trinity and if Jesus was son of God and by this himself God or not.

      They were complete erroneous and didn't understand much of the teachings that were ascribed to a man called Jesus. If you really dug into it, problems with translation, selecting what suits oneself and faults and additions with transcript, it is a mess.

      But you may believe that it's God's word but then by the way, who is God?