‘God’ or ‘Allah’?

What can political rhetoric tell us about religion in America today?

What can we do to change the tradition of politicians either brandishing their devoutness or defensively paying lip service to religion? It disfigures our public discussions, and I think that few people are fooled by it any more.

Perhaps we could ask politicians who insist on using the word “God” in their rhetoric to alternate between “God” and “Allah” (rather like ‘he or she’ in non-sexist language) so as not to offend
Muslims among us. (After all, are not “God” and “Allah” names for the same Being? Isn’t it offensive to insist on using just one of these names to the exclusion of the other?)

That might squelch the habit — but I for one would be amused to hear some of our more sanctimonious politicians trying not to choke as they thanked Allah for all the blessings He has bestowed on the United States, or calling on Allah to guide us in all our endeavors.

Drawing MORE attention to the specific language used by the candidates might dissuade them from using the rhetoric at all. Just threatening to make a big deal about any appeals to sectarian interests in the choice of language might work wonders. Some of us should start expressing in public the offense we take when candidates pander to the devout in their self-presentation. There is nothing that politicians take more to heart than learning that they are turning off a sizable bloc of voters.

What I want to hear from a candidate is a solemn and credible vow that he or she will put the good of the relevant constituency (city, state, nation) ahead of the good of that person’s religious affiliation, if any, when executing the duties of office. John F. Kennedy did just that, in effect, and without it, he would never have been elected.

Daniel C. Dennett
Written by
  • E. Favorite

    In last week’s State of the Union Message, The President hardly said “God.’ I just checked the transcript and see two mentions, once quoting someone and once in closing (“God Bless.”) I was watching, and don’t recall that.I DO recall something that is not in the official transcript. Towards the end, he mentioned the “Author of Liberty.” Who could that be, I wondered? “God,” says Google. Clever.Maybe, instead of having politicians choke on God or Allah, they could make a practice of using euphemisms like “the Ground of Being” or “the Force” or maybe “We, the People.”

  • Jihadist

    Politicians co-op God/Allah (Arabic word for God) for reflected power and legitimacy for their actions. One can’t question God can one? So, if politicians have to choke in saying God/Allah to get what they want, they will. So, what else is new?

  • Bob

    I agree that few (except the most stupid and inattentive) are unaware of the ‘religion scam’ in U.S. politics. The emphasis on lanugage is important, which is why President Bush often speaks in “codes”; like when he holds up a bible and says, “This is my constitution!” Only a simpleton would be motivated by such an insult to his oath of office, and only the dumber would vote for him.So why is Mr. Bush president of the united states of america?The most important thing the new congress can do is eliminate the electoral college from the election process. Direct vote of the people is all we need in contemporary American elections. Mr. Bush is president because the u.s. supreme court picked him to be president in 2000. The rest of it just logically follows.Thank you.

  • Pam Meloy

    Bob, I totally agree with your post but answer me on how he managed to get re-elected in 2004? I have yet to hear a good arguement on that one. I personally believe it was another mess in Ohio that was as bad as the one in Florida. But most would think I was insane for saying that!

  • DryIce

    Professor Dennett;Furthermore, I am a little concerned that the current discourse makes the binary distinction between Allah and God. It is very telling as to where the underlying nature of this Country’s sudden concern arises from. It is obviously a composite of the Middle East and Senator Obama’s strong candidacy. Once again the binary nature of race relations in America is exposed. You are either white, or you are not white. When do you think this will end Professor? If I recall correctly, Dr. Berne stated that once the pay-off was removed from a game, it would eventually die off within a number of generations. I see no end to the binary game of race as it relates to socioeconomic class stratification in this Country. Perhaps that should come as no surprise when viewed through the prism of time and intensity of slavery here. I am of the belief that simply teaching the truth of American History would go a long way towards eradicating this resilient pathological institutionalized pathos. In short, it will take institutionalized remedy starting with the young. What are your thoughts, Sir?

  • DryIce

    btw, may the Creator provide Devine Inspiration in your work and in your life.

  • Ba’al

    Religion these days is used to carry out political smear campaigns. Just look at recent (and now completely discredited) Fox News reports on Barrack Obama. Even if the reports were true (and they turn out to be deliberate lies) so what? The perpetrators know that they are tapping into a deep vein of prejudice to attack someone they fear.Religion is a very very negative force in American politics.

  • Bob

    PAMMr. Bush was re-elected in 2004, most analysts say, because of fear generated by the domestic “war on terror,” and fear of cultural change (ie, gay marriage, etc.) which triggers an Orwellian protectective “status quo” mentality.I would add two additional reasons: first, democratic vp candidate John Edwards, when faced with vp Cheney in debate, failed to rise to the occasion. He never even mentioned Haliburton, or war profiteering; he had an opportunity to change the direction of the campaign and wilted. Second, Sen. Kerry simply didn’t engage viscerally enough to signal his strength to the “fear vote”. Recall Kerry carried every major urban center in the U.S. and lost by less than 3% of the popular vote. A war hero he permitted chickenhawks to reduce his status. Had he attacked viscerally and relentlessly, like Sen. Clinton did this weekend in Iowa, the marginal public would have responded.That’s my take anyway.


    Actually my personal name is victoria- and i am a woman-the personal name of the god is ALLAHsee the difference?i do believe that when any politican takes an oath of office- contained within it are the intent to serve the public good-so actually you have your wish mr dennet-really that is no ones decision to make for anotherjust as you would bristle if someone suggested you subordinate your reasoning process in oyur decision making-John F. Kennedy did not make a solemn vow that he would subordinate his religious views-what you are ‘in effect’ saying is that your own personal prejudices against the religious preculdes your ability to separate the relgion from the persons ability to serve the public good-the current climate in america against islam (were at war with a muslim country by the way) elicits a response of fear in many amercians right now-By equating the name of the god, ALLAH, with the word God- used by most relgious in america- and the emotional knee jerk reaction that name evokes,(evidenced by the vociferous and negative torrents that follow any mention of that name in these posts) you are artlessly trying to play on peoples fears- in order to slip in your own intolerant perspective of relgion-

  • BGone

    Mr DANIEL – good idea. And. I insist they always refer to George, the KENO god as well, equal time.JIHADIST – correct, no one can question God. And no one can TAX God either. Once we learn to separate God from God’s representatives the latter can be implemented. Only the part of the take that does NOT go to God will be taxed.I understand that going to mosque is not required of Muslims. What if all Muslims suddenly stopped? Would Ayatollah’s or Allah, (I understand Allah is actually God) suffer? Allah is everywhere is Allah, (see how I avoided gender) not? Going to mosque is a waste of time and allows the lazy Ayatollahs to avoid bringing whatever they have to offer to the faithful in Allah.

  • Mary Cunningham

    Here are the relevant excerpts from Kennedy;s speech IMO one of his more eloquent. His main appeal is to fairness. As an aside, the proportion of Catholics to the gen. population is about the same today as it was when Kennedy spoke.”I want a chief executive whose public acts are responsible to all and obligated to none — who can attend any ceremony, service or dinner his office may appropriately require him to fulfill — and whose fulfillment of his Presidential office is not limited or conditioned by any religious oath, ritual or obligation.This is the kind of America I believe in — and this is the kind of America I fought for in the South Pacific and the kind my brother died for in Europe. No one suggested then that we might have a “divided loyalty,” that we did “not believe in liberty or that we belonged to a disloyal group that threatened “the freedoms for which our forefathers died.”And in fact this is the kind of America for which our forefathers did die when they fled here to escape religious test oaths….– and when they fought at the shrine I visited today — the Alamo. For side by side with Bowie and Crockett died Fuentes and McCafferty and Bailey and Bedillio and Carey — but no one knows whether they were Catholics or not. For there was no religious test there.[asks to be judged on his record,not on anti-Cath. propaganda] these pamphlets and publications we have all seen that carefully select quotations out of context from the statements of Catholic Church leaders, usually in other countries, frequently in other centuries, and rarely relevant to any situation here — and always omitting of course, that statement of the American bishops in 1948 which strongly endorsed church-state separation.I do not consider these other quotations binding upon my public acts — why should you? [condemns relgious persecution]And I hope that you and I condemn with equal fervor those nations which deny it to Catholics. And rather than cite the misdeeds of those who differ, I would also cite the record of the Catholic Church in such nations as France and Ireland — and the independence of such statesmen as de Gaulle and Adenauer……………………………..But if the time should ever come — and I do not concede any conflict to be remotely possible — when my office would require me to either violate my conscience, or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office, and I hope any other conscientious public servant would do likewise.But I do not intend to apologize for these views to my critics of either Catholic or Protestant faith, nor do I intend to disavow either my views or my church in order to win this election. If I should lose on the real issues, I shall return to my seat in the Senate satisfied that I tried my best and was fairly judged.But if this election is decided on the basis that 40,000,000 Americans lost their chance of being President on the day they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser in the eyes of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world, in the eyes of history, and in the eyes of our own people.”jfk library has the speech in its entirety.

  • BGone

    NORRIE HOYT – God is like a caged bobcat that paces back and forth never resting.I can’t recall where I read this but God is the sum total of all the gods. It’s a mathematical process that leads us to God. The little gods control individual things like rain and volcanos. There’s a god imbedded in everything even non existence, space if you please. God is the universal way of saying “all the gods” and being sure to do what Dr Dennett suggests, equal time so to speak for all gods.The notion that science and religion have an intersection comes by way of “the sum of the gods” theory. Scientists insist that all must be mathematically correct, exact and without exception. You name it and a god does it.That has roots in the ancient theory, “dead things don’t move under their own power” a formal way of distinguishing between alive and dead. Living things have a living god while dead thing have a dead god. Thus, angels have shields because they are gods and gods can be shot, killed, turned into gods without power to move.The religious argument of eternal life has it’s roots here as well. Dead gods come back to life in a new existence, the origin of man’s spirit, our bodies are temples of the holy ghost. When we die our god dies. We stay dead but our god goes on to the afterlife. Thus the notion of eternal life is actually scientific. Will the Christian scientist please stand up, Jehovah’s wittness is stuck on a theory.

  • MC

    Last things:To Norrie Hoyt: the Christian God does have a personal name. The Christian God is a personal god. His name is Jesus. Christians add the word ‘Christ’ derived from the Greek ‘Christos’ or Lord. Hence, Jesus Christ. Or Jesus the Lord.To any other lover of demographic details:when Kennedy spoke there were 40 million Catholics out of a total of 180,000,000 Americans, or approximately 1 in 5 Americans were Catholic.Today there are 62,000,000 Roman Catholics out of a population of 300 million, again the same 1 in 5 proportion.The American Catholic Church is by far–by far!– the most important Catholic Church in the developed world. And yet they are strangely silent here.

  • Dave Brock

    If ANYONE can even prove this (pain in the arse of everyone who wants to see society evolve and finally move into the 21st century!!!) ‘Being’ even exists, then perhaps the discussion of what to call ‘It’ will have some point!!

  • BGone

    DAVE BROCH – the truth is not important. What people believe is important. That which is important is the point.Faith comes complete without proof elses it wouldn’t be faith, it would be knowledge. If one who is guided by faith in charge of 17,000 nuclear weapons doesn’t scare you, your’re brain dead.

  • Faith

    It brings the bi-lingual element into the equation, but wouldn’t it be fair to use an Indian or African name rather than Islam for they are the people of the land, and early settlers?It cerainly needs a flexible system to accommodate many differences…

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Mary Cunningham,Would you agree that only one-third of the Christian God has a personal name? Jesus does, but God and the Holy Spirit don’t.I guess you’re saying that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are joint tenants rather than tenants in common, so that each of the three parties owns a one-third undivided interest in the Godhead, including Jesus’s name.This is certainly theologically correct, I guess, but almost all people would not think that “Jesus” was the personal name of “God.”A few minutes ago on another thread I told you that I was glad you were back posting – your posts are always interesting.I was surprised to learn that you’re American. You live in England and often recount British history. And your writing sounds very British to me.Cheers! (British gone American, is it not?)

  • fran

    Snake oil fanaticism will continue as long as people tolerate it. God is whomever or whatever your imagination allows . He/she will be used as long as he/she’s mention prompts a response and a subsequent flailing of arms.The uga uga bugga’s fill the auditoriums of america because it’s proper american etiquite. It matters little that its a ghost The only thing that matters is that you are one of them in the long list of perpetual lies fueled by supernaturalism and hocus pocus.

  • victoria

    NORRIE- the jewish people do have a personal name for god- it is YAD HE VAU HE- the tetragammatron-o actually the christian and jewish god have a personal name- asking why god has a name doesnt really make sense- why do you hve a name? or me? or Krishna?But none of this has any bearing on the fact the the panelists simply wants to control how others express their religiosity- and is guilty of the same religious intolerance that John Kennedy wished an end to.Prejudice remains prejudice no matter how cleverly one tries to hide it in distracting comments- ( I guess he thought people would stupidly react to the name ALLAH instead of examining his real motives) and Mr Dennet has no more right to expect his opinion to be respected when he attempts to silence voices that are differnt than his.

  • Retired Catholic

    Alongside their bibles, Torahs and Korans, there must be reserved a place for the annals of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whose wisdom, tastiness and benevolence are legendary. Why should the “People of the Book” have all the fun?

  • Keir

    What is God? as a Pagan my view of God will be the opposite of what a Christian or Muslim sees it. I wander what God looks like to someone that feels God whispered in the ear of the writers of the bible/Koran…whom ever they might be? An old man with a long beard, holding a relly big book? or how about a handsome man wearing white robes with blond hair and blue eyes? Does an aura of love emminate from him, or jealousy and death? What is more important…thou shalt not’s or Blessed be’s?How can jesus and his father be the same being? As Jesus was waiting to be betrayed by Judas in the garden(so the book says) , he prayed to his father..to take that cup from him. He was not praying to himself. He would know the answer… So who is Jesus? AS a Pagan I “personally” see God as the Force of Creation. Male/Female, dark/light, constructive/destructive, All/None…Divine inspiration and Divine Possibility filled with the aspects of all the gods of all the people of all time.The force that creates can not be stuck away in a slot…who creates the galaxies of all the universes? Is it that petty, jealous god that says you must call him a special name? As if the Creator of Time itself cares what you call it. I call it Rhea, Gaea, Cronus,Ouranos and every God that came from the chaos before time. You make your God small and petty…careing more what you wear then what is in your heart, careing more for 2000 year old laws then what you do to harm your earth. You care more for your own feelings of comfort then to allow two men or women who love each other to be legally wed in this land of the bigot and home of the political coward.One thing about us Pagans we do not have to see God the same…mainly because we believe that God/dess shows It self to each spirit as it is needed and understood. But then that would not work for folks that do not like to think, it’s easier to be told what to do and have no personal responcibility, or to exercise that oft talked about, but little used emotion “Love”.

  • BGone

    May 7, 1945 with Germany in ruin there was still an attitude of “we can’t lose.” Brown nosers were still pandering for promotion in the vermach. Then the word came down that Germany had surrendered and everyone just got drunk. There’s a “we can’t possibly lose” attidude here now just like there then. Do we wait for the word to come down? Alcohol will be unlawful with faith in charge so don’t plan to get drunk.You have been given the tool needed to destroy that which is attempting to destroy America. The Bible is a proved hoax. It’s up to us to make sure every American that votes in 2008 has at least heard that before they enter the polls. Let’s see if Bubba is as dumb as they think he is.


    In Islam for instance (which is my personal perspective) there is no gender preference given to ALLAH- this is seminal to the belief system of islam- if you ask any muslm anywhere the gender of the god- and tried to imply it was masculine- you will be consistently greeted with some disbelief- try it! there are many attributes to ALLAH- but not limits to- for instance we have the 99 attributes (sometimes called names) actually-in the arabic language- the ending -ah- is always a feminine one- for instance- im not a muslim- but specifically a muslimah as im a female muslim- but uslim serves just as well-so theres no pettiness involved in a name- we all have names- its how we distinguish ourselves from each other- gods and goddesses have been identified by names throughout history- including pagan ones- actually the panelist was well aware that people would in particular get caught up in the name-

  • BGone

    VICTORIA – Allah has one damning limit, can’t do anything by or for self. When Allah knocks down a tall building or blows a nose without help form people then come and sign me up. Don’t feel bad. The same goes for all the other phony Gods.Devil is real. HE, (definitely male) is the demon on your nebol bridge that the 19 “faith” will intercept their victims and cast them into hell. Maybe a psychitrist can get if off for you but not likely. Christians have the same problem. Without Jesus that demon will surely eat them all gone.Understand the nebol bridge.

  • John

    Dennett is right – in order 2 b objective, politicians shouldn’t omit a vast segment of the population [of course this is impossible because to name off all the supposed gods would take too long so there needs to be one all inclusive term that is pr-approved (((hey I know! how about god!)))]- if their constituants are religious then I expect them to pander to the ppl of faith. I am totally turned off by it but I expect it – even of the ppl I actually like in public office. I just wish all these allowances in politics of religious bs weren’t necessary. May the day come soon when ppl instead of putting their $ into religion and warfare, ppl used that money to invest in life extension technology, medical research, and space exploration to further all mankind. (even the religious ppl lol)

  • fern

    Victoria wrote:Allah is Arabic for God. You might want to look at the 99 names of God along with the translation

  • Canyon Shearer

    I’ve finally figured out why American’s don’t want godless people in the Government. I can’t believe it took me this long to figure it out.Check out their stewardship record:Evolution and Atheism(which usually come as a package) are responsible for more deaths in the 20th century alone than Organized Religion Anno Domini.The Bible is correct then it says that the fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom.But why fear God? Jesus said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”That gives us an idea, what could we do that would be so warranting as destruction of our soul?The Bible says that in the case of Dr. Dennett, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”But for most of us we are subjected to, “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.”That law is written in Exodus Chapter 20, but you’ll find it easier to read on your conscience. Answer truthfully, “Have I ever told a lie?”, “Have I ever stolen anything, even music?”, “Have I used God’s name a little more brashly than I should?”, Jesus said, ‘If you look with lust, you’ve committed adultery already in your heart.’ “Have I looked with lust?”Those are only four of the Ten Commandments. Based on your answers, will you be innocent or guilty when you stand before God? If you’re like me; I’m a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. If I stood before God today, I would be guilty.Based on that guilt, God would be just to punish me, and God isn’t like us with our worthless prison system, it’s either Heaven or Hell, there is no where in between. We know this because God promises that all Liars shall have their part in the lake of fire. I know that I should go to Hell.But God loves me, and He loves you, and He offered the both of us a way to escape Hell. God came to Earth as a man, Jesus Christ, was born of a Virgin, where He lived a perfect, sinless life. Jesus was the only man ever to live that deserved Heaven instead of Hell. But He gave His life so that we could be absolved of our sins. He was tried on a false charge, beaten in the most painful way possible, and died hanging in the middle of a garbage dump on a cross. God should not have been hanging on that cross, we should have, but isn’t it amazing what God did for us? Not only so, but the grave could not hold the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, and on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead and continues to live today, reigning over all the Universe.This gift is freely given by God; He has paid your fine, you are free to go if you’ll do three things.1. Appologize for breaking God’s laws.These three steps are the easiest thing you will ever read and the hardest thing you will ever do. Find a quiet corner and confess everything you can remember to God and thank Him for saving you from so horrible a punishment.If you will not appologize to God and choose to reject Christ, know that…

  • victoria

    yes fern- it was noted above-ALLAH is arabic for the god- (small distinction, but important) that is why i referred to the 99 attributes as attributes- there seems to be some reaction the the “name” of the god- possibly a leftover from jewish superstition against saying the name of god- in either case- it is really effective in obscuring the focus of the post which is-Drawing MORE attention to the specific language used by the candidates might dissuade them from using the rhetoric at all. Just threatening to make a big deal about any appeals to sectarian interests in the choice of language might work wonders. Some of us should start expressing in public the offense we take when candidates pander to the devout in their self-presentation. There is nothing that politicians take more to heart than learning that they are turning off a sizeableWhat I want to hear from a candidate is a solemn and credible vow that he or she will put the good of the relevant constituency (city, state, nation) ahead of the good of that person’s religious affiliation, if any, when executing the duties of office. John F. Kennedy did justthat politicians refrain from religious affiliations in office.i still maintain that a personal choice be respected.

  • victoria

    PHIL excellent comment- i love the enabler to stupidity linebgone- i did not know that- sometimes i forget that people dont really have alot of exposure to islam and your comment reminded me that i have to be more patient in the way i respond to people-

  • Mary Cunningham

    NHBorn in Ireland, Norrie, not the US. But I was educated in the UK (and still live here) beginning at a public C.of E. school–mam thought it afforded a much better education than an RC school. Why are Americans surprised when foreigners know Am.history? I can assure you most Irish youngsters in my age cohort know about John Kennedy. (Most Irish youngsters still probably do.) Re: Jesus Christ. Thought of it later but “Christos” in Greek actually means Messiah, so the full term in Greek (the original language of the gospels) would be ‘Jesus Christos’, or Jesus (the Greek for Yeshua, Joshua in English)the Messiah. I would say using that term provoked a wee bit of fury amongst the Jews of antiquity–you can see why they threw the Christian Jews out of the temple.Re: three-personed God. We know so very little about the Creator but it does not seem so strange, no stranger than our being in the world in the first place. I guess one could use the analogy of a cube: it can have many sides but still be part of one whole. Or maybe a blind man trying to form an image of an elephant–we are in the dark about the Creator–who brought forth not only the world but time itself–with one exceptional & outstanding belief: we believe that the Deity can only be accessed through–for want of a better word–his son, Jesus Christ. Only through this personal God can our creation be apprehended.. Anyway, that’s it from me.

  • BC

    Interchanging God and Allah is not a good idea. Allah is widely misunderstood in the West as a “different” god from the God of the Bible. Allah is a shortened form for al-Ilah (The God, as in the one true God). It is closely related to the Hebrew words Eloh and Elohim, both words for God in the Torah. Jews and Christians who live in Arabic-speaking lands use the word Allah because Allah is simply the Arabic word for God. The Italian word Iddio, a more forceful word for God that Dio, is actually an Italian form of Allah – The God (il Dio = Iddio).If we were to accept Daniel Dennett’s suggestion, then we should simply have politicians alternate references to God with references to Dieu, Dios, Dio/Iddio, Gott, Bog, Shangdi – all of which are words for God in other languages.I have for a long time asked Muslim friends in this country to stop saying Allah when they speak English and use the proper English word God.

  • ZinDawn

    Bgone,Here is an interesting fact for you. IF you were to burn every bible or any book for that matter it would dissappear from this earth right? I would say so,but there is one book that even if you burn all the copies of it in the world the same exact copy of the original would pop back up within a week. You know what that book is? You might not think there is such a book. It’s the Quran. It’s the only book memorized from cover to cover by millions of people. With so many pages you would think that’s impossible but nope it’s preserved in the minds and hearts of millions. That’s something nobodys got.

  • Norrie Hoyt

    Mary Cunningham,Thanks for your post of yesterday morning. I don’t know where I got the idea that you were American. I must have misread something you wrote.Our children have Irish ancestry. One line of descent on my side of the family came from Cromwell’s Ulster Plantation, and one line of descent on my wife’s side came from southern Ireland (though she has Ulster ancestry too).We both have lots of Scots ancestors and the Hoyts came to America from England in 1628. None of our ancestors ever seems to have married outside of the tribes of The Islands.How/why did I ever get into all of this?! I don’t imagine it makes any difference in the grand cosmic scheme of things. Certainly not to Buddhists and not to some non-Islands Christians.Best wishes.

  • wiccan

    Jihadist-”Personal responsibility, the imam reminded and we are mere tenants of this world that belong to God that God let us live in and we should take care of the environment of the world and not destoy its balance as God created and intented.”What a wise man your imam is. Scott Cunningham, a Wiccan sage, once described bad luck as “the failure to take personal responsibility for your decisions and deeds”. The Wiccan Rede “If you harm none, do what you will” puts responsibility first, freedom second, and to my mind, that’s the way it should be.Phil-Great post. The believers who scare me the most are the ones who ask atheists what keeps them from raping, pillaging, and murdering if they don’t believe in a god. Maybe simple human decency? Compassion? “Do unto others…”? Is their religion the only thing that keeps them from hurting others?

  • Oastad

    From Exodus: 14And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

  • Anonymous

    Gee, no one has ever talked about God in American politics before George Bush, have they? Let’s not forget our history…Declaration of Independence:We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”George Washington’s Inauguration Address:Thomas Jefferson’s Inaugural Address:If you do any checking, you will find much more. The founding fathers were all religious. Although they did not want America to be a “Christian nation,” they did want it to be a free one. If a president is religious, they should be able to express that religion. If they are not, they should be able to express that as well.BTW, “Infinite Power,” “Almighty Being,” and “Nature’s God” were all terms used for the Christian God at that time. If you read the Christian literature from the 1600′s to the 1800′s, you will find those terms referring to God (not Allah).

  • Doug

    Wiccan,”Do unto others…” is found in the Christian Bible!!! It’s not just simple human decency. It is Christian decency, also known as the Golden Rule.

  • wiccan

    Doug-”Variations on the familiar “Golden Rule” are found in most world religions: Christian version: “Treat others as you would like them to treat you” (Luke 6:31, New English Bible). Hindu version: “Let not any man do unto antoher any act that he wisheth not done to himself by others, knowing it to be painful to himself” (Mahabharata, Shanti Parva, cclx.21). Confucian version: “Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you” (Analects, Book xii, #2). Buddhist version: “Hurt not others with that which pains yourself” (Udanavarga, v. 18). Jewish version: “What is hateful to yourself do not do to your fellow man. That is the whole of the Torah” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 31a). Muslim version: “No man is a true believer unless he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself” (Hadith, Muslim, imam 71-72).” Found these on the first site I googles. The concept is universal.

  • Ba’al

    YHWH, Allah, Zeus, Jupiter, Ra, Osiris, Thor, Apollo, Shiva, Moloch, Athena, Hecate,and Isis, all have one thing in common.

  • victoria

    nice post wiccan

  • victoria

    nice post wiccanbgone- no- ALLAH does not have any limits He says to a thing “BE” and it is. i dont presume to know the will of ALLAH bgone

  • phil

    Jihadist-thanks for your anecdote. your imam is certainly right on personal responsibility and taking care of this world.”its the followers who are stupid” has that ring of truth, but lets poke that one a bit. no doubt there are plenty of stupid atheists too. are stupid people inherently drawn to religion?i’d submit that religion has a tendency to act as an enabler for stupidity. it’s just so much easier to go through life never challenging your preconceptions, believing that all problems can be solved through faith alone. among religious people, the brightest and most lucid are those who’ve rejected dogma in favor of an adherence to the deep principles of their faith. that allows for a little “wiggle-room” to adapt to reality, and to act with compassion and intelligence.as a buddhist, compassion and intelligence are at the root of my faith. Its all about understanding “cause and effect” and taking responsibility for your actions… as well as the effects of your actions. you dont need to be a buddhist to do that- its called ethical behavior.don’t all the major religions place comassion at the core of everything? can’t we accept facts and data as simply true? why not quit proselytizing and just get down to the business of sensible policy?geting back to professor dennett, i agree completely. politicians should stop “brandishing credentials” and tell us how they’d shape ethical policy.

  • BGone

    JIHADIST – that at least says don’t expect much from God and not be disapointed. That’s a lot more sensible than claiming Almighty God is on one’s side like God is a tool or weapon.But then we need to address the issue of why people say Allah is happy and rejoice themselves over what is obviously an insane act, 9-11-2001. Everything just about I know about Muslims I’m learning right now. And I’m hearing two radically different stories. If it’s like you say then no one should expect anything of Allah not even a smile. I saw the reports for different Muslim countries and they clearly said we did it, hijacked the planes 9-11 “spiritually” with rare exception.At a glance I would say Muslims have a lot in common with Christians on that point. There are Christians that say the Bible forbids violence in any situation and other that say it encourages slavery and lynchings.Maybe the problem is the great variations in interpretation of scriptures that are possible. I think all Bibles should be collected up and burned is you haven’t figured that out yet. The Bible belongs with “The Protocols of International Zionism” as a book defacto banned and only studied as a hoax by responsible people. It contains no philosophy of life that can’t be gotten from Dr Phil types, Dr Ruth even. Using some issue of “Playboy” as a guide to “spiritual” life would lead to less division in America.Of course the historical record says that religion in general is the work of confidence men who claim they believe and threaten others for not accepting their beliefs. I was taught that Muhammad could only spread his faith by the sword which I notice is not the position taken by Muslims at this forum. If your are honest in what you say and I have no reason to doubt you then I can say that you are nothing like the infamous 19. I’m happy there is at least some and hopefully a majority of gentle Muslim.


    Said BGone: The notion that science and religion have an intersection comes by way of “the sum of the gods” theory. Scientists insist that all must be mathematically correct, exact and without exception. You name it and a god does it.That has roots in the ancient theory, “dead things don’t move under their own power” a formal way of distinguishing between alive and dead. Living things have a living god while dead thing have a dead god. Thus, angels have shields because they are gods and gods can be shot, killed, turned into gods without power to move.The religious argument of eternal life has its roots here as well. Dead gods come back to life in a new existence, the origin of man’s spirit, our bodies are temples of the holy ghost. When we die our god dies. We stay dead but our god goes on to the afterlife. Thus the notion of eternal life is actually scientific.This is wonderful stuff. In an earlier post on a Sam Harris page I used axiomatic set theory to “prove” that the concept of God as the sum total of all the gods (assuming any god can be represented as a nonuniversal set) is self-contradictory and therefore inadmissible (to find it, search for “member of itself” on the “God’s Enemies” page). A gods theory could be built like set theory, and gods would be little essences of arbitrary objects. Then the hubris of the Abrahamic faiths is expressed as the desire to go for broke with One Big God. And the disaster waiting to happen was predicted in pure mathematics a hundred years ago.The physics of a gods theory is a little trickier. In a “sum over histories” approach to quantum theory, we see the emergence of parallel histories, possible worlds and alternative futures between which we somehow decide. If each future has its own god as an ultimate attractor, our task is to choose the right god to chase after. Similarly, anything that changes in time does so along a world line that materializes a succession of future states held out to it by its own little god. Beyond the lifetime of any finite object there is its own little god, and the object comes to rest when it meets its god. Similarly, each of us comes to rest when we meet our god, the god that attracted us along the path of momentary states that make up our world line. Again the Abrahamic supergod overdoes it by requiring us all to come to rest in a single state. Perhaps if we all died in the same nuclear blast our gods would merge!I think I have just invented a new genre of fiction, not science fiction but gods fiction!

  • nickpol

    Dear Dan Dennett,

  • Verse Infinitum

    It’s a great achievement for Islamic leaders and scholars as well as Newsweek and the Washington post to present this imperative opportunity for inter cultural and global philosophical dialogue. What’s important is that by exchanging our ideas and comments regarding inter religious relations and world events that affect our views of each other as fellow human beings. Since the advent of humanity, We strove to make sense of the world we live in and the lives we’ve experienced. Worldwide curiosities to learn the true nature of life and our universe is an exceptionally rare virtue upon life on Earth. In other words, we’re the only known species on the planet who’ve pursued to unravel these great mysteries and developed written philosophies based upon our understanding of the world around us.