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Do Christians, Muslims and Jews worship the same God?
September 1st, 2013
03:26 AM ET

Do Christians, Muslims and Jews worship the same God?

Opinion by Jeffrey Weiss, Special to CNN
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(CNN) - Pope Francis surprised Israeli and Palestinian leaders last month when he invited them to a special prayer ceremony at the Vatican this Sunday - not least because religion has often been the source, not the salve, of the region's conflicts.

Still, Pope Francis offered his "home" - the Vatican - as the perfect place to plea for some divine assistance, and Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dutifully agreed to attend.

"The Pope has placed it in this perspective: Prayer is like a force for peace,” Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin told Vatican Radio.

"We hope that there, where human efforts have so far failed, the Lord offers to all the wisdom and fortitude to carry out a real peace plan."

But Sunday's special ceremony at the Vatican raises an interesting question: When Francis, Peres and Abbas bow their heads in prayer, will they be talking to the same God?

After all, Jews, Christians and Muslims all trace their faiths back to a fellow named Abraham, whom they all claim was chosen for special treatment by the Almighty.

Not academic

The “same God” question is one theologians have hammered at for as long as there have been enough religions for the query to make sense.

The question is hardly academic, though. In fact, a number of politicians, religious leaders and scholars have expressed hope in recent years that a convincing answer on the God question might dampen the violence committed in His name.

Yale Divinity School theologian Miroslav Volf recently edited a book titled “Do We Worship the Same God? Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Dialogue.”

In the introduction, Volf explained why the title question matters:

"To ask: ‘Do we have a common God?’ is, among other things, to worry: ‘Can we live together?’ That’s why whether or not a given community worships the same god as does another community has always been a crucial cultural and political question and not just a theological one."

On the other hand, there’s CNN Belief Blog contributor and Boston University religion professor Stephen Prothero.

His book on this subject is titled “God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run The World.”

Prothero writes:

“For more than a generation we have followed scholars and sages down the rabbit hole into a fantasy world where all gods are one … In fact this naive theological groupthink – call it Godthink – has made the world more dangerous by blinding us to the clash of religions that threaten us worldwide.”

In the world of politics, President George W. Bush asserted the unity side of the argument more than once in the years after the 9/11 attacks - often as a way to deflect accusations that America was at war with Islam.

Bush told Al Arabiya television, “I believe there is a universal God. I believe the God that the Muslim prays to is the same God that I pray to. After all, we all came from Abraham. I believe in that universality.”

Pope Francis invites Israeli, Palestinian leaders to Vatican peace talks

Pope John Paul II drew from the same rhetorical well several times.

“We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection,” he first said in a speech to Muslims in Morocco in 1985.

Looking for a more recent example? Consider the plight of Vatican envoy to Malaysia.

Shortly after he arrived there last year, Archbishop Joseph Marino said that is was fine by him that Christian translations of the Bible into Malay use the word “Allah” for “God.”

“Allah” is, of course, the Arabic word for God and is found in the Quran. The Christian translators explained that since most Malaysians are Muslim, it’s the word they’re most comfortable with and therefore the best choice for the translation.

But many Muslim authorities in Malaysia were furious. They say Christians are slipping in the familiar word as a way to convert Muslims. And conversion of Muslims is all but illegal in Malaysia.

There’s a lawsuit ongoing about the translations. Marino had to apologize for pushing into Malaysian politics.

Points of disagreement

So what do the “Abrahamic” religions disagree about?

Among other things: the purpose of humanity, the relationship of God and humanity, sin, forgiveness, salvation, the afterlife, Jesus, Muhammad, the calendar, and the religious importance of Abraham himself.

Plus the nature of God.

Any summary will leave out enormous nuance. Internal divisions within religions have fueled some of the worst examples of human violence. Consider the long and frequently bloody history of troubles between Catholics and Protestants or the growing death toll of Muslim-on-Muslim attacks.

But there are common elements about God widely accepted in each tradition.

Judaism

Start with Judaism, since it came first and established roots that carried into the other two.

Jewish tradition teaches that there is one and only one God, creator of everything, and He established physical and moral laws. As Judaism’s preeminent prayer says: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

This God walks and talks directly with His creations – for a while.

Eventually, He chooses one particular nomad (Abraham) to father a mighty nation that God sets up as an example to other nations.

This God likes the smell of burning meat and demands other extremely specific physical offerings as evidence of obedience and repentance. And He gives His chosen people a particular set of laws – but doesn’t mind discussion and even argument about those laws.

A famous rabbinic saying implies that every word in Judaism’s sacred texts can be understood in 70 correct (but related) ways. And human reasoning can even trump divine intention. (No kidding. It’s in the Talmud)

This God judges His people every year. Tradition says he’s willing to accept imperfection, as long as it comes with repentance.

He’s big on obedience, not so much on faith. He’s not nearly as attentive to the behaviors of non-Jews. (There’s a famous Jewish joke with the punch line “Would you mind choosing somebody else once in a while?”)

Tradition holds that there’s a World To Come after death where moral accounts will somehow be settled. But this God is vague on details.

Christianity

The most obvious differences in the Christian God are the traditional teachings about the Trinity and Jesus. God is three separate persons who are also one. How? Christianity says the Trinity is a “mystery” of faith.

According to Christian tradition, God begets a son who is somehow also Him but not Him to atone for Original Sin. He sacrifices that son though a brutal death and thus achieves humanity's salvation.

But the son, who also is God, rises from the dead. And that sacrifice redeems eternally all who accept and believe in it. Faith, not behavior, is the essential measure of salvation.

This God is willing to vastly expand what it means to be among His “chosen people.” He’s also willing to cancel many of the laws that had applied to that chosen group for this expanded membership.

Orthodox Jews say that God prohibits them from eating a cheeseburger; Christians say God has no problem with them wolfing down Big Macs.

Unlike the Jewish God, whose instructions are almost all about this world, the Christian God is focused more on eternal salvation: heaven and hell.

Finally, for this God, much of the Jewish scriptures (which are all God’s word) are actually about foreshadowing Jesus. Including Abraham.

Islam

The Muslim God is a bit more like the Jewish God.

There is no Trinity in Muslim tradition. Jesus was a prophet, but no more divine than other prophets.

God has never has had anything like physical attributes and has no gender. (Some Muslim commentators say that the noun “Allah” is masculine, but only in the way that all nouns in some languages include gender.)

Muslim tradition holds that God wants one thing from humans: Submission. The word “Islam” is defined as “submission to the will of God.”

For Muslims, all true prophets in Jewish and Christian traditions were actually Muslim because they knew to submit correctly to God. Differences between Muslim, Jewish and Christian interpretations of God are due to errors that crept into the other two faiths, Islam teaches.

The Muslim God, like the other two, initially demanded that Abraham sacrifice a son. But the Muslim God wanted Abraham’s son Ishmael, not Isaac, who Jewish tradition holds was offered as a the sacrifice.

The Muslim God also designated, from before the world began, a perfect man to be his final prophet: Muhammad. God’s perfect truths are found only in the Quran and in the sayings of Muhammad, the hadiths.

And the Muslim God, like the Christian God but unlike the Jewish God, will welcome believers to paradise and condemn many non-Muslims - exactly which ones is a matter of much discussion - to eternal torment.

Final answer

So do Christians Muslims, and Jews, really all worship the same God?

In two major volumes on the subject recently published by scholars from various faiths and traditions, including Volf’s, the most inclusive response from these scholars is basically: Yes, and it’s our God.

This is not a new way of answering the question.

In 1076, Pope Gregory VII wrote this to a Muslim leader: “We believe in and confess one God, admittedly, in a different way…”

But like many other religious leaders on all sides of the argument, Gregory insisted that his version of the Almighty is the one whom the others are unknowingly and incompletely worshiping.

A less exclusivist set of religions might shrug off the differences. But all three claim to have the only “True Faith.”

So do all three faiths actually worship the same deity, whether they call him God or Allah or Adonai?

God only knows.

Jeffrey Weiss is an award-winning religion reporter in Dallas.The views expressed in this column belong to Weiss. A version of this story first ran in September 2013. 

CNN's Daniel Burke contributed to this article. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • History • Islam • Judaism • Muslim • Religious violence • Torah • Vatican

soundoff (7,438 Responses)
  1. Atheist Colin

    I have never understood why a god, having created the entire human race, would be so obsessed with the Jews. There were about 200 million people alive on the planet when the biblical events supposedly transpired. Why did god not visit the Polonesians, Chinese, Bantu, Congolese, Celts, MesoAmericans, Australian Aboriginals, acnient Russians, anybody in India etc.

    Why are none of these people even mentioned in the Bible? It is clear beyond any sane doubt that the Jews made god in their image and not vice-versa.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:23 am |
    • Colin

      The creator God is God not god. The word god refers to an idol and your failure to use proper capitalization renders your entire comment ridiculous.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:25 am |
      • John Sharp

        Wow, attacking his grammar. You are really proving our point, you do realize that.

        September 1, 2013 at 7:29 am |
        • Colin

          You have no point.

          September 1, 2013 at 7:31 am |
      • Bill the Believer

        Do you even know ho w to debate, Colin? Please stop posting, you are making us Christians look stupid.

        September 1, 2013 at 7:29 am |
        • Colin

          You are as you say you are. There is no debate only Truth. God is Truth, god is an idol. Looks like you follow god bill

          September 1, 2013 at 7:32 am |
      • Neo Agnostic

        You avoided his question by insulting him instead. Typical of what I would expect of people like you.

        September 1, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • Pastor Colin

      God's plan of redemption, utilizing the nation of Israel. He picked one of the weakest most unlikely group of people to carry this out. That is how God works sometimes.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • CAT

      Cause we make the best matzo ball soup!!!

      September 1, 2013 at 7:36 am |
    • JG55

      My pets are not believers in anything. They are loving, giving, sweet natured, loyal, and smart. They have had excellent guidance from each other and from my family. It has always interested me that human animals feel they need 'God' to make them behave. It always backfires because ultimately humans always want what the other guy has and hate what the other guy believes. And they are arrogant enough to believe that only they are correct, which leads, of course, to war, killings, gang fights, etc. God was created as an excuse for poor behavior or bad thoughts and to control people for a political end. If one does something for 'God' they never have to think through the situation. It gets really, really bad when they act for "God and country'.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:40 am |
    • DHB

      I don't think he made the Jews his favorite so the rest of us would be jealous.....He just could not be born a God in and of every type of cultural gender but we are all his children......those that believe on him and practice his will.... and I was not born a Jew, put am the apple of his eye....and you are too. God loves you so much, it may seem impossible to love someone you cannot put your arms around but he will keep you from all hurt, harm and danger and do things for you not one else can. I pray you learn and come to know this Colin.

      September 1, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  2. stayinalive

    I believe in Yeshua (known as Jesus in English) because of the overpowering story of what he did. However, men have essentially destroyed what he came for and have fabricated the son of God into something that the first three century Christians would not recognize or even relate to.

    The Trinity is by far the worst deviation from scripture that you can get. Yeshua never claimed to be God but only the son of God. He said that God the Father was *greater* than he was. That clearly does not make him equal to God, as Christians today profess. He also died. God cannot die. He also said that he does not know when he will return again. God knows everything. He prayed to the Father. It makes zero sense for God to pray to God. The original Greek in Revelation 3:14 refers to him as the "first of God's creation", meaning that God created him.

    The Trinity was created in Nicene in 312 AD under pressure from the pagan emperor Constantine and anyone who taught otherwise was sentenced to death. In fact, Constantine was never a true follower of Yeshua. He had his wife and son murdered and scores killed off to maintain power. Yet in spite of the enormous amount of evidence that clearly indicates that the Trinity was fabricated by men, Christians swallow this garbage whole heartedly till this day.

    Jews will NEVER believe that Yeshua is a God, because he simply is not. And it is utter blasphemy to even say that there is another God. Christianity has evolved into over 30,000 diverse sects, each claiming some deep knowledge of God and the way of truth. Yet all of them, without exception, are either legalistic, run by dicatators, preach a "prosperty gospel", love money or power. The name "Christian" has become synonomous with "sewage", which is why I will never call myself by that name.

    I simply believe that Yeshua is the son of God, created by God and sent to die for the sins of mankind. Everything beyond this, including the Jehovah's Witness claim of him being Michael the archangel to Mormons claiming he is the brother of Lucifer to the Trinity, all amounts to utter hogwash.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:22 am |
  3. angbalti

    Science is the study of the work of God. The clearest example of the mind of God is creation. Svientist are investigating how things work each exporing a different facet of creation. There are christian scientists and atheists and everything else. The common language of creation is mathematics., so, if you really want to know God, rather then constantly focusing onthe story of a small group of nomads 3000 years ago and on the death of Jesus, while somehow pretty much ignoring the lessons of His life, encourage your children to study the works of God. Learn about the way things work, how astonishingly varried and complex the universe is. Learn His language.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:20 am |
  4. Straight Colin

    10 out of 10 gay Christians disagree with Colin.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • Dan W

      As the UCC where LGBT is welcome. Ask Pilgrim Pines how many Gay and Lesbian Camp Counselors there are. You presume to much.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:23 am |
      • Dan W

        Ask... man this keyboard is on it's way out!

        September 1, 2013 at 7:23 am |
  5. chris

    you will know the true believers by their fruits..........Muslims, Christians and Jews have it wrong!!

    September 1, 2013 at 7:19 am |
    • Dan W

      Everyone has it right. No one has it wrong.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:25 am |
  6. Alberth

    Reblogged this on alberthnahas.com and commented:
    For those who are dreaming peace on earth, this is one helluva question needed to answer.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:18 am |
  7. kandi

    They worship the same god (of ignorance), interpret them their own personal ways.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:18 am |
  8. Bill

    A few thoughts. Notwithstanding the recent Malaysian flaps over the word, "Allah" is the Arabic word for God. Arabic-speaking Christians have been calling God "Allah" since before Islam existed. Jesus, who spoke Aramaic, would have used the Aramaic word for God–"Alah".

    I wonder why you only quote Western Christians on the question of whether all three religions worship the same God. Ask nearly any Muslim and they will insist that the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is one and the same.

    Finally, I realize it is difficult to summarize the tenets of a religion in a few paragraphs, but the summaries of all three in this piece are misleading and disrepectful, imho. The author seems more determined to be clever than informative.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:16 am |
  9. Toad

    There is a chosen people doctrine in Judaism, without which there is no such thing as Judaism. One can imagine polytheistic Judaism (surely as a Judaism gone astray, but it could exist), one cannot imagine a Judaism in which the Jews are not chosen above other peoples–it would cease to be anything that could be called Judaism.

    And the writer is so uncomfortable with it that he refuses to mention it. He, in effect, denies this doctrine: "God has chosen you to be his treasured people from all the nations that are on the face of the earth." So, let it be said, if not by the writer: The Jewish God is a tribal god, purely.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • CAT

      I fail to see how the idea of being chosen has anything to do with Judaism being a "tribal religion only". If I understand you correctly you are saying the Jewish conception of God is different because of the idea of us Jews as being chosen??? I'm going to say you haven't read quite enough on it yet.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:31 am |
      • Toad

        A religion that believes that our tribe are the chosen people of God is a tribal religion. The Jews don't proselytize, they don't care to convert non-Jews because the religion is for that tribe. You are born into it. It's a tribal religion. It's a simple definition, using English words, it's not debatable.

        September 1, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  10. kandi

    My God is different from yours simply by evolution.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • cheeseballsroll

      So is your ancestor. Apparently, yours is a monkey. My apologies.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:14 am |
      • Andy

        Why apologize for an insult that gives you great pleasure?

        September 1, 2013 at 7:23 am |
  11. Zeynep Karakurt Ozman

    I have been studying Koran nowadays. Mohammed is buried in Mecca and muslims go to visit him in his tomb. Muslims are respecting excessively to their prophet. Mohammed was just a chosen messenger and he did his job. Good think that he could memorise all Jesus revealed via Gabriel. There is God's miraculous hand in this revelations, He was giving very complicated mathematical equations and Planck stable to an Arab uneducated man in the 7th Century...... He told to his followers like a parrot....... without understanding what he was translating. Thank God, the meaning was not lost in the translation..... There are so many things explained in symbols in the Koran........ Abram asked God how He creates..... God got little bit angry and said; " Don't you believe me!" Abram replied; " Nooooo, my God, I would like to learn your working schedule, that is all....I am asking just out of curiosity." Then God told him to catch 4 birds and cut them into pieces and hide different parts of these birds on 4 hills....... Then mix all the pieces together and you will see the four birds flying soon.... There is nothing mentioned in the Koran, whether Abram tried this formula....... But my understanding is, there is some symbolism about mixture of 4 different elements in order to create something....... My limited brain is not able to understand God's messages. But I am able to understand that God is educating His children in different levels...... and also God likes to surprise His children with the unexpected...........
    a

    September 1, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • benjamin hartog

      Why was Jesus called "The son of man?" No other prophet has this appellation . Christ was singular. Jesus was a distinct individual who was given sovereignty over the world and accorded power and authority to rule over all nations and all peoples as "king." The phrase appears in much the same way in the apocryphal books 4 Ezra sand I Enoch. The question of Jesus claims to be "The Son of Man" is Biblically validated by Matthew 21:9 and Mark 11:9 and Luke 19:38. Islam and Judaism are subordinate to Christianity and eschatologically will be judged accordingly and their claims to religious parity will be dismissed.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:59 am |
  12. Kebos

    When one reads all the twisted, self-serving logic that the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions are, one can easily recognize all are ridiculous fabrications made by man for man. Absolute rubbish! Nothing more.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:13 am |
  13. Victor

    Since GOD is a man-made concept, how could different religions possibly worship the same one? Heck, even separate denominations of Christianity have very different concepts of GOD. Perhaps the discussion should be about the afterlife rather than the existence of a so-called GOD.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:10 am |
  14. deathspear666

    Religion=Death of perception and upper thinking....

    September 1, 2013 at 7:07 am |
    • Dan W

      Why did you come here to type that? Your comment has nothing to do with this article.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:08 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Stop trying to dictate who can comment on a public blog!!

        September 1, 2013 at 7:58 am |
  15. CAT

    Couple of questions to the atheists out there. 1) Why do you care what others believe? Let us be stupid unto ourselves already!! 2) Why are you so bent on making converts to atheism, isn't that the same behavior you hate from Christians? Doesn't that make you hypocrites?
    As to the point of this article – do all of us who believe in God believe in the same God? I would say we are just worms with poorly formed eyes trying to interpret what we "see" and reaching our own conclusions that largely intersect but not always. No worm, whether atheist or believer has "the answer". Wasn't it Socrates that said who is wise, the man who realizes he knows nothing? What a smart worm.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:04 am |
    • Atheist Colin

      CAT, I care because religion affects me. For example

      (i) the question of gay rights
      (ii) a wonan's right to choose
      (iii) teaching evolution in school
      (iv) my ability to buy a glass of wine on Sunday
      (v) immunizing teens against HPV
      (vi) population control
      (vii) assisted suicide at end of life
      (viii) global warmning

      are all areas where policy is driven by Christian religious beliefs. They inevitably lead to the wrong decisions being made.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:07 am |
      • Dan W

        Then you should follow me on twitter @GaysWithFaith

        September 1, 2013 at 7:09 am |
        • Atheist Colin

          I'm straight. I just think religion is abhorent in how it treats gays.

          September 1, 2013 at 7:10 am |
        • jungleboo

          Oh, stop ADVERTISING your stupid twitting.

          September 1, 2013 at 7:12 am |
        • Pastor Colin

          It is people, not religion, that treats gays poorly.

          Just like it is Colin, not atheism, that is intolerant to people with different belief systems.

          September 1, 2013 at 7:17 am |
        • cheeseballsroll

          Read your Bible Dan W.

          September 1, 2013 at 7:24 am |
        • truthprevails1

          jungleboo: Let him bury himself. He's going to end so spammed he'll think twice before posting his twitter account again.

          September 1, 2013 at 8:00 am |
      • Dan W

        Evolution is a theory, and perhaps a tool used by the Creator. Since time is flexible, God could evolve stuff really fast and then slow it down. But we don't mix geology with theoretical physics. Oh I've forgotten myself I'm a believer, I'm supposed to pretend to be stupid. I forgot myself. Please Sir can I have some more?

        September 1, 2013 at 7:10 am |
        • jungleboo

          No comedy jobs for you.

          September 1, 2013 at 7:13 am |
        • Atheist Colin

          In science terms, gravity is a theory too. A "theory"means an ëxplanation"or a a description. Evolution is as much a fact as gravity is.

          September 1, 2013 at 7:13 am |
        • CAT

          Have to be honest here Dan W. This worm believes very differently from you. I'm closer to Colin that you on this I think. Isn't that funny.

          September 1, 2013 at 7:16 am |
        • John Sharp

          Your understanding of the word theory iis not very good.
          Even Pat Robertson admits evolution is true. You can't be dumber than Pat Robertson

          September 1, 2013 at 7:31 am |
      • Pastor Colin

        That isn't a list of things all Christians believe in, though. That is a pathetic attempt to stereotype and scapegoat all Christians into something you simply imagine.
        Looks like a list of Colin's delusions.

        September 1, 2013 at 7:11 am |
        • deathspear666

          Looks like someone has multiple personality disorder or a brain damaged troll....

          September 1, 2013 at 7:14 am |
      • CAT

        (i) the question of gay rights – funny I agree with gay rights, must be a political debate at its heart
        (ii) a wonan's right to choose – funny I agree with this, see above thought
        (iii) teaching evolution in school – again I agree
        (iv) my ability to buy a glass of wine on Sunday – definitely politics here
        (v) immunizing teens against HPV – got my kids immunized, not even politics here
        (vi) population control – this is religions fault??? no this is cultural
        (vii) assisted suicide at end of life – agree with that, still have my religion
        (viii) global warmning – agree it needs to get fixed, doesn't have anything to do with religion

        I guess we worms whether atheist or believer have more in common than you thought 🙂

        September 1, 2013 at 7:13 am |
        • Atheist Colin

          CAT, but you must agreee that, on all of them, to the extent policy in the USA (and elsewhere) goes the other way, it is largely driven by religious convictions.

          September 1, 2013 at 7:15 am |
        • Pastor Colin

          If Colin came to my church and preached what he "imagined" Christians believe... people would look at him like he was completely nuts. (if he preached it at a right-wing fundie church they would love him. maybe in his heart colin is a right-wing fundie atheist)

          September 1, 2013 at 7:16 am |
        • CAT

          Hmm, don't have a reply button to Atheist Colin, so I have to respond to my own... Does religion drive US politics, for many people yes it does. That is the down side to living in a democracy, you can be in the minority. Tyranny of the majority sucks. How do we fix it? Education! Course you can lead a horse to water but he may turn up his nose. And right now I would say that the US is not where it should be, but we have been slowly evolving for 200 years, and we will continue to do so, just might not get to where you and I would want to be within our own lifetimes, but I don't doubt it will happen. Look at gay rights over the last 20 years. That is a speedy change for a culture, and its continuing. Stop being such a pessimist!!

          September 1, 2013 at 7:22 am |
      • ko

        Colin- Really??? No one is attacking any of that in religious circles. When u read Scripture (Christian) they are addressing the inside circle of believers. Churches, synagogues, and mosaics are addressing their followers, not the world. Stop blaming everyone else for your political agenda failures

        September 1, 2013 at 7:24 am |
      • angbalti

        The fact that so many so called people of faith are determined to make the world comfortable for themselves and so many atheists are doing the same does not in anyway support the faith biases, yes atheism is a belief system, it just makes the puveyers annoying. Human law is by definition human designed. Every law isdues out of the biases of those making them. Every problem you listed is a modern focus. I might suggest two books. Daniel Quinns ISHMAEL and Leo Tolstoy's RHE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN. Both discuss the impact the corrupting influence of human ambition and violence.

        September 1, 2013 at 7:33 am |
    • deathspear666

      Because the bible-thumpers like to cram their fake, mumbo jumbo zombie Christ on to all so we have no choice! Everyday and everywhere you go it is being forced down our throats. When they shut up and leave their religion to themselves then we will do the same with our rational thinking....

      September 1, 2013 at 7:10 am |
      • Pastor Colin

        No. I live in the Bible Belt. Every store, movie, court room, school, sporting event and public park I don't see anyone doing what you claim.

        You might have a case for saying people push nationalism or patriotism in that way (USA Flags, Pledge of Allegiance, Star Spangled Banner)

        September 1, 2013 at 7:14 am |
        • John Sharp

          Hmm, what country do you live in? I live in the U.S. And the religious faithful here try to impose their beliefs on all sectors of public life. You can't seriously be saying that is not true.

          September 1, 2013 at 7:20 am |
        • Pastor Colin

          You mean they vote?

          September 1, 2013 at 7:23 am |
        • John Sharp

          Exactly trying to pass laws in support for their imaginary friends will is exactly the point. It is harmful to those that do not share those beliefs.
          And that is wrong.
          Which is why our forefathers had the intelligence to separate church and state. And frightening when modern religious people try to impose their beliefs on the rest of us.

          September 1, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • John Sharp

      We must fight ignorance, and religion is just that.
      The religious have been dictating their imaginary god's will on us for centuries.
      So yes, we must fight this childishness.
      Religion, together we can find a cure.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:18 am |
      • CAT

        John,
        Just because you don't like religion doesn't mean it has no purpose, nor that it should be eradicated. Maybe you should lead the educational change you wish to see by studying the very thing you don't like. Maybe then the not so scientifically educated religious would get off their duffs and go study science. Religion isn't evil..... go read on Gobekli Tepe... it's some scientific food for thought.

        September 1, 2013 at 7:26 am |
  16. Thomas

    A debate over who has the best imaginary friend.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:04 am |
  17. Leeroy

    I believe the intent of this author is to divide; not to unify. He mixes fact with his own personal beliefs to come to the conclusion that no one knows if we worship the same God/Allah? Very unfortunate. It is also a reflection on CNN and their views. Sad article. Typical CNN.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:03 am |
  18. Atheist Colin

    Religions hey? Let’s ask a few questions about religion and everyday life.

    Q.1 The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in an “afterlife” comes from the field of:

    (a) Astronomy;

    (b) Cosmology;

    (c) Psychology; or

    (d) Judaism, Christiany and Islam

    Q. 2 What is the only thing capable of making 40% of the country utterly stupid enough to think the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake:

    (a) paleontology

    (b) archeology

    (c) biology; or

    (d) Judaism, Christianity or Islam

    Q. 3 Please complete the following sentence. It is not uncommon in many parts of the World for a young man to strap a suicide vest to himself and blow himself up and members of a rival __________

    (i) corporation

    (ii) university

    (iii) research insti.tute; or

    (iv) church?

    Q. 4 It is only acceptable as an adult to believe Bronze Age mythology like talking snakes, the Red Sea splitting, mana falling from the sky, a man living in a whale's belly, a talking donkey, superhuman strength, a man rising from the dead and angels, ghosts, gods and demons in the field of:

    (a) history

    (b) literature

    (c) anthropology

    (d) religion

    Q.5 I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am being obstinate and closed minded due to my:

    (a) hetero$exuality

    (b) genetics

    (c) nationality; or

    (d) religion.

    Q6. I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Christian, Muslim or Jew who believes that prayers are answered

    Q7. Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    Q.8 The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    Q.9 What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:

    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas all religion is regional and a person’s religion, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than a matter of upbringing; or

    (d) All of the above.

    Q.10 If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    Q.11 Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am

    (a) A sleazy Wall Street banker

    (b) the mafia

    (c) A drug pusher; or

    (d) any given religious organization

    Q. 12 It is only acceptable as an adult to believe Bronze Age mythology like talking snakes, the Red Sea splitting, mana falling from the sky, a man living in a whale's belly, a talking donkey, superhuman strength, a man rising from the dead and angels, ghosts, gods and demons in the field of:

    (a) history

    (b) literature

    (c) anthropology

    (d) religion

    Q. 13 I believe that an all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and its billions of galaxies, watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty" (like protect myself from disease with a condom, for example). I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions; or

    (d) A regular Christian, Jew or Muslim following my religious belief

    In short, nothing in history of human endeavor can make otherwise smart, functioning people believe the most implausible of supernatural absurdities the way religion can.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:02 am |
    • Pastor Colin

      A man who tries to scapegoat "religion" for all of man's ills is:

      Colin.

      A man who points out other's flaws in an illogical and irrational attempt to avoid looking at his own is:

      Colin

      A man who spends way too much time thinking about a God who he says doesn't exist is:

      Colin

      September 1, 2013 at 7:09 am |
      • jungleboo

        fail

        September 1, 2013 at 7:18 am |
        • Skeptic Al

          lame

          September 1, 2013 at 7:22 am |
    • Jonathan Greene

      Sumarian Tablets of creation explain it all. We are genetically created beings and the 'Gods' are from outer space. First known writing,post deluge, and it holds up to scrutiny.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:19 am |
      • Dan W

        That's true, Angels from outside our world would be considered alien, since they aren't from here. Science is the HOW God does stuff, the bible is the WHY and WHAT order.

        September 1, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • Neo Agnostic

      Well, can't argue with that. I answered D on all of them. You make a very good point.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:59 am |
  19. Paul

    No, they do not worship the same God. At least not Muslims and Christians or Jews. The Christians and Jews do, but the Jews ignorantly and defiantly, because they rejected their longed-for Messiah, Jesus Christ. But Allah is not the same God as Jehovah, the God of the Bible. Anyone who makes such claims doesn't understand either belief system, or how religion works in general.

    There may be some similar MINOR issues, but there are vast differences on the MAJOR issues.

    September 1, 2013 at 7:01 am |
    • Atheist Colin

      Allah is much more like Yahwey than the Christian god is. If there is an outlier in the 3, it is the Christian god.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:03 am |
      • discouragedinMI

        Allah's cold, heartless, and standoff-ish ways make him a personal savior. Allah doesn't give to shakes about his creation. Just bow down of get struck down.

        September 1, 2013 at 7:28 am |
  20. Bozack

    There is only one God is its Yahweh (Yah is masculine, Weh is Feminine ). Yahweh is SPIRIT. that is universal spirit law. The same spirit law that controls the planets and elements. Dr Henry Clifford. Kinley said he was God in a Body and SO are You. Kinley stated all the religions are WRONG in the way they worship GOD. They are carnal minded – only seeing physical, natural things and having NO "pattern" principle to go by. for more info, look up the "patternofeverything.org"

    September 1, 2013 at 7:01 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Okay, everyone -Ballsack has made a decree. That settles it – you can all go home now – nothing more to see.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:03 am |
    • Dan W

      God has 72+ names.

      September 1, 2013 at 7:07 am |
      • jungleboo

        Dan, try using a fist to make your point of disagreement. It's exactly what religions are for.

        September 1, 2013 at 7:11 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.