238 Bringing Western World Religions Together
Religious leaders say that the words in their scriptures are the words of God. In the Western world, the religions of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are making the same errors because 'absolute truths are not to be found in any scripture.' These errors are based on the 1920 discovery that 'sense data is primarily symbolic.' Since all scriptures must be made with symbols, absolute truths will not be found in any scripture.
The four religions above have scriptures. These scriptures are as follows: Avesta (Zoroastrianism), Old Testament ( Judaism), New Testament (Christianity), and Qur’an (Islam). Interestingly, the Avesta was prepared by the Royal Scribes of King Vishtaspa of Iran after Zoroaster told the King what God, Ahura Masza, told him face to face. Further, Jews say that statements in the Old Testament are inspired by God through the Holy Spirit. And, the Christians also say that the words of the Old Testament are inspired through the Holy Spirit. Christians also claim that God appeared in our world as Jesus. They claim that the teachings of Jesus and the writings of the Jesus’ disciples in the New Testament are truths because the scribes of the New Testament were also inspired through the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, Muslims claim that the Qur’an is written in God’s language and consists of messages that Muhammad received from the angel Gabriel. As seen, all four religions make similar claims and essentially reject the 1920 discovery I discussed above.
Further, all four religions view God through the good/evil religious dualism. I show that this dualism is inconsistent with a God who creates an Intelligent Design. Viewing God through the good/evil dualism degrades our knowledge of God. Further, when God is viewed through the good/evil dualism, a world is added in between God and the universe. I show that such a world is inconsistent with an active God who is ‘in’ all created things and that all created things are ‘in’ God. The symbol ‘in’ means that God and all created things are functionally related.
God created us with the unique ability to create and use symbols. With symbols, we can think and talk discursively, communicate with each other, find relative truths about God’s creations, and use these relative truths to find unchanging or absolute truths about our world. With symbols, we conceive the world around us. As the symbols become more precise, our conceptions of the realities in the world become more accurate. With relative and absolute truths, we improve our consciousness. With symbols, we communicate with each other, build new knowledge, build new sciences, and build new technologies. For these special gifts from God, we have personal and social responsibilities to God.
Many absolute and relative truths will be found in God and the universe. Further, after I studied the teachings of Jesus, I also concluded that his teachings are relative to each other and slowly form wholes that are forming the universe. No other animal specie can find truths as we do. For instance, the home of a beaver never changes. When we find truths about God and the universe, we move into the future, which proves that our lives are eternal. Although religions claim that scriptures contain truths, such truths do not exist until they are proven.
Muslims are prohibited from interpreting the Qur’an. This is wrong because students made the Qur’an after their teacher, Muhammad, died. So, I believe that many false teachings will be found in the Qur’an.
Today, Muslims are imitating the Qur’an and have lowered their toleration for other faiths. The toleration of Christians varies. For instance, Christian fundamentalists say that the Bible is the 'sole' basis of one’s faith in Jesus.
Karl Keating tells us that sola scriptura did not exist in Christian teachings prior to the Reformation. During debates on the subject of sola scriptura, Christian fundamentalists argue that sola scripture is taught by St. Paul in 2 Tim. 3:16-17. These verses say, '16. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17. That the man of God may be perfect thoroughly furnished in all good works.' These words of St. Paul do not mean that God dictated them. The belief that God dictated the Bible comes from a misinterpretation of the Old Testament at Job 32:8 and the conclusion of Christians who say that the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost have the same meaning.
No scripture is sufficient to guide human life. In the Bible at I Cor. 13:12, Paul says, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know as also I am known." Here, Paul is teaching the development of knowledge. He is thus teaching against sola scripture. At Rom 1:20, Paul says, For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so they are without excuse. Here, Paul is telling us how to develop knowledge of created things. Thus, all knowledge will not be found in any scripture. Paul’s saying at 2 Tim. 3:16-17 does not support sola scripture.
Alister McGrath deals with problems created by sola scriptura when he says, ...There is a real need to rescue the Bible from fundamentalism. I agree with McGrath because we must also rescue the Bible from publishers who change the meanings of biblical sayings.
On the power of our symbolic languages Nicholas of Cusa says, All our wisest and most divine teachers agree that visible things are truly images of invisible things and that from created things the Creator can be knowably seen as a mirror and symbolism. On the use of symbols, Nicholas says, Proceeding on this path of the ancients, I concur with them and say that since the pathway for approaching divine matters is opened to us only through symbols, we can make quite suitable use of mathematical signs because of their incorruptible certainty. In these words, Nicholas is teaching the importance of using the certainty of number-symbols and mathematical procedures. Since Nicholas was unaware of the 1920 linguistic discovery that empirical data are symbolic and the development of the scientific method of proof, he was unaware that precise word-symbols can also reveal certain Laws of Nature’s God.
Irshad Manji is trying to rescue Islam from Islamic fundamentalism. In her rescue, she is urging Muslims to open their minds. Apparently, Islamic fundamentalism began in the 12th century, when the Muslim clergy became the gatekeepers of the truth in Islamic nations. When the clergy became the gatekeepers of the truth, Manji tells us that all types of innovation were suspect and banned because the Qur’an said, 'Beware of new things, for every new thing is an innovation and every innovation a mistake.; This saying is true because man cannot make any perfect thing. A new thing always has errors. This is why new things have mistakes and will be replaced by another new thing that also has mistakes. A perfect thing cannot be found in our world.
These words of Muhammad indicate that Muhammad was a Nester Christian, as Nicholas of Cusa claims. Thus, there is no question that Muhammad was aware of the teachings of Jesus. For this reason, I agree with Nicholas who said that Muhammad used very simple teachings in the Qur’an in order to teach his highly ignorant followers. Once the number of Muhammad’s followers began to grow, it seems clear that Muhammad expected future generations to develop science, philosophy, and theology so that Muslims could study the difficult teachings of Jesus. I hope today’s Muslim leaders conduct more research on the possible connections between Christianity and Islam.
Manji tells us that Muslims are taught that the Qur’an is the final communication from God. This teaching must be questioned because both God and the universe are eternal. Muhammad told his followers that the end of our world is coming. But, our world has many mansions because our suns die, Muhammad was correct in this teaching. But we must find other planets on which we can live because God has no Heaven. Since Muhammad and other religious leaders must build followers with simple statements, the teachings of Muhammad must be respected and interpreted carefully. Muhammad’s early followers were actors and imitators of Jesus rather than philosophers, theologians, and scientists. Manji says that the Qur’an reads as a bundle of contradictions. But, contradictions can be expected in a scripture in which statements of fear are mixed with Jesus’ statements about God and the universe.
Eventually, Islam developed philosophers, theologians, and scientists. Manji tells us that the Muslim word ijtihad (pronounced "ij-tee-had") means independent reasoning. She tells us that Islam’s early ijtihad was a golden age of reasoning and lasted from 750 C.E. to 1250 C.E. In this golden age, Christians and Muslims worked together in Iraq to translate and revive Greek philosophy. There, Muslims also traded with non-Muslims. And, in Spain, the Muslims developed a culture of tolerance. With this tolerating culture, Muslims contributed to the Western culture by developing the guitar, cough syrup, and algebra. In this period, the House of Wisdom was constructed in Baghdad. This golden age brought forth personalities such as (1) the Jewish philosopher, Maimodes; (2) Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion; (3) the Muslim philosopher, mathematician, and physician, Ibn Rushd; and (4) Baghdad’s caliph, al-Mamun. al-Marnun believed that rational thought was necessary. He avoided any notion that the Qur’an had divine origins. w.
To write his book on The Peace of Faith, Nicholas studied the Qur’an. Although he says that the Qur’an is not a well-ordered book, Nicholas argues that Muhammad’s work does develop a unity of truths that relate to Christianity and reflects the light of the Bible. Nicholas’ conclusion agrees with my conclusion that God is transforming His Wisdom to us through Jesus. But, I do not believe that the unity between Islam and Christianity can be found with ease because many ideas of Jesus are new and turbulent.
Nicholas’ book on The Peace of Faith was a study for Pius II on the unification of different religions. It was written in two months after the Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453. Pius II concluded the Muslims would not stop their plundering. The Peace of Faith recommends ways to unify religions other than by conversions or missions. However, in this study Nicholas found two important facts: (1) that the names of God in different language have the same or very similar meanings and (2) that differences between religions exist only because of their different rites. So, developing common rites worldwide could be a new interesting goal of the field of religion.
Nicholas visited Constantinople in 1437 while he was a member of the Council of Basel. During this visit, he examined the Qur’an and assisted thirteen Muslims who wanted to travel to Rome for instruction on the Christian faith. After the Turks sacked Constantinople, Nicholas wrote Sifting of the Qur’an. It was dedicated to Pius II. In this book Nicholas says that Muhammad prepared the Qur’an so that he can teach his highly ignorant followers in Mecca about Jesus. Since sexual relations dominated the lives of his ignorant followers, Muhammad used sexual symbols (e.g., white virgins) to describe the nature of paradise in Heaven. (This teaching was wrong because Jesus taught an eternal universe at John 14:20.)
According to Nicholas, three very crafty Jews attached themselves to Muhammad in order to avert him. After Muhammad’s death, these crafty Jews approached Alis, the son of Abitalip, to whom Muhammad had bequeathed his collection of writings. Abitalip was persuaded by these Jews to elevate himself to a prophet. They added and deleted what was necessary from the book of Muhammad and added passages so that Muhammad would appear as a prophet. Since Muhammad was a follower of Jesus, studies might tell us that Muhammad became a ‘Big Thinker’ of God.
In closing, the purpose of a scripture must be defined properly so that social problems can be solved. Further more people must be educated so that we can understand the true nature of an active God.