awilgus

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http://www.reasonablefaith.org/do-muslims-and-christians-worship-the-same-god

I was dissatisfied with Dr. Craig's response to the Wheaton College "Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God" controversy. He seems deaf to context and too dismissive of philosophical disagreements over reference.

His response to the issue of reference which Beckwith raises seems too dismissive. Reference seems baked into the very history of the rise of Islam.

First, why isn't monotheism the necessary condition for Yahweh and Allah being co-referring terms? It seems that if both parties acknowledge that there is only one God, then that should rule out the possibility that they are referring to different entities. The only way around this is to insist that Muslims (or Christians) actually worship some demon or demiurge and are deceived. But if someone was so deceived, then that would not fairly represent that person's worship, which he believes to be directed toward the one God.

Dr. Craig doesn't seem to think monotheism (expressed in the religious philosophical tradition of classical theism) does much work to answer the question. My question is why not? He calls classical theism a "sort of generic monotheism." But this ignores that monotheism was, at one time, a quite singular and distinct reality from the many other pagan religions and mystery cults that inhabited the pagan world. By the time Islam rose, that monotheism was rapidly becoming the dominant religious worldview in Rome, but in the Arabian peninsula, a divided region in which various tribes worshiped many different gods, monotheism was quite radical, a distinctive and new perspective. Why is it "generic?" Why wouldn't monotheism or classical theism count for more? Why indeed since polytheism and paganism were existent perspectives (that Muhammad might have held to) under which Yahweh and Allah could have easily been separate and distinct gods. It seems to me that Christianity and Islam both inhabit the tradition of classical theism carries a good deal of historical and philosophical weight toward suggesting that Yahweh and Allah are co-referential. This ought to be apparent on a website that has inspired so much fellow feeling between Christian and Muslim theists in their defense against militant atheism.

Dr. Craig's analogy of the man and the woman seems like a red herring, since applying it to the situation of Christians and Muslims would require both walkers to hold that there can be only *one* man in the woman's life. Again, the assertion of monotheism seems to  me to do a lot more work than Craig thinks.

Dr. Craig's raising the issue of Intensional and Extensional terms also seems to be a red herring since both Christians and Muslims agree that there is one God. For example, they would both affirm the statement "there is one God." Wouldn't that make their various truth claims about God extensional? Or am I misunderstanding intensional vs. extensional terms?

Next a brief note on context:

Dr. Craig's job is different from Larycia Hawkins's job. Dr. Craig ends with the admonition that the "same God" question ought not be raised, since he sees religious relativism as a more clear and present threat to religious relations than religious prejudice between Christians and Muslims. I happen to share his opinion, but that doesn't change that Craig and Hawkins are trying to do different things. Craig seems to think that Hawkins was trying to do his job of fostering respectful and civil apologetic dialogue between Christians and Muslims. But she wasn't doing that. She was acting as an activist trying to get Christians to treat Muslims well. Not everyone is an apologist. We might argue over whose project is more important, but we shouldn't rule out the idea that they are complimentary.