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A reader writes: You aren't logical!

A reader writes:

I’m not being critical but when I hear people equate all religions as the same I have to present some facts whether they are unappealing or not. I do know that Islam has no “golden rule”. If you actually read the Koran you would realize that religion isn’t
generic. If you understand logic, which is as real as physics, you would realize that “either all religions are false or only one is true."
It’s like the law of non-contradiction, X cannot equal 2X. I’m after the truth and no I don’t believe in condemning people but we should be discerning about the truth.

Islam's Latest Contributions to Peace "Mohammed is God's apostle. Those who follow him are harsh to the unbelievers but merciful to one another" Quran 48:29

Thanks for your note. Let me offer four brief responses in hopes that they'll be helpful in some way.

First, I get the feeling you haven't read any of my books based on the assumptions you make in this note. Could I recommend you check out my latest, Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?

If you read it, you'll see that I don't equate all religions as the same. In fact, I strongly affirm their differentness (a good word to describe that differentness is "incommensurability"). I explain how one way in which they are the same - the way they build strong identity - is not a good thing, but is a huge problem. (Sorry - you'll have to read the book to see what I mean by that ...)

Second, I believe you are mistaken to say that Islam has no golden rule. I have read the Quran, and several versions of the Golden Rule appear in the Quran. Not only that, but Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, which means that he spoke the truth when he spoke the Golden Rule and the Great Commandment. (Yes, Christians believe he was more than a prophet - but it is still significant that Muslims honor Jesus as one who spoke truth from God.) I just checked Wikipedia to find some examples of the Golden Rule in the Quran:

The Golden Rule is implicitly expressed in some verses of the Qur'an, but is explicitly declared in the sayings of Muhammad. A common transliteration is: Amal ma'a naas kamaa ta hub an nafsik'.
From the Qur'an: the first verse recommends the positive form of the rule, and the subsequent verses condemn not abiding the negative form of the Golden Rule:
“...and you should forgive And overlook: Do you not like God to forgive you? And Allah is The Merciful Forgiving.”
— Qur’an (Surah 24, "The Light," v. 22)
“Woe to those... who, when they have to receive by measure from men, they demand exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due”
— Qur’an (Surah 83, "The Dealers in Fraud," vv. 1–4)
“...orphans and the needy, give them something and speak kindly to them. And those who are concerned about the welfare of their own children after their death, should have fear of God [Treat other people's Orphans justly] and guide them properly.”
— Qur’an (Surah 4, "The Women," vv. 8-9)
“O you who believe! Spend [benevolently] of the good things that you have earned... and do not even think of spending [in alms] worthless things that you yourselves would be reluctant to accept.”
— Qur’an (Surah 2, "The Calf," v. 267)
“They assign daughters to Allah, Who is above having a child [whether male or female] and to themselves they assign what they desire [which is a male child]; And when the news of the birth of a female child is brought to one of them His face darkens and he hides his inward Grief and anger... They attribute to Allah what they dislike [For themselves] and their tongues assert the lie that the best reward will be theirs! Undoubtedly, the Hell fire shall be their lot and they will be foremost [in entering it].”
— Qur’an (Surah 16, "The Honey Bees," vv. 57-62)
From the hadith, the collected oral and written accounts of Muhammad and his teachings during his lifetime:
A Bedouin came to the prophet, grabbed the stirrup of his camel and said: O the messenger of God! Teach me something to go to heaven with it. Prophet said: “As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don't do to them. Now let the stirrup go! [This maxim is enough for you; go and act in accordance with it!]”
—Kitab al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 146
“None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”
—An-Nawawi's Forty Hadith 13 (p. 56)[62]
“Seek for mankind that of which you are desirous for yourself, that you may be a believer.”
—Sukhanan-i-Muhammad (Teheran, 1938)[63]
“That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind.”[63]
“The most righteous person is the one who consents for other people what he consents for himself, and who dislikes for them what he dislikes for himself.”[63]

Third, you are right that there are some chilling verses in the Quran. But there are equally chilling verses in the Bible. For example, many Christian churches follow the Revised Common Lectionary. Just last Sunday, Psalm 149 was read. Here are the last few verses:

Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
and sing for joy on their beds.
6 May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,
7 to inflict vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with fetters,
their nobles with shackles of iron,
9 to carry out the sentence written against them—
this is the glory of all his faithful people.
Praise the Lord.

I don't recommend condemning a whole religion because of some harsh statements in its ancient texts. Ancient texts reflect ancient culture, and if we want our future to be less violent than our past, we have to focus in the "planks" of violence in our own texts, not just the "splinters" of violence in the texts of others. Again, I address this issue in my latest book. (And will address it again in my upcoming book, coming out next June.)

Finally, I appreciate logic as much as the next person. But I find your statement seems to be missing some pieces:

“either all religions are false or only one is true."

I can imagine four options:
1. All religions are completely true.
2. All religions are completely false.
3. One religion is completely true and others are true wherever they agree with it.
4. All religions are partially true and partially false.

I find #1 impossible since different religions contain many contradictions. I find #2 unlikely and incredible. That leaves #3 and #4. A big problem with #3 is that you have to ask, "Whose version of which religion?" For example, if you want to claim Christianity is completely true, you have to ask, "Pope Urban II's version of Catholicism?" or "Benny Hinn's version of Pentecostalism?" or "C. S. Lewis' version of Protestantism?" or "Leo Tolstoy's version of Russian Orthodoxy?" or ... you get the point.

I would be happy to say that God knows what is completely true ... but I would reject any human's claim that they or their religion knows God's mind with perfect accuracy. That's why, as a committed follower of Christ, I advocate
- humility of heart and mind,
- a childlike desire to learn,
- love for neighbor, stranger, outcast, and enemy,
- and a sincere hunger and thirst for justice,
because, as Paul said, "we know in part."

Again - thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I hope these four responses will be of help in some way.