Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bush: All world 'prays to the same God'

This just might be the dumbest thing Bush has ever said:
I believe in an almighty God, and I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God.
The statement was made in an interview with Al Arabiya, and the transcript comes from the U.S. State Department, courtesy of the Bible Belt Blog. The problem with Bush's effort to connect with parts of the world that see the United States as the great Satan is that it doesn't make any sense.

He could have said that Christians, Jews and Muslims pray to the same God of Abraham, though each religion understands Him differently; Bush even could have argued that Christians should call God "Allah." But it's impossible that all the world "prays to the same God" if simply for that fact that about a quarter of the world practices polytheism.


Anonymous said...

But what if you cut Bush a break and expand your interpretation of polytheism, monotheism, et al to ALL be directed to some kind of Universal Godhead, which some see as God and oters as a panoply of gods and ohers as a giant Turtle and others as... Isn't Bush really saying in his typically inarticulate half-assed way that all humans share a sense of the Holy and Ineffable which they name and observe differently?

Anonymous said...

I meant "others" not "oters" or "ohers."

I have no idea what kind of God otters believe in, or what ohers even are.....

Brad A. Greenberg said...

Those are good points, Anonymous, about the otters, about humanity's understanding of the divine and about Bush's Yale-trained mouth.

It was a knee-jerk response for me to ignore the fact that polytheism can be interpreted as a belief in multiple gods that together represent the traits of the Creator that I believe to be The God.

But does that mean there is no difference of intent between those who pray to Yahweh, those who pray to Vishnu and those who pray to Baal? And what then do we do with the Church of Satan?

Anonymous said...

I'm an athieist, and I fundamentally don't see the difference between this claim and any other knowlege claim any theist makes about the deit(y/ies).

How is this different from making the claim "My God is the God of the universe?" How is this different from the claim "there is no God but Allah?" How is it different from "We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made."

Every single one of these claims is an exclusionary claim. All of them make a claim that other faiths will not fit under.

I think Bush was talking about a "blind men and the elephant" approach to theology, which undoubtedly appealed to him because of the elephant and the fact that it probably was read to him with colorful illustrations.

I think it's a ham-fisted approach to talking about faith, but usually when the spheres of politics and theology intersect the resulting gurgling noises bear zero resemblance to the storied wisdom of Solomon.


Brad A. Greenberg said...

Snap! Siamang scores big time. I particularly like the part about the picture book.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Siamang wins for his picture book line, but I wasn't making a "knowledge claim." I think atheism is as intellectually crippled as theism. Agnosticism is the most responsible position, based on understanding and evidence.

As for Brad's differece of intent, the answer is maybe, maybe not. People pray for succor, for strength, for the defeat of their enemies, for healing, for poker hands, and they might direct those prayers to God, Vishnu or Satan. Who they pray to is less important in trems of social outcomes than what they pray for.

Anonymous said...

Hey anon,

By calling myself atheist, I'm including agnosticism.

I'm an agnostic atheist. The two terms are not mutually exclusive.

I do not worship a God because i have not seen evidence sufficient to compel me to believe that there is a God.

(At least a God as humans have defined and described such an entity.)


Brad, I thought you'd like that line about the picture book! ;-)

Anonymous said...

... following up with anon...

I make no claims about the existence or nonexistence of God(s).

I can only say what my experience has been and what thinking leads me to my current, tentative position.

My definition of atheist: someone who sleeps in on Sunday, Saturday, and any Friday I don't have a morning meeting for. In other words, someone who makes no worshipful observance of a deity.

My definition of agnostic: someone who holds that they cannot prove one way or another if God exists. Some agnostics believe that the question is unanswerable. I merely think that the question is unanswered for me, for the time being.

I have heard of people who believe that the question cannot be answered, BUT they worship anyway because for them, it's important. I would call them agnostic theists.

Most people who publicly state that they are atheists, if you ask them about their reasoning, you'll find they are agnostic. Even Richard Dawkins the poster-child for new atheism, admits the (in his mind, very, very small) possibility that God exists.

The current public atheism movement (if it's big enough yet to call a movement) is overwhelmingly agnostic.