In this second part of my discussion with Dr. William Vallicella, I give an argument that when Muslims use the word “Allah” they are referring to the same being Christians refer to when they say “God,” namely, the god of Abraham.
In part 1 we distinguished this reference question from implausible suggestions that there are no important theological differences between Islam and Christianity. I suggested that many evangelical commenters have misheard remarks like those of Wheaton College’s Dr. Hawkins as asserting some sort of religious pluralism. Thus they insist, plausibly, that the theological differences are important. But “Christians and Muslims worship the same god” need only mean that in praying and worshiping they are referring to the same being. This is what Dr. Hawkins meant, and it is also the common stance for both Muslims and Catholics.
Dr. Vallicella took an agnostic position on this reference question because of the difficulty of formulating a general theory of reference. In this episode, I argue for a positive answer to this reference question. We agree that worshiping God requires more than merely referring to God. And we suggest that “worship” is ambiguous. Does this imply something only about the worshiper, or does it also imply reception by the object of worship? If we mean the latter, it’ll be more controversial for either a Christian or a Muslim to say that the other successfully worships God. And we also discuss the idea of general revelation, which seems to imply that many non-Christians have enough causal interaction with God to easily refer to him. And I urge that the fundamental disagreement between Christians and Muslims concerns who the last and best revealer of God is.
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