Jews, Christians and Muslims believe in the same God.


The three major religions of the Western world all believe in one God—the God of Abraham. The history can be traced back to 2200 BC, when a newborn baby was abandoned and left to die, deep in a dark cave. The angel Gabriel appeared before the baby and saved him. That newborn was Abraham, and in his later years, he was told that if he praised only the one true God, his descendants would inherit the land of milk and honey, the Promised Land, the land between the Jordan River and the Great Sea (the Mediterranean). Belief in one god, or monotheism, was unheard of in Abraham’s time—all believed in several gods and goddesses, each with varying purpose and power.

Abraham had two sons. The first was Ishmael, born to Abraham’s servant Hagar, and the second, Isaac, born to Abraham’s wife Sarah. Jews and Christians are the descendants of Isaac, and Muslims, the descendants of Ishmael. Today, followers of all three religions believe in the same God—the God of Abraham. In Arabic, God translates to Allah. Therefore, Christians speaking in Arabic, pray to Allah, that is, Allah is God.

An infidel is one who believes in many gods or no god; therefore, Jews, Christians and Muslims are not infidels.

Perhaps, we aren’t that different after all.

Read more on CNN>>

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ISIS: Battling for Land, not Religion.


Nine centuries after the bloody crusades, Christians fought Muslims in the Bosnian War of the 1990s. But it wasn’t for religion that they fought. It was for control of Yugoslavia, broken up after the fall of communist control.  When a new country was formed, the Bosnian territory, inhabited predominately by Christians, claimed its independence as a country and attacked the majority Muslim population. Again, a war over land, caused by changing borders. It was the worst European uprising since WWII.

And who can forget the Catholic and Protestant conflict that plagued Northern Ireland? When Ireland gained independence in 1922, Northern Ireland was exempt and its control remained with Great Britain. (While Southern Ireland is predominantly Catholic, Northern Ireland is Protestant. To protect the Protestant residents of Northern Ireland, Great Britain kept control.) Soon, the remaining Catholic minority in Northern Ireland was oppressed and fought back. Again, although it may have appeared so, this was not a religious conflict; rather, it was for control of land.

And now, with the development of ISIS, like the Christians in Ireland, Muslims are fighting among themselves—Sunni against Shia. But, it is not for religion that they fight, rather for control of land.

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Can faith and reasoning coexist? Do creation and evolution theories have to be at odds with each other?


Since the renaissance of the 15th century, scientists have questioned whether our universe was created by a greater god or by something more scientifically explainable. The debate hit the mainstream in 1859, when Charles Darwin published his theory that all living things on the planet had evolved over hundreds of millions of years, including man. Darwin provided evidence that man was not created in the form of God but, rather, had evolved from earthly organisms, the most recent being apes.

And so opened perhaps the greatest debate of our contemporary world. Was our universe created by God, or has it, through a mix of proven chemistry equations, laws of physics and biological developments, scientifically progressed? One theory is supported by faith; the other, by reason. This debate itself has evolved from one between churches and laboratories to one among governments, courts, schools and dinner tables.

But does the debate have to exist? Can both theories work together and, perhaps, even complement each other? Can one not be the natural code of progress and the other the distinguishing spirit in man? Is it not possible that both are guided by a creator?

All of humanity is bound by the force that created us. With the essence placed inside of each, we understand the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. This is not taught. It is embedded in our existence. We strive for goodness and seek the ultimate reward for our deeds. We rejoice in our creation and believe in an existence after death. This is the faith of humankind. We celebrate it through varied religions around the world. Faith bonds us.

And those who argue absolutely against faith? Even those few who outwardly reject faith often embrace it during their time of greatest need. Whether it is upon the death of the mother who bore them or in response to an immediate threat to their safety, the faith that rests deep within may stir.

Faith is innate, placed in us for a purpose. With faith, humanity stands out from all other living things and, through our advancement, is poised to ensure goodness and continued development. The intelligence of humankind has surged. In our quest for knowledge, we understand more and more of ourselves, our relationship with others and that with nature.

One cannot reject the notion that we and the world around us have progressed through the ages. The history of the planet, its relationship to the universe and the development of nature’s species are scientific facts proven through the knowledge of humankind. They are our reality.

However, if only the science of evolution explains our development and progress, we would find in nature a consistent hierarchy, from the simplest of organisms to the complexity of human life. Although this hierarchy progresses throughout all of nature, it does not extend to humanity. Rather, the consistent linear progression of species stops just before man, and then leaps bounds to humankind. The development of our society is far more complex than that of any other species on the planet. We cannot deny the existence of humanity’s vast superiority over all others. Humankind is far more advanced than even those species closest to us. And yet, science tells us that the DNA of humans and apes are 98% the same—virtually identical. To believe that only science explains the development of humankind and the gap in our society versus the societies of other species defies the logic of a theory of pure evolution, and therefore, of science itself. The added ingredient must lie inside humanity, with the faith of humanity.

This is the typical debate between science and the belief in something far greater, a divinity.

But evolution and faith are not opposite sides of an argument. Rather, they coexist. Both show the wonder of creation—one is the natural code of developing progress; the other, the distinguishing spirit of purpose in humankind.

Just as you cannot defy evolution, you cannot deny faith. They do exist together.

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Can faith and reasoning coexist?


Since the renaissance of the 15th century, scientists have questioned whether our universe was created by a greater God or something more scientifically explainable. The debate hit mainstream in 1859, when Charles Darwin published his theories that all living things on the planet had evolved over hundreds of millions of years—including man. Darwin provided evidence that man was not created in the form of God but, rather, had evolved from earthly organisms, the most recent being apes. [Continue reading…]

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It may be time for spirituality to evolve.


The world has changed more in the past fifty years than in all the years of mankind’s existence before. The world is a much smaller place, with every corner explored. We communicate with each other from hemisphere to hemisphere in a split second, and information is only a click away. In our new world, knowledge abounds, and with it, our ignorance ceases. We are more tolerant of others—of other races, other sexual orientations, other cultures. [Continue reading…]

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For Land, not Religion – The Israeli and Palestinian Struggle Reignites with Tragic Consequences.


Israelis vs. Palestinians. This is a battle over the control of land. Once the nine-month Peace Talks between them ended last April, both sides dug in and it was only a matter of time before the Intifada (Arabic for rebellion) exploded between them. It only took 3 months for each side to be at the other’s throat.

The Jewish–Muslim and Israeli–Palestinian conflict remains the single most important unresolved international issue. It has affected our entire world, and the might of our largest nations has been drawn in.

Other than a period of 100 years during the Crusades, Palestine and the Middle East have been Muslim for 1400 years. In 1948, backed by the U.K. and the U.S., the Jewish state of Israel was formed as a haven for the Jews displaced by German atrocities during WWII. To form Israel, land was taken from Muslim Palestinians and since then, the Palestinians having been fighting to get the land, or a part of it, back. Although seen as a religious conflict, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is about land control, like never before, as two nations promised the land of a third to a fourth because of the crimes of a fifth.

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict has ignited the struggle between Arab Muslims and the West as the Muslims are resisting the Western—mostly American and British—influence in their region. Extremist Muslims see it as oppression and are fighting back. This land was vital to economic gain during the Crusades, yet it is even more valuable today with the precious oil below its hot sands. Muslim extremists have incited their Holy War, misinterpreting Islamic scripture from the Quran and motivating their naive followers, while the real struggle is, once again, over land and control of that land.

Like the different colors of pieces on a chess board, different religions can easily separate opponents between the lines. It does not matter which is black or which is white, and it isn’t for the look that the battle takes place. It is for control of the squares, the defining lines, the borders, and ultimately, control of the board. The colors, like religions, are just the simplest and most motivating label on the battlefield.

Israel vs. Palestine. Neither side is right or wrong. Each is the victim of events and consequences. Each acts for what they believe to be the well being of their nation. And, each blames the other.

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine is simply explained in this link. Check it out and you’ll have the knowledge.

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Isn’t the term “Holy War” a contradiction?


In biblical times, the early Israelites attacked the lands of Canaan under the leadership of Moses and Joshua. The Israelites included 600,000 warriors and their families, and they needed a new home. They justified their blatant attack on Jericho and nearby lands by proclaiming that all of the citizens in those lands were evil in their ways, defying the goodwill God had meant for all peoples. Further, the early Israelites claimed the land in the name of God, as God had promised it to them. But the assertion wasn’t about different beliefs. The early Israelites wanted the land. They needed the land to survive. And so the Israelites attacked and killed all of the inhabitants of Jericho and nearby lands—not just the supposed evildoers, but all of the inhabitants: the young, the old, the weak, the poor. And then the Israelites had the land.

The phrase “Holy War”—which in itself is a contradiction, for can any war be holy?—was first coined by Pope Urban II in 1095, when he declared war on the so-called blasphemous Muslims. The Arabic Muslims had had control of Jerusalem and the Middle East since the seventh century, for over 400 years. But by the eleventh century, these lands had become the essential center of the emerging trade routes connecting the Far East with Europe. The Pope was the supreme ruler of Europe in these years—the middle of the Dark Ages—and recognizing the growing importance of the Middle East, he launched the Crusade Wars against the Arab Muslims. Motivating the kings and knights of medieval Europe, he promised to free the holy lands from the blasphemous Muslim pagans so Christian pilgrims could return to the place of Christ’s birth and resurrection. The truth: before the conflict began, the pilgrims were free to do so, and when the Crusaders, with holy crosses on their tunic uniforms, attacked Jerusalem, they couldn’t tell the difference between the Muslims and the Christians living behind the walls, so they slaughtered them all.

These wars were not for religion, but for land, and land connecting the land.

Stay tuned for more examples … from the modern era.

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Wars are fought for land, not religion.


All through history, nations have battled against each other over borders and the control of land. Whoever controls the land has the power. From the land come the resources needed for the essentials of life: food, shelter, energy, transportation and security.

This has been true from the dawn of man, until today. Even now, nations battle over land and what that land offers.

When these nations meet in conflict, their peoples become enemies. And, more often than not, these peoples have different religions. Recognizing this difference, the leaders of warring nations can use religion to unite their people against their opponents.

Religion is entrenched into the culture of every nation. The good intentions of each culture can be the same even while their religions differ. Since all peoples believe their religion is the right one, their leaders can argue that only they fight on the side of good. What’s worse, each usually understands little of its opponent’s religion or motivation. This ignorance is an advantage for the leaders of warring nations. Each side can be encouraged to fight to preserve its religion from the threat of the other.

Moreover, religion is a simple difference between one side and the other. Outside of the political reasons for a conflict, a religious struggle is easy for all to understand. Religion becomes the uniform, while the real motivation for conflict gets buried. Further, fighting for one’s religion is an emotional motivator, leading to self-righteous vengeance. This revenge, at any cost, can be used by a nation’s leaders to further motivate any society.

Historically, for generals on the battlefield, both victory and defeat can be easily explained through religion. Victory is the reward for fighting on the side of good, and defeat is the inspiration to fight harder.

It is not for religion that man fights. No, it is for land and power. Religion is just the simplest, and most motivating, differentiation on the field of battle.

Through the coming months, I will write about various conflicts and describe how they are fought over land and power, and not because of religion.

So, stay tuned …

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Evil can lurk anywhere in the world, but it does not represent who we are


History has proven that evil can lurk anywhere and breed terrible violence into any society. Modern technology constantly reminds us of this threat—in fact, never lets us forget it. A week doesn’t go by when, on our flat-screen televisions or our mini handheld devices, we don’t see news of more carnage wreaked upon the innocent. Last year, we saw gun wielding people storm airports, plazas and schools. We saw a crazed gunman wipe out a dozen lives at a Washington naval yard while at the same time, halfway around the world, we watched a massacre at a Kenyan shopping mall. We’ve seen the devastating aftermath of suicide bombings and rocket attacks playing over and over again all over the news.

We’ve witnessed so much of this terror, from all parts of the world, that our perception of the way people in other nations live their lives is separated from reality. This occurs for all of us. No matter where we live, no matter what culture or society we belong to, we watch the world through a skewed lens.

While researching my book, I met a Palestinian father in the West Bank who asked me if I had children. When I answered that I did not, he replied that it was a good thing, because how could I raise children safely in America under the constant threat of shootings in our schools. I didn’t comment at the time, but thought it odd that this father, raising his family in the epicenter of the Middle East conflict, believed his children safer there than in America. And so we are not that different. Our personal reality is altered by our perceptions.

We are programmed, as all species are, to be wary of any perceived threat upon us. We are united in the defense of our safety and in the abhorrence of violent attacks upon the innocent. Violence is not the foundation of any society, but rather a sad and partial reality of all societies. Evil can, and does, lurk among us.

The foundation of every species is the preservation of our offspring — to provide for our young, to protect their lives and to preserve their future. Again, we are not different here. No matter what culture or society, each of us strives only to better our position and that of future generations.

As we do, we innately accept that good will overpower evil. Our conscience tells us to treat others with respect and kindness. Humanity is guided by goodness—we are bound in this. Previous generations have taught us, and we each teach our children the same. Despite our varying religions, we will find that the single most important tenet of each is again the same: from Leviticus in the Jewish Torah, Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself; from the Christian Gospels, Do to others what you would have them do to you; from the Muslim Hadith, No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself; from the Buddhist Udanavarga, Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful; and from the Hindu Vedas, Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.

We are united in our desire to protect our children and future generations; to defend against evil, violence and attacks against us; and to show our fellow man respect and goodness.

Sadly, we’re so often influenced to accept a different reality—that we are not alike, and that we are poised against each other.

Our only reality is that, no matter what nation we call home, what culture we belong to, or what religion we worship with, we are not different. We are the same—and we are all bound by the same guiding principles.

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Fifty years later. Are we better or worse off?


In the final two months of 2013, we’ve seen two major stories play over and over in the media—both chronicles of major world leaders and their impacts on our world.

November 22 marked the 50-year anniversary of JFK’s assassination, and on December 5, only 13 days later, Nelson Mandela succumbed to a respiratory infection. Every network and cable station has aired specials on the lives and deaths of both men.

But history had already intertwined the destinies of these men. Only a few months after the life of John Kennedy was snuffed out in the fall of 1963, so too was Nelson Mandela’s—or so Mandela’s sentencer thought. In early 1964, Mandela was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The destinies of both men were, apparently, extinguished forever.

But that was not to be.

The spirit of Kennedy has lived on. Like no president since him, and perhaps no president before him, he has been immortalized. Mandela, against all imaginable possibilities, became president of South Africa after serving 27 years of his prison sentence and being freed.

The legacies of both men have been bigger than the men themselves. Both men were driven by their convictions to better humankind and to change the world in which they lived. They fought against oppression of any and for freedom of all.

Kennedy’s mandate for equal rights became law and forever changed the social structure of the United States. He pointed his finger at the eye of communism, setting a world stage that forced the eventual fall of it two decades later. And in the case of Mandela—while in prison, his legend and podium only grew. He was the guiding figure of freedom for the native people of South Africa. They rallied behind him. Motivated by his perseverance, they forced the minority ruling whites to free Mandela, to end apartheid, to allow true democracy, to pass laws of equality for all and to ensure free voting. In the ultimate irony, the South Africans celebrated Mandela and elected him their first black president.

Perhaps the tragedies of both men served their destinies well.

Regardless of how you view the world around you, whether you believe it to better or worse, regardless of your individual right to view your glass as half empty or half full, there is no question that these two men made your world a better place to live in—a much better place. We owe them a never-ending thank you.

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