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Epistemology, gays, God, and Muslims 

The crux of your recent article about the LGBTQ controversy ("LGBTQ community faces a complicated relationship with faith," June 29) is that literalist interpreters of the Bible like Michael Slack assert that God commands believers to kill gays, whereas non-literalists like reverends Jason Sisk-Provencio and Caroline Hall assert the opposite—that the Bible urges "inclusive love," not judicial execution. The first says "you can't be gay and be a Christian," while the second claims "God created me gay." Each claims to speak authoritatively for God. But we have no empirical evidence that either one does—or more critically that Bible verses do (say as opposed to the Quran, for example). Unless God contradicts herself, both may be simply deceiving themselves. Unfortunately, the rest of us can't be sure what God endorses because God has not put a halo over either interpreter's head nor spoken audibly from heaven lately to endorse either as her spokesperson.

This is an epistemological conundrum that also underlies the controversy regarding Islam. Some "true" Muslims claim Islam is a religion of peace; other "true" ISIS Muslims commit suicide and murder. Both also claim to speak for Allah.

There is no empirical evidence that anyone speaks for Allah/Yahweh/God. Epistemology examines how one knows what one knows. People who believe that God revealed herself in either the Bible or Quran are convinced that they can know absolutely that whatever their revelation says is valid. Therefore, they totally disregard all empirical facts to the contrary. Actually, there is no evidence that Allah or the angel Gabriel dictated the Quran to the Muslim prophet (or the Bible to Hebrew prophets). Nonetheless, all Muslims—from the most liberal to the most extreme jihadist insist that Allah did. Once this unsubstantiated assertion is admitted, this "revelation" trumps all non-confirming evidence to the contrary. The same analysis applies to biblical "revelation."

Then one just arbitrarily chooses their divine spokesperson—be it Slack, Hall, the jihadist suicide bomber, or the "moderate" Muslim—because it's really just them expressing their personal opinion, not God.

Don Casebolt

San Luis Obispo

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