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Many religions believe that their holy book is the literal word of God (and not the word of the messenger). For instance, the announcement of "new rules" for humanity, such as Quranic injunctions like no drinking, no gambling, no charging interest, compulsory wearing of headscarves for women, etc, are believed to be God's commandments, and not of Prophet Mohammed. But doesn't this belief contradict the belief that God is all wise and all knowing?

Surely an omniscient creator does not need to issue new rules! Surely, an all-wise God created us to be the way we are, and he knew what would be good for us and what not good for us, and this was programmed into nature in the very beginning!

All religious messengers have brought new rules for living, which are not present in nature. If we take it that the actual words of God are being spoken through these messengers, then are we not saying that God had forgotten a few things earlier, and so that he needed to correct himself by delivering new rules?

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    The Christian`s God is interested in building loving relationships. However God refusing to explain the reasons for why evil is permitted is very counterproductive to securing our love. A loving God would ensure available evidence causally sufficient to engender true belief. But God don't ensure this, God created rational beings endowed with inclinations to an enormous spectrum of religious beliefs and denied them warrant for true religion. Is picking the right religion just a matter of lucky guesswork? If the evidence is sufficient, then why are there so many nonbelievers in Christianism? – Annotations Jul 2 '13 at 16:13
  • @Ricardo, well put. – goblin Feb 16 '15 at 19:56
  • In Islam, the instruction is to follow Allah and his Messenger(Mohammed). The statement of belief is belief in Allah and his messenger. Mohammed is the example. The bible does't say follow God and Moses. In Islam mohammed is considered the perfect man and even how he goes to the toilet is copied. Everything mohammed did in his life is an example of how to behave for muslims. – barlop Feb 22 '15 at 14:13
  • Normally the rule on a ship is that you are not allowed to enter the lifeboats; when the ship is about to sink, you'll be told to enter the lifeboats. Does that mean that the crew didn't know about the proper use of lifeboats all along? – celtschk Mar 21 '15 at 13:21
  • well, i wouldn't rely on @Ricardo's description of Christian theology to be representative nor accurate. first thing, whether we be Muslim, Jew, Christian, Zoroastrian or whatever (dunno how the Dharmic faiths view God), we protoplasms still don't know diddly about the nature of God, so language like "Surely an omniscient creator does not.." or "A loving God would ensure .." is over-reaching. conventional Christian theology usually thinks that God created humans good, but humanity fell. conventional Christian belief is that God sent messengers as a means of connecting with we fallen beings. – robert bristow-johnson Dec 1 '15 at 4:57
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The traditional theological response to this is to see new divine commandments as still conforming to the deity's plan; these new commandments were simply planned to be introduced at a certain time in man's development. There's therefore no need to view the calculation as a miscalculation, or the introduction of new rules as "forgetting" to have introduced them earlier.

More to the point, neither the believer or the non-believer is likely to find this line of argumentation to be dispositive-- one's belief (or lack of belief) will not be swayed by this type of argument, because the plan (if there is a plan) is unknowable and incomprehensible by humans, and therefore out of the realm of falsifiability.

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So any new rules mentioned in the Quran, such as no drinking, gambling, interest, women wearing scarves, etc, are believed to be God's command, and Muhammad had nothing to do with it. But wouldn't that belief contradict the concept of a God that is all wise and all knowledgeable?

I do not see how it contradicts a all powerful deity. I would not characterise Mohammed as having nothing to do with it. He is the type writer on which Allah rights his book. He is still pretty vital for the Muslim.

I would presume that Allah would still need a way to convey his teachings to the world. That is what Prophets do.

And if we are to take it that these messengers are not speaking their words at all, but are speaking the actual words of God, then we are saying that God has forgotten a few things, and now through these messengers,

Huh? How are you equivocating God using messengers as to him forgetting things. Seems to me that line of thought does not follow.

He created us to be the way we are, and he knew what would be good for us and what not good for us (and this has been programmed into nature). So if we are to say that these messengers are from God directly, then is this not a discredit to the all wise creator?

Not at all.

PS what does programmed into nature mean?

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It is not inconsistent with an all-knowing G-d to introduce messengers at various points to communicate His will if, as Torah suggests, man knew His will in the beginning (because G-d spoke with him), but sin --the disconnection from G-d-- through its steady work of degeneration, hid God's will from man; rather, man became blinded to it. Man would then have to be reminded for what purposes he was intended. Providing oracles, then, is not the same thing as G-d adding a 'post script' to His creation. In fact, presuming G-d is transcendent, any knowledge of the Same must necessarily be revealed as man would utterly lack the tools to know how to even begin to know Him or His will.

Our language is almost entirely based on descriptions of a world of three dimensions and time. What G-d is must be separate, 'Kadosh', Holy --in a word 'alien' to anything we could understand. Think about it.

Now, as to which 'messengers' are authoritative-- this might call for evaluation of criteria not easily amenable to this format.

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No. It is possible that an all wise entity or G-d would communicate with human beings, therefore it is not a contradiction. It is also possible that a meteor will fall on my head upon posting this message. Possible, probable, ...I think you would enjoy zeitgeistmovie.com.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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You have a very valid point.

  1. Wisdom, God, right and wrong unchanged

Muslims believe that all Abrahamic Prophets were inspired by the same one God and originally taught the same message with no contradiction. Why? Because The human intellect has never changed...My wisdom is no different from the people from the time of Jesus, Abraham, Muhammad,Moses, Adam,etc. If my wisdom isn't to change while considering that the lord, the rules of going into heaven or hell don't change either then the messages coming from God's messengers shouldn't be changed as well i.e. if the messages are to change then that would mean each an every prophet came with a new message which would actually create anarchy. Imagine if the prophets said something to our fathers and then later the next prophet said something significantly different to our children ( both in the same era) All prophets have came to invite people to Worshiping God and to be considerate of the afterlife. Its like Apple sending technicians for its iPhones to different countries, but each of them guide people totally differently. 90% of the guidance that people need is the same only 10% it varies, per time, per environment. The 90% which is constant:

  1. Three basic interactions that haven't changed through time

Human interactions: Not stealing, Not Lying, having kindness, Having love, Sacrifice, Charity, Not backbiting,etc.

Human and to itself interaction: Wasting time, damaging your body or more importantly your soul, youth, etc. is something that religion is against

Human and its lord interaction: Worshiping him day and night through every action, praying, fasting, pilgrimage...

Religion is like a 50 lane highway...that has boundaries of 50 lanes, but still flexible into 50 lanes i.e. through out time a lane could become better or worse.

  1. So why do you think there is change?

Islam believes that the changes were very minimal and if you are seeing many changes now, its only because that their message and their books have been deviated and manipulated...otherwise the religions themselves were very close... still even though that there has been many deviations, the 3 major religions of Christianity, Islam, Judaism have plenty in common.

A CEO that doesn't adapt to change isn't wise...a CEO that his plans are doable for only a few weeks isn't wise as well. God's planning has been fabulous...his religions haven't changed rather they have been manipulated by their followers...just go see the history of all prophets...I mean Cain killed his brother right from the beginning, don't you think there was always power struggle before and after a prophet departs?! Most prophets have been killed, Or John the Baptist...As long as the prophets were getting, and their message being manipulated, then God had to send down more and more messengers so that tiny light for the correct path be visible to all at all times

And his religion seemed to be very doable for centuries ( how soon does Apple have to send new iPhones just so that it could keep up; if there was something better than the Abrahamic religions people would have rushed towards it by now)...holding on to a 2000 year religion has never been easy...which may make religion look stupid as it did make Noah and his followers looked stupid when they were building the Ark!

Summary:

  1. People, God, Right and wrong haven't changed. All of God's messengers delivered a very very similar message.
  2. The principles to prosper for the afterlife hasn't changed. And God as the best planner has brought humans the best religion that doesn't change much...only a little
  3. Why do you 'wrongly' think messengers have different messages? Because always and always there were a group of people fighting the messenger during his life, killing his successors or sons after him, and deviating his message to their benefit, ...Even heard how John the Baptist was killed?
  4. God's message has been so great...far better than any product, it hasn't needed to go through alteration as humans products normally go through...
  • There's a lot here, but I'm having trouble following it. Or rather I'm having trouble figuring out which part answers "why does God need multiple messengers?" which seems to be the OPs question. Maybe it's in here, but there's a lot here that isn't directly part of that answer and/or not sufficiently organized to make that clear. – virmaior Dec 1 '15 at 4:23
  • @virmaior I edited it somewhat sensei...lemme know if its better now – Honey Dec 1 '15 at 18:50
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Many religions... believe their holy book to be the literal word of God... But wouldn't that belief contradict the concept of a God that is all wise and all knowledgeable?

I think what it really contradicts is the concept of a God that is not only all-wise, but also, all-powerful. Such a God, upon finding that he/she has a desire to communicate with some or all people, would communicate with those people directly (since he/she it has the power to), and always with a specialized message for them, expressed in exactly those words (visions etc.) that will best be understood (since he/she is all-wise). What such a God would not do is choose a few specific messengers (Muhammad, Abraham, etc.) to play the role of a prophet with respect to some kind of a one-size-fits-all generic message for all of humanity.

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