D. E. Buckner taught philosophy at the University of Bristol.
Buckner (philosophy, Univ. of Bristol, UK) begins by posing a philosophical question: Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? He proposes that if the answer is yes, one of them must have a false belief about God; if the answer is no, one of them is not worshiping the true God. To determine which proposition is correct, Buckner delves into the philosophy of language, focusing on “reference” in order to explain how words attach themselves, become applied to, and indeed become signifiers of something. Buckner challenges standard understandings of “reference” and asserts that they are story-relative. He intersects that concept with notions of identity, truth, and existence as a way to solve the age-old question of God within the three Abrahamic traditions. The author's argument hinges on his deft explanation of what story-relative ultimately means for references to and about deity in the various scriptures, whether oral or written. Buckner separates the to and the about and is able to make a compelling claim on where Jews, Christians, and Muslims differ on the subject of God. Furthermore, while asserting very real differences based on different stories, he is also able to identify how Jews, Christians, and Muslims converge with respect to God as the object of prayer. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.
"D.E. Buckner's excellent book is primarily concerned with the topic referred to in the first word of its title. Religious texts provide a useful context for this. Ultimately what Buckner offers here is a master class in the way a crucial problem in the philosophy of language should be addressed."