Sunday, February 06, 2005

Thinking about World Religions

There is an interesting new resource in the world of apologetics blogging. The Counter-Cult Blog is a resource dedicated to apologetic work in the area of world religions and cults. This post is something I submitted to the blog. Swing by and check it out-it promises to be a growing and useful repository of information.

I have also sent this post to Vox Apologia IV being hosted at
FirstPeter3:15. There should be some great submissions listed there as well.

It is becoming more and more commonplace to view all world religions as basically the same. It is fashionable to believe that they all teach the same things, that their adherents all believe in the same god, and that all sincere believers wind up in paradise, utopia, heaven, or take your pick. Unfortunately, when one takes a closer look at the details, that belief simply can’t be true. What follows is a set of guidelines useful in thinking about world religions and human spirituality.

First, many use the fact that humanity through the ages and across all cultural lines has had some kind of religious drive in order to argue that all religions are basically the same. Every culture everywhere has believed in some kind of supernatural being and afterlife. Upon closer inspection, though, we will notice that some very important details rise to the surface. No major, historical world religion believes all major religions are basically the same. In other words, they all take themselves and their claims seriously and they do not teach that another religion, which might teach that god or the supernatural is something different, is just like they are. Regardless of what the Americanized version of, say, Hinduism or Zen is, neither teach that ultimate reality is both personal and nonpersonal at the same time, or that god is both separate from and the same as nature all at the same time. Only corrupted versions of these and other religions teach things like that.

A better way of understanding humanity’s innate drive toward the religious is not the see all religions as the same, it is to recognize the reality of some supernatural truth.

Contradictory statements cannot both be true in the same way at the same time-even if they are about religious beliefs. For several reasons many people have bought the notion that scientific statements and religious statements are not in the same category in the sense that scientific statements are about the real world and have truth value and religious statements are about subjective feelings and do not have truth value in the real world. On the contrary, the Christian belief, “God exists,” is a claim on reality and is either true or false. That statement is not reducible to “God exists for me.” Those are two different assertions making claims on two sets of things-objective reality and some individual.

So, if Islam claims, “God is One,” and Christianity claims, “God is Triune,” both cannot have the same truth value (in reality) just as "1=3" is false. Additionally, if Buddhism claims, “Salvation is through enlightenment,” and Christianity claims, “Salvation is by grace through faith,” both cannot have the same truth value just as “apples are fire trucks” is false.

It may not be popular to believe that only one thing can be true in a sea of falsehoods, but clear thinking and simple logic teaches us that it is true. That most religions teach that there is a supreme being is not proof that they all teach about the same supreme being, it is, instead, proof that there might just be some kind of supreme being.

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