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15 comments | Monday, October 10, 2005

When it comes to religious matters, most people want to be politically correct. That is, they want to say “all religions are equally valid,” which is religious pluralism. However, the only thing correct about religious pluralism is that it’s politically correct. Apparently, as long as you’re sincere about your religion, and just as long as some type of “god” is relevant somehow, it doesn’t really matter what you believe. Religious belief has been completely taken out of the realm of reality. This, however, is completely absurd. One does not even need be religious to see that this is completely false.

Greg Koukl deciphers the misunderstanding when it comes to religious truths. In an Article called “Religious Stew,” he says the following:

Forgive me for stating something so obvious, but there is a difference between choosing an ice cream flavor and choosing a medicine. When choosing ice cream, you choose what you like. When choosing medicine, you have to choose what heals.

Many people think of God like they think of ice cream, not like they think of insulin. In other words, they choose religious views according to their tastes, not according to what is true. The question of truth hardly even comes up in the conversation.

More than that, the question of truth is somewhat of a confusing, almost incoherent issue to them. How can you test something like a religious claim to determine if it's true or not? Religious truth is what you believe. It's that leap of faith you take. It has nothing to do with reality, ultimately. It is not anything you can test or measure. It is something you have to believe and hope against hope that it's true. It becomes a kind of wishful thinking, a religious placebo of sorts.

Clearly, many people choose their religion like they choose their ice cream; what ever you like. But religious truth is not necessarily likeable. In Christianity, there are some things I don’t like, and if it were up to me I might change them; but its not. I did not choose Christianity because I like it and it makes me happy, I chose it because I think it’s actually true.

On the one hand, religious freedom is a good thing. People should be able to decide what religion they want to adopt, or to even scrap religion all together—this is freedom. Tolerance is a virtue, and with all the diversity in America, we should be respectful to others. However, “tolerance” does not mean that “all views are correct,” it just means that we respect the person’s right to choose their religion. People have taken tolerance too far and have redefined it. It is defined in a way now that makes someone “intolerant” if they say any particular view is right or wrong; which in effect, is intolerant of those who are intolerant.

Going back to pluralism, we simply do not put religion in a world that corresponds to reality. However, religious claims can be tested for coherence—and either accepted or rejected based on the findings. The real question people should be asking is whether or not (fill in the blank) religion is really true. This is not an “ice cream” question. If a certain religion is true, your eternal destiny maybe at stake; being silly and choosing what’s good for you is just wrong. So, as Koukl suggests, the question of religious truth is more like a medication question.

To make more sense of this, let’s consider the Avian Flu. Suppose this flu suddenly became highly contagious and began to pass from human to human as some suggest. Here is something the media, government, and health officials will NOT tell you. They won’t say: “There is a huge outbreak of the Avian flu, everyone needs to immediately get the Avian vaccination; what ever that means to you.” This, simply put, is not a matter of what you like; it’s a matter of what will save your life. Parallel this with religious truth and you can see that it’s not a flavor issue. This is why religious claims must be tested for coherence.

Another tendency is when people pick and choose things they like from each religion and then make their own. This is another dangerous flavor tactic. Koukl has cleverly labeled this “Stew” in his article:

I call this idea religious stew--taking little bits and pieces of different religions and putting them together in one 'pious porridge,' so to speak--the eclectic view, the religious smorgasbord view, where you go down the line and pick a little here and a little there, and you put it on your plate and call it your religion. When you put things on your plate you put them there for a reason. You put things on the plate in a smorgasbord because they are the things you like, not necessarily things that are good for you. That is the same problem with the religious stew approach.

I find it strange when people pick their religion like a grand buffet. However, many justify this by asserting the similarities of the world’s religions are all that truly matters. But sound reasoning tells us, however, that all religions are not essentially the same merely because they contain some similarities. It only takes a brief survey of a few religions that would hastily reveal that every single one of them has competing claims which contradict other religions.

Take Hinduism for example; can someone logically square the Hindu teaching that the universe is God with the Muslim belief that Allah, the God of Islam, is distinct from the universe? Anybody who takes an honest approach to comparative religion would have to admit that religions harbor irreconcilable differences, demonstrating that they cannot all possibly lead to the same God. Logically speaking, it would be more correct to say they can all be wrong. However, they cannot all be right. The law of contradiction states that no statement can be both true and false; or, A and not-A is a contradiction and always false.

It is not my intent to condemn all religions, at this point; I only want to show what is clear. It is impossible for all roads to lead to Rome. In light of logic, we can still respect people’s freedom of choice, but let us not patronize each other with smiles ad nauseam as if it were—that all religious views are true. Everyone thinks their religion is the right one or else what’s the point? Their all exclusive. We should search for truth and reject what is not truth even in religious matters.

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Blogger execution said...

So, what's wrong with choosing what you like? If your choosing something for yourself, then wouldn't that make whatever you choose true for you?

10/12/2005 6:00 PM

Blogger Beowulf said...

You can choose what you like for ice cream; that’s true for you. But if you have diabetes you don’t choose what is true for you. You need insulin, or you will die. You need a religion that is insulin. Take this very seriously execution, this is NOT an ice cream decision.

10/12/2005 7:30 PM

Blogger execution said...

Why isn't it an ice cream decision? Why does religion have to be like insulin?

10/16/2005 4:40 PM

Blogger Beowulf said...

If a certain religion like Islam is true (really actually TRUE), then your in big trouble. You can treat as if it doesn’t matter, because if your wrong, your “dead” wrong.

10/16/2005 5:34 PM

Blogger execution said...

I don't understand your explanation.

10/18/2005 1:20 PM

Blogger execution said...

Hey-lo. But the question is: How does anyone prove that a specific religion is true if most are based on beliefs?

Another question: What is reality? Seriously, what if my reality isn't your reality? Or, what if I have the same reality as Joe Schmoe?

The dictionary gives me a lot of help. Reality - the quality or state of being actual or true. Hmmm. Somebody definitely used a lot of imagination to come up with that one. So, how would one try to correspond religion/beliefs with reality? Any ideas?

Okay. Enough with the profound questions for a while. I am tired. My brain is fried. Why, you ask? Well, I had an exam today. That pretty much sums up my day. I certainly hope you had a better one. Oyy. I could curl up and sleep for a week. That sounds like a really good idea. Vacation . It's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it? I like that word. Can you think of a better word than that? Ooh, I can! Sleep..... that just might be my all-time favorite word of the english language. - As for spanish, I'm still thinking. A lot of cool words there. I think Catarata is it for now. Know any interesting sounding spanish words?

Hmmm. Well, I guess it's time to go. It's been a long day. Talk later. Have a nice day! C ya!

10/19/2005 9:04 PM

Blogger Beowulf said...

So you want to know what reality is. Here’s a taste, jump off a cliff and see what happens, play chicken with a train, pick a fight with Mike Tyson—reality will “happen.”

You do, however, have a fair point about most religions. Most religions are just based on beliefs; however, not all. Religions like Christianity make truth claims. The Bible makes claims about history, people and prophetic predictions; they can be tested for validity and rationality.

Most religions however, make claims that cannot be tested. Take for example Hinduism; they say that the world and “reality” is just an illusion. The only way to know whether religions like these are true is to test them with rationality.

Religions can be tested, accepted or rejected. Look at what they say. Is it logical? Can we verify the claims? What evidence is there to support or refute the claims?

Listen to what Budda said;

Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true. [paraphrased]

10/21/2005 9:18 AM

Blogger execution said...

Budda - good advice. I usually do that. Life would be even more boring if I spent the entire time following the crowd. One of the [few]good things about being human is being able to choose what to believe or what not to believe.

I like your examples for getting a taste of reality. Want to here a wonderful quote that just says it all?

"Shit happens" - Now THAT I believe. It has been tested. It has been proven. By whom, you ask? Pick a person.

10/24/2005 10:15 AM

Blogger Beowulf said...

Execution, believing in something doesn’t make it true. Try this experiment: “Wish in one hand and crap in the other; and see which one fills up first.”

10/24/2005 11:08 AM

Blogger execution said...

I know believing doesn't make something true. For instance, I could believe that everything bad that has happened to me wasn't real - it was all just a dream. - But that wouldn't make it true. I'm not that stupid (I'm a realist, by the way). I was only commenting on your Budda qoute.

What I ment about choosing what to believe or what not to believe - was that I don't have to believe everything. I have the ability to "believe only what I judge and test to be true." I have the freedom to not believe all that I see or hear. I don't have to believe something just because a "wise person" said it. In other words, I was agreeing with you and Budda.

10/25/2005 1:09 PM

Blogger Beowulf said...

Point well taken

10/25/2005 3:00 PM

Blogger execution said...

Good morning. My first paper is done. Whew! How are you doing?

10/26/2005 4:57 AM

Blogger Beowulf said...

Good morning, I am working on a paper too. Once you get one done, you have to do another (story of my life).

10/26/2005 9:02 AM

Blogger execution said...

Ain't it the truth. I have to come up with a topic for my next paper. I have to do a research essay on a career. I get to choose the career but I have no idea what to pick. There are so many to choose from. So many papers, so little time.

10/27/2005 4:27 AM

Blogger execution said...

My topic is architecture, and I am brain-dead. I can't think of anything else to write. It has to be at least 1000 words and I'm not even half way there yet. I hate beating around the bush. Maybe I am odd, but I usually like to say what I have to say and be done with it. It has never taken me a 1000 words to get my point across.
....Oyyy.... it's been a long day.

11/01/2005 1:14 PM


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