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.
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.
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.