Wednesday, September 14, 2011

All Religions Are the Same

Let's think about the statement, "All religions are the same." That sounds pretty much spot-on doesn't it? I mean, if you think about it, all religions pretty much teach the same thing: love your neighbor as yourself. Well, let's take a closer look at that, from a simple, philosophical point of view, as a detailed look at particular religions here spoils the brevity of this post.

If all religions are the same, then they are all true. If they are all true, then--catch it--they are all false. Why? This is because the statement "all religions are the same" is equivalent to the statement "all religions are true" or "all religions reflect the truth about the ultimate reality of the universe." But if the latter statement is true, then all religious statements (statements about religion) are true. If all religious statements are true, then the following statement is also true: "all religions are false."

Therefore it makes no sense to say "all religions are the same," because one could also say "all religions are false," and both sentences could be true, but it is an obvious contradiction to say on the one hand that all religions are true, and on the other that they are all false. The pluralist statement "all religions are the same" violates the law of non-contradiction which states that
contradictory statements cannot both be true at the same time. "My wife is pregnant" and "My wife is not pregnant" cannot both be true at the same time.

So when Jesus said he was the way, the truth and the life, he was making a statement in accord with the law of non-contradiction. Either Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, or he isn't. We can't have it both ways.

Perhaps this seems a bit cavalier. I'm not taking pluralism very seriously. No, that's not the case. Pluralism has many good things to teach us, on an existential level. In other words, we should treat each other with dignity and respect and love, and not belittle each other or do violence to others because they are different. That's a horrible sin. I'm talking here about the epistemological value of making truth-claims. It really is rather simple: if all religions are true, then it is equally true, given the epistemological relativism implicit in such a statement, that all religions are false. But we know that the law of non-contradiction exists, and we know Jesus made the statements he made. So, we have to deal with Jesus' statements about himself. Be invited to read the gospels for yourselves, maybe even afresh if you've done so, but it's been a while. Be invited to investigate who Jesus is, and what he has to say about life, religion, and God.

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