Reacting to religious diversity
Conflicts involving religious pluralism
Does religious pluralism mean that all religions are factually true?
No. Multiple religions cannot all be absolutely true
for the simple reason that they hold conflicting cosmological, moral,
and theological beliefs. Consider just one belief: that of the nature of deity, as held by the following
eleven religions and belief
||Atheists have no concept of a supernatural God.
||Strong Atheists assert that God does not exist.
||Agnostics remain uncertain about the
presence of God. They believe that there is insufficient proof of either
God's existence or non-existence. Some suggest that a proof can never be found.
||Christian denominations, with a few exceptions, teach that God
is a Trinity of three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who together form a single entity.
||Hinduism is a
henotheistic religion. Its followers believe in a single deity, Brahman, but
also recognize other gods and
goddesses as facets or manifestations or aspects of that supreme God.
||Islam and Judaism
are monotheistic religions; Muslims
and Jews believe that
God is a unity, a single personality, without internal divisions. The belief
that God is a Trinity is considered a serious sacrilege. However, they differ with respect to
God's names, attributes, and expectations of humans.
||Santeria is a polytheistic religion.
They recognize Olorun, as the "owner of heaven," and in a group of
other guardians, called Orisha. Their deity
structure is similar to the Pagan religions of ancient Greece and Rome.
||Wicca, and many other Neopagan
religions are ditheistic; they teach that God is dual: consisting of a male God and a female
Goddess. Bitheistic and duotheistic are synonyms for ditheistic.
||Zoroastrianism is also ditheistic. The
believe in two deities of approximately equal powers: one wholly good and
the other wholly evil.
Obviously, a maximum of only one of the above religions that believe in a deity can be absolutely true according to
the Law of Non-contradiction. 1 The vast majority are factually false.
Can many religions be valid without being absolutely true?
Yes. One can recognize the validity and worthiness of other religions, even
though they are very different from our own. For example:
||We can recognize that followers of other religions often consider
their faith to be absolutely true. Different cultures have different
fundamental beliefs about deity, humanity and the rest of the
universe. From these foundational beliefs, religions and systems of
morality are derived, which their followers consider to be true.
||We can realize that other religions successfully motivate their followers to be
more spiritual, loving and ethical. For
example, many Muslims and Roman Catholics appreciate the importance that the
other group assigns
to close family bonds, personal ethical behavior,
||We can often find individual beliefs that we hold in common with other
religions. For example, almost all religions have an Ethic
of Reciprocity. This is called the Golden Rule in
Christianity: to do onto others as one would wish to be treated in
||We can acknowledge the dedication with which the followers of other
religions follow their religious faith. As an example, a Christian can
appreciate the sincerity and dedication with which Muslims observe fasting
lunar month of Ramadan.
||One can recognize the worth of each human being, and the importance
of guaranteeing fundamental human rights to
all. This includes
the freedom by which individuals can follow their own spiritual and religious
path. Valuing the rights of other people to hold diverse beliefs
can lead to an appreciation of their beliefs.
||As we study other religions, we will probably find resonances there that
help us to gain a deeper understanding of our own faith. We can value other
religions for the contribution that they can make to our own spiritual path.
Copyright © 2001 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2001-MAY-20
Latest update: 2007-NOV-02
Author: B.A. Robinson