Does the multiplicity of religions mean that all religions are false?

Gilbert B., a reader from the Netherlands, sent an e-mail that began with quotation of an interview with someone named Taslima Nasreen in Politique Internationale (apologies for removing the French accent marks):

A. D. V.—L’islam peut-il etre reforme?

T. N.—Les religions ne peuvent pas etre reformees. Nous avons besoin aujourd’hui d’une veritable revolution qui nous debarrasse des systemes religieux, quels qu’ils soient. D’apres moi, aucune personne saine d’esprit et rationnelle ne peut croire a ces sornettes.

Here is a rough translation, with an assist from Babel Fish:

A. D. V.—Can Islam be reformed?

T. N.—Religions cannot be reformed. We need today a true revolution which removes us from religious systems, whatever they are. In my view, no rational person of sound mind can believe these twaddles.

To which Gilbert added:

Wise words to remember and live by!

LA to Gilbert:

Did you just write to me saying that every sane and rational person should stop believing in God and religion?

Gilbert replies:

Why does the theist disbelieve in all other gods except for the one or few in their belief system? Why does the atheist, skeptic, or freethinker not make an exception for just one god out of the tens of thousands which humans throughout history have believed in?

Look at what is said at an Islamic website:

Rationality requires belief in God

Being rational means being a moral thinker.
Being a moral thinker means believing in Allah.
Only the irrational disbelieve.

I think you should welcome Muslims!

LA replies:

You’re making a very rudimentary—and disastrous—mistake which is common throughout the modern liberal world. You think that if there is a God, then all people should see him the same way, and since people see him differently, that proves there is no God. You also say that if a person believes in God, then he must believe in all religions. Thus, according to your logic, a Christian is obligated to believe in or at least respect Islam. And therefore the only way to defend ourselves from Islam is to stop believing in God and Christianity.

In fact, humans being human, and thus all constituted differently, it’s inevitable that they would see God differently. Further, humans being imperfect, it is inevitable that their concepts of God would be imperfect. Even a religion that is commenced by God himself will be taken over by humans and become mixed with imperfect human understandings.

This cannot be avoided. If God exists, he is infinite. Man is very limited, he is not infinite. Each culture is limited, it is not infinite. Each culture sees aspects of God that it can see. Each forms a religion that expresses the truth of God in a way that conforms with that culture.

Different religions will express different aspects of God. Some religions will express more of God than others. Some religions will even conceive of God as monstrously violent, like the Aztec religion, or Islam. The fact of the multiplicity of religions and of concepts of God does not disprove God. Nor does it mean that all religions are equally valid.

Each organized religion, even if inspired by a true revelation of God at its outset, is a human endeavor. Therefore it will reflect the partiality and incompleteness of the people who lead it. Therefore the proper response of an intelligent man to the multiplicity of religions is not to say that all religions are equally false (or equally true), but rather to seek the truth oneself and try to determine which religion or religions are closer to the truth than others.

- end of initial entry -

Ingemar P. writes:

The problem with Gilbert’s (false) strawman argument is his the assumption that Christians and Muslims must disagree on everything because their respective religious viewpoints are different.

He doesn’t realize that in broad strokes, Christianity and Islam have more in common with each other (as far as basic moral assumptions are concerned) than either has with rationalist materialism.

Unfortunately, this stunning apathy and laziness in examining the truth claims of world religions is common in many atheists.

Terry Morris writes:

LA wrote:

“Did you just write to me saying that every sane and rational person should stop believing in God and religion?”

Actually I think what Gilbert was saying is that a person’s sanity and rationality need to be judged by his belief or disbelief in a theistic God. Those who believe in God are insane and irrational, those who disbelieve are, of course, the opposite.

This is the view Gilbert is propagating.

October 10

Clark Coleman writes:

There are hundreds of books on diet and nutrition. Some emphasize calories, while others say that calories are the wrong focus. Some focus on fats, others on carbohydrates, and not only do these authors contradict themselves, they declare opposing views to be dangerous to your health.

Therefore, I conclude that there is no healthy approach to eating. Every approach to eating is wrong. Why should I believe that one approach out of hundreds is the absolute truth? How could I possibly pick just one and reject all the others? What credibility do all these authors have when they all say that the others are wrong and pronounce mutual anathemas?

The rational solution is to not eat at all. Then at least I will not be choosing one irrational, incorrect approach out of hundreds.

October 10

LA to Alan Roebuck (October 9):

I know my answer to Gilbert is not at the highest level, but maybe it’s adequate to the purpose.

Alan Roebuck writes:

Gilbert’s exact position is not clear, as he makes snide comments rather than clear arguments, but the basic thrust of your response is good: disagreement proves nothing.

Bottom line: Gilbert is assuming no God exists, because people who believe God is possible do not contemptuously reject Him because of the multiplicity of religious beliefs.

P.S. You said:

“Even a religion that is commenced by God himself will be taken over by humans and become mixed with imperfect human understandings.”

This is why Protestants believe in Sola Scriptura, which simply means that the Bible is the highest authority on every subject of which it speaks (and not all of the other things which its enemies say it means.) Sola Scriptura is a defense against man-made innovations

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 09, 2009 01:05 PM | Send

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