A person that calls themselves “kittythedreamer” asked the following question:
Why is it that Christians believe that Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, Native Americans, etc. are all wrong in their beliefs?
This question makes a lot of sense in our culture. When we accept that there is no God, we must also accept that there is no universal purpose or meaning (That’s not me, that’s Nietzsche). We must create our own truth. That’s why Christians baffle people like kittythedreamer (“kitty”). Christians have this old fashioned idea that truth is objective, rather than subjective. Some things are true, or moral, or good, or just, because they are, whether I like it or not. For those who have accepted that there is no God, it’s ridiculous for someone else to suggest there is a meaning and purpose for all of humanity. Letting someone define our personal truth makes as much sense as letting someone pick our personal shoes.
“kitty” is right, Christians do claim that some things are true, and when they do, they can’t accept that the opposing idea is also be true. This mental dexterity is only for those create their own meaning. But “kitty” is wrong in another way. Christians do not believe that other religions are wrong. We believe other religions are right in some very important ways. Here’s a list of some of the ways that other religions are right:
- We’ve already covered the first one. All, or very nearly all, of the world’s religions believe that truth resides outside of the individual. They don’t entirely agree on what that truth is, but it’s external. External often means universal–that means it’s true for everyone, everywhere, for all time. One of the things that humans are supposed to do is conform themselves to that external truth. So rather than thinking everybody is wrong, Christians believe that, in this respect, that these religions are right.
- Another thing that nearly all religions believe is that behind the natural world there is a mystical and/or spiritual reality.
- Most of the religions of the world, past and present, believe in transcendent gods or a God. Christians believe that, in this respect, all those religions are right.
- Most religions believe that God or the gods is/are occasionally active in the lives of humans. Christians believe that, in this respect, all those religions are right.
- Many religions believe that God is interested in human flourishing. Christians believe that, in this respect, these religions are right.
- All religions believe that human beings must contend with evil in their lives. Christians believe that, in this respect, that these religions are right.
- Many religions believe that other religions possess truth. Some are closer to “The Truth” than others.
Obviously, Christians don’t believe that other religions are wrong. There is tremendous agreement among religious adherents. This is not to say that the differences aren’t significant, but the points at which all, or most, religions agree might give one pause.
(Does the atheist say, “You are all correct”? It often sounds like “You are all wrong!”)
Anyway, it feels like there is a lot of conflict between Christians and others in our society. Not all of it can be reduced to closed mindedness and bigotry–some of it has to do with the fact that people of faith look to a source of truth outside themselves. It might not be true, but it must be admitted that the idea that all meaning is necessarily internal also has some significant drawbacks.