I received an interesting response from a reader about a post I wrote on moral relativity. The commenter brought up a good point in saying that with all the religions claiming truth, which one really is true? Because of the number of religious systems available to people, which system is right? Since there is such relativity in the world, the commenter’s opinion is that atheism is the best answer for developing a system of absolute morals.
First, I applaud this person for being a thinker and not merely parroting something he read from Sam Harris or Richard Dawkins. Thanks for really turning your brain on, because you are doing better than many atheists just in doing that. I would hazard a guess, however, that to this person, the relativity in religion is at least in some part due to the lack of desire to judge or be intolerant of another person.
Tolerance has been redefined in today’s society to a level that is no longer tolerance, but the theater of absurdity. Tolerance today means that everyone’s beliefs are equally valid, and that you and I are both right. In reality, tolerance is the idea that the holders of the ideas are equal. We should be egalitarian towards other people, but elitist in our thought and beliefs. The new tolerance is a weird mixture of cowardice and noncommitment. We don’t know enough about what we believe to stand for it, and we don’t know enough about another person’s beliefs to prove them wrong even to ourselves. Therefore, we consider it easier, more tactful and tasteful, to not just agree to disagree, but agree to agree with no basis in agreement.
The problem with religion from the terms of relativity is this: Religions in and of themselves require the adherent to make a value dcision, and religions in and of themselves are value/truth systems. No one becomes a Hindu because “they didn’t have anything better to do.” No one espouses Sufism or Islam because you get a cool turban. There is a reason that resonates inside of the religion to the adherent. The reason for that is that the religion is making some kind of truth claim.
With that in mind, one must consider this: if all religions make some kind of truth claim, there are going to be areas where these “truths” become contradictory and instead of harmonizing, compete with one another. A Muslim and a Hindu by definition cannot agree with one another on the basis of Theism, because while Muslims are staunchly monotheistic, Hindus are polytheistic, and to an extent, pantheistic. Therefore, it is impossible for these two religions to come to terms with one another. With that in consideration, there are only two conclusions that are valid: Either both are wrong, or parts of each one are right, and it requires one to blend some odd syncretism to reconcile the two. This comparison can logically be drawn between all of the different religions of the world.
When this process is duplicated with Christianity versus any other religious system, a distinct pattern emerges: Judeo/Christianity time and again proves itself historically verifiable, either by archaeology or historical writings. The Judeo-Christian theology has proven itself venerable enough to convince men who are staunch skeptics, like Sir William Ramsey, C.S. Lewis, Simon Greenleaf, and Anthony Flew. Like it or not, there is no skeptic alive who has proven one single statement from the gospel of Luke wrong, no one who has determined beyond a doubt that the bible contains fallacious reporting. There exists proof of David, Solomon, the temple of Solomon, Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Hezekiah, and many other biblical figures. Unlike many religious texts, the Bible does lend itself to be tested historically. The same cannot be said of many scriptures, such as the Book of Mormon, or the Vedas.
It was the fact that Christianity makes truth claims and can be tested that drove me to make a decision to follow Christ. While other religions contain some truth, Christianity offers a system that time and again has withstood the test of the archaelogist’s spade, the textual critic’s razor sharp brain. For 2,000 years, Christ continues to be “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” As such, my response is that even the search for truth is not a relativistic nightmare, but a simple endeavor of reading the Bible and seeking after the mind of the One Who IS, Who WAS, and Who IS to come.