Recently, enlightened society
has taken on a stance that tolerance
is the only way for people with different religious beliefs
to get along. Tolerance, by definition, is sympathy or indulgence
for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own. But the street definition for tolerance has been blurred into allowing everyone to believe what they want to believe. “What’s true for you, may not be true for me
, and that’s ok”. It’s not ok. Tolerance has been warped into relativism
-- the belief that ethical truths
depend on the individuals and groups holding them. Relativist say that truth is different for everyone, and as long as they believe in them enough, that’s alight.
Relativism does not lead to peace, understanding or tolerance. Relativism is a dangerous belief, if mishandled, and it is important to understand exactly what relativism means. The only way there will be peace is through true tolerance. Tolerance that has been untainted. That is hearing what others have to say and respecting those beliefs. Without free speech, there can be no peace. Tolerance demands that everyone has the opportunity to speak out, and in return, their beliefs must be respected. Tolerated.
Consider love without sentimentality. A doctor knows his patient has cancer. The doctor loves the patient, has compassion for the patient, and so it is hard to hurt them by telling them that they have cancer, but the doctor must deliver the news. He must have love without sentimentality. He must state the hard truth with compassion, and not with arrogance or pride.
It is like this for those who are tolerant. We must listen to what others say. We must diagnose them and then share our beliefs with compassion, not pride. They, in return, will listen to our beliefs. Utopian? Yes. Plausible? Yes. Likely in today’s society? No. We are a society that is ready to be offended. We must understand others, and there is no greater place for that understanding to take place in today’s society than in the area of religion.
Relativists argue that truth is not universal. Instead, it depends on the person and their situation. Their reasoning is flawed. They argue that there is no absolute truth. There must be absolute truth. There are three basic arguments relativist present about religion. The first is that all religions boil down to the same thing. We know this is not true because god cannot be one and many. Christians believe that God is a trinity. He is intimate with His people taking on the form of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Christians gain intimacy with God through the Son, Jesus Christ. Judaism, on the other hand, states that God is a personal god, engaged with people, but not intimate. Christ has yet to come to earth and Jews are awaiting God’s return. Muslims believe that God is one. He is distant and controls their fate. There is nothing they can do to sway God’s plan for their life. Buddhism theology centers around a non personal force, not even a god, while Hinduism has one god who is non personal and very intricate. How can all religions be the same if they are so different? There are so many details to each and everyone of these religions that they cannot possibly be lead by the same god. Even the three God centered religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, are all fundamentally different. Their views of God are all very different and their traditions vary greatly.
The second argument relativists present is that truth varies from person to person. “what's true for you does not have to be true for me”. In religion, there are three basic beliefs about what happens at death. They are resurrection, the belief that the spirit will be taken to heaven or an after-life following death, reincarnation, stating that a spirit is born again into the world, taking on a new form, and extinction, the belief that after death, there is no more, the soul dies with the body. All of these cannot be true. There is only one truth. Some relativists believe that if one believes in any of these three enough, it will be true for them. For instance, if a Christian believes that they will be resurrected, then upon their death, this will be true for them. At the same time, if an atheist believes in extinction enough, they will become extinct at death. This reasoning is false. If we are able to determine what happens to us upon our deaths, that makes us gods. If an atheist, who believes in extinction is able to make themselves extinct upon death, then what happens to the god? The god is eliminated, creating chaos in the universe.
The final statement a relativist may make when arguing about religious beliefs is that ,even though religions contradict each other, they all lead to the same spiritual experience. “All roads lead to Rome”, if you will. That statement says that there is only one god who has chosen to manifest himself in many different forms. He appears to different people in different situations in different ways, in order to appeal to them at different times. This is the universalistic approach. Universalism is a theological doctrine stating that all human beings will eventually be saved. This is also a false belief. As stated above, different religions have different beliefs about the afterlife. Why would a god lie to their believers in such radically different ways? It is warped reasoning.
Relativism is a strong belief, wanting to make everyone happy. It has its roots in tolerance, but it has strayed from true tolerance. Only tolerance can unite people with different beliefs, bring understanding and compassion to the world. Relativism is nothing more than a band-aid. It seeks to let everyone be happy. It does not call for higher understanding or compassion of any other religions. Instead, it only seeks to let everyone have their own say and turn a deaf ear to anything that is not a part of their beliefs.
Written after attending a lecture given by James Sires, author of I'm ok, You're ok, That's ok, Ok?