One of the things that irks most people today is to say that there is only one right religion. I mean how arrogant is that! As a Christian how can I say that my beliefs are better or more truthful than a Muslim’s beliefs or a Buddhist’s beliefs?
One of the biggest objections to the idea of exclusivism (the belief that there is only one God and there is only one way to that God) is to assert that all religions are just culturally conditioned responses to reality. The argument goes like this: I am a white western male and therefore it is obvious that I would be a Christian because generally white western males, if they are going to believe in something, they will believe in the Christian God. But if I grew up in Morocco I would be a Muslim because most males in Morocco are Muslim. Therefore if this is true then this proves that all religions are culturally conditioned responses to reality and we should not say one is better than the other!
Here is how the great philosopher Alvin Plantinga responds to this objection:
“Suppose we concede that if I had been born of Muslim parents in Morocco rather than Christian parents in Michigan, my beliefs would have been quite different. But the same Goes for the pluralist.. If the pluralist had been born in Morocco he probably wouldn’t be a pluralist. Does it follow that… his pluralist beliefs are produced in him by an unreliable belief producing process?’
Alvin Plantinga, A Defense of Religious Exclusivism, p. 205
In this quote Plantinga points out that the objection cuts both ways. For example, if an atheist student had been born in Morocco, then he probably would be a Muslim, not an atheist! Does it follow that his atheist beliefs are merely conditioned by his parents or peers? As Tim Keller observes “You can’t say, ‘All claims about religions are historically conditioned except the one I am making right now.’”
All people whether they are Christians, Muslims or atheists are products of the cultures they were raised in. But atheists would never want to say that their atheism is merely the result of cultural conditioning.
When we go down the road of claiming that those who disagree with me only believe what they believe because of their culture or upbringing or some because of ignorance I am not giving their position any respect. I am simply patronizing them and really I don’t care about them or their position I am just trying to be right.
Are religions culturally conditioned. To certain extent yes. But that doesn’t mean that there is no one true religion.
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