Tuesday, October 21, 2003

More on Boykin

The General Boykin story seems to be growing. I was through with it myself but now Hugh Hewitt reports that James Carroll from the Boston Globe has jumped into the water (Warring with God, 10/21/03). Unfortunately, Carroll wore his illogical wetsuit and is attempting to swim amongst logical great whites. Carroll dreams of a scenario where all exclusivistic religions and / or philosophies drop their exclusivism and turn pluralistic as a precondition of justice and peace. In other words... actually, in his words, "The general's critics are right to deplore the denigration of the faith of Muslims, but the problem goes deeper than a crudely expressed religious chauvinism. In point of fact... exclusivist claims made for Jesus Christ by most Christians, from Vatican corridors to evangelical revival tents, implicitly insult the religion of others. "Last week's response to General Boykin, however, suggests a new sensitivity to the links between intolerant theology and intolerant behavior. "The ethical dilemma facing all religions today, but perhaps especially religions of revelation, is laid bare here: How to affirm one's own faith without denigrating the faith of others? "But there can be such a thing as an inclusivist religious faith that rejects this way of thinking. Instead of polarity, this other way of being religious assumes unity -- unity between God and God's creation..." Forgetting the political aspects of this story let's take a quick look at the concepts of Absolute Truth and the Law of Non-Contradiction: Absolute Truth - simply stated, there is objective Truth that exists in the reality of the cosmos we exist in. It is distinct from our subjective thinking, does not change simply because we may happen to change our thinking, and it logically follows that Absolute Truth comes not by chance but from a Mind. Now, if someone claims that there is no such thing as Absolute Truth, one should ask that person if their claim is true? (Note that an answer of "maybe" is equivalent to "no") If they answer "yes" then voila!, there is truth afterall! If they answer "no" then ask them why you should then continue to listen to what they're saying? Another avenue is to ask the person if torturing babies, simply for the fun of it, is always wrong? You see, this takes the issue from the realm of theory into the realm of reality. Now, of course this is a greatly simplified analysis, but the key point to understand is that any philosophy that denies Absolute Truth is ultimately self-defeating. The question should not be "is there Absolute Truth?" but rather "how do we determine Absolute Truth?" This leads us to the second aspect, The Law of Non-Contradiction - "A" cannot be "non-A" in the same sense and at the same time. Anyone who claims that all religions say essentially the same thing, or must deny their truth claims, is essentially ignorant of what religions say. Judaism does not recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, Christianity does. By their very nature they can't be saying the same thing - they are exclusive in their truth claims. For someone to demand that religions cease from making exclusive claims on truth is the epitome of illogical thinking. Another issue raised by denying religions their claims to truth is that such a propostition is blatant hypocrisy. The reason for this is that those who make such a demand are (themselves) making an exlcusivistic truth claim - namely - that for world peace, all religions must cease being religions. Carroll's idea that exclusive claims to religious truth should be muted is well received by the non-churched (and, unfortunately, some evangelicals). Afterall, it seems to make sense... if we just learn to live with each others differences, we'll all get along - right? 21st century post-moderns who are arrogant enough to consider themselves beyond superstitous religions buy into this thinking. But it's an idea that needs to be demolished. At best, it reflects a dumbing down of the masses; at worst, it's a slippery slope towards a totalitarian mentality that reeks of the very intolerance they preach against. For more in-depth analysis of these concepts check Faith & Reason by Ron Nash, The Abolition of Man by C.S. Lewis, Scaling the Secular City by J.P. Moreland, and What We Can't Not Know by J. Budziszewski.

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