At the risk of disappointing some who will think the pluralist argument outlined in the last post is a convincing one, let us now consider some of the major flaws that are within it.
The Blind Scribes
Although there are many problems with the pluralist illustration of the ‘Blind Scribes,’ I will concentrate on just a few. The first involves its conclusion:
‘..that if only the religious leaders were able to see, they would understand the truth of God’.
But this is a flawed truth because this is something that only the pluralist is capable of knowing, which raises questions in regard to what other presumptions have been made within the illustration. Indeed, what it inadvertently suggests is that just like the major religions, pluralism also deals in revealed truth. However, unlike the religious leaders who are considered misdirected in their ideas and thinking, it appears that the pluralist is the only one who sees things clearly and recognises the elephant for what it is.
Now, while this idea initially sounded reasonable, what we come to realise is that this claim is more outrageous than those made by the religious leaders. For only the pluralist is able to see everything perfectly in the same way that God might. Basically, the narrator claims to have a greater understanding and insight than the collective thoughts of Moses, Jesus, Mohammad, Guru Nanak or any of the other religious teachers for that matter.
Routes up the Mountain
Likewise, with the illustration of ‘routes up the mountain’ this too is also problematic because the pluralist assumes that his or her position from above the summit enables them to see what others cannot – the inference being that the observing pluralist narrator has parity with God for only s/he can see the one truth from the many. Of course, these illustrations are flawed in other ways because not all routes might lead up the mountain to the summit.
Perhaps far more compelling are the conflicting claims that different religions make in regard to one another which suggests that spiritual routes do not converge in the way that pluralists suggest. The notion that every religion ultimately has the same message and that believers achieve the same spiritual end point is something that most religious groups would rail against. One reason we know this is because…
‘…faith groups often make competing claims as to what is truth, usually in ways that contradict what other religions state and believe.’
This is clearly evident in the claims made about Jesus by Islam and Christianity in which Muslims consider him a prophet while Christians believe him to be God incarnate.
Some other thoughts…
From our earliest years we are aware of the rule by which one person’s engagement with a particular religion necessitates they must be solely devoted to that religion at the expense of all other possible religions – save that they convert to another or adopt a belief system though even doing this may have consequence for some. We know this because to be both a Jew and a practising Muslim at the same time is not only mutually incompatible in terms of the rites of passage it requires, but also the way worship is conducted. This alone should illustrate how ludicrous the suggestion is that all religions are in essence the same and does not even begin to touch upon those whose truth claims require the destruction of other faith groups that are different to themselves. All of which suggests that the issue of world religions is far more complex than these simplistic examples put forward by pluralists.