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Can more than one religion be true?There are thousands of religions in the world, and...

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pootle | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted June 22, 2011 at 5:43 AM via web

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Can more than one religion be true?

There are thousands of religions in the world, and those religions are each broken into hundreds of sects. Is only one of them true? Are 99.99% of the world's religions completely false and one religion completely true? Or are they all imperfect glimpses of a universal truth? Every human society in history invented God(s), and none of them agree. What can we learn from this?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 22, 2011 at 7:03 AM (Answer #2)

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Some religions, such as Judaism, Christianity and to a lesser extent Islam tend to be religions of exclusivity. The First Commandment of the Old Testament states, "you shall have no other Gods before me." The Islamic Creed states "there is no God but God, and Muhammad is his messenger." There are those who interpret this literally and say that any other religion is a false religion.

I for one do not agree. My personal belief is that each person understands a higher power in his own way; which may take a variety of forms. Your comment of "imperfect glimpses of a universal truth" to me is quite correct. Case in point: many Buddhists worship in Christian Churches, and have no difficulty doing so. Many Christians on the other hand, would not get caught dead attending a Buddhist prayer ceremony. My grandson was baptized into the Methodist Church but is raised by his mother as a Buddhist. I have no problem with it, but many people would.

Jesus once commented that he had "other sheep" who were not of the fold. St. Paul said that "now we see through a glass darkly." So my opinion is that different people experience God in different ways. Some religions are probably quite false; but by and large I think most have the same aim--they are just not 100 per cent correct.

 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 22, 2011 at 7:26 AM (Answer #3)

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I would liken this to the old fable about the blind men and the elephant.  They each could sense only one part of the elephant and they each were sure that they were right about what the elephant was.  In truth, each was partly right but not completely.

I think that we people are like that when it comes to God.  The truth is surely beyond human comprehension.  So we all go around sensing the truth in our own way, but we are too limited to sense the whole truth.  This is why, to me, more than one religion can be "true."  They are all partly true, but no religion is the complete truth because we humans are too limited to understand the complete truth.

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alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted June 22, 2011 at 7:33 AM (Answer #4)

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I believe many religions can be true to people outside of the faiths in question; for many believers of specific faiths the answer would be no. Outsiders are free to pick and choose various aspects of different religions that appeal to them or they believe to be true. Members of the religion subscribe to the faith and while they may find individual truths in other religions, the "truth" is part of the reason they believe in that one faith above all others.

Another way of looking at the question is: there is no religious truth, all religions are inventions of humanity, and no religion is true.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 22, 2011 at 9:32 AM (Answer #5)

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In the end, when you take away the fable, the extra details, the twist in stories and concentrate on the gist of some entries in the Bible, for instance, you will find that some are no different than any mythological tale told before by the Vedas or other books.Hence, what we can conclude is that there is a certain tendency for groups that migrate, bond, and stick together to create a moral code and produce a "holy" testament of the validity of their code. Then, they copy elements of stuff they heard before, change the names, make it relevant to them, and adopt it. Finally, they sell it to an ignorant flock as truth. When some in the flock are smart enough to see that the whole thing is a control mechanism more than a supernaturally given truth, they break away and start their own sects, creating the same pattern all over again. Therefore, no. There is not ONE religion that could be considered the "true faith" unless you are referring to something that has no connection with it being created by humans themselves.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM (Answer #6)

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The philosopher would respond by asking you what is Truth?  Gandhi once said (paraphrasing) that there is more power in The Bible than most Christians realize.  That approach: allowing your own traditional beliefs to be challenged, being open to new ideas and interpretations, and recognizing that perhaps there is no one-size-fits-all definition of spirituality, and that all major religions (and many of the minor ones) contain some degree of what I consider Truth and Beauty is one I try to live by.  Why would I ignore the wisdom to be found in Buddhism simply because I am a Christian?  Why would I ignore The Koran and everything in it without first having read and considered it?

These are questions I have asked myself and ideas I've thought about for some time.  Once I let go of looking for One True Religion, and began simply looking for Truth, in all the places I might find it, I found more fulfillment.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 22, 2011 at 11:46 AM (Answer #7)

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I personally believe in one God.  But I believe that one God has the power to reveal himself to people in many ways.  Different religions tend to frown on the "revelation" of one person's belief over another, but who's to say the same God is speaking to everyone?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 22, 2011 at 12:26 PM (Answer #8)

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This is a loaded question! From a religious scholar standpoint, different religions have different beliefs and that's that. Some religions claim to be the one true interpretation. It is important for people to be able to choose what they believe. But that also means people need to respect one another's beliefs. When religion is used as an excuse, or justification of, intolerance, that is where problems arise.
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creativethinking | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted June 23, 2011 at 12:44 AM (Answer #9)

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There's no objective way to answer this question... We all rely on our own perceptions of faith, religion, and God as influenced by our upraising, our personal experiences, and what we as individuals feel to be true. In fact, there's no objective, scientific way to prove that there is any type of higher power or afterlife. It's a matter of faith, of believing in a sight and truth unseen that makes religion possible at all. Throughout the centuries, there have been so many interpretations of religion; however, it's interesting to observe how the core of common beliefs in what makes "goodness" pop up again and again. Perhaps that is the essence of "truth" in faith...

I am heartened to see the examples of tolerance set by the posters above and have to add my two cents to the mix. I do consider myself a spiritual person, but I live by the idea that there is one truth, many paths to it. If God truly is God, then the human mind has not the slightest prayer (no pun intended) of actually comprehending and delininating all the complexities and nuances of something so much more vastly infinite and powerful than ourselves. It's likely that none of us has it exactly right. But our attempts to make a connection to something more make us aspire to be the best humans we can be, according to our own approximations of godliness.

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wattersr | Student, Undergraduate | Salutatorian

Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:01 PM (Answer #10)

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All major world religions (including Chrisianity, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Paganism ect...) are based on the Testament of the same major event in our Earth's remote history, and are all valid to believe in (including Buddhism if you simply want to look past deities).  They all say the same thing essentially and their morals do not directly contradict in most cases.  However, all religions on Earth have a flawed perception of that event (Monotheistic religions claim there is only one God, when there were a whole race of Gods that descended to Earth). The belief that only one religious sect on Earth is "right" is complete BS because all religions are giving valid Testimony and laying down great rules to morally live your life (although religions tend to add more than was intended).  I believe the harder question would be "What Religion will ensure a path to Heaven?"

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wattersr | Student, Undergraduate | Salutatorian

Posted June 24, 2011 at 8:09 PM (Answer #11)

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In the end, when you take away the fable, the extra details, the twist in stories and concentrate on the gist of some entries in the Bible, for instance, you will find that some are no different than any mythological tale told before by the Vedas or other books.Hence, what we can conclude is that there is a certain tendency for groups that migrate, bond, and stick together to create a moral code and produce a "holy" testament of the validity of their code. Then, they copy elements of stuff they heard before, change the names, make it relevant to them, and adopt it. Finally, they sell it to an ignorant flock as truth. When some in the flock are smart enough to see that the whole thing is a control mechanism more than a supernaturally given truth, they break away and start their own sects, creating the same pattern all over again. Therefore, no. There is not ONE religion that could be considered the "true faith" unless you are referring to something that has no connection with it being created by humans themselves.

I like what you said, except its important to realize that mythology was not created by humans in their mind, it was observed and recorded by them (with of course details being mistranslated or exaggerated).  Groups definitely put their own spin on these stories by making up rules to follow and rituals to perform but the stories themselves are historic fact on a basic level. 

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