I now turn to another area of life, religion, to see how the relative view affects it. The view I will focus on is the view that religion is essentially “internal”; whatever religious view you hold is true to yourself. To make this topic easier to explain, I will mostly discuss views involving spiritual belief, and not atheistic views.
There may be different reasons for holding a relative religious view, such as the desire for someone to tolerate people of different faiths and the fact that “people of faith” universally seem to feel a peace due to their religious beliefs. Thus, in this last reason, it does not matter what specific religion a person follows; religious peace a person finds internally is what matters.
I thought I was going to start with talking about relativity, but I will actually now talk about exclusivity. One definition of this word is “Excluding some or most, as from membership or participation” http://www.thefreedictionary.com/exclusivity.
Try thinking of a hypothetical belief system that would not contain an exclusive religious view. An example I can think of is a system with the central claim that “all people who believe there is a spiritual essence (i.e. whether belief in one or multiple gods) follow a true religion”. I’ll call this the “all true” system.
This belief system has potential to work at first thought. If you believe in spiritual things, as people of all religions do, you are following the truth. There’s no exclusivity (again, barring Atheism). That is… until you look at specific central claims of religious systems.
For example, some religions have a claim that religious truth is only contained in one specific god (let’s call this the “one true” view). Therefore, if truth is NOT contained in that one god, a person holding this religious belief is incorrect. And if truth IS contained in that god, then someone who denies this god is not following truth. A person holding the “one true” naturally disagrees with the claim that “all people who believe in a spiritual essence follow a true religion”.
What does this mean? the “all true” system is exclusive, just like any other belief system. It implies that a person does not believe there is only one true spiritual being. However, there are people who hold the “one true” view, which automatically excludes them from following the “all true” belief system.
Why is this important? It’s an example that religious views are exclusive. There is always an underlying claim that people can accept or deny. You can also extend this point to atheism, as that system implies a general disbelief in spiritual things. However, you are excluded from this system by believing in a spiritual being.
Turning back to relativity, is it possible for the relative religious view to hold up? In order to answer this question, we need to look at the foundational claims that a particular religion makes. It is possible that religious relativism is true, as long as the “all true” or a similar system actually describes reality. But it is not true if a “one true” system actually describes reality.
I’m thinking the next question to ask is “What do these ‘one true’ systems or other systems actually claim?” In other words, we need to look at the systems themselves, not just what a person believes about a religion internally. Also, can the “all true” relative system hold up in light of these claims?
And the next important question is “What reasons are there to believe a particular claim describes the way the world actually is?” To say the least, these questions demand much more than one or two posts.