Monday, July 10, 2006

Relativism in religion?

Here's a letter to the editor, sent in response to comments made on religion in the face of the Islamic terrorist attacks in the USA on 911. I found it simple and to the point.

"Dear Sir,

Your article entitled, "God Truly Must Wonder About a World Of Murderous Religion
" that appeared on 03/24/2002, opened with the statement: The late Sydney J. Harris, the columnist and philosopher, wrote, "There can be no 'right religion' _ only right people.''

If, as you imply, it is narrow to claim that there is a "right religion," then what are we to make of this idea of "right people." Clearly, this means people who behave rightly, that is, behave morally. Your own article, by condemning violence and the taking of human life, contains the implicit assumption of a right morality. But such is entirely inconsistent with the relativist paradigm that you otherwise promote. If their are "right people" who obey a "right morality," and if violence is truly wrong, and if certain "Holy Books" are praiseworthy for their "high principles," then it is necessary that an objective morality exists. Such a morality must come from a trans-human source, else it is only a matter of one man's opinion against another. As prescriptive statements can come only from minds, it follows that the trans-human source of this morality, is God.

If God is so "narrow" as to set forth a right morality, then it is legitimate to suppose that He might set forth a right religion, that is, specific requirements that must be met by those who would seek Him. An author is known by his style. Observe the physical universe: Within the universe, things are either true or false. Physics, chemistry and mathematics do not work "just any old way." There is a right way, a right answer, a true answer for each question. These things are independent of any culture, opinion or time period. Every truth carries with it, the negation of an infinite number of other answers. For every right answer, there are an infinite number of answers that are, necessarily, wrong. It is logical to assume that God's morality works in a similarly exclusive manner. Suppose that all of mankind were guilty of violating God's perfect morality. In that event, His justice would require that we all feel His punishment, and if He were to make even one way for us to avoid said punishment, that would be purely an act of compassion on His part. We could hardly complain that He was being too narrow.

Stephen W. Jackson"