The opposite of true is false.
Well, I guess that may seem a little obvious, eh? But it is still important to establish. :) And if you’re wondering why there is an elephant there … well, that comes later in the post. :)
So last Wednesday in the Truth & Evidences series we discussed the fact that absolute truth does exist. And, naturally, the next thing that follows is that the opposite of true is false. But we also want to take a look at this question – are all religions just teaching the same thing, but in different ways? Because since there is absolute truth, and the opposite of true is false … if religions are teaching opposite things, then they can’t all be true – some must be false. But is that the case? Or are all the different religions pretty much the same?
One of the traits of truth is that it’s opposite is false. For instance, it is true for me to say, “I am a woman.” Therefore, it is false for me to say the opposite: “I am a man.” This is pretty self evident. However, is this the kind of difference there is between different religions? Incompatible contradictions? Or is it more along the lines of me saying, “I am a woman”, and then also saying, “I am 27.” Both are true. To be a woman and to be 27 are not opposites, it is possible for both to be true. Is this more what the differences in religion are like – not opposite, but just different truths that can both be true?
Many people would argue “yes” to that question. They point to the fact that most religions have some sort of moral code, some sort of be-nice teaching, and some sense of worship or appreciation of something beyond themselves. But is that all there is to religion? Do various religions have more differences or similarities?
Let’s just pick a question to pose to a variety of religions, and see if they are all pretty much the same.
- What was the origin of the universe?
My goal in this post is not to discuss which, or even if any religion’s answer to this question, is correct (we’ll get to that later), but rather to establish whether or not all religions are pretty much just the same.
So tell me, various religions – what’s the origin of the universe?
According to Taoism, there was a presence before the world existed in material form, but that presence was not a god, and that a series of transformations happened that became the universe. According to Buddhism, the universe never actually had a definite beginning, and will not have a definite end, but rather it is in a perpetual state of flux. According to Christianity, God (Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit) existed before the world, and he created the universe out of nothing. According to Islam, God (Allah, not Jesus) existed before the world, and he created the universe out of nothing. And of course, there are many others that we could go into, but there are a few.
So pretty much the same answer? There was no beginning … there was a beginning but it wasn’t God … it was God … Jesus was there … Jesus was not there. Are they pretty much saying the same thing? No, they are directly contradicting each other. There is an absolute truth on the topic. And since the opposite of true is false – if any one of these is true, then all of the others must necessarily be false. And there are many other explanations put forward to explain the origin of the world as well. But not all religions are just saying the same thing in different ways. You could do this with any number of other questions: What is the penalty if I do wrong? What is man’s purpose in existence? Is there one God or many? What happens after death? Those are not just trivial insignificant questions to be brushed aside. They are fundamental to different religions … and different religions directly contradict others on these, and many other, core issues.
Still, someone might bring up the blind men and the elephant story to argue against this. And this is why there was an elephant at the beginning of the post. :) If you haven’t heard the illustration, it varies some in different tellings, but it goes basically like this – there is an elephant, which represents the idea of “God”. And there are blind men standing around the elephant, each trying to figure out what it is. One man grabs hold of the trunk and says, “It is a tree branch.” Another reaches out and feels the tail and says, “It is a rope.” Another grabs a leg and says, “It is a pillar.” Another feels the side of the elephant and says, “It is a wall.” According to the story, each man had a part of the truth, but they were all still talking about the same elephant.
But the problem with the story is this – there is another point of view in the story than the blind men. There is the person telling the story. And that person realizes that there is one solid and absolute truth: the object in front of the blind men is an elephant. The blind men are not all “equally right” … it is not a rope, or a branch, or a pillar, or a wall – it is an elephant. To claim it is other things is false, because it contradicts the truth – that it is an elephant. And if the blind men continued to explore and learn about the object in front of them, they could come to discover that it was, in fact, an elephant.
In the end, since there is absolute truth, and since all religions are not just saying the same things, then necessarily some religions are false. Now, of course, the question comes – how can we know which are which? A good question, of course, which we will be coming to shortly in this series. :)
Leave your thoughts and comments below, I love to hear from you! :)