The Intolerance of Tolerance") and engage one of their arguments.
I've been told that since the major religions of the world teach (for the most part) the same moral code, they must all be the same (true) and(or) lead to the same destination. They like to point to this similarity in the religions and conclude that since they are similar, they are equal.
I don't know of many situations (in fact, I can't think of a single one right now) in which people would make this kind of argument in everyday life. Let's start with a simple and trivial example: "The car is a dark orange color," "The car is a dark blue color."- 6 of the 7 words are the same, yet we don't focus on those 6 when we are comparing the two sentences. We focus on the one word that is different. The one that distinguishes what the first sentence is saying from what the second sentence is saying.
We could change one of the other words in the sentences (still keeping 7 total) and be expressing many other ideas. If we were to change "car" to "table", we are no longer talking about an object in the same category. If we were to change "is" to "was," we are talking about a different point in time. If we were to change "dark" to "shiny," we are no longer speaking of a shade of the color but now a texture.
Now let's look at something a little less trivial. You have a migraine. You have asked for some medication to relieve you of the pain. Your friend enters the room with two sets of pills in hand. They tell you that you must choose between the two sets. You look at both sets. All the pills are white, round, and dull in appearance. Would it be a good choice to conclude that the two sets are identical? Let's find out. You take one set. Your "friend" now tells you that one of the sets of pills were rat poison and not migraine medication, and he is not sure which set was what. Would you just lay there thinking that rat poison and migraine medication are the same, because of all the qualities they had in common with each other? If you did, you could be dead shortly. Would you even be willing to take that chance? I would hope that you could answer that question as, "NO!" In fact, you would immediately try to vomit or if you knew that warning labels tell you not to do this, you would be on the way to the emergency room to get your stomach pumped.
People point out similarities in religions in order to show that they are really just the same and that one single religion is not "correct". However, this is confusing and sometimes reckless behavior that is not performed even in everyday, trivial decisions and conversations- and certainly would not be practiced when referring to "life and death" situations. It would follow that we be even more careful with more important issues, like our existence after death. We need to not look at the similarities when comparing the worldviews and religions of the world. We need to focus on their differences and investigate those to determine which is true.
Every religion and worldview has something to say about what happens after we die (even if it is that nothing happens- that you go into extinction). The belief of the true religion or worldview will determine your consequences for choosing the wrong one (unless the one that teaches extinction for everyone is true). The possibilities of the consequences taught by the religions and worldviews of the world should make us think twice about being so reckless in our thinking about the truth of a particular religion or worldview.
This possibility is not meant to "scare" someone into a certain belief system. It is simply being proposed as a real reason to think more critically about our choice of religion or worldview than we do in our everyday lives, rather than less critically. Every aspect of the religions and worldviews is subject to critical thinking, even the idea that "every way is the 'right' way."
Since I've been writing this, I've decided that this needs to be a two-part series. I have been presented with a more nuanced argument for universalism that eliminates the claim that all religions are the same, but retains the idea that they all do lead to the same destination. Since this week's post has focused on destroying that part of the claim, next week's post will attack universalism from a different angle.
In the meantime, for more on this topic, I recommend:
Tactics: Greg Koukl
Without A Doubt: Kenneth Samples (Kindle Version)
A World of Difference: Kenneth Samples (Kindle Version)
Stand to Reason