There is a quote commonly attributed to G.K. Chesteron (though it is doubtful whether or not he ever actually said it) that goes something like this: “When a man ceases to worship God, he does not begin to believe in nothing. Rather, the danger is that he begins to believe in anything.”
Whether or not this is actually true can be debated, but it does bring up something that many of us will readily admit: some people believe some very strange things. These may be vague, folk superstitions like walking under ladders, breaking mirrors or rabbit’s feet that are well known in the US (and their equivalents in other countries) or they may be specific parts of recognized religions that outsiders find strange, especially when laden with degrading and condescending terminology.
Now, I don’t intend or desire to disparage anyone’s beliefs here. I’m firmly convinced that there’s a distinct difference between discussing the validity of a belief or set of beliefs (when properly understood) and simply bashing it because it seems strange. However, as this relates to religious pluralism, we must recognize that a view which holds all religions as equally true cannot – by definition – be restricted to the well-known faith systems like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Mormonism. Truth has never been decided by the quantity of people who affirm it. Instead such a view must also account for, quite literally, anything that anyone might come to believe.
As an example, I want to refer you to a story told by Chad at Truthbomb Apologetics:
What Chad is demonstrating in this story is a method of reasoning call reductio ad absurdum, which is the process of showing the fallacious nature of a belief by taking it to its logical – but absurd – conclusions. The term literally means “reduce to absurdity” and it is a valid and ancient method of argumentation. We even see an example of it in the New Testament (Matthew 22:23-29).
As shown, the concept of religious pluralism in its various forms can be reduced to absurd, contradictory or even just plain silly results. A consistent pluralist must not only affirm the Abrahamic faiths that teach similar things about the nature of God (even though, as we’ve seen, these too are incompatible). They must simultaneously affirm the truthfulness of Chad’s “Church of Homer”, the Branch Davidians, Scientology’s Warlord Xenu, the Cargo Cults of the South Pacific, Raelism, the Church of Satan and the Universe People.
There simply are no limits to what is considered valid or true with religious pluralism. Literally anything goes regardless of if it is profit motivated, incoherent, destructive, in blatant contradiction to reality or even the product of madness. One could even say that a person does not even need to follow an established belief. You could simply make up an arbitrary set of rules or teachings and convince yourself to believe them.
Oddly enough, this is basically what most people do anyway by picking and choosing what they believe about God, but that’s another subject.
Writer, artist, lay theologian, student of comparative religion.