Thursday, February 23, 2023

It Is Irrational and Unloving to Affirm All Beliefs

Ann Arbor

(I'm reposting this for someone.)

I was asked the question, "Would a Muslim be welcome in your church?"

My answer was, "Yes!"

And Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists are welcome, too.

I welcome all of them, as Jesus does the same. I would love to have them come. (I have had atheists come to Redeemer, who are mostly students who have been in my MCCC philosophy classes. A few of them have converted from atheism to theism, and then to Christianity.)

I say yes and amen to loving and welcoming all kinds of people.

Does this mean I affirm all the beliefs of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists? Of course not. No one can logically (coherently) affirm contradictory beliefs. Consider, for example, the following three mutually exclusive beliefs.

1) God does not exist (atheism, and Buddhism)
2) There are 330,000,000 gods (Hinduism).
3) There is only one God (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).

It is not possible to say "true" to these three beliefs, held simultaneously.

What about John Lennon's song "Imagine?" It's one of the more non-affirming, exclusionary songs I've heard. "I hope some day you'll join us, and the world will be as one." But..   this imaginary "oneness" involves the eradication of religion - "and no religion too." Am I just imagining, or am I being marginalized? (Ask four billion religious people.)

 To believe something is, ipso facto, to deny many things. Beliefs, by nature, embrace and exclude. 
No one can affirm all the various beliefs [truth-claims] of the world's religions.

Going further, No one person affirms all the beliefs of any other person. The fact that I, or you, do not affirm the beliefs of someone else should not be shocking. Anyone who claims to affirm someone else's entire belief system is to be dismissed as unbelievable.

I had a philosophy student who believed The earth is flat. I liked him, but did not affirm his belief. Because his belief was wrong. ("Right and wrong" lies outside science, and falls in the arenas of philosophy and religion. See, e.g., atheist Stephen Jay Gould's "NOMA" principle.)

In the Jesus worldview, I welcome and love all people. I do not (because it cannot be done, epistemically) affirm all the beliefs of people. It is irrational to expect that I should do so. 

It is not unloving to say, "I think you are wrong about that." It is unloving, because untruthful, to treat people as if our different beliefs are harmonious.

(See "Welcoming and Sometimes Disaffirming." I just want to keep this ball in play.)