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Religious Pluralism and Tolerance Essay (Critical Writing)


Different people inhabit the world and these people tend to have their own worldviews. Religion is a part of the human life and, hence, many religions exist in the world. It is necessary to note that people mainly believe that their religion is the only true one and some may even think that the rest of religions should not exist. The history of humanity has numerous examples of such views. At the same time, the twentieth century became the period when people developed a new perspective on religions. Religious pluralism has become quite common in the modern world.

Such thinkers as John Hick and Dalai Lama note that there can be religion that reveals the ultimate truth about the Real as all religions have only one quite limited perspective. More so, these people stress that all religions focus on helping people feel connectedness with the Divine. Therefore, it is possible to state that all religions have the same goal though they may have different tools to achieve it but people should embrace the idea of religious pluralism, as it will enable them to live in peace and get the feeling of their connectedness with the Real.

In the first place, it is important to take a closer look at views of Hick and Dalai Lama. Importantly, Hick stresses that all religions have several features in common. One of these features is that “all the main” religions hold it that “ultimate divine reality is infinite and as such transcends the grasp of the human mind” (Hick 641). Therefore, all people practicing these religions accept the fact that they cannot fully understand the divine due to the limited nature of their minds.

At the same time, they keep trying to make others share their religious beliefs and they still believe that other religions are all wrong. However, it is essential to stops and think. People should consider infiniteness of the Divine and they will see that there are many things they simply cannot grasp. These unattainable things make all the religions very similar, or rather, they become different facets of one universal worldview. It is crucial to make people accept that and this will diminish the problem of conflicting truth-claims convincing.

As has been mentioned above, Hick also stresses that all religions’ aim is to assist people in their attempts to achieve connectedness with the Divine. Importantly, the thinker identifies the main principle governing all major religions and the place of people in this worldview. Thus, all people share the belief that “only by having a relation to the higher reality will we reach our highest good” (Mauser 4).

Hick argues that all people tend to strive for connectedness with the Divine even though they may not fully understand what it is. The thinker also claims that this is one of the major arguments supporting the idea of religious pluralism. This principle is also the necessary premise for making people more tolerant. It is simply necessary to understand that all religions have the same aim: to make people less self-centered and love the Real (Hick 644). Of course, all religions promote different ways to achieve this connectedness, and this is where most conflicts arise.

It is also important to add that Hick unveils an important issue where many people find serious differences among different religions. The researcher notes that people have personal encounters with the Real throughout their lives and many see this as the major obstacle to accepting religious pluralism (Hick 643). Hence, people encounter different forms of the Divine. Christians encounter the Trinity, those practicing Judaism ‘meet’ Jahweh and Muslims are willing to face the Allah.

More so, non-theistic religions put even more questions as people practicing them can encounter numerous deities instead of one. Dalai Lama tends to escape from this difficulty by focusing on metaphysical perspective rather than personal aspect (Velez de Cea 61). Dalai Lama stresses that it is much more important to focus on the major aim and connectedness with the Real rather than to concentrate on the very manifestation of the divine. Clearly, the thinkers emphasize the need to focus on the most important thing (the essence) without being distracted by the form.

It is also necessary to add that Hick is more precise in this question. The thinker states that there is no controversy in the terrain of personal encounters. The author notes that people have accepted that they do not fully understand the Real (at least, they have to try to do that). Therefore, it is an acceptable fact that people may misinterpret the form (Hick 643). Thus, believers may see or rather feel and experience the encounter with the Divine, but they form images that are determined by their cultural peculiarities.

It is possible to provide a simple example from the real life. For instance, a person coming from India sees an object in a middle of a field in a distance. The object cannot be seen perfectly well as the distance is quite significant. The person tends to predict what it is by adjusting certain attributes that are common for an object that appears in certain circumstances. Notably, the prediction may also be shaped by personal desires of the individual (provided, he/she is thirsty or wants to know what time it is).

At the same time, this object may seem to be totally different to a person coming form, for instance, Brazil. This person may also have different desires at that moment (he/she may be hungry, or may need to make a call). Thus, for one person an object can be a pack of bottles with water and for the other it may seem a pack of delicious fast food. Clearly, in reality, the object the two are looking at can be a box with footwear lost in the middle of nowhere. Likewise, people cannot understand what the Divine really is and, hence, they can admit that the form of the Real is unperceivable as they are bound to look from a distance.

Unfortunately, many people are unwilling and unprepared to truly embrace that belief. Nonetheless, there can be a solution to the problem of conflicting truth-claims convincing. Hick sees that solution in interaction between religions that started some centuries ago (Hick 644). The researcher notes that people may acknowledge and accept the fact that all religions have the same goal and people strive for the same thing. Earlier, people were quite closed and unreceptive.

They did not want to know more about other religions, but believed that their religion was the only true one. However, now many people are more open-minded and they start questioning certain conventions. Many people understand that religious pluralism is the future of humanity. Admittedly, there can be no conflicts among people if they understand that they search for connectedness with the same divine force.

Of course, there are still issues concerning numerous differences in religious practices and rituals. These issues are yet to be solved. At this point, it is important to make people understand what religious pluralism is. This will be the first step towards solving the problem of conflicting truth-claims convincing. When ideas of religious pluralism spread all around the world, people will become more tolerant and will be prepared to reconsider their attitude towards other religions and religious practices/rituals.

In conclusion, it is possible to note that the idea of religious pluralism can be the most effective solution to the problem of conflicting truth-claims convincing. Many thinkers provide arguments to support this idea. It is necessary to note that many people start embracing the idea of religious pluralism, as it is precise and true to life. All religions are aimed at bringing an individual closer to the Divine.

At that, the Real is hard to perceive and all religions are based on that principle, so all people should understand that there is the ultimate and infinite Divine. Many people may see or rather picture this divine force differently, but it is time to accept the truth that people’s mind is too limited to grasp the Real and, hence, there can be no dispute on manifestations of the Divine. Of course, universal tools to achieve the connectedness are yet to be developed as many people may stick to only particular rituals and practices. However, the first major stride is accepting religious pluralism. Luckily, more and more people are taking this major step.

Works Cited

Hick, John. “Religious Pluralism and Ultimate Reality.” Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology. Ed. Louis Pojman and Michael Rea. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2014. 637-645. Print.

Mauser, Bernard James. “Religious Pluralism: John Hick and the Elephant with Every Other Name.” Public Interest Institute Policy Study 14-7 (2014): 1-10. Print.

Velez de Cea, J. Abraham. “The Buddha and the Dalai Lama on Religious Pluralism.” Understanding Religious Pluralism: Perspectives from Religious Studies and Theology. Ed. Peter C. Phan and Jonathan Ray. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2014. 46-66. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Religious Pluralism and Tolerance." July 5, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religious-pluralism-and-tolerance/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Religious Pluralism and Tolerance'. 5 July.

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