My religion is the one true religion

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My religion is the one true religion is the claim that a believer's religion has exclusive access to truth or salvation. Ironically, it is made by most monotheistic religions but the claim is most commonly associated with Christianity.

"Yes, Christianity is the one true religion. That may sound awfully dogmatic and narrow-minded, but the simple truth is that Christianity is the only true religion. [1]"
"By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, there is no-one of this ummah, Jew or Christian, who hears of me then dies without believing in that with which I have been sent, but he will be one of the people of Hell. [2]"
"It might seem obvious that there can only be one true — or at least fully true — religion, since on a number of very important matters the teachings of the religions are not only different but mutually incompatible, so that if one is true it would seem that the others must be false. [3]"

"Our situation is this: most of the people in this world believe that the Creator of the universe has written a book. We have the misfortune of having many such books on hand, each making an exclusive claim as to its infallibility."

Sam Harris, The End of Faith

Often, this belief is coupled with the expectation that all non-believers will go to Hell. The opposing view is that all religions are equally valid or share a single message.

Contents

Skeptic response

Even if multiple religions cannot be simultaneously true, that can all be wrong! Some religions rely on an argument from uniqueness to justify their claim really is distinct. However, uniqueness does not imply truth.

"Origin, morality, meaning and destiny: the Judeo-Christian worldview is not the only one that claims exclusivity but it is the only one that takes those four questions and [provides] truthful and coherent answers that stand the test of time.[4]"

Simply relying on the assertion of truth is a broken compass argument. Many religions make the assertion but they cannot all be correct.

Cross pollination

"The idea that any one of our religions represents the infallible world of the One True God requires an encyclopedic ignorance of history, mythology, and art even to be entertained-as the beliefs, rituals, and iconography of each of our religions attest to centuries of cross-pollination between them."

Sam Harris, The End of Faith

His argument assumes that a true religion would spring into existence from divine revelation, rather than earthly influences (which is not unreasonable). This seems easy for an apologist to counter, with the claim that their religion revived the true belief from previous erroneous religions.

My religion is the restoration of the original religion

Many religions and denominations teach that their beliefs reflect the ancient or original believers. This is known, particular with respect to Christianity, as "restorationism". The view is often accompanied by the belief of the great apostasy of all other religions and denominations since that time. The apologist then concludes that their religion is the one true belief.

"Islam is the religion taught in its fundamentals by all the prophets. It is the religion which the first human being was instructed to follow. It is the religion of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad and all other prophets (peace be upon them all) throughout the existence of human beings. [5]"
"But only the LDS church has the full, perfect and restored truth, and reflects the complete gospel of Jesus Christ. [6]"
"Through this very Work, we are beginning to restore original Christianity. [7]"

Counter arguments

This is essentially an appeal to tradition. Old beliefs are not true simply because they are old.

Also, many denominations make this claim, so it is also a broken compass argument.

You cannot criticize religion

Belief that your religion is the one true religion tends to lead to the view that your religion should not be criticized. Some apologists consider criticism to be "religious defamation", racism or religious discrimination.

"Muslims and Islam are not the same thing. Hating all Muslims is bigotry; criticising Islam is not.[8]"

See also

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. [4]
  5. [5]
  6. [6]
  7. http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/magazines/2011/july-august/restoring-original-christianity
  8. [7]
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