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Pluralism- the question of equivalent deities

Discussion in 'Culture & Religion' started by dong, Aug 24, 2006.

  1. dong

    dong New Member

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    A central aspect of many traditional, established religions is that their god (or gods) is/are presumed to be the only ones, and that no others exist. In the past, when cultures and their religions were segregated this was all well and good, but the world today has become a much smaller place. Inevitably these religions and their doctrines have come to clash in various ways.

    One proposed (and popular) solution was that religions were talking about the same gods. Commonly Buddha, Jesus, and Allah were seen to be one and the same historical figure interpreted by many different cultures and their prophets. This of course is not orthodox and would run against a literal interpretation of the central aspects of many (if not all) religions.

    So the questions are as follows:
    1. Do you think pluralism is valid? If so, how do you reconcile it with the inevitable doctrinal tensions?
    2. How else can one resolve the more directly antagonistic tensions between different faiths?
    3. (For the atheists and the agnostics) Are either of these questions valid, or relevant on any level other than a social one? If not, please explain your position (and I'll be prodding you!)
     
  2. l99999us

    l99999us New Member

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    Well their is a bit of a misunderstanding here in regards to the Buddha. He is not seen as a God in Buddhism. He is a human who has become enlightened and Buddhism is not based so much on worship of a God or Gods but working to find the path to enlightenemnt.

    As far as puralism I think their can be found a good deal of commonality amongst religions. All do seem to have a version of the golden rule (do unto others.....) Though unfortunatly this is often ignored especially amongst the more fundamentalist sects. I do not think one will necessarilly have to agree with one on every single point to find puralism but only to be able to respect the other person's point of view. I think if anything a genuine dialogue would be far more benificial here then anything else (and of course this will have to include agnostics, aithiests etc)

    peace

    -Todd
     
  3. dong

    dong New Member

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    Thanks for posting that Todd (especially the clarifier). Personally, I am most interested in the philosophy of buddhism, and am fairly well acquainted with the origins and the evolution of the legends surrounding the figure Boddhidarma, as well as the concept of enlightenment. This is to say that it sometimes bugs me that people tend to interpret Buddhism as a series of religious rituals. Not that the rituals themselves bug me, but the misconceptions involved, one of which you've pointed out.

    On that note, are you interested in any particular strand of Buddhism or school of thought? Just curious.

    As can thus be expected, you've pretty much cut straight to the quick without all the higgledypiggledy of interpreting the nature of the gods themselves (which is what I'd do, but I'd perhaps still like to see some words exchanged about that too). That is to say you've discussed the applicability of "pluralism" on a more cognitive, moral level. But that's not what the definition of pluralism actually entails. We're talking more about compatibility here- which IMHO is more useful. The problem though is that even talking on this level does not engage with 'core beliefs' of any of the religions themselves, because all require 'faith' and some degree of abandonment to an external entity in the complete belief that they exist.

    I wrote in a separate thread that within a religion, things would go far more smoothly were a respect for differences in the peripheral concerns to be observed. But you're right, fundamentalist denominations/sects tend to deny this possibility. That said, given that I've explained that each religion holds an absolute insistence on the (exclusive) correctness of their core beliefs (like the fundamentalist sects hold an insistence on the correctness of their interpretation of doctrine in its entirety), we're back at the original question that spawned the notion of pluralism!

    That's why it makes most sense to me to comment and provide dialogue as an agnostic (but not an atheist). There's a great deal of commonality and as of late, I have been noticing more parallels between the tenets of Christianity (as I know it) and the philosophy of Buddhism. To be simple about it, the essential difference to me is really the practice of faith. And that leads me to what I view as an inevitable compromise of sorts.

    I've gone slightly off the track here, maybe I might create another thread to explore the area of the necessity of faith and spirituality. As for the thrust of this reply, I'm basically inviting you to go into some more detail as to how you think your views might be acheivable.
     
  4. ruewen

    ruewen New Member

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    Please point out the commonality you see between a philosophy (tool to enlightenment) that teaches you how to think outside the preprogrammed box of your existence and the christian doctrines that teach you gloom,doom or else ? I'm completely lost myself. What practices (rituals?) of faith do you mean? Mediation?

    I would think if you picked out paganism and Christianity you would find a closer connection.
     
  5. l99999us

    l99999us New Member

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    Hi Doug thanks for the reply.....

    As for Buddhism I consider myself perhaps closest to the zen school but I don't really limit myself between the different schools too much as far as teachings are concerned as I feel they all have the same goal.

    To get to the idea of puralism perhaps i did misunderstand the idea a bit. i do think that their is a commonality between different religions on certain points (ie the golden rule) and on other points as well. Thus i do think their is a degree of commonality already present. One thing i do find interesting is that most religions do tend to take the side of peace and are opposed usually to violence. It is unfortunate that oftentimes organized religion ignores this.

    As for the doctrinal differences they certainly do exist. I am not sure if people of various religions are ever going to agree completly on all points. I do think their is always going to be different views on things. I think perhaps the only way one could overcome it would be to focus more on commonalities then on the differences. I think that the idea of the golden rule as above could perhaps be one way to do it or the idea of compassion for others. it would not solve all the issues but it would be a start.

    Anyways sorry if i can't go into more detail now. This is my 2nd attemt at responding as I was logged out earlier and i don't have the time to add more.

    peace

    Todd
     
  6. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    Theology as a whole is driven by the desire to better ones self and surroundings by following a doctrine of right and wrong. What it all comes down to, is not weather there is more than one god or not, more so if the followers of those gods are acting as good people. What does it matter anyway if there is one singular god, or 2500? Would that really affect how you would act, or would you still continue to follow a doctrine of good actions?
    You have to look at the teachings more than the deity, as faith is exactly that faith…
     
  7. dong

    dong New Member

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    From what you posted, I'm guessing you do not think of Christianity the same way as I do- which is analogous with a certain formal theological understanding of it. I know that I'm unfamiliar with paganism as a whole so you'll have to go into more detail than that.

    Those that I've talked to in the clergy would hasten to agree with the distinction between a faith and the religion, the latter being the framework on which the institution is run: the rituals, the rules, and the various interpretations of doctrine.

    I'm not entirely sure what you mean by preprogrammed box of existence but not because I'm unfamiliar with the phrase, so I'll give it a shot. I've often heard religions being criticised because they do slot you into a 'preprogrammed box' so to speak- stemming from a need to espouse and enforce absolutism (a definite perfect and absolutely correct God which entails a single best set of values etc. etc.) I'd agree insofar as the nature of religion tends to be used by people such that they lock themselves in a box. An example would be debating on how the Bible should be interpreted because it is presumed that this is "the word of God". Escaping the box here would entail looking beyond this to acknowledge the broader principles that the various texts in the Bible allude to, as opposed to trying to ascertain prescriptive guidelines on how one should behave.

    I suppose then that by "preprogrammed box" you mean "axiology" or a system of values from which we're generally taught. I'm not sure that anybody can escape the box in this manner, but we certainly can be aware of it and monitor the development of our beliefs in light of this.

    So then:

    I see a commonality in that one of the inherent aims of the Christian faith is similar to that of enlightenment- it's about the method to living a fulfilling life of peace and joy/security. This is, of course, not any groundbreaking suggestion as any movement that relates to the human race should at least engage this. I'm saying that there are ways to treat the Christian faith which would allow this for each person to some extent, (while not creating suffering for others by rejecting their interpretation of faith). Thus, when I say practice, I mean any means by which this is acheived, be it prayer, meditation or observing some religious ritual.

    However, I'm more concerned about the bigger picture- in making the thread I'm questioning the validity of the claim "in order to prove my religion is right, I need to be able to prove your religion is wrong." I tend to be more critical of religions because of what I see as the necessary paradoxes that they entail (related to the boxes I tried to discuss above), but right now I'm trying to work around prevalent cultural practices in order to find the most effective guidelines.
     
  8. dong

    dong New Member

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    Once again I find myself in general agreement. That's a nice way of summing it all up.

    To this effect, I'd go so far to suggest that if one were to talk of deities, that each religion's deity has as much validity as the strength of their collective faith. This presumes a certain...anthropocentrism to the religious faith- as if to say that inevitably, a necessary part of the faith is carried and shaped by its people.
     
  9. Agaric

    Agaric New Member

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    I think that in general religions and doctrines tend to draw on contemporary or past ones. For instance, Jesus might have been based largely on the Egyptian god Osiris, a deity who was betrayed, murdered, and raised from the dead. Many people across the world look for the same things to look up to, and commonalities do exist. As for pluralism, I think it exists partially, but that the formation of faiths occurred before forms of mass communication, and that religions that were born in very different parts of the globe became similar as an amalgumation of common local elements.
     
  10. dong

    dong New Member

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    Well, I do agree particularly with the second half of your post (esp the 'before forms of mass communication' bit). As for Jesus being based from Osiris, that would presume that Jesus was a myth including on a historical basis...not to mention I totally haven't heard of that theory before! Perhaps the commonality is more a coincidental association rather than a precursor.
     
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