The Only True Path To God
One major problem with religion. There are more than one. All claim to be the true path to God, therefore, at best, 99 percent of them are totally wrong.
Worse than that, if you happen to be part of that 99 percent, then you will not be granted eternal happiness by God's side in heaven. Worse still, you will be doomed to spend all of eternity burning in the fires of hell. Yet every faithful person on this planet truly believes that theirs is the correct way.
From: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "alan ganem"
Subject: Re: better odds with the lottery
Date: September 25, 2001 5:48 AM
This is known as exclusivism, and is a problem unique to monotheism. Polytheistic pagans and pantheistic groups such as Hinduism and modern Sci-Pan tend to consider exclusivism, that is, to say "We're the only way," to be one of the ultimate lies.
Fortunately, most modern expressions of religion are not exclusivistic any more. It seems this way, though, because the Fundamentalists are always the noisiest, always the ones we hear about. Fundamentalism is practically the only view we will hear on television. Only a handful of religions get represented on television. Pat Robertson's network is very selective as to who gets to have a show, and so it's hard for anybody except the Fundamentalists to get a show. So we won't hear from the others.
Even though the Roman Catholic Church officially teaches exclusivism, very few Roman Catholics believe this way. I have strong reason to believe that Pope John Paul II himself does not believe this way, but accepts that there are other paths to what he calls Light. The noisier Protestant sects, particularly Baptists in America but also Pentecostals and a several others, tend toward exclusivism. The closer a sect comes to being Evangelical (Bible Fundamentalists), the more exclusivist they will be.
However, the more mainstream sects, such as Episcopalianism and the Church of Christ have moved away from this view. Hardly anybody who belongs to these mainline sects believes that Christ is absolutely the only way to Heaven, and most of them don't believe in the Christian Hell any more. The Anglican Church (the Church of England, probably the biggest Protestant sect in the world) has completely repudiated the idea of a literal Hell, calling it a false doctrine. Even most modern expressions of Islam teach that Jesus was a Prophet of God, and many will be perfectly happy with you if you believe in Jesus. I'm not talking about the Fundamentalists that we hear about in the news, but the mainline Muslims.
Many if not most religionists will go so far as to say theirs the best religion. Some religionists are honest enough to say, "This is the best way for me though it may not be best for you." But very few humans any more think that their religious views are the only correct ones.
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