One Way

In our pluralistic world it seems like anybody can believe anything. There is a wide range of religious world views and believe systems. No matter how ridiculous some of these beliefs may be, a free society allows its citizens to choose what they believe - as long as one believes that his view is one of many that all lead to heaven. As soon as one claims that his belief is the only one that leads to God, this tolerance comes to an end. Fundamentalist, middle aged and intolerant are just some of the words one might be addressed with in such a case.

Why is this so? If we look into a political discussion, it is normal for one to think that his worldview is right and a different worldview is wrong: A capitalist thinks that a communist is wrong. A communist thinks that a fascist is wrong, and so on and so on. Opposite worldviews are often exclusive. They cannot all be true logically. Still it is acceptable to be engaged in different political entities and entertain different political worldviews.

As political worldviews are different and exclusive, so are religious beliefs as well: Some of them are based on totally opposite beliefs that exclude one another. It is logically impossible that all religious belief systems are right. They cannot all lead to heaven simple due to logic. Therefore, in a discussion about truth, it is ok to not only believe that one’s own argument is right but also to believe that the other’s argument is wrong. In other words that one’s own belief is the only way to heaven.

What is totally acceptable in a political, philosophical context must be allowed in a faith-related context as well. If someone can state in a political discussion that a certain world view is wrong without being labeled as fundamentalist the same must be the case in a discussion of different faiths without the one claiming that a certain belief is wrong being labeled as a radical. True tolerance means that even though I believe that I am right and the other is wrong, I still allow the other to believe what he wants. But tolerance does not mean that I have to believe that all the other belief systems are right as well.