In my recent forays into religious chat-rooms, I have been contending that Christianity is true. What seems to be part of the collective wisdom of these rooms in response to this assertion is the claim that Christians believe that they have the only religion. Other people have their religions, too.
Now, this is a very interesting objection, but it obviously is irrelevant. Consider the syllogism:
Premise A: Christians have a religion.
Premise B: Other faiths have other religions.
Conclusion 1: Therefore, Christianity is not the only religion.
Ummmm . . . okay. That is an interesting argument, but it doesn't seem to get us anywhere. After all, Christians don't disagree that there are other religions, only that other religions are true. Obviously, the undisputed fact that other religions exist is not the true underlying objection that the skeptics on these chat-rooms are raising. Perhaps the real objection is the claim by Christianity to be the only "true" religion -- the idea of Christian exclusivism. Perhaps, the real argument is this:
Premise C: Christians claim to have the only true religion.
Premise D: Other faiths have other religions.
Conclusion: Therefore, Christianity is not the only true religion.
If you find this argument to not be particularly convincing, your instincts are correct. The problem is that Premise C talks about "true religion" and Premise D only talks about "religions." Again, no one doubts that there are other religions, so the claim of Premise B that there are other religions is not at all controversial. But equally important, just because other religions exist does nothing to disprove the claim that Christianity is the only true religion.
The Christian claim is that its belief system is true and the others are false. The mere fact that people believe otherwise, while interesting, is ultimately irrelevant. People's opinions would matter if this were an issue that was being put up to a vote. But reality is not decided by a vote. Reality is reality -- regardless of how we would otherwise like it to be. So the mere fact that people have other religions only shows that differing people hold differing views on the matter of religion, but it does nothing to show that Christianity is not true.
Getting to this point is not difficult. Most skeptics, when pressed, understand that the mere fact that there is more than one religion does not say anything about the claim by one to be the only true religion. The real problem arises because many people believe that the concept of "truth" is relative. I will discuss that more next time.