How can we respond to the presence of many religious and non-religious belief systems (pluralism) in the world today? Are there many roads to God?
There is an old parable about six blind Hindus touching an elephant. One blind man touched the side of the elephant and said it was a wall. Another blind man touched the ear and said it was a large leaf of a tree. Yet another blind man was holding a leg and thought it was a tree trunk. Still another blind man took hold of the elephant’s trunk and said it was a snake. Someone else was touching the elephant’s tusk and believed it was a spear. Another blind man had the elephant’s tail in his hand and was calling it a rope. All of the blind men were touching the same reality but were understanding it differently. They all had the right to interpret what they were touching in their own personal way, yet it was the same elephant.
People have used this old parable to share their opinion or viewpoint that no one religion is the only route to God (pluralism). Pluralists believe that the road to God is wide. The opposite of this is that only one religion is really true (exclusivism).
What could a thoughtful person say in response?
If we can’t know Reality as it really is, why think one exists at all? Why not simply try to explain religions as purely human or cultural manifestations without being anything more?
© Paul Copan, 'True for You, But Not for Me' (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1998) and used by kind permission of the author.