Friday, July 9, 2010
The Dalai Lama is wrong
So argues Stephen Prothero (Boston University) here:
. . .I know that persons of goodwill are supposed to pretend that the world's religions are different paths up the same mountain. To say otherwise is to invite religious warfare and to label yourself illiberal. But we can do better than pretend pluralism. True pluralism does not insist on remaking Islam in the image of Christianity or Christianity in the image of Islam. It recognizes the deep diversity across the great religions and inside each of them. . . .
But God is not one. Or to put it more carefully, the world's religions differ on matters as central as the mathematics of divinity. Many Buddhists affirm zero gods, and many Hindus affirm many. Moreover, the character of divinity varies widely from god to god. No infant would mistake Hinduism's Kali for Christianity's Christ. Why should we?
Perhaps I am missing something, but I have yet to find a view of interreligious unity that does not reek of colonialism and empire. And as long as we insist on the dogma that all religions are essentially the same we are bound to imagine that all religions are essentially like our own. This approach blinds us to the unique beauty in each religion, and prevents us from making sense of religious conflict worldwide. . .