Friday, January 13, 2012

Don't Religious Beliefs just Reflect Where One Was Raised? By Paul Copan

B. F. Skinner declared, "My behavior at any given moment has been nothing more than the product of my genetic endowment, my personal history, and the current setting." If correct, then Skinner's philosophy, too, was the product of his genes and background-a purely accidental (rather than reasoned-out) conclusion.

Many apply this viewpoint to religion. "If you grew up in Saudi Arabia, you'd probably be a Muslim," claims the religious pluralist (who believes all religions are capable of saving or liberating). "Therefore, particular religious beliefs are just the arbitrary product of one's environment."

But the pluralist is in the same fix. One growing up in a pluralistic culture will likely believe in pluralism. Presumably, the religious pluralist's belief is just the product of his upbringing and is just as arbitrary as another's. What's more, if he'd grown up in medieval Italy, he likely wouldn't have been a pluralist. But the pluralist would have us believe his views are rationally concluded, not the accidents of history or geography!

If you'd grown up in the Soviet Union, chances are that you'd have been part of the Communist Youth. But should we therefore conclude that all political systems are morally equivalent (Communism vs. democracy, for instance)? Certainly not! Similarly, the diversity of religious systems doesn't mean that (1) all belief systems are equally plausible or (2) one religion can't be true vis-a-vis the others. Our ability to step back and reflect upon cultural influences, and even resist them, indicates that we are thinking, choosing beings made to seek truth, whatever our limitations. In both creation and conscience, God has not left human beings without a witness of Himself '(Ps 19:1-6; Ac 14:17; Rm 1:20; 2:14-15). And if anyone is separated from God, it's because he freely resists God's grace, not because of his location.

If a good God exists, it's likely He would cut through the mire of sin and the haze of religious ambiguity by revealing Himself in human history. Jesus of Nazareth made radical claims of divinity that other world religious leaders never made. And He rose from the dead, confirming those claims. These are further reasons to reject pluralism.

Appealing to geographical statistics doesn’t settle anything. History, philosophy and experience are some important reasons for considering a relation to be true.

Extracted from the Apologetics Study Bible.

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