Each week, we will be releasing one of the student blog posts from the Thinking Series Online Course that we find excellent. This week, we share with you a post written by Corina Boland. Her original article can be found here.
In the midst of numerous conflicting world views, many of which go head to head to dismantle the claims of the other, you’ll hear it said among those who disengage from the debate that all religions are just pursuits up the same mountain which reach the same peak. That, whether by choice or not, we are all climbers ascending the slopes in the same quest as the one on the opposite side of the mountain and both are equally merited journeys to enlightenment.
The accomplishment is found in the pursuit (and not necessarily ever reaching the peak) as it will reap the same result of achievement, epiphany and personal realization. Let’s understand how religion is defined at its root when addressing the notion that all religions are positioned as varying pilgrimages up the same mountain. Religion defined is a take on reality. It makes claims about the world to be held as truths. Truth is reality correctly understood (source: Steve Kim, RELS262 lecture,, 2015). Simplified, when truth is in place, there is a match between the truth bearer and the truth maker. In its simplest form, this refers to the Correspondence Theory of Truth.
With truth established, it follows that we live according to a framework from which that truth shapes a worldview. What is the purpose to existence? Is there a God? Who am I anyway? The world contains countless religions, that is, takes on reality, but none can present a unified truth where all world views can rest collectively. This attempt to reduce all world views with the analogy of the mountain is a fallacy. Its argument’s premise is the belief that all religions appear superficially different but are fundamentally the same. However, truly understanding belief systems of different religions soon reveals that these distinctions show they are superficially similar but fundamentally different. How can conflicting world views then have equal merit of truth? That mountain is looking harder to climb.
Analogies are unable to prove a point – they can only illustrate a point.1Andy Steiger, Thinking?, Chapter 3 The mountain analogy does illustrate one truth though. Religion is a path up a mountain that the climber must initiate and continue initiating for any hope of advancement. By way of religion, enlightenment is dependent on each of us negotiating our own climb. At any point, we can weave our way sideways. The glorious epiphanic point of truth at the top is reduced to a variable of the climb.
Christianity stands apart from other religions as the only world view where God has thrown down a lifeline to the climber. While religion can never reach God, Christianity teaches that God first reaches us through Jesus Christ. The pursuit of God or meaning to life through religion fails in that it positions enlightenment as a journey with no guarantee of that pursuit regardless of the degree of difficulty of the climb. Enlightenment becomes a compromised and relative truth since it all rests on the climber. Truth cannot be attained by definition here since the truth bearer becomes the truth maker while he makes his own reality through the ascent. It’s a futile and weakened play on truth that contradicts the intelligence of the creation we are born into.
The real deduction in the analogy of the mountain is that it is just another opinion. Religion remains man-made pursuit of truth. It points to a distant peak and sends us off on our lonely way. God is indifferent to the climber – that is, if He even exists. The climber needs to have one incredible climb to attain the rich answers to life’s biggest questions.
What a dismal hike.
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|1.||↑||Andy Steiger, Thinking?, Chapter 3|