Imagine the Possibilities

Thanks to a reader for submitting this article for my consideration (and future lunch discussions!).  I thought that it might prove helpful consideration for readers here as well.  As long-time readers will likely surmise, I respectfully and rather strenuously disagree with the sentiments expressed in the above article.  

The basic issue of this article is the author’s attempt to ignore what the religious traditions on earth actually say about themselves and about their God(s) (since I don’t believe that Muslims worship the same deity as the Judeo-Christian God).  In order for Mr. Edgmon to make his argument, he can’t pay attention to what the traditions and their various sacred texts actually say.  If he were to do that, he would arrive at a much different conclusion.  As it is, he seems to want to create a way to not explicitly discredit the three Western monotheistic traditions (though this is exactly what he is implying), while encouraging us to consider broader prospects.
Let’s just take the Jewish sacred text of the Old Testament and the Christian sacred text of the New Testament.  Both of these texts directly contradict Mr. Edgmon’s assertions:
  • That God does not show partiality – God chose Abraham rather arbitrarily and showered him with unique and special favors (Genesis 12-25).  He further creates a special bond with one particular people – the offspring of Abraham – and enters into a theocratic arrangement with them (Exodus 19-24).  There’s God’s special choosing & blessing of King David (2 Samuel 7:1-17).  All of which culminates in the Son of God taking on human flesh.  A particular human being – Jesus of Nazareth; a particular time, a particular place.  Space and time.  Very particular.  Very selective.  Note, the blessings that are promised through these very specific and partial methods are available to all who would believe.  But how God chooses to deliver those blessings are very, very particular.
  • That God would not require a particular belief for eternal reward – In the Old Testament, God makes is pretty clear – repeatedly – that He is the only true God.  Belief in other gods merits judgment.  His handling of the Egyptians in Exodus 3-14 is quite typical of this.  1 Samuel 5 is another demonstration of this.  There is only one God.  If another religion claims another god, they are incorrect – dangerously so.  John 14 in the New Testament is pretty clear as well – reconciliation with God the Father comes through God the Son.  Period.  John 3:16 is another great summary of this assertion.
You can argue that there’s no way to prove that these Scripture references are true, but you can’t pretend that they don’t exist and then create your own assumptions about what God must be like.  Mr. Edgmon would do well to better acquaint himself with what the Bible alleges to say about God (and the Book of Mormon alleges to say about its god, and what the Quran says about its god) before he conjectures in a completely different direction.
There are two conclusions you can come to if you take seriously what sacred texts actually say about their god(s) and about other religions:  
You could conclude that they are all false.  It’s obvious that they all can’t be equally true because they directly contradict one another.  You could rationally conclude however that none of them can be true.  There’s no firm basis for this, but it is a logically consistent conclusion.  If you take this stand of faith, however, then immediately you don’t need to bother with attempting to reconcile the world religions onto common ground.
Your second conclusion might be that all but one of these sacred texts is false.  If so, you have to determine why you believe one to be true and not the others.  And once you have done that – or as part of reaching that conclusion, you would also need to conform your beliefs and understandings to that tradition and sacred text, rather than arbitrarily dismissing it in favor of your own ideas.  
But you can’t do what Mr. Edgmon seems to want to do – have everyone feel good about denying their core tenets of faith as expressed in their respective sacred texts, in favor of hypothetical alternatives.  Of course, Mr. Edgmon seems to have other fish to fry.  While couching his arguments in the language of science and probability, he seems to have some very specific complaints about how the world’s sacred texts universally deal with the issue of homosexuality, either direct condemnation or complete silence on the matter.  
For any person of faith, how you treat your sacred text determines where you end up on a spectrum of faith that ranges from quite liberal to quite conservative, with plenty of margin for error and misunderstanding all along the spectrum.  Mr. Edgmon seems to wish to castigate those who know their sacred texts and take them seriously as such.  The alternative is not to take them seriously, which negates the need for him to write the article in the first place.  

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