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"Our truth is the only truth"

by Phil Bartle, PhD

Training Handout

Can religions have been at the root of so much war and so many atrocities?

It is ironic that most major religions today preach the value of peace and tolerance, yet religions lay behind many military conflicts and violence.

The problem lies in the notion that when some people have a belief, they then claim that it is the only one which is valid or permissible.

Ironically in the Hebrew and Arabic languages, "Peace" is the standard greeting (Shalom and Salaam –– same word really) and they are among the bloodiest of religions of our times.

The idea can be put as, “We support peace and tolerance so long as you recognize that only we have the only truth.”

Since religions are based on the non rational method of knowing, ie. belief, then it is inevitable that there will be different interpretations about the nature of God, and what God might tell us to do.

This, therefore, is the recipe for conflict and violence. Beneath the contraditions of belief, the cause of wars is usually the desire for power.

Its force is increased today with a religion which supports the notion of martyrdom and willingness to kill in the name of God, and commit suicide for doing so, so as to reach a reward in heaven.

If God is not satisfied with a single species of beetle, why would God want a single religion? (There are hundreds of thousands of beetle species).

Many universal religions, ie those which seek converts, assume an ethnocentric notion, that they are better than other religions.

The Christian use of upper case letters to begin the word "God," is one subtle way this is manifested, while they use lower case letters to begin the word "gods" of other religions.

The use of the word "spirits" to designate the great animal Gods of First Nations religions, is another way to demean the belief systems of non Christians. The missionaries in West Africa called the local Gods and their followers as "fetish."

This ethnocentrism is one of the motivating factors that results in conflict based upon religious beliefs.

If Christianity means to value peace, forgiveness, love and tolerance, then count me as one.  If, in contrast, it means irrational beliefs such as taking the life of Christ as historical, notions such as virgin birth, execution then coming back to life, or other literal interpretations of the bible, then I am a heretic.

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Last update: 2012.02.03

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