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\”Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth\”

September 30, AD2013 29 Comments

This is my 12-stage, decision-maker\’s summary of philosopher Mortimer Adler\’s argument found in his book Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth. When he wrote it, he was still on his hero\’s journey of decision-making, as you will see. For purposes of this post, Dr. Adler is the hero.

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1. THE HERO IS SEEN IN HIS ORDINARY WORLD:

Dr. Adler\’s ordinary world is very like ours. He starts then acknowledging that plurality is desirable and tolerable in perpetuity as follows: (a) in all matters of taste, personal preference, and predilection, and in the expressions of individual likes and dislikes; (b) in all matters of public policy and legislation, concerning which reasonable men [and women] can disagree about which decisions that must be made require appealing to a majority vote; and (c) with regard to myths, fictional narratives, and even religions that claim to have only poetical, not logical or factual, truth.

[The latter signifies the kind of truth that belongs to propositions or judgments, descriptive or prescriptive that are subject to contradiction. Such truth, if descriptive, is factual truth, giving us knowledge of the observed phenomena or of reality. If prescriptive, it is normative truth about goods to be sought or actions to be done. The former signifies the kind of truth that is not subject to contradiction, the kind of truth that belongs to narratives that, though differing, are in no way incompatible with one another. The line that divides fact from fiction and fantasy also divides logical from poetical truth.]

2. THE HERO IS CALLED TO ADVENTURE:

Like us, Dr. Adler felt called to address the problems associated with pluralism in religions, recognizing that pluralism may be tolerated under conditions in which matters of logical and factual truth are disputed and in which the dispute remains unresolved, but not in perpetuity; for with regard to such matters the ultimate goal to be sought is agreement, not diversity of opinion. To me his underlying issue might have been stated as follows:

Do I want to decide for myself where the objective truth lies in the religions of the world?

3. THE HERO IS RELUCTANT:

Dr. Adler was not unaware of utterances in the realm of poetical truth if they are about what is possible and if they are not subject to contradiction. In contrast, utterances that are about what is actually the case and are subject to contradiction are in the realm of logical and factual truth. [In reality, nothing can both be and not be at the same time. Anything which does exist cannot both have and not have a certain attribute at one and the same time. In logic then, to answer a question by saying “Yes” and “No” to it at the same time is to violate the principle of non-contradiction and defeats the purpose of human communication. In matters of fact, to say something is when it is not is to lie.] (a) In the realm of discourse where poetical truth is to be found, utterances can have maximum diversity without any incompatibility; (b) in the realm of discourse where logical and factual truth is to be found, utterances that are contrary or contradictory are incompatible. The truth of one excludes the truth of the other, whereas one utterance that is poetically true never excludes another from also being poetically true, no matter how divergent the utterances may be.

4. THE HERO ENCOUNTERS THE WISE ONE:

Dr. Adler  looked to wise ones of the past to advise him across the centuries. With regard to truth in religion and truth in science or philosophy, there are three positions:

(a) that of the Arabic philosopher Averroes in his dispute with Al-Ghazali : The truths of religious beliefs and the truths of science or philosophy are not truths of the same kind. The former are truths of the imagination and are poetically true; the latter are truths of reason and are logically true. Therefore, they cannot come into conflict or be incompatible.

(b) that of the Christian theologian Aquinas  in his dispute with the Latin Averroists of his day: The truths of faith and the truths of reason are truths of the same kind; they are logical and factual truths. Any apparent conflict between what religious belief claims to be true and what science and philosophy claims to be true must be capable of resolution because no incompatibility can exist in the realm of logical and factual truth.

(c) that of \”Averroism\” when this term is used in a disapprobative sense for those who, finding it impossible to reconcile the truths of religion with the truths of science, keep them separate in logic-tight compartments in order not to confront their incompatibility.

[See \"The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis\"  where the author provides a compelling case for the consequences of this intellectual oversight.]

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5. THE HERO CROSSES OVER THE FIRST THRESHOLD:

Dr. Adler dealt with the problems of necessary and sufficient proofs in a positive way. While admitting that religious beliefs or articles of religious faith cannot be proved or established as true by the marshalling of reasons or by the amassing of evidence, he understood they can be disproved or discredited by being shown to be incompatible with established truths of science or philosophy.

6. THE HERO MEETS TESTS AND HELPERS:

Against the background of the world\’s various religions, Dr. Adler stood firm concerning whether to believe that which is not only beyond proof but is also discredited by established knowledge to the contrary is superstitious, not religious, belief. 

[Below is a depiction of the many religious and superstitious beliefs a person may encounter as tests and helpers along one\'s faith journey. Adler\'s journey involved selecting at least 10 of these, the largest of the world\'s religions to examine.]

\"Religions

Religions of the Hours

[For an interesting chart of religions and a select set of attributes, see here.]

7. THE HERO REACHES THE INNER SANCTUM:

Dr. Adler took the religions provided and contextualized them so as to avoid just subjective examinations.  At this juncture in the world\’s history, he noticed mathematics, the exact sciences, and technology are transcultural; what logical and factual truth they have is the same globally. History, the social sciences, and philosophy are not yet transcultural, but may become so. Until they do, the established knowledge to be found in the natural sciences serves to test the claims of religious beliefs to be logically and factually true, as well as similar claims made by this and that philosophical doctrine.

\"Map

Map of Adherents to Major Religions of the World

8. THE HERO ENDURES THE SUPREME ORDEAL:

Dr. Adler took the top 10 of the world\’s religions and analyzed the principal distinctions among them. Here is a replica of the chart he provides at page 50 of his book:

 

\"Mortimer

Mortimer Adler\’s Principal Distinctions Among the World\’s Religions

Among the major religions of the world, all of which conform to the proposed definition of religion, only three religions claim to have a supernatural foundation to be found in a sacred scripture that purports to be a divine revelation.

This result allowed Dr. Adler to offer a working definition of religion that can be more readily and easily used in subsequent examinations of any who claim theirs to be a religion.

Dr. Adler’s Proposed Definition of Religion:

The organized and institutionalized forms of human conduct and belief that involve communities so constituted that an individual is either a member of it or an outsider, and the membership of the community consists of a fairly large population, with all or most of the following common traits: some form of worship, separating the sacred or holy form the secular and the profane; some form of a separation between a priesthood and the laity (except for the Quakers); some form of codes of religious laws, precepts, or prescriptions that outline, in varying degrees of detail, a way of life or a style of conduct to be followed by those who seek salvation, conceived as the attainment of a spiritual goal, never as one or another form of worldly success; and some form of creed (a set of explicitly stated beliefs that constitute its declared dogmatism) that communicants or members of the community are obliged to affirm as true.

(a) For Dr. Adler, the three religions distinguished by this claim are Judaism, Christianity, and the religion of Islam.

(b) Among the other religions that satisfy the requirements set forth in the definition of religion, only some claim to have logical and factual truth, but the truth they claim to have is of human, not divine, origin.

9. THE HERO SEIZES THE SWORD:

Dr. Adler next came to the insights and oversights that emerge from his previous consideration. He observes two principles and three considerations that should be employed in order to reach a decisive determination of where the truth lies among the world\’s religions:

(a) The principle of the unity of truth. All of the diverse parts of the whole truth must be compatible with one another regardless of the diversity of the ways in which these parts of truth are attained or received.

[See Etienne Gilson\'s excellent book \"The Unity of Philosophical Experience\" ]

(b) The principle of transculturality. At a given time, the truths of technology, mathematics, and the exact natural sciences are transcultural; whatever else claims to be true should also become transcultural if it is found to be compatible with the scientific truths that are now transcultural.

Considerations:

(1) To become transcultural, a body of religious beliefs and precepts must be compatible, at a given time, with the established scientific truths that are now transcultural.

(2) To become transcultural, philosophical doctrines must also be compatible, at a given time, with the established scientific truths that are now transcultural.

(3) When philosophy becomes as transcultural as the established science with which it is compatible, the truths established by philosophical theology should serve as the most decisive criterion whereby to discover where the truth lies among the religions of the world.

10. THE HERO TAKES T HE ROAD BACK:

Dr. Adler next had to prepare to meet potential objections to his insights and oversights. In light of these principles and their considerations, he would be compelled to say that there cannot be logical and factual truth in any of the Far Eastern religions that are cosmological rather than theological in their orthodoxies, nor in any of the theological religions that are polytheistic rather than monotheistic.

[This answer, Adler adds, is based on the conclusions reached in his book \"How to Think About God: A Guide for the 20th-Century Pagan\".]

The truth in religion, then, if it is to be found at all, lies in the three monotheistic religions of Western origin — in Judaism, in Christianity, or in the religion of Islam. But in which one?

11. THE HERO EXPERIENCES DEATH AND RESURRECTION:

Given our contemporary reliance on myth and narratives in our cultures, Dr. Adler addresses next the probable objections of people whose religions rely heavily on mythology in two ways.

(a) First he addresses the probable objections of Joseph Campbell, author of \”The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion\” and co-author, with Bill Moyers, of \”The Power of Myth.\”

[Please recall that it is Campbell\'s hero\'s journey that supplies the storied structure of the decision-making process I have been describing in my posts under the general title \"HOW TO FIND FAITH AT THE MOVIES.\" The implications of Dr. Adler\'s criticism have not been missed by me and I will address them in a later blog post.]

Dr. Adler succinctly summarized Campbell\’s view: None of the world\’s organized and institutionalized religions, especially those that are explicitly creedal, is anything but a mythology, and none has either truth or falsity in the logical sense of the terms. He demonstrates that this approach of Campbell\’s is fundamentally dogmatic materialism. He notes that Campbell states in his books, though not on television, that no modern mind, instructed by the natural sciences, and especially the social sciences, could possibly give any credence to the religious beliefs of Orthodox Jews or to the articles of Christian faith summarized in the Nicene Creed. A fortiori, Dr. Adler notes, Campbell would say the same thing about the faith of Islam, as well as the beliefs held by all the great religions of the Far East.

Dr. Adler then cites an article in The New York Review of Books (9/28/1989, pp.16-19) where Campbell apparently uses the word \”bliss\” (as in \”follow your bliss\”) for a purely psychological state of contentment experienced by anyone who manages to get what he or she individually wants. Dr. Adler notes that this kind of bliss is quite contrary to the ancient ethical conceptions of happiness or morally good life as a whole, attainable only by moral virtue and the blessings of good fortune.

(b) Second, Dr. Adler addresses the probable objections of those adhering to religions in the Far Eastern cultures by diagnosing that in them there is a latent or explicit Averroism. For them, there are two distinct realms of truth: the truths of science and technology, and the truths of religious faith, of religious beliefs, and rules of conduct.

\”In these Far Eastern cultures, such schizophrenia is regarded as a healthy state of mind. It is welcomed and espoused.\” The embrace rather than fight contradiction because contradictions in their view lie at the very heart of reality. \”It may appear to be nothing but an expression of parochial Western prejudice on my part…. Nevertheless, I am compelled to do so. If Averroism is wrong in the West, it cannot be right in the East. If the only way to avoid the error of Averroism in the West is to regard truth in the domain of religion as merely poetical truths — truths of fiction, not of fact — then that must also be the only way to avoid the error of Averroism in the Far East.

\”The espousal of Averroism in some of the cultures in the Far East may be psychologically comforting, even an escape mechanism for avoiding extremely difficult problems involving incompatible alternative between which individuals do not want to choose.\”

\”The conclusion is that the schizophrenia resulting from an Averroistic duality of truth in the domains of science and religion (where neither domain regards its truth as poetical or fictional rather than factual) is not a healthy state of mind and should not be welcomed and embraced.\”

[In the West and the East as well, see the relation of solipsism to schizophrenia.]

[(c) In response to claims of atheists, agnostics, etc., Adler\'s writing\'s concerning God have recently been provided in this book: \"How to Prove There Is a God: Mortimer J. Adler\'s Writings and Thoughts About God\".]

\"How

How to Prove There is a God

12. THE HERO RETURNS WITH THE ELIXIR:

Dr. Adler concludes: \”…it is prudent for a philosopher to suspend judgment with regard to which of these religions is the truer and which is less true. As a philosopher concerned with truth in religion, he wanted like to hear leading twentieth-century theologians speaking as apologists for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam engage in a disputation…. The question at issue would be which of these three religions had a greater claim to truth. It being conceded that each has a claim to some measure of truth, which of the three can rightly claim more truth than the other two?\”

To my way of thinking about decision-making, Dr.Adler\’s 12th stage reflects the spiral-staircase character of the journey to answering the issue.

\"St.

What Adler is saying at the end of this book is that to the issue \”Do I want to decide for myself where the truth lies in the religions of the world?\” he was not yet ready, but clearly wanted to get on with it. For the reasons stated, he had narrowed his heroic quest down considerably and helped us all by his example of his approach.

Copyright (c) 2013 John Darrouzet

Filed in: Education

About the Author:

John Darrouzet is a successful Hollywood screenwriter, an accomplished lawyer, a student of decision-making, and a deeply committed Roman Catholic layman who is FINDING FAITH AT THE MOVIES. Read more about John here.

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  • David

    It should be pointed out that Adler was born a non-observant Jew, became a Thomist, was eventually baptized in the Episcopal Church, but became a Catholic a few years before he died. Perhaps this gives the answer to which religion he believed to be true…

    • John Darrouzet

      You are correct. This book was not at that end-point decision. His process is what I find especially helpful.

  • james

    Dr Adler’s chart showed that myth played a small part in Christianity which is utterly
    false. He also claims that Hinduism has no revealed truths which is utterly false.
    He dismisses Eastern deism entirely which is the mark of a fool. He attributes
    Islam with almost the same respect as christianity, totally dismissing these people
    filled with hate for each other based on the line of succession from someone who
    killed more people than all of Rome combined.. Some hero you chose.

    • John Darrouzet

      Why, James, tell us how you really feel! Or better, read the book for yourself and deal with the matters philosophically. Name-calling may be your way of venting, but it does not advance your counter-arguments an inch. Rather it undermines the appearance of any sound judgment on your part. Suggests you are coming at Truth from only emotion and limited ability to respect opinions other than your own. Adler did some heavy lifting with this book. Perhaps you should write one yourself and see how far you get. Then publish it and let us examine it with you. I double-dare you.

    • james

      Already published by God – it’s called the Bahagavad-gita.

    • John Darrouzet

      Please describe God in terms of the Bahagavad-gita. Is God one or Many? Personal or impersonal? Are you God?

    • james

      The Gita is about God the Father, John. He is very, very,
      very, very personal to each living being. Are you really a
      screenwriter or just another blogger for a very, very small
      Catholic website ?

    • John

      Given our blogs size and reach, I am surprised you found us. If you found us you can find more about me as you care too. But I would rather talk about the God you say is very x 4 personal to you and me. I have asked you to describe this God of yours. All you have given so far is Your God is Father. Does your God have a name?

    • james

      John, as I have told others, go do your own homework.
      Now, peace friend, before you fall into the sin of pride.

    • John Darrouzet

      I have and will continue to learn. But apparently not from you or with you. So, now you too go in peace, my friend. Each of us carries are own crosses. When your’s gets too heavy, I trust your God will provide someone to offer assistance in better ways than I have been able to muster.

    • Greg

      John, while James has not been able to strike a chord with you, as a Catholic I understand his upset with the article. Even as a Catholic I found problems with the approach as it misrepresents other faiths, like Buddhism. The misrepresentation can be insulting, much like we, as Catholics, are upset when the new atheists such as Dawkins, Dennett, Hitches, et al present a false picture of Catholicism (Christianity) to critique. The wisdom of Nostro Aetate – respect that which is true and good in ancient religions – is probably wise counsel. We risk coming off as uneducated and uncharitable when we present false versions of other faiths in order to knock them down.

    • John Darrouzet

      Greg, thanks for your comment. I understand well why James is upset. But he does not continue to converse. So his mind must be made up. Not sure whether you want a response. It is not clear whether you are claiming that I am presenting a false version of other faiths or Adler is. Surely you are not saying Adler is uneducated. Are you saying he is uncharitable? Sometimes, the truth is not charitable when the most that can be done is to tolerate the claims of others when they diverge from the truth. You single out Buddhism. What part of the chart of Adler’s analysis of Buddhism are you claiming is false? If you care to clear that up, I will respond.

    • Greg

      John, almost all the characteristics Adler attributes to Eastern Religions are not true of Buddhism. Thus, he fails to distinguish important qualities of Buddhism.

      It is not, for example, wedded to a split between faith and science but, even more so than many in Western religions, Buddhists are keenly aware of integrating faith and science. The Dalai Lama, for example, has been very active in dialogue with western science at all levels.

      In addition, all the characteristics he applies to faiths that qualify for his truth list are found in Buddhism, but he omits it. So, yes, I am claiming Adler is uneducated. (Like Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, et al are “educated” but have no real understanding of faith.)

      The uncharitable part I would attribute to the entire exercise. Turning to Nostro Aetate I would suggest the path Catholics should take is to acknowledge that which is true and good in ancient faiths, realizing the Holy Spirit has been at work throughout all time.

      The primary problem one encounters, as has Adler, is faith is not something one can assess from a remote viewpoint. The knowledge of faith is a lived knowledge, much deeper than academic synopses can fathom. Thus, a better exercise is to find the common thread that indicates the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of men throughout all ages.

    • John Darrouzet

      You write: “…almost all the characteristics Adler attributes to Eastern Religions are not true of Buddhism. Thus, he fails to distinguish important qualities of Buddhism.” But you do not provide an analysis of the distinctions he does make. Moreover, you do not provide a list of those qualities so our conversation does not advance. Is this because you think Buddhism has something to offer Catholicism that Catholicism does not have? If so, what is it?

      You write: “The Dalai Lama, for example, has been very active in dialogue with western science at all levels.” I do not doubt your claim. I do not know when his activity took place. Thus, Dr. Adler may not have known of the Dalai Lama’s activity. But, at the same time, you have not given us anything that will advance the discussion of truth and religion. Are you now claiming that Buddhism is a religion in the same way Adler has defined it? If not how are you modifying the proposed definition? Dr. Adler places a question mark in the column about whether the truths of Buddhism were revealed to Siddhartha. Do you read that as him doubting that they were revealed or, more obviously, that we do not know because of what Siddhartha said afterwards about his experience?

      You write: “So, yes, I am claiming Adler is uneducated.” Were he alive, I’m sure he would ask you to educate him, as I do now via my questions. But, I find such a claim to be somewhat foolish. For now I must ask you for proof that you are educated: What do you mean when you claim to be educated yourself?

      You write: ” …acknowledge that which is true and good in ancient faiths, realizing the Holy Spirit has been at work throughout all time.” The Holy Spirit clearly has been at work throughout all time. No disagreement there. But, while you want to emphasize the true and good about other ancient faiths, you do not seem at all interested in discerning what is false and bad about other ancient faiths. This sort of approach may be very charitable of you (reminds me of Hinduism actually), but the aim of the post was to get us thinking about Truth and its relation to Religion. What I suspect is that your commitment to absolute Truth is different than my interest in it. Pope Benedict XVI’s book “Truth and Tolerance” [ http://www.amazon.com/Truth-And-Tolerance-ebook/dp/B002YM8RJI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381769241&sr=8-1&keywords=truth+and+tolerance ] is very important in this regard. While we may tolerate other religions for many reasons and purposes, we must hold tight to Truth. Is the Catholic faith/religion the Truth from your point of view?

      You write: ” The primary problem one encounters, as has Adler, is faith is not something one can assess from a remote viewpoint. The knowledge of faith is a lived knowledge, much deeper than academic synopses can fathom. Thus, a better exercise is to find the common thread that indicates the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of men throughout all ages.” Clearly you prefer your viewpoint over Dr. Adler’s or mine or both. Fine. You may want to write a book about it and see what others think of your level of education and insight, if not oversight. You are entitled to express your opinion. Whether you are entitled to hold onto your opinion is subject to examination. Please, will you let us examine your opinion together?

      To suggest that Adler’s approach was remote and yours lived is patently false. As is obvious, Dr. Adler was a philosopher with a keen, objective view of philosophy. He was also personally going through his own faith journey, living it as you would say you are. The Holy Spirit was guiding him as well as He guides you, or do you think the Holy Spirit plays favorites? Rather than simply suggest you are insulting to Dr. Adler, I would suggest you are insulting to the work of the Holy Spirit as well.

      Follow your common thread approach and see what you can weave before it unravels intellectually on you.

      Perhaps then you will accept the argument that Dr. Adler’s efforts were not as vain as you argue they are.

    • Greg

      Here is a quote from your article:

      “Dr. Adler addresses the
      probable objections of those adhering to religions in the Far Eastern
      cultures by diagnosing that in them there is a latent or explicit
      Averroism. For them, there are two distinct realms of truth: the truths
      of science and technology, and the truths of religious faith, of
      religious beliefs, and rules of conduct.”

      This is simply not true when it comes to Buddhism. There has been a long-term acceptance of scientific truth, even a tradition of controlled observation that predates modern science.

      There is a robust dialogue between Buddhism and science today, as there has been in the past. An introduction to the dialogue can be found in the collected works of the Mind and Life Institute.

      One author active in the Institute conversations, B. Alan Wallace, now a professor at UC Santa Barbara, compiled an excellent work on the subject, Buddhism & Science: Breaking New Ground.

      The Dalai Lama’s conversations with physicist David Bohm are well known. Bohm’s The Undivided Universe is well worth reading.

      The Dalai Lama wrote a short text, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality.

      Thus, the claim of a division between religion and science when it comes to Buddhism is simply not true, either historically or recently. You might simply acknowledge the error and move on.

      Another volume that is worth considering is the respectful conversation between Buddhist and Christian monastics who met in honor of Thomas Merton at Gethsemani. It is called The Gethsemani Encounter. The discussion raises differences but finds a great deal of commonality.

      It is not my idea that one should show respect for what is true and good in ancient religions. That approach is the official approach of the Catholic Church as laid out in Nostro Aetate. You became a bit nasty in your response on this – which is out of line.

      You are free to speak to that which is false and bad in another religion – if you really understand that religion. As noted, we see many reviewers trashing Catholicism based on a false or lacking knowledge of the faith – so we should be sensitive to the problems with that approach.

      I have written books, which you are welcome to read. Their topic concerns the problems we encounter here – an overly negative and critical view of others, including anyone who dares to comment, as opposed to a more conciliatory approach that welcomes learning other views.

      There is no war between the concepts of Buddhism and the Truth of Catholicism. As noted, the Holy Spirit has been at work throughout all time, and there are those ancient religions, as pointed out in Nostro Aetate, that have forwarded peace and brotherly love and awareness of that which transcends the worldly realm.

      Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote a wonderful work, his thesis actually, on the subject of the Holy Spirit at work in the world, The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure. Worth reading.

    • John Darrouzet

      Greg, I have many Catholic friends who want to incorporate some form of Buddhism in their lives, as you seem to want as well. That may well be the subject of someone else’s post. It was not mine.My post was an effort to summarize Dr. Adler’s work on Truth in Religion, wherein he was seeking to understand where the Truth can be ultimately found among those who claimed it.

      Your discomfort in Dr. Adler’s approach and apparently mine stems in part on your reliance on Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Nostra Aetate. Below I quote a key section so we are on the same page:

      “http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html

      “2. From ancient times down to the present, there is found among various peoples a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human history; at times some indeed have come to the recognition of a Supreme Being, or even of a Father. This perception and recognition penetrates their lives with a profound religious sense.

      “Religions, however, that are bound up with an advanced culture have struggled to answer the same questions by means of more refined concepts and a more developed language. Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust. Again, Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing “ways,” comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.(4)

      “The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men….”

    • John Darrouzet

      Greg, let’s first note Nostra Aetate’s description of Hinduism: ” in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust.”

      James did not like the fact that Hinduism was not found Dr. Adler to be in the Truth in Religion consideration in the end. But Dr. Adler’s reason for its exclusion from further consideration was because of its heavy reliance on mythology. Nostra Aetate recognizes such reliance as well. I prefer Greek mythology myself for purposes of myth. James must see truths in Hindu mythology. But truths of this kind, found in mythologies, are readily understood as forms of philosophical considerations. When theological analysis is deployed, Hinduism is clearly polytheistic. Efforts to reduce the number of gods in Hinduism to a few central ones have been made, but even the result of reaching one god for Hinduism shows clear and distinct differences between that conception of the godhead and the Catholic Godhead of the Trinity.

      [ For beginning exploration of Hindu gods see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_gods ]

    • John Darrouzet

      Greg, now let’s look at Nostra Aetate’s statement on your favorite Buddhism. Pope Paul VI writes:

      “…Again, Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing “ways,” comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites….”

      What strikes me here is the admission of the desire to be liberated from suffering. Dr. Adler’s placing a question mark for Buddhism in the column designating whether a religion is revealed on not suggests he had not resolve the matter in his mind. The underlying question was and is whether the insight Siddhartha arrived at had its origin in his own effort or was it revealed to him by God. Early Buddhism, before its division into various sects, ignored God and the gods.

      This ignoring of God and gods among Buddhists suggests it is a type of atheistic religion, which does seem to be a contradiction in terms. But it may be also that Siddhartha was rejecting what was and is false about the gods of Hinduism but didn’t do so openly for obvious reasons. He simply wouldn’t go there. Your ignoring of my questions in my previous is consistent with such approaches. Ignorance may be bliss for some, but ignoring questions in conversation is agenda driven. What is your real agenda, Greg?

    • Greg

      Again, you become quarrelsome and attribute false motive – as in “what is your real agenda”? Apparently, your drive to put forth the negative to say what is bad has overwhelmed your charity.

      There is no hidden agenda. Your article made a representation about Buddhism (as an Eastern religion) that was false. I have now provided the details and sources you can use to correct the error. Rather than simply saying “thanks, I was not aware of that” you wish to denigrate and attribute false motive.

      As for the idea that Buddhism is an atheistic religion you will find no statement of atheism. You will find instead a parallel to other faiths that eschew attributing limiting and iconic qualities to the Divine. In Buddhism the effort is to practice a faith so that one has direct revelation rather than accepting iconic or man made versions of the nature of God.

      What is your real agenda? Is it simply to be able to say others are bad? It appears so. That takes us back to Nostro Aetate that calls on us to first acknowledge that which is true and holy in ancient religions. That is a good starting point from which to take a positive path forward to explaining why the Catholic faith can bring the salvation and mystical union with Christ that people crave.

      My whole point was be charitable not a curmudgeon.

    • John Darrouzet

      Apparently to the question is Buddhism atheistic, we can answer the question for you since you want to ignore it. See for a quick example: The Basic Points of Buddhism [ http://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/beliefs/basic_points.htm ]. Buddhism does not hold with those who claim God as the Creator. How can you miss the difference, Greg? Is it because you want it that way?

      On the other hand, some have made Siddhartha into a god, don’t you agree?

      Why are you so blind to the objective facts of Buddhism?

      You continue to prefer Nostra Aetate as the “good starting point from which to take a positive path forward to explaining why the Catholic faith can bring the salvation and mystical union with Christ that people crave.

      Write your own post next time, citing books you claim to have written so we can read them too.

      So long as you are unwilling to address the Truth in your comments and insist on being so charitable, I find your masks hiding what and who you really are.

      Given your continuous dodging, and unresponsiveness to questions posed, I do not buy your claim to being charitable. You are a poser. Take off your mask and let’s commit to finding Truth in Religion and let the chips fall where they may.

    • Greg

      Rather than simply look at what I said, you seem to want to become quarrelsome. I did not ask to incorporate Buddhism into Catholicism. I simply noted that which you have found in Nostro Aetate:

      The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these
      religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and
      of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many
      aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often
      reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.”

      This simply means one does not misrepresent and denigrate another religion, another faith. One does not bear false witness and portray them in ways that are not true.

      I responded very specifically to the problem in your article – which was misrepresenting Buddhist views of science. You asked for specifics, I presented them. Why not humbly admit that portion of your article was in error and move on?

    • John Darrouzet

      So, Greg, rather than following your advice for me, and humbly admitting you are in error, you now seem to want to boil our disagreement down to whether Dr. Adler has correctly assessed the problem of Buddhism as a form of disconnect between faith and reason as exposed by Aquinas when dealing with the Averroists? Is this correct?

      Well, without awaiting your answer, I would suggest that the Dalai Lama himself helps you see the error of your ways. His view of faith (as you would suggest Buddhism is) and reason (which you would suggest science has subsumed) is split into two perspectives and he thinks Buddhism is a religion from one perspective and a science of the mind from the other.

      Do you not see that this is exactly the problem Aquinas attempted to address when engaging the Averroists who claimed two truths resulting from two perspectives? If the Dalai Lama does not know what single thing Buddhism is, how can you claim to know it better than he does?

      In the West, we know the difference between philosophy and theology? In the East, maybe not so much. Why?

      You want to move on because you have no further answers to give that meet the problem Dr. Adler saw. You are unwilling to answer my questions.So you are in effect abandoning the discussion. Forestalling disagreement. Both fallacious approaches to engaging conversation.

      Rather than resolve the conflict, you and the Dalai Lama want to pass over it, bearing no witness to the Truth that is at stake. You have not advanced our learning about the relation of faith and reason by continuing to ignore the problem. The problem is at the heart of epistemology and ontology. The Catholic response in both areas is demonstrably different than you would lead us to believe. But you are unwilling to engage and apparently unable to disengage. Are you trying to win the argument with me or educate me and other readers? I can’t tell. It certainly feels like the former. And if that’s the case, I think you are indulging yourself in a false and uncharitable witness to the Truth you claim to have hold of but will not share. (Still waiting for citations to the books you have written, Greg.)

      As you move on in your own journey to finding Truth, I urge you to look beyond the “science” Buddhism offers because it can no more explain itself or what it is “knowing” than the Averroists could when they gave up. But that’s not just my opinion. Take a look at Etienne Gilson in his book “The Unity of Philosophical Experience” [ http://www.amazon.com/Unity-Philosophical-Experience-Etienne-Gilson/dp/089870748X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381862137&sr=8-1&keywords=the+unity+of+philosophical+experience ].

      When you are ready, willing, and able to expose your Buddhist philosophy to examination, we can both see whether your interest in it has led you astray from deeper Church teachings.

      For now the ball is in your court.

    • Greg

      As mentioned before, it appears you wish to insult and offer a quarrelsome demeanor rather than even bothering to look at the comments people present. You do not do Catholic Stand any favors with this angry approach.

      You have continued to misrepresent everything I have presented in order to maintain some kind of puffed up ego on this topic… not so attractive to either Catholics or non-Catholics.

      Not sure why you are an angry person but it is not worth engaging in dialogue with such. I have given you good source to study to help you better understand the subject. Take the time to do the research and find a more charitable tone.

    • John Darrouzet

      “FALLACIES do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” ~G.K. Chesterton: ‘Illustrated London News,’ April 19, 1930.

    • http://stacytrasancos.com/ Stacy Trasancos

      Booo — that’s so rude. Well handled John.

    • james

      What can I say ? Things are different in the 24th century

  • Robbe Sebesta

    Very interesting John! It reminds me of something I read before I became a Christian. You’re probably familiar with it – “The Hero with a Thousand Faces, ” by Joseph Campbell? He dealt in myth, but the storyline is compelling, imo. This is from the introduction: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of
    supernatural wonder, and fabulous forces are there encountered and a
    decisive victory is won. The hero comes back from this mysterious
    adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

  • Robbe Sebesta

    And by the way, I love that spiral staircase!! My family and I went to Santa Fe, NM three years ago and fell in love with the place….there and Sedona, AZ as well.