This is another in a series of questions about the truth of Christianity.
Question: Why do we believe that Christianity is the only way, as opposed to other religions? People in other religions, such as Buddhism or New Age, claim to have found peace in their lives, to have had spiritual experiences, and even to have experienced the miraculous. Could other religions and beliefs be true?
Response: First, we must understand the nature of truth. A fundamental principle of all reason is that if two things are contradictory, they cannot both be true. They could both be false, or one be true and the other false, but two conflicting facts cannot both be true. If we were to hold that contradictory things can both be true, we would have nonsense.
The sentences “The ball is red” and “The ball is not red” are contradictory. A ball cannot be red and not be red in the same sense at the same time. If they were, then we would have nonsensical statements and we would not be able to tell whether or not the ball was actually red.
Take for example the following:
1. “Contradictory things can both be true”
2: “Contradictory things cannot both be true”
1 and 2 are contradictory statements. If 1 is true, then 2 would have to be true also, since it is a contradiction of 1. But if 2 is true, and it says 1 is false, then 1 would have to be false. Holding both of these to be true, in the same sense, is nonsense. In reality, 1 is false and 2 is true.
Therefore if we are going to have meaningful statements and be able to communicate in any reasonable fashion, then we must hold that contradictory things cannot both be true.
So take, for example, different religions. Islam says that Jesus was not God, did not die on a cross, and did not rise from the dead. Christianity says Jesus was God, did die on a cross, and rose from the dead. Both of these cannot be true.
Buddhism and most New Agers deny that there is a God who is distinct from the universe, deny Jesus is the one God, and deny that all people will spend an eternity as their distinct selves in either heaven or hell. Christianity affirms all these things, and has a similar contradiction with all religions that deny that there is one true God. The following cannot both be true:
1a. There is one true God.
1b. There is not one true God.
Anyone who would say that both of these are true is a person who is talking nonsense and not giving meaningful sentences. If one of these sentences is true, the other must be false. Therefore if Christianity is true, then all religions that deny Christian thought are false. Of course, the opposite is also true: If a religion is true that denies Christianity, then it is true and Christianity is false. Contradictory things cannot both be true.
Second, the question implies that if a person has a significant spiritual experience, then the experience gives credibility to the truth of the religion or belief. This is a false idea. We can commonly find people who claim contradictory things based on their experiences. Jews place a lot of credence on the validity of their traditions, which are experiences that give them a great sense of peace and meaning. Mormons claim to base truth on an internal witness of the Holy Ghost. Even secular people have had significant psychological events that shape their lives. What are we to do with these experiences?
We do not deny people’s experiences, but we do not base the truth of external reality on an internal experience. I may genuinely have a significant experience, but whether or not any external fact is true is not impacted by my experience. I may have a life-changing experience, but 2+2 still equals 4, the oncoming train and I cannot both occupy the same space, and gravity applies whether or not my experience says it does not. So we do not doubt experience or feelings, but we cannot base our decisions about reality on feelings.
Third, what about miracles? Have non-Christian religions had miracles that would validate them?
Well, no, not really, not in the same sense as Christianity. The most prominent, of course, is Jesus rising from the dead in front of many doubters, speaking to 500 people at once, then eating and being physically handled by skeptical people. Many, if not most, of the supposed miracles from other religions are either clearly myth or can be shown to be false with some investigation.
Next, often these questions are thrown around as generalities without specifics. Without a specific, credible claim, the question as stated is not giving any evidence that there are such miracle claims. Hypothetical miracles for the sake of argument do not prove anything.
What if there was another religion’s miracle claim that seemed to be genuine? Even if we encountered such a thing, we would have to look at what message was being given. If the message given by the miracle worker was contradictory or did not align with what we know about reality, we can still reject it. If a person worked a miracle and then told us the moon is made of green cheese, we could still reject it because we know it is not true. Likewise, if Joseph Smith claimed to have seen miracles, but gives a message claiming that God was once a sinful man before he became God, we can reject such claims outright, regardless of any miracles. An eternal God cannot have a beginning or He would not be eternal. One cannot be created then become uncreated. Therefore we know Mormonism is false, regardless of whether Joseph was actually part of a miracle.
Fourth, we can apply this principle to good works also. Although the question does not mention good works, many people seem to think that if a religion promotes good causes, it must be a good religion. Many think that if a religious person feeds the poor, heals the sick, and promotes peace rather than war, then the religion must be true. While all those things are commendable, good works do not attest to whether or not the religion is true. Again, even followers of contradictory systems often support good works, but the contradictions nevertheless exist. Although it is good to feed the poor, doing so does not suddenly make a false religious claim to be true.
So if Christianity is true, all other non-Christian teachings must be false. There is not space in this one post to demonstrate that the whole of Christianity is true, but the rest of this blog shows reasonable demonstrations that God exists, the Bible is true, and Jesus was who He claimed to be. He is therefore worthy of our trust.