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Published:August 7th, 2009 17:18 EST
Flexible Truths in Religion?

Flexible Truths in Religion?

By Sean Beelzebul

Are there such things as absolute rights and wrongs when comparing religious truths?

When I got my masters in Religious Studies I was trained to support a form of relativism when regarding different religions and different belief systems. Relativism is philosophical theory that all truths are perspectival, subjective to the individual, and thus equally valid. After completing my first book, An End to Nihilism I had realized that I had gone against the grain of academic Religious Studies in my personal thinking. I found that though much of a mystic`s experiences were certainly subjective, certain truths could be over-written for yet more noble truths. This system of thinking is called objectivism in philosophy and means that certain truths can be altered for higher ideals.

Anybody that has read the Lotus Sutra and has studied the principle of Expedient Means " in Buddhism should understand what I am talking about.  Expedient Means is the principle in Buddhism that justifies the breakage of precepts and vows to secure even more important precepts in vows. One of the numerous examples the Lotus Sutra presents to us is of a caretaker (or in some translations a father of a large family).  The caretaker`s many children he is looking after are trapped inside a burning building. Rushing inside, the caretaker finds the children oblivious to fire and unwilling to leave their toys and playful activities. The man devises a story using expedient means, and deliberately lies to the children.  He tells them there are of many more toys and fun things outside the building. When the children finally leave the building they are given the best gift of all "their lives.

Now, virtually every religion presents to us prohibitions against lying. Yet, they also prohibit the taking of life. When I studied objectivism in my undergraduate degree in philosophy, I wrote several papers on the subject. I wanted to refute Kant`s absolutism. My favorite example took place in WWII. I explained to my professor that if I was in WWII Germany I would certainly hate the Third Reich and I would do everything I could to prevent the Nazi`s from harming my Jewish friends.  If I owned a large house I would devise expedient means to protect Jews. Perhaps I would have them live in my basement or attic while I fed them and planned for their escape. But say one day the SS came to my door. What would I do? Although I consider myself honest and authentic, I would have to lie to preserve the greater ideal of preserving life.

Therefore, as far as absolute rights and wrongs in Religion I do think they are there. Only, sometimes less serious grievances must be committed in order to truly follow the will of God, so to speak.