Reza Aslan’s “Believer,” a “spiritual adventure series” it’s called, which premiered Sunday on CNN, explores belief systems from around the world. But in a recent opinion piece at CNN, Aslan (who identifies himself as a Sufi Muslim) makes it clear that he doesn’t believe there are any essential differences between the world’s religions. As a matter of fact, he seems to think all religions are basically subjective nonsense.Share
“I know better than to take the truth claims of any religion (including my own) too seriously,” he writes. And considering the “conflict” and “bigotry” religion inspires and the way it clashes with reason, Aslan thinks it’s “understandable why so many people view religious faith as the hallmark of an irrational mind.”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is your tour guide to the religions of the world.
But he goes much further, contrasting these recently-evolved “symbols and metaphors” we call religion with something more “mysterious, “ineffable,” and “emotional”: faith.
Quoting the Buddha, Aslan likens the religions of the world to different wells, which believers dig in order to drink the same water. In other words, all religions are equally true. All roads, so to speak, lead to Heaven, resurrection, enlightenment, Nirvana, or whatever else your endgame may be.
But that very sentence is proof of how silly Aslan’s thesis is. Each religion has its own understanding not only of Who God is (or isn’t) and how we receive salvation, but of what salvation itself looks like. This reminds me of Steven Turner’s satirical observation of this sort of thinking in his poem “Creed.” “We believe that all religions are basically the same, at least the one that we read was. They all believe in love and goodness. They only differ on matters of creation sin heaven hell God and salvation.”
This is, as C. S. Lewis called it, “patronizing nonsense.” (Read more.)