An Analytical Approach to Truth and Religion
ABSTRACT: I discuss some of the problems of the application of the notion of truth to religion. After introductory remarks on the problem called truth and religion to show the peculiarity and the actuality of the problem discussed, I examine the different meanings of the notions of truth and religion, in order to formulate some comments on the different concepts of the truth of religion. I name the main types of religious truth, and consider the competencies of the diverse types of the study of religion to determine the truth of religion, and to analyze how to understand the truth of distinct types of religion. I conclude with some remarks on the appropriate approach to the question of the truth of religion. The considerations show that there is no simple answer to the question of the truth of religion in general or in particular. As it turns out the answer requires some relativizations, among others to the notion of truth and of religion. The notions of true religion and credibility of religion, though at first sight distinct, seem to condition each other. The notion of the truth of religion can be a valuable instrument of interpretation of religious phenomena not only in philosophy and theology of religion, but in the social sciences of religion too.
Justification of a religious point of view usually consists in attempts to prove that some particular religion is true. In my paper I will discuss some problems arising when the notion of truth is applied to religion. I first focus on analyzing complexity and conditions of the question about truth of religion in order to determine various meanings which could be ascribed to the expression "truth of religion". I am especially interested in possibilities and limitations which various kinds of studies of religion (science of religion, M. Müller) such as social sciences, philosophy of religion and theology of religion, have in determining the truth of religion.
In the past the study of religion was used both to criticize and to defend a particular religion (usually Christianity). I do not however aim at providing arguments that a certain religion (e.g. Christianity) or religion in general is true. I hope, however, that my analysis will contribute to the solution of the problem of truth of religion in general and of religions other than Christianity and will do this from a neutral point of view, not from that of the Christian religion.
At the very beginning we face the problem of the multitude of expressions: truth question in religion, truth of religion, truth about religion, religious truth, truth in religion. Which of them should then be used in discussing our issue? Treating language as an active instrument of cognition and notions as useful tools I claim that each of them, even if it has a slightly different meaning, can be employed. However, one needs carefully to determine the following issues: (1) what is meant...