Hick´s Hypothesis About Religions Essay

Hick´s Hypothesis About Religions Essay

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Imagine that three people are all touching a part of an elephant. The first is touching the elephant's leg and says that the elephant is like the truck of a tree. The second is touching the elephant's trunk and disagrees with the first, saying that the elephant is like a large snake. The third person is touching the elephant’s side and says that the elephant is like a great wall.
Each person is convinced that they are right and the others are wrong because of what they know and have experienced. What they don’t realize is that they are all technically right because they are each describing a different aspect of the elephant. The same analogy can be applied to the major religions of the world.
In 1973, John Hick discussed the idea for a paradigm shift in thinking about different religions in his book God and the Universe of Faiths. Hick suggested that each of world's religions should be viewed as "different human responses to one divine reality…." In a later book, Hick presented a theory that attempted to explain all the religions. Hick refers to this theory as a "pluralistic hypothesis" and was that all religions are culturally conditioned responses to the same ultimate reality.
Hick’s pluralistic theory faces one major difficulty though, the contradicting claims that each different religions makes. How can all major religions be responses of the same ultimate reality when they contradict one another? For a pluralistic view to be plausible, the hypothesis has to sufficiently explain how religions can make incompatible claims while at the same time be responses of the same ultimate reality.
To overcome this difficulty, Hick attempts to explain four critical factors: (1) people are inherently religious; (2) there is substantia...

... middle of paper ...

...all are describing the same elephant? How much contradiction is required before it becomes obvious that it’s not the same elephant? A similar question can be asked of Hick's hypothesis. With the conflicting truth-claims of various religions, is it really reasonable to accept Hick's claim that all religions are interpretations of the same ultimate reality?
In a chapter of Disputed Questions, entitled "Jews, Christians, Muslims: Do We All Worship the Same God?" Hick evaluates the plausibility of the claim that all religions worship the same God and merely refer to him by different names. He notes that the difficulty with this position is that the various descriptions must be compatible. The same criticism Hick applied against that position can be applied to Hick's own hypothesis. The differences between religions are far too great for his hypothesis to be plausible.

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