Hick’s conception of Religious Pluralism

Hick seems to conceive of the Ultimate or Real as existing independently of our particular conceptions of “it”. Hick ‘s idea here has been influence by Kant’s distinction between the noumenal world (things as they are in themselves) and the phenomenal world (things as they appear to us). Hick contends that we can’t really know what the Ultimate is like in and of itself(or perhaps whether it even exists for that matter). Thus, while each religion brings a particular view of what the Real is, they are merely different accounts and not necessarily contradictory.

The immediate objection is, “Why think there is an ‘Ultimate’ at all?” If we can’t really “know”, aren’t we being irrational? Why not be an atheist? It seems that Hick would first need to argue not that atheism is merely rationally untenable but false in order for his argument to get off the ground.

Another problem is when we look at a particular case. A muslim will say that Jesus is not divine. A christian will say that that Jesus is not divine. But this is clearly contradictory. J(d) & ~J(d). The muslim and christian aren’t just claiming how things seem to them in their own experience. Rather, they are claiming that this is the way things are in reality (or things as they are in themselves). They can’t both by right, they could both be false, just both right. Why reasons does Hick have to think that both are wrong in reality?

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