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Philosophy

Religious Conversion

So far I have discussed a lot of topics to do with religion. I have shown how religious dialogue can proceed, and that if our religion is good we should be as religious as possible. In this, my final post in this series, I will discuss the place of religious conversion. Religious conversion is the goal of all religions even the true one. Religious conversion is a part of religious dialogue and has no proper place outside of it.

Religious conversion is the goal of all religions because all religions are exclusivist. All religions believe that they are the true religion and their religion is the highest good. So naturally the belief that the highest good is found only in your religion leads to a discussion of these issues when others disagree. Arguments begin about who is right. The goal of arguments is to convince the other person. If you do not argue with someone, then you may simply state your point of view and act in accordance with it. It is not possible to always do that though. Unless everyone in your society agrees with your religion, then such disagreements will happen that cannot be resolved without argument. Such conflicts will be ones in which your religion conflicts with another person’ s religion. For example, you believe that marrying two women is just fine, but another person believes that marrying two women is criminal. No one can live and let live in that situation. Nor is that situation rare. All religions conflict with each other because they all have different things as the highest good.

Religious conversion belongs to religious dialogue because it occurs in the context of arguments. All argument about whose religion is right must be good arguments. The only other option is that the particular religion is irrational and therefore not good. Religions conflict over which good is the highest good and why and these conflicts appear in life. The only way of resolving such conflicts is by argument. All disagreements over which good is the highest good appeal to reasons that everyone can understand because all religions are exclusivist. Therefore all religious arguments occur in the context of religious dialogue.

These things mean that the same rules that apply to religious dialogue also apply to religious conversion. We must appeal to what is common, be willing to admit that our religion is wrong and be consistent and encourage consistency in others. It also means that expressions of force including forced ‘ conversions’ are always bad. It means that if a religion uses force as a part of what that religion is, then that religion is false and bad. Finally, religious conversion should be promoted for the same reasons as religious dialogue. It promotes what is true and good.

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