In my post entitled “We aren’t a religion“, I tried to illustrate how this phrase is used by some folks to, somewhat deceptively, declare themselves to be unique. A Christian commentor then claimed just that: “Christianity is unique.” I started debating with him but thought about critical questions that may be best to answer before continuing. Deciding how unique Christianity or any religion is, comes with several problems to address before even trying to delineate what traits do or don’t make something unique:
- What is the definition of unique?
- Why are we having the discussion?
- Even if it were unique, why should we care? Is uniqueness a virtue?
Below is a diagram addressing only the first question. I illustrate 5 possible “uniqueness-positions” on the graph but here are an infinite number of possible curves, of course. To aid in dialogue, I am OK with negotiating the meanings of abstract words like “unique” — I do not hold a Platonic view of language.
Questions for Readers:
- Which curve is closest to Christianity, Islam or Buddhism — give us your thoughts.
- Does this graph help you see some of the inherent issues behind uniqueness?
- Is declaring one’s religion unique an empirical claim or an emotional claim? (oooops, that is point #2 above)