Pluralism:  a theory that there are more than one or more than two kinds of ultimate reality 

I wonder if Merriam Webster was a nice Jewish girl.

In a post a little while ago, Larry made an insightful comment explaining the difference between inclusivism and pluralism.  Inclusivism means I don’t think you’re right, but I will include and value you.  Pluralism means you’re right and I’m also right.  There are multiple ways to be right.

Now here’s my question.  Religious pluralism does not make any mathematical sense to me, because to me, religion is based on facts.  Either God did or didn’t write the Torah as we have it today.  Either the Torah was or wasn’t given at Sinai.  Either Moses did or didn’t perform those miracles.  If religion isn’t based on a belief in facts, then what is it based on?

Take other popular debates: vaccines either do or don’t cause autism.  Either baby carrots do or don’t have chlorine on them.  Drinking coffee either does or doesn’t make your teeth yellow.  You wouldn’t hear a pluralist say, “Well, I believe that vaccines cause autism, so that’s true for me, but if you don’t believe that, then it’s not true for you.  You’re right, and I’m right.”  That’s not a fact-based argument.

If you are an evolved religious debater, you will be thinking at this point, Ruchi.  Don’t you know that even within religious thought there is a plethora of ambiguity and pluralism?  Take Hillel and Shammai.  Weren’t they both right?  Aren’t there “shivim panim latorah,” 70 ways to interpret Torah, all of which are correct?

70 but not 71.  13 ways to interpret the Torah: not more.  Where Hillel and Shammai debated, each opinion revealed a different facet of the topic at hand, both of which might have been correct, but the halacha was always determined to be either one or the other.  Or sometimes one in private, one in public.  One in temple times, and one in diaspora.  One in ideal circumstances, one to rely upon only under duress. 

While I greatly appreciate that a non-Orthodox pluralist thinks that it is correct to drive on Shabbat and also correct not to, honestly it would make more sense to me if she thought I was wrong.

And that is why I’m not a pluralist.