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By John Hick

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Extra info for Possibility of Religious Pluralism: A Reply to Gavin D'costa

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However, we do not even possess a buried or ill-chronicled memory of what happened to most of our fellow humans in the Americas. When the Catholic Christian conquistadores arrived in the Western Hemisphere in the early sixteenth century AD, they behaved with such indiscriminate cruelty and destructiveness that one of their number, Bartolemeo dc las Casas, actually proposed a formal renunciation and apology, and an acknowledgment that the whole enterprise had been a mistake. Well-intentioned as he may have been, he based his bad conscience on the idea that the "Indians" had been living in an undisturbed Eden, and that Spain and Portugal had missed their chance of rediscovering the innocence that had pre-dated the fall of Adam and Eve.

Against dumb innocence like this it might be heartless to object, if it were not for the venerable clergyman's sublime indifference to the fate of the boychildren and indeed their mothers. One could go through the Old Testament book by book, here pausing to notice a lapidary phrase ("Man is born to trouble," as the book of Job says, "as the sparks fly upward") and there a fine verse, but always encountering the same difficulties. People attain impossible ages and yet conceive children. Mediocre individuals engage in single combat or one-on-one argument with god or his emissaries, raising afresh the whole question of divine omnipotence or even divine common sense, and the ground is forever soaked with the blood of the innocent.

In the first place, several such disclosures have been claimed to occur, at different times and places, to hugely discrepant prophets or mediums. In some cases—most notably the Christian—one revelation is apparently not sufficient, and needs to be reinforced by successive apparitions, with the promise of a further but ultimate one to come. In other cases, the opposite difficulty occurs and the divine instruction is delivered, only once, and for the final time, to an obscure personage whose lightest word then becomes law.

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Possibility of Religious Pluralism: A Reply to Gavin D'costa by John Hick


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