Only if, with regard to the diversity of religions, there are questions about truth and falsehood do we have a problem about the pluralism of religions and the unity of truth. That problem is not concerned with preserving religious liberty, freedom of worship, and the toleration, in a particular society or in the world, of a diversity of religious institutions, communities, practices, and beliefs. It is concerned only with the question of where, in that diversity, the truth lies if there is any truth in religion at all.
Prolific philosopher-author (Intellect: Mind Over Matter, p. 147; Reforming Education, 1989, etc.) Adler, who also serves as chairman of the board of editors for the Encyclopaedia Britannica, butts his head in vain against the vexing problem of the plurality of world religions. What should we do, asks Adler, when faced with apparently contradictory faiths, each of which claims to possess absolute truth? Pluralism is desirable in matters of taste (skirt length, cuisine, etc.) but "intolerable" in matters of intellect; following the argument of Thomas Aquinas, Adler insists that the "unity of truth" must reign. After distinguishing between mythology and religion - and providing a skewering of Joseph Campbell's reductionism, as well as gentler stabs at Hans Kung, Harvey Cox, and Wendy Doniger - he turns to the East and proceeds to fall flat on his face. Eastern thinkers, he says, must accept the "transcultural" truths of Western logic, just as they accept the truths of Western technology. By this criterion, Adler rejects the "logical and factual truth" of Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Jainism, and Taoism. His error seems two-fold: first, an inflation of Western logic into absolute truth, although Eastern philosophers have developed their own independent and highly sophisticated logical systems; second, an inability to recognize the possibility of paradox, the idea (upheld by many giants of Western theology) that at the heart of truth lies the marriage of opposites, forever beyond the reach of logic. Wonderful in its incidentals - which include some sensible comments on the widespread misapplication of quantum theory to everyday life - but hollow at the core. (Kirkus Reviews)