The question about conflicting truth claims was raised by the reader of this blog who has commented most often. It is an important issue, and one that merits careful attention.
There are three main ways that individuals or groups can respond to conflicting truth claims: (1) With criticism, rejection, and attacks upon truth claims that conflict with one's own. (2) With a "live-and-let-live" attitude that basically accepts truth claims different from one's own as more or less equally valid, and (3) With dialogue in which the nature of the conflicting claims is clarified and serious attention is given to the differences being discussed.
The first of these three approaches was the most common in the past, but it is an approach that should be rejected, as it has often led to animosity and to bloodshed. I reject any action in the name of truth that leads to violence.
The second approach is becoming more and more common, and certainly it is good for fostering peaceful relations with other people. But I have serious questions about and problems with the relativism and pluralism it spawns. (This is such a timely and important issue that I want to deal with it further in a later posting on this blog.)
The third, I believe, is by far the best position. It does not reject other truth claims to the extent of causing harm, but neither does it accept them without question. Except for cases where conflicting truth claims are clearly injurious to others, there is an openness to listen and even to learn from those espousing opposing views. For a Christian believer, this is especially true with regard to the faithful adherents of the main religious traditions of the world.
As I wrote in my comments posted on August 31, "dialogue is only possible where there are different viewpoints shared freely." Dialogue involves talking about differences more than about similarities. Careful analysis of those differences may show that some of them are superficial and can be harmonized. But other differences may well turn out to be substantial and unable of being disposed of easily.
John Hick, one of the examples of Christian liberalism that I introduce in my forthcoming book "The Limits of Liberalism," has a chapter called "The Conflicting Truth Claims of Different Religions" in his Philosophy of Religion (third edition, 1983). Hick concludes his chapter with these words: ". . . the great religious traditions of the world represent different human perceptions of and response to the same infinite divine Reality" (p. 121).
Hick's conclusion is no doubt true in many ways. But it does not answer all the questions. There are contradictory and conflicting claims that remain. As most of us know well, there are some remarkable conflicting truth claims between, say, fundamentalist and liberal Christians. So there are, naturally, often even greater conflicts between Christians and those in other faith traditions and especially between Christian believers and those who are atheists and/or complete secularists.
For the Christian thinker, to lash out against conflicting views with belligerence is not acceptable. But, neither, is a relativistic acceptance of conflicting or contradictory views. The hard work of dialogue and the continual search for, and witness to, the Truth is our obligatory task.