— American Beauty (film: final scene monologue)
There is something wholly self defeating, so it seems to me, in [declaring that no one religion is right to avoid self-exultation]. If we take this position, then we can’t say, for example, that Christianity is right and Buddhism is wrong; as Christians we don’t disagree with the Buddhists; and we take this stance in an effort to avoid self-exultation and imperialism. But we do something from the point of view of intellectual imperialism and self-exultation that is much worse: we now declare that everyone is mistaken here, everyone except for ourselves and a few other enlightened souls. We and our graduate students know the truth; everyone else is sadly mistaken. Isn’t this to exalt ourselves at the expense of nearly everyone else? Those who think there really is such a person as God are benighted, unsophisticated, unaware of the real truth of the matter, which is that there isn’t any such person… We see Christians as deeply mistaken; of course we pay the same compliment to the practitioners of the other great religions; we are equal-opportunity animadverters. We benevolently regard the rest of humanity as misguided; no doubt their hearts are in the right place; still, they are sadly mistaken about what they take to be most important and precious. I find it hard to see how this attitude is a manifestation of tolerance or intellectual humility: it looks more like patronizing condescension.
The basic problem is that, given our actual intellectual and spiritual situation, it simply isn’t possible to avoid serious disagreement with others. If some people believe P and others believe something Q incompatible with P, there is no way in which we can avoid serious disagreement. If we affirm P, we disagree with those who affirm Q, if we affirm Q, we disagree with those who affirm P; if we propose a higher resolution, saying that neither P nor Q is true (though perhaps each is ‘mythologically true’), then we disagree with both groups. But if it is imperialistic or somehow out of order to affirm P, thus disrespecting the partisans of Q, why is it better to disrespect them all by pronouncing them all wrong?"
— Alvin Plantinga (via revelation19)