After his introduction on doubt, Keller begins the first section of Reason for God with a look at the seven most common objections to faith in Christ that he has received in his years at Redeemer. The first of these objections is "There can't be just one true religion."
This is the question of exclusivity. "There can't be just one way to God", "Jesus can't be the only way", etc, etc. Keller agrees that one of the major barriers to world peace, is in fact "religion." When you share a common set of beliefs with others, you naturally feel a superiority to those outside of that community who believe differently. The response to religion is then to either outlaw, condemn or intensely privatize it.
Keller states that the trajectory of thinking for many years has been that the more scientifically sophisticated and more able to understand and control our environment, our need for religion would diminish. But this "secularization thesis" has been largely discredited. Relgious affiliation is no where close to diminishing all over the globe. In fact, Keller mentions, that it isn't even the secularized, thin Christianity that is growing, but a robust faith with belief in miracles and authority of Scripture.
Here, Keller gets into some finer detail, because this ethos is becoming more common as our culture polarizes, becoming both more secular and more religious.
"All major religions are equally valid and basically teach the same thing."
How anyone ever makes this argument with a straight face is beyond me, but it is somewhat common. Someone who claims that the doctrinal differences between Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism, Christianity, etc. are negligible and they all worship the same God is merely developing their own different doctrine as they refute the doctrinal differences between the other religions.
"Each religion sees part of spiritual truth, but none can see the whole truth."
Alas, we find the famed Elephant illustration. You may be familiar with it. Several blind men come up to an elephant and each touches a different part, coming to a different conclusion about what type of object the elephant is. The leg makes it to be thick, like a tree. The ear makes it seem thin and flat. The tale makes it seem snake-like. The illustration backfires because the one who sees this all happening is one who is not blind himself and must be able to see the whole picture.
"Religious belief is too culturally and historically conditioned to be 'truth.'"
Here we find a claim that because we are all "locked into our historical and cultural locations, it is impossible to judge the rightness or wrongness of competing beliefs." Again, the claimant is exempting himself from his own razor. If I were born in Morocco, wouldn't I be a Muslim? Well, if the secularist were born in Honduras, might he be Catholic?
"It is arrogant to insist your religion is right and to convert others to it."
Keller points out that is is certainly a mostly Western idea that it's problematic to believe your religion is "best." It is deeply rooted in Western self-criticism and individualism. When someone claims that a Christian cannot make exclusive claims to a superior knowledge (it's not really superior, but) and that God is unknowable, is not that claim a "religious belief" in itself?
I think I'll save Keller's thoughts on "Privatization" for my next post...