Adam Miller posted a religious blog titled, My Inherited Elephant in Practicum: critical theory, religion, and pedagogy. He addresses the fact that introductory religion courses often address tolerance and tries to connect everyone together by a belief in a higher power. The author uses the example of the blind men, all touching a different part of the elephant. Their interpretation of the elephant is based on the part they were touching (or exposed to) much like religion. Kessler, that story is like religious views, they are partially true, but never entirely accurate. The focus of religious studies can lead to a paradox, meaning the student is exposed to partial facts without seeing the whole picture. If we do not see something in its entirety, we are based on partiality. Kessler creates the elephant principle in which outlines this policy. Maybe we cannot do better than accepting a principle that all religions only hold a partial truth. It can be seen as pragmatic to adopt the notion that all religion contains some truth. It does establish a means to promote religious tolerance, even if they disagree. We can learn from others who disagree by watching their practices and seeing if they hold a value we did not know before. A student can even learn from an atheist if they listen to what they are saying. One does not have to agree to learn. The author concludes by arguing his job is not to take a position for what religion is correct or incorrect, but to educate people on the processes that are necessary for social order. Education provides an understanding and ability for embracing religious practices while coining our own beliefs and principles.
- Kessler, Gary. (2007). Studying Religion: An Introduction through Cases. McGraw-Hill Education.
- Miller, Adam. (2014). My Inherited Elephant. Practicum: critical theory, religion, and pedagogy. Retrieved from http://practicumreligionblog.blogspot.com/2014/08/my-inherited-elephant.html?m=1