" I would argue, instead, that in claiming that one religion is truer than
another, the rhetor is implicitly claiming a god's-eye view from outside
of the debate."
I'm not sure I agree with this. If the rhetor claims as much and
offers no persuasive evidence, then she's not much of a rhetor.
Point is, it's a god's-eye view only if you plan not to do anything
to try to prove your point. I'm not saying that this is an easy or
even doable task; I'm only saying that the mere fact that a student
believes her religion to be truer than others, or whatever, doesn't
mean that she hasn't thought about why she believes that or can't
communicate it to others in something more than "it's my opinion and
screw all of you unbelievers" kind of language. But while I think
that religious matters do not lie entirely outside the scope of
rhetorical treatment and academic inquiry, certainly they don't lie
entirely within those things either; it's also true that the clear
majority (I could probably say "overwhelming majority") of these
kinds of papers are rhetorical disasters. So this kind of looks like
I'm arguing a point that might be theoretically valid but in practice
just never works out. At the very least, though, this kind of
student might begin to see the differences between reasoned argument
and blind faith, the structures on which her belief rests, and so on,
and she might even figure out that the teacher isn't really trying to
destroy her faith but rather to clarify how it operates, whether
completely apart from reason or only partially so.