Sunday, February 6, 2011 Login

Is Your Religion True?

If you are convinced that your particular flavor of religion is true and that you have satisfactory and compelling evidence to think so, then consider this:

Map of the distribution of Christians of the w...

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If the evidence for any particular religion was as compelling as believers tend to think that it is, then the world should be moving towards some kind of consensus with regards to the true and proper religion. On the contrary, the world’s religions are hopelessly splintered. Even among the three major Western religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – there are hundreds (if not thousands in the case of Christianity) of competing denominations that each claim to make the “correct” interpretation of its respective holy book. And this is likely getting worse, not better. This kind of scenario is utterly inconceivable if there really was clear and compelling evidence for any of them.

Consider the scientific community. There is a good reason why there is a clear consensus among physicists concerning Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. The empirical evidence is compelling and has withstood the tests of time. The same can be said about the theory of biological evolution and many other scientific theories. Clear, compelling evidence creates a consensus. Is there any such consensus among scientists – people who are trained to think this way – concerning what religion they should belong to? I hardly think so.

If there is a God and He has an important message for us or special requirements that we need to obey, then these should be quite evident. After nearly 10,000 years of human civilization, language, and writing, at least one thing should now be clear: there is no such divine message. If there were, we wouldn’t still, after all these years and all these generations, be so hopelessly in disagreement over what that message is. Why? Because a God could do much, much better than that.

If there really was such a divine message, do you really think that God would deliver that message at an arbitrary time in human history and at an arbitrary location to a handful of people in just one language – and then entrust this handful of people to write it down, pass it along, and get it translated? Yet this is exactly the situation we have with such “holy” books like the Bible, the Qur’an, and the book of Mormon. Those who believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light must deal with the ugly fact that God’s important message did not reach any Native Americans until over 1,400 years after Jesus allegedly died and rose to heaven. That such a message can yet still be deemed so important that one’s own eternal life depends on knowing its contents should quite simply be an insult to anyone with a modicum of intelligence. At the very least, this fact has reduced some thinking Christians to the equally contemptible idea that God judges fairly those who were not so lucky to ever hear His message (apparently as a means to cover for His own inadequate communication abilities), presumably on their moral worth, but willingly condemns anyone to hell who hears the message but rejects its claims as compelling.

Islam is not much better, as Muslims readily admit that the Bible is a book that has been corrupted by people down through the ages – the implication therefore being that God/Allah failed to adequately pass on His important communication the first time around but waited 600 years after the completion of the New Testament to do anything about it. Although this time it is Arabic, not Hebrew or Greek, that you have to learn if you want the privilege of reading “God’s words” as they were originally spelled out. And don’t get me started on Mormonism.

Is your religion true? It seems to me that any sensible person must answer that no religion in history has ever produced compelling enough evidence for any truth claim such that disagreement would consequently be minimized and then disappear.

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