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Which religion is right?

With minor editing, the following is the stunningly insightful comment I just left over on John Shore’s blog. I figured if I wrote anything this brilliant, it should appear on my own blog: 

If Religion A has it right, then Religions B-Z, along with the non-religious, must be wrong, right? (This gets really scary if Religion A decides that its mission is to convert the rest of the world.) So, for example, I not only have to believe Christians are right, I have to believe they are “more right” than Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc? Somebody explain to me how that works.

18 Comments »

  1. This is something you could breakdown even further. With many religions there are various sects with theological differences. So you can even refine the question down to say: What if the Methodist are right? Or the Seventh Day Adventists?

  2. This makes perfect sense to me.

    For example, Christianity is vastly different from all other religions at it’s core. Whereas other religions’ adhernets seek eternal life through their actions or good works, Christianity is the only religion that claims God Himself saves people through a gift of merciful grace. So while many religions have similar morality codes and principles (elements of truth), we have to look at the foundational CORE beliefs of each to find out which one is THE Truth.

    As to ppidgeon’s question, there is still a common foundational core belief between most Christian sects that Jesus saves – although many mainline denominations are just beginning to fall away from these core beliefs.

  3. The real issue is, as was noted, the idea that special feelings or revelations “prove” that a particular belief is real and right. But if you assume that (along with the idea that there is no rational argument that can distinguish between true and false ideas in the end, it’s all some wonderful mystical truth), then this legitimizes all sorts of contradictory beliefs, leading to absurdity.

  4. ppidgeon, I was thinking of the innumerable religions, denominations, sects, cults, etc., in the world when I spoke of Religions A-Z. I should have used some example with more than 26 variables, but A-Z was the first that came to mind.

    Rob V., I appreciate the distinction you make between Christianity and other religions. But I still don’t understand how any one religion can conclude that ITS core beliefs are THE truth and the other guys’ core beliefs are not.

    Someone over on Suddenly Christian mentioned that most people probably adopt the religion they are born into and raised with. That’s what happened in my case. But at some point I started thinking that “Because I said so,” coming from either my minister or my mom, was not a good enough explanation.

  5. Because of your compliment to me -30-, I thought I’de come over here and say a little something.

    I always get into discussion with religious folks, and I never initiate them. Once they lay back on the “faith” basis for the argument, I aks a simple set of questions. Here is one of them (this sort of ties into the which religion is right, blah blah blah).

    Question 1) Do you believe whole-heartedly that your God is looking out of you and what is in your best interest? I usually get a “yes, of course” as you can imagine.

    Follow up) Then get behind the wheel of your car, get on the freeway, and let go of the wheel, whatever happens from this point on is your God’s will, if you picked the right God, because if not, someone else’s God is going to get you. The fact that you are not willing to do that is the exact reason why I as an Atheist know I control my own life and keep a hold on the wheel.

  6. Rob V: how does a religion having a distinctive feature different from others make it true? Simply because you like that feature more than you like the different features of others?

    Islam is the only religion in which you are called to pray towards a city everyday. That must mean it’s true, right?

    And in any case, Catholicism is by far the largest Christian sect, including the one with the best claim on being the original one. And it does not put the emphasis on faith that more modern inventions (i.e. Protestantism, and the most modern invention of all, fundamentalist literalism) do.

  7. Rob V., I won’t argue that the authors of the Bible covered their butt’s by thinking of the rebutal’s to such questions. But you read right over the part that I really wanted to focus on; which God, why that God?

    I have read many religious books including the KGV Bible and I know all about the stories. It’s a story book, that would have explained a lot, along time ago. Such a book, is no longer needed. I can only hope that it, like the Biblical Figurines that Wal-Mart is now selling is soon found in the fictional section.

    As for the passage you would have me read. That like all other portions of the bible is vague and nonsensical. The test that the Satan, confronted Jesus with is logical. If Jesus, was the son of God all mighty, then why wouldn’t he prove definitively that he was and complete the contests, why, because it’s mythical, fake, a story, it was created to appease what was unknown, but questioned. Once they creators found out how gullible Mankind was, they like any other seeking power, jumped on the opportunity and found a GREAT TOOL to control Mankind.

  8. As a Catholic, who believes hook line and sinker everything the Catholic church teaches as dogma (and please note that there’s a distinction between dogma and doctrine) your post puts me in the category of believing that I’m religion ‘A’ as described above.

    However, to state that because I’m of religion ‘A’, I must believe that other religions are wrong shows a basic misunderstanding of how I believe the nature of God and the universe to be as an adherent to this religion.

    Truth is a thing. Religion is a belief system that attempts to describe and point its adherents to Truth. Nearly all religions, and I’ve seen this sometimes include the personal philosophical beliefs of atheists, have grains of Truth in them and if the soule of an adherent latches on to grain of Truth found, then Heaven is still a possibility (read: Catholics don’t believe even atheists have to go to Hell, but we believe they’ve made it harder for themselves to find Heaven.)

    I may be wrong, but from what I’m reading of your post, you’re viewing religion as the thing instead of the thing being described by religion. In final analysis, those will lead you to two different conclusions.

  9. With out getting to direct. I can’t find how anyone can support a church or religion that openly does not punish those that harm children. And more so how GOD can allow such things to take place.

    If their was a God and he/it came to me, I’de smack the $#^t out him/it, for allowing such things to take place. It’s disgusting.

  10. Nick H, w/out discussing the issue of the sex abuse scandal that hit the Catholic Church recently, as that is another discussion in itself, your basic observation in the last post you made is in regard to the problem of pain and suffering.

    The problem of suffering is what would be considered by nearly all Christians to be the best argument for Atheism.

    The answer I give is that God always brings a greater good out of evil. I understand that to simply state that quickly in a combox and then leave probably does nothing to satiate your views on the topic, but I assure you that, assuming all other things that I as a Catholic would believe being True, what I just stated is the answer.

    If you’ll allow for me to ask a basic question that points back to an old apologetic argument that I’m sure you’ve heard in one form or another. Its one of Aquinas’s five arguments. If there is no God, then how is it that you can find disgust in a thing such as an innocent child being raped?

    This isn’t to be combative mind you, you could be a Buddhist for example. I’m just wondering where you believe your sense of morality to come from.

  11. I don’t get offended or feel attacked, so please don’t feel the need to choose your words carefully. Now to answer you question. Where does my morality come from? First let’s consider that the morality you speak of is from the 10 Commandments.

    Consider what it means. Are we to believe that if we had never received a revelation from God, or even if there were no belief in God, a mother would never have learned to love her child, men and women would never have loved each other, men would never have placed any value upon honesty or truthfulness or loyalty? After all we have seen an animal mother caring for its young, even to the extent of risking its life for it. We have seen animals defend each other from a common enemy and join together in running down prey for a common meal. There is a courting time for animals, there is a mating time, and there is a time however brief when the animal family of male, female and young exist. All this happened to the animals without God. Why should man have to receive a revelation before he could reach the moral stage of the higher animal life?

    Broadly, then, the assertion that morality would never have existed for human beings without belief in a God or without a revelation from God is equal to saying that man alone should have never discovered the value of being honest and truthful or loyal. He would not even have had such terms as good and bad in his vocabulary, for the use of those words implies moral judgement, and there would have been no such thing — at least, so we are told.

    Now stepping away from that argument for morals, we can discuss from before modern society. How could two rival tribes meet in peace, trade, live on the same land or near, etc… and trust that one would not harm the other without honoring them by offering a fair fight? Their are many instances where the evolution of morality within society, groups, tribes and people is apparent and you can see the progression. Many, many years before the bible was created.

  12. My apologies, Bad. I just found your #7 comment stuck in Akismet and kicked it loose. I have no idea why Akismet stopped it. Are we not allowed to say “Islam” on WordPress, or what? Anyone know?

  13. Nick H:
    This may have to be my last post as I actually don’t have an internet connection and can’t always get to one (don’t ask why I have a blog..)

    The statement that begins, “Broadly, then, the assertion that morality would never have existed for human beings without belief in God or without a revelation from God…”, betrays to me that you both understood my point about Truth being outside of revelation and that you don’t quite understand the Catholic (and most Christian, though I will henceforth refrain from point this out) philosophy about the nature of God and His creation.

    If there were a God, and assuming this God created the universe, then it would be safe to say that in some way, the mind of this God is found revealed in the creation itself.

    What follows is that all creatures, and even the very physics of the universe, were created and stamped from the beginning with the mark of the creator in some form. One doesn’t need a holy book for this revelation, one just needs to exist.

    Before the existence of any religion, my belief is that people figured out how to get along and play nice because they were meant to in the first place. Religion just puts blatantly into words the Truths that were already there. Things we can now only see darkly due to this thing I believe exists called sin.

"The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all." ~ John F. Kennedy

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