This question came up recently in a discussion with a Christian friend.  That friend felt that Christianity was superior to Islam because of the treatment reserved to women by Islam (we didn’t discuss the recent edict by the Vatican treating the ordination of women and pedophilia with seemingly the same severity).


As an atheist, I don’t much like any religion, but the question of whether one is better than another is interesting.  The first step is to decide what constitutes a good religion.


For this friend as well for many of those who claim that Christianity is better than Islam, the reasons they give are related to liberal values: better treatment of women, better treatment of homosexuals, less racism, less anti-Semitism, less indoctrination of children, better separation of religion and state, more tolerance of other religions, less insistence on mindless rituals, more freedom to question, better record on human rights, etc.


What’s interesting however is that few if any of these liberal values are intrinsic to either Christianity or Islam, or for that matter, Judaism.  These values were adopted by liberal wings of these religions against the will of the Orthodox / fundamentalist wishes and, more importantly, against the words of the scriptures they claim to believe in.  It just so happens that Christians and Jews seem to have larger numbers of liberals among their ranks than do Muslims.


This comes down to saying that a better religion is a religion whose adherents are better able to ignore the religion’s scriptures.  In other words, a better religion is a religion that is less religious.


My advice to my friends who feel this way is to take the next logical step and go for something even better: no religion at all.  According to their own interpretation of a good religion, the lack of religion is the best “religion” possible.

Tags: christianity, fundamentalist, islam, judaism, liberal, orthodox, scriptures

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Most of all, there's the jokes.
Of the major religions, I think Islam is the worst. I know it's a populist argument at the moment, but I think there's a lot to it: Islam is the only religion that seeks to impose its law on the whole world, and has a not-insignificant chance of succeeding. It's also the only one that actively promotes war against unbelievers. It seeks to regulate so much of a person's life, that, as a Muslim individual you have no control left over your life! I know that other religions have some of these features too, or have had in the past, but Islam has them more at the moment.

less insistence on mindless rituals

This comes down to saying that a better religion is a religion whose adherents are better able to ignore the religion’s scriptures. In other words, a better religion is a religion that is less religious.


Someone (I've forgotten who) has made the point that, when a religion that insist less on rituals, and on regulating a person's everyday life, its adherents tend to leave the religion more. The fact that formerly Christian and Confucian societies have secularized more than Muslim and Hindu ones was explained by this characteristic. Protestant societies have also secularized more than Catholic or Orthodox ones, haven't they? Does this make some religions better than others?
That depends if I'm hungry or not.

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