RR Excerpt #3: The One True Religion?

This is excerpt #3 from The Reason Revolution: Atheism, Secular Humanism, and the Collapse of Religion, a short, FREE e-book available at Smashwords, Goodreads, and Amazon

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This is the first of nine upcoming posts describing "Reasons for Skepticism" derived from scientific discovery, not from wishful speculations about the supernatural.  These will be followed by several "Reconciliation Theories" for bridging the growing chasm between science and religion.

1. Of many existing religions, which is the true one?

According to the Pew Research Center (2012), Christianity has 2.2 billion adherents, Islam 1.6 billion, and Hinduism 1.1 billion. At least ten other contemporary religions claim between 1 million and 500 million believers. Disparities among these religions are not insignificant—some are polytheistic and some posit reincarnation rather than a conscious afterlife. It can hardly be claimed that we all worship the same god. How certain are you that you happened to be born into the society in which the dominant religion (or your parents' religion) is the one that believes in the true god?

Or, perhaps an extinct religion was the true one. According to Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson, humans have invented over 100,000 religions, most of which have become extinct. The most familiar extinct religion in a Western context is Greek mythology. Citizens of the Greek empire were intelligent, literate, and sophisticated. They worshiped Zeus, Apollo, and other gods, and were as certain of the truth of their beliefs as modern Christians and Muslims are of theirs. If we now think of the Greek religion as quaint and baseless, how might Earth's inhabitants 1,000 years hence regard the religions of today, for which there is no more evidence than for the gods of the Greeks, Egyptians, and Phoenicians? If it appears obvious to us that Apollo does not exist, how does it not appear equally obvious that the Christian god does not exist? Evidence for each is equally absent.

Everyone is an atheist. Christians do not believe in Zeus. Muslims do not believe in Thor. Hindus do not believe in the Christian god. How do you know you believe in the right god? If you are certain in your belief, how do you explain the fact that most people in the world are as certain as you, yet believe in different gods than yours? As author Stephen Roberts argues, "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do."

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Tags: god, religion, true

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Comment by Bertold Brautigan on August 7, 2014 at 8:40am

This is kind of old hat, but I love this comparison. We really have a whole lot in common with believers in the clod of Abraham. There are literally hundreds of gods we all don't believe in. We've just added one more.

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on August 7, 2014 at 8:38am

Michael - call me the Martin Luther of your religion. I'm changing your napkin to a used diaper.

Comment by Michael Penn on August 7, 2014 at 7:26am

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 3, 2014 at 5:18pm

No god, no dogma, no commandments, no miracles, no Jeezus, no patriarchs, no litany, no scripture, no mother of god, no disciples no sacrifices. Sounds like the kind of group to which I want to belong.

Comment by Michael Penn on August 3, 2014 at 4:52pm

I think you are right. I'm starting to tell people of my dream where I died and went to hell, then found out I was in the wrong hell. It was a hell of a different god's religion. To make it all worse, then I woke up and couldn't remember which religion it was! Now I'm really confused and will spend the rest of my life studying thousands or gods and religions with "great fear and trembling." 

Well, not really. When I woke up I remembered I was atheist.

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