Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Why Your Religious Beliefs Are (Probably) Wrong

All right, now I know there are certainly exceptions, but in general I think it can be said that most religious faiths believe that their beliefs are "correct" and that every one else's beliefs are either just plain wrong or at the very least incomplete. At the extreme end are those religions that believe you have to be a member of their faith in order to go to heaven and that everybody else is going to hell. To a lesser extreme is simply how one interprets the fundamental nature of God and his commandments (if any). Whether the religion is Catholic, Methodist, Muslim, Jewish, Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, or whatever, a fundamental tenant is bound to be "we're right and everybody else is wrong."

Now, at the same time, I think it is fair to say that most people who profess a particular faith do so because that is what they were raised to believe. In other words, most people's religious convictions (including the conviction that their faith is the "correct" one) is nothing more than an accident of birth. Again, there are certainly exceptions (those who convert from one faith to another or discover religion after being raised as an atheist), but I think those exceptions are extremely small in number when compared to the religious world as a whole.

So, if most religions believe that they are the only correct religion, and if most people believe in their particular religion solely because of how they were raised, it stands to reason that most people are not in the correct religion (or, in other words, most people's interpretation of God, what he wants from us, and what we need to do to return to him, is wrong). I mean, the odds of being born into the one religion that has it all right are pretty small, given all the many, many possible religions out there.

Now, methinks it might be different if everybody in the world selected their religion after much study, prayer, contemplation, etc., since then you could at least argue that the religion chosen by the most people has the greatest chance of being the correct one. Instead, however, you have people all over the world utterly convinced that THEY (and ONLY they) know "the truth" about God based solely on where they were born and how they were raised.

In short, assuming there actually is a God of some sort, and assuming that your belief in him is based on how you were raised, the odds are that your particular God is the wrong one.

Now, I suppose we could discuss what it would mean for a God, who supposedly loves and care for each and every one of his children equally, to set up a system where it is almost guaranteed that the vast majority of his children would not be able to find out the truth (and would presumably be punished eternally as a result), but I guess it all comes down to the fact that the people who invented all the various notions of god in the first place really did think they were better than their neighbors.  It doesn't matter if everybody else burns for all eternity -- what matters is that we are the ones who have got it right and will be saved, so there (neener, neener)!

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