There are several reasons why having multiple religions does a disservice to them all:
- It reduces the chances of anyone finding the correct religion (assuming there is one).
- It exposes mankind’s inability to distinguish a true religion from a false one.
- It shows that the majority of religions are human creations.
Why there’s an 83% chance you’re wrong about your religion
Imagine for a moment that we knew that one religion was true, and all the others were either completely false or contained some level of inaccuracy. What are the odds of us finding the truest religion?
Statistically, our best bet would be if the truest religion also happened to be the largest; i.e. the Roman Catholic Church with 1.2 billion adherents. If that were the case, then there’s only a 17% chance we’ll find truth (1.2 billion adherents / 7.125 billion people). This may make Roman Catholicism sound appealing, but remember that almost everyone else (83% of the world) thinks the Roman Catholics are wrong!
And that’s our best case scenario. If it turns out the Pentecostals are right, we only have about a 2% chance of finding the truth. And if the Heaven’s Gate cult held the truth, then we’ve already missed the mother ship!
As a reasonable person, I have to ask:
- Even if we assume that one religion is true, what does this say about all the other religions that have existed? It says that we humans like to make up religious stories.
- And if billions sincerely believe in these false stories, doesn’t this prove that humans are prone to believing religious stories that are untrue?
- If most religions claim to have some form of evidence for their faith, doesn’t this prove that such evidence must be weak, and that we humans are really bad at evaluating evidence for religious claims?
- And finally, if you were to point out the above facts to most believers, wouldn’t they still maintain that they had the truth? Doesn’t this expose our inability to logically assess the situation?
A Priest, A Rabbi and a Minister walk into a stadium…
Imagine you filled a stadium with believers from every religion (past and present). Imagine you then pointed out the above facts and said, “It would be highly illogical for more than one of you to be closest to the truth, so by a show of hands, who still thinks their religion is closest to the truth?”
I imagine the majority of them would still raise their hands; the Mormons, the Catholics, the Pentecostals, the Baptists, the Buddhists, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Jews, the Scientologists, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, even the Raelians — all of them! And while they might look around and appreciate the irony, few would change their mind.
But to an outsider observing this event, their systems for establishing truth is clearly flawed. Logically, most of these believers are wrong, and they seem to lack the ability to determine truth. But how exactly does this happen?
I suspect this is due to the various tactics employed by religions to establish their truths, such as:
- unverifiable or anecdotal stories,
- subjective interpretations,
- emphasis on faith without evidence,
- claimed miracles,
- tricky prophecies,
- childhood indoctrination,
- personal revelation,
- strange signs,
- mystical texts,
- spiritual rituals,
- and a few lucky coincidences.
String two or more these things together and you can build a sense of confidence in otherwise baseless conclusions.
But regardless of how they draw their conclusions, the outsider can see the irrationality, and conclude there must be a problem with this way of thinking.
We can know that the overwhelming majority of religious stories are human fabrications, because they can’t all be true. Sure, there will always be the possibility that one is correct, but with all of human history telling us it’s commonplace for humans to fabricate religious stories, and for millions of believers to insist that theirs alone is correct, it seems like our default assumption should be that all such stories are false (until someone can actually prove otherwise). The one thing all these believers can agree on is that the majority of people are wrong about what they believe, and I’m inclined to agree.
“Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong.”
~ Christopher Hitchens
Bottom line: if you are unable to prove your religious beliefs, then your beliefs require faith, and if you then deny the validity of other faith-based religions, then you probably ought to deny your own as well.