For those of faith: The Competition

by Marcus Loane

 

Followers of hundreds of faiths which hold beliefs that contradict each other are certain they are right. There are faiths that declare one god (Islam), those that declare two gods (Wicca and Zoroastrianism), those that declare a three-in-one (Christianity), those that have thousands of gods (Hindu) and those that have no god (Buddhism). There is no single aspect that all religions can agree on. There is no consensus on doctrine, afterlife, ritual, organisation, family structure or personal behaviour. When adherents of one tradition hear the stories or doctrines of another tradition they sound ridiculous to them. How could there be a talking ass (Biblical)? How could the world have been created from the excrement of ants (Nigerian tribal belief) or put together in a cosmic butter churn (a Hindu belief)? Their own stories are no better. It is just that familiarity (usually from an early age) acts as an anaesthetic. Saying that something must be true because millions believe it is clearly false. Whichever tradition you belong to there will always be millions following another tradition who believe you are wrong and they are right. This is particularly true of beliefs based on faith because there is no way to test their validity.

The following list is courtesy of Religious tolerance.org

"Major" religions
There are thirteen long running world religions, each with at least 3 million followers:

Baha'i Faith
Buddhism
Roman Catholicism
Other Christian
Confucianism
Hinduism
Islam
Jainism
Judaism
Shinto
Sikhism
Taoism
Vodun (Voodoo)


Neopagan religious faiths
Neopagan faiths are modern-day reconstructions of ancient Pagan religions from various countries and eras.

Asatru (Norse Paganism)
Druidism
Goddess Worship
Wicca
Witchcraft


Other religions
These are smaller religions, with a well defined belief in deity, humanity and the rest of the universe. This is only a small sample of the many faith groups in the world.

Caodaism
Damanhur Community
Druse
Eckankar
Elian Gonzalez religious movement
Gnosticism
Hare Krishna - ISKCON
Lukumi
Macumba
Mowahhidoon
Native American Spirituality
New Age Spirituality
Osho (followers of Rajneesh)
Rom, Roma, Romani, Rroma
Santeria Elian Gonzalez religious movement
Satanism; The Church of Satan
Scientology
Thelema
Unitarian-Universalism
World Church of the Creator
Zoroastrianism


Other ethical groups, spiritual paths, etc.
Humanism (an atheistic philosophy which reveres humanity)
Pantheism (worshipping the universe)
Deism (belief in an impersonal universe creator)
Falun Dafa and Falun Gong
Teachings of Dadaji
Goths


Some of the sub groups within Christianity
Roman Catholicism
Assemblies of God
Baptist
Pentecostal
Seventh-Day Adventist
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)
Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
Church of the Nazarene
Southern Baptist Convention
Churches of Christ
Presbyterian Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Methodist Church
Episcopal Church
United Church of Christ

Followers of hundreds of faiths with contradicting beliefs are certain they are right.

They cannot all be right so you must agree that there are large numbers of deluded people out there. Why can all these faiths coexist? Because there is no way to test most of their claims. So how can they rationally be certain about their claims? They can't.

Belief in something without evidence is not rational.

The more extraordinary the claim the more evidence is required.

Now folks have been known to claim that they have had a divine revelation and they put this forward as evidence. The problem is it is entirely subjective and the followers of contradictory faiths have similar experiences. If a Moslem claims to have spoken to Allah, a Christian claims to have spoken to Jesus and a Hindu senses the presence of one of their gods, how can an impartial observer decide if their claims have any truth? They cannot all be right and there is no way to distinguish between them. In fact if I had a similar experience I would have to conclude it was just a quirk of physiology of the brain. The human brain can generate unusual mental states which some perceive as "spiritual". The mental states are then interpreted with whatever their culture supplies, be it Christianity, Voodoo or UFO stories. "Spiritual" mental states can even be induced by subjecting the brain to strong magnetic fields. Experiments show that subjects can be made to sense a "presence" by applying a certain magnetic field around their skull. Subjective experience can never be classed as evidence. Those who claim to have had a divine revelation must admit that such experiences are not reliable because followers of faiths which contradict theirs have had similar experiences.

1.     Do you believe in something based only on faith (ie. there is no objective evidence)?

2.     Do you claim to have some kind of personal revelation?

If the answer is yes to either of the above:
Because followers of other faiths use the same processes to arrive at or confirm beliefs that you would consider false, you must admit that:

Using faith or personal revelation often leads to false beliefs so
faith or personal revelation is not a reliable process for finding the truth.

Followers of hundreds of contradicting religions are certain they are right. Their beliefs are based on faith. They cannot all be right so you must agree that there are large numbers of deluded people out there.

--
Marcus Loane