There are 41,000 denominations of Christianity. How can you tell which is the right one? Which ones are false, made up, or cults? The same could be said of all religions. Hinduism has so many gods, that they’ve completely lost count; estimates range from 10,000-30,000,000. The animists go even further, and have innumerable kami. The “spiritual but not religious” factor in here somewhere, but no one is quite sure what that term entails. The only common thread between faiths and sects is that their leaders all have no real advantage, inside track, superior abilities, or sublime knowledge. The clergy is only successful if their parishioners want them to be; they only succeed because people are willing to follow them and grant them titles. This is even more pronounced in our post-Christian era, where Christianity no longer plays a significant role in shaping our culture.
Everyone’s a skeptic about other religions, but discussing their own religion is always an extremely touchy topic. Bertrand Russell speculated that this is because people subconsciously sense that their beliefs are irrational. This is why the majority of religions -- and especially the sects and subdivisions of these religions -- have a mutual incorrigible intolerance. The greatest religious divides in the United States are not atheist vs. Christian, or Catholic vs. Protestant -- it’s liberal Protestant vs. conservative Protestant. Even the most accepting and inclusive churches play this same superiority game, each trying to one-up their inclusive competitors by being striving and bragging about being the least exclusive.
In a vicious Catch-22, advocates of denominational consensus between the myriad of sects and faiths erode dogmatism, and become the unwitting engineers of their faith’s destruction. The traits which define each sect and faith are often the root of the mutual incompatibility, and are tossed aside in favor of a generalized religion. This erodes parishioner loyalty, since no religion any different that any another.
Pluralism is problematic for religions, for a number of reasons:
- Faith is not exclusive to any one religion. As such, faith cannot validate religious claims, because faith can also validate the claims of any other religion.
- If anything, faith is a display of agnosticism, since faith is only cited in the absence of knowledge. When someone says, “I believe the meeting is at 2:30,” they are expressing doubt. Tacking “I believe” onto a statement makes it weaker, not stronger.
- Actual existence is independent of faith. Believing in something, including God, will not make it real. Believing in Zeus will not spontaneously bring him into being.
- “We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.” -- Bertrand Russell
- While atheists have never disproved the existence of the Christian God, they also cannot proof that any and all non-Christian gods do not exist. Interestingly, this is a huge problem for Christians, since Gods don’t expire. While these gods may have lost their followers after losing a war, or a socio-economic decline that allowed other cultures to absorb and dominate them, neither of these misfortunes prove that their gods were false. What if the other cultures were right?
- There’s no way to disprove the existence of any god because there is no reasonable or consistent definition as to what a god even is. Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and Ramesses II (Ozymandias) all claimed to be gods, and there’s no way to prove or disprove their claims of divinity.
- The Trinity allows Christians to be polytheistic without having to resort to polytheism. God was in Heaven while Jesus died on the cross, and Jesus did not take responsibility for the flood.
- Is Satan a lesser god who rules over Hell?
- Are angels and demons lesser gods?
- Are the leaders of political religions and or cults of personality (e.g., Stalin, Mao, the Kim dynasty) the gods of their religion? If so, does this prove the Divine Right of Kings?
- Every religion that has ever existed has made the similar claims: “Our gods will protect and heal you. Pray to our gods and they will help.” These other gods can also intervene and perform miracles.
- Every religion hides their shortcomings by shrouding them in mystery, usually by claiming their errors are convoluted and complex allegories. For example:
- The “revealed” religions, of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, only “reveal” that morality is solely contingent completely obeying their particular set of scriptures.
- Every religion posits a creation myth, typically based on invoking God’s name and a few simple ingredients (e.g., dirt, mud, bone, blood, spit, semen, etc.) The mechanism by which these acts result in creation is never explained. The religion with a scientifically-valid creation myth is more likely to be the true religion, but creationism has been proven false, and all other creation myths have been similarly refuted.
- Religions, especially Christianity, have mixed and merged with pagan influences to such a degree that it is unclear where one ends and the other begins. By their own admission, 95% of modern witches are former Catholics, because they were culturally pre-disposed to the ritual use of drama, candles, and incense. Christianity and historic witchcraft practices both incorporate the following:
- Teaching “salvation” through ritual acts and good works.
- A pantheon which prominently feature a god and goddess (i.e., Mary).
- A slain and risen god as the subject of a seasonal cycle of ritual dramas.
- Theologies centered on a basis of magic and thaumaturgy (e.g., transubstantiation).
- Extensive use of incense, statues, candles, and ceremonial robes in their devotions.
- Belief in post-mortem "second-chances" (i.e., purgatory).
- Belief that the dead are affected by rituals performed by the living (i.e., intercession).
- Believe in ritual purification via pain and mortification (e.g., self-flagellation, barbed-wire corsets, and hairshirts were all regular parts of pre-Vatican II monastic life).
In EXO 7, God sent Moses and Aaron to speak with the Pharaoh, with instructions that Aaron is to “cast down his rod” when the Pharaoh demands to see a miracle. When this occurred, God transformed the rod into a serpent, and the Pharaoh's sorcerers countered by performing the same trick. However, these rod-serpents were devoured by Aaron's rod-serpent, thereby demonstrating God’s superiority.
However, the fact the Pharaoh's sorcerers were able to transform anything is biblical proof that the Egyptian gods are real, and that they can perform miracles on command. Strangely, the authors of this website have yet to meet a single Christian who has any problem with this.
- G. P. Harrison, 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian (Prometheus Books, 2013).
- D. Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist (Freedom from Religion Foundation, 1992).
- D. Carlin, The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America (Sophia Institute Press, 2003).
- J. A. Haught, in Everything You Know About God is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion edited by R. Kick (Disinformation Books, 2007)
- D. Barker, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists (Ulysses Press, 2008).
- S. Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (W. W. Norton, 2005).
- D. Hume, Dialogues and Natural History of Religion (Oxford University Press, 2009).
- W. Schnoebelen, Wicca: Satan's Little White Lie (Chick Publications, 2011).