How can just one religion be right? This is the second of three questions bundled in the broader inquiry “Why would anyone be a Christian?” I can only answer for myself, but I’m doing my best over this three-part series.
Last week, I talked about the question “Why religion at all? Why not atheism?” Vastly summarized, atheism never made sense to me as a superior logical or moral option. But that leads us here: why just Christianity? How come you can’t take bits and pieces of multiple religions?
Well, let’s start by making one thing very, very clear.
Y So Dum?
The next person who says “All religions are the same” is getting a book. Any book, because they’ve clearly never read one. It only takes three working brain cells to see that every religion is not just dissimilar to its neighbor, but radically different.
Fortunately, I’ve never met anyone who’s actually that dumb. What these people mean is that religions all have similar if not identical themes, rules, and ideas, and that part is true. Yes, Christians, we actually do share similarities to Islam, Hindu, and other faiths.
But the key word is “similar,” not “identical.” And that difference is critical. Cats and lions may bear similar traits, only one eats Meow Mix.
So, as a friend asked me, “With so many religions, and with so many having similar themes, how can just one of them be right?”
I replied, “Why can’t they be?”
He didn’t have an answer.
Seriously, why not? If you think all religions are wrong in some way, then I refer you back to my first post on why atheism doesn’t have much to offer. But even on a basic level, this argument doesn’t make sense. That’s like saying, “There are so many women in the world, how can you say only one of them is my wife?”
This is why I began with the point about all religions, while admittedly similar, contain vast differences. Because they’re not identical, it’s perfectly possible that only one got it right.
Now let me go a step further. I would argue that it’s actually impossible to have multiple faiths. Hear me out…
Many or One?
Let’s pretend that you believe Christians, Buddhists, and your weird neighbor who worships cats all got it right to a certain degree. Christians have the Golden Rule, Buddhists abstain from killing, and animals have rights, too. So they’re all right, aren’t they?
But here’s the rub: if you say this, then you are neither a Christian, a Buddhist, or a cat-person. The mere act of judging those religions means you follow a different belief system altogether.
When you say one religion is right or wrong, you’re judging it by a higher standard. You haven’t accepted any of those religions, you’ve only gathered those that agree with your pre-existing convictions.
When I say Judaism has this or that right, I’m not a Jew, I’m still a Christian because I’m judging Judaism’s merits by my Christian standards. When a humanist says Christianity has x, y, or z right, they aren’t Christians, they’re simply agreeing with Christianity on these points because they line up with their humanist beliefs.
Nobody has multiple faiths. By definition, faith means believing in something, and the beliefs of different religions conflict too greatly for that. You can’t be Christian and Buddhist because one believes in a specific God, the other believes in a nondescript Higher Power. And if you say both have it halfway right, you’re subscribing to a third faith, a higher faith that judges the lower orders.
This higher faith is your true belief. This can be a religion, it can be science, it can be absolutely anything, but it is a single core set of beliefs that gathers the “correct” pieces of various religions without actually adopting any of them.
The idea that no single religion can be right remains to be proven. And I’d wager it’s impossible to do so because the very idea that multiple faiths are right stems from a single, separate belief that none of them have it completely right, which leads us back to proving that no single religion can be right, and round and round this merry-go-round we go.
That’s why I always answer, “Why not?” when people say no one belief system can be true. Why do you say that? The answer is your one belief.
Last week, I said atheism doesn’t hold up to religion. This week, I said only one belief system can be true. Following this train of thought, which religion is the true one? If you read the title, you know I say Christianity, but why?
That’s the question I’ll try to answer in my next post. Until then, I welcome discussion in the comments so long as everybody plays fair, even those who agree with me.