If we go out from the assumption that there is one true religion, one true God, and one true life after death… then choosing our religion and our God is undoubtedly the most important choice we will ever make.
So how do we go about making it?
For most people, their choice is easy (but not very well thought out). They go with the same choice their parents went with.
This is undoubtedly very flattering to their parents, but hardly how you go about making the most important decision of your life. How are your parents sure that Christianity is the correct choice? Or Islam or Hinduism or whatever religion they might have? How come that´s the choice they made? The most likely answer?
Because that´s the choice their parents made.
So clearly, just picking whatever religion your parents picked isn´t the way to go about it. And yet most people do. Often, they´ll say that they´ve researched it, and that it´s the religion that makes the most sense, but guess what? Ninety-nine percent of them are going to say just that. Which religion it is, doesn´t seem to change anything.
How… trusting, really.
I´ll be honest. I don´t get it. Picking your religion without every (seriously) considering another, just because it was the one you were born into, seems… lazy, really. Easy, of course, which is undoubtedly why so many do it, but lazy, nonetheless.
And what about the rest of us? The ones who don´t have the option to just stick with a pre-made choice. The ones who are forced to think things through when we´re picking our faith?
How do we go about it?
Research would be the obvious answer. Research, research, and more research. It´s not as easy as a pre-picked choice, but it´s a logical step to take before deciding what you believe – in anything, really.
The problem is that, usually, the research gives little reward to the sceptical mind. Oh, don´t get me wrong. Every religion out there has some benefits which are inarguable. But they also all have some flaws. So what do we do?
Do we make a list for every religion with every flaw found? Do we count which one has the fewest and go with that? But then what about the seriousness of the flaw? Surely, that should play a role as well?
The truth is that when you start researching religion as an atheist, none of them stands out all that much. So what do you do? Do you take a random God and believe in him as a sort of insurance policy? “I don´t really believe in God, but I´ll believe in Him just to be sure.”
Of course not. There are two problems with this, which just can´t be ignored.
The first is that you can´t force faith.
And as most Gods can, apparently, feel whether your faith is genuine enough, it just wouldn´t work. I could pray, all right. I could praise God and do His work. I could even become a nun. But none of this would make me believe the choice I made at random. I would just be pretending.
There is a vital difference between believing in something and thinking that something would be good to believe in.
Just because I´d like to believe in a life after death, it doesn´t mean that there is one.
The second, obvious flaw is quantity.
There are so many religions. Thousands of them, in fact. Sure, many of us only know about six or so. The big ones. But why should these be any more real than any of the thousands of small or even extinct ones? A religion with a billion followers doesn´t have any more proof than a religion with ten.
So the truth is that if you want to become a religious person, you´re choosing your religion in blindness. The chance of you picking the right one is akin to winning the lottery. Sure, there might be a lucky few, but most of us? Not so much.
So what did I do?
I didn´t pick one. I couldn´t make a choice that important without some serious consideration. Without looking at the arguments from every side I could find. The result?
The improbability of God is enormous.
And if you honestly gave each religion as much honest reflection as every other religion then the truth is – none of them stands out. Not one of them just screams out into the world that it´s the one. At least not with anything resembling logical arguments. And you can´t just believe without a first choice to begin with.
So if you don´t have parents whose choice you can hop on board with, so to speak, then truthfully – you´re choosing blindly.
And that´s hardly a very good choice.