How could one POSSIBLY believe that his/her chosen religion is the only true one?

I’ve been feeling mounting frustration towards the Christian and Catholic religions and their continuing efforts to impose their will on the world. I am assuming that many believe they have the right and duty to impose their beliefs on others because their beliefs are ‘right’ and every one else’s has somehow chosen ‘wrong’.

My question, even to the most moderate religious posters on this board (e.g. those who don’t read the bible literally and take more progressive views on abortion, homosexuality, sin) is this:

Having given the issue even a moment of thought, how can anyone believe that their religion is the only true religion, and everyone else has chosen wrong? How can a person look around at all the devoted Buddhists and Muslims and believe that all these people have somehow stumbled down the wrong path? What about the other religious texts such as the Koran or the Book of the Dead or countless others? Why is one person’s book more valid than another person’s book? For those that are Christians because they have ‘experienced Jesus’ or ‘heard him speak’, why are similar experiences of people of other faiths less valid? What differentiates those ‘who have heard the word of God’ from those who claim to hear other, less divine voices, or those who believe they’ve seen or been taken by aliens?

Also, as I read in another thread, do those who believe they’ve chosen the ‘right’ religion really think they would have found Christ if they were living in Iran, for example?

I can understand faith and belief in a higher power. What I can not wrap my mind around is how anyone with even an average intelligence and the ability to think rationally can choose a specific set of beliefs, and with any inkling of integrity, claim that their religion is correct while others are wrong.

Maybe this is more of a rant, than a GD. If so, please feel free to move this to The Pit.

It is a rant, and an utterly unreasonable rant at that.

If some things are true, other things can’t be. If X=2, it can’t equal 3. If George Washington was the first president, then Abraham Lincoln couldn’t have been. If my wife is a brunette, she’s not a blonde.

Any disagreement so far?

Well, IF the Jews/Moslems/Christians are right, there’s exactly
one God. And IF that’s true, then the beliefs of atheists, Hindus and pagans CAN’T be true. IF monotheists are right, then those who believe in multiple gods or no gods are simply wrong. That works both ways, of course. IF the polytheists are right, then the Christians, Jews and Moslems are simply WRONG!

Next, Jesus either WAS divine or he wasn’t. There isn’t a third option. If Jesus was divine, then Christians are right and Jews are wrong. Again, that works both ways. If the Jews are right, then my Christian beliefs are simply WRONG.

Now, in the name of civil peace, Christians, Jews, Hindus and atheists can all try to get along, they can all agree to disagree, and they can all say, “I think your beliefs are false, but I’m prepared to tolerate you if you’ll tolerate me.”

But there is absolutely NO way that a Jew, a Christian, a Hindu and an atheist can all be right. And even if all four of them are basically nice people, there’s no sane, rational, principled way that ANY of them can say, “What I believe is true, but what you believe is just as true.” That would be ridiculous! An atheist can’t say “God doesn’t exist for me, but he might for you.” A Jew CAN’T say, “There’s only one God for me, but there may be others for you.” A Christian CAN’T say, “Jesus was the Son of God for me, but he’s not for you.”

astorian… in my opinion you simply reinforced my point. You are right, only one option can be the correct one. If Christians are right, everyone else is wrong. Considering this fact, how can a Christian (or any other religious person) believe with such strong conviction that he/she has chosen correctly and a billion other people (who have just as much ‘evidence’ that their religion is the right one) have chosen incorrectly?

Bo989,

That is exactly how belief works. Humans do it all the time, even with things other than Religion. Scientists (despite having things constantly be proven wrong or at least changed) believe strongly in their science, as an example.

I think your point is that since so many people don’t agree with a particular religion, how can people still think it is right. Well, history has shown that the majority are far from always being correct. The sun revolving around the earth, Many of Newtowns theories (which would later be proved to be close from goverment work, but not totally acurate), slaves being sub-human; these were all popular mainstream ideas, that are just not right. There were surely people who believed contrary to what others said, only to be proven right (perhaps evenr after death).

I am sure there are things that you have believed, only to be wrong or right. Are you suggesting that no one ever actually believe something as fact? Surely just about every belief could be proven wrong. Even our math system could be (although it hurts my brain to even think how that could be, I am sure it once hurt people’s brains to think about there being things as small as atoms, or to think about quantum mechanics).

What good are one’s religious veiws if one cannot impose them on others?

The idea that escapes this argument is that many religious people don’t necessarily think they are right and everyone else is wrong, they think that their beliefs suit them and they use them as a spiritual crutch, something to give shape to their mind for those things they don’t understand or for when they are feeling down or in need of support.

For those who feel as you say, it’s not rational, never was and never will be. Logic and religion don’t coincide, so don’t try to bring them together. Just live and let live. Unless they agressively try to convert you, don’t worry about it, just be who you are.

I can sympathize. I am a rationalist, a see-the-evidence-to-believe type. I was raised Roman Catholic, had all my sacraments, but could never understand it. But I learned, long ago, that for some people, it doesn’t matter if things make sense. You can ask them logical questions until you are blue in the face, they just aren’t concerned with logic, truth or rationalism. And that’s fine, so long as they are good people, and don’t hurt others. So let them think what they will, that’s what people do.

How can you POSSIBLY know that your morals are the correct ones? How can you believe that your morals are the correct ones and that everyone else has chosen wrong?

What about other moral codes that suggest homosexuals should be persecuted? That say slavery is okie dokie? That says female circumcision is the way to go?

What I can not wrap my mind around is how anyone with even an average intelligence and the ability to think rationally can choose a specific set of beliefs, and with any inkling of integrity, claim that their morals are correct while others are wrong.

5 time champ Said:

You can replace religions views with just about anything: Scientific, political, culinary, sexual, etc.

Didn’t we just do this one?

Nevermind, it’s still a valid point and certainly worth repeating…

Barry

Well, it’s pretty obvious there are issues in which you’re convinced that your beliefs are 100% correct, and that others who don’t share them are wrong.

You seem to “know” that slavery and female circumcision are wrong, and I’d be very surprised if you’d be unwilling to impose your beliefs on others in these matters.

So, how do you “know” those things are wrong?

This is an excluded middle fallacy. Hindus are both monotheistic and polytheistic at the same time, and Hinduism makes no claim to being an exclusively correct theology.

It has been well said that “religion” is man’s way of trying to deal with his guilt. Different religions have different ways of attempting to rid their adherents of sin and its consequences. They fast, pray, deny themselves legitimate pleasures, or chasten themselves, often to a point of inflicting pain. They do this because they have a concept of what they think God (or “the gods”) is like, so they seek to establish their own righteousness, being “ignorant of God’s righteousness.” The Good News of the Christian faith is that no one need suffer the pains of religious works. Christ’s blood can cleanse our conscience from the “dead works” of religion (Hebrews 9:14). Jesus took our punishment upon Himself, and He is the only One who can save us from sin and death. See Acts 4:12 and John 14:6.

There we go confusing religion and morality again. I have taken no issue with morality, only with dogmatic religion. I can understand how and why one person believes in abortion and another person doesn’t. What I can’t understand is why one person believe’s Christ is our saviour and another believes in reincarnation. These things aren’t abstract concepts, but should be evaluated as potential facts. Either Christ is the son of God or he isn’t. Either Heaven exists or it doesn’t. Unlike morality, I am referring to questions that have answers.

However, my problem is that religious folk think they have the right answers when they have no more evidence for their beliefs than the next guy. This is difference between science and religion. The rational nature of science and the scientific method lead everyone to the conclusion with the most accurate and valid evidence.

Can we please aknowledge the difference between science and religion. Science is based on EVIDENCE and LOGIC. Religion is not.

What are you trying to say? That Christianity is simply better than other religions, or that it is the only true religion and the other’s are all false?

Would they be better off believing they were wrong?

They may not be better off knowing they are likely wrong. For many, ignorance truly may be bliss. However, this is not a good enough answer for me. Did you see the Matrix? Were you pissed off at Cypher for wanting to have his body returned to the powerplant even when the truth was smacking him in the face? I sure was.

Astorian

Yes. I disagree.

What you say is true of certain first order logic systems, but is not necessarily true generally. For example, Einstein’s work did not render Newton’s theories false, but merely incomplete. Likewise, Heisenberg’s work did not make Einstein’s theories false — they merely did not apply to subatomic particles. It doesn’t make any more sense to apply rules of first order logic to religious philosophy than it does to apply them to scientific theories.

Those rules would apply in a syllogistic argument about the religious philosophy or scientific theory, but not to the philosophical belief or scientific hypothesis itself. After all, no two people have ever experienced the exact same thing at the exact same time from the exact same place in the exact same way.

All of which brings me to the OP’s question. The reason they believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong is that they are misapplying rules of first order logic to their own belief systems and then projecting those rules onto everyone else.

They do not understand the subjective nature of an objectivity that is absolute. It is to be expected that different people will have different perceptions of the same objective thing. Expecting someone else to have your identical perspective is misguided.

Libertarian, could you expand on the rules you mention in your post. I’m a bit unclear on the point you’re trying to make.

Libertarian, rather, I understand the point you’re trying to make, but just have a bit of difficulty following your post. If you could explain your point in a slightly different way?