Judaism - Christianity - Islam

These three religions, in the vast majority of their official doctrines, are mutually contradictory. For example, Christians of all denominations believe that belief in Jesus as savior is required for salvation. Judaism and Islam reject this. Muslims believe that the path to Heaven is through the Koran, which Judaism and Christianity reject.

It is possible that all three are false. However, it is impossible that more than one is true.

Therefore, for the sake of advancing humankind toward truth, let it be resolved that

A. One of the three should be declared “most likely to be true”.
B. The outcome of this debate will be decided based on evidence and argument, not on emotion or faith.

The first step in this debate is to determine the broad outlines of where the three agree and disagree. Then we will be able to focus on those points of disagreement, present evidence for each side, etc.

One need not be an adherent to any of the groups in order to argue in favor of its position. On the contrary, a spirited argument in defense of your opponent is often the best way to arrive at the truth.

However, if your mind is closed, this thread is not for you. I would challenge all participants to have the attitude of, “If X religion were proved true, then I would become an X.” Because if you have emotionally steeled yourself against the possibility of X being true, you won’t be able to examine the evidence objectively.

In other words, keep it friendly, folks!

This assumption should be re-visited.

Is it necessary or even likely that at least one is true at all? From the basis of historical or scientific evidence, at any rate. Belief based on faith is ok by me but not a particularly compelling means of rational debate on the merits of one religion over another.

Why just those three? What about Hinduism, Buddhism, Animism, Paganism, or Pastafarianism? What gives those less credibility than the Abrahamics?

They are all making objective claims about reality.

Perhaps we should define “belief” and “faith.”

If you are correct that these religions are based only on faith - a “leap of faith” then I agree with you, there is no point of holding a debate. But the many conversations I’ve had with adherents of these faiths, and everything I’ve read, suggests that they don’t see themselves that way. They do talk a lot about faith, of course. But if you approach a Jew, Christian or Muslim and ask, “I’m seeking truth. You believe your religion to be true. I’m open-minded. Convince me.” What is he going to say? “Don’t ask questions, just believe”?? Maybe that’s what they’ve said in the past (Crusades, etc). But if that’s still true, then I agree with you, no room for debate. Just decide whether or not you want to believe and that’s it. But that’s not what these religionists say. They claim they have evidence-based belief.

Perhaps we could add the following tweak to the thread: What would be the criteria for a rational and critical person to convert to a religion such as one of these?

Since each evolved at different points in history, all three could be more true than false. I don’t enough about Islam to comment on that, but clearly Christians believe the same things Jews do, except they have some different stuff added in a couple of thousand years ago. So if Christianity were true, Judaism would just be incomplete, not false. Also, all three are based on an omnipotentish god, so couldn’t that god make all three be true?

Well a certain Russian prince was allegedly presented with the three Abrahamic faiths, and duly embraced Christianity, dismayed by the Jews’ lack of a homeland and the Muslims’ lack of intoxicants.

I agree. Eventually we should expand the thread. These three have a lot in common so it should be fairly easy to find their differences and debate them.

After choosing a “most likely” winner, we can do the same with Indian religions. Then perhaps with some outliers like animism etc. Then have a final round of the “winners” of each of the first rounds. (Also, it is not clear to me that the ones you list are ALL mutually exclusive.)

I am not closed to the possibility that all of the above are merely constructs and not “true”. However, some or all of them claim to be true. Therefore they should be held up to rational scrutiny.

It’s a simple mathematical necessity that if you have three probabilities, then they can be sorted so that p1 >= p2 >= p3.

But note that the three might be equal. It is not a mathematical necessity that any one of them is more likely than the others. It could be a three-way probabalistic tie.

Also, the case where p1 = .4, p2 = .2, and p3 = .1 is vastly different from the case where p1 = .00004, p2 = .00002, and p3 = .00001.

I have a lot more concern about automobile accidents than sneak Chinese paratroop assaults.

I am positing to you that if religion X is 99% true, then it is false. Any religion that claims to teach God’s will 100%, I expect it to be 100% true. If they were claiming, “we have most of God’s will here in our book”, then I would agree with you.

For instance, Christians believe that Jews and Muslims are going to Hell. Jews and Muslims each believe that they are not going to Hell. It is irrational to believe that a person is both going to hell and not going to hell. Therefore, at least one of those belief systems (AKA religions) must be false.

So we’re picking the best of three wrong answers, having no correct answer to compare it to?

Judaism came first. The other two borrow heavily in doctrine and practice from Judaism. The Messiah referred to in the Old Testament is not the son of God or God in another form (and you’d think something that major would at least be mentioned), and will accomplish many things that Jesus did not. So I vote for Judaism.

Note that I’m an atheist and am posting only in the spirit of the thread, not due to any actual beliefs in the superiority of any particular religion over any other.

That’s painting with a rather broad brush. There are millions of Christians who don’t believe that about Jews or Muslims a priori. Actually, there are millions of Christians who don’t believe in a hell.

Perhaps you mean to limit discussion to the hardcore fundamentalist representatives of each religion?

As I stated in the resolution, “It is possible that all three are false. However, it is impossible that more than one is true.”

By “true” I mean 100% true. That is because each claims to be 100% true.

A rational, critical person? How’s Philosophy 101?

I only have a minor objection to the phrasing of the first paragraph of the OP:

Judaism is the oldest of the three - it does not lend itself to definitions of what it rejects about the other two, but rather the other two can be defined by what latter-day modifications they made in splitting off from Judaism, in part by absorbing elements from other religions and customs.

A minor quibble, I grant, but if I’m the guy who invents a widget, and happily continues to build widgets based on my original design, and somebody comes along much later and adds a whistle to my widget design, I don’t want to be called “the guy who rejects whistles”. Rather, he should be known as “the guy who added whistles.”

If we entertain every possible nuance of belief there will be nothing to talk about. There are official doctrines taught be the official keepers of each religion. I don’t think the laity’s belief system should be relevant at this point.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were being czarcastic.

It’s funny to me that you feel you need the little disclaimer there. It goes without saying that any argument put forward here should be rational and not a reflection of a person’s own emotional or personal commitment/state. That said, we all have biases, and being aware of them can certainly help us become more rational.

No. You are trying to determine which number is closest to X, without first determining what X is in the first place.

There is no single official keeper of any of these religions.