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St. Joannes

Why there can be only one true religion, and why not

I’m sure you’ve heard people say before, or perhaps you’ve thought (and maybe still think), that there is one god and that all religions we know today lead to him. Various paths, all leading to the same destination. But is this true? Can this be right? Is it really possible to have various religions, all leading to the same god?

Before you even look at choosing a religion, you have to believe first that there is such a thing as a god. So for the rest of this post I’m going to assume that we’re convinced of the fact that god exists.

Now, even if you were to assume that it’s possible that all religions lead to the same god, you’d have many other questions to answer, one of which would be: Why would god create all those different religions for people to worship him? And if he did, wasn’t he ever worried that it might cause a lot of confusion, among many other problems? Surely he would have been able to foresee that.

If there would merely be differences between all the religions existing today, it would help in trying to argue for the fact that all religions lead to the same destination. But that is not the case. Not only are there differences, but a lot of these differences are in contradiction with each other. Let me illustrate what I mean with a simple example:

Let’s say we have religion A and B. Religion A says that god has blue eyes and a white beard. Religion B says that god has blue eyes and wears a white robe. In this case, I could say that both religions could be true, since god could have blue eyes, a white beard and wearing a white robe.

But if we had a different situation where religion A said that god has blue eyes and a white beard, and religion B said that god has brown eyes and wearing a white robe, we’d have an issue. Obviously both cannot lead to the same destination, since both of them cannot be true. Religion A says that god has blue eyes, and religion B says that god has brown eyes. Both cannot be true. In this case, they are not merely different, but also contradicting. Which one is saying the right thing about god’s eyes?

And so when we look at the many religions we have today, not only are they different, but all of them have various things which are contradicting in relation with other religions. For example, in Christianity, you’re not allowed to worship objects like statues or pictures, and doing so is a sin. But in Hinduism that’s quite normal! In Islam, every person lives just once on earth and faces judgment after death. But in Hinduism, you have reincarnation. In Christianity, Jesus is the son of god and is of great importance, but in Islam, Jesus is just a prophet.

I could go on and on naming contradictions. And these are just obvious contradictions on the surface. When you look deeper, you’ll find even bigger contradictions. You will even find such black and white contradictions, where one religion says something is a sin, while the other encourages it! I gave an example of this in the previous paragraph.

So just look at that! Anyone having to make a choice between these religions faces an enormous problem. Making a bad choice can indeed be quite devastating for you in the end. It could mean choosing to do the right thing, or choosing to sin. If you make the wrong choice, you’re going to be sinning while you probably think you’re worshipping god the right way. For example, if you become a Hindu, you’ll be using statues and pictures while worshipping god, which is a sin in Christianity. And if it later turned out that Christianity was the true religion, that means that you’ve been sinning all your life, while you thought you were worshipping god!

Based on this very simple argument above, I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I conclude that because of the contradictions, some of which are very serious, there can only be one true religion.

But just when you thought it was over, you find out that it’s not.

You see, once you decide on a religion another surprise awaits you. Many of the big religions have sub-religions as well, each with their own interpretation of things, differences and contradictions. For example, in Christianity you have Catholics, Protestant Christians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many more. In Islam you have Sunnis and Shias. You have Orthodox and modern Jews. Even in Hinduism you have groups with their own differences.

How can you ever really know which one to choose? In addition it is impossible to be certain about any choice you make, since many differences are based on interpretation of words in holy books, interpretation of intentions, and sometimes even just belief. It’s impossible to make a choice based on any hard evidence, where things are verifiable and you can be 100% sure about your choice.

And remember that you get to deal with all of this after you’ve made a very important assumption first, namely, that god exists. So you begin with an assumption which cannot be verified in any way and which you just have to believe in based on faith. That already is a very weak beginning. And then, you go on to having to confront all of the issues above.

Isn’t it wonderful? A word of advice, if I may: Before you decide to take on this difficult task, you might want to consult your psychiatrist first. Just in case things get ugly.

The world is a mess, and as it seems, that includes religion.


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