Friday, 23 November 2012

All Religions Cannot Be Right

It became politically correct among religious people in the last decades to assume a rather ecumenical point of view. Given that it's accepted today that belonging to a different religion doesn't make anyone worse than you, a conciliatory position where every religion is seen as simply a different path to the truth, a different way of looking to the same reality, has been widely adopted by almost every well schooled believer.

The problem with this position is very clear: it is completely inconsistent, unsustainable and is not even really believed by those who profess it. 

It's very usual to hear that all gods in all religions are different representations of the same one. Allah and Iaweh are the same and both are Jah. That's easy to agree... for those who are monotheists. What about the polytheists? Well, you might argue that all polytheist religions have a main god, for instance Zeus, and it is that main god which is really the one and only. That would be a very nice explanation for a monotheist, but the polytheist might simply disagree! What if the polytheist says that there are four equally important gods? The monotheist will say that they are all facets of the one and only, but again, this simply is a reinstatement of the argument: the polytheist is WRONG in its interpretation and we know better. You might not perceive it, but you are plainly saying that the other religion is wrong when you bend its interpretation to fit yours!

The smart believer might say that they all might be right at the same time and that the inconsistency is a mystery only for us, mere mortals. There is nothing I can argue against this point of view, except that its simply useless as any argument can be answered by the same mantra "that's a mystery that we mortals cannot understand. Ever." I don't want to waste more time with that.

The smart AND science-inclined believer will say that in quantum mechanics you can have things like the Shroedinger cat, which is both live and dead while nobody observes it. If nobody observes any god, then all might exist, right? Well, if the definition of the gods provide no way whatsoever to do any kind of observation about them, what's the difference of existing and not existing in practical terms anyway?

Things seem to be getting too complicate, so let's simplify the discussion a bit. There is one thing that should be observable. Consider the issue of the afterlife. Most religions have good and bad places for those who, respectively, behave or misbehave according to the standards set by their particular religions. It is possible to argue that the real picture of how these places are is a question of pure interpretation, but it is much more difficult to agree upon what deeds will take you to one place or another. It is simply a fact that there is a disagreement here and, no matter if you think that your belief is more reasonable, this only means that you are saying that the other is wrong. Simply wrong.

So, if not all religions can be right, which one is? Welcome to the problem that originated science. If not all explanations for something can be right, how do we choose among them?The core idea is observational evidence. Only objective evidence can take out the subjectivity of each different explanation. Yes, there are many subtleties. We can talk about that in another post.

If you look at evidence, there is one thing which is very clear. Contrary to general belief, there is plenty of evidence that no religion is right. Actually, there is plenty of evidence that no observable version of god exists. About the non-observable ones, they don't affect our lives in any noticeable way, because if they would, they would be observable.

To finish, just one comment. Does it mean that we must laugh at religious people? NO, NO and NO. First of all, the fact that someone is wrong about something doesn't make this person less respectable. Second, people have all the right to believe in wrong things if they want to (that's called freedom of thought for those who forgot) and nothing justifies offending or acting in any non-respectful way. Respecting people is a moral issue, not a technical one. People have reasons to believe in whatever they believe. You might not know, but you also have yours. And they might be wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment