Why d-C? – The Problem of Other Religions

June 16, 2008 at 12:55 am 56 comments

Where I was surprised at how rare stories of religious hypocrisy were among the de-conversion stories I read, I did not even expect the following cause of de-conversion.

Religions other than Christianity exist. These religions have existed and competed for followers for the entire history of religion, but this seems to be something that some Christian de-convertees reported being shocked about. They had been taught by their faith how special and how singular they and their beliefs were, and as a result, stumbling across the realisation that many religions were just like theirs caused deep doubts for 8.5% of the sample I read.

Consider the following examples:

  • In English class we were reading a book about ancient mythology. I thought to myself, “If everyone thinks of these people’s beliefs as a crock now, I wonder how our society’s beliefs will look to people in 2 or 3 thousand years. Hmmm.”
  • I studied Sociology in college, and I began to realise that the Christian Religious tradition was not in any way different from any other religion. All the “Pagan” religions that we were taught were not the true way to heaven were exactly the same as Christianity
  • The revelation happened while reading the “Upanishads” on a bus to work. I realised that the Hindu religion made as much sense and was just as convincing (or unconvincing) as Christianity was. So why choose Christianity? The answer is, you don’t. It is foisted on one by social pressure.

It seems that if Christian churches want to keep pushing the exclusive, remarkable, or otherwise special nature of their beliefs before the beliefs of all others, they will need to continue making efforts to dissuade followers from examining the beliefs of other religions. The risk is not just that they might convert, but that they might realise that one is as valid as another. If these religions are as valid as another, then they are not special, exclusive or remarkable, and are thus discredited.

But again, these stories are about people who found out about other religions incidentally. They did not have their religiously trained guard up, because have no doubt that religions teach their followers to reject other ideas out of hand, as the second story indicates.

- Originally published by Kieran Bennett, reprinted with permission.

Entry filed under: KieranBennett. Tags: , , .

Christians and a de-convert’s reactions to death One Way to De-Bunk Christianity

56 Comments Add your own

  • 1. TheNerd  |  June 16, 2008 at 2:05 am

    As a child, I was taught that reading any other religious material than Christian writings was “dangerous”. It could lead me down a “dark path”.

    Even at my young age, I had alarms going off in my head: If learning about world religions is dangerous, that could only mean there is some truth to them. Otherwise it’d be about as threatening as reading about Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy.

    It’s this level of irrational lust for control that will be the undoing of Christianity.

  • 2. fianllyhappy  |  June 16, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Imagine my surprise as I got older and found there were many, many origins of life stories. I soon realized that the danger wasn’t “out there”, but rather in the controlled teaching of christianity. When the ideas I had been fed as “the sole truth” began to unravel, I saw a new and interesting world unfold before me.

    TheNerd said summed it up well in his “irrational lust for control” statement.

  • 3. Edwin  |  June 16, 2008 at 9:26 am

    I believe most de-conversions occur to individuals with higher degrees of empathy. My own de-coversions occured when I tried to simulate what it would be like for an innocent Christian child to drown in the Indian Ocean Tsunami while at a Catholic pilgrimage centre in Velankanni, South India. It did not feel good to be that child.

    People who are capable of simulating what it is like to truly believe in other people’s faiths will soon see the absurdity of their own of faith.

    I think the ability to empathize with other people’s perceptions and beliefs play an important role in every de-conversion story.

  • 4. Sandy  |  June 16, 2008 at 9:40 am

    I too, came to realize that there were “other religions” out there. Growing up in the deep south it is taken for granted that you are a Christian (one of the Protestant varieties), though Catholics were accepted as well (they aren’t “Christian”, but they are ok since they do believe in God and Jesus). Anything else was Satanism, pure and simple.

    All the Pagan religions of old were just that..old religions no one practiced anymore.Buddism was something the Asians practiced, and though they tried to convert such people, only Asians were allowed to practice it, the same with Hinduism. Even then they were looked down upon as lesser beings if they didn’t convert to the Church.

    It wasn’t until that grand new fangled invention of the internet that I found out other wise. My first computer was a rent to own one and I thought it would be neat to find a pen pal to email (this was when you could actually find a pen pal and not someone looking for sex). One profile I came upon said she was Wiccan. I had never in my life heard of that before so I emailed and started asking questions and buying books.

    That is why I realized there was more out there…before I was just a person who said I was Christian for lack of anything else, I just didn’t go to church…it wasn’t until I met my pen pal that I actually started my real spiritual journey and after 10+ years landed on Buddhism/Atheism. We are still pen pals, btw after all these years!

    My family, who still leave in the deep south, do not know my religious affiliation nor my husband’s (he is an Atheist)…we like it that way to keep the family peace. They don’t push it on us…because like I said before, it is assumed, and we like visiting even if they like to say grace before dinner. We just keep our mouths shut. What they don’t know won’t hurt anyone.

  • 5. Ubi Dubium  |  June 16, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I think the forces of natural selection work on religions as much as they do on species. To survive, religions have to compete for survival in a world of limited resources, and they must “reproduce” or die out: they have to acquire new members, either through breeding them, or conversions. For most religions, any tolerance of “open-mindedness” would tend to weaken their hold on their “flock” and lose them members. As a result, the trait of discouraging questions and keeping knowlege of other religions from their members is a very strong feature of most successful religions. It’s quite a successful adaptive strategy.

    I remember years ago, I was reading my way through a translation of the Nag Hammadi Library, when an acquaintance of mine happened to see it. “Oooohh – that’s Demonic!” she said. My response was “No, it isn’t. How do you know that – have you read it?” She answered “Of course not, it’s Demonic!” The preachers had been very effective at shutting her mind away from anything “other”, just the way they wanted it.

  • 6. Jim J  |  June 16, 2008 at 11:21 am

    I studied Sociology in college, and I began to realise that the Christian Religious tradition was not in any way different from any other religion. All the “Pagan” religions that we were taught were not the true way to heaven were exactly the same as Christianity

    The assumptions are in bold.

    All people have a religious orientation, even the atheists have a core set of beliefs and cadre of sacred heroes, whether Joseph Campbell or Bertrand Russell etc.

    However, the variety of religious beliefs does not preclude one of them from being true and the others from being corrupted. You are assuming that their existence demonstrates their capability of being true. The fact that the Montreal Expos are a baseball team does not mean that they have a chance to win the World Series.

    When we look at these other religions, we see an incapability of being true. Christians should teach the tenets of the other religions to their children so they have a clear picture of why their teachers believe Christianity is true.

    And anyone who says that pagan religions are “exactly the same” as Christianity is not digging too deep.

  • 7. Ivo da C.Souza  |  June 16, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Religions are different paths to the Ultimate Source. There is a search for the Truth. All religions cannot be equal. There is no harm in studying all religions. But we may not have enough maturity to choose the best one. We can study Upanishads and see the values in it. Christianity is the Revelation of God through the Prophets and through Jesus of Nazareth, God-Man. We have to understand the symbolic language used to describe God. The Reality can be described in different way. We need the adequate way. All religions do not have the same value. We can do comparative study of religions. We have to study it and with the Grace of God deepen and live it…
    Dr.Ivo da C.Souza

  • 8. Bobbi Jo  |  June 16, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    I live in the midwest, where conservative christian values are the norm, and I have been fortunate enough to have been blessed with parents/churches that have been very opened-minded about me checking out other religions and asking questions. They have a lot of “pat” answers sometimes, but at least they have never said, “don’t ask that, it’s demonic/unchristian/whatever.” They have even encouraged it sometimes. Asking questions at times has given me a deeper spirtuality which of course, I thank God for. :)

  • 9. Yurka  |  June 16, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Anyone can assert stuff like this. This article is quite lazy. Christianity is not at all like other religions. All other religions propose *some* form of works righteousness. They all betray their human origins in this way. Another area is creation myths. All creation accounts except for Genesis are laughably anthropomorphic – ie. cutting up bodies of titans and constructing the universe out of body parts, etc.

    And as for this issue of being forbidden to look at other religions… really, what does that have to do with anything? Is pot and alcohol healthy just because your parents forbid them? You are going to make the most important decision of your life according to the mentality of a spoiled 5 year old who does what’s forbidden just to get back at Mommy and Daddy for forbidding it? Please, people, grow up.

    By all means, now that you’re ready, examine other religions for yourself. Don’t let this article put you into a skeptical mood through i’s self-confident ipse dixit posturing. Don’t let it brainwash you, or reassure you in your lazy complacency.

  • 10. Bobbi Jo  |  June 16, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    “Is pot and alcohol healthy just because your parents forbid them? You are going to make the most important decision of your life according to the mentality of a spoiled 5 year old who does what’s forbidden just to get back at Mommy and Daddy for forbidding it? Please, people, grow up.”

    Uh, I think it’s more like, pot is unhealthy because you’ve researched it to find out why, not just cause your parents said so. Same with religion. I don’t think another religion is “healthy” or “unhealthy” just because the church or parents said it is. I ask questions and do reserch on that religion to form my own opinion. Most of these people didn’t belong to a church that encouraged asking questions, they were just told, “because I said so”. I think it would be even more imature to go along with the church or parents without even knowing why you are doing that. It’d be like voting for the next president without knowing anything about that person, just cause the church said this person is better than the other.

  • 11. Reynvaan  |  June 16, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    “When we look at these other religions, we see an incapability of being true.”

    Jim, would you mind giving a reason? Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, et cetera: why are non-Christian religions incapable of being true?

  • 12. Jim J  |  June 16, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    All other religions propose *some* form of works righteousness. They all betray their human origins in this way.

    That is the difference exactly, Yurka. There are no sacrifices because God made the sacrifice. There are no lists of what you must do except that if you believe you will do things rightly.

    Believing God is the kicker (Gen. 15:6), not works. Basing your acceptance by God on your works shows that you don’t understand the real God that created the universe. Yet all the religions make that mistake except for Christianity and Judaism.

  • 13. Joe Sperling  |  June 16, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    Almost every other religion I have studied has “steps” or “works” one does to “find God” or “enlightenment”. Only Judeo-Christianity has a God looking for man, not man looking for God.

    When Adam fell God says “Adam, where are you?” God is actively seeking him out. Only Christianity has a great Shepherd seeking out his lost sheep. There really is a huge difference between Christianity(with it’s Jewish roots) and the other world religions.

  • 14. Jim J  |  June 16, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Just saw your comment, Raynvaan. First of all, while they is much to desire about other religions, the fact is that a true religion would not have half-truths. It’d be like getting directions to get halfway to a destination.

    That said, off the top of my head, I can tell you that Buddhism cites as a fundamental belief that time had no beginning – a claim debunked by modern science (also it is clearly up to the work of the “I” who is trying to reach Nirvana). Hinduism’s belief in karma and the caste system is a transparently human system. Ask a Dalit if Hinduism is true. Zoroastrianism only has about 200,000 members and I’m not as well-versed on that. While a small religion could still be the true one hypothetically, it begs the question, if God is Ahura Mazda, why would he only reveal himself to 1 in 35,000?

    It is still important to know other religions as they help us understand those who believe in them.

    If Christianity were false there would be irreconcilable flaws, half-truths, or even flat-out errors. The flaws that Christianity are accused of either belong to flaws in interpretation or character flaws of Christians themselves. No religion has spent more time under the microscope than Christianity. I think God prefers it that way.:-)

  • 15. Reynvaan  |  June 16, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Jim: First, I invite you to look up the Fourteen Unanswerable Questions: 14 questions that the Buddha refused to answer, including the matter of the origin of the universe. Buddhism, as in the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, holds no stance on the issue.

    But more to the point, I think from an outside perspective, Christianity looks equally as ridiculous or inherently false as Christians believe other religions to be. A Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, atheist, or even a Christian can search the religion and find more than enough deal-breaking contradictions and inconsistencies to cause them to write it off as false, just as you have done with other religions.

    Similarly, followers of other religions no doubt believe theirs to be just as true as you believe Christianity to be. They’ll claim divine authorship of scripture, historical evidence, divinity of religious leaders, et cetera, et cetera, just as Christians do. Some religions, such as the dharmic traditions, even have the added edge of being hundreds, sometimes thousands of years older than Christianity, which probably lends them a bit more credibility to some.

    You believe there is proof that your religion is true and theirs is false, and they feel the same about you. So who is right: you, them, everybody or (more likely) nobody?

  • 16. DagoodS  |  June 16, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Since when does pointing out a unique feature of one’s religion make it correct? Why is dissimilarity (or similarity for that matter) a proof of truth?

    Unless you hold that belief is completely irrelevant to election/salvation, then Christianity remains firmly a religion based upon a work. Oh, the work may not be much—“Believe correctly”—but there is still and always a human element. A part of the salvation process which rests solely on the human doing.

  • 17. Joe Sperling  |  June 16, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    The thing kind of unique about Christianity also is that if you ask a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, etc. who Jesus is they will not say he is God, but they will say is an incarnation of Krishna, or at the very least a great teacher.

    But Jesus himself said “All that came before me were thieves and robbers” and when speaking of the future says “Beware of false prophets. So, in effect, you have the leaders of major religions at acknowledging that Jesus was a great teacher, where Jesus is calling the leaders of their religions either “thieves and robbers” or “false prophets”—I find that to be very interesting indeed.

  • 18. Yurka  |  June 16, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Dagoods, are you arguing from the standpoint of synergism, or monergism? If the latter, I can’t tell that you are taking account of its features correctly. On the monergistic view, humans end up performing an action (as they would have to do on any view, since humans aren’t inanimate, unconscious objects), but they are not the cause of that action/state (ie saving faith). They also did nothing causally to merit that action.

    Also, as to ‘uniqueness’, you are shifting the grounds of the argument. In the original post it was asserted that Christianity was exactly the same as other religions. I’ll take this as an admission that that was a lousy argument.

  • 19. Joe Sperling  |  June 16, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Just so you don’t think I’m pulling that out of the air here is the verse:

    All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
    I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:8,9)

    Then, when he speaks of the future he says “Many shall come in my name saying ‘I am Christ”, but do not pay heed to them” and he says “beware false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing”. Then, to be more blunt than all of that he says “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, BUT BY ME” (John 14:6)

    Yet, all of these other religions acknowledge this person as a Great Teacher, an incarnation of a great teacher, or a Great man. But he denies all of them being the way to God, and says He, Himself is the only way. Pretty clear to me.

  • 20. Ubi Dubius  |  June 16, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Jim J (#7):

    Sorry, the Montreal Expos are not a baseball team.
    Go Nationals!

  • 21. Ubi Dubius  |  June 16, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    oops – #6

  • 22. orDover  |  June 16, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    OH! Jesus said he was the only prophet worth believing in and the only way to god! Now I get it!

    Wait…Muhammad said that he was a prophet of god in the vein of Moses and Abraham, and that he was the last prophet truly sent by god, too. Likewise the Koran teaches that to have salvation one must believe in god and keep his commandments (or keep to the Straight Path).

    Now I don’t know who to believe!

  • 23. Jim J  |  June 16, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    the Montreal Expos are not a baseball team.

    Very true, Ubi. I was going to use the Chicago Cubs as my example of a team that couldn’t win the WS but I didn’t want to offend any Cubs fans and, knowing my luck, they’d probably break the curse.:-)

    Reynvaan, I don’t know of one deal-breaking contradiction in the Bible. Christianity may “look ridiculous” from the outside, but you might want to take a closer look.

  • 24. Ubi Dubium  |  June 16, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Jim J:

    I don’t know of one deal-breaking contradiction in the Bible. Christianity may “look ridiculous” from the outside, but you might want to take a closer look.

    I took a closer look from the inside, and it did “look ridiculous”. That’s why I’m now on the outside. For a website that has a list of some contradictions, look here . The bible verses are cited, so you can go look them up for yourself instead of having to take an atheist’s word for it.

    Oh, and the bible is not special in this respect. I’ve been reading the Koran lately, and it is just as loaded with contradictions.

  • 25. Quester  |  June 17, 2008 at 12:04 am

    Jim J, with no apparent sense of irony, informed us:

    If Christianity were false there would be irreconcilable flaws, half-truths, or even flat-out errors.

    Yes, Jim, fancy that. There might be contradictions or broken promises in the Bible. There might be creation stories that don’t line up with history, stories about the sun revolving around the earth or heaven being above the sky. There might even be irreconcilable reports of Jesus’ birth and death in the Gospels. Oh, dearie me.

    Christianity may “look ridiculous” from the outside, but you might want to take a closer look.

    It’s the close look from the inside that reveals the ridiculousness and drives me outside.

    By the way, if God has saved us all through God’s sufficient work, and none of our works matter, why are you on this site, trying to change how we think and what we do? Is God’s saving work sufficient, or not?

    Believing God is the kicker (Gen. 15:6), not works

    Believing in God is “a work”.

  • 26. SnugglyBuffalo  |  June 17, 2008 at 1:59 am

    Believing in God is “a work”.

    You know, I always struggled with that. “We don’t have to do anything for our salvation.” At the same time, we have to believe, which is something that you have to do.

    On top of that, my mom’s convinced that you can lose your salvation, and I found it very difficult to reconcile being “saved by grace” with having to live righteously in order to retain your salvation. I don’t think I ever really bought into that myself; even as a Christian there were a fair number of points where I didn’t agree with my parents.

    When they find out just how much I’ve come to disagree with them… *sigh*

  • 27. DagoodS  |  June 17, 2008 at 5:04 am

    Yurka,

    I find doctrines labeled “”synergism” or “monergism” to be hair-splitting; Three-Card Monte semantics. Word games.

    What causes a chocolate cake? Is it the flour? The cocoa? The eggs? The water? The farmer who raised the chicken, the wheat and the cocoa? The store that sold it? The sun/ground/water combination that caused the items to grow? The baker? The oven? The person who enjoys it?

    What I see amongst the vast majority of Christians (regardless of synergism or monergism) is one essential item within the “recipe” of Christianity is the human doing something—believing correctly. (Rom. 10:9; John 3:16) I don’t recall ever reading a Christian who claimed salvation was possible without that element within the recipe. A person who would say God chooses regardless of belief—meaning a coupla Aztecs are saved, despite never hearing of Jesus, and the staunchest believer may not be. ‘Cause “belief” is not part of the recipe.

    Amusing, really. Considering we just finished a fairly long discussion about how the deconverted were not saved in the first place because they didn’t do something correctly. Didn’t believe hard enough; long enough; or correctly enough.

    And then we come here, and like Three-Card Monte, the semantics change, and Christianity is no longer about doing something. If it is not about doing; then what we did wouldn’t matter—we were just as saved or not saved pre-conversion, post-conversion and post-deconversion.

    Can’t have it both ways, ya know! *grin*

    And I agree—the bare assertion “Christianity is not true because it is similar to other religions” is just as rotten an argument as “Christianity is true because it is unique.”

  • 28. LeoPardus  |  June 17, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Joe Sperling:

    Almost every other religion I have studied has “steps” or “works” one does to “find God” or “enlightenment”.

    Prayer, read Bible, go to Church, find a ministry………

    Only Judeo-Christianity has a God looking for man, not man looking for God.

    Prometheus bring fire to man. Numerous old pantheon gods coming to earth to seek mortals for various reasons. I’m sure TA could really go on about this one.

  • 29. Jim J  |  June 17, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Quester and Dagoods,
    So you have said to someone, “Don’t bother me right now, I’m believing!”?

    Ooby, thanks for the Evil Bible.com link. The discrepancies are very contrived, almost childish. Anyone can find contradictions between two parts of a sentence in different places in scripture. It’s obvious the compiler was looking for quantity rather than quality. I imagine the average atheist visit to that page is about 16 seconds, just long enough to laugh at the sheer number of “contradictions”, slap oneself on the hip while laughing before they click the “Back” button.

    For starters, No. 1, God was dissatisfied with man’s works in Genesis 6:6, not his own. It goes downhill from there. It is a funny read, however, so thanks for the link.

  • 30. OneSmallStep  |  June 17, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    A lot of times in these instances, I see Christians claim that their religion is different because all the others are about what man must do to reach God. Is this supported by what those who practice the other religions say?

    The thing is,faith seems to count so long as there are good works attached. Often times in discussions about atheism vs. Christianity, those who have killed/done horrible things in the name of Christianity are not considered true Christians, because of their works. They believed all the right things, they had faith, and yet their works determined what their true salvation status was.

    Now, we could get into the discussion of it obviously wasn’t true faith because the faith didn’t produce good works. Yet if we do, we’re bringing the fact that Christian salvation is factoring in good works — it is a criteria as to who will truly enter heaven.

    **God was dissatisfied with man’s works in Genesis 6:6, not his own. It goes downhill from there. It is a funny read, however, so thanks for the link.**

    The idea behind this seems to be that God was dissatisfied with His work as well, since part of His work involved creating man. He was sorry that He created them — aka, was worry about the work He did.

  • 31. Ted Goas  |  June 18, 2008 at 10:50 am

    It seems that if Christian churches want to keep pushing the exclusive, remarkable, or otherwise special nature of their beliefs before the beliefs of all others, they will need to continue making efforts to dissuade followers from examining the beliefs of other religions. The risk is not just that they might convert, but that they might realise that one is as valid as another.

    Well said! This is what has continually turned me off from Christianity.

    The Jews aren’t like this. I am annoyed by Christians who’s life mission is to preach this message.

  • 32. Joe Sperling  |  June 18, 2008 at 11:16 am

    orDover—-

    You missed my point entirely. Of course, all the other religion’s prophets and leaders also say they are the way.

    My point was:

    1. All these other religions and their leaders ackonwledge Jesus was a prophet, a great man, or an incarnation of a former great teacher.

    2. Jesus say ALL OF THEM are thieves, liars, or false prophets.

    Point: All other religions acknowledge Jesus, but He does not acknowledge them. Pretty simple point actually.

  • 33. Joe Sperling  |  June 18, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Leo—

    You’re grasping at straws. If you have to go to Prometheus bringing fire, that’s a stretch. I am talking about the Main religions in the world:

    Hinduism: you reincarnate and reincarnate until you reach enlightenment and become God.

    Buddhism: You follow ten or more steps to discipline yourself to find enlightenment (God)

    Muslim faith: You follow strict rules to become worthy to approach God. etc. etc.

    True—one can point to different Christian sects and say “See, they are “working” to find God”—-this is very true, and not according to Biblical teaching. The whole teaching of Christianity is that Jesus is seeking the lost.

    Christianity is really the only world religion of significance that teaches that God is looking for us. If you want to stretch and “find some obscure example somewhere” fine—one can always do that—–my point is that all major religions teach we need to search and “find God”, while Christiantiy teaches God is looking for man (Jesus came down to earth and died on a cross for us to bring us back to Himself).

  • 34. Cthulhu  |  June 19, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Joe Sperling,

    Christianity is really the only world religion of significance that teaches that God is looking for us.

    The he is doing an almighty poor job of it – kind of ruins the whole omnicience and omnipotent thing for me.

  • 35. Sara  |  June 19, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Wow! There are so many points being made here, I hardly know where to start! Here goes:

    I am always facinated by Christians who claim that their religion is different (and therefore, more believable) than others because of the “salvation by grace” aspect, or because God goes looking for man, etc. Those responses always make me want to say, “All right–so what?”

    Every religion has at least small difference that might set them apart from others. For example, a Taoist might say, “Most religions have to worry about an afterlife. We are different because we don’t worry about an afterlife–therefore, we’re right.” To a Christian, this would probably sound ridiculous–because while that may be a technical difference, it still PROVES NOTHING.

    Christianity might sound more realistic to some of us, but I would suggest that that is because we’re looking at it from the prespective of someone coming from a Christian country, who hears about Christian beliefs all the time, and becomes used to them. In other words, looking at it from the “inside” as someone on this board reccomended we do. I’d argue that’s a mistake; we need to look at it from the outside, and try to look at all religions objectively. That’s what I have tried to do, and I have yet to find a SIGNIFICANT difference in any of them.

    As as for anyone who claims that there are no contradictions or proven falsehoods in Christianity–I’d like to point out that the ENTIRE CREATION STORY, and this idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old, is a PROVEN FALSEHOOD. We now know enough to know that humans and animals didn’t appear in the blink of an eye, and that the universe is billions of years older than the bible says–but I have a feeling many of us aren’t going to agree on that one.

    Sara
    http://www.skepticalmonkey.com

  • 36. Ashfish  |  June 19, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    I was raised Catholic and it wasn’t until about middle school when I first learned about Greek mythology and got really interested in it did I really understand just how many religions had come and gone through time. That thought made me kind of take a step back, and it really fueled the love now I have of researching new and different religions. After a time of comparing and contrasting different parts of the world’s religions I realized that there isn’t one “correct” religion. All of them are correct, all of them serve a purpose to their followers. I think religion really only becomes a problem when you don’t apply critical thinking to it. If you want to believe in the supernatural that’s fine and good, but when your religious leaders start telling you that this group of people is bad, or this habit is forbidden because your “god” says so, its time to reevaluated the situation.

  • [...] may also find enjoy reading this background on evolution (with video), how Christianity believes it’s right and all other religions are wrong, and this sad account of one person’s childhood experience with creation and ID education. If [...]

  • 38. tyronebcookin  |  June 21, 2008 at 6:33 am

    Seems that Joe Sperling has beat me to the point:

    All the other major religions acknowledge Jesus, but Jesus does not acknowledge them. He will not call any one of them by name, or by their religion, but yet they acknowledge Jesus existed. Although Jesus never acknowledges any of them by NAME.

    And the Bible seems to be the only canon of books that expressly contain reference to Jesus and reports of what he has done and said and his claims to be the son of God.

    In addition to this the Bible also says they could not fill enough books with all Jesus has said and done, his miracles, his teachings.

    So most major religions acjknowledge that Jesus existed without using the Biblical scripture. Their acknowledgement without the Bible helps confirm the validity of his existence and what he was in the Bible.

    The Bible never recognizes or acknowledges any of the other religions or people by NAME as they do for Jesus.

    Sounds like a case of ‘clinging to the coat tails’ to make their religion valid by including Jesus but discounting his deity.

    What do you think, sounds VERY plausible this is indeed the case.

  • 39. HeIsSailing  |  June 21, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Tyrone, can you give examples of how other major religions awknowledge Jesus? The only other one I am familiar with is Islam’s Qu’ran, which does reference Jesus in numerous places. What Buddhist scriptures reference Jesus? Hindu? Jewish? Shinto? Confucian?

  • 40. tyronebcookin  |  June 21, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Joe has pretty much already covered this.

    They acknowledge him as a prophet and/or teacher, or a myriad of other things. They may not acknowledge him for being the Christ, or the son of God, or being resurrected but they acknowledge his existence. And it usually gets intertwined with their religion.

    If you would like examples googling it would be the fastest way to get to this information in the various religions. Or talk to other people in these religions.

    Again Joe has already covered this and there is plenty of information available….so I question whether you really wanted to ask me that question or just bait me for an attack?

    Because your questions alone makes me think you have not even read everything attached to this post.

  • 41. LeoPardus  |  June 21, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    Tyrone:

    HIS was looking for references to Jesus in the primary texts of other religions. In that vein, only Islam would count.

    However I think what you’re talking about is the fact that the teachers and adherents of other religions, I.e. those who live or have lived after Jesus’ time, usually acknowledge Jesus’ existence and make some sort of assessment of him as a religious figure/teacher/prophet/etc.

    But if this is what you’re talking about, then you missed your own point. Recall what you said in post 38:
    “All the other major religions acknowledge Jesus, but Jesus does not acknowledge them. He will not call any one of them by name, or by their religion, but yet they acknowledge Jesus existed. Although Jesus never acknowledges any of them by NAME.”

    So you’re saying that other religions aren’t mentioned by name in Christianity’s primary text (i.e. the Bible). So your statement then indicates that other religions mention Jesus by name in their texts. And THAT is what HIS is questioning.

    I too am aware of Jesus being mentioned in the primary texts of only one other religion; Islam. Jesus in NOT mentioned or acknowledged in the Tao Te Ching, the Upanishads, the Tripitaka, the Analects, or other texts.

    Since you hold it as important that the Bible does not mention other religions, then it must now be incumbent on you to show where the primary texts of other religions mention Jesus.

    HIS and I (and I imagine that others here, some of whom are religious studies wizzes) are maintaining that other religions do NOT acknowledge Jesus in their primary texts, just as the Bible (Christianity’s primary text) does not mention other religions.

    Can you rebut that? If so, please provide specific citations from other religious texts. (Religions derived as offshoots of Christianity shall be left out.)

  • 42. tyronebcookin  |  June 21, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Ok, I will ‘bite’ one more time since peoples version of major religions will be different.

    Islam – you already mentioned

    Buddhist – that I know (not writings, or scripture) argue that Jesus was a reincarnation of Buddha. Also The tradition that Jesus, under whatever name, had been to the Kashmir region years after the crucifixion is known to some of the lamas. In 1922 Swami Abhedananda, a well known monk and disciple of Sri Ramakrishna of the Barahanagar Temple, near Calcutta, learned of this from a lama at Himis monastery, Ladakh.

    Hinduism – The Hindu literature known as the Bhavishya Maha Purana contains some ten verses indicating that Jesus was in India/Kashmir during the reign of King Shalivahan, which has been placed within 39 to 50 C.E. The king is said to have encountered Jesus at a spot about 10 miles northeast of Srinagar where there is a sulfur spring.42 During the king’s inquiries of who he was, Jesus is reported to have replied that he was Yusashaphat (interpreted as Yuz Asaf by K. N. Ahmad), and that he had become known as Isa Masih (Jesus the Messiah). K. N. Ahmad dates the writing of these verses to 115 C.E. Although details of the verses may indicate that they received later editing, their basic theme — that Christianity’s Jesus had been there in Kashmir — persists.

    Jewish/Judaism – Jews believe that Jesus was a Jew who was born in Bethlehem, raised in Galilee, and killed in Jerusalem. His Aramaic name was Yeshua.

    Like other educated Jews in his day, he was faithful to the law of Moses, learned in Jewish scriptures and oral law, steeped in the spirit of the Pharisees (the leading religious teachers of his day), and expectant of the coming of the Messianic Era (which he called the “Kingdom of God”). In his day, many people called Jesus “rabbi.”

    Jesus angered the Roman government. The Romans considered the ideas preached by Jesus to be dangerous. As a result, the Romans arrested Jesus during his Passover trip to Jerusalem. Then the Romans, upon the order of the Roman procurator, executed Jesus.

    According to Judaism, Jesus was a Jewish man who was executed and later given divine status by the Christian church.

    Shinto is not considered a major religion only to the Japanese mostly, and their own statistics state only 3% of them are purist or true traditionalist of the Shinto way.

    Confucianism is often considered a secular ethical tradition and not a “religion.” It is best described as a philosophy with special rituals and beliefs.

    Baha’is – view Jesus’ as merely one of many manifestations or prophets of the divine. They also deny the deity of Christ and his miracles, and argue that Jesus never claimed to be God’s only Son. They further deny that Jesus was God. In fact, Baha’i theology views Jesus as being inferior to Baha’u’llah, much as Islam views Jesus to be inferior to Muhammad. The Baha’is view Jesus death as insignificant and serving only as an example of self sacrifice. They don’t believe that Christ rose from the dead, or that his death brought about salvation. They interpret the biblical account of Christ’s resurrection as something that went on in the minds of the disciples, rather than a physical, literal resurrection. Abdul Baha said, “The disciples were troubled and agitated after the martyrdom of Christ…The Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body; and, when after three days the disciples became assured and steadfast…his religion found life, his teachings and his admonitions became evident and visible.”

  • 43. HeIsSailing  |  June 21, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Tyrone,
    You are right, I have not read every comment in this thread. I just saw your claim and asked for clarification. Because LeoPardus is correct – as it stands, your assertion does not make much sense. By the way, asking you to, in essense, site your sources and make yourself clear is not the same as attacking you.

    You claimed that other religions refer to Jesus by name and Christianity does not return the favor to other dieties. I am asking for clarification.

    Are you talking about the primary religious Scriptures of other religions? Do they refer to Jesus? Well, since all the Scriptures of the major relgions were written before Jesus walked the earth, except for the Quran, then.. no they do not. The Quran does refer to Jesus – quite frequently. And the Bible does refer to other gods – by name – granted all from religions that are extinct – but it seems to go after those gods that the people of the ancient middle east had direct contact with.

    Are you talking about how religious adherents of other religions interpret their own Scriptures? If that is the case, then I have seen articles that try to show how the Vedas and Upanishads predict the coming of Jesus – which is always rather subjective territory. Jesus is never referenced ‘by name’ in any of these Scriptures – that I can tell. I could be wrong. If I am, correct me – I would love to know more.

    Are you talking about the opinions of Jesus from non-Christian clerics? The opinions of Jesus of the adherents of other religions? If that is true, then I can guarantee there are plenty of opinions by Christians regarding Allah and Muhammed here in Texas. Trust me on that one ;-)

    Or is it that other religions regard Jesus as a real person, but Christianity does not regard other dieties as being real? I am not so sure of that either. I can think of no religion other than Christianity that regards Jesus as God Incarnate (that would make them, by definition ‘Christian’, then, wouldn’t it?) They say that Jesus did in fact walk the earth, but that he was a great prophet or holy man. But then again, Christians have similar opinions of Muhammed, Buddha, Confucious, etc.. that they were real men who walked the earth as sages and religious leaders (maybe guided by Satan, but nevertheless that is a reference to them ‘by name’)

    …so.. I am just trying to understand what you are trying to say, what your assertion is, and further what the point of such an assertion is.

    Clarification – that is all I am asking for. I am not out to attack anybody, but just assertions like the one you made are moot. They need a little clarification if they are going to mean anything.

  • 44. HeIsSailing  |  June 21, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Tyrone, sorry I just saw your comment #42 above – it was not updated before I posted my comment #43. If I appear presumptuous, that is why.

  • 45. HeIsSailing  |  June 21, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Tyrone – all very interesting. But may I ask what your point in all of this is?

  • 46. tyronebcookin  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    @LeoPardus

    Maybe I am missing the point.

    So at this point I believe I have at least three –

    Islam and Hinduism based off of my previous posts.

    And For Judaism I will claim the Talmud, although I suppose you could argue Yeshu and Yeshua.

    The Buddhists can’t seem to agree on what text are primary text because some follow this one, and some follow that one.

  • 47. Cthulhu  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Tyrone,

    I think what you are being asked (and I could be way off the mark here) is – just how does this provide any ‘proof’ that Christianity is true???

  • 48. tyronebcookin  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    I guess for me the point would be…

    It seems that Jesus did exist according to other writings beyond the Bible. And the Bible being put together with so many written stories of the same Jesus by different authors with the same story, is that not overwhelming evidence enough that Jesus is indeed the risen savior, resurrected?

    So whether you want to call that Christianity or not, I’ll leave that up to you…but why is this part so hard to except for some people.

    Are the other writings of Jesus more convincing that he was not the Messiah?

    Does Josephus the Historian have more credibility in his rendition of Jesus?

    There are a lot of different views and points from this one post but I am wondering how many of you would at least agree Jesus was who he said he was in the Bible, if not can you give me your view of doubt?

    I come from this point because it seems the most plausible in my mind. And if not in yours, it would be good for me to see another point of view.

    BUT I will admit after reading Leo’s previous post I am probably green behind the ears on some of the texts. I have some general knowledge of some, but I am not a whiz.

    Its getting late for me here I am on GMT 0 time zone so its 220am. But please please give me your views and maybe I can read a few tonight then tomorrow when i get up.

    No worries on the email response thing I am sure some of mine come up in the answer line-up wrong.

  • 49. Cthulhu  |  June 21, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    Tyrone,

    Jesus was who he said he was in the Bible, if not can you give me your view of doubt?

    I will answer your question with another (how Zen of me!)…how do you know the Bible accurately reports what Jesus actually said?

    My answer is that no one alive today knows and while my interest in such matters is a little out of date, the last time I was actually interested, the oldest textual evidence for the Gospels was a fragment of the Gospel of John dated by style of script to around 125 AD (and that was controversial at the time). There are many educated men and women here who know much more than I here – maybe they have a more up to date answer.

  • 50. HeIsSailing  |  June 21, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Tyrone asks:

    And the Bible being put together with so many written stories of the same Jesus by different authors with the same story, is that not overwhelming evidence enough that Jesus is indeed the risen savior, resurrected?

    I recently re-read the Bible, including the 4 Gospels, and I just don’t see that. All four are similar in some ways, but there are real inconsistencies between the four as well – especially in the Passion and Resurrection accounts. I know there are Gospel harmonies that can reconcile the differences – but doesn’t just the fact that Gospel harmonies exist in published form sort of an admission that these accounts are *not* the same? They are the same only if they are harmonized and made to be the same? It sure seems that way to me.

    The accounts of Jesus in other Scriptures are not evidence of anything in my mind… for instance, your reference from the ‘Bhavishya Maha Purana’ came from this site, http://www.proaxis.com/~deardorj/legends.htm
    which also contains references to the Jesus visiting Kashmir from a flying saucer. Did this happen? Or am I missing the whole point?

    Joe’s earlier assertion that Christianity must be true because it is the only major religion that has God reaching down to mankind rather than man trying to reach God is another way of saying that Christianity must be true because it is the only religion that teaches salvation solely by grace. Assuming that is true (and I don’t doubt that it is in most Christian circles – but not all), that says nothing about the validity of Christianity. I knew some Muslim apologists who used the Christian idea of salvation by grace to be evidence that is is *not* true! On a similar note, I have heard Christians state that since Hindus believe in polytheism than Hinduism must not be true. Because it is polytheistic – period. CS Lewis makes this blanket statement in ‘Mere Christianity’. Hold on. This is a unique characteristic among major world religions – and that makes it false, while another unique characteristic in Christianity makes that one true????

    This is not objective truth. This is cultural and religious ego-centrism that is difficult to look past. It just depends on what rationale you want to give whatever particular religion that you follow.

    Tyrone, what you and Joe say just means to me that religions are different – they have different ideas about mankind’s dilemmas, sufferings, purposes and salvation. Because one has a unique idea does not make it uniquely true – it makes it uniquely a different religion.

    At least that is the way I see it. By the way, I may have major disagreements with you concerning Christianity, but I want to let you know that I am certain you and your wife are doing more good from your location in Africa than I am doing from my relatively comfortable Texas home. I admire that tremendously, and my hat is off to you.

  • 51. tyronebcookin  |  June 22, 2008 at 4:24 am

    Thank you for your responses! It helps me understand better.

    I read the ‘about’ section here and I can really relate to part of what is says…”We also believe that whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you.”. That mindset is how I ended up doing what I do now…

    I have a hard time calling myself a Christian because there seems to be so much negativity attached to it, but by most classifications I am.

    I am skeptical Christian not in the way of being skeptic of my faith, but being skeptic of how others live theirs…BUT I guess that makes me judgmental of others doesn’t it? SIGH!

    Maybe in the future as time permits I will chime in again somewhere…

    And as always I hope you have not found my comments ‘attacking’ or rude. Its hard to tell how ‘one’ means things when their humor or attitude gets lost in typed text.

    @HeIsSailing – Being in the organization I am (and all the international travel it has exposed me to) it helps me tremendously to observe other cultures, religions, and to be able to dialog with a new perception. That has been an asset in being able to Listen to others without trying to run them over with my perceived truths.

    I like your statement: I may have major disagreements with you concerning Christianity…

    (laughing) Thats quite alright…I have Christians that have major disagreements with me concerning Christianity!

  • 52. Cthulhu  |  June 22, 2008 at 6:51 am

    Tyrone,

    Thanks for actually asking what others think here. Many Christians who post here do not. I would urge you to turn the same skeptical eye you use on other religions on your own one day. If it passes scruntiny to you that is fine, but if it raises more questions, maybe we will see you here again.

    Best…

  • 53. The de-Convert  |  June 22, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Tyrone,

    References to the “atheistic historians” mentioning Jesus are of suspect (remember the church controlled these writings for many years). All of these historians, including Josephus, were born after the death of Christ. In fact, the Jewish copies of the works of Josephus do not contain the two references to Jesus and the references Christians use do not flow well within the text (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus ). So, which text is accurate? Even at that, Josephus’ Antiquities was written around 93.

    Also, check out this earlier post by HIS Is Jesus mentioned in the Talmud?

    Paul

  • 54. 7 Reasons why Christians de-convert « de-conversion  |  June 29, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    [...] Why d-C? (5) The Problem of Other Religions [...]

  • 55. icsouza  |  July 9, 2008 at 6:00 am

    Only God can save humankind. Salvation is communion with God. God brings us to communion with himself through different religions and cultures. It is not Religion that saves us. It is Faith in the living God. If I am born in one religion, it is through that religion that I grow. God can save me through that religion in which I am growing. But Jesus revealed the true God. We believe in the words of Jesus. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life (Jn 14:6). Therefore, it is Jesus who saves us. He is the Saviour. We proclaim it, but cannot force on anybody. Comparative study of religions can show us the difference. All discussion should be enlightened by the fact of Christian Revelation.

  • 56. icsouza  |  August 19, 2008 at 6:01 am

    Religions are pathways to Life. Christianity has the central truth: the Incarnation. God revealed himself in and through Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus brought salvation to us. Salvation means liberation from all the shackles of sin and selfishness. Theology of Liberation enlightens us about all kinds of oppression. To free from bondage and slavery is the scope of Religion. Truth will free us…

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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