How can you believe that your religion is the right one, and all others are wrong?

Just a short one today… I was amazed at a share on an atheist Facebook group recently, where the person tried to rebut the often-used atheist argument (according to him) that there are many different denominations of each religion, by suggesting that all those other denominations were created by the devil.

Really? I don’t think he thought it through. When I was still a believer (many years ago), there was one thing that always haunted me: How can I believe that my religion is right, when the only difference between myself and others is that I was born into it?

That was the one aspect of my religion that I thought about the most. I thought about it every day. Oh, I tried not to. I tried to cherry-pick just like everybody else who went to Mass. I tried to pick out the sweet sermons of Father Tom, our parish priest who liked to preach about love. He was a great priest, someone that others could learn from, and he could say more in five minutes than someone whose sermon lasted for forty five minutes. So I tried to cherry-pick the good bits out of my religion just like everybody around me, but I could not.

I’d wake up the next day and think about it again… “I’m Roman Catholic”, I’d tell myself. “The one true faith”, I’d tell myself. “But what if I wasn’t? What if I’d been born Jewish? What if I’d been born Muslim? Wouldn’t I be just as sure about that religion?” It didn’t occur to me to ask my parents, or the priest, because I knew what they would tell me. I also knew what the clergy of some other religion would tell me: That theirs is the true religion. And they would be every bit as sincere and sure of themselves as Father Tom.

That was the beginning of my freedom from indoctrination. The one little thought that planted so very much doubt, it could not be ignored. There is only one answer to those questions I asked myself as a teenager: No religion is right. All gods ever worshipped by man were created by man. To hang onto your indoctrination, despite knowing logically that it makes no sense, requires rationalization that can only come from a madman like the man who posted that nonsense on Facebook. I’m not saying it’s easy… To let go of years of brainwashing is exceptionally difficult, but to go ahead and believe that your religion is right but every other religion is wrong… that’s not only stupid, it is also arrogant.

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About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
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2 Responses to How can you believe that your religion is the right one, and all others are wrong?

  1. Since all civilizations grew up around religion, we can measure the validity of a religion by the civilization it spawned.

    Only Christian Western Civilization progressed past the slave and beast of burden as economic engines.

    Only Christian Western Civilization developed modern science and our modern understanding of human rights (natural law theory).

    Only Jesus, the corn stone of Christianity, taught, “love your enemy.”

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    • Jerome says:

      Civilizations spawned religions, not the other way around. The religions to survive were the religions of the conquerors, those who most brutally killed off other religions, and their gods with them. But they did bring some pagan practices along the way, like Christmas trees.

      Christianity is not a western religion, although it spread there.

      Science developed in spite of religion; in fact it was held back by religion for too long.

      He also taught that we must not worry about this life, and focus on the next. (The sermon on the mount.) The bible gives us lessons regarding how and who to take as slaves; it condones rape (of concubines) and polygamy. The bible was written by men when women had no rights, and it is not uncommon for righteous men to have multiple wives. Christian women are supposed to cover themselves just like Muslim women. Women are not to have authority over men. Homosexuality is an abomination, as is shellfish. It is a sin to wear mixed fabrics. Jesus cursed a fig tree because he didn’t understand it wasn’t in season. The bits about love are few and far between, but cherry-pick them all you want.

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