Out of the world’s 5 major religions, only Christianity can stand the rigors of investigation. If you are wondering if belief in God is irrational or reasonable, may I suggest you begin with Christianity. Apart from Christianity, the other religions are completely subjective. Only the claims of Christianity can be reasonably supported by historical, archaeological, and manuscript evidence.
You will find a common thread through the worlds religions apart from Christianity, and that is the need to have faith in one man’s credibility. The question is, can that credibility be authenticated or investigated in anyway.
Lets have a quick look at why the other religions are subjective, faith only belief systems.
Islam: 2nd largest Group (Faith alone)
Islam overlaps, adds to and revises the Jewish Old Testament tradition. Islam’s founding prophet, was born almost six hundred years after Jesus Christ. The prophet Muhammad claimed divine revelations, given him by an angel over the course of 23 years. These claimed revelations became the Quran, revising and contradicting the historic biblical Old Testament manuscripts. This makes textural criticism and reasonable confidence of authenticity beyond the scope of investigation, why?
The author is centuries, even millennia removed from the events and people that he has is describing. Ultimately, one has to blindly take Muhammad’s claims by faith alone.
Unaffiliated – Atheists: 3rd Largest Group (faith alone)
You cannot prove a negative. In other words, an atheist cannot prove God does not exist so, this too is a short investigation given atheists have no ideas on the origin of the universe or life itself. Their blind faith lies in the hope that future science will discover an answer.
Hindu: 4th Largest Group (faith alone)
Hinduism, the world’s oldest religion, has no beginning–it precedes recorded history. It has no human founder. It is a mystical religion, leading the devotee to personally experience the Truth within, finally reaching the pinnacle of consciousness where man and God are one. [Himalayan Academy]
There is no way to investigate this, no way to reach a reasoned conclusion. Feelings alone dictate whether you believe or not, faith alone.
Buddhist: 5th Largest Group (faith alone)
Scholars are unsure what Buddha [Siddhārtha Gautama] actually taught, or how much of the writings are his teachings. It was an oral tradition until the earliest known writings in the 1st century BC, three to four hundred years after Buddha’s death.
Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to Insight into the true nature of reality… a path which ultimately culminates in Enlightenment or Buddhahood. An enlightened being sees the nature of reality absolutely clearly, just as it is, and lives fully and naturally in accordance with that vision. This is the goal of the Buddhist spiritual life, representing the end of suffering for anyone who attains it.
The liberation of self is the responsibility of one’s own self. Buddhism does not call for an unquestionable blind faith by all Buddhist followers. It places heavy emphasis on self-reliance, self discipline and individual striving. [The Buddhist Centre]
“Unquestionable blind faith” of believers is exactly what it does ask, because believers must blindly believe what it is thought Buddha taught and that he was correct.
He sat down beneath a pipal tree and vowed to stay there until he’d gained Enlightenment. After 40 days [with no food], on the full moon in May, Siddhartha finally attained ultimate Freedom [The Buddhist Centre]
As you can see, there is no way to reasonably investigate the credibility of the authors of the worlds religions. Faith in these religious traditions hinges on the founders subjective experiences, and there is no way to verify their claims. Is Christianity any different?
Christianity: Largest Group (evidence)
Jehovah’s Witnesses & Mormonism (faith alone)
We cannot lump all Christianity together because there are sects that deny the deity of Jesus Christ and still call themselves Christians. The two major sects are Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Reasoned and Critical Examination Part 1
- Jehovah’s Witnesses: A Reasoned and Critical Examination Part 2
Unlike historic Christianity, these two sects beliefs hinge on one man who claimed revelation, not unlike Muhammad, and revised the historic Christian manuscript evidence. Both these belief systems foundations are built on claims their founders made 1800 years after Christ’s death.
These sects founders did not have the enlightenment of the thousands of manuscripts that have been found in the last hundred and fifty years and corroborate the essentials of the King James Bible. It was possible to convince some that scripture had become corrupted because of the weaker manuscript evidence at the time.
Like Islam, these sects have their own writings that were written almost two millennia after the events they address. And like Islam, these sects cannot use the authenticity of the Old and New Testaments for validation because of the many revisions that have been made.
The revisions cannot be investigated because the believer has to take the founding prophets word, that he is correct. The faithful will relate that their feelings are evidence of validity, but feelings are subjective and cannot be investigated.
Can the claims of Christianity be investigated? Yes they can, how?
Scientific disciplines can be brought to bare to test specific claims to lend weight to or refute those claims.
For example, the book of Mormon claims that the ancient American native peoples were Israelite descendants of Abraham. This is a specific claim that can be tested and has. The results of which are at odds with the Mormon tradition.
- Population genetics shows that the DNA of ancient native peoples are linked to Asia, not Israel.
- Linguistics Studies also link native Americans to Asia
- Biologic Anthropology links native peoples to Mongolia (Asia)
- Archaeology links the native cultures to Asia not Israel
- There have been no archaeological verification of any of the events, people or places described in the book of Mormon.
Historic Christianity has the bible, which is a collection of writings depicting the history of the Jews and Jesus Christ. These claims can also be tested and have been. Conversely, hundreds of the people, places, dates and events in the bible have been corroborated by the archaeological record.
- Hezekiah’s tunnel
- City of Jericho
- Jesus of Nazareth
- Jesus Empty Tomb
- The Apostle Paul converted after Jesus appeared to him
- Jesus brother James converted after Jesus death and apparent appearance
The foremost leading agnostic skeptic Bart Ehrman, who is a PhD biblical scholar, argues for the historicity of Jesus.
One would have expected that 21st Century science and knowledge would have put the notion of a God to bed but it has not. What it has done is exposed the world’s leading religions as fully faith based traditions that are based in subjective reasoning.
On the other hand, 21st Century biology, astronomy and physics has not only failed to dispel the notion of God, they are pointing even more convincingly towards a designer of the universe.
- Science: Reasonable Belief Part 1
- Science: Reasonable Belief Part 2
- Science or God: is a Choice Necessary?
- Bible 1 Science 0
- DNA: Digital Program = Programmer
Lee Strobel is an author and a former atheist investigative journalist. He was the legal affairs editor for the Chicago Tribune newspaper. When his wife found Christianity, this investigative reporter set out to win his wife back by proving Christianity a hoax of fables and myths. The result is numerous books and this new true story movie based on his best selling book called;
I have been investigating Christian claims for over two decades, and I have found that truth holds up to scrutiny. You can start by looking at the resources on the pages of this blog. On the top of the page you will see links the the worlds leading scholars, videos, lectures and debates about the biggest question in life. Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing?
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