One True Religion?

Introduction

For those of monotheistic faiths there can be but one absolute truth, one God, and one true religion. But for even casual students of history the idea of one true religion should do more than raise an eyebrow, it should sound absolutely ridiculous. There are numerous religions currently at least two of which boast more than a billion followers. These numbers however can be quite misleading, they seem to suggest that each religion is a united conglomerate of folks who all ascribe to the same dogma and beliefs. The reality is quite different.

A House Divided

One need look no farther than Christianity to see what I'm referring to. While the religion as a whole boasts more than 2 billion believers each and every one of those believers is likely to hold a fairly nuanced and unique set of "Christian" beliefs. Throughout Christianity's long, often sordid, history believers have disagreed on what to believe and what works to do as a result of their faith. There are fundamentalists who seek to take the Bible as the literal and absolute truth spoken by God himself and then there are Christian-atheists who reject the supernatural teachings while focusing on the sense of community and moral teachings the religion offers.

Jesus is credited with saying that a house divided against itself cannot stand, a quote famously mined by Abraham Lincoln (oddly enough it's Lincoln that made the quote famous). Yet Christianity, one of the most divided religions in human history, has actually thrived BETTER due to it's adaptability. Christianity's ability to change itself, to adapt itself to local societies and customs, is what allowed it to survive and grow into so many different forms.

It's no secret that when Christianity was adopted as Rome's official religion it went through some changes. Even modern Catholicism maintains belief in Saints, which, to me, seem like the equivalent of demi-gods. Was this a way of attracting polytheists to convert by showing them Christianity wasn't far off from their current religious beliefs?

Either way it seems that the divisions of Christ's "house" are actually part of what keeps it standing. Each man or woman sees their own values reflected in the Bible when they read it and their minds focus on those hits while rejecting the misses. Slavery is a great example. The Bible clearly condones slavery in numerous passages. In Exodus 20 the Ten Commandments are given. In Exodus 21, direct from the mouth of God himself, regulations on slavery are established. So the God of the whole world condones and imposes regulations upon slavery according to the Bible yet the vast majority of Christians seem content to agree with me that slavery is morally wrong.

When Christianity can be so many different things to so many different people, and passages can be ignored in favor of entering one's own beliefs it's easy to see why Christianity has evolved and survived so well. Fundamentalism is another animal altogether but it isn't free of its own brand of apologetics and twisting scripture to fit modern moral understandings and modern views of God.

Inspired by God

So with everyone believing a vast array of different things even within the confines of the same religion it seems utterly absurd to me when a believer than turns around and says the Bible, or any other religious text, was inspired by God. If any aspect of religion were truly inspired by God why is it so vague, so unclear, and so self-contradictory? If God, an omnibenevolent being of singular mind, is inspiring people to start religions than why can those religions not agree?

Some may argue that it is human beings twisting that interpretation to fit their own ends. Why would God then turn away from those that would twist and turn to those who would be honest? Most forms of deities have ways of testing whether a mortal is trustworthy do they not? Many monotheistic Gods can directly see into the "hearts" of man and know whether or not you're a good honest person or a horrible wicked one. So why wouldn't God turn only to the righteous for help? And who in there right mind would dare twist the words or inspiration of an all powerful being? Wouldn't that just be inviting some Old Testament style smiting?

The Author of Confusion

For Christians the problem is compounded by verses which suggest that God is an honest and Holy being incapable of deception. God is not the author of confusion according to 1 Corinthians 14:33 but is instead the author of PEACE. Yet the history of religion is one of bloodshed, horror, war, throughout the Bible and right up to the present day religion has caused far more confusion than peace. The Bible and Qur'an, two books supposedly inspired by deities, have spawned there own share of confusion leading to multiple interpretations of Islam and Christianity.

If God has anything to do with religion it would seem that he/she/it has authored plenty of confusion.

In the Bible it also states that in the last days God will allow people to be taken by delusion essentially throwing them to the wolves and of course we all know the story of the tower of Babel where God sows confusion to scatter humanity to keep his heavenly abode safe from our intrusions.

The Hallmarks of a True Religion

What might we expect to see if a divine being actually wrote a book or communicated with us? One thing seems certain is that such a communication would not create hundreds of fracturing religions with thousands of sub-sects but would help to unify humanity beneath a singular clear truth. Any truly loving and all-powerful being seeking to communicate with us would have no issue doing so and the message would be impossible to mistranslate or misconstrue. The message would be for all mankind, not for a chosen people and not based upon culture. Such a religion would operate without the need for indoctrination as its truths would be self-evident and easily accessible.

And yet we see the opposite. We see from religion exactly what we would expect if there were no gods at all. We see division and conflict and war and blind dogma to disproved myths that may not have been meant as literal to begin with. We see the imperfection of human beings trying to understand the world around him and inventing gods to promote group cohesion and nationalism. I see humanity in religion and I also see humanity beginning to move beyond the need for the superstitious aspects of these faiths.

Youtuber Aronra tells it like it is

Conclusion

The only conclusion that seems logical is that religion is a man-made endeavor in it's entirety. I see nothing of divine wisdom in any of the religions around me, instead I see a superstitious and often misguided species attempting to make sense of the world using the supernatural. All religions contain falsehoods, errors, and moral absurdities and my guess is that most religious folks would agree with me on that fact. No religion is perfect and the vast majority are so far from perfect that I'm amazed anyone has the gall to claim divine inspiration brought religion or religious texts into the world. I advise these people to re-read their Bibles, their Qur'ans, all their ancient texts and pick out the errors, the factual inconsistencies, the moments when the morality of the gods is worse than that of us lesser mortals.

That's not to say there aren't moments of clarity within religions, or good moral advice contained in them from time to time. It's also not to suggest that these ancient texts are worthless or not worth reading. The point is that people are looking to these religions for absolutes, for a rock upon which to build their spiritual "home". Some of them seem awfully sure that they've found that rock but I'm convinced that all their building on is the shifting sands of ever-evolving human superstition.

There is no one true religion. No one size fits all answer to everything. Some may find that scary but I find it liberating.

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Comments 14 comments

Charles Hilton 5 years ago

I find it liberating. And thank you for a wonderful hub! Well written and truthful---especially for one so young. Some will find it offensive. That's their prerogative, but, I get the impression that you're not the type to be intimidated by that. :-)


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again Author

Thanks Charles and I'm glad you feel the same way. Unfortunately I can't help the knee jerk reactions some will have to my conclusions, but there's no amount of sound reasoning that can convince those who aren't drawing conclusions based on reason.


davidkaluge profile image

davidkaluge 5 years ago

Each time I read this kind of articles I say to myself, "men are waking up from sleep." Just as I called in my mystic book, "wake up from your sleep and slumb oh! ye men of the earth." The question should be, is it impossible for God to make all men follow him from the beginning? We know that virtually all tribes on earth once had their own Gods and religion before mordernity cause religion to spread. Pls note that division is not helping Christianity because each sect thinks they,alone,is acceptable to God


AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

Hello Titen,

Again, good hub. I don't think you'll find too much debate on this one. Even those who think they have the one true faith can clearly see there are others of faith who 'have it wrong'

But its not just theists. There are plenty of divergent rational philosophies too. And they are all professing to use the same method with the same sorts of data. They just don't tend to go to war over the differences, and they are willing to accept new data.

What multiple religions has to tell us about a creator is that uncertainty is a part of it. Either a creator didn't want us to be certain, or a creator was unable to make us certain, or there is no creator.

I don't think there's another choice.

As always, thanks for writing

cheers


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again Author

@Anton

"Either a creator didn't want us to be certain, or a creator was unable to make us certain, or there is no creator."

Precisely and I've often pondered the possibility of a malicious or mischievous creator planting disparate ideas in an effort to create conflict amongst us and give itself something entertaining to watch.

It seems to me that if there is a good, righteous and powerful deity of any kind out there than that being likely had nothing to do with any of the religions we see.

@davdkaluge

"Pls note that division is not helping Christianity because each sect thinks they,alone,is acceptable to God"

This kind of division can lead to conflict and in-fighting within Christianity however Christianities ability to adapt and evolve has still been it's greatest asset.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi :)

Very good!

Yes ~ many good obcervations!

Certainly I have found that there are as many versions of Christianity as there are Christians.

Also, while many believe that the Bible is the perfect word of God; others think that it is just a group of stories, which may be an interpretation of ancient superstition.

The 'existence' of saints ~ plus the Trinity ~ mean that Christianity is not truly monotheistic.


AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

I always thought that the first commandment (Thou shalt have no other gods before me) was an acknowledgment of the existence of other gods. Otherwise, no need for the commandment.

It could just have been 'I am the only god. There is no other' and then its more of an observation rather than a commandment.

Translation is a terrible thing. :)

cheers


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again Author

@Anton

Yep, verses like that seem to harken back to a polytheistic time in ancient Israel. After all why should God be a JEALOUS God if there are no other gods to be jealous of :D


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Yea, If I were supreme commander of the entire universe, what would I have to be jealous about? Especially if I could wave my all mighty arm and eliminate anyone I didn't like.

Titen, you're right. If there is a god, this is all some kind of cruel game.


davidkaluge profile image

davidkaluge 5 years ago

@Titen, you are right that the Christianity is diverse because they accept new theories and make changes.However, diversity in disunity can never be an advantage. It is only an advantage if they are united but we know that some Christians call other Christian sects "false Christians" So diversity is never an advantage. Someone recently est ChrisIslam. That is combined Christian/Islam teachings maybe if it spread you can call it advantage to Muslim and Christians but do they think same? so its your opinion.


davidkaluge profile image

davidkaluge 5 years ago

Someone said that men created God. I think he meant that men have their various gods whom they worked with and obeyed his laws and instructions. However, if there is only one supreme God and creator of all things and if their be others gods (even the bible confirmed there are other gods in other tribes) then it means he created the gods. If he created them why can't he subdue them and make them powerless. But we know people got result in the gods or mysteries they follow.Power and mystery is diverse.


Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 5 years ago from California

I think diversity can be very beneficial. No matter what your personal views are you can find a sect or church that will fit your needs. Christianity has been very good at marketing itself to all kinds of people.

But it definitely may have a long-term cost if internal bickering leads people to question the validity of Christianity.


AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

These comments keep putting me back to the reasons why I believe the way I do.

If we can say anything definitive about reality, it is that it makes us uncertain. It makes us search. It makes us discover.

Magic is not needed to explain god. Magic is needed to explain religion.

Suppose for the moment that a creator worked entirely within natural law. Suppose the creation of other beings that we would call gods was the only way to solve certain problems. (or that they are simply other created beings that are simply more capable than we are)

Suppose that there really is no way to create sentience without allowing for death. If you want sentience, this is the cost.

Suppose there is no magic wand to wave? The creator has to be able to manipulate forces beyond our capabilities, but that isn't a stretch of natural law. We can wield forces beyond any other known living thing on earth.

Diversity is a survival trait. If it wasn't, we would all be the same now. The only question in regards to Christianity: Does the diversity serve the religion or the individuals who profess it?

cheers


Say Yes To Life profile image

Say Yes To Life 18 months ago from Big Island of Hawaii

AMEN TO THAT!!!

Having been in a cult - putting my life in danger in the process - I have to say that all religions are true, and all are cults. The difference is in how they're practiced. No religion has the right to claim itself as Absolute Truth, since none can answer all questions or apply to all situations.

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