THE TRUTH ABOUT RELIGION


I. Two criteria for religious decision

A. usefulness - religion is a resource for self-development - different religions     for different cultures/individuals, different periods of life - eclecticism

B. truth - religion describes (part of) reality and how to live appropriately in relation to it - religion chosen on the basis of truth - not more than one correct religion

II. Criterion of Usefulness implies no religion is true: if some religion is true then choice via usefulness is irrational and irresponsible (compare denying unpleasant assertion without examining the evidence)

III. Religious are pairwise incompatible, therefore at most one is wholly true.

            A. Catholicism - new "Bible", man is god

            B. Islam - Muhammad is prophet, no man is god

            C. Hinduism - vs. creation at finite past time, final future

D. Buddhism - vs. personal Creator of universe

            E. Judaism vs. A-D

ETC.

IV. "Common core" to all religions - no positive religious content due to contradictory accounts of creation, god(s), soul, after-life, scriptures, etc.; even morality has different explanations (and is not essentially religious)

V. How to investigate the truth of religions

A. religion makes some assertion about the physical world – therefore we need greatest balance of evidence

            B. we need selective evidence in favor of religion

                        1. excludes religions with no testable consequences

2. excludes religions whose testable consequences are not selective, e.g. can be  explained by alternative positions

3. excludes religions with false consequences, or whose “evidence” can be denied by the alternative positions

VI. Judaism is the only religion with unique testable consequences which are true – for example: Deut. 28-30 predicts (i) total conquest (1/4), (ii) exile (1/2 - given total conquest), (iii) world-wide scatter (1/5 - given (i) and (ii)), (iv) no independence (1/4), (v) survival and eventual return to Israel (1/10) - probability of (1)-(v) less than 1/1600; only Judaism's truth explains this consequence - realist start investigation there. (Note: these are exaggerated estimates of the probability of the prediction coming true, not of its having been made.) (Note: this piece of evidence alone does not justify accepting Judaism as true, but it does require an investigation of the rest of the evidence. The sum of the evidence may require accepting the truth of Judaism.)


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