which religion is best

Which one is the most logical and believable in everyone’s view? I know that people will usually claim “their” religion as the one, but if that’s the case, then please explain WHY!

Our answer:

(source: www.simplify123.com)

I suppose the questioner means “belief system” rather than “religious organization.” If it’s the latter, then of course Catholic Christianity is the best organized and most powerful on all levels. But if it’s the first, then the question becomes much more complex.

For the atheist, all religions are bunk. The agnostic (typically) rejects “god” and religious teachings, but remains open at least to the possibility of “spirit” and afterlife. For the materialist philosopher, like for any atheist, theistic faith itself is illogical and fallacious; For the faithful, THEIR religion is “correct”.

So, to even attempt to answer the above question, one can only do this from the position of an outsider, an uninvolved skeptic. And that’s kinda hard.

Lucretius in ancient Rome observed that “nothing comes from nothing” and this seems to tally up nicely with Lavoisier’s law of Conservation of Mass and Energy, which, in turn, also APPEARS to imply that our intellects and “spirits” must have come from “somewhere” and must therefore go “somewhere” after our earthly life is over.

But physics deals with the MATERIAL world, and – so far – no proof of the materiality of thought or “spirit” has ever been achieved – or at least unequivocally agreed upon by the scientific establishment.

In the physical view of the world, therefore, “thoughts/consciousness” and “spirit/soul” are merely IMMATERIAL byproducts of the functioning of our biological machinery, and… do not EXIST in a physical sense! Nothing immaterial exists in physics – hence the “ironclad” rationale for the atheists.

It is easy to understand why this view is heatedly contested not merely by the faithful of all the various religions, but also by many philosophers and – even some scientists as well. After all thoughts DO exist – and the very fact of their EXISTENCE means that the science of physics simply hasn’t been able to measure or quantify it YET. It suggests that our natural sciences simply don’t know everything yet – a sentiment I’m very inclined to agree with.

To this, the physicists and materialst philosophers reply that while “proving the negative” is fallacious and pointless, it is still a question of evidence and as there is NO evidence to support ANY religious views on the “afterlife” – it doesn’t exist.

Philosophically speaking (materialist philosophy, in any case), “belief” is irrelevant and “evidence” trumps all. But when any such evidence is presented, it is ALWAYS discarded as flawed, by the materialists (and, in fairness, it often IS – but not always.)

In modern scientific and “educated” circles, it is considered naive – if not downright stupid – to believe in the afterlife, and therefore ALL religions are treated as superstitions without any basis in reality. Some materialist philosophers even go as far as “virtually outlawing” even a hint of rational consideration of the existence of a spiritual dimension; even to the point of laughing at agnostics (i.e. you’re NOT ALLOWED TO DOUBT THIS!), thereby showing that narrowrminded bigotry isn’t limited only to the most religious.

A question like this can only be answered subjectively. My view is tainted by my reasoning and experience and does not pretend to be the final word on this subject. Not by a long shot. But, as an atheist (non-believer in a religious “GOD” of any description) who nevertheless believes in the RATIONAL POSSIBILITY of an as-yet scientifically unrecognized “spiritual dimension”, not on wishy-washy grounds but rather basing on extensive study and logic – I can attempt to answer the above question within these confines and in a simplified fashion.

  1. I’m broadly familiar with at least a dozen of the major religions, and quite familiar with Christianity in which I was brought up. I make no claim to know “all” religions. But of those that I do know at least on the level of understanding their basic tenets and ideas, NONE convince me of the existence of any “entity” that would fit the description of a “God”. I see the spiritual messages in virtually all the religions I know as functional vehicles of control, more than anything else. This does NOT invalidate or question any wisdom or truths of these messages, only the manner and context in which they’re presented as well as their claims to the divine origin of these revelations.
  2. I strongly favor religions which focus on the introspective and individual, personal accountability with “judgment” being internalized rather than meted out by an all-powerful deity.
  3. I also lean more towards teachings which can at least on some level be logically evaluated. Survival of the spirit, for instance, is appealing to me, but not necessary for my respect for a particular religious thinking. I’m familiar with voluminous literature on this subject and much of it is written by authors, philosophers and even scientists I respect. Survival of spirit is therefore a DISTINCT POSSIBILITY, and can not be rejected without resorting to dogma.

With these simple points in mind, I can not say that ANY single religion – including atheism – “fits” my mindset.

I like some elements in some of them, and reject others. I’m generally sympathetic to religions which argue for the survival of the spirit and especially those which focus on reincarnation. I reject all religions which make claims to the existence of any supreme being or entity, and I most respect those religions which have the strongest PERSONAL moral codes with the least reliance on Earthly, authoritarian “overseers”, i.e. those religions which have no fixed priestly hierarchies.

All in all then, as much as I would have liked to say that “this” particular religion has the best chances of being “right” – at least for me – I can’t bring myself to singling out ANY.

Gnosticism, Buddhism (particularly the Theravada), Hinduism (but with only the broadest understanding of “Brahman” as “Nature” rather than “Deity”) or Jainism, all have elements which, at the very least, are “palatable” to a person who relies on logic more than anything else for a living.

Judeo-Christian religions, including Islam, while not devoid of some interesting aspects, are by and large so infantilized and corrupted by their hierarchies, that it’s hard for me to single many teachings that I could rationally embrace.

And as for the “anti-religion” of atheism, its dogmaticism is simply off-putting, even though many of its arguments are powerful. But dogma of ANY kind is no way to expand the mind.

All in all then – the only religious attitude that makes any sense to me – at my current stage of development – is “critical agnosticism.” Open to the possibilities, but no dogma. Accepting universal morality, but no arbitrary “laws”.

Partial References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_comes_from_nothing
http://van.physics.illinois.edu/qa/listing.php?id=5597
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_of_mass
http://www.qcc.cuny.edu/socialsciences/ppecorino/phil_of_religion_text/CHAPTER_7_SOULS/Survival_of_Soul.htm
http://www.enlightened-spirituality.org/Postmortem_survival_of_the_soul.html
http://www.provingthenegative.com/2011/07/dead-as-doornail-souls-brains-and.html
http://www.iep.utm.edu/immortal/
http://www.csus.edu/indiv/m/mccormickm/NoSoulsWeb.htm
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/keith_augustine/immortality.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/life-after-death-examinin_b_1428710.html
http://godisimaginary.com/i1.htm
http://www.religionfacts.com/big_religion_chart.htm
Against the Gods, by Stefan Molyneux

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