One True Religion?

Indulge me while I paint with a broad brush. Most people are either religious or non-religious. Among the religious, quite a few believe their religion is the one true religion. Consequently, those outside their tradition are unsaved or infidels and doomed to eternal damnation.

This “zero-sum, sheeps and goats” line of religious thinking might make a modicum of sense if there was a genuine free-market of religious ideas from which each adult chose once they had considered a wide-ranging smorgasbord. A grand religious meritocracy if you will where the most enlightened, hopeful, helpful religions would probably hold claim to the most adherents.

But that’s not even close to how religious people “choose their religion”. People’s religious choices are mostly the result of where they’re born. And I don’t know about you, but I had no control over where I was born (shout out to my faithful following in Boise, ID). Born in Northern Nigeria, one’s almost certainly a Moslem; Southern Nigeria, a Christian; central India, a Hindu; Israel, a Jew; Alabama, a Southern Baptist: Utah, a Mormon. In fact, do people choose their religion or does their family’s religion or the predominant religion where they grow up tend to choose them?

If religious identities are rooted in geography and culture, “zero-sum, sheep and goat, mine is the one true religion” belief only makes sense if some countries and cultures are special, divinely created, better than the rest. And why trust anyone who believes they won the birthplace lottery of lifeĀ about religion or anything else?

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3 thoughts on “One True Religion?

  1. Well this simple logic will certainly dumbfound the fanatics within orthodox religion. No wonder the crowds at Santorum’s rallies were applauding his comments disparaging a “higher education”. It might actually open their eyes to something more relevant than the dogma they were raised with and afraid to challenge all of their lives

    Nicely done Ron

  2. Rick Santorum will not approve — that’s the kind of relativism that led enlightenment Europeans to Deism and ultimately atheism! Is salvation an accident of birth?

    I was raised a Lutheran – born in South Dakota, where Lutherans dominate. I rejected that while attending a Lutheran college, thanks to a course on world religions taught by an ordained Lutheran Minister who had a very tolerant and open view of all religions (he had been a missionary to China in the 40’s and quit when he realized the Chinese already had a religion that worked for them). I have since developed a strongly spiritual set of beliefs that I treat playfully – I believe them, but I don’t know if they’re true, so I keep my mind open and have no expectation that others reach the same conclusions I do.

    • I have a few sweater vests, so Rick might give me a pass. I’ve enjoyed learning about your philosophy of life through your blogging and I also appreciated your recent post on Snowe. I didn’t know about her background. You should run for her seat. And we had snowe in Olympia yesterday, but it didn’t stick for long.

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