Naturally Christianity comes to mind in December, since Christmas includes the word "Christ." But I view this time of year as an opportunity to remind myself, and others through this blog, of the absurdity of all religious belief.
Of course, it is only us atheists who look upon all religions as absurd. Since most people are religious, they view their faith as making good sense. It's those other religions that are absurd.
To offer a few examples:
-- Christians have no problem believing that Jesus was born of a virgin, walked on water, and came back from the dead. But the notion that an angel dictated the Koran to Mohammed -- that's absurd!
-- The India-based faith I was a member of for 35 years, Radha Soami Satsang Beas, teaches that at the time of initiation the guru places a copy of himself, the "radiant form," in the consciousness of every disciple. But the idea that peyote or mescaline can lead to spiritual visions -- that's absurd!
Many other instances of religious hypocrisy exist, of course. So many, they're uncountable.
Those who hold any form of religious or supernatural belief consider that they are on the straight road to cosmic truth, while those other believers are on a twisting path of illusion. In 2010 I wrote about this in Believers need to take the "Outsider Test for Faith."
Why and how do religious believers choose to accept a particular faith out of the many choices available to them? (4200 is one estimate)
Great question. Here's an ever better one: What makes someone confident that the religion they've chosen is true, while all the other religions are false?
John W. Loftus examines these issues in a book he edited, "The Christian Delusion." The first chapter I read was by Loftus, "The Outsider Test for Faith Revisited." He used to be a minister, until his deconversion.
I loved the chapter.
It lays out problems with religious belief that I've been aware of for a long time, but had never considered so clearly and cogently. The first version of Loftus' Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) can be read here. What I perused this morning includes some responses to objections true believers raised to OTF version 1.0.
...It's been observed that every religious believer rejects countless gods and/or other metaphysical entities, accepting just one: what he or she believes in. An atheist just goes one small step further: rejecting that one as well.
So Loftus makes the entirely reasonable argument that people should test their chosen faith in the same way they test other (rejected) religious, spiritual, mystical, or metaphysical belief systems.
...People will reject unsubstantiated claims in holy books... except the book they believe in. People will reject miracle stories... except miracles related by their own faith. People will reject the divinity of living prophets or messengers of God... except the person they accept as a genuine spiritual teacher.
Every religious believer, aside from the few who are genuinely open-minded, considers that he or she has found the One True Faith among the 4,199 or so false faiths. Yet how is this possible, logically or realistically?
It's like Garrison Keillor's Lake Woebegon, where all the children are above average.
Laurel, my wife, and I got married in 1990. Back then Laurel believed in a New Age channeler who supposedly could communicate with spiritual beings when he went into a trance state. Laurel got tape recordings of those sessions on a monthly basis.
I thought this channeler guy was ridiculous.
Meanwhile, I was an avid devotee of a guru who was considered to be God in human form, which Laurel found equally ridiculous. We had lengthy conversations where Laurel would try to convince me that her belief was valid, while I did the same about my belief.
Eventually the realization hit us that we were both right: meaning, each of our beliefs had no basis in reality. Those beliefs had given us comfort, but we gave them up in favor of truth -- which we consider means demonstrable evidence founded on facts, not a feeling that something is true.
In 2017 I wrote Jesus and Mohammed talk about truth vs. facts. That post included a right-on cartoon.