This is something that I gave some thought to as I was on my usual evening run the other day.
One of the central tenants of most religions is that their religion is the religion; all of the other ones are wrong, and all of the other gods are false. However, I see a problem with this. Namely, if there really is only one correct religion, why are there so many other ones?
I’m going to pick on Christianity for a moment because it’s the religion I am most familiar with and the dominant religion of the country in which I live. Most of the people who are reading this right now are probably at least passingly familiar with the central themes of the Christian story, about how Jesus, the son of God, was sent to earth via virgin birth* to die for the sins of all mankind.
Where I start to lose the thread is that when this supposedly happened, it was not a world wide event, even though at the time there were definitely people living on all of the other continents (except Antarctica, of course). All of this allegedly happened in only a very small geographic area and then…nothing for a thousand years or so. Think about it: two thousand years ago, how could ancient Palestinians possibly hope to spread the word of the one true God to, say, South Americans, whom they didn’t even know existed yet?
So God’s master plan was to reveal himself to only ONE small group of people and then just let them sit on it for 1500 years until the printing press was invented, until technology progressed enough to allow explorers to reach the new world? What kind of a divine plan is that? Why would such a perfect, omniscient being enact such a convoluted plan?
If the Christian God was really the one true God, why wouldn’t he enact the whole Jesus thing the world over, simultaneously? Why wouldn’t there be a Native American Jesus, a Japanese Jesus, an Aborigine Jesus, etc? He’s God, he can make his presence and his truth known to all people of the world simultaneously, and choose to enact whatever weird fairy tales he wants through all cultures at once. But he doesn’t do that. Instead, he focuses on only one group of people at one arbitrary point in history.
One of the ten commandments is not worshiping false idols. Thou shalt not put another god before me. You know, that whole thing. But before the arrival of Jesus, there were religions the world over that would, by the Christian definition, be worshiping false gods or idols. If this was really such a big deal to God, why wouldn’t he appear to, say, Japanese Shinto followers and say, “Hey, knock it off. You guys are sinning, but it’s OK, because I’m going to send you Japanese Jesus, and he’ll save you all and then you’ll all be Christian!”
People created God, plain and simple. The God of the Christians never addresses any other specific world religions or peoples because the men who invented him did not know that they existed. The “mankind” that the Bible speaks of is what was only known to it’s writers at the time, a very small, limited area around the fertile crescent. It’s the same reason why there’s nobody in the bible named Kenji or Miguel. If the bible really was the word of the one true God, how come the only characters in it come from the ethnic background of one region? Because it’s a work of fiction, and the very human men who fabricated the entire thing drew upon the very small world around them, which was the only thing that they knew at the time.
This same logic can be applied to any religion which claims to be the one true way. If there really was one true God, why not appear and correct the others? That never happened, and I think there’s a pretty simple reason for it: it’s all fiction, folks.
*Something I’ve never understood about the whole virgin birth is why it’s even necessary at all. I mean, we’re talking about God here. He already created mankind, presumably without impregnating a bunch of non-existent virgins. So why didn’t God just snap his fingers and create a flesh and blood Jesus? Makes no sense to me.