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The same certainty we have on the Bible and Jesus Christ, other people from other religions have on their gods and "holy books" (between commas because I'm one of those who have the certainty about Bible) and I have no explanation for that and I'd like one so I can answer some friends about it.

Thanks in advance.

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closed as not constructive by David, El'endia Starman Apr 14 '13 at 17:34

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

To be honest, Freemasonry touches on this fact. I don't really see a question in your post, however. You will probably not find an answer that is satisfactory to you on a Christianity specific forum. – user1054 Jan 16 '12 at 21:31
I think some beliefs have a stronger opinion on truth than others. From my limited understanding, I think that Judaism, Christianity and Islam (and Atheism?) would each claim to possess The Truth. But Hinduism (and "weak" Agnosticism, by definition) I think tends to be less "certain", for want of a better word. – Wikis Jan 17 '12 at 21:01
Vatican II Document on Relations between Catholic Church and other religions well worth a read as it highlights what Christians might admire about other religions. – Peter Turner Jan 17 '12 at 22:46
I'm not sure what kind of question your asking or what kind of answer you're looking for. Wouldn't "people differ in their beliefs" essentially cover the "explanation" you seem to seek? – Chelonian Jan 21 '12 at 7:18
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You are correct, in that all religions all, when measured objectively and independently, essentially have the same level of firm proof, and (give or take) the same level of depth of feeling in the believers (I'm omitting "cultural" associates from this).

This applies both to non-Chistian faiths, and also to the various sects within Christianity - with many fragments entirely convinced of the validity of another competing particular position.

It is interesting. And keep in mind that your belief that another religion is false is exactly what that religion reciprocates - by definition most religions are exclusive.

Put another way: if there was an answer to this, there would be (given our current global communications capability) exactly one religion or zero religions (depending on the result).

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The idea that all religions have equal proof is greatly disputed. The idea that there would be exactly one religion assumes that if all people had all the evidence, they would universally accept the one truth, and that personal bias, cultural influences, and other influences (demonic, sin, etc.) would have no influence. This is quite hard to accept. – Narnian Jan 16 '12 at 21:12
@Narnia Yeah, you're right... there are other religions with more proof than Christianity <jk> :) I for one believe that human nature is to do good. Even when we do "bad" things it is for a "good" reason. If there were truly one truth, verifiable by something other than "faith" then people would flock to it. – user1054 Jan 16 '12 at 21:42
@DanAndrews I would dispute the idea that human nature is to do good. That would mean that the Holocaust, rape, pedophilia, and other heinous acts are engaged in for a "good" and noble reason. Some things can only be described as evil. And I disagree, again, that verifiable truth is not the only factor in why people choose to believe certain things. We disagree... that's ok, though. – Narnian Jan 16 '12 at 21:54
@Narnia the human ego is selfish. Rape and pedophilia are for self pleasure and I agree that they can be considered evil and detestable actions. The holocaust, as horrible as it was, was done because Hitler was revenging the death of Jesus (one of the many reasons) - he thought he was doing something good for his God and for his country. The thought wasn't unique either, look at the support from those is Rome. Just FYI, he also killed between 80,000 and 200,000 Freemasons. – user1054 Jan 17 '12 at 14:04
One could say that the Crusades where evil but another person would say that is was done in the name of God and therefore "good". – user1054 Jan 17 '12 at 14:07

This is an interesting question. Many people are firmly convinced that their religious position is, indeed, true. This includes atheistic positions as well. Yet, the question is not with the level of certainty an individual has, but the validity of that certainty. As on writer put it, "faith is only as strong as the object of that faith."

The illustration of ice is mentioned. A traveler from the Arctic regions may visit a warmer climate in winter. While in his home town, they drive cars on the lakes at this point, where he is visiting only seldom as ice thick enough to walk on. Coming upon a lake, he may leap out onto it with all the certainty possible. Yet the object of his faith does not hold up, and he gets very wet and very cold.

Another person from the mild climate may visit an arctic region, and with great timidity, gently step out onto a lake that is covered by two feet of ice. His uncertainty is placed in an object that can well accommodate his act of faith, and he remains dry and on solid "ground".

So, again, faith is only as strong as the object of that faith. As Spurgeon exhorted, "never make a Christ out of your faith." It is not the strength of our faith that saves us, but the truthfulness of salvation that God offers to us through Christ.

So, the real question in this matter is which religious belief is true. All religious beliefs which are false, including atheism, will not support our weight if we put our trust in them. Christianity, however, will indeed support our weight as we put our trust in Jesus, despite the timidity or certainty of our faith.

Christianity alone has overwhelming evidence to support its truthfulness, including hundreds of predictive prophecies fulfilled in Jesus, the inexplicable growth of Christianity in the face of severe and extensive persecution at its very birth, billions of transformed lives, and on and on and on and on... but that's another question.

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The number of non-Christians through the last 2000 years and present strongly disputes and refutes your "overwhelming". And none of the things in your last paragraph are unique to Christianity. Tenacity also says nothing about truth. Also, atheism does not make bizarre random claims about things outside our observation; it is not constructive to call it a religion. – Marc Gravell Jan 16 '12 at 17:59
@MarcGravell The number of unbelievers has nothing to do with whether or not there is overwhelming evidence, unless everyone was well informed of the evidence and was under no compulsion to believe anything and had no biases, but just made the most logical deduction. Even then, percentages do not make something actually correct. The world once believed the earth was flat, but the world was wrong. The hundreds of predictive prophecies are, in fact, unique to Christianity (and the Old Testament). What other religions faced as much persecution? – Narnian Jan 16 '12 at 18:10
@Natnian I enirely agree that numbers do not make something true; they do, however, have a huge meaning on the use of the word "overwhelming". If it was "overwhelming", then we would be ... Overwhelmed and compelled to believe by the strength of the evidence. That is what "overwhelming" means. We aren't ; it isn't overwhelming. – Marc Gravell Jan 16 '12 at 18:12
persecution: hard to measure for young religions, since there are few new "religions" (unless we count Christian sects and Mormonism as separate religions); but in the general case: most of them. Quite often at the hands of Cristianity (among others). – Marc Gravell Jan 16 '12 at 18:13
I'd start with obvious ones; Judaism (by... Everyone it seems), Islam (Crusades), the Aztec polytheism (Christianity enforced), most European paganism (not one religion; many: mostly suppressed by force by Catholicism) – Marc Gravell Jan 16 '12 at 18:43

As you have observed, a feeling of certainty about religious beliefs is not a reliable indicator to the truth of those beliefs. The big four religions, worldwide, are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. (If you wanted to count atheism as a religion, but not merge it with Buddhism, it would probably be between Hinduism and Buddhism.) None have a majority (Christianity broadly construed is accepted by close to 1/3 of the earth's population), and all have sizable numbers of strong believers, advocates, fundamentalists, and so on.

You also can't trust claims of evidence or accuracy or personal benefit. You are already familiar, I take it, with (at least claims of) the extraordinary evidence that supports Christianity. But Islam can claim that many prophecies from the Quran have been fulfilled, and speed of its spread was astounding (far faster than Christianity), among other things. Hinduism is rather amorphous (far more diverse than Christianity), but there are no shortage of miracles (example) attributed to it. Buddhism is an essentially atheistic belief system in that it rejects the existence of God/gods (though it does have some supernatural elements), yet there are many stories of how it has positively changed people's lives.

Therefore, since many of the features of major religions look broadly the same, it must be the details that matter. In particular, if you are talking to friends who (strongly) hold other beliefs, be aware that they are likely to be in a similar situation as you, and if you're going to figure out who is right, you will need to listen respectfully and/or empathize with the feelings their religion may induce in them, while sharing your point of view. If you are talking to friends who hold the same beliefs as you and who are baffled why everyone else doesn't believe the same (maybe it's because they're evil?), you can point out that it's not nearly so obvious as they feel it is, since outwardly all major religions have many similar aspects.

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If you are like me, then you will believe there are no holes in our bible, being the inerrant Word of God, and that makes it easy to defend. But as with other religions and beliefs, you will have to dive in and study them, and find ways to debunk them. As @RexKerr said, you need to do this entirely in love. You aren't going to save souls for Christ without showing them God's love and having empathy for them, understanding, respect, etc., even if they aren't doing the same for you (remember, your love is fed from God, not other people). You will just have a debate that will leave a bitter taste in both your mouths, and will really get you guys nowhere but having doubts in the things that got disputed and will cause both parties to research more to further back up their beliefs, if anything. Also you should have something to say as to where your certainty comes from, and try to be a witness to them (always sprinkling in the message of the Gospel) :)

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The certainty of religious faith applies to the existence of an ethical standard, which is coming from a moral lawgiver, from God. In logical positivist terms, evidence for the existence of God comes from observing that ethical standards are convergent, so that all people will eventually agree on what constitutes an ethical or unethical act given sufficient time.

This seems like a preposterous notion. But if you ask people of any of the big 5 religious faiths what constitutes ethical or unethical behavior, excluding specific religious doctrines or rituals, they will mostly agree! This convergence is astonishing, especially considering the lack of agreement in earlier times. The religions of South America demanded human sacrifice, for instance.

The functioning of the physical universe is not affected one bit by the existence of an ethical convergence. But in order to get the ethical standards to converge, you sometimes have to tell stories which claim ridiculous things happened, so as to spread the faith. This moral law has led otherwise nice people tell lies. I don't think you should tell lies. God tells me I should not tell lies.

God is not a substance like aluminum. It is a spiritual entity, found by introspection, which informs our ethical judgements. The ethical notion of God is universal to all humanity, and different aspects are revealed in different traditions. All these traditions have elements which are true, otherwise they would have been abandoned long ago. The elements of each faith which are most important slowly become more obvious with time.

No religion can sensibly claim primacy and exclude the others. The ethical principles of other religions are largely compatible with Christianity. They are only incompatible with Christian religious practice. So if you want to practice a religion, you have to choose. But the choice of a valid faith to practice is more like choosing which book you like the best, or which movie you want to see. Its not like choosing the right numbers in a lottery ticket, where all other numbers go to hell.

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Downvote isn't mine, but two notes; if by "certainty", we mean the validity of the faith, the ethical convergence seems unrelated; I see no pre-condition that means that some "true" religion has to agree on ethics. And on your last line... well, Christianity does specifically believe that the other numbers go to hell, as does Islam, etc. I'm not sure this answer addresses the key points of the question. Oh, additional note: "elements which are true" (else abandoned) .... meh - truth is different to tenacity. – Marc Gravell Jan 17 '12 at 7:17
@Marc Gravell: I am coming from a logical positivist perspective, the philosophy of the physical scientists. Many in these sciences reject monotheistic religion, because it is not formulated in logical positivist terms: it makes metaphysical claims about realms which are not directly subject to observation. But the metaphysics is largely supefluous. If you focus on the practical teaching, you can extract the positive core, and understand fully the perspective of the religious doctrines, and why it is important, despite the metaphysics being unobservable. – Ron Maimon Jan 17 '12 at 14:54
In particular, the notion of a single lawgiver, or an almighty God, the single God of the monotheistic tradition, is essentially claiming that one God will beat out all the others over time. This is the major lesson of the Biblical stories, and of the Christianization of the Roman empire. If you look at the practices of the winning faith, the ethics is (slightly) better than what came before (in modern terms), so that the convergence of ethics seems to be the core positive prediction of the monotheist. I find that I can agree on this point, while the metaphysics, I don't care about that. – Ron Maimon Jan 17 '12 at 14:58
That many religions will agree on large overlapping portions of ethics is not at all astonishing. We are social animals and there are certain strategies that societies can take to better survive. Hence, those strategies propagate better. Strategies including not murdering each other, for example. – Kaz Dragon Jan 19 '12 at 13:41
@Kaz Dragon: It does not include not murdering infants, which seems to be a universal pre-monotheistic tradition in the middle east, or owning slaves, or condemning drug abuse, which is recent, or monogamy, or respecting private property, or progressive taxation, or the right to unionize, or universal education, or marriage by choice (as opposed to arrangement), or freedom of speech, or the right to elections, or a thousand other things that everyone agrees on now but were controversial in recent history. – Ron Maimon Jan 20 '12 at 5:33

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