One of the so-called reasons given why atheism is the more intelligent choice of beliefs is the following: “The inconsistency of world religions” as found on alternet.org and explained as, “If God (or any other metaphysical being or beings) were real, and people were really perceiving him/ her/ it/ them, why do these perceptions differ so wildly?” It continues, “The explanation, of course, is that God does not exist. We disagree so radically over what he is because we aren’t perceiving anything that’s real. We’re “perceiving” something we made up; something we were taught to believe; something that the part of our brain that’s wired to see pattern and intention, even when none exists, is inclined to see and believe”. Of course. How could we be so stupid? It is all so obvious.
Let’s be clear, this explanation is not science. Is it even a reasonable argument? We do look around and see a multitude of faiths, from Buddhism to Christianity to Judaism to Islam to Zoroastrianism. In fact, within Christianity we see thousands of denominations. Is this religious division proof that God cannot exist?
Let’s think about the denominations within Christianity. How many churches are there in the Bible? One. Jesus said that He would build His church in Matthew 16:18. We can assume, then, that the intent within Christianity would be that there would exist one church and only one. The first century Christians were part of that one church and followed and taught the doctrines of that one church. As time moved on and denominations arose, what are we to make of them? Are they natural offshoots of what Jesus meant or are they, indeed, deviations from the one, true church? Clearly, they are deviations from the one. Since they depart from original doctrine, they cannot all be true. Does this deviation prove that Jesus did not build His one church? Not at all. It proves that we, as human beings, have decided to do what we want to do rather than what Christ wants of us. There still exists one, true church and thousands of deviations from the truth. There is no proof in this division that God or the one church do not exist.
The same holds true when we consider world religions. They cannot all be true because they disagree. There are, however, many similarities within religions. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all recognize Jesus. Does this commonality prove to those who are unbelievers that Jesus existed? Most religions seem to have a flood story. Why are there these similarities? Are they coincidence, or is it that the similarities come from one root, much like the multitude of denominations arise after the one, true church? If the Bible is the truth of the living God, then we would expect that it is the root of all history and anything occurring after what it records, which begins with the creation, would be taken from it. So, it is not surprising that other religions have similarities to Christianity.
Now, do the differences in world religions prove there is no God? Not at all. Again, the Bible records that the message of the gospel had been taken into all the world at the time, Colossians 1:23, in fulfillment of the “Great Commission” to the apostles, Matthew 28:19. If that is true, then all people at the time had the opportunity to hear the gospel. If they had the opportunity to hear the gospel, would we expect that everyone would obey it? And if they do not obey it, does their non-acceptance of it prove that God is not real or that His word is not true?
Why would we think that if we do not have complete agreement, then something, in this case God, cannot exist or be true? Let’s apply that principle to other parts of life. In the article, the comparison is made to a tree. We can all look at a tree, the reasoning goes, and agree on it. The tree, therefore, exists. This comparison is a false one. God is supernatural and cannot be perceived in the same way as a tree. And just because we can perceive a tree together and cannot perceive God together alike, then we should believe that God does not exist? Do we all perceive and describe love in the same way? If not, then love does not exist.
Do we have complete agreement on anything in life? Weather forecasters cannot seem to agree on the weather; therefore, weather does not exist. We have a growing number of people who deny that the Holocaust ever happened. Because some say it did and some say it did not, then it did not exist. More to the point, can we see complete agreement in atheistic evolution circles. Is everyone in agreement about evolution? (And no fair dismissing anyone who does not agree as having an agenda. Having an agenda is what got us into current evolutionary theory.) Scientists do not agree on what is now called “man-made climate change”. If we used this logic, we would have to say that “climate change” does not exist.
All of this thinking is a case of using reasoning that we do not apply in our daily lives to the aspect of faith. It is a non-sequitur. The logic does not follow. It is majority rule or decision by consensus. True science is not determined by consensus. In fact, the logical conclusion of this argument is that if everyone cannot agree on something, then it cannot exist. There are people out there who believe that we are not real. Scientists are theorizing that we are just a projection off of a black hole. Some do not agree; therefore, I suppose I do not really exist.
I understand that the writer’s point is more toward the idea that if God exists, why does He not make everyone know it for certain? Think about that for a moment. What does it imply? That the only way God can exist is if He puts into everyone’s mind exactly what we need to know to believe in Him. In other words, if He removes free will. We would all believe in Him and worship Him because He made us. How many atheists would want to exchange their ability to disbelieve for the life of a robot? The fact is that God has revealed what we need to know to know Him and to follow Him. The Bible is the inspired word of God, 2 Timothy 3:16. Not everyone, even those who profess belief, see it that way. The Bible itself says there will never be universal agreement on its words, Acts 13:46; Romans 1; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; Jude 8. All of this might actually prove God exists.