Throughout human history countless people have given their own lives, taken those of others in the most horrible ways and committed terrible atrocities in the absolute certainty their religion was the only right and true one. The losses and human misery caused by this, and other ways in which people have sacrificed for their gods (to include the slaughter of their own children), are truly incalculable.
Religion and certainty
While this clearly shows human failings, it also makes one wonder what any god out there could be thinking if one or more of these religions are divine truth. If this being wants human beings to follow a certain religion, it would seem logical to assume he could find a way to communicate what this religion was to people in a way that left no doubt. Furthermore, any divine word would not be easy to misread if that is what people are doing when they commit crimes in the name of religion. With this in mind, why do people put so much certainty in the belief that their religion is perfect, divine word?
To believe in divine power is one thing. However, claiming to know exactly what that divine power wants is quite another. With whether a god exists or not being a question of debate, why should claims of certain divine truth be taken seriously? With more thoughtful reflection, it seems that no human being should ever have the nerve to claim to know with 100% certainty what any god wants.
Making religion dangerous
Religion in itself does not have to be something that causes conflict and atrocities. The danger comes from teaching and believing that any ideology is certainly divine word when such claims are not even close to being proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. Unless a god gives us irrefutable evidence that one religion is his word, and great number of competing religions in the world is a strong indication no such evidence exists, we have to assume that all these ideologies come from human minds, which are prone to error.
Making religion safe
There is no telling with absolute certainty what might be out there, and there may be at least some grains of truth in every religion. However, there are also things about all the religions that should give people a reason to pause and question. It is time to more closely examine the teachings of religions with a more critical eye. This more humbling way of looking at one’s belief removes the kind of certainty that leads to so many bad things. At the same time, it gives them a fresh, less dogmatic perspective of the world everyone lives in.
Although most people would agree with the adage that: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, few really follow it when it comes to religious beliefs. Religions do make some pretty extraordinary claims. Before basing one’s life and possibly death on these claims, try to give those claims at least a fraction of the skepticism given to far smaller claims encountered in life. It may be a step in creating a better world for all.