Argument from religious impermanence

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Zeus of the ancient Greek religion
Odin accompanied by his ravens
Amun-Ra of the ancient Egyptian religion
Baal welding a thunderbolt
A traditional scene of Mithras slaying a bull.

There are countless dead religions, including Norse mythology, Greek titans, Greek Olympians, Egyptian mythology, Roman mythology. The current religions will one day join them by becoming dead religions and be referred to as mythology.

"Whatever their imaged source, the doctrines of modern religions are no more tenable than those which, for lack of adherents, were case upon the scrap heap of mythology millennia ago; for there is no more evidence to justify a belief in the literal existence of Yahweh and Satan than there was to keep Zeus perched upon his mountain throne or Poseidon churning the seas."

Sam Harris, The End of Faith

"The religion of one age is the literary entertainment of the next."

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

The argument is related to the country-faith phenomenon, which observes that the place of birth largely dictates a person's religious belief. Since their place of birth is arbitrary, their religious belief is arbitrary too.

Contents

Argument against belief in time specific religion

The argument is based on people adopting local religious practices without rationally examining them.

  • Each religion is a distinct belief which may be either true or false.
  • Not all religions can be true, most are mutually exclusive in truthfulness.
  • A person is born at a time in history that is not of their choosing and is basically arbitrary.
  • The year of birth largely determines religious belief.
  • Therefore, religious belief is arbitrary.
  • Since any other religion may be true (or none at all), your religious view is probably untrue.

The argument is not a definitive disproof of religion, but rather a probabilistic argument that any particular religion is probably untrue.

Argument from the probability of choosing the correct God

Assuming only one form of theism is true, since they are generally mutually exclusive, the chances of choosing the correct religion is very low considering all of the other religions that must have been rejected.

"As a back of the envelope calculation, with order of magnitude accuracy, we can safely conclude that over the last 10,000 years, there has been about 10,000 different religions and roughly a thousand different gods. [...] What is the probability that Yahweh is the one true god, and Amon Ra, Aphrodite, Apollo, Baal, Brahma, Ganesha, Isis, Mithras, Osiris, Shiva, Thor, Vishnu, Woden, Zeus and the other 986 Gods are all false Gods? You guys are atheists, just like me, of all those gods I just rattled off. Some of us just go one god further."

Michael Shermer[1]

Counter arguments

My religion is special

Believers sometimes argue that their religion is distinct from those false religions, as well as being objectively true. This is an argument from uniqueness.

Global spread

The global reach of some religions may make them more survivable.

"Christianity will never die out. There may be places that a lot of Christians don't live but there are Christians everywhere. And it will always be that way. [2]"

All gods are aspects of the same God

Main Article: All gods are aspects of the same God

Apologists argue that many religions contain some truth. Therefore, the premise that each religion is true or false is an over simplification.

Other evidence

Apologists may rely on other evidence that their religion is true. The argument above is only a probabilistic argument that says it is likely that your religious belief is untrue.

References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
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