When I was a kid I ran away from home and I was throwing a tennis ball against the wall of a supermarket.
A homeless man then walked over and asked me to throw the ball to him.
I did so.
We threw the ball back and forth for a bit.
I then told him I had to go.
He said his name was Jesus and he could see that I was an angel sent from God!
I thanked him and got pizza.
As I was ordering my pizza the cashier asked me, "What do you want on your pizza?"
In that moment I realized God had just spoken to me through the cashier.
God was actually saying… YOU GET TO CHOOSE HOW TO LIVE YOUR LIFE.
After I returned home my father was still mad at me, but all was right again in the world!
My story is similar to a lot of religious parables.
To then solidify my saintliness I just need to make vague enough predictions about the future or science that you could then use mental gymnastics to say see, "How could he have known this?! The only rational explanation must be that Anthony is indeed a walking angel sent by God!"
I predict that one day there will be a basic income, world government, humanity will become a-mortal and multi-planetary, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will be elected President of the United States.
My predictions are more specific than ancient religious text, which means if I'm right then shouldn't I be the one you follow?!
But if some of my predictions turn out to be wrong then my followers could simply write them off as a "metaphor."
My followers can say something like "Saint Anthony wasn't saying Dwayne Johnson was going to be president, but simply that in all our hearts we must be the rock to our own inner United States!"
Or my followers could redefine "elected".
Or the more fundamentalists of my teachings could contend that "The Rock" must be in reference to someone else in the future who isn't born yet and who will take up the mantle to someday fulfill the prophesy and therefore everyone on Earth will get an unlimited amount of pizza!
It would be nearly impossible to rationalize with an Anthony Fundamentalist because his logic is predicated on an irrational preposition: "I choose to believe the less likely explanation (Anthony is an Angle) over the more likely explanations (delusion, deceit, luck, imaginative, wishful thinking)."
You can say things to him like, "Yea but he wasn't the only one of his time period to hold those beliefs. He wasn't right in all his predictions. If God wanted more people to believe him then why not use more convincing evidence? O.J's defense team was more persuasive."
To anyone who says their god is the one true god. The question then becomes what is the goal of your god?
In religions like Islam and Christianity the goal is to get humanity to believe their god is thee god.
But if that's God's goal then clearly he's failing.
65% or less is considered a failing grade on most exams.
Allah's grade for example is about 10%. Growing up if I came up home with a 10% on my report card then I would have gotten the belt!
In other words, since the advent of the Quran less than 10% of humanity has converted to Islam (and depending on if you're Sunni, Shi'ah, Sufi, etc… means the percentage is even less than 10% because those other sects are obviously a perversion of the true teachings as you see them!).
Therefore for such an almighty god he isn't very persuasive is he?
And when we look at the poorest regions of the world they're disproportionally religious and muslim, which means if Allah is God then he has a sick sense of justice to punish his most loyal followers while rewarding those in the west with massive amounts of riches and power who have a greater belief in a fat guy on a flying sled.
And those of you who are muslim I can almost guarantee that you were born into the religion. You may say "here are XYZ reasons why Allah is God", but you and I both know you believed in Allah way before you had any rational explanation to justify it. As you became more educated you then sought out reasons to maintain your belief because humans are social animals who conform to get claps. If our friends, family, and community all believe in something then we'll likely collect just enough evidence to tell ourselves, "That makes sense enough" and not question it any further.
If an ideology is truly persuasive then it should be able to convert a high number of people out of their born beliefs.
And in addition to a sense of community, religion also offers a sense of purpose and meaning. It's one of the qualities I admire in religious people.
But for me, despite my Catholic upbringing, I can't come to believe in any one religion's god.
There just isn't enough evidence to pass my personal sniff test. I have a thorough enough understanding of history in general to see the similarities of humans across time and culture to therefore see how as humans we have always gravitated toward a higher power with such velocity as to venture into the realm of certainty. Greeks were certain their gods were real; Germans were certain their spirits were real; Catholics are certain their Jesus is real; Muslims are certain their Allah is real.
Not all of them can be right, which means modern day Christians or Muslims would agree that over the course of history 99% of humanity had prayed to a "false god." I'm simply arguing that it's not 99%, but likely 100%.
With that said, I do believe in a creator and I think the similarities amongst religions can shed light on what he/she/it may want for us. But if there is a god then one thing is clear: he didn't provide us with a set-in-stone life instruction manual. In life, for better or worse, we must write our own.
Here are 10 commandments I live by that were written in my pepperoni in the year two thousand and six…
These rules work for me. What commandments do you live by? What is the instruction manual governing your life? Look at the people you admire most. What instructions do they follow?
We all live according to an instruction manual.
But the wisest among us write it out to gain clarity and perspective.
In this regard, we can learn from religion.
I wrote this article/video in response to someone who asked me why I don't believe in Allah. As you can tell I didn't hold back any punches. If religion makes you happy then I'm happy for you, but where I draw the line is when people are certain their religion is thee absolute truth and refuse to engage in a rational discussion because any attempt to point out logical inconsistencies or flimsy evidence leads to accusations of bigotry. Personally, I don't believe any ideology is exempt from criticism, even those ideologies that invoke a god.