I believe that the creator of the universe is indeed the one who we believers all call “God,” but I do not believe he is the god of any “holy texts” or organized religions. As a Deist, I reject all revealed religions because I believe that they are all the works of man; especially the Abrahamic faiths which preach that we are somehow unworthy and must repent lest we suffer an eternity in hell. And being that these faiths are the ones who make the most claims about God and his character, I shall use them as examples for my argument against revealed religion.
The argument for the veracity of the Abrahamic faiths, or any revealed religion for that matter, is that all written works created were somehow inspired by God. But how can anyone truly know this for sure? Anyone can produce a text and claim that God gave it to them; in fact, that is precisely what happened in the case of Mormonism only a few hundred years ago. Claims of revelation cannot be verified to be true unless God himself tells us directly, which would remove the entire point of having prophets in the first place.
I also believe that God does not intervene with the material world, but that doesn’t mean that I think people can’t have religious or spiritual experiences. In fact, I have evidence of this in my own personal life that they can: my grandfather Angelo claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary when he was only six years old, without any prior knowledge of her existence.
The story goes like this: When my grandfather was a small boy living in Italy, one day he playing in the field. He was enjoying his day, going about as children until he looked up into the sky and saw a woman floating above him. He quickly ran into his home at told his mother in Italian “Mama, chi sta unna donna in cielo,” which is Italian for, “Mom, there is a woman in the clouds.” His description of this woman was of one who wore a black shroud with golden trim on it, which lead his mother to believe that he had seen the Virgin Mary. But this entity didn’t speak or claim that she was the Virgin Mary, so how does anyone know who she really was? Also, being that my grandfather at the time was six years old, how do we know that it wasn’t just something he had imagined, as is typical for children of young age to do? This story was passed down to his children, to me by my father and my aunts, and I have no reason to believe that it is made it up. I do believe that my grandfather did see something, but none of us can ever know what that something really was.
As with many religious experiences, his was a personal and subjective one that none of us can experience with him. It left no evidence behind to prove it ever happened at all, and there is no way recreate or test it. Also, take into account the fact that many others have experiences similar to this with ghosts, aliens, and other deities – so one must ask what is really going on here? Is it possible that simply believing in something can trigger such experiences? In the case of religious ones, can strong beliefs in parents be passed down throughout the generations via some kind of genetic memory? Our ancestors passed down things like fear of heights, spiders, and so forth, via epigenetics, so I think it’s not implausible to believes that our memories can be passed down in a similar way – whether real or not. My family has long history of Roman Catholicism stretching way back in time: could this be the reason why my grandfather had a religious experience at the age of six without knowing anything about Roman Catholicism, or the Virgin Mary for that matter?
But as I mentioned before, my grandfather is not the only person who has had such experiences; plenty of stories like this can be found not only in Roman Catholicism, but all religions. And it is because of this fact that I must reject every single one of them – since every experience is not only subjective, they are not always the same, nor are they of the same entities. The only such thing I can say that has a similar theme across the board seems to be near death experiences. NDEs seem to be neutral in the religious sense; many people report the same or similar experiences: moving toward a light at the end of a tunnel, feeling a warm peaceful energy which they believe is God and seeing deceased loved ones before they are sent back since its not their time yet.
Another reason I reject every revealed religion is the fact that supposed accounts of events, that stretch back thousands of years, have been translated over and over and probably corrupted many times; in some cases, such as the Holy Bible, amalgamated into “holy books” via democratic votes by councils and elders. How can we be sure that these things are accurate or even true at all? And even if they lasted thousands of years without being corrupted or mistranslated, it still does not prove their authenticity whatsoever.
Some apologists will claim that the wisdom of such “holy texts” in of themselves proves that they must have come from God, but that is an opinion. These same apologists also seem to purposely ignore the various contradictions that refute the very accounts which the texts proclaim to have happened. The inconsistencies and absurdities could not possibly come from any higher intelligence capable of creating the universe. Of course they have all sorts of excuses, justifications, and rebuttals lined up to try to explain away these problems: such as God works in mysterious ways, or that such contradictions can be explained by claiming that the Devil inserted false teachings, or that these were the works of false prophets, or that not all things scripture is to be taken literally. Well if that is the case, how do we know which texts are from the Devil and which are from God; which texts are from real prophets or false ones; which ones we should take literally or not?
As a Deist, I do believe in God, and my faith is based on reason; I do not need to take anyone’s word for it. In fact, I believe God bestowed upon all humanity the very ability to reason. And since I believe reason exists within us all, I believe this explains why many non-religious philosophers throughout the ages, who didn’t claim to have been given any knowledge from any supernatural deities, have offered us much more sound logic, reasoning, and wisdom with their teachings compared to any holy books to this day. It would also explain why even in these so-called “holy books” you can still find some wisdom and virtue because man does already have it within him. But ultimately I believe that revealed religions are nothing more than subjective experiences of people across the world who either underwent some sort of psychedelic trip while on ritual hallucinogens, experienced some sort of high-frequency “enlightenment” during a deep meditative state, and documentation their experiences, or simply people who made stories up to try to explain how reality worked in some sort of allegorical story for their fellow uneducated peasants to understand.
But there is one work that I know man did not create, which all of us can read, experience, and know is real, and that work is called Nature. Deists like myself believe that the creation of this entire reality is the only true “revelation” that is directly from God; one that no man created and one that we can all see and experience objectively. This work cannot be corrupted or counterfeited by man, and we are all subjected to its laws equally. The fact we didn’t create the universe or reality, gives us reason to believe that there is a higher power above us and that it willed this reality into existence.
As we observe this wonderful work we call nature, we realize that it can be both beautiful and brutal, which could make one ask, when terrible things happen, “Does God care for us at all?” I believe he certainly does; in fact, I think he cares and loves us so much that he gave us the ultimate gift – freedom in the form of free will. What better way to show that you love someone other than to create them and let them be free? And I strongly reject the belief that God created us with free will only to condemn us to hell later if we actually did what want with it; that we must follow certain laws in order to go to heaven, only to then be enslaved to worship him for eternity! What kind of loving father needs to be worshiped for all eternity? What kind of father would condemn their children to such a terrible fate of slavery for his own glory? What kind of father needs to be reminded he is loved forever? I would never ask my son to kneel and pray to me, nor would I want him to spend his entire life thanking me for everything!
The God of the Abrahamic faiths, which claim that he needs this or that, makes him seem like an incomplete, jealous, insecure, attention seeker who needs to be loved by what he considers to be ungrateful, unworthy sinner children; while at the same time, claiming that he is a perfect, omniscient, and an omnipotent benevolent being. Clearly, two opposite descriptions that do not fit, which to me is evidence that the authors of these “holy texts” were men simply making things up and didn’t even care to get their stories straight.
The God of Abraham seems like a power-hungry dictator with a Napoleon complex; whereas the God of Deism, is simply the ultimate facilitator of all existence, who created the universe and all things within it and let it go on its own.
Which brings me to my final issue with the Abrahamic faiths; that not only does God mingle in our worldly affairs, but also demands ridiculous rituals to be carried out in order to appease him. Does any logical person really think that God, the creator of the entire universe, needs anything from us? Does anyone really think he gives a damn if you eat fish a certain day, chop off your foreskin to keep an old deal intact, or face a certain direction when you pray to him? As a Deist, I find these rituals to be nonsensical, and they aren’t even the worst of them.
I believe with our God-given reason, it is our duty to reject anything that claims to be the word of God unless it directly comes from him and is revealed to all of us. We must focus one the two things we all know are not man-made: the reality we live in and our reason. I believe with the continual dialogue of philosophy and progress of the sciences, we will be able to unlock the full potential of our mental capacities as we learn more of the mysteries of our reality and ourselves. And as we learn how this universe works, we get to learn a little bit more about how God made it happen. Although I believe we will never be able to know him in a material sense, we can at least believe, with good reason, that he does exist.