About 8 years ago I was teaching a Christian Studies class at school and a student asked a profound question which went something like, “Sir, with all these religions around, how would you know which is the true one?”
The question got me thinking hard for an answer that would relate to this student’s secular humanist worldview. For the next three days ideas came to mind and I copied them down one by one.
There are over 6,000 religions in the world that all take a very strong stand on the existence of a creator, the human condition, origins, society, family, ethics, purpose and destiny. In the end I came to the following conclusions. To me the true religion would have the following characteristics:
- Its records of the ancient world should be verified by archaeology as accurate. It is not a mythical belief system.
- Any pronouncements it makes which venture into the area of experimental science should be accurate. The study of origins is not experimental science.
- Any statement it makes about origins should be verified by objective historical science.
- It must free its people from the occult and superstition, not led them into it.
- It must be able to transform lives for the good, to turn bad people into people with high moral standards.
- It will have produced the most good for the world in the area of social, economic, gender, racial and educational development, more than all other religions.
- It must perfectly understand the human condition
- It must also give perfect answers to the human condition.
- It must be able to bring the supernatural into the natural realm in a way that is morally good. After all it is a religion so should be appealing to the supernatural as evidence of its truthfulness.
- It must strive to stamp out evil and work for social justice.
- It’s main teacher or teachers must be of very high moral character.
- Its founder or founders must have promoted love and peace, not hatred and division.
- It must not encourage human selfishness but on helping others.
- It has to have encouraging answers to the ultimate question of life after death.
- It must teach the highest set of moral values of all religions.
- It must create followers who are morally upright in their actions and intentions.
- It must give people an intimate relationship with the creator/divine.
- It will be based on free choice, not coercion.
- It must be able to give purpose to the history of civilisation and our future destiny.
So, there you have it. The next week I went through this list with the class and they seemed fairly satisfied with the conclusions. Our school motto is “Sow to Harvest” and I hope that lesson was a seed sown in their life journey.