Choosing the Best Religion

Choosing the Best Religion

Posted in the Buddhism Forum

Hello

South Ozone Park, NY

#1 Dec 28, 2011
Which religion is best?
8 hrs ago from Scholars and Rogues
I do not believe in God. Still, arguing against God, as Dawkins, Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens have done, is a mug's game. Whether it's Allah, or dead relatives, or the constellations, or stupid stuff from movies (the Force,) belief in an extrinsic, intercessionary force seems to be a basic human need.

And where there's a consumer need, an industry will emerge, whether the product is ringtones or salvation. Religion is the business of god. We have had organized religion in every society and every geography at every time in history, and we always will. To quote myself, if we abolished every religion at midnight, we'd have a thousand more by sunrise.

These days we are absolutely drowning in spirituality and religions. Old ones, new ones, big ones, small ones. Indeed, many people now practice two or three religions at a time, like my Zen-Buddhist-Jew-friend Lenny, or my Christian-Buddhist-astrologist -yoga teacher, Beth.

The problem, as a recent comment thread on this site highlighted, is that some religions are demonstrably better than others. The example given was "social Christians" vs. "evangelical Christians." There is no Consumer Reports Best Buy for religion. Religions themselves aren't very good at defining the metrics of "good" and "bad." For the most part, followers of a religion define "good" as the one they belong to and "bad" as the one someone else belongs to.

It's time to add a little science to this thing. Let's do a little thought experiment. Let's score the religions.

We will start with the very generous assumption that religion in its pure form is a good thing. It provides community, comfort to those in emotional pain, and industrialized kindness in the form of philanthropy and the like. It also provides a central organizing principle for people's lives. We all need structure - somewhere to go, something to spend our time on, an affiliation, people to be with. It surely makes just as much sense to dress up and go to church on Sunday as it does to put on face paint and go to a Raiders game in your silver-and-black 1985 Mercury.

Assuming that every religion starts with good intentions, then, let's give each one hundred points. Then let's deduct points for the bad things that particular religion does. I came up with seven possible deductions, but you may have more (or less.)
Hello

South Ozone Park, NY

#2 Dec 28, 2011
Deduction number 1: Proselytizing. Many religions believe it is their mission to convert non-believers to believers. This is annoying and downright offensive to the rest of us who believe what's inside our head and heart is our own businesses. Of course, religions that proselytize believe it doesn't matter if we like it or not. It's good for us, like exercise. Young religions (e.g., Islam) are much worse at this than old religions, like Judaism. You never see Jews going door to door handing out tracts. On this scale, the harder the religion proselytizes, the greater the deduction, up to a maximum of 10 for forced conversion.

Deduction number 2. Avarice. All religions involve some sort of shake down. Sometimes it is a gentle and well-intended shakedown, like passing the collection plate and giving the money to the poor. Sometimes it is a hard shake where the money goes to build a huge edifice like the Crystal Palace. Sometimes it goes from "give what you can" to "give more than you can and God will replace it" and becomes downright fraud and theft, like the "prosperity gospel." The greedier the religion, the more points deducted, again up to 10.

Deduction number 3. Anti-science. OK, I know this is tough for a lot of lefties, but science is good. No, I don't like Frankenfoods or the disposal policies of the nuclear industry or big pharma, etc. But on balance science has done much more good than bad. The problem is science is competition for religion. If science explains an eclipse as a natural event, it sort of makes the priest sacrificing the virgin atop the pyramid look like the phony he is. So it's no surprise that many religions attack science at every turn, even when they don't need to. Climate science doesn't really run counter to Christian belief, but it's science, and they're agin' it.

Deduction number 4. Politicization. When politicians see organized religion, they see opportunity. It is no coincidence that Harry Reid converted to Mormonism, Nikki Haley became a devout Christian, and Bobby Jindal Catholic when they went into politics. It's also no coincidence that those are the dominant religions in the states where they live. The whole "blind faith" thing means religions lend themselves to being corrupted, and politicians know it, and jump to capitalize on it. And when religions see politics, they see opportunity as well, e.g., Iran. State religions/religious states like Saudi Arabia and Israel get the highest deductions here.

Deduction number 5. Violence. Most religions have tenets against violence, but that doesn't seem to stop their adherents from participating in it, and often the religions themselves are very slow to condemn it - from Islam to Judaism to Hinduism to Christianity.

Deduction number 6. Misogynism. I have no idea why, but many, many religions have an anti-woman bias. It ranges from the mild (marriage vows that say "obey your husband") to the moderate (no women clerics) to the severe (polygamy and forced marriage) to the extreme (stoning for adultery and honor killings.)

Deduction number 7. Sexual Predation. Every institution lends itself to sexual predation because of its hierarchical nature. It's true for corporations, universities, and churches. Religion tends to be particularly susceptible because it attracts very vulnerable people, is by its nature secretive, and lacks any checks and balances. Religions that have a built-in forgiveness button are the worst, because they allow predators to hit reset whenever they get caught. The scoring here is based on how common it appears to be and how aggressively the religion has dealt with it.
Hello

South Ozone Park, NY

#3 Dec 28, 2011
How do they stack up? What's the world's best religion? Worst? A few quick observations. No religion is perfect. Mainstream Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism score at the top, but even they have issues. Islam scores worst. But Evangelical Christianity is not very far behind. Now, obviously, this does not mean that there are not good deeds done in Islam by Muslims, etc. But still, on balance, it's just not a good religion. If you were on the religious aisle in the supermarket, you'd be better off buying a six pack of Judaism or the super size of Buddhism.
Are these ratings perfect? Probably not. I know evangelical christianity very well, and perhaps I am excessively hard on that religion because I have seen its problems up close and personal. But are they close? Probably so. The final scores certainly make intuitive sense.
Just for fun, I also tried to score atheism, but it's not exactly possible using this methodology. But to the extent I could approximate, it actually scored worse than every single religion. It doesn't have many of the drawbacks of religion, but it doesn't provide the benefits either - community, comfort, philanthropy or structure. Go figure.
What do you think? How would you score religions?
Roman Catholic
Buddhism
Judaism (reformed)
Mormonism
Christianity: Mainstream
Christianity: Evangelical
Islam
Prosletyzing
5
5
0
10
5
10
10
Avarice
5
1
0
5
2
5
5
Anti-Science
0
0
0
3
10
1
Politicization
5
5
10
10
3
10
10
Violence
2
1
5
0
0
1
10
Anti-Women
2
0
0
7
2
2
10
Sex Predation
10
0
0
2
0
1
0
Total Deductions
29
12
15
34
15
39
46
Net Score
71
88
85
66
85
61
54
Hello

South Ozone Park, NY

#4 Dec 28, 2011
Another criteria I based my decision on Becoming a Buddhist was does it actually work?
leee

United States

#5 Dec 31, 2011
hello,you are psycho
Α β
Hello

South Ozone Park, NY

#7 Jan 1, 2012
leee wrote:
hello,you are psycho
Α β
Coming from a baboon, that's a compliment!
Vinamese

Las Vegas, NV

#8 Dec 13, 2012
There's no best religion.
There's only one religion.
It is a universal religion encompass all life forms on any level of existence.
It is Buddhism.
jaja

Toronto, Canada

#9 Dec 22, 2012
Vinamese wrote:
There's no best religion.
There's only one religion.
It is a universal religion encompass all life forms on any level of existence.
It is Buddhism.
In otherwoords you mean Atheism.

Since Buddhists don't believe in God.
Hello

New York, NY

#10 Dec 22, 2012
jaja wrote:
<quoted text>
In otherwoords you mean Atheism.
Since Buddhists don't believe in God.
No, Buddha never said there wasn't god. Heaven is full of them. Do not misrepresent Buddha.

We ourselves, ie, Buddhists, become gods and come to earth and become human so on and so forth.

A Buddhist therefore believes in himself, his own divine indestructible truth.

We develop ourselves by ourselves. Ourself is our very own savior.

Just because Muslims are garbage and can't believe they are god, doesn't mean Buddhists believe the same.
Vinamese

Las Vegas, NV

#11 Dec 22, 2012
jaja wrote:
<quoted text>
In otherwoords you mean Atheism.
Since Buddhists don't believe in God.
Let me explain to you ignorant fools. Buddha did mentioned "god" or king of heavens. Buddha went to heaven and preach/taught the king of heaven ( God )the Dharma. Go study first before you open your filthy mouth scumbag.
Vinamese

Las Vegas, NV

#12 Dec 22, 2012
Buddha: Teacher of gods and men.

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/buddhism/...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/jo...

That includes God/Allah and everyone else.
Vinamese

Las Vegas, NV

#13 Dec 22, 2012
On other occasions the Buddha becomes aware, through his supernormal knowledge, that a god needs some instruction to correct a wrong view or to goad him further on the path to awakening. Then the Buddha travels to the higher plane and gives the deity a personal discourse.

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