An old man from Jersey explains: religion

“So I was sitting on my front porch the other day watching the people walk by when this kid comes up to me and says, “Hey Mister.”

“What do you want?” I say.

He says, “Can you explain religion to me?”

So I had to ask, “Any one in particular or religion in general?

He says, “All of ’em if you can.”

So this is what I told him. “Sure. That’d save time. They’re all the same anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, which religion is the true religion, and which ones are false?”

“I don’t know. Don’t they all say they’re the best one?”

“They all say they’re the real one, and they all say the rest are frauds.”

“So how do you tell which one is the best real one?”

“You can’t. Not by using evidence and reason. You have to have faith that the one you pick is the right one.”

“So you have to guess?”

“Some would say that. Others would say that God leads you to the right one.”

“That makes sense. It…uh…but…no…wait a minute. Don’t people from every religion say that God led them to that religion because it’s the best real one?”

“Yep.”

“Does that mean every religion is the real one?”

“Every religion says that every other religion is false, and every religion says that their book is the word of God. So according to religion, every religion can’t be real.”

“So how do you know which one is real?”
“I just told you. Every religion can’t be real. None of them are real.”

“That’s uh…a big thing to say. I mean, look at all the churches around town. If religion wasn’t real then how come so many people believe in it?”

“One of these days I’m gonna have to teach you logic. The fact that X number of people believe in something doesn’t prove it’s true. If you want to determine which religion is true, the only way is to read their books like an adult and apply your faculty of reason, which, if God exists, God gave you. If God designed the entire universe and is anywhere near perfect then any book written by God should be damn near perfect. Granted, there’s no book that God supposedly wrote that says that. That’s only an assumption of mine, but can we agree that it makes sense? Can we also agree that since every religion claims to be the one true religion and that it’s of the utmost importance to pick the right one then we should come up with a reliable way to figure out which religion is the real one? Wouldn’t God want that? Would God disapprove of proving which religion is the true one?”

“Uh…I guess?”

“Well, we’ll just go with it then. How would you prove that any of the books attributed to God were actually written by God? What can be empirically proven?”

“Facts?”

“Correct.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Facts are real. If God is real then God created facts, and God wouldn’t say anything that contradicted the facts God created. So if any book says anything unfactual then it couldn’t have been written by God.”

“So are there any religious books that have wrong facts?”

“All of them.”

“All of ’em? But how’s that possible?”

“Who wrote those books?”

“I thought God wrote them.”

“No. People wrote them, and the people who wrote them said God wrote them.”

“Didn’t God like write through those people? Like the people were God’s pencil?”

“If that were true then why did God tell them to write things that aren’t true like incorrect histories of the formation of the universe, the existence of talking animals, the existence of magical forces and magical beings, etc.?”

“Well, didn’t those things used to be true?”

“If they used to be true then why aren’t they true today?”

“Because God changed them?”

“Does God change?”
“I don’t know. No?”

“According to religion, no. God doesn’t change.”

“But people change, and so God has to change how He talks to people, right?”

“First of all, prove it. That’s a convenient excuse, but is it based on anything other than the fact that it’s a convenient excuse for an inconvenient contradiction? Second of all, why did you call God, ‘He?'”

“Everyone calls God a He.”

“Why? Does God have a penis? Are there female Gods for God to have sex with? Does God come to Earth and have sex with human females? Or maybe God’s gay and uses His penis to have sex with gay Gods and humans. What do you think?”

“I don’t think you should talk like that.”

“Answer the question. Why does God have a penis?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you believe in God?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“You believe in a God, but you don’t know what you believe in?”

“Nobody fully understands God.”

“So every religious person believes in something, but they don’t know what they believe?”

“Well, I guess. I guess that’s why you have to have faith.”

“What you’re really saying is that you can’t think about religion critically…like an adult…because it doesn’t stand the test of reason. It doesn’t make any sense, and there’s nothing there to believe in anyway. And this isn’t just about the penis thing. Every religion is chalked full of scientific inaccuracies, unprovable claims, contradictions, absurdities and bad morals.”

“But that can’t be true.”

“Why not?”

“Because so many people believe in it. They can’t all be wrong.”

“According to a bajillion Christians, a billion Hindus are wrong. According to a billion Hindus a billion Muslims are wrong. The list goes on. According to religion, that many people can be wrong.”

“You’re still not making any sense. If religion isn’t really real then what is it? You don’t think it’s a lie, do you?”

“Well, a lot of the smaller cults led by charismatic leaders are obviously lies. I suspect there are parts of each of the major religions that are manufactured lies, but for the most part I don’t think they’re intentional lies even though ultimately they are false. My theory is that…”

“Hey wait a minute. If you’re so big on logic then do you have empire-acle evidence that religions aren’t really real?”

“I was just getting to that. No. I can’t prove that God didn’t use people like pencils to write every religion anymore than anyone could prove that God did. With all the contradicting and unprovable claims of every religion the only way to find the answer that makes the most sense is simplify the equation as much as possible.”

“How do you do that?”

“By using Achem’s Razor.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s an idea. It says that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.”
“So what’s the simplest explanation of religion?”

“Why did people believe in Zeus and the other gods who lived on Mount Olympus?”

“Because that’s what they were told to believe in, but you can’t compare that to religion. That’s mythology.”

“What’s the difference? Old white men sitting in the clouds getting angry over stupid stuff. Magical beings riding horses. People getting magical powers for pleasing their gods. Humans having God’s children. The morality of the culture that invented the stories projected into the characters in the stories and it’s all passed off as reality. It’s the exact same thing. Religion is culturally relative mythology. And people believe in it because they’re told to, and they don’t think about it critically like adults because they’re sold on the idea that you have to have faith, which is another way of saying to turn off your brain and live in a fantasy world like a child for the rest of your life.”

“But if God isn’t real then who created the universe.”

“Who said God isn’t real?”

“You did. That’s what you’ve been saying this whole time.”

“No I didn’t, and no I haven’t. I said the religions invented by men are culturally relative mythologies. There may or may not be a god, but that’s a completely different argument.”

“Well, do you think there is?”

“I don’t have conclusive proof one way or the other.”

“What about Hockum’s Razor?”

“Both explanations are equally simple when you remove all the mythological hogwash.”

“Uh. But that doesn’t help at all. How can you go through life not knowing who made us or why or what’s going to happen after you die?”

“Well, that’s why mythology is so popular even though it’s so obviously false. A comfortable lie is easier to cope with than an inconvenient truth.”

“If I ask you something that you probably think is stupid will you be mean about it?”

“Probably not.”

“So what’s wrong with living the comfortable lie if it gets you through life?”

“It’s wrong because you become a slave to the lie, and only the truth will set you free. And only when you’re free will you be able to make the most out of your life and fulfill the potential that, if God created you, God gave you. That’s why.”

Check out the rest of the Old Man From Jersey series of philosophical comics:

These are comics, which are loosely based on the short stories.

These are short stories, which are precursors to the comics.

This is a film script for 6 of the Old Man From Jersey episodes.


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