Are less established religions really crazier than older mainstream ones? Or are mainstream religions just more familiar?
Atheists, by definition, don't think any religion has any reasonable likelihood of being true. And yet, for some weird reason, we're often asked to choose between them. Believers often accuse us of ignoring more moderate and progressive religions while we trash the low-hanging fruit of hard-line fundamentalism. We're accused of disregarding sophisticated modern theology so we can zero in on the simplistic faiths held by the hoi polloi. (Neither accusation is fair; many atheists, including myself, have taken aim at both modern theology and progressive religion, and in any case fundamentalism and other widely-held religions are valid targets for critique -- but that's another rant.) Yet at the same time, many believers seek our approval for their particular beliefs. "Sure," they'll say, "a lot of those other religions are silly -- but my religion makes sense! Don't you agree? Don't you? Huh?"
For the most part, it's a game I don't like to play. I think all religions are equally implausible, equally based on cognitive biases, equally unsupported by any good evidence whatsoever. But sometimes, the battiness of a particular religion is powerfully borne in on me, to the point where it becomes impossible to ignore. And it forces me to consider the question: Is this religion really any more batty than any other? Or is it just less popular? Less familiar? Is it simply newer, and thus has had less time for the more wildly ragged edges of its wackiness to smooth out? Is this religion really as crazy as it seems -- or are all religions equally crazy?
Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, Are All Religions Equally Crazy? To read my thoughts on whether some newer, less-established religions ([cough] Mormonism [cough]) really are much battier than more conventional religions, or whether all religions are equally out to lunch, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!