If you are a religious person, I have one simple question to ask of you: How do you know your scriptures are true? To put it another way: How do you know that the book containing the teachings of your faith came from God?
The simple answer is, of course, you don't. And the teachings of your faith are very clear as to the reason why this is so. Every religious tradition, dependent upon revelation for truth, must depend upon one specific teaching that trumps all others. And that teaching always carries a very specific warning that is, by definition, immutable (unchanging). If it was not, then it would carry no weight, no threat to the believer.
All religions teach that theirs is the only way; any denomination or sect of that religion that teaches otherwise is not faithful to its own scriptures and traditions. Jesus is quoted as saying, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the father but by me." The anonymous writer of Hebrews says that the God who spoke through the prophets, has, in the last days, spoken through his son (Jesus) and therefore, through those who claim Jesus is the Messiah.
Islam holds that Muhammad is the final prophet of God, and that he upholds and completes all revelations that came before him and his revelations. Muslims also believe that adherence to Judaism and/or Christianity, along with rejection of the "new" revelations of the Koran, makes those believers infidels and worthy of death and the condemnation of their God.
Joseph Smith taught a similar doctrine, claiming that his revelations completed the teachings of Jesus and that not accepting them was a sign of apostasy and rejection of God's revelation as a whole. Mormonism also teaches, just like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, that God's law is supreme over man's laws.
An obvious dilemma occurs when you consider that every religion since the beginning of time has claimed some degree of exclusive truth. How then might one "truth" be shown to be superior to another? How can there be an objective way to decide?
The Christian Apostle Paul claimed to his protege, Timothy, that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine..." And the Apostle James opined that if one desired wisdom he or she should "...ask of God who gives to all [ ] liberally and without reproach." The entire First Epistle of John is a treatise on accepting the "word" of the apostles as from God while rejecting the error of the world; it culminates with the passage:
4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 4:5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
The Biblical Psalms are even more insidious, teaching death and damnation on those who refuse to follow God's word. In fact, from the very beginning of the Biblical record, unwavering acceptance of the words of the "prophets" is expected without question. It is assumed that if the book was included in the Bible then it was true. And again the writer of Hebrews claims that rejection of the "Word of God" brings God's rejection and "burning".
As if this is not warning enough, John, in his Revelation, warns:
22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
However, in the book of Surah, Muhammad warns of "...an awful doom" and "But they who disbelieve, and deny Our revelations, such are rightful Peoples of the Fire. They will abide therein."
In the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi relates that those who refuse the "true" church (the Mormon Church) will perish and are of the "Church" of the Devil". Yes, all of us who do not subscribe to the doctrines of the Mormon Church are children of "The Great Harlot", which is, of course, any other church or belief than Mormonism! And just like the Bible, the Book of Mormon goes so far as to cast aspersion on all other books as lacking the truth.
So, let me ask the question again: By what objective standard might one who has not been indoctrinated since childhood make an informed decision as to the true "word" of God? Well... what is the only thing that every person can see that could not possibly have been influenced in any way by the whims of men? What is the one thing that man could never adulterate, change, or manufacture and that MUST have come from God? The answer is as plain as the nose on your face- Nature!
And Nature is where Deism begins and ends. Deism simply allows that this world is evidence enough that there is a God and that his creation is his "word" to us. Nature teaches us that mankind is the pinnacle of God's creative work, and that it is our reason which is the true gift of God! While Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Mormonism all teach exclusive rights to the "truth" of God, Deism teaches that no man or organization has special knowledge or access to mysteries unknown to all others.
As the human race has become more enlightened and science has allowed us to progress beyond the mind-numbing dogma of superstition and mythology, we can clearly see that revelation is an unnecessary bondage to the ideas of primitive men. Religion tends to promote regression and suppression, while reason leads us to the heights of human potential and progress. We Deists favor reason and logic, because it is from these that we can conceive of morality and ethics not bound by the chains of the clergy, priest, or witch doctor.
Religion is inflexible, while reason is free to evolve and transform "by the renewing of the mind". We can see the failure of laws, regulations, and precepts, and change those that are not profitable. We are not bound by barbaric teachings that drown the world and suffocate all that is good and beneficial. Religion may repackage its evil teachings, but cannot erase the memory of that evil.
In Deism, there is no need to keep the people under fear and guilt, for God is not the author of such things, and desires every man, woman and child to be alive and free and to enjoy the best that we can imagine.
If you would like to know more about the journey from faith to reason, visit www.deism.com, and read my own story at www.faithjourney.yolasite.com. God can set you free from bondage and give you true peace and purpose.