The vast numbers of different religions and denominations (parodied here) in the world is possibly the strongest reason to deny any and all religions with any sort of interventionist, personal, or judgment-dealing God.
Deluded Christians and Muslims commonly skirt this accusation by rationalizing that other religions are corrupted by man or “the devil.” However, there is a terrific atheist response to this claim.
Atheist: “Can you explain the diversity of religion in the world?”
Theist: “The devil has caused corruption of the true religion.”
Atheist: “Then I have two challenges for you.
“One: How do you know your religion is correct? Couldn’t it be corrupted in the same way as you claim countless other peoples’ religion is corrupted? Don’t other believers of other religions have the same response to this question that you do?
“Two: Christians, Jews and Muslims pray to the same god, the Abraham’s god Yahweh. If God answers prayer or guides human understanding in any way, should we not expect God to consistently guide understanding for all these earnest believers, resulting in a mass conversion to the ‘correct’ religion and even denomination?”
This is the response that is so very strong. At this point there is nothing the theist apologist can say that holds up to reason without contradicting basic tenets of their religion. For example, saying that God does not actually shape human understanding is to deny all authority of the Pope, pastors, rabbis, imams, and ayatollahs and is more of a deist belief than a theist one; it also contradicts the idea that God plants faith in the hearts/minds of humans, which leads us to science and atheism. No matter the response, it is impossible for a God who is all-loving and all-powerful who cares about orthodoxy (right belief) to ignore the earnest prayers from confused beliefs whose “corrupted beliefs” may earn for them eternal damnation. It may also be pointed out that the theist will rationalize a response to fit the facts everyone knows are true about the variation of belief, despite the way their own beliefs should predict that most of the world (if not all) would have the same religious beliefs they do!
The day I came to terms with my budding atheism was the day I voiced my doubts of Christianity to a professor, asking for a bit of guidance. I will never forget the professor’s response. He said something to the effect of, “We should not worry too much about believing the right thing. People have so many different religious beliefs that, if there is a God, He is almost certainly nothing like what you have been told.”
Perhaps the argument discussed in this article is not so strong for everyone, but I found it extremely convincing.
Let me know what you think.