One God, Two Gods, Three Gods, No God

Is it reasonable to believe in God? If there is a God, how do we go about getting to know him / her / them? Has science ruled out the possibility that God exists?

These are a few of the questions that people who are seeking tend to ask. When someone is seriously asking these questions it is helpful to gently and lovingly point out their blind spots so they are able to see all the possibilities.

The Ignorance of Tolerance

Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” GK Chesterton

Tolerance is a desirable virtue. Someone who is tolerant is someone who is peaceful and respectful of other’s beliefs and values.

However, we can be peaceful and respectful and still point out flaws. In fact, it is a loving thing to point out that it is a bad thing to harm yourself or others in the name of religion, for example.

Most people simply go along with tolerance as an ideal because it is the foundation of our society (when it comes to various religions) because it is the path of least resistance.

This needs to change.

Call A Doctor, I’m Feeling Polytheistic!

To help remove the blind spot of tolerance (but maintaining love and compassion towards others) we have to talk about the various religions of the world.

Tolerance is built on the foundation that all religions are equally valid. But logically that cannot be true.

We have to realize that any statement made about god is either true or false – not both. All major religions make one of three basic statements about god: either there is NO god, there is ONE god, or there are MORE THAN ONE gods. When we say that all religions are true and that we should tolerate all viewpoints we are asking people to tolerate lies. Only one option can be correct. God’s existence and being are not dependent upon what I believe about god! God IS and we must either accept him as he IS, or flat out reject him by worshiping a false god of our own imagination.

So, when we survey the major religions of the world we discover several atheistic (no god) religions, several monotheistic (one god) religions, and several polytheistic (many gods) religions. If, for the sake of argument, each of these beliefs had one-third of the world’s population as adherents to their religions, then two-thirds of the world would be wrong! They are wasting their time! (At this point I’m not trying to make a case that my worldview is correct.) Their life is being lived in pursuit of a lie! They think they are being sincere, but someone is sincerely wrong!

The Truth Shall Set You Free!

But how do we go about discovering which one is true?

Each “-theism” has it’s own share of problems in establishing it’s validity. Like atheism: Hasn’t science proven that this is the most rational option? Not if god is spiritual and not material. Science has no tools to measure or observe or test the nature of god. I have a feeling that it never will.

What about monotheism and polytheism? If we say god or the gods can’t be observed isn’t that just a cop out? How can we prove there is a god or more than one gods if we can’t use our senses to find out more about him / her / them?

And by the way, do you think it’s remotely possible or even likely that god might have something to say about the matter? Does he know the truth? Has he ever offered humanity a clue as to who he might be? Or how we might know him? Or what his plan is for the universe (much less for little old me)?

The Audacity of Veracity

That’s where our search can begin: with the sacred documents of various religions. Either god exists or he doesn’t, right? If god doesn’t exist then there would not be any sacred documents describing the plan of god, the nature of god, etc. The sacred documents that we do have are simply fantastical human concoctions and to some degree they all share or plagiarize material from one another. All of them are wrong because there is no god.

But, if there are many gods then there could be many sacred documents (which there are). All of them could be true. When the Christian or the Jewish god says, “You shall have no other gods other than Me!” then you could say, well, he’s just upset with the other gods and wants all the power and glory for himself, but he’s only one of many gods. That’s a plausible theory and it actually accounts better for all the sacred documents than atheism. Wherever we are led astray comes from the gods themselves. Maybe one is lying to us by saying he’s the only god.

On the other hand, what if only one document has the Answer everyone is looking for. In that case, only the sacred document from that religion is Truth, all the others are forgeries penned by a man or woman with various motivations for doing so.

It seems to me that we need to search these documents and apply the veracity test to each of them. One could start with the predominant religions in each category. Study the sacred writings of Buddhism (atheistic religion), Hinduism (polytheistic religion), and Christianity (monotheistic religion) and simply see if anything stands out. This would be a good starting place.

Coming to Terms with Reality

One prominent atheist was confronted with all the religions of the world (including atheism) and finally had to conclude that god exists. He felt like all religions were either deep (spiritual and mysterious and only accessible by mystics, gurus and priests) or wide (easy to understand and accessible by the masses). He came to realize that only two religions were both deep and wide: Hinduism and Christianity. Since he had already come to realize that atheism is a lie, he decided to explore these two religions. In the end, after reading the Gospels in the Bible, he couldn’t escape the veracity of the story of Jesus. He couldn’t believe that a human could’ve come up with this on his or her own.

Though it was perhaps embarrassing for an established professor of literature at prestigious Oxford to admit he was wrong, C.S. Lewis became a Christian. It was the life of Jesus that made the difference. It made sense to Him. He said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen, not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” His eyes were opened and he was able to see God (notice the use of the capital G). Jesus exudes credibility. The Bible is reliable. God has revealed Himself and He is One God.

Personally, I see the universe around me and I see patterns, I see unity, I see evidence of one God. The person of Christ is unique, the Trinity is unique, the concept of Christianity is unique. It’s simple but it’s mysterious all at the same time. This isn’t proof, it’s just my personal experience of the Truth. I don’t have to prove anything to myself because I already know God. I won’t try to prove anything to you because you may be ignoring God or running from God. I’ll let you decide whether or not knowing God is in your best interests. My hope is that after reading this your curiosity will be piqued and you will have a desire to find out for yourself.

Our society is built on tolerance but that tolerance has hindered Truth from being known. Those who have the truth want to keep quiet because they don’t want to “step on anyone’s toes”. Those who need the truth are happy to live out their days worshiping god or themselves because they’ve never taken an honest look at the truth. So, we basically ignore each other. Live and let live.

We need to remove the blinders that are keeping us from seeing Truth. Let’s have respect and love for one another and let’s show that love by pointing our friends and neighbors to the Truth that is found in Christ Jesus.

Nathan is the pastor of City Life Church in Ridgewood, NY. He and his family are committed to making and multiplying disciples in the most diverse county in the US. Read more about Nathan here. Visit the City Life Church website here.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Warren Friedhof

    “Tolerance is built on the foundation that all religions are true.”

    That is pluralism. Tolerance is built on the foundation that kindness is more important than spite. I believe Christianity to be true but you can’t force someone to accept that, it is a religion of love. Jesus was God but did not gain followers by strength of force, Christ’s disciples followed him because of the truth of found in his compassion.

    • nathancreitz

      There is definitely a distinction between pluralism, tolerance, diversity, and relativism. These terms are often used interchangeably. What I’m talking about in the post has to do with the ignorance of tolerance. Tolerance isn’t simply kindness toward those of differing views. I agree we need more kindness and respect. I also agree that we cannot force Christianity on anyone. But a tolerant society is ignorant of one another’s differences. These differences are contradictory to one another but as long as we bury our heads in the sand then we will never have a conversation about those differences (in a kind, respectful way).

      Diana Eck points out the differences in tolerance and pluralism by saying “Pluralism is not just tolerance, but the active seeking of understanding across lines of difference. Tolerance is a necessary public virtue, but it does not require Christians and Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and ardent secularists to know anything about one another. Tolerance is too thin a foundation for a world of religious difference and proximity. It does nothing to remove our ignorance of one another, and leaves in place the stereotype, the half-truth, the fears that underlie old patterns of division and violence. In the world in which we live today, our ignorance of one another will be increasingly costly.”
      From Eck’s point of view, all tolerance accomplishes is a disengaged population that will coexist with people of other faiths. She argues that pluralism is an “energetic engagement with diversity”. Pluralism is a harmonization of all faiths. These “virtues” bleed together so it is difficult to talk strictly about tolerance without also talking about pluralism and relativism but here’s my point: there is one thing that is true when it comes to God. I want to value truth over tolerance and engage others in conversation who may have a lazy, uncritical worldview and beliefs about God.

  • The religion that is true is the one that can produce undeniable evidence of its claims. (the envelope, please) The winner is – NONE OF THE ABOVE! Let’s hear it for that one!

  • Christ Jesus? He never existed. Can you point to even one contemporary account of this mythical character?