As I picked up
litter gospel tracts scattered in a shopping mall parking lot the other day, I got to thinking about what a Christian — or, any other variety of theist — might be able to say in order to convert me. So many of them (including the writer of these tracts) take the basic approach of saying, “Have you heard what the Bible says?” and just sort of stopping there, as though the Bible’s mere existence is proof of its contents’ veracity. This is, shall we say, not very effective.
A better strategy would be: list the facets of our world that are better explained by the truth of your religion than by the truth of any other religion or by a wholly non-supernatural universe. Bonus points for focusing on things that your religion specifically claims should happen. Here are some suggestions:
- Performing our specific rituals before/during a major life event secures the blessing of our god/s and prevents things from going wrong. (e.g. people who are married in our churches never get divorced; the babies we circumcise all live long, happy, and healthy lives; cars that we bless at our temple never get in accidents; etc.)
- Our houses of worship and sacred sites have never been damaged by natural disasters or other destructive weather phenomena.
- Members of our religion always (or, significantly more often) remain unharmed in natural disasters, or man-made ones such as wars and other violent acts.
- Members of our religion are observed to be nicer and kinder, and possess more moral integrity, than members of other religions or non-religious people. (e.g. members of our religion never commit crimes / commit crimes at far lower rates than would be expected from our proportion of the population; no member of our religion has ever resigned in scandal from a public office or other visible position of authority; etc.)
- Members of our religion who pray to our specific god/s always get what they ask for in prayer, even when it seems physically impossible. People who pray to other gods, or who don’t pray, only get the things they’re able to do for themselves anyway.
- Members of our religion never fall ill; -or- members of our religion who fall ill always recover when they pray for recovery; -or- members of our religion who fall ill and pray for recovery do get better at rates that are significantly higher than members of other religions who pray to their gods and non-religious people who do not pray. (If this latter case, I will ask you why not one of the earlier two, but it’d at least be a start.)
- Members of our religion are significantly wealthier than members of other religions and non-religious people.
- Those in our religion who claim to speak directly to our god are able to make predictions about the future that always come true. Meanwhile, prognosticators of other religions make many false predictions.
These are just a few of my ideas. I look forward to seeing what people come up with to add in the comments. And of course, I’d love to hear from any religious people who think that their religion could put forward one or more of these claims … but I won’t be holding my breath.