Why I am not a Christian, Jew,
Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist
by Peter Meyer

  • Why I am not a Christian
    I was born in a nominally Christian country, and at an early age attended "Sunday school", where well-meaning people tried to indoctrinate me in the Christian religion. It never made any sense to me. My parents were not religious. My mother occasionally attended church because she had a good voice and liked to sing in the choir. As I recall, my father never set foot in a church except for the occasional wedding. My paternal grandfather had no time for religion, but my paternal grandmother was a devout Protestant (my maternal grandparents had departed before I arrived). When I was about nine years old my grandmother gave me books with many pictures illustrating biblical themes. Being a curious lad I read these, but they made no great impression on me. She died when I was thirteen and her religious influence upon me, such as it was, promptly ceased. Thus the religious indoctrination of children by their parents, which warps the minds and blights the lives of so many innocent children, was not practiced upon me as a child by my parents, thank God. — READ MORE
  • Why I am not a Jew
    The main reason I am not a Jew (apart from the fact that I would never wish to be one) is that I was not born a Jew. Whatever (if anything) defines a race, it is certainly some quality which is passed down from mother to child. The usual criterion for being a Jew (not necessarily an orthodox Jew) is that one's mother was a Jew at the time of one's birth. For this reason Judaism could be characterized as a "racist" ideology (it is not a religion), or perhaps better (since "racist" is a pejorative term) as an "ethnic" ideology (as is Hinduism). — READ MORE
  • Why I am not a Muslim
    As a young man, since I was a seeker after spiritual truth, I read much about religion and the various religions, including Islam, and thus I discovered Sufism (or at least, that there was a spiritual tradition of that name). I read about the Sufi quest for union with the divine, which appealed to me (and which is considered heretical by orthodox Muslims). I also discovered the beauty of Islamic art. The geometrical designs found in Islamic art and architecture are a wonder, and some grand mosques (especially when illuminated at night) are beautiful to see. However, as noted previously, the beauty of the art (and architecture) of a religion is not evidence of the truth of its doctrines. — READ MORE
  • Why I am not a Hindu
    In India when a man opens his business in the morning he may, if he is a Hindu, perform a small ritual honoring Lakshmi, Ganesha or some other god or goddess, say a prayer while standing before an image of the deity, and recite a mantra a few times. He believes (or at least hopes) that this will induce the god or goddess to look favorably upon his business for that day. (Chinese do something similar each morning with Chinese gods and goddesses.) Very nice, endearing even. And all over India hundreds of millions of people revere these deities, which are also admired by many Westerners who have travelled in India (and among my few personal possessions there are pictures of Ganesha, Lakshmi, Shiva, Parvarti and Saraswati). But there is about as much evidence for their existence (other than in the minds of their devotees) as there is for the existence of the Christian god, which is to say, very little. But there is an important difference. Devotion to Ganesha, Lakshmi, etc., has few, if any, harmful effects, and perhaps has positive ones. In contrast, devotion to the Christian god (and to the Jewish god as well) has justified many men (so they believed) in the murder of many others. Whatever Jesus is alleged to have taught in the New Testament, the historical fact is that Christianity is a genocidal religion. — READ MORE
  • Why I am not a Buddhist
    During my first year at university, when I studied natural science and mathematics, I came to regard myself as an atheist. But then I began to read about Buddhism, and I felt attracted by this religion (though some would deny that it is in fact a religion). I read books by Christmas Humphreys and Edward Conze, and, unlike Christianity, the doctrines of Buddhism at least made sense: This world is a place of suffering; all beings seek to escape from suffering; a sage appeared in India about 2500 years ago who discovered a path to freedom from suffering; he taught this path to others; this teaching was propogated and expanded into many lands and became what we know today as Buddhism. Later, along with many other young people in the psychedelic sixties, I read the books of Lama Anagarika Govinda, Evans-Wentz, John Blofeld and others (but not Lobsang Rampa), and I was particularly attracted by Tibetan Buddhist art, with its marvellous depiction of various tantric deities. As with Islam, Christianity and Hinduism, the art of a religion is something that attracts people, but the beauty of the art does not entail the truth of the doctrine. — READ MORE
  • Concluding Remarks on Religion
    In his book The God Delusion Richard Dawkins argues very well (within the limitations of his erroneous physicalism) that the concept of a supernatural personal God who designed and created the universe, watches over it (and us), and intercedes occasionally, is a delusion. More exactly, religion, or rather each of the five religions considered in this article, is a collective delusion: a delusion held in common by many people (the belief of each of them reinforced by their seeing that many others believe the same thing). Some collective delusions are harmful to their followers (e.g., Scientology) whereas some are relatively benign (e.g., the ancestor worship of China and Vietnam). In no case, however, should any religion be granted any respect unless there is clear evidence that it has beneficial effects for its followers (rather than its proponents), and certainly no religion should be granted any social or political privilege simply because it calls itself a religion. No representative of any religion (no monk, priest, pastor, rabbi, mullah, swami or lama) deserves any respect other than what is due to them as scholars, artists, entertainers, dispensers of wisdom or by virtue of their personal qualities as human beings. Absurd, ridiculous, harmful, pernicious and morally reprehensible beliefs, attitudes and practices should be exposed as such, and not granted any respect simply because they are part of some religion. — READ MORE

A copy of the Serendipity website is available on CD-ROM.  Details here.

Serendipity Home Page