I think it was on T/A that I read someone's response to a Christian who was rationalizing his religion. The dissenter pointed out that even among the other religions, Christianity is one of the least plausible, with "X" religion (I don't remember; something I had never heard of) being the most plausible.
I think that's an interesting thing to think about. Which religion do you think is the most plausible?
NOTE: Perhaps I should word it this way: which religion is the least preposterous? If I asked you to rank the religions (atheism is not a religion) by most plausible to least plausible, you would rank "1. X, 2. Y, 3. Z" and so on. You would not say "none of the above" because I'm not asking "which religion is plausible." I think we can all agree that none of the religions are plausible (at least not plausible enough to accept because, well, most of us here on Think Atheists are atheists :D)
It depends on how broadly one defines "religion". If we're including atheistic systems like Confucianism and Buddhism then the most circumcribed and scientifically accurate editions of one of those would quite easily take the title of "most plausible".
Looking at Buddhism specifically...Take the Zen tradition and then consider the Kalama sutra as a license to edit. If you take the task seriously you'll end up with a form of Buddhism that broken down into its constituent parts is really Secular Humanism + Meditation. Which is to say a coherent ethical system along with a 'religious practice' which has demonstrated benefits (without claiming the supernatural as the source of said benefits).
Thank you for the thorough answer. Of course, personally, I'd find religions like Buddhism to be at least slightly more plausible than others, just due to the fact that it does not involve a diety. I'd also find reincarnation to be more believable than a notion of heaven, where your soul just goes to sit. The first law of thermodynamics at least would lead me to think- hypothetically- that souls would be recycled.
But I'm pretty sure souls don't exist either ;)
You're welcome. A thoughtful question deserves a thoughtful answer (I'm going to catch grief over that aren't I?)
I agree that the deity-free religions have a leg up in plausibility.
As for reincarnation, in the sense that...
...the recycling of the matter that constitutes our bodies is a given...reincarnation is true.
...while living, one's body replaces itself over time yet "you are still you"...reincarnation is true.
....the person you were 10 years ago is not the same person you are today...reincarnation is true.
....you have a soul or fragment of self that continues on after death and inhabits new physical bodies, carrying with it moral merit from body to body...reincarnation is flat wrong.
Or at least is making a completely unsubstantiated claim that would have to be cut in order to maintain congruence with how the world actually operates.
Buddhists will claim that they don't advocate for the existence of a soul, after all they deny the existence of an essential self - but many branches do advocate for a karma/morality-carrying personality-fragment that transcends the body. And that most certainly hurts their plausibility.
Of all the major religions today, Buddhism concerns me the least. However, many people consider Buddhism a "philosophy" or "way of life" and not a religion so I'm not sure if that counts.
As far as theistic organized religions go, they're clearly not all equally violent, dangerous, or dogmatic, but in my opinion they are all equally preposterous.
Some sects teach an afterlife, have an eschatology, and though most would probably hesitate to call the Buddha a god they certainly treat him like one. As a system of beliefs it requires a certain type or I guess a few types of dualism. Either way it is a set of beliefs, rules, and rituals all developed to bring about some positive reward after your death.
I would call Buddhism a religion. Albeit a very passive, very thought oriented, and a not so evangelical religion (You don't really get converted unless you seek it out, or ask an adherent) which makes me wonder how it spread... But that's something completely different.
I don't really want to comment on the most plausible religion, since I don't find any of them plausible.
I have been thinking that if people believed in reincarnation I'd hope they'd be more likely to try and make the world a better place. Although this sacred cow and rat nonsense is quite laughable to me. And if you did believe in reincarnation we'd all be some sort of mystic cannabils.
In response to Roy A. You are grasping at straws. Stop using the "atheism is a religion" nonsense. If someone knows water is 2 parts hydrogen to 1 part oxygen, he knows it. He can't un-know it. No matter if a Christian says it's god's spit or a satanist says it's devil semen. The fact that an atheist knows what water really is, due to scientific evidence, does not make it a religious leap of faith. It would be the opposite of religious belief. Knowledge is knowledge. Belief it what one has when they don't have knowledge. Just because that is too complex for you doesn't give your grasping the slightest credence.
As for wanting an answer to "most plausible" for supernatural religions, that's like asking if Freddie Kruger or Jason is most likely to kill you. Fictional characters can't kill you. No matter which character you think is more or less likely to come to life.
And if you're really interested in how many atheists believe in satan, you just shouldn't have conversations with adults.