Child: What religion should I be grandfather?
Grandfather: What an important but unusual question!
C: Why is it unusual?
G: Because almost all children assume the religion of their parent without checking any of the other possibilities.
C: Yes, but you know that my father is a Mormon and mother a Jehovah's Witness.
G: Sure and I see your problem.
C: I can't see the difference and they won't talk about it. And it seems wrong for me just to pick one. Which is the real one grandfather?
G: Yes, it might upset one of your parents if you chose the other's religion.
C: And I have heard of some other religions. My playmate Eileen says her religion has the only real god and that my parents and I will die and go to a horrid place where we will be tortured for ever. Is that true?
G: I see that you have thought and worried a lot about this so lets think it over together. In the end though you are free to and must decide for yourself and there is no hurry at all.
C: But what is your religion grandfather and what do you think? I would like to be what you are.
G: I will tell you what I think later but first I will say that I go by the best evidence that I can find and even then I am still curious and ready to change my mind if I learn of better evidence.
C: But you are old and you know a lot that I don't. How do I find what you call evidence?
G: Evidence is information or experience that you have collected and checked to see if it is real and fits with other things you know.
C: That will take a long time for me and it seems hard and I will always be in doubt.
G: Yes, that is right but it is the only way I know and it has worked very well for me. If you start now you will be on your way and ahead of most of your friends.
C: Do all the other adults do that?
G: Some do it, some do it a bit, but most just follow any leader or believe any teacher or priest or doctor. So any one that does it the way I do, always, as a habit is rare I think.
C: Eileen says I should just have faith in her god that is the best and real one. But then she said that her god is really three gods all in a bundle.
G: I see that as a puzzle too and have made up my mind about it. But if that three in one god should appear in person and tell everyone that would be evidence and I would reconsider it against other evidence that I know.
C: I think I would do that too.
G: Good. See, you have started. But you can also check out Eileen's god with other evidence you know already. What else does Eileen tell you?
C: She says I should pray to her god as she does but she never shows me how that worked for her, except you ask god for something in a polite way and you get always it. I have never seen anything she got.
G: Well, ask her what she got. And you can do as she said, try it. Pray nicely to her god or to the gods of mom and dad and see what happens. That would be real evidence. Ask the god to bring you something in a day or to move a mountain that you can see and then say that you will believe it.
C: She says I need to have faith first. What is faith grandfather?
G: A famous author said that, "faith is believing what you know ain't so". I means skipping the evidence part and flat out believing something even if there is good evidence against it.
C: Do you use faith?
G: I never use faith. Sometimes I can't get enough solid evidence and need to go with the probabilities or the odds of something being true. But that is because there is no other choice yet I can change my mind later.
C: Will you tell me how you did that?
G: Yes, Sometimes I need to cross over a lake or river on a bridge and there is heavy fog and I can not tell if the bridge is really there. The evidence I have was that it has been ok where the fog is before and I have not heard that the bridge fell down or had bad rust and might fall soon. So go with the best chances and it has always worked but some day it might not.
C: Do you do that often?
G: As little as possible. You know that airplanes crash and people are killed but when I need to get somewhere I will get on a plane. The odds are very, very good that it will land safely. Still, I know that if I flew enough one day I might crash and be killed.
C: I like talking with you grandfather. You tell me real things; my parents only shrug me off about the important things. It puzzles me that there are so many gods and so many churches and some are the first church but I never see a second church. How many gods are there?
G: No one knows but I have read that there are at least 2000 and that is just for now. Most people have had so many gods over the years that they are uncountable and I will tell you a secret. There will be gods invented in the future to replace the ones we have now.
C: You said invented. Does that mean you think they are just made up by people?
G: Well, yes, I let the cat slip out of the bag I guess. Yes, I think they are all imaginary and invented by people.
C: I thought that might be how you think and I want to know why but I am full of things to think over for now. Can I ask you more later grandfather?
G: Absolutely, yes. When you are ready just ask.