Of the many religions how can someone figure out which religion is right?

In one of my recent conversations with a non-christian, we came to an agreement that two religions with contradictory doctrines can’t both be true at the same time. However, the non-christian also thought that it is very difficult, if not impossible for most people with their limited analytical ability to be able to assert confidently the rightness of a religion.

What is a good systematic approach to narrow down from the many theistic options (polytheism, pantheism, monotheism) to Christianity?


My first thoughts are,

  1. Does the proposition make sense? Coherences.
  2. Is there any evidence that supports the use of the proposed system? Correspondence.

This is always my starting point. I am sure that there will be more discussion,


This is true, and the trouble is they are looking for a religion that a fallible human can 100% verify through their own cognitive abilities. I see the temptation of wanting to think like this. However, in a very simple sense, would they want to follow any religion that a fallible human can 100% rationalise, given the limitations of human cognisance? What I mean is, if we can fit an entire theological framework entirely within our human understanding, it can’t represent a very big or complex deity/deities. In which case, what would this religion/deity offer that we can’t already give ourselves?

An important thing to clarify in this instance would be the definition of truth. Is this questioner under the impression that belief is subjective or objective? Are they willing to concede that there must logically only be one truth? How much evidence and rational thinking would this person consider enough to start engaging with a belief system?

An article that expands on these points a little is an article entitled ‘Pluralism’ by Greg Koukl, which I’ve linked below and may provide some more inspiration for points to raise in this type of discussion.


Hi @jimmy ,

Appreciate your response. Helpful! Your response reminded me of the framework I was introduced to in the past in one of the courses I took but I am not sure of the origins of the methodology. It was about applying the framework of logical consistency, empirical adequacy, existential relevance to the answers provided by a religion about the question of origin, meaning, morality and destiny.

Now I also recall, what you share about coherence and correspondence is also true of the journey of CS Lewis coming to Christianity. For example, in the article, C.S. LEWIS THE TRUTH-SEEKER: HOW GOD FORMED A GREAT CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST, Joel Woodruff writes -

" Now Lewis explored pantheistic religions such as Hinduism and the monistic world of Buddhism. He was intrigued by the idea that the “Absolute” rather than being vague was somehow immanent, within and around everything. Perhaps everything really was spiritual and matter was an illusion. This worldview seemed to touch his imagination and was more intellectually challenging.

However, again, his logic forced him to realize that pantheism was unable to explain the physical and spiritual worlds in a way that seemed to bear any resemblance to reality. To totally abandon the obvious, the physical world, and claim that it is just an illusion went too far. What’s more, within pantheism there seemed to be no way to link goodness and truth. He would later write in his book Miracles , “The Pantheist’s God does nothing, demands nothing. He is there if you wish for Him, like a book on a shelf. He will not pursue you.”

Lewis knew both through logic and from exploring his heart within, that there must be another way to explain the world as we see it."

"Lewis knew that truth would somehow reconcile the rational, intellectual external side of his life with the deep yearning that he felt from the internal imaginative side of his being. Finally, after years of thinking, reading, arguing, debating, reflecting, engaging in discussions with friends, and reading literature, Lewis gave in to the intellectual idea that God exists. He writes, “In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.”7

At this point, Lewis had converted to theism, the idea that God created humankind and the world in which we live. A Creator God best explains the reality that we perceive with our senses and the inner longings that we have for something greater than ourselves. But Lewis still had not converted to Christ. He had fallen into the camp of the monotheistic worldview held by Jews, Christians, and Muslims and was simply a theist.

And finally Joel Woodruff writes about Lewis coming to Christianity-

"On September 19, 1931, Lewis went for a walk with his friends Hugo Dyson and J.R.R. Tolkien behind Magdalen College on a favorite trail called Addison’s Walk. That night they discussed the literary idea of myth. Myth as they defined it was a story that passed on some element of truth and touched the imagination.

Tolkien argued that the difference between all other myths and the Christian myth was that the Christian story really happened in history through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. In other words, Jesus was who He said He was, and He really arose from the dead. He encouraged Lewis to approach the New Testament story with the same passion he exhibited when approaching other literary works.

One aspect not dicussed in this article is how polytheism was ruled out but this journey of CS Lewis seems like something to look into further in understanding how to apply the frameworks of logical consistency, empirical adequacy and existential relevance to different worldviews.

Anyway, thanks for getting us started on the response.


I agree this is the case some times, especially for those who reject God altogether. In my situation however, the non-christian presented this as a reason for accepting pluralism or subjective truth. The assertion is that - because we cant confidently know anything for certain, God will accept anyone making an effort toward truth/a god.

I didn’t respond with much other than to say we are to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. The situation made me think if there are simple arguments to narrow down from polytheism to montheism to Christianity.


Whenever I hear this question asked, I wonder how first-century pagans think through this (we must remember there were no Christians). Would they even understand what the word religion means or, put another way, or the implied “what do you believe?”
Unlike modern westerners, what we believe (religion) and how we live (politics) are generally considered as separate topics, one private and the other public, but this was not the case for the 1st-century pagans or Jews for that matter, for them, they were the same, how you lived every facet of your life, work, play, entertainment, social status, and your loyalty, all this would be considered what we call religion today. Add to this the fact that there were no shortages of belief systems (ways of life), particularly during the golden age of Pax Roma. But unfortunately, 21st-century folks often forget this or feel better equipped to make the right choice either because we are better informed or we have more data to analyze. I don’t disagree with this method, but if we consider that we are asking a modern-day question with all its cultural baggage about a 2000-year-old book, we need to recalibrate the question.

Unless we understand New Testament social history sympathetically within its cultural settings—which are ancient and alien to ours—we are predisposed to misinterpret the social realities reflected there. The result is that we will superimpose our modern questions and social agendas onto the ancient texts in order to receive the answers we expect back again clothed in biblical authority.

deSilva, D. A. (2022). Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture (Second Edition, p. 2). IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press.

Getting back to the idea of how modern-day people live, I find myself in partial agreement with the acquaintance from your post; this is my inference from his comments that if we separate the physical, tangible world from the unseen world, we can easily pick out the “good” that we see in this world (the last four of the 10 words, Ex 20: 14-19LEB ), and do our best to emulate them and leaving the rest for god(s) to judge. Following this method would allow one to live an honorable life without the baggage of Grace and its reciprocatory response, which include honor, loyalty, and gratitude. (We can talk about this later if anyone is interested.)

Because Christianity was on the table, we can ask, suppose we read the NT as a how-to live a good life ( honorable and upright) only? In that case, we will trip over what the original audience heard and understood, Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity on every page.

I think I am too far in the weeds, and I will stop for now.


Yes, this is very much the line of thought of most people I meet. The focus is basically on ethical living without thinking about doctrinal differences that the different religions have. I found Ken Samples essay where he highlights some of the problems with this kind of thinking in his article, “Do all religions lead to God”.

While some rightly identify similar ethical values as a common motif, upon closer inspection it becomes evident that even the similar moral principles are motivated by, and grounded in, fundamentally different views of the nature of reality. Religion cannot be reduced simply to ethics, for religion makes claims about the ultimate nature of reality (metaphysics), to which ethics appeal for justification.

I think this goes along with the hypothetical question that you suggested,

Very true… Our walk would end up being just a life full of rules instead our Christian ethics flowing out of a loving relationship with God. One might then wonder…must ethics flow out of a true reality? I think your question could be a good lead into the conversation about subjective versus objective morality as @alison shared. When ethics are not based on reality but relative to an individual or culture, they lose the justification for any moral obligation.

I agree. If coming to the true knowledge of God requires intellectual gymnastics, what about the 1st century pagans? They came to Christ without much of intellectual reasoning but could recognize truth when they saw it. God approached them with miracles (John 10:38). They came to faith through preaching of God’s word and spiritual encounters where they saw the power of God (Acts 2:10-12, Acts 2: 40-41). They were willing to pay exceedingly high costs to commit to Jesus considering all of their life was enmeshed in religion. The evidence of 1st century pagans turning to Christ may be a way to persuade those who are turned off by the idea of rational approach to God. I think sometimes what is not communicated is that, though Christian faith is rational, no one is saved by reason alone. Reason may help us reach an understanding that Christianity is true but that alone is not enough to humble ourselves and choose Him as Lord. Logic is only one of the hurdles that face man in deciding on a religion.


Hi Lakshimi, this reminded me of a talk I was listening to at some apologetics event a few years ago. Just to add to what Jimmy and Alison mentioned, I think it would be good to also consider whether the religion address issues we face in all facets of life. Examples are:

  1. Does it make sense and address logical issues
  2. Does it address societal issues
  3. Does it address emotional and mental issues
    4 . Physical issues
  4. Spiritual issues
  5. Historical evidence
  6. Enviromental issues
  7. Relational issues
  8. Scientific evidence

Chances are that the ‘true’ religion with an all encompassing God would be able to tackle the variety of issues that comes with being human and living in this world whilst also sustaining a coherant worldview.


Thanks @kiko, for that succint yet comprehensive response. Appreciate it.

I see this approach perhaps working for someone who has the time, the knowledge and means to conduct such a thorough search. But as @jimmy mentioned, this kind of systematic rational approach needs a modern mindset.

I dont know if there are rational ways that are not too complex so that people with a mindset like that of the 1st century pagans who are rational but not research minded can be directed toward Christ in the absence of miracles. Such a person will readily devote themselves to a spiritual being, would already believe in the importance of righteousness, that there is a spiritual world, but is not able to understand why one spiritual being should be preferred over all the others. I wonder if simply talking about why worshiping a Creator rather than the creation is a good starting point followed by a few questions. What evidence would describe a Creator? Do promises of the path chosen give us any assurances? Why the incarnation of Jesus is important? I am thinking aloud here but it would be great to be able to simplify the approach to narrow our choices.


Hi Lakshimi, thank you for clarifying. I do believe that it’s not easy to approach this topic in a simple yet rational manner. Nonetheless the prompts you put out would definitely help narrow down the conversation. It really got me thinking of how a simplified manner of approach would be more digestable to those around us and I’ve found it really helpful.

They would be great aids to people participating in idol worship, or maybe even new age spirituality? Shifting the focus from idol or self worship, bringing up our need for a higher power or why we even worship to being with. Addressing their need for assurance is also vital in this conversation as perhaps one’s worship of other gods/self stems from the need of satisfaction, control and assurance in this hectic world.