The Outsider Test of Faith

The Outsider Test of Faith has been proposed by John W. Loftus on his blog as a way for anyone who is a believer in God or gods to examine their own faith objectively by pretending that they are an outsider to that faith. So, for example, if you are a Muslim, look at your faith as if you were a Christian and see if it stands up to scrutiny.

His Outsider Test of Faith is described as follows:

"The Outsider Test: If you were born in Saudi Arabia, you would be a Muslim right now, say it isn’t so? That is a cold hard fact. Dare you deny it? Since this is so, or at least 99% so, then the proper method to evaluate your religious beliefs is with a healthy measure of skepticism. Test your beliefs as if you were an outsider to the faith you are evaluating. If your faith stands up under muster, then you can have your faith. If not, abandon it, for any God who requires you to believe correctly when we have this extremely strong tendency to believe what we were born into, surely should make the correct faith pass the outsider test. If your faith cannot do this, then the God of your faith is not worthy of being worshiped."

This can be difficult for someone who was raised in a religion from childhood since they have probably never been encouraged to question what they have been taught. I am guessing that most people of faith find themselves in this situation. A good start would be to visit blogs and sites that question or argue against your religion. So if you are a Christian, visit Islamic blogs and sites, especially the ones that offer introductions to Islam. There are hundreds of them out there. If going to a site about Islam is a bit too much for you, then try something a bit closer to home. Reading about Judaism might be a better start, since at least that should be somewhat familiar because of the Old Testament. Or for example, if you are Protestant, visit some Catholic sites. Or if you are a member of an evangelical church, try reading up on liberal Christian sects.

As I’ve said before on this site, your beliefs are much more valuable and meaningful if you truly understand and know why you believe what you believe. To get you started I’ve listed some links to that will introduce you to different religions. Go ahead, give them a read and really think about what they are saying and compare them to your own beliefs.

I have included at least one link from an outside source, like ReligiousTolerance.og or Wikipeida.com and at least one link from a site created by and for believers in that particular religion/sect. It is important that you read at least one of each since it is important to understand both an impartial view and an inside view to get a good idea of what a religion has to say.

Christianity
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity
http://www.religioustolerance.org/christ.htm
http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/index.htm
http://www.christianity.com/becomingachristian/
http://geneva.rutgers.edu/src/christianity/

Protestant
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestantism
Baptist
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptists
http://www.abc-usa.org/
http://www.sbc.net/
http://www.baptist.org/

Methodist
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methodism
http://www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.1353935/k.4713/Our_mission_is_to_make_disciples_of_Jesus_Christ_for_the_transformation_of_the_world.htm

Lutheran
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lutheranism
http://www.elca.org/
http://www.thelutheran.org/template/index.cfm
http://www.lutherancentral.com/

Aglican/Episcopal
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglicanism
http://www.anglicancommunion.org/
http://anglicansonline.org/
http://anglican.org/
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/index.htm
http://www.ecusa.org/

Catholic
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic
http://www.vatican.va/
http://www.catholic.net/
http://www.catholic.org/

Islam
http://www.religioustolerance.org/islam.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam
http://www.masjidtucson.org/index.html
http://www.submission.org/
http://www.islam.com/
http://islam101.net/

Buddhism
http://www.religioustolerance.org/buddhism.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism
http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/buddhaintro.html
http://www.buddhanet.net/
http://www.buddhaweb.org/

Hinduism
http://www.religioustolerance.org/hinduism.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism
http://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/index.htm
http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/religionet/er/hinduism/index.htm

Judaism
http://www.religioustolerance.org/judaism.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism
http://www.jewfaq.org/index.htm
http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/religionet/er/judaism/index.htm

Wicca
http://www.religioustolerance.org/witchcra.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicca
http://www.wicca.org/
http://www.witchway.net/

Bahá’í Faith
http://www.religioustolerance.org/bahai.htm
http://www.bahai.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1’%C3%AD_Faith
http://www.bahai.org/faq/facts/bahai_faith
http://www.bahai.us/

Confucianism
http://www.religioustolerance.org/confuciu.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucianism
http://www.crystalinks.com/confucianism.html

Jainism
http://www.religioustolerance.org/jainism.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jainism
http://www.religionfacts.com/jainism/index.htm
http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~malaiya/jainhlinks.html
http://www.jainism.org/

Taoism
http://www.religioustolerance.org/taoism.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taoism
http://www.taoism.net/
http://www.taopage.org/
http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/Philosophy/Taichi/taoism.html

Voodoo and related religions
http://www.religioustolerance.org/voodoo.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voodoo
http://www.neworleansvoodoocrossroads.com/
http://www.erzulies.com/site/articles/view/5

Sikhism
http://www.religioustolerance.org/sikhism.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikhism
http://www.sikhs.org/
http://www.sikhnet.com/

Shinto
http://www.religioustolerance.org/shinto.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinto
http://www.nihonbunka.com/shinto/index.html

Goddess worship
http://www.religioustolerance.org/goddess.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goddess_worship
http://www.goddessherself.com/
http://www.mother-god.com/pagan-goddess.html

Celtic Druidism
http://www.religioustolerance.org/druid.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druid
http://www.druidry.org/
http://www.fatheroak.com/

Neopagan
http://www.religioustolerance.org/neo_paga.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neopaganism
http://www.neopagan.net/
http://www.neopagan.com/

Deism
http://www.religioustolerance.org/deism.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism
http://www.deism.com/

Zoroastrianism
http://www.religioustolerance.org/zoroastr.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism
http://www.zoroastrianism.com/
http://www.avesta.org/

Scientology
http://www.religioustolerance.org/scientol.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology
http://www.scientology.org/
http://www.scientologyhandbook.org/
http://www.bonafidescientology.org/

Satanism
http://www.religioustolerance.org/satanism.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satanism
http://www.churchofsatan.com/
http://www.joyofsatan.org/
http://www.dpjs.co.uk/

Santeria
http://www.religioustolerance.org/santeri.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santer%C3%ADa
http://www.santeriareligion101.com/
http://w3.iac.net/~moonweb/Santeria/TOC.html
http://www.orishanet.org/santeria.html
http://officialsanteria.com/

Native American Spirituality
http://www.religioustolerance.org/nataspir.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_religion
http://users.ap.net/~chenae/spirit.html
http://www.native-languages.org/religion.htm

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