I recently had dinner with a group of friends. Among this group was a young Mormon couple, the male of whom was a former missionary. He was one of those cool religious guys you meet, with a clear sense of purpose, and a fire behind his eyes that told you he knew who he was and what he stood for and what he was meant to do in this world. We had some good conversation about life, travel, and business.
After we parted ways from them, the girl I was with asked me how people can find purpose in religion. "Well," I said, "for him, from his point of view and what he believes, he knows with absolute confidence and certainty that if he spreads the Word of God and brings more people to the faith, and if he leads a good life and does what he's supposed to and avoids temptation and sin, when all's said and done and his time on this planet is past, he'll ascend to heaven and he'll be buddies with God and will be at peace for the rest of eternity."
My girl looked at me quizzically. "How can anybody believe that?" she asked, genuinely surprised.
"Because some people told them about it, and they thought it sounded reasonable, so they believed it," I replied.
"That's not a good reason!" she said.
"Well, let me ask you something," I said. "You believe in evolution, right? That people come from monkeys, which come from rats, which come from fish... all that?"
"Yes," she said.
"Okay," I continued. "Have you studied evolution in a laboratory environment yourself and seen the evidence up close to make sure it's real?"
"No," she said.
"Well," I said, "have you ever actually seen evolution happen?"
She paused a moment, realizing where I was going with this. "No," she said.
"Then how do you know evolution actually happens?" I asked. She didn't answer. "It's because people told you it does, and it sounded reasonable to you, and you believed it... isn't it?"