“I’ve had a question about which religion is true for the past few years and I haven’t gotten a satisfying answer.”

It was the first meeting for Ratio Christi at Rice University. Juan had seen the sign we’d put outside advertising to discuss the difficult questions regarding religion. The ice breaker question was, “what is one question you’d like God to answer about himself, the Bible, the world, or religion.” Juan was seeking truth but was worried he wouldn’t obtain it.

“Every religion claims to hold exclusivity on the truth of reality, but they cannot all be true as they contradict one another. Considering how many religious beliefs exist in the world, how could someone seeking truth possibly research them all adequately enough to know which religious belief is actually true?”

The carefulness and specificity of Juan’s question showed that he’d given this quite a bit of thought. It showed that he knew that while religions have some minor points in common, the significant points stood in contradiction. Thus, the religions of this world cannot coexist in the sense of them all being true. Yet, his question also showed the futility of gaining complete knowledge of every religion in existence. After all, some people study a single religion all their lives and are still left with questions and feelings that the more they learn, the more there is left to be discovered.

So, what are we left to do? Should we look at this venture as hopeless? If we cannot know everything about God and the truth of God, can we not know if a particular religion is true?

Of course not!

There is a big difference between knowing something is true and plumbing the depths of why it is true and all the nuances and details of it. But this doesn’t answer Juan’s question. How can someone know even one of the world’s numerous religions is true? Where would one even start?

The Short Answer:

While an unreasonably daunting task to test all religions for truth, first determine which religious beliefs can be tested and start there. 

Testing which Religion is true

It may seem odd to consider testing religious views considering religious beliefs typically refer to the supernatural or unseen. Yet this very “oddity” is a starting point in forming a question to test religious propositions.

Propositions are statements that contain a truth value. In other words, they are statements that can be either true or false. For example, the statement “the sky is blue” is a propositional statement regarding the color of the sky. This statement is either true or false. We can determine the truth of this statement by walking outside, looking up, and seeing if the sky is indeed blue. By the sky being blue or, perhaps, an overcast day, we will know whether the propositional statement “the sky is blue” matches reality.

Our ability to test this type of statement points to an important concept called falsifiability. Statements that can be tested for their truth value should be given more credibility than those that cannot. 

To illustrate this, let’s take these two statements:

    • Last night I met an alien that told me about his distant planet, and then I watched him fly away in his spaceship.
    • Last night I met an alien that told me about his distant planet, and he is waiting for me at my house right now.

While both statements are challenging to believe, one of them should immediately receive more credit. Because the first statement cannot be tested, a rational person should find it difficult to trust the claim. However, the second statement, albeit hard to believe, should be given a higher level of credibility because we can test the statement by going to his house and meeting the alien visitor.

So, how does this apply to religious views? When asking if a religion is true, we should determine if it is possible to falsify its core beliefs. We do this by evaluating the underlying truth claims made by the religion to warrant its existence.

Remember, at this point, we aren’t deciding if a religious view is false. Instead, we’re discovering if it is possible to test the religious view for the truth of its claims. So how might we rationally evaluate the beliefs if we cannot test the religious claims?

Let’s take the two largest world religions for a test drive using this concept to see how this might work.


Islam, one of the world’s largest religions, has approximately 1.9 billion followers. Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, stands as the central figure for establishing and shaping this world religion. Therefore, to evaluate the falsifiability of Islam, we need to review the history of Islam’s beginning and claims for its validity.

It is believed that Muhammad lived during the late sixth and early seventh centuries, primarily in what is now known to be Saudi Arabia. Discontent with the paganism and idolatry of his society, many believe Muhammad began retreating in solitude for worship, asceticism, and prayer.

Among Muslims, the most accepted version of Muhammad’s calling comes from Ibn Ishaq, an early biographer of Muhammad. According to tradition, Muhammad received his prophetic call in A.D. 610 from God through the angel Gabriel in a cave on Mount Hira. Muhammad was initially gripped with fear but eventually came to view his experience as a calling from God through his wife’s counsel. After some despair and depression, Muhammad began his ministry by preaching to his friends and family.

So how can we evaluate the truth claims of Muhammad?

Let’s imagine we lived in the seventh century, and we could interview Muhammad about his encounter with the angel Gabriel. The claim we want to test is whether Muhammad experienced a supernatural encounter with the angel Gabriel who brought messages revealing God’s word, which was then recorded in the Qur’an.

While many pieces of this narrative can be assessed, there are two main points I’d like to consider.

A Private Experience

First, the experience Muhammad claims to have had with Gabriel was a private event. He was alone in a cave. Who else could possibly attest that Muhammad told the truth about what happened? Furthermore, what prevents anyone from saying that God came to them in private and gave them a message that says Muhammad was wrong? Who could falsify their claim any more than Muhammad’s claim?

Thus, it is an unfalsifiable claim, and with no other supporting evidence, its credibility is weakened.

No Supporting Evidence

Second, Muhammad had no accompanying miracles to show divine revelation of the messages. The only miracle attributed to Muhammad is the Qur’an. Hence, the only miracle that attests to the message is the message itself.

Using my previous example of receiving a divine message from God, if someone uses the content of their message as proof of it being divine, it requires circular reasoning. Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy. In other words, it would be like saying, “the Qur’an is a message from God because the Qur’an claims to be a message from God.”

Hence, unlike the prophets of the Judeo-Christian religions, Muhammad performed no miracles to authenticate his prophetic calling.

While much can be said regarding Muhammad, Islam’s teachings, and the Qur’an, this article is interested in the beginnings of the beliefs. How did the religion come to be, and can we test the truth claims of its origin?

The conclusion, had we lived during Muhammad’s day, we would have no means to test the claims he made regarding the revelation given to him. There were no witnesses to the revelations, nor were there any miracles validating his divine appointment as a prophet. The only evidence provided is the message itself, the Qur’an. 

 Therefore, there is no way for us to test if Islam is true. Even with years of study we would still be left wondering which religion is true.


With 2.3 billion people claiming to be Christians, Christianity is the world’s largest religion. However, popularity does not necessitate truth. Like other world religions, Christianity makes bold and exclusive claims about the way the world is. Claims that, if true, make Christianity eternally significant for every human that has ever existed.

Nevertheless, can Christianity be tested? Does Christianity make claims that could be falsified?

Like with Islam, we need to examine the beginnings of the religion to see how it began.

Christianity’s Beginning

Christianity’s beginning comes from the life, teachings, death, and purported resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, a 1st century Jew, claimed to be the long-awaited Messiah prophesied in the Jewish faith and written about in the Jewish Scriptures. Christians refer to these writings as the Old Testament.

Jesus’ ministry lasted for three years and was accompanied by claims of various miracles, such as healings, walking on water, calming storms, removing demonic spirits, etc. Additionally, He engaged the spiritual leaders of the time, claiming they were false teachers and hypocrites.

As a result of his confrontation with spiritual leaders and his claims to being God, he eventually was crucified on a Roman cross on the Friday leading up to Jewish Passover ceremonies.

Following his death by crucifixion, Jesus was buried in the tomb of a well-known man, Joseph of Arimathea, where followers of Jesus found his tomb empty on Sunday after he was crucified.

Immediately following the discovery of the empty tomb, claims were made by Jesus’ disciples that they, along with numerous other people, had multiple experiences over 40 days where they witnessed Jesus in a risen, physically resurrected, glorified body. Furthermore, the disciples claimed to have touched, talked, eaten with, and listened to his teachings during this time.

Paul, an early persecutor of the church, records an early creed of the church in 1 Corinthians 15 that describes the foundational belief of Christians regarding this event.

Can we test the propositional statements of Christianity? Can we come to a conclusion if the Christian religion is true? Yes, we can.

Testing Christianity

Paul puts the test right there in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8. Paul lists, by name, those that Jesus appeared to and mentions Jesus appearing to more than 500 people at one time. Paul goes on to say that many of these people are still alive. It is an invitation to the readers of Paul’s letter to go and ask them if they don’t believe what he is writing.

The entire Christian faith stands and falls on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus didn’t resurrect from the dead, the Christian faith would be false. Yet, unlike so many other world religions, Christianity’s beginning was a public event. Christianity provides a starting point to test the truth of its claims because the claims it makes are falsifiable and are further supported by evidence.

 So, with hundreds of world religions, how does one research them all to determine which, if any is true? Start with the one religion that can be tested. Research the one religion with multiple eye-witness accounts and supporting historical evidence.

 After all, if Christianity is true, then it necessarily means all other religions and worldviews are false.