Religious Dictates Have Only a 3% Chance of Being Correct and That Can Be Risky!

Religious dictates are the instructions from the different versions of God by which worshippers of the index God(s) live their lives. They’re usually obtained through interpretations of the respective scriptures. To the faithful, religious dictates are perfect and unquestionable. However a closer look at some of them prove otherwise.

The major problem with religious dictates is the chain of information. The chances that they are true or should be taken seriously are slim. For instance, when Muslims say they’re doing something and you ask them why they’re doing it and they say it’s Allah that commanded it, you need to understand what they mean. They basically mean that Allah revealed it expressly to Prophet Mohammed.

History says that he was an illiterate and thus, the documentation of his revelation was not done by himself. He memorized the revelation and narrated it to his followers who in turn kept it in bits and pieces before the final collation into what we call the Koran today. And of course, before someone can still know what Allah has instructed, they need to read the Koran and understand the interpretation as given by the credible scholars of Islam.

So what’s the chance that the final message is correct? To get this, we need to think about the multilevel chain again and break it down for simplicity as follows:

  1. We first of all need to assume that God (Allah) exists (there’s still no convincing proof that He does)
  2. …and that He actually gave Mohammad the instruction for Muslims
  3. And that Mohammad actually relayed the correct instruction to his followers
  4. …who in turn documented the exact thing in the holy book
  5. …which in turn has been interpreted correctly.

Errors can come in at any of these steps. Thus each of 1-5 has a 50% probability of being true and no one can be sure: one will only have to accept it as true by faith.

So what’s the cumulative probability? The probability that the whole chain is reliable is the probability of 1 being true AND the probability of 2 being true AND the probability of 3 being true AND the probability of 4 being true AND the probability of 5 being true.

P(all) = {P (1=true) × P(2=true) × P(3=true) × P(4=true) × P(5=true)}

Since each one has a 50% probability of being true,

P (all) = .5 × .5 × .5 × .5 × .5
= .03125

In other words, the probability that the dictate a Muslim is practising today is true is 3.125%. The same can be applied to all other religious dictates on earth. The probability that a devout person of any religion following what different levels of intermediaries said that his God asks him to do is correct is slim — 3.125% or thereabout. Very slim.

And many religious dictates aren’t neutral in consequences. In other words, there’s a different and as a matter of fact, a crucial outcome if you choose to follow a religious dictate. It’s not just a matter of ‘Oh I can choose to take vanilla or strawberry. It really doesn’t matter!’ No. It more often than not matters. It matters in how the society runs; it matters how we live our lives; and it can affect our health. As a health practitioner, I will proceed by giving examples of religious dictates that definitely affect our health as humans. Let’s look at the following examples.

A. Jehovah Witnesses reject blood transfusion.


Because someone said that someone else said that someone else said that God said so.

Chance of them being right: 3 percent-ish!

B. Catholics reject contraception.


Because someone said that someone else said that someone else said that God said so.

Chance of them being right: 3 percent-ish!

C. Few days ago, the Indian government officially directed pregnant women to avoid sex, meat, and eggs.


Because someone said someone else said that someone else said that God said so.

Chance of them being right? 3 percent-ish!

I can go on and on but you get the drift. It means none of these people who reject these things reject them because God directly told them so. God told someone else who now told another person who in turn told someone else that God said they should reject these things. So as the number of the intermediaries increases, the probability of error approaches 100%.

Professing that religious dictates are true is like gambling on a very slim chance

But folks are ready to die for following religious dictates. We have enough sad stories of Jehovah Witnesses who have died because they rejected a blood transfusion that would’ve saved their lives. The same thing goes for Catholics who have unwanted children or have died because of pregnancies they shouldn’t have had just because they rejected contraception. And so on and so forth for other similar religious dictates. So why are people ready to sacrifice their lives for something that has only a 3% chance of being true?

Another problem with religious dictates is that someone can wake up and reinterprete the whole thing to mean the exact opposite. In other words, the number 5 above can easily change from true to false and suddenly, the whole maths goes south.

For instance, if the Vatican wakes up today and okays contraception for Catholics or the authorities of Jehovah Witnesses receive a ‘higher’ interpretation that says ‘Well, afterall, God didn’t actually prohibit blood transfusion’, what happens to those who have suffered the consequences of obeying the previous version of the dictate? That’s their own loss, isn’t it? And if you think folks can’t change their interpretation of their scriptures, you’ve obviously been living in another planet. Examples abound. Religious dictates aren’t cast in stone.

Is there an alternative? Yes. Dictates can originate from logical reasoning too and I feel that’s the better way. For instance, rather than saying that we shouldn’t drink alcohol because God asked us not to drink alcohol, why can’t we just say that we shouldn’t drink alcohol because alcohol intake predisposes to liver diseases?

Religious dictates (i.e., ‘God-said’ instructions) are too weak to be taken seriously. I think we need logical explanations of why we should or shouldn’t do things instead of asking people to do or not do things because someone said that someone else said that another person said that God said we should or shouldn’t do it. That basis isn’t solid enough for serious life decisions to be taken upon.

I know people will argue that humanly derived values as I’ve advised can be fraught with irregularities but so are the divinely derived values. However since we’re the ones that made them, we will at least have the freedom to modify them as we wish. We also won’t cringe at any irregularities we spot neither will we be bound to defend it beyond all common sense all because a higher power gave them to us.

The Indian situation is even particularly worrisome. It’s an example of how governments use primitive traditions to govern a society to the detriment of the citizens. As we speak, India has one of the worst child-maternal mortality rates in the world and UNICEF has pinned it on malnutrition and anemia. Now the problem will be worse as more women will sink into more malnutrition. Why? Because someone has decided to mix religion with government.

It’s OK if you want to live your own life on the ‘someone-said-that-He-said’ basis which only gives you a 3% assurance by the way. However it’s immoral if you now use that as a basis for the law or regulation the rest of us will live our lives by. Don’t expose the rest of the society to your own 3% risk.

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  1. felix June 23, 2017

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