(2) From where does a person know that what he
believes is the truth, and that what someone else believes is falsehood?
(3) Indeed, if someone says that that belief has
come to him by way of his ancestors,
(4) or if he says that that belief has come to
him by way of a book,
(5) or from a prophet who has performed
(6) or from his own opinion, since he holds to a
certain viewpoint and to him his own religion is confirmed to be true through
(7) all the adherents of the religions who
disagree with him would be able to say something similar.
(8) If that response is common among all the
adherents of the (different) religions,
(9) it must be necessary then for whoever
accepts his religion on the basis of this argument to embrace any other religion
on account of this same argument.
(10) But if he does not accept such an argument
from those who disagree with him, then he should not accept this argument from
the followers of his own religion.
(11) To the one who says this, we say that truth
and falsehood, among all utterances,
(12) are known by the reasons that prompted
their acceptance in the first place.
(13) The reasons why a lie is accepted are
different from the reasons why the truth is accepted.
(14) The reasons for the acceptance of a lie are
six in number.
(15) The first reason is that the one who
accepts falsehood is forced to accept that which is made compulsory for him
against his will.
(16) The second reason is that a person
willingly tries to escape from hardship and oppression, since he was not able to
(17) so as to be delivered from them to what he
hopes is ease and comfort.
(18) The third reason is that a person favors
great might over humiliation, honor over inferiority, and power over weakness,
(19) so that he leaves his religion and converts
(20) The fourth reason is that the one who
speaks (falsehood) is a wicked man, deceitful in word,
(21) with the result that he beguiles and
overwhelms whomever he invites (to accept falsehood).
(22) The fifth reason is that (the one who
invites to falsehood) exploits the ignorance of his invitees and their lack of
(23) The sixth reason is that there is a natural
kinship between the invitee and the inviter,
(24) so that the invitee, not wishing to sever
that shared kinship, agrees with him in his religion.
(25) Now, the reasons for why truth is accepted
are four in number.
(26) The first reason is that the one who
accepts the truth beholds miracles that the human faculties are incapable of (performing).
(27) The second reason is that the manifest
aspect of the truth to which the inviter offers an invitation is (in fact)
evidence that testifies to the truthfulness of its hidden aspect.
(28) The third reason is the (decisive kind of)
proof that obliges one to accept it.
(29) The fourth reason is when the end of
something corresponds to its beginning,
(30/31) and when its origin (i.e. the valid
incident following its valid precedent) is indisputable due to the validity of
what preceded it.
(32) This induces us to observe how we may know
(33) that all the other religions have been
accepted on the basis of those (first) six characteristics, whereas the true
religion has been accepted on the basis of the (latter) four.
(34) It would take too long to mention every
single one of the religions:
(35) those religions that were ancient but
became defunct along with everything that had given them subsistence,
(36) as well as those religions that have come
about more recently but whose subsistence has rested on the subsistence of those
(37) for, insofar as we can know that one of
these religions has been invalidated, it is indeed proven invalid, just as the
other religions before it were invalid.
(38) It is incumbent upon anyone who wants to
understand (in the first place) which of these reasons has led to the acceptance
of his (own) religion,
(39) and whether it was one of the reasons for
the acceptance of falsehood or one of the reasons for the acceptance of the
(40) to do the following:
First, he must observe who it is who accepts
that religion now and for what reason he accepts it
(41) whether it is on account of one of the
reasons for accepting the truth or one of the reasons for accepting falsehood
(42) until he understands (from the acceptance
of what is held to in his own time) what the reasons were for its acceptance in
times past, since its very beginning.
(43) And second, he must perceive that the truth
is something that is accepted spontaneously, (44) and that falsehood requires
reasons through which it becomes established in the mind of the one who accepts
(45) for indeed whoever contemplates this, at
the very moment that he contemplates it, perceives which forms of religious
observance are true and which are false.
(46) Now I will refrain from mentioning the
remaining forms of religious observance, and instead I will expound on my own
religion, asserting that it has been accepted
(47) for the (same) reasons that truth is
accepted, whether it be for all of those reasons or (only) some of them.
(48) And I say that it is incomprehensible that
people should accept a particular form of religious observance
(49) without (at least) one of the reasons why
every religion is accepted. Indeed, it is unimaginable, apart from the ten
characteristic reasons that I have enumerated,
(51) with six of them being the reasons for the
acceptance of falsehood, and four being the reasons for the acceptance of truth.
(52) If it is correct that not one reason for
the acceptance of the (true) worship of God is found among the reasons for the
acceptance of falsehood,
(53) then the reason for the acceptance of this
(true) worship must be found among the four reasons why truth is accepted,
whether it be all of them or (only) some.
(54) And if the reason for the acceptance of the
(true) worship of God (that which we ourselves hold to) in fact is not (the same
as) the reason for the acceptance of falsehood,
(55) but rather it is the case that the reasons
for the former are opposed to the latter, as far as it can be from its opposite,
(56) then the truth of the matter is established
(57) We find the matter to be just so.
(58) Examination of each of the reasons:
(59) With regard to the first reason (for the
acceptance of a lie), the true religion is in fact not accepted through the
great might of a king, nor through subjugation by a ruler.
(60) But rather all the kings and rulers of the
earth have been hostile to it
(61) and have forbidden all the people from (accepting)
it by means of all kinds of torture and unseemly killing,
(62) and (thus) they have wiped them off (the
face of) the earth.
(63) And yet this true religion has vanquished
all of those rulers and has remained unshakeable.
(64) With regard to the second reason, the true
religion has not invited (people) to flee from a life of hardship and difficulty
to a life of plenty and ease.
(65) But rather, it has called (them) from all
the more plentiful and easier forms of life
(66) to the life that is harder and more
difficult, to that which is almost an object of loathing. (67) And yet, it has
been accepted in the most excellent way!
(68) With regard to the third reason, the true
religion has not invited (people) from lowliness to high standing, or from
humiliation to great might.
(69) But rather, it has called (them) from great
might to humiliation.
(70) And yet, it has been accepted, even to the
extent that whoever has accepted it would rather die than live at its cost.
(71) With regard to the fourth reason, the true
religion was not received from wicked people and from the eloquent in speech.
(72) Rather, it is received from the ignorant
and speech-impaired, and from fishermen (who might even be considered more
silent and speech-impaired than the fish).
(73) With regard to the fifth reason, those who
have accepted the true religion have in fact been neither ignorant, nor stupid,
nor common, nor barbarian.
(74) But rather, they have been people of logic
and philosophy more than all the (rest of the) world,
(75) and (they have been) people of discernment
and scholarship, those who surpass the rest of the people in wisdom.
(76) With regard to the sixth reason, it was not
the case that whoever accepted the true religion was joined with those he loved
and with his friends as a result of that acceptance.
(77) But rather, once that person accepted it,
for its sake he typically parted ways with everyone with whom he had common
kinship—whatever that kinship might be, whether through close family ties or
through loving affection.
(78) Now if you would like to add a seventh
characteristic reason, then look and see
(79) what the apostles made public knowledge
about this religion,
(80) in comparison to which nothing appears more
(81) No one at all ought to say that if all of
these matters were like this
(82) and hence our acceptance of whatever we
believe apart from the display of signs and wonders
(83) then (proving the truthfulness of religion)
would be impossible except by an opponent who presents (it) out of his own
(84) If you say this, then seek for yourself
(with respect to your religion as well as the others) what corresponds to what I
have described to you regarding our religion.
(85) Indeed, you will notice that there is no
comparison between us and them.