Who (or what) is god? I don’t think anyone on earth knows for sure, despite some religions stating that they do. Why would a god expect people to worship a certain way, and then allow people to worship in other ways, thereby sending the ones who don’t worship the way he wants to hell automatically? God could have made sure everyone believed the same things, worshiped in the same way, and obeyed his laws if he wanted to. But we aren’t all the same, and we clearly don’t all believe the same things about god. Even within one religion there are people who believe slightly different versions of god’s law, who are more progressive than others, or who are classified as a certain religion but pick and choose which parts they want to believe or adhere to.
So, who’s “right?”
As far as I can tell, no one.
If there were a religion that had absolute proof that their version of god and how to worship him was right, everyone would surely believe it. There’s just one problem: there isn’t. There were people across the globe who had never heard of Christianity before Christians came and started converting them. That does not prove Christianity is “right,” nor does it prove that god wanted everyone to be Christian. If anything, it shows just the opposite – that god doesn’t care how we worship, or even if we truly know who he is. Religion in general – any religion, really – gives us a medium for understanding and worshiping god, and for laying the foundations for morality and ethical behavior, family relationships and interactions, and general rules about how to treat other people.
In some cases, people have done things “in the name of god” or “in the name of their religion” that I would argue god would certainly not want. I don’t think he would want us to take religion into our own hands. I think he would want us to focus more on our relationships with other people, not making sure that other people are doing what we think they should be doing. What business is it of mine if someone is Hindu or Christian, Jewish or Muslim? None whatsoever. Many, many people have made it through life believing all sorts of things about god and religion, and some people have never heard of the Christian god, or the Muslim Allah, or any of the Hindu gods. I doubt all those people went to the respective hells of all the other religions that they don’t believe in.
I can’t even argue that my own belief, which I would classify as “spiritual but not religious” is right (I believe in a higher power, a god of sorts, but I have no idea what form it takes – I have a hard time believing there is absolutely nothing but us, but I also don’t believe we need an organized religion to communicate with that higher power). Perhaps the atheists are right, and there is no god, no higher power, and it’s just us, we live our lives, and that’s the end of it. If so, many people are wasting their time on religion. In fact, I don’t waste my time with organized religion because I have felt closer to god on a long bike ride, on a secluded hike through the mountains, while looking at a field of wild flowers, or any number of other experiences, than I ever have in church.