I listened to an interview with a Raelian the other day. Raelians base their system of beliefs on the stories told by one man. This guy, Rael, claims to have had a revelation in 1973 (and again in 1975) - he claims that the aliens who made us contacted him (and only him) to spread the word about them; that there is no God, that we were created by aliens and that we should live in peace and harmony.
Most of what they believe is, of course, nonsense. It denies modern science in a way that even the most fundamentalist of creationists does not - for example, they believe that the seven races of men were independently created by the seven races of aliens who visited us (these aliens are called 'Elohim' by the way).
The main issue I have with this belief system is it all comes from an alleged revelation made to only one man. Nobody else had the revelation, or indeed any proof of the things that were 'revealed'. Everyone else who believes has been won over by the persuasiveness of that one man.
The same, of course, applies to the Mormons - their beliefs are all based on an alleged revelation to only one man, Joseph Smith. He allegedly found the ancient book of Mormon and he alone was able to translate it (with some special glasses he was given) into English. Once again, nobody else had the revelation, believers were taken in by his persausiveness, and by the persuasiveness of those who followed.
It is easy to pick out other cults or religions that were established through the alleged revelation to one man (I can't think of any that were revealed to a woman). Indeed, I can't think of a religion, who's origins aren't lost in pre-history, which doesn't owe its origins to the teachings of a single man. Muslims believe the revelation was made to Mohammed, Buddhists believe that the Buddha discovered the path to enlightenment, and so on.
Can you trust a belief system or way of life which is based on revelations only made to one person?
I would say no. Why wasn't the revelation to more than one? Why no proof? If any way of life is based on the sayings of one man only, as a result of revelations he has allegedly had, I would exercise extreme caution - even if the way of life seems to work and there are no apprently negative aspects of it.
But is Christianity any different? Our faith is based largely on the teachings of one man too. This man was held to be the Son of God by his followers (although, apparently, he called himself the 'Son of Man'), but the followers didn't seem to receive any direct revelation at first, did they?
Some skeptics claim that Christianity was actually founded by Paul - who had a revelation experience on the Damascus road - and that it was his persuasiveness that got the whole thing started. Could that be the case?
Or is Christianity the 'religion' that is different? Was the revelation actually to the initial twelve disciples, and then to Paul, and also to Peter and John the divine later on, and so on? Have we assurance that it is not simply through one man that we are persuaded?
And does Christian revelation happen to people today?