Does popularity with the crowd imply truth? Randal Rauser reviews logical reasons to examine evidence. “Prima facie” roughly means “first impression,” as he says. Is the fact that the largest religion on earth has 2.2 billion followers a reason to consider it?
I guess it provides a reason to look at it hard. However, the primary or plurality religions have only included Christianity recently. A world factbook from 1887 or so in my grandparents’ things showed a tiny fraction as being Christian. In the year of Christ’s birth, it was fast becoming the worship of the Roman emperor (with others) in the Mediterranean, and other pagan gods elsewhere. Some Muslims claim that Islam is the fastest growing religion–but if you break down the numbers, a strong argument arises that it’s mainly from birth rate and not conversions (this may be in part because the developing world, where many Muslims live, maintains a very high birth rate). Christians in the developed world, like the “nones,” are reproducing more slowly (more quickly in the Third World). At any rate, the Pew Research Center projects that Islam will overtake Christianity because of this in a few decades. Birth rate isn’t a reason to consider even prima facie evidence–unless you consider big families to be a reason to convert!
Statistics are funny things. What if we considered conversion rate a reason to convert? If you look at Operation World statistics, evangelical Christianity is growing very quickly by conversions outside the developed world, but even smaller groups (such as Baha’i and Islam, when they are minorities in other countries) grow faster yet in some places (you can have a 50% increase very quickly if you start with 20). At that level, it’s not statistically really that reliable.