0
   

Life's big questions - a religious comparison

 
 
JPB
 
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 09:41 am
I'm teaching a class to 7th graders in comparative religions. It's a Sunday School class for UU kids as they begin to study their own beliefs and work towards putting words to them. I'd like to post some materials I have for some of the different questions we study and get additional feedback from followers of the various religious doctrines we present. I'll say upfront that these are generalizations and probably over-generalizations. I'd like to know if any of the material is flagrantly wrong or if there are other salient points on each topic. Thanks in advance. The questions are:

Is there a God(s)?
Has God assumed human form?
What is the origin of the universe and life?
Is there life after death?
Why does evil exist?
What causes undeserved suffering?
How do you achieve salvation?
Contemporary issues (abortion, homosexuality, gender roles, divorce).

Here's the first one --

Comparison of Religions-Belief in God(s)

Hinduism

Many Hindus believe in Brahman (God) as the impersonal ultimate reality/world soul. Many believe God is both an impersonal force and personal savior. There are many gods and goddesses (devas) representative of various aspects of the One Supreme God. The Hindu trinity of Brahman is the creator (Brahma), the preserver (Vishnu), and destroyer (Shiva) of the universe.

Buddhism (Theravada)

The concept of a supreme Creator God is rejected or at least considered irrelevant to Theravada Buddhism. Buddha, "the Awakened One," is revered above all--not as "God" but as the supreme sage, the model of a fully enlightened person.

Buddhism (Mahayana)

There is no Creator or ruler God. However, belief in God is present in the Mahayana doctrine of The Three Bodies (forms) of Buddha: (1) Body of Essence--the indescribable, impersonal Absolute Reality, or Ultimate Truth that is Nirvana (Infinite Bliss); (2) Body of Bliss or Enjoyment--Buddha as divine, deity, formless, celestial spirit with saving power of grace, omnipotence, omniscience; and (3) Body of Transformation or Emanation--an illusion or emanation in human form provided by the divine Buddha to guide humans to Enlightenment. Any person can potentially achieve Buddhahood, transcending personality and becoming one with the impersonal Ultimate Reality, which is Infinite Bliss (Nirvana). There are countless Buddhas presiding over countless universes. Bodhisattvas--humans and celestial spirits who sacrifice their imminent liberation (Buddhahood) to help all others to become liberated--are revered or worshipped as gods or saints by some.

Islam

There exists only one personal God Almighty--Creator, all-powerful, ever-present, and all-knowing--formless, bodiless spirit.

Judaism (Orthodox)

There exists only one personal God Almighty--creator, all-powerful, ever-present, and all-knowing--formless, bodiless spirit.

Judaism (Reform)

The official stance is that there is one God Almighty--Creator, all-powerful, ever-present, and all knowing--formless, bodiless spirit. However, some do not believe in a God or question the existence of a God. All beliefs are welcomed and considered personal.

Christian (Catholicism)

Trinity of the Father (God), the Son (Christ), and the Holy Spirit that comprises one God Almighty.

Christian (Conservative Protestantism): for example, Pentecostal, Southern Baptist, fundamentalist, evangelical, Lutheran,Anglican/Episcopalian

Most Conservative Protestants believe God is bodiless, omnipresent spirit--a Trinity of the Father (God), the Son (Christ), and the Holy Spirit that comprises one God Almighty.

Christian (Liberal Protestantism) : for example, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Anglican/Episcopalian

Trinity of the Father (God), the Son (Christ), and the Holy Spirit that comprises one God Almighty. Many believe God is bodiless.

Unitarian Universalism

Unitarian Universalists welcome all beliefs about God, including belief that God does not exist. Some congregations are formed for those who share a common belief, e.g. Christianity.
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 2,459 • Replies: 40
No top replies

 
tinygiraffe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 09:51 am
that's fantastic.

one thing i'd really like to do someday is build a "church" kind of like uu, but more open. one where atheists and agnostics would not merely feel welcome, but where they and theists could really learn to understand each other, and have some sense of community.

there wouldn't be any god for the atheists, and the agnostic stance would be part of the culture, but so would the presence of theists.

the point of such a community would be different for different people, jewish for jews, islamic for muslims, and secualar humanist for atheists. the community would have common ground in wanting to make earth a better place to live for people of different beliefs.

uu is the closest thing i know to that, but i've been to a uu meeting and i'm not sure i found the atmosphere i envision. it was really cool though.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 10:03 am
Hi tinygiraffe -- there's no such thing as a typical UU church or fellowship. They all tend to be a reflection of the membership. Some are more Christian oriented, others are down right secular. The one I attend has a Buddhist group that meets weekly (in addition to the regular service), a Wicca group, a group that's social action oriented, a GLTBQ group, a singles group, plenty of agnostics and atheists, and because we live in a predominately Jewish area, a large number of inter-faith families.

Here's the second question --

Comparison of Religions - Has God assumed human form?

Hinduism


Yes. There are many if not countless incarnations (human forms) and manifestations (avatars) of God also worshipped as Gods.

Buddhism (Theravada)

No. Buddha was a human, a fully enlightened spiritual teacher and inspiration. He was not a God. As there is no belief in God, there are no incarnations of God worshipped.

Buddhism (Mahayana)

The historic Buddha, the person Siddhartha Gautama, is considered by many as an emanation or illusion of the highest power (which is also called Buddha). Many believe there have been countless Buddhas on earth.

Islam

No. Muhammad is revered as the last and greatest of about 124,000 Prophets/Messengers. Jesus Christ was a Prophet/Messenger of miraculous birth who performed miracles, ascended to heaven before crucifixion, and will return as a Muslim--but he was not an incarnation of God.

Judaism (Orthodox)

No. Moses was the greatest of all prophets.

Judaism (Reform)

No. Moses was the greatest of all prophets.

Christian (Catholicism)

Yes. Jesus Christ is God's only incarnation, Son of God and God.

Christian (Conservative Protestantism): for example, Pentecostal, Southern Baptist, fundamentalist, evangelical, Lutheran,Anglican/Episcopalian

Yes. Jesus Christ is God's only incarnation. He is the Son of God and God, both fully divine and fully human, part of the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which comprises one God Almighty.

Christian (Liberal Protestantism) : for example, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Anglican/Episcopalian

Beliefs vary from the literal to the symbolic belief in Jesus Christ as God's incarnation. Some believe we are all sons and daughters of God and that Christ was exemplary, but not God.

Unitarian Universalism

Very diverse beliefs, including belief in no incarnations, or that all are the embodiment of God. Some believe Christ is God's Son, or not Son but "Wayshower."
0 Replies
 
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 10:10 am
Perhaps you may wish to include the name(s) of God, and definitions.

The word god is simply a title, as is lord or doctor. In the Hebrew religion, the name assigned to God, the one Jews still refuse to even attempt to pronounce, is represented in English by the word Jehovah or Yahweh. Jehovah, the most common pronunciation, is the causative form, the imperfect state, of the Hebrew verb ha¬∑wah′ (become); meaning "He Causes to Become".

I believe that the word Allah is a derivation of the Hebrew el (ellah). More to it, of course.

Since some make gods of sports stars, or money, or even their own bellies, this might be well to consider.
0 Replies
 
neologist
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 10:16 am
Oh, and since you are already into the second question: While the bible mentions divine beings (god with lower case 'g') taking human form, there is compelling argument against Jehovah having done so. The trinitarian doctrine was not finalized until the 4th century.

You would have to include the many christian groups not supporting the trinitarian doctrine. Wasn't Unitarianism originally founded on this idea?
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 10:26 am
Good points, neo, thanks! Yes, Christianity is unique within the Abrahamic religions to espouse the Holy Trinity. The origins of Unitarianism are usually considered to be Michael Servetus' rejection of the trinity during the 16th century, but can be traced as far back as the Arian controversy of the Nicaean Council in 325.

I've also just noticed that the Anglican/Presbyterian and Lutheran churches are listed as examples of both liberal and conservative Christian. I wonder if that's intentional, indicating that some churches within those faiths are more conservative than others.

The third question --

Comparison of Religions - What is the origin of the universe and life?

Hinduism


There are diverse beliefs. Many believe the universe recreates itself cyclically after karma is extinguished from all individuals. Many believe in a Creator God.

Buddhism (Theravada)[\b]

Buddhists consider it the job of scientists to explain origins of the universe and life. There is no contradiction with scientific discovery, however many maintain that the world creates and recreates itself millions of times every fraction of a second.

Buddhism (Mahayana)

There is no Creator God. All matter is illusion or manifestation of the Ultimate Reality. Generally, Mahayana Buddhist beliefs don't find modern scientific discoveries contradictory to Buddhist thought.

Islam

God created the heavens and earth in six days, but the Qur'an refers to a "day" as equal to thousands or tens of thousands (or any large number) of years. In the West, some Muslims allow for the belief in evolution but only as controlled by God.

Judaism (Orthodox)

They hold to the book of Genesis literally, that God created the universe/life from nothing, in less than 7 days, less than 10,000 years ago; Adam and Eve were the first humans. But, some hold that a "day" in the Bible is not defined as 24 hours, and some believe that scientific discoveries don't contradict but attest to God's awesome power.

Judaism (Reform)

Most believe that Genesis is to be understood symbolically. God created and controls all phenomena revealed by modern science.

Christian (Catholicism)

A literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis is held by some, but the Church maintains that God gave humankind both supernatural revelation in the Bible and natural revelation through the rational human mind. One may harmonize science with the book of Genesis, in that a "day" in the Bible is not defined as a 24-hour day. God created the universe from nothing, so if the "Big Bang" theory is true, then God created this event. If evolution occurred, it is under the choice and control of God.

Christian (Conservative Protestantism): for example, Pentecostal, Southern Baptist, fundamentalist, evangelical, Lutheran,Anglican/Episcopalian

The biblical book of Genesis is fact. God created the universe and all life forms from nothing in less than 7 days, less than 10,000 years ago--not as revealed by modern science. Many resolve the conflict between scientific evidence and the book of Genesis with the contention that God created the appearance of evolution (perhaps as a test of faith), or that scientific evidence is faulty.

Christian (Liberal Protestantism) : for example, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Anglican/Episcopalian

The Bible's account is symbolic. God created and controls the processes that account for the universe and life (e.g. evolution), as continually revealed by modern science.

Unitarian Universalism

There are diverse beliefs, but most believe in the Bible as symbolic and that natural processes account for origins.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 10:50 am
I think there are two things I would add to your first item.

1. I would explain the distincttion between monotheism, polytheism, etc..

2. I would explain that the God referred to by Jews, Christians and Muslims is the same diety.

I'm also puzzled by your inclusion of the word "bodiless" in reference to god for Jews, Muslims and most of the Christian faiths but not for Catholics. Is that intentional or simply an oversight?
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 11:01 am
JPB wrote:
I've also just noticed that the Anglican/Presbyterian and Lutheran churches are listed as examples of both liberal and conservative Christian. I wonder if that's intentional, indicating that some churches within those faiths are more conservative than others.



I can only speak to the Lutheran angle of this - some churches are MUCH more conservative than others. Quite a wide range of beliefs - and practices - from Evangelical to not having a physical building.
0 Replies
 
TheCorrectResponse
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 11:11 am
The Buddhist have a wonderful saying:
"If you see the Buddha walking down the street, kill him." Meaning if you have concretized God to the extent that you can point to him, that ain't God!

Miester Eckhert had a similar saying:
"The greatest leavetaking on the way to God is the leavetaking of God"


While most of his works, with a few exceptions, would be too scholarly for a 7th grader, I highly recommend Joseph Campbell as a superior source of information on the topic of mythology and comparative religion.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 11:37 am
fishin wrote:
I think there are two things I would add to your first item.

1. I would explain the distincttion between monotheism, polytheism, etc..

2. I would explain that the God referred to by Jews, Christians and Muslims is the same diety.

I'm also puzzled by your inclusion of the word "bodiless" in reference to god for Jews, Muslims and most of the Christian faiths but not for Catholics. Is that intentional or simply an oversight?


On the first point, we have an introduction that includes discussion of various forms of theism (including atheism) as well as agnosticism. The intro class talks about why peoples historically have formed religions (partly to answer Life's Big Questions) and includes discussions of earth-centric or pagan (Native American, Wicca, Aboriginal, Yoruba, etc) traditions and primal roots of today's mainstream religions. Subsequent weeks are devoted to the individual belief systems.

We'll definitely make a point that the three branches of the Abrahamic religions all revere the same diety.

I think the word "bodiless" is used to directly respond to the question of God historically taking a human form. Christians believe (in various slants) that God took human form in the person of Jesus and was at one time manifested as a man. Is there something else we should add to that to make it more valid?

I should point out that we don't present judgments on any of the belief systems. It's an informational presentation letting the kids hear different views and practices. Our message is generally that there is no one perfect answer or belief system and that beliefs can/should change over time. We aren't hoping that kids pick a faith tradition from a list, but that they themselves can give thought to the questions and think about how they feel about each one. If others reading this hear a bias in the tone, I'd appreciate that being highlighted as well.

ehbeth - thanks, that's helpful. I'm not surprised there are differences within the individual denominations. We also try to make the point that individuals within a denomination don't necessarily follow or believe all of the tenets of their religion.

TheCorrectResponse - thanks for the reference. I'll pick it up for myself. I love reading about this stuff.

The fourth question --

Comparison of Religions - Is there life after death?

Hinduism


Through laws of karma, one's soul is reborn until enlightened and liberated from rebirth, at which time you enter a state of ultimate bliss (moksha) and become one with the ultimate truth and reality, God, Brahman. One may be reborn into a number of heavens and hells, or as lower life forms, depending on one's karma.

Buddhism (Theravada)

There is no passage of individual souls into another body after death, but through the law of karma, one's wholesome or unwholesome intentions become imprinted in the mind. Negative mental states persist through continual rebirth until one's intentions become wholesome. Once fully enlightened, one is liberated from rebirths, reaching a state of absolute selflessness resulting in ultimate bliss called Nirvana--the "Deathless State." One becomes Buddha (or one with Buddha). Some Buddhists, especially modern Western, don't emphasize or believe in literal rebirth.

Buddhism (Mahayana)

There is no passage of individual souls into another body after death, but through the law of karma, one's wholesome or unwholesome intentions become imprinted in the mind. Negative mental states persist through continual rebirth until one's intentions become wholesome. Once fully enlightened, one is liberated from rebirths, reaching a state of absolute selflessness resulting in ultimate bliss called Nirvana--the "Deathless State." One becomes Buddha (or one with Buddha). Some Buddhists, especially modern Western, don't emphasize or believe in literal rebirth.

Islam

Saved souls will experience the bliss of heaven and unsaved souls the torture of hell. On Judgment Day, God will resurrect the dead, unite body and soul, and judge all for eternity in heaven or hell. There are seven layers of heaven.

Judaism (Orthodox)

Traditional Judaism believes in the World to Come, the coming of the messianic age heralded by the messiah, and a resurrection of the dead, but beliefs vary on the details. Some believe souls of the righteous go to heaven, or are reincarnated, while the wicked suffer from a hell of their own making or remain dead. Some believe God will resurrect the righteous to live on earth after the Messiah comes to purify the world. Judaism generally focuses on strictly following God's commandments rather than on details of afterlife or rewards after death.

Judaism (Reform)

Reform Jews believe in the world to come and a messianic age (but no individual Messiah). Personal beliefs in the details of afterlife are diverse, as there is no official position. Some believe in heaven and hell but only as states of consciousness; some believe in reincarnation; some believe God is all-forgiving; and some may not believe in an actual afterlife. Regardless, Judaism generally focuses on living a virtuous life, rather than working toward reward after death.

Christian (Catholicism)

God immediately judges who will go directly to heaven or hell; most will go to purgatory for punishment and purification. Reward and punishment are relative to one's deeds. Hell was traditionally considered a literal place of eternal torture, but Pope John Paul II has described hell as the condition of pain that results from alienation from God, a thing of one's own doing, not an actual place. When Christ returns at the end of the world, he will judge all humans. All the dead will be bodily resurrected, the righteous to glorified bodies, evildoers to judgment.

Christian (Conservative Protestantism): for example, Pentecostal, Southern Baptist, fundamentalist, evangelical, Lutheran,Anglican/Episcopalian

Saved souls experience the bliss of heaven and unsaved souls the torture of hell. On Judgment Day, Jesus Christ will resurrect the dead, reunite body and soul, and judge each for eternity in heaven, or on a restored, paradisiacal earth, or in hell. Some believe the souls of the dead will remain "asleep" until the resurrection and final judgment.

Christian (Liberal Protestantism) : for example, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Anglican/Episcopalian

Goodness will somehow be rewarded and evil punished after death, but what is most important is how you show your faith and conduct your life on earth.

Unitarian Universalism

There are diverse beliefs, but most believe that heaven and hell are not places but are symbolic. Some believe heaven and hell are states of consciousness either in life or continuing after death; some believe in reincarnation; some believe that afterlife is nonexistent or not known or not important, as actions in life are all that matter.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 11:53 am
JPB wrote:
I think the word "bodiless" is used to directly respond to the question of God historically taking a human form. Christians believe (in various slants) that God took human form in the person of Jesus and was at one time manifested as a man. Is there something else we should add to that to make it more valid?


I guess it caught my eye because you have "bodiless" listed for all of the Christian religions except for the Catholics. As you say yourself, Christians believe that god took human form - a point I agree with. But you have the Pentacostals and Methodists as seeing god as bodiless.

They can't see him as both bodiless AND as having taken human form.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 12:10 pm
Oh, ok. I see what you're saying, fishin. I wonder if the intent there is to talk about the "Body of Christ" as in the eucharist. But Catholics aren't the only ones who use that term. I'll have to check into that further, thanks.
0 Replies
 
coluber2001
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 12:22 pm
Comparative religion study is often a way a seeker goes about developing a spiritual life, but it's all rather silly, isn't it?

It reminds me of the Woody Allen character in the movie "Hannah and Her Sisters." Woody has a near crisis and it sparks him to look for a religion. He talks to priests, ministers, and even a Krishna person looking for a faith. Then he literally goes shopping. He comes back from grocery shopping and unloads the bags at home, including a picture of Jesus and a crucifex. His mother goes into hysterics because he seems to be abandoning his Jewishness. It's all very funny and looks just like religious life in America.

Regarding teaching religion to children, some of the dialoges of Krishnamurti with children are wonderful.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 12:31 pm
What "disturbs" me a bit, is that Christian churches are 'divided', as if being on the same, different level like Hinduism to Buddhism (which is listed twice as well9 etc.

We here in Europe have Christian churches and then the other religions, each in its varieties.

But that's certainly no topic here since it's US-focused.


JPB wrote:
Oh, ok. I see what you're saying, fishin. I wonder if the intent there is to talk about the "Body of Christ" as in the eucharist. But Catholics aren't the only ones who use that term. I'll have to check into that further, thanks.


On the World Council of Churches's website are some explanations.
0 Replies
 
TheCorrectResponse
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 12:48 pm
One of the most difficult concepts to teach to children is the idea that the western religions are moralist religions, i.e. there is an absolute good and an absolute evil and these are determinable. The eastern and primitive religions are amoral religions. Note: NOT immoral. There is good and evil but not in an absolute sense. What is seen as good at one time or from one point of view can at another time or another point of view be seen as evil. This is most apparent in Shiva who is most often characterized as the God of destruction in the west but is also the God whose dance is the dance of the universe. In this case Shiva is seen as the lord of creation. All Hindu God's have this dual character. Kali the lord of death is also the lord of sex, etc.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 12:58 pm
coluber2001 wrote:
Regarding teaching religion to children, some of the dialoges of Krishnamurti with children are wonderful.


I must admit I find this well stated.
Quote:
"I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path."[52]

and also:

"This is no magnificent deed, because I do not want followers, and I mean this. The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth. I am not concerned whether you pay attention to what I say or not. I want to do a certain thing in the world and I am going to do it with unwavering concentration. I am concerning myself with only one essential thing: to set man free. I desire to free him from all cages, from all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories and new philosophies."[53]
wiki


Walter, there are many individuals who believe (and are taught) that their version of a particular faith is the only true definition of that religion. Judaism is also broken out, although I notice that Conservative Judaism is not included. Many Protestant groups say that Catholics are not Christian and the Pope recently reiterated that Roman Catholicism is the one true Christian church. I think the separation is partly for presentation purposes on paper and does not intend to infer that any one group is more or less 'right' in its practices.

TheCorrectRespons - excellent point. The discussion of moral and amoral perspectives will fit nicely in the introductory material (which is being presented this Sunday).

The fifth question --

Comparison of Religions - Why does evil exist?

Hinduism


Diverse beliefs. Some believe in gods who have powers to do some evil, a small price to pay to have the gods on our side with their powers to provide great benefits. Many believe evil, sin, and death are illusions, as only the Ultimate Reality (or God) truly exists. Most believe people have free will to commit wrongs, and evil results as cravings, attachments and ignorance accumulate through perpetual rebirths, resulting in greed, hatred, violence. The illusion of evil is extinguished with egoism through enlightenment.

Buddhism (Theravada)

People have free will to commit wrongs or rights. Evil doings may result when egoism, cravings, attachments, and ignorance are expressed as greed, hatred, and violence, which, if unmitigated, is perpetuated through rebirth.

Buddhism (Mahayana)

People have free will to commit wrongs. Evil results as cravings, attachments, and ignorance accumulate through perpetual rebirths, thus perpetuating greed, hatred, and violence.

Islam

People are not inherently sinners but are, by God's design, free to choose right or wrong, including belief or nonbelief in God. Satan and his spirits inhabit the planet and rule the nonbelievers, while Satan cannot touch believers.

Judaism (Orthodox)

Most believe God created Satan as an evil inclination, a tendency that lies within everyone. People also have awareness of and inclination toward goodness. Thus, God provides free will as a test of obedience and faith.

Judaism (Reform)

Most often, Satan is interpreted symbolically to represent selfish desires that are inherent within all. God gave people free will, and people are responsible for their actions.

Christian (Catholicism)

Everyone is a sinner and prone to the influence of Satan unless they find salvation in God and the Church.

Christian (Conservative Protestantism): for example, Pentecostal, Southern Baptist, fundamentalist, evangelical, Lutheran,Anglican/Episcopalian

The original sin of Adam and Eve caused all to inherit sinfulness. Some Conservative Protestants believe that only relatively few people will be saved. The work and influence of Satan prevail among the unsaved and/or those who lack complete faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Christian (Liberal Protestantism) : for example, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Anglican/Episcopalian

Most do not believe that humanity inherited original sin from Adam and Eve or that Satan actually exists. Most believe that God is good and made people inherently good, but also with free will and imperfect nature, which leads some to immoral behavior.

Unitarian Universalism

There are diverse beliefs. Some believe wrong is committed when people distance themselves from God. Some believe in "karma," that what goes around comes around. Some believe wrongdoing is a matter of human nature, psychology, sociology, etc.
0 Replies
 
Asherman
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 01:13 pm
You are doing a pretty fair job of representing Buddhist positions on these various questions. Certainly better than most Sunday School children are likely to get from most presentations.

My comments are solely from a Buddhist perspective, and even so not all Buddhists may agree with my perspective.

In Buddhism there is no "god" nor "soul/self", these are both illusory categorizations of what is ultimately indivisible and complete within itself. It is when we fall into the illusion of multiplicity that suffering arises. Suffering is not "evil", nor is transient happiness "good", both are false categories that only have meaning in the illusory state of time and dimensional space. Suffering is a natural consequence of perceptual existence, but can be mediated by following the Teachings of the Buddha. In Ultimate Reality there is no division possible, and no suffering.

Attachment to the illusory world of multiplicity is the ultimately the source of suffering. One can mitigate suffering by understanding the illusory nature of physical existence, and by cultivating attitudes and behavior that does not un-necessarily increase the suffering of sentient beings. No matter what we do, or refrain from doing, there will be suffering. We can, however, limit that suffering by adhering to a set of doctrines set forth by the Buddha.
0 Replies
 
TheCorrectResponse
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 01:21 pm
Again I'd be real careful about how you present the idea of good/evil, especially as seen form the Eastern perspective.

Here is an example: A child is born, the mother loves the child, teaches the child the correct way to act towards family members, friends, acquaintances, and country. The child listens and performs well. The mother rewards the child with love and kindness as the child learns and performs as the mother teaches.

When the child becomes a young adult suddenly the country the child lives in goes to war. Based on the child's mother's teaching of love of family, neighbors, acquaintances, and country the child enlists in the military. His job is to fly over another country of people he doesn't know and has never met and indiscriminately drop bombs as directed. He does well and is given a medal by his country for his efforts.

Question: Based on this was what the mother taught the child good or evil? Is there an absolute answer? Would the answer of his neighbor or mother be the same answer as the mother of one of the people his bombs killed? Is one answer right and one wrong?

I believe it was the German philosopher Author Schopenhauer who said every human act is evil to someone!
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 01:29 pm
It is also worth noting that JPB is listing Lutherans and Episcopalians as "liberal Christians," equivalent to Methodists and Presbyterians, but thereby distinguishing them from Catholics. Lutherans, Catholics and Episcopalians are all seen by legitimate students of comparative religion as being ritualistic Christians--there is less difference between these three confessions than there is between them and the other Protestant sects which have been enumerated. Additionally, Southern Baptists are listed, but not any other variety of Baptists--and there are many, many types of Baptists. Congregationalists (known in England as Independents, or Independent Congregationalists) are not listed at all, and probably would fit under the rather vague rubric of "liberal Christians." Given that those Puritans who did not become Presbyterians became Congregationalists or Independents, and that those among them who did not become Methodists remain Congregationalists to this day, that is leaving out a major portion of the Protestants in the English-speaking world, and a crucial segment, as they are the theological heritors of the Puritans, a body of believers who were once so powerful as to have unseated and executed the King of England.

Additionally, Judaism is referred to only in terms of Orthodox and Reform Judaism, and therefore ignores Conservative Judaism. Furthermore, it ignores the important distinctions within Orthodox Judaism, which has lead the a separate body of Haredic Jews, often referred to as "ultra-orthodox" Jews, and their most visible subset, the Hasidic Jews.

Islam is treated as a monolithic body, which is truly incredible. In today's world, not to understand that Islam is as fragmented and sectarian as, for example, Protestantism, verges on a crime of intellectual hebetude. The major division in Islam is between Sunni and Shi'a--which is the rough equivalent of the divide between Catholic and Protestant. But just as there are many, many types of Protestants, and just as there are even at least two different types of Catholics (Roman Catholics and Byzantine Catholics--which ignores the distinctions in the middle east made between Orthodox and Catholic Maronites, Orthodox and Catholic Syriacs, etc., etc.)--that is such a gross oversimplification that one hardly knows where to begin to explain distinctions. Among the the Sunni (often misleadingly referred to as orthodox Muslims), there are many sects, ranging from ultra-conservative "fundamentalists" such as the Wahabbis (most notorious today as the sect from which bin Laden springs), to the "mainstream," modern "liberal" Muslims. Among the Shi'a, there are also valid and important distinctions, as between the twelver (majority) sect and the sevener (minority) sect--as well as people such as the Fatamids and Druze, who claim to be Shi'a Muslims. Many, perhaps most, Muslims deny that the Druze are even practitioners of Islam; the Fatimids are, essentially either twelver or sevener Shi'ites as they developed in Egypt and North Africa.

Most incredible of all to me is that JPB's analysis completely ignores the existence of Orthodox Christianity, which is arguably the oldest form of Christianity, and descends directly from the primitive Christian Church.

I think it is important to point all of this out, because you are attempting to push a great many diverse and often widely divergent sects into little boxes into which they don't readily fit. You are attempting to distinguish Catholics (as if there were only one type of Catholic--look up the word ultramontane sometime) from all other Christians, even though Lutherans and Episcopalians are more like Catholics than they are the Protestants sects with which you have lumped them. You ignore the Orthodox Christians altogether, oversimplify Judaism into two conveniently swallowed pills, and treat Islam as a single, monolithic entity. All of this constitutes a failure to teach your students how truly diverse and divergent religious belief can be, and in actuality is, in this world. You don't discuss (apparently) Animism, you haven't mentioned Baha'i, you don't mention the Jains nor the Parsees--both sects with millions of members in and outside of India. You have barely scratched the surface of religious diversity, and much of what you present represents naive oversimplification.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 01:40 pm
Excuse me--further research suggests that there are hundreds of thousands of Parsees, not millions.

You really should make a study of the Jains. There are, literally, millions of Jains in India, and a few million more elsewhere in the world. Jainism is one of the oldest, and perhaps the oldest continuously practiced religion in the world, originating in India before even the rise of Buddhism. Although not necessarily atheistic, the Jains do not believe in a god, and may perhaps have once been a refinement of animism. Many modern, honest Hindu scholars credit the Jains as the source of Hindu theology and ritual practice (including, crucially, the end of animal sacrifice and an end to meat-eating).

You are either going to feed your students oversimplified and even essentially false pap, or you'll need to get across to them that there are far more subtle distinctions within the "major" religions than your listings currently show, and that there are far more religious practices in the world than you have acknowledged.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

700 Inconsistencies in the Bible - Discussion by onevoice
Why do we deliberately fool ourselves? - Discussion by coincidence
Spirituality - Question by Miller
Oneness vs. Trinity - Discussion by Arella Mae
give you chills - Discussion by Bartikus
Evidence for Evolution! - Discussion by Bartikus
Evidence of God! - Discussion by Bartikus
One World Order?! - Discussion by Bartikus
God loves us all....!? - Discussion by Bartikus
The Preambles to Our States - Discussion by Charli
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Life's big questions - a religious comparison
Copyright © 2022 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 01/18/2022 at 01:27:09