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Alexandria Hoggan

RELS 2300-401

Suzanne Jacobs

4 August 2017
Apples to Oranges


Of course they are I was thinking when the question was presented at the beginning of

the semester. Having little to no knowledge about any religion I made a stereotypical guess that

they are all the same. Over the course of the semester I realized they are not only different but

very different. Like I previously stated I had an insignificant thoughts about religion in general

not, spirituality as they are also very different but, Ill explain that later. Because, of that little

knowledge I had no idea that religion was a broad term. Define religion---hard right. Well this is

not uncommon, about everyone you know has a different definition of religion and what it means

to them. According to philosopher William James Religion, whatever it is, is a man's total

reaction upon life." He sees religion different than I do and probably different from you as well.

My personal definition would loosely discuss community and a group focusing on the aspect of

unity not necessarily spirituality. This plays a huge part in how religions are different because,

not only does the religion itself see it differently but, the members do as well. Everyones

worldview outlooks are distinct which helps shape the religion so there, is no way that they could

be all the same if they dont even agree on a definition.

Who is God?
A major difference in each of these religions is how they see deities. A deity is a

worshiped figure that can be god like or just praised for their spirituality. In Hinduism they

recognize many deities (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) and they all represent something different.

Brahma is the creator god, Shiva is the destroyer and Vishnu is the preserve. They worship many

beings but, that doesnt mean they are on a god like level. These deities create a Trimurti as

Hindus only see one true god known as Brahman and he comes in many forms. Hinduism is very

mystical and immanent. They believe Brahman works with them and is present on this Earth.

Islam idolizes Muhammad but, he is not god but the messenger. Allah is the only true god in

Islam and to put anyone above him is sinful. God is transcendent and only in one form and

should not be represented as something else. He does not walk around among us but, seen up in

the heaven looking down. Christianity is similar to Islam except there is not Muhammad but,

Jesus Christ. Jesus is seen as Gods son born from the Virgin Mary. Jesus was savior who had

sermons on Christianity and was later executed and resurrected. Christians also believe in a

trinity similar to Hinduism but, God, Holy Spirit, and Jesus but, they are all seen as one person.

In Islam there is nothing about resurrection or a trinity. Buddhism has a large difference as it is

an atheist religion. They do not believe in God but, worship The Buddha and his teachings.

Buddhism is focused on suffering and being relieved of that suffering. They do not pray to

Buddha or anybody else. So as you can see all of these religions see God differently even ones

that you would think are similar are different. For me that is a huge reason why I believe all

religions are different because, they dont see their God the same way. They dont pray or

worship the same way. It is all diverse.

Beliefs for Western Traditions

For the most part all Western traditions have similar idols pop up in there sacred text.

Abraham, Jesus Christ, Mary, Sarah, Adam, God, Moses, and more. But, each idol has done

something different in each religion. Abraham is more focused on in Judaism than in

Christianity, and Islam. Judaism sees him as the first patriarch and the first Jew. God sends him

throw a series of tests to prove his faith to him when proven he is seen as devout. Abraham

marries Sarah and they conceive a child named Isaac who has a child named Jacob. All of these

figures are heavily focused on in Judaism but, not so much Islam and Christianity. Jews also do

not emphasize Jesus Christ nor believe he is the messiah like Christianity. Also they follow the

Old Testament in the Torah. Dislike from Islam they believe Moses was the prophet and

messenger of God who then later frees them of enslavement. Christianity has a large emphasis on

Jesus Christ and the son ship of Jesus and God. They believe Jesus died on the cross for their sins

and was resurrected and sent to heaven now awaiting for Gods approval to come back to Earth.

They believe Jesus was human but, had god-like qualities like healing capabilities and walking

on water. Other western traditions question these beliefs. They also believe you need to accept

Jesus Christ as the savior so he can heal you sins and you can be accepted into heaven.

Christianity has many denominations so the stories may differ between them. Catholicism

emphasizes the 10 commandments while, Orthodox emphasizes the Old Testament. Unalike

Judaism there is a concept of heaven and hell in Christianity and Islam. Scholars will compare

Judaism and Islam and say they are very similar as the only major differences are the

Muhammad/ Moses debate and the heaven/hell concept. While these are true I believe there are
more differences between the two. Islam is a strict monotheistic religion and they question

Christianity to be polytheistic. Allah is the only god and no other god will exist. He is the only

savior and the only one who should be prayed too. Muhammad is his prophet. Jesus Christ is also

a prophet in Islam but, not emphasized. Abraham exists as well but, he had an affair with Hagar

an Egyptian woman and had a son named Ismael. Sarah banished them so Abraham took them to

Mecca where the birthplace of Muhammad was. Also in Mecca was where Adam became the

prophet. Muslims goal is to follow the Five Pillars of Islam which are Shahada (faith), Salat

(pray five times a day), Zakat (charity), Sawm (fasting), and Hajj (pilgrimage). Muslims also

believe judgement day will come so they must live their lives as if it would come tomorrow. A

concept I found fascinating was the belief only God can judge an idea that only God can judge

your sins and mistakes he knows your heart. I understand that is a concept of all western

traditions but, it seems more practiced in the Islamic faith.

Beliefs in Eastern Traditions

Many people believe Hinduism and Buddhism are very similar but, Hinduism is more

like Christianity than Buddhism. Hindus emphasize every human has a soul (atman) and a

concept of self (Brahman). They goal in Hinduism to release the soul from the wheel of samsara

so they can achieve enlightenment. They want to break the wheel of birth, death, and

reincarnation. Moksha can be attained through life so they can enjoy their current state. Karma

can also be achieved by mediation or multiple forms of yoga.

Hinduism is also polytheistic and recognizes many deities in one form of a God.

(Pictured above.) Hindus also have the holy text the Vedas to help them stop the cycle of

reincarnation. Hinduism also had a caste system that organized followers from a higher value to

a lower value. Everyone was needed to contribute economically for society to stay stable. The

reason Buddhism came about was Siddhartha Gautama an Indian prince sheltered from society

saw the hardships the Dalits were going through in the caste system and recognized the truths.

He then left his palace and went wondering to achieve enlightenment through mediation.

(Pictured above)Buddhist believe in reaching Nirvana which then you are broken from the cycle

of rebirth and your suffering has ended. Many Buddhist monks and nuns achieve this. Buddhist

also believe there is no concept of self or a soul so your soul does not pass on when you

reincarnate. It is also an atheistic religion and they do no worship anyone but, they do pray to

Buddha to achieve karma. Buddhists also follow the eightfold path to achieve salvation.

All of these religions follow different practices to achieve salvation or their own version

of it. Some religions pray some meditate. They all have different holy days and symbols that

represent spiritual things to them. All do propose a concept of love for others and kindness which

is one of the few things that are similar about them. Also the part I stated above about being in a

community. Religions are a community of people who have same spiritual views on God and the

history. Many people confuse spirituality with religion and that only religious people are spiritual

but, that is not the case. To me spirituality is the recognition of ones self and achieving an

understanding of what you think goes on in the world spiritual wise. You have

achieved/achieving peace with your questions about the world and how the spiritual world works

with ours. You do not have to believe in God to be spiritual but, just a believer in a world where

mystical things happen.


Historically all of these religions are different. They all have different origin stories and

beliefs of what happened and why we were created. Different texts, languages, locations, and

more all historically prove that these religions are all different. This why I believe they are not all

the same. Salvation wise they are all trying to accomplish the same thing and that is to feel good

about why they are here and what is to come. But, that feeling is achieved in all different ways.

Religion across the board has similarities but, if you look at each individual religion you see

massive differences between them. I dont believe creating a universal religion would be

beneficial because, religions have existed for so long it would be impossible for everyone to

believe the same thing. Because, it comes down to we are all different and everyone has a

different idea of religion.

Works Cited
Fisher, Mary Pat. Living Religions. Pearson Publishing, 2016. eBook.