GCCCD The Study of Traditional Religions Discussion
First, as we start coming to the close of our course, I would like us to start thinking about the similarities and differences between the various traditions that we have studied so far.
For this discussion, I want you to reflect back on the religious traditions that we’ve studied so far – what similarities have you found between any of the religions? Have you found similar ideas, ethical teachings, stories, etc? Were you surprised or confused by these similarities?
Second, we began the semester with Prothero’s “Introduction”, in which he says that the great religions of the world are not the same, and we need to keep in mind their differences if we want to understand them correctly and work for greater interfaith relations in the world. After learning about four of the five of the world’s largest and most influential religions (with Islam still to come), do you think that they are more different than similar? Or that they are more similar than different? In other words, do you agree with Prothero or with the “perennial philosophers” who claim that ultimately, the religions of the world’s are just different paths to the same goal?
Thus far we have been introduced to four of the five great religions of the world consisting of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism. Buddhism and Hinduism feel like they are cut from the same cloth, and the same can be applied to Christianity and Judaism. They also historically took inspiration, if not entire texts from one another. There are many similarities in the myths of origin as well as the overall topics that they try to give an explanation to. Christianity and Judaism even share the old testament as the groundwork for their religions and only start to differ in the later texts. I have to admit that i was a bit surprised to find out how similar they really were, and I am sure many other people have experienced this as typically you are raised as one religion and get no exposure to any other religious group. Even as someone who does not follow a religion, I never took the time to explore all the religions in order to properly compare and contrast them.
After getting familiar with the major religions of the world, I believe that Prothero was incorrect in his statement that the great religions of the world differ greatly, and that understanding that is the key to interfaith relations. I would argue that the more you familiarize yourself with the world religions, you start to notice great similarities between them, as well as similarities in the goals that they accomplish. I agree with the perennial philosophers that claim that embracing the similarities will get an individual to understand that all religions ultimately lead to the same goal.