I hear it over and over: all religions are equal. Even more, all religions are the same. And then, who are we to judge? But the big thing: they're equal, equal, equal, they all come from the same source, they're basically the same.
Most of the people who say this have not studied religions deeply. Some have.
One told me that they're all basically the same - and then that he's found more good in some than others. Huh? If all religions are the same, how can some have more good (or bad) than others?
My point: to say all religions are equal is the same as saying all governments are equal, all medical treatments are equal, all child-rearing practices are equal. One set of parents locks their child in a closet when the child disobeys; another does something quite different. Why would anyone accept that they're equal, just because they're both ways of bringing up children?
The interesting thing: the people who favor some of the most judgmental religions, the people who hold that theirs is the only true religion do NOT believe that all religions are the same or equal. They tend to be utterly convinced, in fact, that theirs is not only the best, but the one and only - and often that those who do not accept their religion will go to hell.
Yet masses of people who do not follow such a religion, but are much more tolerant and accepting, are supposed to
accept that such a religion is the same and equal - including equal to tolerant religious and spiritual beliefs which hold there is a loving god who favors our full inner development!!! Amazingly, not only are they supposed to - but that is exactly what millions upon millions of people accept. After all, all religions are the same and equal.
Something is clearly going wrong with the thinking of the people accepting of all religions. These people would not dream of arguing that all political platforms are equal. In fact, they may ardently support one party or another. Nor would they dream of arguing that all medical practices are equal, when clearly some offer a much higher rate of recovery from illness than others.
So what is going on with religion?
It's simple. What's happened is, at present in the West, many people have been infected with ... a taboo. It has become taboo, for millions upon millions of people, to evaluate religions, to think about religion, to judge religions. They hit an automatic mental block, inner wall - which they don't recognize as such.
Don't be judgmental, all religions are equal - those are often their mantras.
I would like them to substitute another mantra: use good judgment.
As Shakespeare had one of his characters utter in one of his plays, Ay, there's the rub.
That's from a famous soliloquy - "To sleep, perchance to dream." and then comes that equally important, but less famous line, "Ay, there's the rub" - meaning, there's the tough thing, the catch, the problem.
In this case, easy to say, use good judgment. But what's good judgment.? We can't call upon god, the goddess, the gods - depending on the religion - to come down and prove the truth of the claims made in their name. So that's out.
So we have to use our own good judgment.
Even harder: it means we are likely to incur the wrath of people who believe in one religion or another. Sometimes more than wrath: Salman Rushdie has lived in hiding, with a price on his head, for years and years. The Dane who dared draw a small cartoon that incurred the wrath of some Muslims also has a price on his head and was the object of a murder plot (foiled, in this case). A Dutch filmmaker was stabbed to death. An outspoken ex-Muslim woman, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, had to flee the Netherlands where even constant surveillance was not enough to protect her.
Much easier to go: oh all religions are the same, all religions are equal.
I say: equal? not a religion that threatens to murder people who say or depict something some religious leaders do not like having said or depicted.
But even if it's safe to say anything, that doesn't make the religion the same as, or even equal to any other.
So what do we base our judgment on, if we can't ask the deities to prove their own cases?
My judgment is based on ethics.
Some people ask, how can we humans determine what is ethical, without turning to some religion or other (because what is ethical varies, religion to religion)?
There are 2 variants of ethics from a religious perspective.
Perspective One: God makes things right or wrong. So murdering your parents (or children) may be right or wrong, depending on what a deity decrees.
A deity can only know what is right or wrong. He or she may have a better grasp than humans, if the deity happens to be, say, omniscient (which we humans certainly are not). But if murdering your parents (or children) is bad, then it's bad. There's nothing a deity can do about it.
If you favor Perspective One (the deity makes things good or bed), you're up against an impossible obstacle: figuring out which deity has the truth. At best, you can believe one deity or another. I suppose you can try to find proof that one deity or another is more likely to be the one and only.
Perspective Two is the one that makes sense to me: a deity may know more than you or me, but we too have access to information, and with that, we can figure out (though imperfectly) what is right and what is wrong.
And at that point it becomes much easier to figure out which religion has more right on its side. You evaluate their enormously varying ethics.
I'll take a pet issue of mine: animal rights, and from that, animal sacrifice.
sacrifice is what, age seven, first roused my inner ethical sense. That voice spoke to me, loud and clear. I knew then, and still know now, that no deity would want an animal killed, to smell the smoke or for whatever other reason. I can understand a deity's accepting our eating animals - but to kill an animal to make a deity happy? As an adult, I say: only a human could imagine that! As a child, reading a child's version of the bible, and coming upon the story in which a brother killed animals and burned them for god, I just utterly knew this was wrong.
Over and over, for me, ethics are what counts - equality between women and men, people of all sexual orientations. No caste system, no slavery.
It's easy to back these ethical stands with evidence.
So, for me, a religion must measure up to my ethical standards - ethical standards based on evidence.
And clearly, all religions are not the same, and likewise all religions are not equal.
Likewise, a government must measure up. And a medical treatment. Of course governments and medical treatments aren't perfect - humans can't ever get things to be perfect. But clearly some are better than others, as we can see using good judgment.
Good judgment can't answer everything. Which ethical religion is the best? There I go: take your pick. It's likewise tough to know just what laws are best, and what medical treatments. We're always having to improve and improve some more.
But the main point is clear: use good judgment.
September 19, 2009
copyright © Elsa Schieder 2009, 2011 - all rights reserved
Click here to go from
this exploration of all religions the same?
questions about what different religions hold
about The Ultimate Reality.
Click here for
a connected quest,
Proof of Life after Death.
here to go to from exploring all religions the same?
to all the ideas taken on in The Idea Emporium,
from animal rights, to Islam,
to gambling, to the ultimate reality.
Are All Religions The Same?
Different religions have a different ultimate reality.
So, religions same, religions equal?
What about religions and facts?.
The Idea Emporium on:
Are All Religions the Same? Equal?
So many people have questions about god, questions about the ultimate reality?
Is there a god? A goddess? Are there gods?
What is the ultimate reality? Is there life after death? Is there any heaven, any hell, any coming back, anything that continues?
We're in a transition time. We used to live, most of us, in some small niche. Now our niche - with computers and cell phones and the rest of modern technology - is the world. So many different messages. Hard to sort through it all. And one very loud message in the West: don't judge, everyone is equal, all cultures are equal, all religions the same.
Instead of giving space for questions about god and the ultimate reality, there is an inner wall built into most people: taboo Don't look. Don't ask. Accept this as the truth: all religions
the same, al religions equal, religious beliefs all equal, every ultimate reality equal, religions same, religions are the same, every world religion is equal and the same, modern religions are all the same. Do not ask what is this religion about, what is religion about, accept and intone over and over: all religions the same. They are about god, and don't ask what is god about in the different religions, accept that whatever is held about the gods and the ultimate reality, all religions the same, all religions equal.
Are all religions the same? Important to dare to address that.
Sept 26, 2009
copyright © Elsa Schieder 2009, 2011 - all rights reserved
Are all religions the same? Are all religions equal?
What about religions and facts? Facts:
different religions have different ethics,
different religious beliefs, a different ultimate reality.
Click here to Subscribe
top of page