Religions are more different than alike

by Dana on June 16, 2010

As pointed out by Stephen Prothero, taken from reviews here and here:

Just as puritanical Wahhabis refuse to accept that Sufis are proper Muslims, for example, so many evangelical and other Christians insist that Mormons lie outside the orthodox Christian fold. Some major traditions stretch the definitional limits of the word religion to the breaking point. Confucianism, and perhaps a couple other Asian traditions, would appear to have more in common with an ethical system such as stoicism than with most other religious systems, in which creeds and deities and worship are more central. So why is one called a religion and the other not?

Christians regard sin as the problem and see salvation as the solution. Muslims define the problem as pride that can only be conquered by submission. Buddhists seek to overcome suffering while Christians regard suffering as ennobling, which is why Christians aren’t trying to achieve nirvana. Buddhists, unlike Christians, aren’t looking for salvation since they don’t believe in sin. Neither do Confucians. And while Jews and Muslims speak of sin, they are not all that interested in salvation from their sins.

He also went on the Colbert Report to explain the different things each religion set out to explain, which are much more different than a layperson like me would expect.

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