Xref: taco alt.atheism:9921 talk.religion.misc:39059
From: mikel@Apple.COM (Mikel Evins)
Subject: Re: THEORY--HEAVEN/HELL
Date: 25 Apr 91 19:13:38 GMT
References: <1991Apr22.firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com>
Organization: Apple Computer Inc., Cupertino, CA
Sigh. Here we go again.
In article towfiq@FTP.COM writes:
>Please note followup to talk.religion.misc. Sorry, a.a!
>>>>>> On 22 Apr 91 19:06:15 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (Kenneth Arromdee) said:
>Kenneth> There are lots of religions, with different (mutually
>Kenneth> exclusive) ideas of God.
>Today's existing religious institutions do seem to have such
>conflicts, but I would question whether the teachings of the
>Messengers these religions are based on actually conflict,
>particularly with respect to the nature of God. The more I study, the
>more similarities I see between the religions, and the more I see that
>people have perverted them. I agree with your statement, with this
Before anyone objects that we should stick to "mainstream"
religions (whatever that means) in this discussion, I will
respond by saying that every definition I have heard of
"mainstream" religions has been self-serving from the
point of view of the objector. Further, are we really to
suppose that Cosmc Truth is defined by popularity?
The above thesis boils down to a claim that the "main points"
of all "major" religions are the same. Let us examine
what might be taken to be "main points":
1. The existence and nature of God
Christianity: God is one being, manifest in a trinity
of beings. He created the universe. He is Good.
He will judge the world, reward the good, and
punish the evil.
Islam: Points are similar, except that God is
emphatically not a trinity.
Buddhism: God who?
Taoism: There are many gods, but they have nothing
to do with human beings. Pay no attention to
them. Praying just encourages them. Leave them
alone and they'll leave you alone.
Hinduism: There are millions of gods. All of them, and
indeed all existing things are really Brahman pretending
not to be omnipotent. Ultimately, you will be
reabsorbed into the Godhead and cease to be an
individual entity (regardless of what you do in life).
Native American religion: What's a god? There are
various entities, all of them our relatives. Some of
them are human, some are animals, plants, rocks,
bodies of water. Some of them are Creators, having
created the world at various times for various
purposes, many of them having nothing to do with human
beings. Some of these entities may be helpful
to human beings, others are mostly harmful, and
many are more or less indifferent. These characteristics
have nothing to do with whether they created the world.
2. Good and Evil.
Christianity: What God loves is good. What god
hates is evil. Ask god to be sure.
Buddhism: Good and Evil are illusory categorizations
of phenomena based upon the human predilictions for
passion, aggression, and ignorance. The correct
and desirable values are clarity and appropriateness
Taoism: Good for whom in what context? Evil for
whom in what context? That which is good now may
be seen to be truly evil as the passage of time
reveals the context to have changed. The same thing
may be seen to be good again with the passage
of time. There is no principle of good or evil
apart from these perceptions.
Hinduism: There is no evil. All that we call evil
is illusory suffering due to Brahman's supreme
ability to pretend not to be omnipotent. All of
our suffering is merely the ornamentation of
the Godhead's shadow play as it pretends to be
us. Because Good is definable only in terms of
evil, there is no Good.
Native American religion: Good? You mean pleasant?
Or maybe beautiful? Evil? Does that maybe mean
dangerous? No, wait, Good and Evil are supposed
to be opposites, so that would mean something
couldn't be both beautiful and dangerous. Hmmm...
Christianity: Salvation from the eternal suffering
caused by falling into the dominion of the Enemy
is available by two means: a) obey god's law and
never EVER disobey. This doesn't really work,
because humans are so fallible, so salvation, mark
II is: b) accept that Jesus was the incarnate
form of God Himself, who died by torture on our
behalf to expiate our sins. Accept this and you
will live forever in God-induced bliss.
Islam: Submit utterly and completely to the will
of God and trust utterly and completely in His
Will. Take the writings of Muhammed and other prophets
as guides to correct moral action. Your reward
will be an eternal life of God-induced bliss.
Buddhism: Salvation is liberation from enslavement
to the cycle of passion, aggression and ignorance.
The means to this end is naked confrontation of
the bare phenomenological facts of your existence.
The obstacle is the human tendency to distraction
in terms of passion, aggression, and ignorance.
The correct response is practice at remaining clear
(meditation). The reward is the capacity to see clearly
and choose appropriately in any situation, thus
being liberated from the domination of passion,
aggression, and ignorance.
Taoism: "salvation" is ceasing to seek salvation.
The original nature of all beings is perfect. It
is only by striving to deform your nature to
match a bogus one communicated to you by others
(bogus because it is not your own) that you
become lost. Simply give all striving to become
other than what you are. Your reward will be
simplicity and a graceful blending with the
natural way of things, culminating in your death
and oblivion, which you will welcome because it
Hinduism: Salvation is an illusion. Suffering is an
illusion. At some point the karma of your existence
will be played out, and your individual soul will
cease to exist, re-merging with the cosmic all of
Brahman. Your reward will be remembering who you
truly are: God.
Native American Religion: Salvation from what?
>Kenneth> Even if I "should" see that there is a God to worship, which
>Kenneth> one of these religions am I going to pick? If I pick the
>Kenneth> wrong one I am in just as much deep doodoo as if I didn't
>Kenneth> pick one at all, and it's impossible to _expect_ me to pick
>Kenneth> the right one.
>If Jesus is Buddha is Muhammad is Baha'u'llah etc. then you can't
>"pick" the wrong one (although if you realize this, then why shouldn't
>you accept them all?). They are all on the same path to God, so what
>matters is your heart, and your connection with God. They reveal
>teachings, prayers, and laws to help you to move closer to God.
In what sense could Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad be the same?
In what sense could their gods (or, in some cases, non-gods)
be the same? Please note, I have selected for the above only
a few religions that most people will probably recognize. There
are many, many more, and they are very, very different.